This week was everything that I needed that I didn’t realize I needed. I made some closer connections to friends here at camp and that was the most important part for me. My heart is full. Another important part was … Continue reading
It’s not Grati-Tuesday or Thankful Thursday, but I just have to share some gratitude that I am gushing with. God is so so good. I have a hard time seeing it sometimes because of struggle and pain, but I am … Continue reading
I love that the kids are bigger and they can 1) be alone at camp while I hike and work retail, and 2) do so much more than they used to be able to. We can finally do “all the … Continue reading
I almost always have so much on my mind that I want to write about. A lot of times it’s jumbled because it doesn’t all fit together well. So, I’m going to attempt to write out what’s on my mind … Continue reading
Being in a constant state of worship and adoration, service, gratitude, prayer, and confession are what set my heart on fire. Unfortunately my life has been just one struggle after another and my spirit has gotten lost in all of … Continue reading
I have pulled out my computer and sat there staring at the screen (or getting distracted by Facebook) so many times in the past month or so. We have so much going on and I have so much that I could share, but the words just aren’t coming when I sit down to write. I’m not sure why. I do know that I have spent MUCH less time on my computer lately and that’s a good thing. I used to sit on my computer all day, every day. Now I don’t have time for that, nor do I want to. Part of the reason why I don’t write as much (or sit at my computer as much) is that I used to drink and drink and drink and all I could do while doing that is sit. Also I have been so busy. Mostly in a good way!
The moment that I decided to put Karis back into school, my anxiety went away and my depression lifted. We didn’t even take much time to pray through it once I thought of it because 1) I knew that Robert wanted our kids to be in school, 2) I realized that my mental health went back down hill when I pulled Karis out, 3) Karis went backwards in many ways being home and I knew it would be best to teach her how to persevere even when things are hard (and she needed to be around kids her age).
Since we’ve made that decision, lots of things have hit us… broken arm, asthma attack that landed Ethan in the ER, lots of doctor appointments, bloodwork, lots of medicine, Ethan got strep (and ended up missing 4 days of school), counseling appointment for Karis… And I have been in either Rocksprings or Kerrville pretty much every single day (with a day off here or there). I have also tried to go to AA twice a week but it hasn’t happened as much as I would like (I definitely go once at least).
But do you know what hasn’t changed through all of this craziness? My joy. I may be tired. I may be somewhat stressed. Karis has cried a lot (as we’ve been walking her through things). Levi has been in trouble a lot at school this year (and we’re working with his teacher and doctor to figure out how to handle this). But I haven’t regretted anything. I haven’t felt guilty. I haven’t tried to make something happen that wasn’t supposed to happen (which is how I ended up homeschooling off and on so much over the years). I haven’t made things to be my fault when they weren’t (like putting Karis in school or Levi getting in trouble). I’m just truly living each day. One day at a time. To its fullest. I’m more comfortable in my skin. I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with my kids. Karis and Ethan are doing choir. The house stays mostly clean (except this week because the kids are home, and that’s okay!). Robert and I work together. I focus a LOT on self care because that is what keeps me going. Life is just good. But I don’t take it for granted. With my history and my mental illnesses (and being an alcoholic), I truly have to take it one second, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. And I’m finally in a place in which I can do that.
So on this beautiful Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.
It has been literally years since I felt this kind of peace and joy for more than a few days, and especially through stress and difficulty.
My family and friends are amazing, I’m learning to love myself as God has made me to be (and I’m realizing what my true calling is), Jesus loves me and I love Him, we love Camp Eagle and are so blessed to be a part of this family, we have all of our needs met (even when we don’t know how things will work out, they always do), I’m thankful for AA and what it has done in my life (and continues to), I’m so thankful for the Healthy Habits Happy Moms community (and Balance 365 program) that has helped me see myself in a completely different light, and I’m thankful for all the little things that bring me joy each day… music, flowers, coffee, Christmas lights, candles, a hike, spending time with my friends and family, playing games, cleaning, coloring, drawing… the list could go on and on. I am who I am today because of who God is, my family and friends, and through the difficult of the past several years.
The past 2 weeks have been long and stressful and amazing. I was in town 10 times in those 2 weeks (either Kerrville or Rocksprings). Karis broke her arm and we went to urgent care on Monday the 9th, Karis started school on the 10th, choir was on the 11th, we went to the orthopedic doctor on the 12th, the 14th we went to Wild Seed Farms and Robert and I had a date day (amazing day!!!!!), the 15th we went to the Alumni meeting at La Hacienda and I got my 1 year chip (and we picked up the kids), the 16th I went to AA (and Robert took Ethan to the ER that night for asthma), the 17th I went to town to get Ethan’s steroid med filled, the 18th was choir, the 19th Karis met with her partner for science fair at the library, and Friday Ethan and I went to the doc for a follow up and we got groceries. The urgent care, ER, and doctors were not good (well, the docs and stuff were great but having to go wasn’t good), but the rest was! And I’m really starting to feel better. I’m having a few physical symptoms that I’m not sure about, but I’m still just taking it one day at a time. I might go back to the doctor eventually. It’s nothing extreme. And tomorrow I will see my psychiatrist. That’ll be good! I don’t think I really need to make any changes. I feel like things are going better and while I do have anxiety still, I don’t want to take more meds and I think it’s just something I have to live with. I’ve learned a lot of coping skills and put those into place when I’m struggling. Things are going well for the first time in a long time!
Tuesday we had “HAF (Home Away From) Homes.” This is time with our gap year students (well, 3 of them). We share with our neighbors who we love deeply. It’s such a sweet time!
Friday was so fun. I had an entire day with Ethan. The appointment with the doctor went super well. We got all of his asthma meds refilled and we’re going to focus on getting him completely stable in that area. He got a flu shot. Then we got donuts and got some blood work done to see what he’s allergic to. We got groceries (I spent very little and am so proud of myself!) and we got Halloween costumes. Then went to eat at a Chinese restaurant (Ethan’s choice).
This past weekend was so productive.
Saturday I cleaned the house nearly spotless. It has been a long time coming! I have just been having the kids clean it and obviously that means that things weren’t being cleaned super well. So I deep cleaned the bathrooms. I cleaned the floors. I cleaned and organized my bedroom (desperately needed to be done… I had piles everywhere). I got caught up on laundry. Washed some sheets (I need to finish that this week), and washed towels and bathroom mats. The kids cleaned their rooms (not spotless, but good enough for now). I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.
After the kids cleaned, they enjoyed time with their friends and Levi enjoyed time reading fall and Halloween books that I pulled out :-). At the end of the day we watched a movie as a family (Spiderwick Chronicles… so good!).
Sunday I did a bunch of food prep! Mini whole wheat pumpkin banana muffins. Homemade whole wheat bread (though it didn’t rise real well). I made lunches for 4 days. I bagged snacks. Cut cantaloupe. Cut veggies for the veggie tray. Froze pumpkin in candy molds for smoothies.
The kids were out playing with friends this whole time. The boys went fishing in the river. Karis played with her friends. I love that they have each other!
Robert worked, then he had to go pick up the camp jeep because it broke down.
At the end of the day I did a quick pick up of the house, finished the dishes, set the coffee up for the next day, signed the kids folders, and did a little bit of spot sweeping. I went to bed exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly! It was so great!
I really think having all three kids in school is the best for our family. I feel so much better mentally/emotionally. The kids are thriving. Karis is actually doing so much better this time. She feels somewhat stressed, but she’s handling it very well. I encourage her constantly and she has amazing teachers. She’s making A’s and B’s! A 100 in science and even an 86 in math! This is HUGE, especially since she came in late in the school year. Also, she’s doing well writing with her left hand since her write arm has a cast on it!
Yesterday I went to AA (always amazing!), then I had a nice lunch on the patio of Chili’s afterwards. Then Walmart, then home! We had dinner with friends last night. It was so amazing!
I always get my Sonic Coke Zero with lime before AA. And there’s a dollar there because they take up donations to pay for the fee for using the building, material, etc. That’s my AA Big Book. We read “How It Works” last week and this week. It’s my favorite chapter in the book. It tells you how to work the 12 steps.
The burger was a Smokehouse Cheeseburger. It had a special sauce, crumbled bacon, 2 amazing onion rings, and all the veggies. It was so amazing, and of course I love their fries.
Today I’m hosting ladies’ Bible study here. It’s always a sweet time of fellowship.
Life is good!! Praise God for this!!
This week has been a doozy.
Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:
“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”
Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid. His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.
I felt anxiety for several days because of this. I thought that maybe they were better off in school.
Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…
- It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
- I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
- Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
- Giving myself grace is so important.
- I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
- Anxiety comes and goes. It’s like waves.
- Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
- It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
- I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety. If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something. Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again. It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember. I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).
Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school. It works so much better out here at camp.
I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision. It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too. The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.
Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year. They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying. They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!). Haha. I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that. I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well). This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are! They just needed to be home to remember what it was like. They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside. Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year. We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).
We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life. The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home. Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.
Life is hard, but it is good. I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense. I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.
The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)! It was super fun! This will be a regular activity! When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys. When they aren’t, we just swim :-). Their favorite thing is the floating dock. They get on, jump off, on, off.
This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard. They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch. They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!
I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time. So that helps my anxiety considerably! I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well. I slept the whole night last night!
I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober. In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did. I drank typically starting at noon into the evening. Maybe not every day, but most days. I wasn’t living life! I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me. Now I can think clearly and experience things.
Life is good! Praise God!
From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:
“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”
“Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”
“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”
“We had to have God’s help.”
“First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”
“He is the Father, and we are His children.”
We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me. I have been stuck in this for a long time. I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity. I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.
I posted this on Sunday:
“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”
While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me. This is self-centered. I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.
I want people to see me as strong. I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest. I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered. I want people to see my love for others. I want to be known for my love for Jesus. My identity is in Jesus first and foremost. Without Him, I am nothing.
Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving. Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health. I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature. It was perfect. I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority. It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it. My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking. So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.
It was a beautiful day. Sunny and the perfect temperature.
I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight. I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate. This is not healthy. I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it. I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious. It’s not something I have to keep up with every day. And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.
The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.
Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books). She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another. Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.
Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake. She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues. I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat. She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water). She thinks I have a habit to the process. Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things. It’s an emotional crutch. She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.
We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch. The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos. Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese. It keeps me comfortable until lunch. Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal. I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.
The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am. She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years. My body is trying to find it’s set point. Where it’s supposed to be without dieting. I may end up losing weight eventually. But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.
The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.
I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious. It’s been a rough few weeks.
I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind. Robert did everything but push me out the door.
We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion. It was really great! From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house. I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability. I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!
We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!
I started it as soon as we finished!
This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering. It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to. The good news is that it says “for a little while.” That’s hopeful!
So… through struggle comes strength and growth.
Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am, my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!
Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.
This was a very difficult time in my life. I was going through postpartum depression; I was raising 3 babies, 4 and under, by myself pretty much (Robert worked ALL the time). Joey had just committed suicide (a few months earlier). I was in a fog to say the least. Behind that smile was a lot of pain.
I would barely survive the day and as soon as Robert got home, I would hand him the baby and leave. Not every day, but a lot of days. I didn’t keep up with laundry, clean the house, cook. I just survived.
I did NOT feel like a good mom. But I did the best I could under the circumstances. I couldn’t help that Joey had just died. I couldn’t help that I was going through postpartum depression. I couldn’t do anything about the fact that Robert worked so much (We ended up leaving the camp we were at because of that, and life was still hard in different ways, but have never regretted leaving!).
As you can see, we all look different these days. Karis is now almost 11, Levi just turned 7, and Ethan is 8 1/2. We have much more fun with our kids!
Since the earlier picture, I have been hospitalized twice for my mental health, I’ve been diagnosed properly, I am on great meds, I have been treated for alcoholism and work hard to stay sober, I have all day to take care of the house and laundry so I’m not feeling overwhelmed anymore (because the kids are in school), and I no longer try to work (because I know that I can’t… I’m fighting for disability now).
My parenting has changed over the years, my view of myself as a mom has changed, it has been over 7 years since Joey died, we are at peace with and love where we live and our life here at Camp Eagle (we will be here indefinitely unless God calls us elsewhere), the kids are in an amazing school where they are loved and valued, I’m much more patient, my house stays mostly clean, the kids can do chores (and they are excited about it with a sticker chart/rewards!), and so much more.
How am I different as a mom?
Well, for one, we rarely spank now. When they were younger I spanked often out of anger. I would spank and spank because I didn’t know what else to do. I would spank Ethan so much that it hurt me as much as it hurt him.
Ethan threw a LOT of huge tantrums. Those didn’t stop until the past few years. He did throw some when I was homeschooling him, but he would do them in his room and come out just fine. He has since stopped them completely. I have taught him how to control himself better and he uses those skills (lots of pausing, breathing, and figuring out what emotion he is feeling). Going to school has really helped him in this area. I am much more patient with him and use a different form of consequences.
Typically, with the kids, we ground them and/or take away privileges.
It helps that their teachers give them consequences at school. We (almost) always support the teacher (even if we don’t agree) and give them a consequence at home. They rarely get in trouble at school these days!
They love their Wii U, Kindles, Minecraft, etc. They don’t get to play on them all the time, but they lose the privilege for a few days to a week if they do something that deserves a consequence. Sometimes we ground them from playing with friends (this is huge for Ethan and Karis). We spank sometimes, but it’s usually for something big where they need a spanking and another consequence. This is rare.
We have a conversation with them about why. We discuss what the purpose of their decision was. We talk to them about having control over their actions and how they interact with their siblings and/or friends. We discuss the implications of their choices and how they affect others. We talk about how they would feel if that was done to them.
We try to not discipline in front of friends, but sometimes we have to.
We use rewards when we can.
Are we always perfect at this? No. Do we yell? Sometimes, but not near as much as we used to.
The thing that helps all of this is that the kids are older, able to discuss things, able to work through emotions, and able to control themselves better. It makes a huge difference!
We have also learned what works for each child. This has taken a long time to learn through trial and error.
It really helps that I’m not with them all day, every day.
I was much less patient when they were home all the time. I was much less patient when I was homeschooling them.
They get what they need at school (social interaction with kiddos their age, being challenged, etc), then they come home and do homework and chores. They have routine every day (which was lacking when I homeschooled them, mostly because I was either drinking or hungover).
My favorite part of the day is bedtime. Most nights (not all) we read the Bible or a devotional. We read out of a chapter book, we sing a worship song, and we pray (usually Ethan prays… it is precious). I end most days (not all) in bed with each kid, talking to them about their day, their feelings and emotions, and what God is doing in their lives. Most nights I end this time praying for them (not every night).
Karis and I have a Google Document where we write each other back and forth. This has helped our relationship a lot!
Last night both Levi and Ethan made the decision to accept and follow Christ! They prayed and asked for forgiveness, they understood the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross (and as Levi said, he washed away our sins!), they prayed for the ability to repent from their sins, and they decided to serve Jesus all the days of their lives (Ethan realized that what we do here at camp is serving Christ)!
I also discussed this with Karis again because she accepted Christ at a very young age and I wanted to make sure she understood.
They are all ready to be baptized! We started going to a new church (very small church plant), and the pastor wants to have a little class with them before they get baptized.
We are also going to join the church. We feel at home there. I still want to talk about some things with the pastor that are different for me, but I’m sure it will be fine. We’re looking forward to it!
I will always have something that isn’t perfect.
I get worn sometimes on the weekends when they are home all day. Sometimes I let them play on electronics too much. We often forget to have them brush their teeth at night. When they are home for lunch, they often eat chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. We don’t always eat healthy, but I’m okay with that. We sometimes yell at them. Sometimes I spoil them with too much candy, too many snacks, and sometimes I do too much for them that they can do themselves. Recently I caught myself enabling them by making their beds, etc. Robert reaffirmed this. I am remedying that. They have been cussing lately because they are learning new words on the bus with high school students. We’re working on what words are not appropriate to say :-). It’s new to them so it may take a bit of time.
Being imperfect keeps me humble and helps me rely on Jesus more.
I’m thankful that God has helped me learn how to be a better parent. I have a long way to go, and that’s okay. I’m just thankful that life is much more peaceful these days.