Thankful Thursday… God Has Given Me Rest

Good morning friends!  Today is starting out with a gorgeous sunrise.  I got to listen to the birds sing for a while as well.  I love being outside.  There’s just something about God’s creation that brings peace and solace.

God is good.  In the midst of the struggle, and in the midst of the rest and peace after the struggle.  Y’all, I have struggle consistently for years.  Like since Karis was born (and even before that, really).  Severe anxiety, panic, depression, losing my brother the way I did, relationship issues, etc.  I have had some good times, but they usually only lasted a few weeks at a time, and I’ve realized that many of those were times of hypomania.  I thought I was just feeling amazing (I know now that it was the feeling of euphoria that I get when I’m hypomanic).  And these times were always followed by depression.

I started a new med at the end of January (it’s actually a very old med and for some reason it’s not used very often… it’s also really cheap).  I’m on a very low dose (in addition to a lot of other meds).  I have been doing great ever since.  I mean, I have low days, but they don’t stay that way.  Usually it’s because I’m overly tired or dealing with circumstances that are difficult (usually involving one or more of my kids).  I have consistently had low anxiety, no lasting depression, have had motivation (but not overly motivated like when I’m hypomanic), and I’ve enjoyed myself more than I have in so long.  I have great relationships with people (I’m not assuming the worst as often).  I spend more time with friends and family.  My family has noticed a HUGE difference in me. They often recall what life was like when I was drinking all the time and when I was depressed all the time.  I slept a lot.  I was really short with them, yelling a lot.

Anyway… yesterday during Bible study we were studying Judges 3:7-11.  In verse 11, it said that the Israelites had rest for 40 years!  I was telling my friends how big that was for me and they said that they could see how that would stand out to me.  This is so big.

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7And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lordtheir God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 9But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10The Spirit of the Lordwas upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”
So today, my biggest thanks is to God for giving me rest.  I don’t know how long it will last or if it will continue to be consistent, but I will enjoy it today and praise God each day.
I’m also so thankful for the relationships with the amazing people in my life.  I’m especially thankful for my amazing husband and children.  I wouldn’t be where I am without them in my life.  Robert has stood by me and supported me through severe mental illness, dealing with the suicide of my brother, and through my alcoholism.  We still have a lot of growth ahead, but I’m thankful for the growth that has taken place so far.  And my kids have been amazing as we have processed all that has taken place in our family as well.  They have grown so, so much this year.  We’re still working through some things, but overall I’m so happy with the official decisions that we have made for them (especially for putting and keeping them in school).
I’m thankful for the friends that I have in my life.  I have lots of old friends and a few new friends.  I’m blessed with rich relationships.
Other than these things, I’m just thankful for the little things.  My plants, candles, Willow trees, the sunrise over the hills, my Happy Planner, coffee, Coke Zero :-), God’s word (not a little thing), Bible studies that point me to Him, my amazing office, decorating my house so that it feels warm and cozy, all of our needs provided (okay, also not little), my new business venture, my blog as my outlet, hobbies, and so much more.
I am truly one blessed child of God.

Happy Fri-Yay!

This week has felt so long.  The main reason is that I haven’t slept well this week, and I’m still feeling the affects of my really hard Wednesday.  Yesterday I slept alllll morning.  I did get up and get busy though, so that’s nice.

I work really, really hard to stay out of bed.  It’s so easy to just sleep since I’m home alone all the time and I’m usually really tired, but I know that leads to depression so I fight it.  If I do take a nap, I try really hard to just sleep an hour or so.  But yesterday I needed lots of rest.  I think there’s a such thing as an anxiety and/or panic attack “hang over.”  Just feel so worn.

I am determined to make today good!  I got up at about 6:30 and got my coffee.  I tried to do my Bible study but I was just too tired still to comprehend what I was reading.  I’ll try again this afternoon.

I got up and cleaned up the house.  Dishes, the boys’ room, the kids’ bathroom, picked up things around the house, made my bed, etc.  I have one load of laundry going (I try to do one a day and it makes things so much more manageable… and our whites don’t stay super white because I don’t sort).

I plan to do some AA work (re-typing our script), Younique work, Bible study, etc, etc.

So besides cleaning and working, what is making today Fri-Yay?  Why am I happy?  I am growing every day.  Wednesday was real hard but it taught me so much about myself.  It reminded me that I don’t want to just be a blob on the couch.  I want to have purpose and meaning in my life.  I want to glorify God in what I do and say.  I want to help others be sober and women to love who they are and feel good about themselves.  I want to challenge myself.  I want to get out of my comfort zone.  I feel like these things happen through my blog, through leading AA, and through being a presenter through Younique.  I have the ability to do so much with my life.  So, I can’t work full time.  That’s fine.  I don’t need to.  God has provided for our needs.  Sure things are tight, but our needs are always met.  I have kind of come to terms with the fact that working probably isn’t in my future, but I am learning to be happy with staying home and taking care of our home.

Yesterday Levi got me a blanket and pillow to lay down because he said they don’t thank me enough for making the food and doing all the things.  It was in that moment that I realized what I’m doing is enough.  It’s good.  It’s God glorifying.  Our kids feel safe and peaceful in our home.  Robert doesn’t have to do much when he comes home from work (he works really hard all the time to provide for our family).  They always have clean clothes (they do have to fold them and put them away, but that’s beside the point haha).  They have all of their needs met.  It’s those things that matter.

I know I’ve said this, but I’m so excited about my new business.  I have always said I will never do direct sales/network marketing.  So why now?  I have watched women come out of their shell, become confident, get out of their comfort zone, grown in an amazing team of women, make good money, have their makeup paid for, become confident in who they are, have purpose, grow, learn good business practices, and just have fun in this business.  Younique is about empowering women and I’m just all for that.  It’s about true self care.  Loving ourselves.  I could go on and on.  I haven’t even received my presenter kit and other makeup and tools that I’ve ordered (they had some issues with shipping), but I have seen so much good already just being in my team Facebook group and adding new friends from the group.

God is good.  I have had a lot of hard years, and I know hard days, weeks, and possibly months are ahead.  But I am thankful that today is a good day.

Night and Day

I thought I would give a little bit of an update on things.

I am night and day better from where I was this time last week.

I have settled into the idea that I will only be homeschooling Karis, and I’ve learned to be good with that. She does better at home, she is mostly independent, and she is fun to work with. There is no stress or anxiety involved in it. I’m looking forward to digging into things with her. And we have a good relationship and she’s now a pre-teener so this is good for us.  I plan to really dive into stuff with her and learn along side her.  And on the days that I don’t feel up to it, she is capable of doing everything on her own!

I hope to do Poetry Teatime every Friday with the girls at the camp.  It will be so fun.

The boys are so excited about going back to school, and honestly they do really well in school. I’ve talked with their teachers from this past year (one emailed me and one I emailed first), and they are so happy that they will be back. They were so encouraging and positive.  The boys will learn and grow at school. We will have a regular routine/schedule every day which will be good for my anxiety and good for my Ethan’s anxiety as well. He needs that routine.

I plan to still do some nature studies with all of the kids.  We will try to take a few “field trips” but not as many as when I would have had them home.

And I am happy to be able to focus on getting healthier mentally and physically. As you know, I have mental illness, and I also went to rehab last fall for alcoholism (which is a mental illness as well). I need to be able to focus on keeping myself healthy and sober. In addition, I’m trying to get back to health physically (using the Balance 365 program) because I haven’t been doing too well there, either. So I guess this is just a season of health for me. Maybe once I’m healthier, I can bring my boys back home (if that’s God’s plan). It’ll probably be a while if that does happen. In the meantime I’m happy about playing with the kids until the boys’ school starts on August 23rd. We were going to start school next week. And I’m looking forward to doing some back-to-school shopping and all of that.

Family camp this week has been pretty great so far.  We have 2 more full days, then we leave on Saturday.  I haven’t felt good the whole time, though, because of my cough and constant nausea.  I’m also really tired all the time.  So I’ve just been resting as much as I can.  We have done 1-2 activities per day and played in the game room a lot.  We have had great meals, fun themed nights, and I’ve enjoyed time with friends.  We have been gone from home for a full week already, which is hard for me because I’m a homebody and an introvert.  I’m making it, though, and am trying to just enjoy the time that I have with my family all together!  It is a blessing to have this opportunity.

Here are some pictures of our week so far:

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Build-your-own pizzas

I actually did the Cross Bows!

The kids love the foam pit, but not as much as last year.

Family devotionals and outdoor worship

RC Cars were fun!

Patriotic night

Patriotic night ended up being indoors.

Drift Ball ended in some minor injuries.

Tonight is Luau night.

The next two days are packed full of fun activities.  Paint war, lake front, date night, hiking, more RC cars, kickball game, dessert, and a dance.

The Best Saturday in a Long Time

Yesterday was a fantastic day.  Robert didn’t work.  He’s not home often right now.  There are so many projects going on here at camp.  Things should slow down soon, and we are taking a few trips this summer.

We cleaned up the house, Robert worked on our Xterra a bit, then we went to town so Robert could buy some things for camp.

We went to Sonic for ice cream, went to the park (a new one that we hadn’t tried before), and went to a book store that we had never been to before.

The kids played on the little kid stuff at the park :-).  Haha.

The book store that we went to gives 75% off the cover price if you bring a book to trade (I didn’t know this so I paid 50% off the cover price). You have to bring kid books to buy a kid book. But we have a lot that we won’t read. I think we’ll plan to let the kids pick out a book each time that we go into town. This will give them something to look forward to and maybe the boys will enjoy reading more (well, Levi enjoys it already but Ethan pretty much hates it). Levi started reading one of his Star Wars books right away and is several chapters in. It blows me away that he can read and comprehend books that are written for older kids. Karis actually struggled with reading until she got a little older (now she’s on like an 8th grade level). Ethan has always struggled (and still does). So for Levi to be in first grade (well, just finished) and able to read big chapter books blows me away. He’s also really good at math. And spelling. Things just come easy to him! I’m thankful!

I didn’t get Karis any books because she has a LOT of books that she loves (the boys don’t), and I just didn’t see any that she would enjoy.

We also got stuff for s’mores and hot dogs at Walmart.

When I went to Walmart to get the stuff for s’mores, I had to walk by the cases of beer (cause grilling, fires, s’mores, and beer all goes together). I looked closely at my Blue Moon that I used to drink. I had a fleeting thought of how nice it was when I could drink it and sometimes I miss it. But. I wouldn’t trade where I am today for what I felt like a year ago. I’ve had anxiety lately but it’s nothing like it was a year ago. I had hyperventilation syndrome and I couldn’t breathe right. I had restless legs a lot. I had terrible insomnia. I would wake up after the alcohol had worn off and couldn’t go back to sleep. Every. Single. Night. I tried everything to be able to sleep. I had an obsession and compulsion to drink and the more I had the more I wanted. It was never enough. I threw up multiple times a week (like I’ve mentioned before). The room spun every night, and I often passed out. Many, many times I woke up wondering if I had done anything that I shouldn’t have (looking at texts, FB messages, and fb posts). I also didn’t remember a lot. Being an alcoholic is ugly and embarrassing. There’s nothing glamorous about it. And statistics show that 15% of people are addicts/alcoholics so I know there are people reading this that are and don’t know it. Or they don’t want to admit it. You can have this freedom that I have with some work! I’m 228 days sober today and I take it one day at a time!

We ended the night with a fire in the fire ring.  We roasted hot dogs and made s’mores.  Some neighbor kiddos came and told camp fire stories.  It was super cute.  The kids had a blast.

Ethan told me yesterday that it was the best day of his life.

I would agree that it was a pretty good day.

Easter Weekend!

Friday was a fun day home with my kiddos.  It started out rough with a major fight over the Wii, but once I grounded them from electronics it got better.  We colored and decorated eggs and did some crafts.  The kids also played outside all afternoon with their friends.

Robert was supposed to be home but he ended up having to work.  Oh well.

Yesterday was a great day at my parents’ for Easter.  The kids had 135 eggs to hunt and they found all but a few (whoops).  We had a fantastic lunch of ham, beans, and homemade potato salad.

We ended up deciding to come home yesterday instead of today.  I got their Easter baskets set up last night.  We kept it cheap and simple this year.  A few cookies that a friend of mine made, glow sticks, Reese’s bunny, bubble gum eggs, and a fun cup that matched their personality.  They were happy with what they got :-).

This morning we watched part of the worship service on Watermark’s website, and we praised through YouTube videos.  We didn’t go to church for various reasons, but mostly because my anxiety can’t handle it right now.

We had a great lunch of grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, salad, and the kids’ favorite Hawaiian rolls.

We read The Flowering Cross and made our cross cake.  This is our yearly tradition.  They’re getting a little big for it, but I will keep doing it as long as they let me.  They didn’t want to do Resurrection Eggs :-(.

We also cleaned the house and got ready for the week.  In a few hours we are celebrating with our camp family!  Lots of celebration!

Grati-Tuesday, March 7th

Like I’ve mentioned… I have been struggling with anxiety and depression lately.  I’m not sure if I’m in a bipolar low or if something triggered it, but it’s been rough.  Even last night it was really bad.  I went to bed really early because I couldn’t function (actually, I slept on the couch because I just couldn’t get comfortable on my bed).

But… this morning… this morning I woke up feeling good.  And that’s all I can ask for.  One moment at a time!  Even as I type this I am sitting on my back porch, listening to the birds singing, with a beautiful view of the hills.  It’s foggy and sunny at the same time.  So pretty!  The temperature is perfect.  I’m in short sleeves.  It’s in the 60s, but warm with the sun on me.

The smell of the dew makes me happy… all of these things bring back good memories of last spring when I started homeschooling the boys.  While I had a lot of anxiety about homeschooling them, I have good memories as well!  I’m thankful for the time I had, and I might eventually be able to homeschool them again one day.  We’ll just see what happens!

I’m thankful for Jesus’ unconditional love.

I’m thankful for bedtime reading and silly pictures with my kids.  I’m thankful for the time I have with each kiddo in their bed at night (cuddling, talking, praying).  I don’t do it every night, but enough.  It’s my favorite time of day.

I’m thankful for the time I have to take good care of myself.  This is what keeps me afloat most days.

I’m grateful for 145 days sober!  I’m so close to 5 months!  I can hardly believe it.  It has gone fast.  While I still have days in which I want alcohol, it’s usually fleeting.  I hope one day I won’t even want it anymore!  One day at a time!

I’m thankful for AA and learning so much through the Big Book.  I’ll be writing about what I’m learning in a new post coming up!

I’m grateful for my LuLaRoe leggings that help me to be comfortable.  I’m thankful that I’m learning to feel more comfortable in my own skin, despite a 35 pound weight gain these past few years (10-12 of those just in a few months).  This is also a one day at a time thing, though.  Even last night I was struggling with body image.  But most days I’m feeling better about my body.

What are you grateful for on this Grati-Tuesday?

Grati-Tuesday, January 3rd

My start to the new year has been amazing!!!  I feel like I have so much to be thankful for.  I’ve already shared some of these pictures, but I’ll share again!

Some important things that I’m learning:

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The ability to buy plenty of food for multiple weeks (besides produce and other items that spoil, we’ll be able to make this stretch for 3-4 weeks).  This is a huge blessing because we have had years in which this was difficult to do.  We are blessed. (some of this we bought to cook for 8 summer staff, but we ended up not having to do that so we have more food for us!)

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New, amazing music thanks to a gift card!

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Game playing time with my best friend.

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A new found confidence.

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Organization that makes my days easier (and a notebook cover with my chips in it!).

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My hubby who loves me for who I am (I don’t think I look great in this pic, but Robert always thinks I look great).  The photo bomber cracks me up.

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Hubby bonding with his kids over our new Wii U (he has never had a video game console before, so this is new).  He has also been playing Nerf gun wars with them :-).

My hubby and kids in general.  I am so incredibly blessed by them.  They are all a person could ask for.  Robert is the most patient, supportive, loving, caring, and honest man a wife could ask for.  He loves with all that’s with-in him.  Karis is creative, caring, loves Jesus, and is loving towards others.  Ethan is passionate, so helpful, and organized.  Levi is a silly guy, loving, caring, and loves Jesus.  I am so excited to see them grow up!  They are amazing people.

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AA Twenty Four Hours a Day, the Big Book, and AA step work.

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A candle that smells like a fresh, new year!

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A new Bible study to dig deep into God’s word.

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  • My mental health is the best it has ever been.  THIS IS HUGE.  My medications make a huge difference, and the work I do on a daily basis also makes a huge difference!
  • Coffee
  • Coke Zero
  • I am beginning to be content with my body the way it is, knowing that my body doesn’t let go of weight due to medications, and I’m ready to just live life and not try to lose weight.
  • The fact that the kids are now in school… which means I have less to be anxious about.  I miss homeschooling a lot, but I know that this is what we all need.
  • Healthy food
  • Unhealthy food that makes me happy

I could probably go on and on, but I’ll stop for now :-).  What are you grateful for on this Grati-Tuesday?

Preparation for the Week and New Years!

Having a stress-free and successful week for me means a lot of preparation on the weekends.  Since self care is my number one goal each day (well, sobriety, including self care), I have to work really hard to make that work.

Thursday I meal planned (Meal Planning Sundays post was written about this).  Friday I grocery shopped and budgeted (Grocery Geek post was written about this).

The boys made a fruit salad Friday night with the fresh fruits I just bought :-).

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I finished my yogurt.  I only have 8 jars this time because Karis and her friends had some while I was putting it into jars :-).

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I also made some Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot (loosely based off a recipe from Azure Standard).  It smelled so good!

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Saturday was New Year’s Eve.  I desperately wanted to start the new year off right, so we spent the day focusing on getting the house in order.  We took down our Christmas tree.

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We cleaned bathrooms, floors, the kitchen, got caught up on laundry, and the kids all cleaned their rooms.

Then I went to work prepping.

I cut up veggies and fruits for the week.

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Then I packed lunches and snacks for the days I go into town for AA.  This is cottage cheese, veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, orange grape tomatoes, and celery), fruit (grapes, oranges, and strawberries), Triscuits, and mixed nuts for a snack.

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Then I baked some Banana Chocolate Chip Power Cake Muffins for the week (and for the freezer).  I use Lily’s chocolate chips and sucanat for sweetener.  Next time I will add a little more sweetener.  They aren’t very sweet.  They are good, though!

I’m excited about these because they are full of protein and whole grains!

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Karis enjoyed some time with her friend building things out of modeling clay while the boys played outside with their friends.

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We spent several hours with our neighbors and had a fantastic dinner of homemade tamales!

We ended NYE early so that we could get up early to go to church!

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We got up yesterday morning and went to church… which was a fantastic way to start the new year!

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We went to Walmart and the kids spent their Christmas money :-).

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The kids had a blast playing the Wii U with their daddy.

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We ate roast and veggies for dinner, and ended the night with reading, singing, and praying!

I’m so excited about the new year!

My Amazing Husband, Step 3 Prayer, Steps 6 & 7, Self Care

First of all, I just can’t get enough of our family pictures.  I have lots of favorites, but the one that keeps sticking out to me is the one of Robert and I.

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This shows the love that we have for one another.  He has been an amazing support through all of my difficult moments, including mental illness hospitalizations and addiction treatment.  He has also been so supportive of me outside of those treatments.  He helps me to see things that I don’t see on my own.  I’ve learned to accept what he has to say because he has my best interest at heart.  He loves me unconditionally.  I’m so grateful for him.

PAWS has me down a bit, still.  I’m very tired, sort of achy, feeling down, irritable, and still somewhat anxious.  It is getting better.  They say it only lasts a few days, so I’m hopeful.

I went to our women’s AA yesterday and was so encouraged.  On Wednesdays we read out of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book.

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Yesterday was Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I realized that I haven’t been doing this.  I went through step 3 pretty quickly.  I need to go back and memorize this prayer:

“God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
Amen”

My next step with my sponsor is to do step 6 (which is a chart, breaking down my character defects), and to memorize the step 7 prayer:

“My Creator,
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character
which stands in the way of my usefulness to you
and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.
Amen.”

At rehab we had something called Seekers every morning.  It was a way to practice step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Every morning, we would have 10 minutes and prayer and meditation, we would read the step 3 and step 7 prayers, and we would sing Amazing Grace.  I plan to add back in the 10 minutes of prayer and meditation and step 3 & 7 prayers again.  It is a great way to start the day!  I will also continue my She Reads Truth Bible study!  Starting in January, a friend of mine here at camp and I will be doing a 1 Peter Bible study!  Looking forward to it!

Today for self care I will: 1) Eat a healthy breakfast, 2) Eat a healthy lunch, 3) Enjoy my coffee and Bible study (and do my morning prayer), 4) Meet with some friends here for encouragement, 5) Clean up the house (just vacuum, make my bed, and do the dishes… nothing major), 6) Shower, put on makeup, and dry my hair, 7) Listen to classical Christmas music, 8) Do a new meditation 9) Take my supplements and medications, 10) Share my gratefuls with my sponsor.

The meditation: Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take a few moments here then allow your focus to broaden to your body and the sensations that it’s feeling. Now expand your focus to anything touching your body, noticing those sensations. Lastly, expand your awareness to everything you can hear and sense. Now reverse this process and come back, one step at a time to your breath.

Even on the hard days, life is good.  I’m so thankful for another day sober (64 today!).

My Story: How God Brought Me From the Pit to Complete Joy and Peace

These past many years have been a very wild ride.  A definite roller coaster.  And I have seen God working through every part of it.  Even when I fought and fought.  Even when I wanted to give up.  Even when I was incredibly impatient.  Even when I just flat out didn’t understand.  God had a plan the whole time.  Looking back, I can see his plan unfold over the past several years (and I mean several… like 10 or more).

Life is hard, y’all.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that.  It takes a lot of leaning on Jesus and allowing Him to carry you through it, or we wouldn’t make it.  I have had a lot of things happen in my life and I could wallow in it and say “why me?”  But instead, I chalk it up to the fact that God has a plan to use everything for His glory and name.  He also wants what’s best for us at all times, and sometimes we have to go through the yucky times to get there.  We end up stronger in the end.  Scratch that.  We end up realizing we have strength in Christ.

Just over six years ago, my brother committed suicide in a very gruesome manner.  At the time I was 7 months pregnant with Levi (my third child in a little under 4 years).  I had Levi then went through terrible, terrible postpartum depression.  I wanted to run away.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I was put on some medication and it helped me get through it, but I wouldn’t say life was any easier.  I was grieving.  I had three kids 4 and under.  Robert worked every single day.

We moved to Dallas 6 months later and lived with my in-laws.  I knew if I didn’t start working, we would never be able to leave my in-laws.  So, I got a job.  The next year and a half were brutal and I was still struggling with depression and severe anxiety (and panic attacks).  I was still processing my brother’s horrible death.  I quit working because I couldn’t manage anymore.  My dream was to homeschool, so I tried to do that with Karis and it was pretty much a flat fail.  We moved to Frisco a little later and life was pretty good for a few years (the only working I did was part time at a preschool, which was pretty awesome!).  Then, I tried working full time again.  Bad idea.

Just over two years ago I went into the hospital because I was “passively suicidal.”  Truth is, I just couldn’t live this life anymore.  I had nothing left in me to give.  I would go to work, do an okay job (all while feeling incredibly anxious and on the verge of a panic attack), come home, and go to bed.  Robert took care of everything.  He did an amazing job.  Not only did he do the basics, he went above and beyond like keeping up with laundry, keeping the house clean, etc.

Going into the hospital was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was able to process the feelings of grief about my brother’s death that I was pushing back because I couldn’t handle it.  I met other people like me.  I felt for the first time like I wasn’t alone.  I made friends that I still talk to today.  I was able to just rest.  Do crafts.  Exercise.  Do yoga.  Eat really well.  I almost didn’t want to leave.  It was a breath of fresh air.

Going to the hospital led my doctor to a new diagnosis for me: Bipolar 2.

The next two years have been pretty wild.  I worked off and on, always having to quit because of my illness.  I couldn’t handle a job.  It was too much for my mental health.  It led me back to the hospital in November of 2014.  I realized then that working is just not possible for me.

Last year around this time, Robert received an email from the Operations Director (now Site Director) of Camp Eagle.  We were excited but obviously didn’t get our hopes up because it had taken months (from the time he applied) to even receive an email.  Soon after, Robert had a phone interview, then soon after that, we found ourselves at Camp Eagle for an in person interview, tour of the camp, and a chance to hang out with and meet the staff.  It was amazing.  But, we still didn’t get our hopes up because even though we had this visit.  I’m not sure how many weeks went by (it was excruciating while we waited), but Robert eventually received the offer for the Maintenance Director position.  It was official.  We were moving back to camp.

This past year has been so amazing in so many ways!  I would not want to be anywhere else.  But I can’t say the whole year has been perfect.  This summer I made the realization that my medication wasn’t really working all that well.  I had a major hypomanic period, followed by a major depressive period.  Back to not being able to get out of bed.  Back to sleeping all the time.  Back to passive suicidal thoughts.  My life is so perfect, why am I so depressed?

We decided to put the kids in school again instead of homeschooling because I didn’t think I could handle it because of my depression.

It wasn’t until I saw a new doctor in October (November? Somewhere in there) that I felt like I could do this.  He took so much time to get to know me.  He went back to the beginning.  Through my conversation with him, he came to the conclusion that I do in fact have Bipolar 2 and we need to get it under control.  He made it clear that it is possible to get it under control.  His confidence gave me a huge relief.  He weaned me off of two meds and started me on a new one in which I had to slowly increase the dose.

Around this same time, Karis was really struggling in school.  Long story short, we ended up deciding to pull her out of school and homeschool her.

This school year (since I pulled her out) has been amazing.  Homeschooling her has given me a reason to get up every morning.  We have grown together in our relationship.  It has been fun for me to use some of my teaching skills that I haven’t been able to use in a while.  It hasn’t been easy (lots of trial and error with curriculum, etc), but it has been just what we both needed.

I was still having some hypomania episodes followed by depression (though not NEAR as severe), so my doctor increased my medication one last time and this is it.  This is the right medication and the right dose.  I feel completely and 100% normal.  I have good days, and I have bad days… just like everyone else.  But I’m not hypomanic and I’m not depressed.  I’m also not near as anxious as I used to be.

Between feeling really well, the fact that the boys’ school is 35 minutes away, and the fact that at camp homeschooling just makes more sense, we decided that next year we will homeschool all of our children.  I am so excited that I already ordered all of their curriculum (after hours and hours of research… and thanks to our tax refund).

I share all of this because I have realized a few things.  God had a plan from the time I was in college (well, obviously even before that, but this is where I see things start).  I got my teaching degree, and I love to teach.  It just happens to be in a different way than I envisioned.  I have wanted to homeschool since we were at our last camp, and I’m finally able to do this.  He led me to an amazing doctor who has not given up until he found the right medication and the right dose to help me not have symptoms of hypomania and depression.  My anxiety is the lowest it has ever been.  I have the desire and will to keep up with my house (which has always been a point of anxiety for me), keep up with laundry (which I’ve never been able to do before), homeschool, cook dinner (which sometimes means mac n cheese, dining hall, or something really nice and I’m okay with all of that), bake once in a while (but not obsessively), be content with my body (still getting there, but much more content than ever before), exercise for enjoyment, spend time in the word (not out of guilt, but pure desire), enjoy time with our wonderful community (which, being an introvert, this is huge), reach out and serve others, and just enjoy life.  The ups and downs.  The good and bad days.  This life that He has allowed me to have.

We went to San Antonio Saturday and while it was somewhat stressful (San Antonio River Walk on a Saturday was a bad idea), I feel like these pictures show the pure joy that I feel.  I feel like I can breathe.  Laugh.  Enjoy life.

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I can’t express how thankful I am.  I tell God every day.  I wonder if he’ll ever get tired of hearing it?  Probably not.  He delights in praises and gratefulness.

Where are you in your journey?  If you’re in the middle of the fire right now, know that God will use this for His glory and your good.  He loves you.  He knows what’s best.  Just hold onto Him.