Mama Bear Blues: Infertility, Motherhood & Bears

Mama Bear Blues: Infertility, Motherhood & Bears

Infertility? But then there’s this…

After being told I couldn’t have children I wrestled with the feelings of not becoming a Mama Bear.  But to my surprise a couple years later I found myself laying in a hospital bed looking over at a baby girl. My baby girl…this precious little bundle who proved the specialist wrong. Because of her (and some help from my beloved, of course) I now had the privilege of carrying the title:

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Build a Youth Pastor Peer Group in 5 Simple Steps

Build a Youth Pastor Peer Group in 5 Simple Steps

Peer Groups for Youth Pastors?

As discussed in our blog, Holy Spoke, the importance of having strong spokes inside your wheel is key to keeping things rolling! This is one of those important spokes.

Peer Group

It’s really necessary one way or another to make sure you are involved with a peer group of fellow youth pastors.  If one doesn’t exist in your town, create one yourself and host it at your church location!  Meeting monthly with other people who do the same job you do is important, helpful, and at times may become really necessary for your personal sanity. Your ministry is a very specialized area of employment with it’s own unique challenges. Talking with people who understand your world and your daily experience can be very helpful.

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What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Whats Your Story

It’s All About The Story

A few years ago I was asked for an Artist Statement to go with artwork I was submitting for an exhibit. Being a musician I never thought displaying a piece of art would be something I’d ever do. I realized putting my personal story down on paper, along with my 2 framed CDs I recorded, would count as a piece of visual art. I had to give it a shot!  The theme was “Second Chances”…a perfect match for my story.

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Here is what I wrote:

Artist Statement: “Second Chances”

Music has always been my passion, my language. It is how I most comfortably communicate that which is nearest and dearest to my heart. My guitar has always been my partner in this process. Having lost the ability to play for 5 years I struggled with things I’d never imagined: constant pain, depression, great loss. God showed me mercy by introducing me to myself. I discovered I was skilled at songwriting! God knew I needed my guitar out of the picture so I wouldn’t be distracted by it. He then showed me amazing grace by providing me a “Second Chance”. I can play again! Now I write, play and sing!! So, I rejoice and am glad in it!

I encourage you to spend time figuring out what your story is!  It matters!  When you do I encourage you to write it down. Of course there will be more to write as each day passes but write it down, at least up to this point. You just might find some insights into what God has been doing in your life. Looking back will also cause you to slow down, reflect, and see all the blessings He has already given you. Who knows it might give you some hints into what He might be up to in the future.

However, it might leave you with a lot more questions.  Hang on though!  You’ll get another piece to your life’s puzzle. Who knows, you just may start to see how your stories become interconnected, one leading into another. Hmmm…it’s almost like someone is orchestrating your life.

One of the best things I have discovered from getting to know my own story is that it is the KEY to being able to naturally and more comfortably share God’s love with other people.  God is in our everyday stuff.  He is truly the co-author of our story. He has given us the freedom to make our own choices but you can know He is still weaving Himself into our lives in ways we don’t realize. If we look hard enough though, we can sometimes see His handy work.

If you were to write an artist statement for your life what would it be?  In other words, what’s your story…so far?

Maybe there’s a new story in your life you still want to “write”. What would that look like?

Please share and add to the conversation. We would love to learn your story!

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn't Mean BrokenDepression & Society

Society treats depression like a bad word, as if people who have it are broken.  Heaven forbid if you make any reference to possibly suffering from it!

About 5 years ago, following way too many days of crying I realized my world was in the midst of a storm and I couldn’t deal with it on my own.

I remember the day clearly, sitting in my doctor’s office.  “It’s like having this dark storm cloud hovering over my head all the time.  I just can’t seem to see the sun anymore.  I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night that wake me up.  I find myself sitting straight up in bed thinking to myself, ‘Oh no!  I forgot to turn on the dishwasher before bed.’  I find myself in a cold sweat, shaking from head to toe, ready to go into fight or flight mode.  It’s awful!”

“If I am not stressing about messing something up, during the day I feel so low and worthless I can hardly function.  Going into public to run errands, I wished I was invisible.  That way, I wouldn’t have to put words together and sound like a normal human being.”

This anxiety/depression combo resulted in me being a highly reactionary and impatient mother and wife.  I hated myself for it, too.  I wanted to be free of my own company.  I loathed having to continue being me.

Depression’s Source

My doctor inquired about my relatives and mental health issues.  “Well yes, dementia on dad’s side and depression–that kept the person from speaking for days at a time–on mom’s side.”    The doc’s face turned to a look of, “ahaa!” on her face.  She then informed me that, at no fault of mine, I was struggling with anxiety and depression.  She then explained that they are like two sides of a coin and something that can be passed down genetically.   She clarified, ”You have done nothing wrong, there is just a slight imbalance in your brain chemistry.”

In my situation a mild anti-depressant for a period of time was all I needed to see the sun again.  I rediscovered my enthusiasm and passion for music plus the guts I needed to get in front of people again.

Now, of course, everyone is different. Sometimes the chemistry in your brain needs balancing out permanently. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong. Getting your brain chemistry balanced just helps the true you shine through!

My world is not perfect now, my anxiety pops up occasionally and I am aware when clouds are threatening to cover my blue sky again.  Once in a  great while my anxiety will get the best of me and a few thoughtless words will pour out of my mouth, like Harry Potter when he tried to smile at Cho with a mouth full of pumpkin juice.

I am always striving to do better at apologizing as soon as possible and then just moving forward instead of caring my mistakes on my back like a cross I must forever bear. We all screw up. We are human. Forgiveness is not just something we are to give to others. It’s something we need to give to ourselves.

What about you? Do you, or someone you know, deal with depression? Are there tools you’ve heard about, or discovered, that are helpful?

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did. Check out this song for a little encouragement. For deeper resources (books, magazines, support groups), check these out.

photo credit: ashley rose via photopin cc

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops! (Part 2)

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops! (Part 2)

Persistence (Part 2)Persistent + Positivity = Payoff

As stated in my first blog, completing a task or “closing a loop” can be a huge challenge for me. Especially if I am thinking of other things while doing them. Some tasks are extra difficult due to the fact that there is time sensitivity involved.  I shared in part one that opening and closing windows to help keep the house cool during the summer has two parts to it.  The second part (*closing*) is normally the tricky part.

Another task I briefly mentioned in blog #1 involves doing more than one thing at a time. Example: feeding the cats.  This may not seem like a multi-tasking sort of task but when you have three cats that don’t eat the same food or eat in the same location then you have got yourself a job!

For me something this “simple” will sometimes result in me leaving a can of food out by accident.  It’s often the middle cat whose can I leave out for anyone to snack on.  I get the first cat all set up downstairs but feeding two boys upstairs in separate rooms with separate foods is often when things go awry.  I forget to loop back around to pick up the can of food for cat #2 because I am now focused on cat #3. Plus, since cat #3 is located in the laundry room, I immediately start thinking about the laundry situation and getting a load going.  Once I do that, there is no memory of the can of food left out for #2 until it’s lunch time or my hubby finds it.

Persistent About Allowing Growth

Overall, multi-tasking is just not something that works for me.  And, even though I have been through this struggle a million times it doesn’t improve the situation.  It doesn’t matter if “on pain of death it must be done” because I can’t keep all those thoughts and feelings in some organized order in my head all at once.

I have to break this task down to feeding each animal individually.  I also need to ask myself, “Have you finished the task at hand?”  “Do you have any loops you need to close before moving on to the next task?”

This, of course, is easier said than done.  So, I often put sticky notes up to remind me of daily open loops like washing clothes so we don’t run out! (More on that topic next time.)

Another helpful trick I have learned is pairing up a task you often forget to do with something you always remember to do. That way it will become a new habit much faster than usual.

It takes (persistent) work and a positive attitude (positivity!).  If you get down on yourself, you just give yourself another thing to distract yourself with.  Experiment! Try different tactics and see what works for you.

Keep on keepin’ on!

Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. Is there an area in your life you’re persistent at improving? Are you striving to bring positivity along for the ride? Invite someone you know into this conversation. Everyone is welcome. 

photo credit: readerwalker via photopin cc

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops!

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops!

Persistent & positive

Persistent positivity…in the face of open loops?

Being your own cheerleader is most important!…and actually, necessary. Your view of yourself and your self talk is the most powerful input you will ever get.

Often I will discover or have it pointed out to me some routine I didn’t finish that negatively impacted someone.  We call it in my house, an “open loop.”  I open windows in the a.m. to cool down the house but I forget to close them before the sun comes around, so the house is twice as hot as it would have been. I feed the cats but forget to put away the catfood afterward.  (I will get back to the catfood in my part-2 blog.) These are the kind of loops that are easiest to leave open because they involve timing but not much thought. I can be thinking about something completely different as I do these things so I may get distracted and pick up on a thought in the middle of my task. Oi!

Here is what I mean:

The windows –  If I don’t set a timer for the closing of the windows I will most likely forget.  There have been times I have remembered early and thought to myself, ‘ it’s too early…I will come back to it’ with every intention of doing so.  Convinced I will, I go on with my day but end up completely forgetting.  I am better off doing something either immediately when I think of it or I need to set a timer.  Really those are my two options.  It’s tricky though because doing it immediately may keep you from accomplishing something else you had planned to do.  It’s good to pause and check first.  If nothing will be impacted, then go for it!

Anyway, back to my original thought – being persistent.  I accidentally tick people off, whether I know it or not.  All I can do is apologize and do my best at being aware of my open loops. (Timers can be a helpful tool.  Just remember to not pound yourself if you forget the timer, too.  Beating yourself up just makes the rest of the day worse.)

Let people express their frustration so they know you care about their feelings.  Whether you mean to do things or not, they are hurt, so let them know you love them by listening.

Try not to internalize their words of anger as attacks on who you are, it’s just what you have done. Now, yes it can be hard to separate those two but if you do you will be able to think more clearly and problem solve how to make the situation better. If you let other people’s anger completely overcome you it will distract you, and just make things worse.

You aren’t stupid, you aren’t an idiot, so just listen compassionately, keep your head on straight and be open to the fact that you just might come up with a creative idea to help improve the situation so it won’t happen quite as often. Be persistent with being persistent. 😉

What routines do you find challenging to complete? Please share. We may be able to help.

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.

photo credit: Loving Earth via photopin cc