Fearless Faith, Uncategorized

The Struggle is Real.

I’m struggling.  In a time where being a Christian isn’t exactly “cool”…especially as a millennial…I’m struggling with Christianity.  I’m struggling with Jesus.  I’m struggling with prayer…and with God, in general.  And, the truth is, I have been for a while.

Prayer for a while was cussing at God and asking him why things were the way that they were…and then it became more of a, “Hey.  Are you even there?  Are you hearing me?”  And it’s slowly become a mixture of, “HEY!  DUDE.  If you’re real, CHANGE THIS.  If you’re REALLY REAL, FIX THIS…  IF YOU’RE REALLY, REAL…WHY IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING AND WHY AREN’T YOU TAKING CARE OF IT?!”– or silence.

I know, I know.  “Free will.”  I know, I know… “God made humans imperfect.”  I know.  I know.  I.  KNOW.

But Jesus Christ…it is all REALLY HEAVY…and if I feel like I can’t turn to Him with it, where do I take it?  And why is it not letting up?  It’s not even stuff that affects me personally (yet)…but, if my God is real and powerful and all things good…and, if my God is the same God that created all the heavens and the earth…why do I feel His absence?  Why does it feel like He’s hiding out?

I’m still going to church.  And I feel a loving presence while I’m there…but, when I leave, and I realize things are still REALLY HEAVY…WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?

I’m struggling with other Christians.  I’m struggling with what is viewed as moral…and ethical.  I’m struggling with the idea that there are some Christians that are in such opposition to what is CLEARLY DECENT BEHAVIOR…and, for whatever reason, THEY maintain a constant contact with this loving presence of God.  And, if THAT’S the verbiage and action and attitude that grants a relationship with God, I don’t want any part of that.  I’m struggling with the idea of, “Well it would be less painful to just NOT BELIEVE than to BELIEVE and feel so HURT and ANGRY with God.”

I’m struggling with what to teach my children.  In a world where I’ve always seen so much gray…things are becoming very clearly black or white…

So.  What do I do with it?

I guess I write it out.  Ride it out.  Keep trying to pray even if it’s just a whisper…even if it’s cussing and fighting and challenging God to “fix it” or “change this”……

In recovery, they say, “Fake it til ya make it.”  And I think I’ll continue to apply that phrase to this situation.  I’ll just keep trying to believe until I feel it again.  Eventually the load will lighten.  I might not have faith…but at least I have hope.  And that’s a start.

**Note:  I don’t want your feedback.  I REPEAT.  I DON’T WANT YOUR FEEDBACK.  I don’t want your advice.  I don’t want your, “yeah, christians really suck.”  I don’t want your, “We’re called to be like Jesus, not other Christians.”  I don’t want any of that.  I wrote this to get it out.  If it’s on the outside, at least it’s not inside continuing to fester.  If it’s on the outside, surely there’s someone who will read this and feel peace because he/she isn’t alone with his/her own struggles with God right now.  We’re all in this together, friends.  I want you to know my struggles, because pain shared is pain lessened.  But I don’t want your feedback.  Got it?  Good.

Happy Homesteading

Nap Time Home Improvement: Wall paper removal gone wrong

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we bought a 1970’s ranch home about 18 months ago.  I like to call my home improvement projects, “Nap time home improvement” because I generally only work on the projects during the 2 hour nap times I have to work with.  This summer I’ve been trying to devote nap times to working on things around the house.  Last summer we just couldn’t find the time as we were trying to figure out how to be parents of 6 month old twins.

Ok, I use the twins as an excuse to not get much done on the house last summer… but if I’m being honest the house will probably never be in a “finished” state because that’s just the kind of people we are.

When we first moved in I was nearly 7 months pregnant and was in a wild nesting phase which peetered out quickly after dealing with high blood pressure and bed rest.  While in the wild nesting phase I began ripping down every bit of wallpaper in our home.  However, some of the wallpaper was hung directly on unprimed, unpainted, raw drywall.  What a mess. Chunks of the drywall paper came up and created a serious eyesore…. that I lived with for a year.  For one, we had no idea how to correct the issue and two we were terrified to expose preemie babes to drywall dust.

We resorted to YouTube and I came across this gal:

My husband can watch YouTube “how-tos” all day, but I just don’t have the patience for it. I appreciated this gal’s quick tutorial and her methods proved successful for us. We bought the primer from Amazon.  The wall still hasn’t been painted but it is primed and ready for paint!

My husband was ready to rip the drywall out and replace it… but thankfully we didn’t have to!

Mission Motherhood

Stretching your Grocery Dollars at Aldi

Happy Friday, birdies!

Where has the month of June gone?

We have been so busy this month with trips out of town, home improvement projects, reading potty training “how-tos”, learning to sew, playing outside, and the list goes on…

This month our family has made a commitment to be mindful of our budget.  We’ve studied the ins and outs and have made a plan to be more cost savvy.  We had saving set aside and budgeting for me to be at home with the twins for one year… and here we are 18 months later in desperate need to rework the budget to keep me home.

With budgeting being a priority meal planning has been essential to maintaining our monthly food budget. I say meal planning loosely because what I really do is create a menu.  I’m a pretty obsessive planner in most areas of my life but when it comes to meals I like the flexibility of saying “that doesn’t sound good tonight, let’s have this instead”.  Aldi and I have become best buds… we take our relationship seriously but we only see each other every other week for about an hour.  An hour doesn’t seem like much, but we make the time count.

Image result for aldi is my friend

Last week I spent an hour at Aldi’s, bought 2 weeks worth of food and spent $185.

Here are my steps for a successful Aldi’s trip with children in tow:

  • Evaluate your pantry, fridge and freezer to get an idea of what food items will carry over into the next menu. It’s important to me to use up items that may go to waste soon.
  • Check out the weekly ads at your local grocery stores. You can often find them online.  I’ve recently discovered an application called Flipp that has been super helpful in tracking down grocery ads.
  • Peruse Pinterest for ideas.  (I have a board for dinners and breakfasts.)
  • Check out Aldi’s website for recipes as well!
  • Consider items that may freeze well if you’re planning for 2 weeks. Many produce items wont be fresh for that length of time. We utilize frozen fruits and veggies as we get into that second week, freeze meats and bread.  (Even things like milk and butter can be frozen, but I haven’t had to resort to that yet)
  • Write down a list of meals that will make the cut (I plan for 14-16 meals).
  • Write down the ingredients that go with each meal.
  • Evaluate your pantry for items you may already have (and look for items that might be good substitutes in your recipes).
  • Re-organize your list of ingredients in the order of how they are organized in the store. I promise this is the key to getting in and out of the store quickly… if you don’t know your store well enough just group like items on your list – dairy, meat, canned goods, etc.
  • Pack reusable grocery bags in the car… and don’t forget the quarter for your cart!

I honestly take about 2 hour prepping all of this. This much prep may seem exhausting, but not nearly as exhausting as roaming around a grocery store aimlessly with 18 month old twins for 2 hours and hoping for some combination of ingredients that will make a meal…. and then having to do it again every week or more.

What are some of your money saving tips when it comes to grocery shopping?

Stay tuned for a sample of our 2 week menu in an upcoming blog.

Mission Motherhood

What is “me time”? And how do you achieve it as a mom?

About a month ago my husband schedule changed from 2pm – midnight to 7:00am-5:00pm. It’s been an adjustment for everyone in our house.

With the change in schedule I continued to sleep in for as long as the kids would sleep. And then our budget started to take a hit. The husband would stop in someplace for a fast food breakfast and then eat lunch out. He was spending $20/day just eating 2 meals (which is a whole different blog in itself).

I committed to getting up with him at 5:45am to make sure he got out the door with breakfast and lunch. As a single income family we can’t afford to spend $20/day on food. He leaves for work shortly after 6am. After he leaves I go to our sunroom. It is a place where you can hear the birds chirping, the roosters crowing, the rain falling, the wind blowing, the neighbor dog barking, the school bus driving by and the owl “hooting”. It’s not a quiet place, but it certainly is a peaceful place.

I have never been a morning person, but it is unbelievable how much better I feel throughout day and how much I am able to get done.  I’m not doing much in the morning other than put breakfast and lunch together for the husband, maybe change some laundry over, but mostly I’m drinking coffee (while it’s warm), trying to focus on reading my Bible and doing a daily devotional to set my tone for the day.  (Right now I’m working on Jesus Always by Sarah Young).

Would I have this morning routine if my children weren’t sleeping through the night? Maybe not.  Would I do this if I were a working mom?  I think so.  I’m able to be more productive through the day and utilize nap times rather than just slug around.  I kid you not, since I’ve been doing this, my house has been cleaner and I’ve been able to get a handful of home improvement projects completed.  I don’t do the cleaning and projects first thing in the morning, I do it during nap times.  I think my kids have greatly benefited too because overall I have a better attitude and I feel motivated to get them out of the house and go to the park or Toddler Story Time at our local libraries.

Do you have a morning routine for yourself that includes “me” time? What gets your day started?

Mission Motherhood

You’re more than a Nurse

Happy Nurse’s Week!

Many people go to work, do their job, complete menial tasks, physically exert themselves, get in their car, go home from work and turn it off.  They walk away from what they do and go about their lives.

You nurses… you do it all.  You have to be sharp and on your toes at all times.  You have to be a detective looking for signs and putting together puzzle pieces.  Your job is physically demanding.  You pour your heart into your patients and you emotionally invest. You work 12+ hour shifts. And then you’re expected to go home after those 12 hours and be physically and emotionally available to your families.  That’s a gift… that’s a super power.

In my 19 days in the labor and delivery ward at North Kansas City Hospital I didn’t meet a bad nurse. And based on my experience there, I’ve come to the realization that you are way more than a nurse.

  • You were my advocate when I didn’t want the doctor to check me.
  • You were my calm when life felt like chaos.
  • You were compassion when I was hurting.
  • You brought me a “long-term” bed that was SO much more comfortable than a labor bed.
  • You put on my freaking compression socks…. which is darn near a cardio workout.
  • You brought me DVDs, snacks and drinks. You even made sandwiches and toast.
  • You encouraged me when I felt like I couldn’t do it.
  • You put a bed pan under me and helped me lift my big ole pregnant body on it when I was on magnesium sulfate and restricted to the bed. (And you moms know how frequently a pregnant lady pees).
  • When I was alone you were my friend. You came in and talked to me about life, about my unborn babies, the best Netflix shows to watch.
  • You brought me a mini-fridge for our Thanksgiving leftovers.
  • You shared your Thanksgiving with my family.
  • You brought me Black Friday ads, even though there was no way I’d be Black Friday shopping.
  • You helped me get out of bed, walk the halls, and walk to the bathroom.
  • When I was getting cabin fever you convinced the doctor to let me take a wheel chair ride down to the cafeteria.
  • When I so badly wanted to sit in a tub of water and feel weightless you made it happen, despite a doctor discouraging it, and despite the Mother and Baby unit that possessed such tub… because “it is only for postnatal mothers”.
  • When I wanted to go outside and sit in the courtyard after being trapped in the same room for 18 days you brought me a wheelchair and warmed blankets.
  • You cried with me.
  • You were going to coordinate a time for my dog to visit me in the hospital because I missed her like crazy.
  • You woke me up in the middle of the night because you had to… but you did it in the kindest way and left all of the lights off. (They can do their job in the dark, people.)
  • On day 19 when the doctor told me he would let me go 14 more days before he’d induce labor, I lost my cool at the idea of being there for 14 more days.  You made me a paper chain with 14 links that each of the night shift people decorated.
  • You got excited for me when I thought my water broke.
  • You held me when my epidural was placed (3 freaking times… and listened to my swear words without taking it personal).
  • You cheered me on during labor.
  • You rejoiced with me on the happiest day of my life.
  • You were my birth photographer.
  • You helped me navigate self care of a postnatal body.
  • You held my babies before they sent us up to the Mother and Baby ward.
  • You came back to Mother and Baby for a visit several times before we left the hospital.
  • You made little shirts for the twins as a gift. (You were my nurse and you gave ME a gift? You’re the one that deserves the gifts)

You do it all.  You are so much more than a nurse. You invest in people. You have a heart to serve and you do it because you have a passion for it. You get your hands dirty and deal with grumpy patients but you still come in with a smile and a snack.

You are my HERO.

Thank you for all you do.

If more people had the heart of a nurse, I think we’d live in a much peaceful world.

(My first trip out of my room and to the cafeteria with my mom)

Uncategorized

I Have Bipolar Disorder, But Bipolar Disorder Doesn’t Have Me.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything in regard to mental illness, but -in honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month- I thought I’d shine some light on my personal diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder.

I spent years assuming that I had a mixture of anxiety and depression…and medicated separately for each (mostly with alcohol, but also with prescriptions).  Anxiety and depression are both talked about so freely and described openly by so many people, that it was natural to assume that would be the appropriate diagnosis.  More than a few years but less than a decade ago, while taking an antidepressant, I had my first experience with what I know now as a wave of mania followed by depression followed by mania until I could get in with a psychiatrist who lovingly explained that my previous diagnosis was incorrect, and prescribed something that would make me feel level for the first time in ever.

Let me explain “mania” and “depression” to you as it relates to my experience with bipolar disorder:
Mania is not sleeping.  Mania is starting so many projects but not being able to focus long enough to finish any of them.  Mania is crying because I feel spread so thin.  Mania is not eating.  Mania is a very short fuse.  Mania feels like anxiety…because it causes me to be anxious.  Mania makes my muscles ache from being so tense.  It might last a few days.  It might last weeks.  It might last months.  literally.  months.  And it might seem better some days only to throw me back on the ground the next.  Mania is feeling like I need to sleep…and wanting to sleep…and craving the ability to just sit and watch TV or read a book or write…and, regardless, not being able to sit still…even at 2am.  Mania is impulsivity like most have probably not experienced since childhood…like…in mania, if I want something and don’t purchase it or make it or do it, it feels like my skin is crawling out of itself. Mania is not being able to sleep because I am 100% sure that we are getting bombed…and researching how far bombs can travel from various points around the world…and telling myself, “Your kids are safe.  You are safe, Dani.  Everyone is safe.” Over and over and over again.  And my husband telling me, “Everything is fine.  Everyone is safe.” And still not sleeping because…well…mania.  Mania is barricading myself in the house and telling myself it’s because I’m an introvert…when it’s actually because I’m too scattered and nervous to leave the house.  And, all of the sudden, when I least expect it…my mania can drop me into…
Depression.  Let me first say that depression is not a lack of not being grateful…but the lack of being able to feel gratitude.  Depression is not delusion.  Depression for me is extremely dark.  It feels worthless and painful and hopeless and suicidal…and, as difficult as mania can be to manage, the depression is what prompts me to take medication.  I can live with mania.  I can apologize for getting angry and snapping at my family…and I can tell myself that it’s fine to never leave the house or to stay awake for 72 hours with a few 30 minute nap sessions…but the depression is too dark to handle on my own.  And why try?  That’s like playing Russian roulette.

So, it’s been a while because I had taken a break while having babies, but I’m finally back on my medication.  Finally.  And, things haven’t immediately improved upon starting a medication for bipolar.  Not for me, at least.  It’s taken several weeks to feel “okay”– and I still feel pretty anxious…but it’s getting better.  I’m sleeping again.  And I’m taking deeper breaths.  And I can lay in savasana and not feel panic.  …Do you know how freeing that is?  To not feel panic when you’re accustomed to feeling panic (but hiding it) 24/7 for weeks on end?  Savasana has forever been the most difficult pose in yoga for me.  It’s when you have to lay still at the end of your yoga session and breathe and feel strong and confident and safe… The first night after having a pleasant experience with savasana, I couldn’t wait to tell my husband all about it…in detail…how calm and relaxed I felt, the images that floated through my carefree mind…and how I wanted to be able to access that feeling all the time.  –I know that people without mental illness also have days when they’re unhappy…or stressed…or anxious…  I know that I’m not supposed to feel calm and relaxed at all times; that would be completely unnatural to a human being.  But medication has helped to find a middle ground in the extreme highs and lows.

Anyway, this has been just a very brief glance into what my experience has been.  I wanted to write this because this is not a diagnosis that’s talked about.  Ever.  Or rarely, at least.  There’s a ton of shame and hush associated with it, whereas folks talk about depression or anxiety or ADHD without reservation.  So here I am!–declaring no fear or shame or hush…I have bipolar disorder, but it doesn’t have me.  Not today, at least.  And for that I am grateful.

 

Mission Motherhood

Fuss free bedtime: twin edition

I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a profile that I follow: Twinsandmoretwins. This user has two sets of twins about a year apart and she compares sleep patterns for her older set vs her younger set of twins. I totally relate to her methods with her youngest set of twins who learned to self soothe at an early age without cry-it-out methods.

1. Maintain a solid bedtime and nap time routine

We are blessed with mild tempered twins who are pretty easy sleepers. They are currently 17 months old and we’ve had a pretty solid bedtime routine for the last 6-7 months. We have dinner at 6:00pm, bath immediately after dinner every other night, sippy cup of milk at 7:00pm, jammies at 7:30pm, teeth brushed and in their cribs by 8:00pm. They are typically asleep within 5 minutes and generally sleep until 7:30-8:00am.

2. Allow them to fall asleep without needing snuggles

I think what really helped us was leaving them to fall asleep on their own as newborns. Before our twins were born my husband and I decided that we needed to be strategic with our snuggles. The idea of either one of us being alone with them and not being able to get them to sleep was stressful. If we used snuggles to get the babies to sleep they would be reliant on being held in order to fall asleep. This was our strategy as newborns: We’d feed then diaper and while they were still milk drowsy we’d lay them down in their bassinet or pack n play.

We still snuggled our babies… the good Lord knows I love my baby snuggles (and daddy is just as guilty of loving his snuggles). We just didn’t snuggle them to sleep. When they looked like they might be getting close to falling asleep we’d lay them down. They started sleeping 6-7 hour stretches around 10 weeks but the 4 month sleep regression ended that. They were 10 months old before they were consistently sleeping through the night again. But when they were getting up in the night, they got what they needed (binky, gas drops, water, Tylenol) and laid back down.

3. Avoid getting to the overtired stage by watching for signs of tiredness

I think since they’ve put themselves to sleep for such a long time it has helped them to recognize when they are tired and ready to rest. I will ask if they are ready to lay down, take a nap, or go to bed and they run towards their bedroom. I try to avoid getting to the point where they are overtired so I check in with them and ask if they want to lay down when they start showing signs of tiredness.

These are the signs I watch for in our toddlers:

  • Yawns
  • Eye rubbing
  • Irritability towards each other
  • Desire for snuggles
  • Climbing up on the couch just to sit
  • Laying on the floor
  • Standing at the baby gate closest to their room
  • Getting slap happy and giggly
  • Asking for binkies (because they only have them in bed – until I ditch my fear of bedtime without binkies)
  • Finding a quiet spot to read books

4. Learn the cues of your children and follow their lead

I keep thinking they will eventually stop wanting to take two naps a day, but for now they still very much ask for two naps. They have one at 11am and one at 3:30pm and sleep about 1-1.5 each nap.

Every child is different… their personalities, their communication. The twins are drastically different and they’ve never been away from each other. Just because these methods have worked for our family, doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. I think the biggest advice I could give is to listen to your child. Use their body language or changes in behavior as a form of communication. If you can recognize these changes it is so much easier to anticipate their needs before things escalate to utter frustration on behalf of your child who doesn’t know how to express their needs and frustration on behalf of parents who don’t know what the child needs.

What methods and bedtime routines have worked for you? What signs and signals do you watch for?