Wednesday, January 30, 2013

responsibility & realization

I love this picture because it shows that even though I was about to enter a dark time I was at first, very excited and very full of love for my Love Bugs.
When the girls were first born I had postpartum depression.  I hesitated for the longest time calling it that because I felt like it wasn't the kind of pd that you hear about on the news.  But it was bad. for me. I would cry waking up in the morning dreading another day. I ignored friends phone calls because I didn't want to make petty conversations and didn't want to hear their cheerful voices.  I wanted to be alone and felt alone.  It was dark. I told Hubs we needed to prepare ourselves if this was the "new me". I was concerned that this would be the "mother Joanna"... always anxious, scared and weepy.  I cried every day for the first five months of the girls lives.  Every. Day.  And that is not an exaggeration. I cried every day.  My thought life went wild with crazy thoughts and I have lingering moments that can still can take me down a bad place if I'm not careful. 

Mostly my feelings related to wanting to run away and imagine "what if" things had been different.  I could rationalize away my desire to run away with the thought that if I were gone, Hubs would find a better wife.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it? And yet, I fantasized those thoughts all the time.

One of the hardest things about motherhood was the realization that I was totally responsible for two very little lives.  I wasn't able to separate the decisions of feeding and napping and swaddling or not from the decisions to homeschool, potty train, spank, let them drive a car, have cell phones, etc.  All the decisions I would be making came swooping in on me all at once and I was very overwhelmed (and very tired).

Two little lives and little faces stared at me. Sometimes they were silently wondering up at me and sometimes they were screaming or squirming.  I didn't know what they wanted and I didn't know how to give them whatever that was that they wanted.  I felt so much love for them and yet so much fear for screwing them up.  One of my closest friends and fellow twins mama JK told me, "You can not screw them up." and I literally thought of cross-stitching that on a pillow somewhere where I could see it every day.  If I hadn't been sleep deprived and living in a constant fog of "what the heck is happening" I may have actually done it.

With time and sleep has come the ability to realize that I need to face only the day that is before me and not to worry about what may or may not come.  The decision to potty train (and how), to homeschool (or not), to spank, drive, cell phones, dating (oh Lord, be near), etc. etc. etc.  ALL those decisions will come later in life and I will receive the grace when time is needed.

One of my friends once said that God doesn't give us grace for imagined fears.... and what she meant by that was, God isn't going to give me the grace to face the fears of having teenage twin daughters NOW because that is not what God is asking me to walk through TODAY.  He is giving me grace for today.

And boy, did I need it today.  The Love Bugs were in a mood this morning.  The only way to describe the mood is to italicize it.  It was a mood.  I guess bold doesn't hurt either!! And the feelings of running away came creeping up on me.  Being a mother has been one of the hardest journeys God has asked me to walk and yet, one of the greatest.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Love Bugs and I wouldn't trade all the lessons I am learning but they are difficult.

So when I am overwhelmed with responsibility I am reminded that all things are ultimately in God's hand and He was faithful to see me through the first year of the Love Bugs' life so I know He can see me through anything.

I wanted to write this to encourage you that God will see you through whatever it is you are facing.  Even when we don't feel like we are able to be faithful to God... when the road is dark and the way seems impossible. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.  It's God's very character to be faithful.  Trust and rely on Him.  He will not let you down or disappoint you.

There are days when I want to give in to the thoughts and just give up because it seems easier.  But then I do the things that "recharge my batteries" and I am able to face the moment.  If only that moment. I'd like to keep talking about this because it's one of the reasons I haven't blogged recently.  I have these little voices that tell me you all don't want to hear about this season of my life... and you know what, it's okay if you don't but it's also good for those who have been there and may be there someday. Life is good but life can be hard and when it gets tough its good to know you are not alone.  Not only does God give us His people who have gone through similar circumstances but He has also given us His Spirit who comforts us in our times.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

a conversation

"Whoever is slow to anger..."
Oh?! See now, You got me right there.  Slow to anger? Slow?!?! Sloooow to anger? Are you sure you meant slow, Lord? What about quick to apologize after being angry? Is that the same thing? No?

"Slow to anger" is not a phrase people would use to desrcribe me.  Slow?!

I'm more like the "sons of thunder" with my "righteous anger" and lightning quick judgement! BOOM!  You mess with Jesus? Boom! You aren't feeding the hungry? Boom!  You called that person a naughty phrase while driving? Bo... what?! Oh, that was me?! Oh, yeah, that was me!

Okay, Lord, so maybe my anger isn't righteous. Okay, so it's rarely righteous. But that's okay cause its something between you and me, right? We're "working" on it, right?

What do you mean by planting seeds? The Love Bugs? Oh, no! They're too young to learn about anger. I'll wait till they're older to start implem... wait, what? Oh, that?!

Yeah, I saw that when Love Bug threw out a full out tantrum and did a "Godzilla" through Grandma's Christmas village.  Yup, I saw that.  I remember saying it was "cute" but thinking I didn't know what to do with her.  Or when the other Love Bug didn't get her toy and smacked her sister in the face.  When one of them takes the book and the other one resorts to pulling her down to the ground.  I can see what you mean by self-control or lack there of but what does this have to do with me?  I haven't hit someone since the last time I saw my brothers.  Oh, so it's my words? They're snappy and full of pain.  And the expression on my face when I yelled at the lady who cut me off?

The Love Bugs saw that?

Wow, now I see what you mean by fruit of Eve.  I see little seeds of anger popping up in the Love Bugs lives and they're still so young.

"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,  and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32)

Lord, forgive me for setting an example of what not to do, thank you for showing me how to love others and help me rule my spirit so that I can show the Love Bugs how to rule theirs.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


My most reoccurring dream, hands down, would be catching the train in Japan.

In my dream, I'm buying my ticket and I either am about to miss the train or I'm short the amount needed to make my purchase.  Last night the tickets came out like when you don't have the right amount of stamp currency needed so you tack on a 5 cent stamp and then a couple 1 cent-ers so that before you can send the letter it's got a long row of stamps on it. That's what my ticket looked like. A long row of 5 yen going some place and another 5 yen going further on.

I'm always going somewhere different and I'm always at a different station. Sometimes it's an actual station and sometimes it doesn't look familiar but I know the station.  Sometimes I'm even going to Tokyo Disney (seriously don't want to miss THAT train, now do I?).

I don't know why catching the train either. Maybe because it was the source of so many moments of exasperation but also jubilation.  I got on far too many trains only to realize I was headed in the wrong direction.  I once rode a train for 15 hours. A slow moving, stop at every stop train for 15 hours. I've fallen asleep on trains and I've stayed very vigilant on them so I wouldn't miss my stop.  I traveled to see friends, to learn the language and to live life.  The train in Japan was a part of my life there as much as taking off my shoes in the doorway and eating with chopsticks.  It was normal.

It's these dreams that keep me connected to a land I love and a place that changed me.  A place that I "grew up" in and made promises to grow old in with friends. "If our husbands die before us...." that sort of thing. I love my dreams.  I love that they connect me to a place where I can't travel physically to right now.  So as long as they occur, I'll embrace them, enjoy them and run like mad to catch the next one.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

practice makes perfect

Why do you suppose most people don't finish their new year's resolutions?

I know for me, personally, it's all about the passage of time and my own laziness.  I am a forgetful person (times that by 100 now that I have kids. If you don't see me write it down, it ain't gonna happen!) and a very "on my own terms" kind of person.

While reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp I came across her thoughts on why she'd often times heard a sermon or read scripture about "giving thanks" but how it had never really changed her.  She says it all boils down to practice for her.  She discovers this while reading Philippians 4:11-13

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Twice Paul mentions practice as in "I have learned" how to be thankful and content. We have to learn our goals, practice them.... daily, hourly, minute by minute remind myself that I am thankful.

So in order to be successful with your New Year's resolution and for me to cultivate a more eucharisteo lifestyle, we must put ourselves to daily practice of such.  Think about it. If your goal is to lose weight, you won't magically wake up tomorrow ten pounds lighter.  Oh!  If that were only the key to weight loss, everyone would be the ideal weight that they want OR on the other hand we'd have such a bad habit of indulgence because it would require nothing of us, no sacrifice for us to reach our ideal goal.  If you could wake up tomorrow without working for your goal but having your goal accomplished I am willing to bet you wouldn't cherish your goal as much as working for it.

I have a lot of dear friends who are engaged right now.  They labored and prayed and waited for these days.  Think of how sweet the wedding will be after the wait is finally over.  I know when Hubs and I got married I counted down the days and greatly anticipated the big celebration.

Anything worth having, is also worth waiting for and working towards.... right?

I confess, I am the worst at this. Worst!  I have told you, my dear friends, multiples times how "itchy" and tired I get of life.  I rearrange my furniture quarterly (if not more), I paint, I redecorate.... etc. I get so bored with life that I need change.   And I've come to realize, appreciate and even admire that about myself.  My desire for change is a gift from God.  But how can I thrive in daily practice and discipline when I shudder at the mundane?


I cannot become the woman I am intended to be, the wife, the mother, the friend, sister, etc. without saying no to some things in life.  For example; I want to get up at 6AM every morning.  That means I have to be very good about going to be at a decent hour.  

You're probably thinking right now how boring and un-fun I sound but I want to encourage you that a little daily discipline and sacrifice can help us all to become the people we want to. Whether it's a spiritual goal or a physical goal.  We can't reach it without discipline and sacrifice.

Read Hebrews 11! It's all about people who sacrificed without seeing the fruits of their labors. Yet, they continued to labor because they knew the real "fruits of their labors" didn't lay on this side of heaven.  

So what's your word? And how can you practice your word today?

1 Corinthians 9:24, "Run in such a way to gain the prize"

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Happy New Year everyone.
This isn't going to be anything new or profound or groundbreaking. In fact, I wrote my thoughts down while the Love Bugs played and then I checked my email only to find that Emily over at JDC had written a very similar blog.  Girl after my own heart, I swear. Or maybe I'm after hers?

Anyway, I like to start the new year with resolutions. Yup, I am that type of person. I like daydreaming and planning and the new starts in life.  I like thinking anything is possible.  Run a marathon? Sure! Learn a new language? Why not!  Taking life by the horns and really enjoying the ride.

I heard this morning that about only 7% of people keep their resolutions and accomplish them throughout the year. Wowzers! Seven. Percent. Wow!  And this newscast I heard said that the other 93% are happy if they make it a week.  A week?!?! Come on people... surely we haven't stooped that low that we can only be focused for a... wait, is that the ice cream truck I hear?

Just kidding. But seriously, it is hard to keep resolutions and who has a hard time REMEMBERING their resolutions? It's true.  So here are some thoughts I have and a snippet of my resolutions.

I write down my resolutions in various places and have even placed them over my desk where I can see them.  I've heard of people who make goal posters... laugh all you want but as my friend Julie told me, "3% of people  made a goal poster and the rest are working for those 3%!" ha ha I don't know how factual that is but i like it.  So write them down. Write them where you'll see them every day.

Reward yourself. Find something.  I've heard of giving yourself a dollar for every time you work-out then buying yourself a nice (and smaller) pair of jeans/pants/etc. when you reach $100. I like that one.  Reward yourself with something you want and something you'll go for.

Choose a theme or word to umbrella your resolutions under.  For example, my word for 2012 was "contentment"... I wrote that word everywhere. EVERYWHERE and talked about it several times via my blog. Hubs asked me last night if I felt more content and ya know... I feel like I had really good peaceful content days and then I had days where my world was turned upside down and I couldn't get out of whatever the situation was fast enough.  So contentment could possibly be my word every year.

Here's a couple of my resolutions written down via the blog:
*work-out; bicycling is going to happen more & this crazy video series I'm loving is going to happen consistently.
*blog more. Yup, that's why I'm back. I seriously thought about shutting this blog down and saying goodbye. But for my sanity I need to write. I need to write and I need to process.  I have things to say and instead of worrying about who is reading this and what they'll think (ugh, people-pleasing stinks!) what I'm doing and writing and saying on this blog is for me.
*potty train my Love Bugs.  That's right.  I've already started the Love Bugs saying, "Poop" it's pretty freaking cute when they come over and look at me quizzically saying, "Poopy? Poopy?" and about half of the time they're right, they have just pooped. The other half of the time, they're just saying it.  So we're slowly working on it.  But goodness they're only 17 months.  This goal has a loose (very loose and grace-filled for them and me) deadline of July 13th, their birthday.  I have a friend who potty trained her sweet babe at 18 months and my mom did 2 years but then I have friends who waited till after 2, 3 and even later so it's a grace-filled goal.

So there's a couple of goals.  I also listed them on the right hand side of my blog so I can be reminded of them whenever I am on my blog.  And you can remind me when you see them.

My rewards include: $1 for every work-out accomplished, girls night out with my friend who is setting her own goal and probably a bottle of champagne when the girls are successfully potty trained.  Or maybe I'll throw a party.  For me! In Cabo! Or somewhere awesome! ha ha I'm still working on the rewards ... but its important to have them.

And my theme word for 2013....
is eucharisteo which means "thanksgiving" and was stolen from the book "A Thousand Gifts" which is one of my favorite books.  I read this book about two years ago and I still think about it and ponder a lot of the encouragement/challenges the author Ann Voskamp gives.  One way I am working on this is writing down one thing every day something I am thankful for.  Just one. I hope I haven't lost my heart so much in the critical mess I live in that I can't find at least one thing.  Most of my day, to be honest, is consumed with pity, fears and ungratefulness.

So I decided to focus on the Lord and how truly blessed I am, I wanted to give thanks. Each day. Pause and remember what God has done.

So... are you someone who has resolutions? Do you have a word/theme for 2013?

I'd love to hear from you if you do!