Sunday, January 29, 2012


I found this quote the other day from Rachel Jankovic, the author of my favorite parenting book, Loving The Little Years. I immediately printed it out and put it on my fridge to read throughout my days. I can tell you that it has been a huge perspective changer for me and often when I am just about ready to lose it (am I the only one here?) I take a breath and read her thoughtful words again.

"Motherhood as a mission field is giving up yourself. Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don't like the green beans. Laugh when your plans are thwarted by a vomiting child. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can't read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. 
Gain that which you cannot lose in them." ~Rachel Jankovic

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Doing The Hard Work....And Finding It's Not That Hard

As I am finding myself emerging from the dark clouds and ever so strong grip of depression I have been evaluating and thinking and praying about the whys and hows of my arriving at the deep dark scary places. What triggered it? How do I need to prepare myself now to keep from going there again? One thing keeps hitting me square in the face....I lost my focus on God. I don't know if that is every reason why I have suffered so much the past months, but I know it played a huge role in the enemy's ability to keep me down. 

It's hard for me to stay dedicated. I have a mind that likes to run a million different directions rather than to focus on one thing. I am not a fan of mornings. I tell myself that I will take time throughout the day to read God's word and restore my soul and then it is 10 pm and I am falling into bed. Multiply that by several days in a row and then several months in a row and I can see now why my soul felt empty. 

It's hard for me to dedicate time to the Lord. I absolutely hate that about myself. I hate seeing it in writing. But, for me, right now, my hard work (or at least one of the "hard works" I am working on) is to spend time with God. Real, quality, meaningful time. And, I am finding that the benefit from time with God makes up for the discomfort of having to change some habits I've gotten used to. 

*My BSF questions for this week. I'm thankful to God for the desire He has given me (that has been missing for so long) to study His word. It is exciting!!!*

Playroom Part 1

Since we moved into the new house we knew there would be many rooms that needed updating. After sitting and discussing which rooms needed attention first we decided on the playroom. This might sound a little weird considering we have miles of floral wallpaper that needs to come down, but as a stay at home mommy I am in the playroom with the kids a lot. A. Lot. :) Right now it is just plain ugly. So, we are putting our time and energy into completing that room first! I have to say that I am super excited about it and I can't wait until everything is organized and easy to find...we haven't been able to find play-doh or several activities for months since they are still packed away in boxes in the garage. Yikes!

This weekend my sweet mother-in-law is coming into town to help us with the kids while we paint and finish some of the projects that two little ones underfoot would complicate! :) Shawn's brother, Chad, brought us the Ikea Expedit shelving system that I have been drooling over for years when they came down for Christmas. It was seriously the sweetest thing considering it came in two huge boxes that took up valuable space in his vehicle. And he had to go to the store to pick them up (along with a few little Ikea items I have been eyeing for a while now too!!!)

For the past week we have been working on all the little things that have to be done before the fun stuff begins. For one, we took out this super awkward cabinet tucked in a little nook. (I have huge plans for this area that I think will look much better and be more functional!

We are definitely not fans of red walls. It makes it feels so dark and cramped in there.

We were super excited when we discovered the mold growing behind the cabinets....NOT!

My handy hubby cut that junk out and re-drywalled the whole area there. I am so glad...mold scares me.

The mess scares me too.....breathe Jen, breathe.

Here is a view (with awesome dust spots on my camera) from the side of the room where the Expedit shelf will go and the weird nook is....messy playroom!

And here is a view from the messy side. :) Love that my husband was cleaning up the drywall mess. He is such a man and I absolutely adore him.

And finally, here is the view into our living room. You can see the awesome wallpaper that adorns the's the best. ;)

I'll keep updating as we go through. I am really thrilled to make this into a space that is fun and functional. I am also really excited about the magnetic chalkboard wall that will be going up soon!!!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sweet Confirmation

Yesterday I sent my awesome friend Tammy a text with this picture:

(Yes....those are BALL POINT PENS in an array of BEAUTIFUL COLORS that DO NOT BLEED THROUGH YOUR PAPER and make me OH SO HAPPY. And yes I texted the picture to her because we share a deep and uncontrollable love for all things office supply. The more colorful and cute they are the better. We really get each other.)

Do you want to know how she responded?

"I went and bought those pens last night! As I was opening them this morning, I realize you texted excited about pens!!! That's very Jen like!!! You're coming back!!!"

That, my friends, is sweet confirmation that I am getting better! It touched my heart so much to know that she saw something that might seem like a small detail to most people as a huge turning point for me. 

Thanks, Tammy! I adore you!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I am relearning how to be happy.

Isn't that sad?

I've spent so long looking at my glass as half empty which is really not me at all...I've always been a glass half full kind of girl. So, I'm relearning how to be happy. How to look at that sippy cup of spoiled milk (yep it really happens around here) and see the blessings in it instead of the frustrations.

I'm cutting off those sighs that have made up my days. I'm laughing more.

Turning that frown upside down. I'm praying for gentleness in my voice.

I'm forgetting about the mess. I'm getting on the floor and playing.

And I'm finding joy again.

Because you know what? It's always been there. It's always been here. In this home, in my children, my husband, in this journey God has called me on.

It's a choice for me. "It's a focus on giving not receiving. Focus on healing rather than hurting. Focus on God's power rather than my problems." (Thank you to my awesome pastor for these timely words just a few weeks ago that have been resonating and taking root in my heart!!!)

Joy comes when I have the right perspective. Joy is right here. Joy is not unattainable. Joy is a choice.

Right here.



As you know I have been struggling lately, but God has been SO gracious to me. Seriously, I cannot even begin to explain the work he is doing in my heart. I have been praying and praying and praying and praying that God would turn my heart of stone to a heart of flesh....that he would give me a new heart and put a new spirit in me (Ezekiel 36:26) and you know what?!?! He is answering that prayer! For the first time in too long I am feeling again. Deeply feeling. It is glorious!

I came across this sermon by Andy Stanley today from one of my favorite blogs, MOD Squad and listened to it while I cleaned the kitchen this morning. It was perfect for me. PERFECT for me. He talks a lot about The One Thing that God has for us to do this year. The thing I must do this year to get it under control. Well, I don't think it is any surprise that God is revealing to me that The One Thing I have to do this year is to focus on mothering and marriage. I am claiming and speaking Nehemiah 6:3 over these areas this year:

I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Nehemiah 6:3

Go listen to the sermon here and be blessed as well!!!!!

Thank you Lord for the healing you are doing. Thank you for beginning the restoration process in me. Thank you for the people you have used, the resources you have used, and the ways you have worked to reveal yourself to me over the last few weeks. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for the plans you have for me...and for reigniting the passion inside of me to follow through with you on those plans. Thank you for the desire you have restored in me for pursuing your word and your ways. You are gracious and you are good. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Know I Am Not Alone

The thing that has amazed me the most since first posting about my struggle with depression is how many wonderful women have stepped forth to share their struggle with it as well. Women I have looked up to and admired....women I thought could never go through something as ugly as I have. I've been blown away at the number of women who have given me sweet encouragement and who have been willing to give me a glimpse into their own struggle. I know how hard that is and how completely raw and bare you have to be to share something so personal and so I am beyond thankful.

One of my sweetest friends emailed me the other day and gave me permission to share her words here. I hope that they will bring you or someone you know as much comfort as they are giving me. I read them over and over because for one, I am there (and slowly coming out) of the dark places she describes. So many of them have been or are me. I read the words because her story didn't end with darkness! Hallelujah!!!!! They end with HOPE! And JOY! And PEACE! And I am believing that there will be a day very soon (or whenever God is ready for it to be) that I can stand on the other side of this canyon and look back at the deep dark places with a heart that is healed. Thank you dear friend for these words and for sharing them here for others to read and find hope in as well. I love you so much.

My dear, dear friend:  I send this with tears, because these are things that very, very few people know about.  I knew that someday, God would use this experience for good, and I believe it may be now.

Me, in 2009/2010:

fighting with my husband
horribly messy house
I didn't care
staring at the pantry at all the food, and crying because I don't want to think about cooking dinner
going into the garage and throwing stuff because I wanted the craziness in my head to stop
laying in the floor crying and praying and begging God to fix me
and again
and again
and again
feeling guilty
snapping at the checkout lady, the customer service rep, and anyone else who came in my path
reading so much stuff that told me if I just give it to God, it will all be okay
I did, and it wasn't
begging Satan to leave me alone
Feeling like he wasn't
throwing a knife at the laundry room wall when no one was looking - no clue why
canceling appointments of every kind because it was so much work to get myself and the kids together to go anywhere
dreading getting dressed in the morning while trying to squeeze into clothes that were getting tighter by the day
feeling fat, so I would make a batch of cookies and eat them.  all of them.
feeling worse due to the sugar high/low
finding every single thing possibly "wrong" with my husband.  and making sure he knew about it all.
hating my body
hating my mind
hating the other moms who seemed to have it all together
not really wanting to harm myself, but kind of thinking that maybe if it was just enough so that I could go somewhere and they would give me a big shot of demoral or something and I could sleep for 3 days.  That would be great.  But no...then they'll think I'm crazy or something.  Bad idea.
trying to keep up
with myself
with others
why me?
and over
and over

THEN...THE voice.  THE one that says...I will help you, and it's MY way.  Not YOUR way.  I will NOT fix you in one minute today.  It will be work.  It will be hard.  It will seem long.  BUT...listen to ME.  I will work through my followers in your life who I have blessed with various talents.  Doctors.  Friends. Family. Your husband, the leader of your home.  I will work through them and you will be healed.  I will put people and resources in your path to do my good works.  Watch for them.  Do not ignore them. (That is EXACTLY what I heard - I'm serious.  And I don't hear stuff a whole lot, you know?!)

SO...called my doctor.  Hated it.  Went in looking like crap because I couldn't even get it together to put myself together.  I told her "I think I'm okay, and I really don't want medicine".  I left with medicine.  I hated it.  But I remembered what I was told.  So I took it.  I took it, and took it, and took it some more.  And a few weeks later...the darkness wasn't so dark.

 But that wasn't the end.  There was more.  More lessons to be learned.  I had to learn how to take care of myself.  He taught me that I was not using my body as a temple.  Had to break bad habits and learn good ones.  And it was hard.  And it was long.  But he kept giving me the resources.  And they were very rarely the resources that I expected.  They were NOT the moms who had it all together.  I seriously thought I would be learning from them.  NOPE.  In fact, God slowly, slowly, slowly pulled me from them.  They're wonderful people.  They are godly women.  But they're not part of God's plan for me.  I was shocked.  I had my doctor, I had my mother, I had my husband, and I made completely new friends.  The ones who I would never have imagined hanging with.  Some of them aren't even on PTA - gasp!  They helped teach me that I can spend sooooo much time "ministering" and "doing" and "teaching" and making sure that I'm super, duper busy doing what I know God wants, that I'm not even doing what God wants. For me, He wanted me to stop.  Stop it all.  My days were spent healing.  Learning.  Focusing only on getting better.  Loving my children and husband, providing care for them, and letting go of the guilt. Calming the chaos and simply re-learning how to have a peaceful home.  Peace. 

That is why if you ask me parenting advice now (or any other kind for that matter), it is FAR, FAR different then what I would have ever suggested a few years ago.  I've learned the hard way.  It was a journey.  It did seem long.  But I am healed.  To God be the Glory, I am healed. It was NO doing of my own.  Looking back, I'm glad he didn't fix me that day.  Because then I couldn't be writing this.  I would be just another friend telling you to give it to God, and it will all be fine.  Easy peasy. cry, scream, hate, yell, or whatever.  Then pick yourself up, because you're about to start a whole new journey, sister.  And I'm right here for you always.  Any time of day or night.  Because I know.  I know.  And I love you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Tough Pill To Swallow

I've debated back and forth and back and forth about sharing this part of my story....but in an effort to keep it real here, I am going to go ahead and share it. Can I just start by saying that I know opinions vary wildly on this subject, but I am going to ask that whether you agree with me or not that you will be respectful of my decision.

Almost two weeks ago I was at my lowest point. My days were spent crying or on the verge of tears and the stress of my situation was taking a terrible toll on my family. I had been fighting on and off (it has been a very roller-coaster-ish ride for me) for the past 9 months with severe depression and it had gotten to the point where I was no longer experiencing any high points....only low. I had finally opened up everything to my husband and told him all the ugly that was inside of me....which was freeing in some aspects for me, yet absolutely terrifying for him. My mom wouldn't stop (thank you, mom) calling me and checking in and begging me to see my doctor. I refused. I was stubborn and prideful. The perfection that lives inside me (and all too often takes over my life) kept telling me that doctors and pills were FAILURE. That I should be able to pick myself up from the darkness I was living in and just be okay already. What was wrong with me?!?! What was wrong with me?!?! What. Was. Wrong. With. Me?!?!?!

I wish that I could say calling my doctor and getting a prescription for anti-depressants was a prayerfully made decision. It wasn't. At least not for me. I am sure that my mom and husband had been praying for a long time for me and about the possibility of seeking medical help. I, however, was totally and 100% against it. I was mad at myself and hated the person I was looking at in the mirror. I hated myself for not being able to fix it. I had prayed. I had begged. I had tried. I had memorized scripture. I had done everything I could think of short of medical help and I was not better. I was worse. So, in the midst of a total meltdown I called my doctor. I did it because I was tired of hearing my mom tell me to. I did it because deep down I knew that I needed to.

I love my doctor. He is a Christian man I know that he would not have prescribed me medication if he didn't think I needed it. It was bittersweet to hear the nurse say she would call the medicine in for me. It tasted like failure. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. Failure. Failure. Failure. It's all I heard.

My parents came to town and drove to my house. They watched the kids so that Shawn could drive me to pick it up. We talked a little bit about it on the way there, but I really wasn't in the mood for conversation. 20 minutes later I had a prescription in my hands.

We sat in the car and Shawn took my hands and he prayed for me. He prayed that God would be used through the medication. He prayed that God would deliver me from the darkness. He prayed for my strength. It meant everything to me. And then I took the first pill.

Each day since that first has gotten better. I am still not okay and I know that pills don't fix the root of depression....something God and I are working through right now. But, they have taken the dark cloud off of me, they have rounded out my sharp edges, and taken the tingling skin away. I am thankful for that. A dear friend of mine reminded me that God does work through modern medicine. Words I desperately needed to hear. Words I remind myself every single day when the enemy shouts "Failure" to me.

This is a process, this is MY process. My journey. Definitely one I would not have chosen to take on, but one I am trying very hard to see God through. I know he will see me through it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where To Go From Here

It's no lie that things have been difficult at best for me on a personal level for a while now. Try as I might to hide it, cover it, and dress it as something else I have not been okay. Those who know me well have known and have fought for me as I've fumbled and fallen over and over again.

I can't remember the last time I felt like me and I don't know that I will ever get back to that place. Surprisingly that thought doesn't necessarily scare me....I guess I am trusting that the person God brings through this dark cloud will be a better version of me. I know He allows trials and suffering to refine me and so even when it is hard (and it has been crushingly hard), I am trusting that this depression will be used for good.

A dear friend of mine implored me to share this struggle. I was hesitant at first. Who wants to air their dirty laundry.... and how can I be so afflicted when there are others out there with much heavier loads? Nevertheless, I will write through this. Sometimes thoughtful, sometimes choppy. It's how I work.

And I will be real here as I push through. Because I am learning and it is ugly and it is hard and I have two beautiful kids and a husband I adore that deserve the other side of this trial. Bear with me?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mud and Mire

It's been a wild ride and I sit here 9 months in and no closer to the mom I want to be. Tension mounts and trash cans overflow and I sleep walk through days and paste the smile to my face.

And truth hurts and I look it in the mirror every night. I face the fears and realizations that I am not okay. And friends and family ache for me and my husband holds me and begs me to be me again. And I try. And try. And try.

And I don't know why I am fighting. Why this darkness when my world is so bright? Why this suffocation when I know my blessings? I ask God to remove the haze, to open my eyes, to take away the tingling skin and sharp words. And he answers. In ways I can't explain and don't expect.

I long to be me again. To find the joy that used to be my claim. To face the days with unforced excitement. To live in each moment and dance again.

And my new song is Psalm 40:2 because God can and I can't. I am muddy and exhausted and standing knee deep in the mire. And like quicksand I am forever stuck. Each day the same. But God can and I can't. Yes this I know from the valleys and mountains we've been through before....God can and I can't.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My 2012 Book List

I love to read....SO much. But, since having kids I haven't made the time to do it. Or, if I do read I will pick up a really quick (and usually mindless) fiction book. Well, since I don't want my mind to go to mush and I am all about pushing myself to learn more this year I thought I would take up with Crystal from Money Saving Mom's idea and come up with a list of 12 non-fiction books that I want to read completely this year.  I thought it would be hard to come up with 12 books, especially non-fiction, since I haven't read many in a long time but honestly, I am finding that instead of having too few books on my list, I am having to whittle down and cut some out. I'm including the ones that didn't make the first cut in case I get through the first 12 and need more to read. In fact, I've even made a 24 in '12 list in case I get on a roll with this reading thing.

One of the things I've been really working on is scheduling a time each day to read. Sound stuffy? I don't think so. If I don't plan that I will read, for instance, the thirty minutes before I go to bed each night, I will simply fill that time up with other "stuff"...mindless tv or mindless internet surfing usually. Therefore, I am really going to stick to my reading time each day. I have to or I won't make it through my books!!!

I've written my books by month and also just as a general list of books to read. I'm not sure which is going to work better for me. Here is my month version...but I know myself well enough to know that I just might probably will skip around and change the order. It's the rebel in me. ;)

Without further adieu:
*If it is crossed out, I've read it*
*Two months have more than one book...yeah I know....;) again, the rebel*

Tell Your Time - Ebook (I actually just finished this one, it's way short and an easy read and I have learned SO much about my time....I'm hoping to do a little review here on this blog about what I've learned soon!)

Money Saving Mom's Budget - Crystal Paine

Made To Crave - Lysa TerKeurst
Dancing on My Ashes - Heather Gilion, Holly Snell (my friend Kelly suggested it so I know it will be a good one)

Erasing Hell - Francis Chan

Kisses From Katie - Katie Davis


Bringing Up Girls - James Dobson

Ministry of Motherhood - Sally Clarkson

Love and Respect - Emerson Eggerichs

15 Minutes Outside - Rebecca Cohen

Jesus + Nothing = Everything - Tullian Tchividjian

Bringing Up Boys - James Dobson

These are just the books that I am for sure planning on reading this year. My hope is that I will be able to read many, many more since I am focusing my attention on reading and learning and growing this year. What about you? Are there any books you think I should add to my growing "I hope to read" pile?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Years Eve Celebrations!!!

Since we were in Eldon for New Year's Eve this year I thought it would be super fun to get a bunch of games together for our family to all play. Shawn's family are all HUGE game players but I wanted it to be something other than our normal go-to board games! So, Shawn and I planned a Minute to Win It Party!!!!

Allie and Scott preparing (mentally) for the games ahead.

One of the games was called "noodling around" You put a piece of spaghetti in your mouth and then had to use it to pick up four pieces of penne pasta without dropping any or breaking your spaghetti noodle. Andy did a great job with his!

He was pretty proud, haha!

I'm so glad Scott made sure to wear his festive New Year's Hat! ;) He was totally serious and ready to win the thing!

Another game we played involved using only your face to put Vaseline on your nose and then move cotton balls from one bowl to another. We were all laughing at that one. Chad was cracking me up!

Aunt Carol got quite a few cotton balls glad I caught this picture!

Hahahah, Scott!!!!!

Shawn's turn....
(Aso can you see the sweet Minute to Win It game board Andy and I made in the background?!?! Super sweet skills right?)


My turn...I got them all!

We played a ton of other games, but my battery was dead on my camera so I spent most of the evening charging it up. Thankfully it was ready to go around Midnight....and yes, Lauren stayed up. We couldn't believe it but she was SUCH a trooper and did a great job!!!! She LOVED the blow horns and balloons and hats and everything!

I adore this picture of Lauren and her Uncle Scott. She loves him so much and he is so sweet to her.

And this picture makes me super happy too....I LOVE and am SO thankful for the fact that she has uncles who are willing to be silly and crazy just to make her smile. She is seriously so blessed. :)

Ringing in 2012 was so much fun. I even got to kiss my man at midnight. Gotta love that!

Christmas at Meme Bev and Papa Wayne's - 2011 Edition

We traveled to Eldon the weekend after Christmas to celebrate with Shawn's side of the family. It is so great when we can all get doesn't happen often enough!

Obviously we got all dressed up for opening presents...haha. Actually Easton didn't sleep well...he woke up super early every morning (it totally didn't help that we went to bed reaaaaalllly late every night) and so Shawn got up with him and let me sleep in for a while before we opened presents. SUPER awesome husband!

Scott and Allie got Easton the coolest stuffed food set. He was mad obsessed with it!!!

The banana was a huge hit and he carried it around in his mouth for quite a while.

Chad and Andy got Lauren an adorable stuffed strawberry from Ikea! She loved it immediately!

Meme Bev and Papa Wayne got Lauren lots of fun stuff but she really liked all her new puzzles.

Love Allie in this picture! Don't Scott and Shawn look a lot alike? Oh my goodness, I am so thankful for those two. They love Easton and Lauren so much and we have the most fun hanging out and playing games with them.

Allie was so sweet and offered to hold Easton a lot, but he wasn't having it at this point...such a mama's boy.

Lauren made Meme and Papa handmade gifts this year. They loved them.

Shawn gave Easton the thing of M&M's thinking he couldn't get them open....oh but he did. He totally did. And, he loved them. Surprise, surprise.

Lauren got everybody gifts and Uncle Chad loved his paddle ball set....he hit it like three times and the ball and string flew off. Hahah! We all got a huge kick out of that one.

We had a great time celebrating Christmas with the Barry family. So thankful for their love and support. 

Christmas at Meme and Papa Bob's - 2011

The day after Christmas we headed to my Meme and Papa Bob's for Christmas. We always eat a humongous pancake and fried ham breakfast. And I always feel like a giant whale afterwards.

Meme and Papa mix up the pancake batter the night before and Zach makes the pancakes on the griddle. The kitchen is always a busy and fun place to be at Meme and Papa's!

LOVE LOVE this picture of my mom, Zach, and Easton. :) Seriously so precious. I know this will be one we look back on next year and say, "look how much he's grown!"

Meme and Papa got Easton and Lauren the best present....a Red Ryder Wagon!!!! It has two seats, cupholders, seat belts....basically it is perfect for us! We have already used it to go on little walks around the neighborhood and to go check the mail!!!! This picture (with the wagon in the box) is so cute to me! Love that my sweet grandparents get to hold and love on my sweet kids...not much better than that.

I also LOVE this picture of Easton and me. Look at his smile! :) He is such a ham and cracks those kinds of sweet smiles all the time. I'm so glad we captured it in a picture!

The bubs wasn't too interested in opening presents....thankfully he has a mama who loves to open them! ;)

After all the food and fun of presents little Easton and I were tired. I love that my SIL caught this picture of us napping. :)

We missed Aunt Juju this year (she was sick) but Lauren loved playing with Uncle Darell...he was super sweet to do the same things over and over and over and over. ;)

Easton loved the wagon!!! So did Riley (my brother and Victoria's puppy!!!)

We had a great time celebrating Christmas with everyone. Can't wait until next year!!!!