Tuesday, September 6, 2011

But first...

Summer is over.  Well, technically, it's not, but the school calendar would beg to differ.  Today, I sent four of my babies out of the nest for another year of learning (the first time I typed that, I accidentally spelled it 'lerning'...good thing they're not homeschooled...).  My eldest, Luke, made the leap from the small pond of elementary school, into the bigger pond of middle school.  Wow, was there ever a lot of anxiety over that!  Panic, tears, frustration...and that was just Mom!  :)  Seriously, he was SO ready and SO excited.  And he had a great first day, only forgetting his lunch bag in his locker at the end of the day.  He's excited about joining a Robotics team that uses Legos to make an entry for a competition.  He wanted to leave a little early to walk to the bus stop this morning so he could 'meet some of the other kids there'.  I'm a proud mama. 
My biggest girl is now a 4th grader, but wasn't nearly as excited about this new year.  You see, she's got a teacher that she's a little intimidated by.  Luke's former 4th grade teacher.  She's a great teacher.  However, when Luke had her, I was in the deepest part of the pit, and I was not the mom I wanted or needed to be.  Luke was having difficulty with a few things, and she didn't go easy on him (which I am glad for).  In Luke's words, she was 'strict'.  In Annaliese's words, "She's mean!".  This girl has been so worried all weekend about this, so last night we had a little talk. 
A: "Mom, what if she only thinks of me like I'm Luke's sister and thinks that she needs to be strict with me?"
Me: "Well, if she's a good teacher, she won't think of you as 'Luke's sister', and she'll treat you like any other student.  She'll get to know you and help you with any areas you might struggle with."
A: "So I'm not Luke's sister anymore?" (a little too excitedly) :)
Me: "No...you're still his sister, but first you're Annaliese."

I started thinking about something after this conversation.  How often do we feel self-conscious about ourselves based on what we think others will think about us?  Or what we think they'll think about the people we associate with (or are related to!)?  To me, the bigger question should be "What does God think about me?"  I may try my hardest to have it all together, to try to be someone I'm not.  But God doesn't care if my house is a mess or if I can't seem to stay on top of the laundry.  He doesn't care if I make perfect gourmet meals for my family or wear a size 6.  He looks at me and says "You're still Amanda, with all your ripped seams and tattered edges. But first, you're My daughter." 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where have I been?

This may be the first summer I've really faced with excitement and not anxiety.  As I've filled in our various activities on the calendar, I've had a lightness in my heart, an anticipation of making fun memories and enjoying having my kids home for a few months. 

If you know much about me, you know that the past two summers haven't been that pleasant for us.  Two years ago, I was rapidly spiraling downward into the place I call "the pit".  Last summer, I was climbing my way out.  This year, I feel like a different person, and am so thankful for that.

But even in the midst of all this, there is an undercurrent of sadness.  I have been noticing lately how much my kids are changing, how much I seemed to have missed.

Luke, my sweet firstborn, is done with elementary school now.  He's turning into a young man more and more each day.  Where have I been?

Annaliese, my feisty, beautiful girl, is changing so much.  "The" questions are coming at a rapid pace, and I try not to panic when I think of what's around the corner.  Where have I been?

Adam, my shy little man, has broken out of his shell, and has added 3 inches to his frame in the past 18 months.  Where have I been?

Sam, silly Sammy-boy, is entering the world of 'real' school in the fall.  His legs look longer to me, too.  Where have I been?

Tess, my 'almost-3-going-on-13-year-old' is not a baby anymore.  I was looking back at pictures from the past few years, and I don't remember a lot of those moments.  Where have I been?

The sadness comes from this, it seems.  The loss of these years because of the thief called depression - the fog that surrounded every day, week, and month.

I used to beat myself up over the fun we weren't having, telling myself that my kids deserved so much better.  There's nothing I could have done to control that, and I've learned to move forward.  It's not an easy guilt to free yourself from.  But tonight, I found myself reading from Joel 2, and nodding my head in affirmation:

23 Be glad, people of Zion,

rejoice in the LORD your God,

for he has given you the autumn rains

because he is faithful.

He sends you abundant showers,

both autumn and spring rains, as before.

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;

the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—

the great locust and the young locust,

the other locusts and the locust swarm[b]—

my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,

and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,

who has worked wonders for you;

never again will my people be shamed.

27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,

that I am the LORD your God,

and that there is no other;

never again will my people be shamed.

Did you catch that?  All is not wasted.  There are valuable lessons for even my children in what I endured.  And those years will be restored.  I'm still here, able to be fully present in the lives of my kids, and excited to see what is to come. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'm shocked that it's really been this long since I last blogged.  I guess I feel like I have an ongoing post in my head at all times, but I forget to get it out through my fingers.  :)

Before I get 'deep', I have to say things have been good.  Really good.  Like "I can't believe how happy I am" good.  Yes, there were some days a couple of weeks ago that I was feeling pretty down.  But with a lot of prayer and a few tears, I got through it.  The weather was so dreary, and I think I missed a day of my meds, and I suddenly felt like I was spiraling downward.  The minute I felt 'off', I panicked.  "Oh no.", I told myself, "not again.".  I asked a few friends to start praying, and within a few days, I was back on track.  Phew!  Things are good.  :)


There's always a 'but', isn't there? 

I am sick of me.  I'm selfish.  Not in an "I exist, therefore I deserve" way, but a more subtle way.  The "I can't believe all I got was lunch and cards for Mother's Day" way.  I had quite the pity party after reading status updates on Facebook from my friends, joyfully recounting how special the day was.  And why?  Because I deserve so much more?  Why am *I* so special?

Yesterday, I found out that the 4 year old daughter of a former high school classmate was struck by a car and killed earlier in the afternoon.  One day after Mother's Day, this precious little girl left this earth, leaving behind a family who will never be the same. 

It puts things into perspective. 

What makes me a mother is not the accolades, gifts, special treatment, or a 'Day' to be celebrated.  It's the privilege I have (that I often take completely for granted) to watch my five not-so-little blessings grow, for as long as they are on loan to me from the Lord.  It's seeing three of my precious kids on the platform at church, prompting our church body to worship the God that created us.  Watching Tessa do all the motions and sing her little heart out.  Watching Sam be shy and not sing along at all.  Watching Luke stand with a group of his buddies around a microphone and sing praises to our God.  It's smiling when Annaliese asks me, "Mom, can you tell me how I'll find true love like you and Daddy?".  It's my heart melting when Adam tells me that I'm a good 'cooker' as he wraps his arms around me and plants a big kiss on my face. 

I have failed in so many ways at this calling of mine.  The laundry doesn't get folded and put away as often as I'd like.  The piles of clutter don't get put away, they just multiply.  I lose my temper and yell.  But, I am blessed beyond what I deserve...and that is a gift that just can't be wrapped.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Do you ever feel like you're on the verge of tears, but it's because you're so full of joy? I've felt that way for weeks now, and it's been amazing. It has taken me awhile to sit down and write this post. I think part of me was afraid the joy would be short-lived (not that short-lived joy is any less a gift than any other joy!) and I didn't want to post something that wasn't real. I've come to realize, however, that any joy is real JOY, and it should be embraced and celebrated!

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 30:1-3, 11-12 I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit...You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 92:1 For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.

Psalm 94:17-19 Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Right before Christmas, I spent a day with a friend. She has seen me at what I thought was my best, and what was definitely my worst. I shared with her how I'd been feeling and told her that I honestly felt like everything was being restored. My marriage was in a good place, my relationships with my kids were in a good place, friendships that had been splintered were being mended...I really felt like God was making things new. She told me she could tell that was true just by looking at me. Gone were the hunched shoulders, the dull eyes, the sad countenance. Hearing her say that was such a gift! When people look at me, I want them to see Jesus and what He has done in my life...not a poor reflection of His love, mercy and grace. Circumstances of life will not always be what we hope for. We will have trouble in this world...it's guaranteed. BUT, there can still be JOY!

I am discovering a new found joy in almost every aspect of my life right now. God is so good. To think of where I've been and where I am now...it is amazing. I am learning so much about Him and His faithfulness. His gifts to me are so undeserved. I am so incredibly grateful for the husband He chose for me. My five kids (although often a lot of work!) are precious gifts from Him, as well. My extended family, my friends, my church family...anyone who has given a hug, shared a kind word, prayed for our family...I am so grateful. Thank you for loving me for who I am, and for sharing in my joy as I become what God created me to be.