Monthly Archives: February 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 TNIV

By: Gretchen Speer

A few years ago I was watching John and Kate plus 8 (the early years).  In the episode I was watching Kate planned a Valentines Day treasure hunt for her eight kids.  As I was watching I couldn’t believe she was able to come up with something that got all of her kids excited, but didn’t require her to leave her home.  I turned the TV off and got to work!  We have been doing these treasure hunts on Valentines Day ever since.  Here is how we do it:

1.  Collect the Treasure.  Every year my family sends the kids packages for valentines day, and I put them aside.  As soon as I start to see V-day stuff at Target in the dollar isle, I grab several things from there.  I also like to make an order from Scholastic Book Club a few weeks before so I can put some books in there.  This year I put some character socks, chocolates, lips suckers, and books in the treasure box.  (Along with everything I had gotten in the mail from my Mom and Granny.)

2.  Make a list with your clues, and answers.  I took a picture of my list so you could have an example.  I think it’s easiest to make a list of all the places you want to hide the clues and then go back and write the clues out.  Also, you’ll want to number them.  If your kids are younger, make sure to keep the clues simple.  The older my kids get, the harder I make it!  For the last couple of years, my olders have had to recite John 3:16 to me to get their last clue.  It’s always great to encorporate scripture wherever you can! (See list to the right.)

 

 

3.  Write the clues on heart shaped papers.  They don’t have to be hearts, but it adds to the fun!  Write the numbers on them too.  (I got our clues mixed up one year.  Believe me, you want to number them!:)  Here are a couple of picture of my hearts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Hide the clues.  I usually do this part when the kids are napping and then we do the hunt later in the evening.  Because of this, I tape all the clues in completely out of site places.  I never tell the kids I’m going to be doing it, and so they don’t look for them before we start.

 

5.  Enjoy the Hunt!  If your kids are younger, you will need to help then out a little more. Now that my kids are getting a little older they know what to do and I usually just follow along behind them with the camera!

“Let us Desire Habitation over Visitation With God.”

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”  Hosea 6:3 TNIV

By: Gretchen Speer

A few weeks ago as my older DS and DD were unpacking their back packs after school I heard a loud gasp from my daughter.  When I looked over at her, there was sheer panic written all over her face. This is how our conversation went:

Me:  “What is it?”

DD:  “I forgot my lunch box at school!  Can I use Bear’s(my younger daughter’s) lunchbox tomorrow?”

Me:  “No, she needs it for preschool.  You will have to use Bubba’s(baby brother) football lunchbox.

DD:  Long silence, and then her eyes fill with tears.  “That is a boy lunch box, Mom.”

Me: “It’s not that big of a deal, it’s just one day.”

DD:  Silence, more tears.

Me:  “I think you have had a long day at school.  Why don’t you go lay down and we will talk about it in a little bit after you have rested a bit.”

I have relayed this conversation to several friends and family.  Everytime I tell the story I hear myself saying “This from the girl who has never once complained or cried from arthritis pain.  It’s so silly that the very thought of using a boys lunchbox reduces her to tears.”  Every time I hear myself say those words I feel a nudge on my heart.  I finally sat down and prayed about it.  “What are you wanting to teach me, God?  Where is my heart wrong?”  In that moment He helped me to see her though His loving eyes, and  what I realized made me take a step back and reconsider some things.  Yeah, the lunch box situation is not a big deal to me, but it really is to her-and that means it matters.  The little things matter.  It’s the same thing with our relationship with God.  What is important to us is important to Him.  He showed me in that moment all the areas that I had been holding on to stress and anxiety, because they weren’t a “big” enough deal to lay before Him.  They matter.  He doesn’t want to see us struggle, he wants to lift our burdens and help.  In the same way that I had brushed off DD’s feelings, I had brushed off my own.  I had been saving my prayer time for “serious matters” and keeping everything else to myself to deal with.  God wants all of us.  When we are faithful to come to Him, he is faithful to meet us right where we are.

On the day that you can’t get your baby into the doctors office, so you have to wait in the dreaded convenient (or not so convenient) care waiting room for 2 hours,  bring it before Him.  It matters to Him.

When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.  Psalm 138:3 NLT 

On the day your best friend is giving you the silent treatment, pour your heart out to Him because he cares about your hurt feelings

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 TNIV 

On the day that your toddler decides to drink your perfume, PRAY and then call poison control.

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.  Psalm 17:6 NLT

On the day that you have to give up your much needed Mom’s Night Out because your kids are all throwing up, Friend, He knows, but tell Him about it anyway.

Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.  Psalm 142:5 NLT

My sweet girl forgets her lunch box and somehow God uses that to soften my heart towards her and bring me closer to Him.  He meets us where we are.  What are the things weighing on your heart this morning?  Don’t hesitate another moment, tell Him all about it.  Ask for his help(Psalm 33:20, Psalm 34:20), ask for his discernment and wisdom(Eph 1:8,17, James 1:5), ask for His comfort and peace(2 Corinthians 1:4, John 14:27).  He LOVES you, and it matters to Him.

Oh, and not to worry, DD ate a school lunch the next day and avoided the dreaded boy lunch box.  All is well 🙂

 

Techniques that Helped Me with Postpartum Depression

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Postpartum Depression

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

By: Jennifer Mullen

According to the CDC website, “11% to 18% of women reported having frequent postpartum depressive symptoms.”  So, I know that at least one person reading this can identify. The following techniques worked FOR ME.  They may not work for you.  As I stressed in the last two posts, if you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression please seek professional help.  I am not a medical profession.  My goal is to share my testimony with you and encourage you.

Techniques that Helped Me with Postpartum Depression:

  1. The Thoughts:  As I mentioned in More Than Baby Blues, I had violent thoughts that would flash through my mind.  Once I voiced them to my counselor or my husband, I realized how unlikely I was going to actually act upon them.  But if I tried to hide them, they would consume me.  I would obsess over them.  If I confessed them, they lost their power.  It was as if I were taking “captive every thought”. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  2. The What If’s:  I could list a million “What If” thoughts that raced through my mind…”What if she stops breathing?”  “What if someone crawled through the window and snatched her?”  “What if my husband falls asleep while holding her and drops her?”  “What if…What if…What if!!!”   I changed my thinking to “what is”. I began to speak truth into my life. I tried not focus on all the other possibilities. I tried to only focus on the realities.  “What is is that my husband is capable and will protect her.”  “What is is all the windows are locked.”  One day in my Thursday morning bible study, Beth Moore talked about this very thing.  She took it a step further and said to replace your “What If’s?” with “Who Is?”  She illustrated the point by taking the audience in a spiral of questions that she concluded with the answer “THEN GOD!”  “What if she stopped breathing, then God will comfort.”  “What if…THEN GOD!”  And remember, you cannot be on guard and protect your child every moment, but “he who watches over you will not slumber”. (Psalm 121:3b)
  3. Sleep: One of the biggest factors that affected my anxiety level was (and to be honest still is) the amount of sleep I got.  As a mother of a newborn, sleep is rare.  I am not one of those who can fall asleep easily.  Once I am asleep, if woken, it is even more difficult for me to return to sleep.  I nursed my daughter until she was six months and my son until he was eight and a half months.  Feeding every three hours around the clock can be taxing. Until my children slept through the night,  my husband would take the 11:00 pm feed.  (This, of course, was not a scheduled time.  It would fall around that time every night.)  I would go to bed around 8:30 pm.  My husband would be on duty until 2:00 am.  He would feed the baby a bottle of milk I pumped the day before.  This would ensure at least 5 and 1/2 hours of solid sleep for both of us.  It also gave my husband a chance to bond with our children without me jumping in to “fix” any problems.  Stand on this promise: “for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalms 127:2b)
  4. Clock Out:   Imagine getting hired to do your dream job.  It is what you have been preparing for your whole life.  On the first day you show up they say, “There is just one thing.  You will be on call 24/7.  You are not allowed to take a coffee break.  When you leave, you must take all your work with you including your employees!”  Who would want to take that job?  The burn out rate would be crazy!  You must take time to “clock out”.  Allow someone else to care for the kids.  After my second child was born, I would go to the movies by myself and turn the phone off.  I am looking forward to going on a trip with my husband this summer that is not a “work trip” 🙂   Even Jesus “withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)  He had to take time out to be ministered to so that he could minster.
  5. Mother’s Groups: I was desperate to be around other mothers and learn how to parent.  I joined our local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which is where I met Gretchen and Kerri.  The women in our group came alongside of me and helped me to find confidence in myself as a mother.
  6. Medication: Meds are not for everyone. Speak with your doctor about the pros/cons.  Remember, once you start taking anti-depressants, do not quit taking them without notifying your doctor.  Most of these meds require a tapering process.  There are medications that have been approved for use while breastfeeding.  Again, PPD is a medical condition, it is not a sign of weakness to be on medication.  I have used anti-depressants, but currently I am addressing my anxiety and depression through counseling.
  7. Counseling:  One of my favorite Beth Moore quotes is, “Feelings can be a little like our laundry.  Sometimes we can’t sort them until we dump them on the table.”  As stated above, I was thinking some really scary thoughts.  I needed a safe place to voice them.  What worked best for me was cognitive therapy which is illustrated in point #2.  If you do not connect well with your first counselor, don’t quit.  Seek out one who is a good fit for you.  My personal criteria is someone who will be honest enough to tell me what I should or should not be worried about.  I can’t stand those who will tell you everything is fine and you just need to chill out. On the flip side, I can’t stand those who are alarmist and make you worry and analyse every thought.  Do not forget about the ministry of the Great Counselor who “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”. (John 14:26 and Romans 8:26)  “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)

Next month, when I discuss the birth of my second child, I will share some proactive strategies that I used to help any reoccurrence to not be as severe.

If you know someone who is going through PPD, it may be very hard for you to understand.  If you are the type of person who LOVES newborns…who get high off of that newborn smell…these feelings would be so foreign to you.  Please keep in mind that women who struggle with PPD need support.  They need understanding.  Keep in mind that this is not something they can just snap out of.  It is a process.  Please be an ear.  Please be gentle.  Give them time.  Encourage them to seek out professional help if they haven’t.  If you have been there and you are on the other side, don’t be afraid to share your story.  The encouragement that you extend to your friend in need is invaluable.  They just want to be reassured that they are not alone!

 

Related Articles:

More Than Baby Blues

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Postpartum Depression

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.
My eyes fail, looking for my God.” Psalm 69:1-3

By: Jennifer Mullen

When my first-born arrived four weeks early on her own, I was NOT prepared.  The nursery was set up, the clothes were washed and hung, and the thank you notes had been written.  During my pregnancy, I had read month by month of “what to expect”.  When my water broke my first thought was, “This can’t be happening, I have not read the last chapter.”  You know… the one on CHILDBIRTH…Not to mention the one on how to care for a NEWBORN!

My husband and I were in awe that just shy of four hours after my water broke, our perfect angel had arrived.  The first feed went as well as could be expected with a crash course from the nurse.  Then she was wheeled away for routine evaluations as I entertained the various well-wishers.  In two and half short hours, the nurse brought her back to me saying that she was ready for another feed.  I said out loud, “Really?  She just ate three hours ago?”  The nurse looked at me with shock on her face and said, “Babies eat every three hours.”

I knew I should have read those chapters!!! 🙂  I say that tongue in cheek.  There is no way to be fully prepared for the birth of a child (although, I guess most people know more than I did at this point.)

As the next twenty-four hours transpired, I was becoming increasingly aware of what a huge responsibility it was to be a mother. It was more than beautifully decorated nurseries and super cute outfits with matching headbands. Of course I knew that before going into the whole mothering process, but the reality of it all was setting in.

No amount of reading would have prepared me for the reaction I had to all the hormones pumping through my system!  Because of my history of depression and anxiety, my OB/GYN and counselor had decided before the birth of my daughter that I would need to start on an anti-depressant before leaving the hospital.

From the moment I left the hospital, I spiraled into the “miry depths where there was no foothold”.  In the first three days, I slept about 6 hours total.  I was so anxious that I could not wind down.  Every newborn squeak that came from her, I interpreted as certain death.  Finally, my mom and husband made me take a sleep aid, and I slept soundly for 2 hours before waking to nurse.  I was so out of my mind, when she finished eating, I asked for “my other baby”.  In my mind, I had twins.

Every time I heard her cry that first week, I would bury my head under the pillow and cry.  I didn’t want to nurse, change a diaper, or even hold her.  I even had thoughts that if I had to hold her, I might throw her across the room.   I only held her long enough to nurse and then my mother and husband cared for her.  My pastor and his wife came over, upon my request, to pray with me. They set up a rotation so that it was six weeks before I had to prepare a meal.

My counselor met with me on her lunch break within that first week.  She assured me that my violent thoughts were just that…thoughts.  I was not going to act on them.  Knowing that and voicing them out loud took the power away.   As I continued counseling, I shifted from not wanting to take care of her to being the only one who could take care of her.  I was so anxious to let anyone hold her.  I kept her from family and friends.  When meals were delivered, I would hover and not allow the visitors to hold her.

My mother-in-law came to help after my mom left.  I will never forget the words that she shared with me about how lost she felt after the birth of her first child.  Being a mother of five, she always seemed like a supermom to me.  I remember thinking if she felt that way, I must not be alone.  That encouragement gave me so much strength as we cried together.

One day there was a knock at the door.  It was a lady from my church who I consider to be a mentor.  She is my prayer warrior!  She took my baby from me and told me to go lay down.  I refused and tried to visit with her.  She insisted that I go lay down.  I went to lay down.  I did not sleep well, but I rested for two hours.  That day I had a little break through in learning that it was okay to let others care for her.

After about 5 weeks when we were settling into our new normal, colic came for a long stay.  My daughter would cry for hours on end, and I was so sleep deprived that my nerves could not stand it. This only made my anxiety worse.  I remember mulitple nights waking up to not only check all the doors, but also check to make sure all the windows were locked.

When my daughter was 10 weeks old, I returned to work to finish my year as a school teacher .  Although at the time I could not see it,  this was my lifesaver.  The time that I had away from her was so therapeutic for me.  My mind was relieved of the constant concern and care of my child and shifted to the concern for my students.   It was so hard for me to leave her in the care of someone else…someone who I did not know.  But this helped me to realize that I was not the only one who could take care of her.

When she turned six months old, the school year was over, and I resigned from my beloved teaching job to stay home with my angel.  Right about that time, she got over her colic phase.  I continued counseling and  remained on my depression medicine until she turned one.  It was between the age of six to nine months that I was able to start enjoying being a mom.   To this day, the cry of a newborn makes me cringe and a little bit nauseous.

God was faithful in bringing me through this battle.  And, yes, I went willingly into it again!  I believe in His promise that says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isiah 43:2)   It was so worth “passing through the waters” to get my precious children and to be here to encourage you!

If you are currently struggling with similar thoughts and feelings, you are not alone!  I have been praying for you!  There is no shame in this condition.  With treatment, you can have peace and joy again.  Cling to His promises, and please seek professional help.

Related Articles:

  1.  Introduction to a Three-Part Series on Postpartum Depression– Published February 1, 2012.
  2. Techniques that Helped Me with Postpartum Depression– February 8, 2012— I will outline some strategies that worked for me to cope with postpartum depression and what others could do to help those struggling.
  3. Round Two: Manna From Heaven – March 6, 2012— I will share how my experience with postpartum was different the with my second born and how God carried me through it.
  4. Morning Has Come!: Claiming Victory Over Postpartum Depression– Published on January 7, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  John 14:13

By: Jennifer Mullen

A few weeks ago, I was praying about how to get the word out there about the blog. My desire is that our success will be totally attributed to God. I have learned when I try to do things on my own I just get in the way. This is God’s project, and I just want to be obedient. Upon arriving home that afternoon, I had an e-mail in my inbox from a friend from high school who now writes the religion section in the local papers. She wanted to do an article about Mosaic of Moms! Answer to prayers! I hope to have the article for you all to read soon. Until                                                                                      then click here to see a teaser.