Category: Surrender

The most crucial part of my day is when I surrender it to the Lord. By surrendering my own desires and wants on a daily basis, and giving the Lord control, I am able to love my family selflessly. When I welcome Him into the most mundane moments of mommyhood, its amazing to see glimpses of His goodness when I least expect it. This life is not about me or my family, it’s about our Heavenly Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We simply get to be part of HIS STORY.

For The Days When I Don’t Feel Good Enough

I don’t know how things start out in your house on Sunday mornings when you want to get to church, but around here it’s the last thing from feeling like a day of rest. Whenever we have to be anywhere at a specific time with our crew, it’s stressful and chaotic. It seems like no matter how much I plan ahead, unexpected emergencies come up (like blowouts and tantrums) and we end up scrambling and running around our house like crazy people as we get everyone fed, changed, dressed, and in their car seats.

Yesterday was no exception. After we had all the kids in the car and were backing out of the driveway, Jake and I both let out a deep sigh, like we had just made it through World War 3. That was followed by me apologizing for being a complete brat, because you know, it’s easiest to yell at my husband and blame him for not being able to find a sippy cup or the baby’s right shoe.

But of course I wanted us to act like we were all happy and perfect when we pulled into the church parking lot, smiling at every greeter along the way. Why do we do that? Why is there pressure to act like we have it all together when most of the time we don’t?

After we dropped the kids off in their respective rooms, Jake and I found our seats in the auditorium. As the worship music started, I felt so undeserving to be sitting there. I spent the morning being stressed out and snappy at my husband, and wasn’t in a spot where I felt worthy of God’s love. I was a mess, not someone who could fully worship with all my heart. I felt like a hypocrite.

After the service we raced home to feed the kids lunch before their afternoon naps. When the girls are in their high chairs they LOVE it when Jake walks by and talks to them. They get the biggest smiles on their faces. I captured this shot of Emersyn, food ALL OVER, as she looked up and absolutely adored and soaked in her daddy’s love.photo-213In that moment, all I could think about was how precious she was. It didn’t matter that she was messy and sticky and full of snot and slobber. What mattered was how in love she was with her daddy.

I have to think God looks at us in a similar way. He sees us messy and completely covered in our sins, but He knows that looking into His presence and falling in love with Him will bring us the joy and hope we need to be redeemed. He sees us as His precious sons and daughters, and wants us to accept His generous grace.

We don’t need to have it all together when we walk through the church doors. We don’t need to have it all together anywhere. In fact, I think God’s power is shown so much more when we admit our weaknesses to one another. He wants to meet us as we are. He wants us to meet each other as we are.

To you, dear sister, my prayer for you today and everyday is that you’ll seek the Lord in your mess. Maybe you’re tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or unsure about the future. Maybe you’re lonely or heartbroken. Or maybe you were a complete snot to your husband. Whatever it is, God is bigger.

May we all look up in adoration and give our Heavenly Father a big smile to acknowledge that He is greater, that He is enough. May we soak in our Daddy’s love!

XOXO,

Amber

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Yesterday Was Bad, But Today’s A New Day

20140327-134124.jpgYesterday was an all around bad day. The kids were crabby, the house needed attention, Satan was feeding me lies, and another cold day stuck inside all made me feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

After telling my husband I was struggling, he asked what he could do. I told him I’d love some fresh flowers so I could have a visible sign of hope.

When I walked downstairs this morning and saw my beautiful bouquet on the table, I was reminded of this:
God is making all things new. He thaws not only the cold ground but also our hardened hearts. The winter is past and spring is on the horizon. Just as He uses the seasons to prepare the earth for planting and growing, He’s using the good and bad days of our lives to prepare us to produce fruit that furthers the Kingdom.

Today is a new day. May we all cling to the hope we have in Christ, and remember He is making all things new!

XOXO,

Amber

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We Survived Our First Year As Twin Parents

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A couple weekends ago we celebrated Emersyn and Mckinley’s first birthday! We threw a little party and invited a few close friends and family. We celebrated them and the miracle it is that they’ve grown into these beautiful healthy little girls from the weak and fragile 4.5 and 4.12 pound premies they were when we met them.IMG_0973

As much as we were celebrating their lives, we were also rejoicing that we survived the first year as parents of twins. If I’m completely honest, the past year was the most challenging season we’ve ever been through. There were so many days and weeks when we were completely drained, both emotionally and physically. There were months when I felt depressed, overwhelmed, and incapable of having what it took to get through the day. IMG_0984There were times when I felt isolated and alone, like no one in my circle of friends could relate to what I was going through, and I didn’t want to take the time to explain because I never wanted it to come across as complaining about my sweethearts.

Our marriage was pushed to the back burner for a while simply because there wasn’t an ounce of time at the end of the day when we were awake enough to connect. We were running on empty in every area of our lives. On top of that, Jake accepted a new position that required him to be away at training for three months, leaving me to hold down the fort at home.

I could go on and try to explain all that we’ve been through, but unless you’ve raised twins yourself, an explanation can only go so far. The point is, in all honesty the past year was a dark one in many ways. It was a dark one, but a redemptive one. We persevered through sleepless nights, having three kids in diapers, depression, settling into a new city, finding a new church, a job transition, raising three kids under two, isolated weeks and months, and the emotional drainage of making sure I bonded with each baby and got to know them individually instead of as a set.

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Our twin girls have changed our lives forever, in the best possible way.

Being twin parents isn’t for the faint of heart, and we’ve learned how necessary it is to depend on God’s grace to get through each day. We put in a lot of work, and we’ve built a strong foundation. We made it through the first year which makes us feel like we can conquer the world (including another baby!)

I wouldn’t trade this year for anything. I’d do it all again if it means I get to call these sweethearts my daughters. God is so faithful, and when we feel like we can’t handle what He puts before us, he hands out an extra measure of grace.

We’re all faced with challenges. Yours may not being raising twins, but it’s something else that is just as important. Whatever lies before you, and however dark of a place you’re in, be convinced and sure of this: “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ.” -Philippians 1:6

Be encouraged, dear sisters, that you are equipped for whatever is in your path. He chose you for such a time as this!

XOXO,

Amber

P.S. I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to my parents, who supported us in so many ways this year. My mom decided to leave her full time job as a Hospice Care Coordinator and started working on a casual basis instead so she could help me. She drove the four hours and came to visit whenever she caught wind that I was overwhelmed, while my dad stayed home and managed things on the farm on his own. She’d spend weeks at a time with us cleaning, doing laundry, babysitting, waking up for the middle of the night shift, listening, and gave me time to recover and take care of myself. Thank you Mom & Dad for sacrificing so much of your year! We love you and couldn’t have done it without you! IMG_1052

 

 

 

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New Moms Need Encouragement More Than Advice

IMG_3787They say nothing can fully prepare you for parenthood. From my experience, that was certainly the case. It wasn’t until I survived labor and delivery and was cradling my first babe that I started to get it. I felt like I had officially been initiated into the mommy club, joining millions of women who had gone before me. It was the most amazing feeling in the world, but it was also one of the most overwhelming.

That gorgeous baby boy, with a name that we gave him, was ours. OURS! The minute he came out of my womb he was completely dependent upon us for everything. We would actually be taking him home to live with us permanently. Life was no longer only about us, but every decision we’d make would affect him as well.

Those decisions are endless, starting right from the very beginning. Should I breastfeed or formula feed? Send him to the nursery or keep him in our hospital room? Sleep train or go with the flow? Co-sleep or crib? Pacifier or no pacifier? Swaddle or no swaddle? Go back to work or stay at home?

It’s complete overload and so much to process when you’re dealing with all those postpartum hormones and emotions. Your world truly changes overnight. You can read and plan as much as you want, but the truth is you don’t know how you really want to do things until you start living out your new reality.

When I think back to those early firstborn moments things flood back into my memory. I loved my hospital stay. Going to a U.S. maternity ward these days, or a “family birthing center” as many are now referred to, is practically like spending a couple days at a spa. After you get through the hard stuff, you’re just pampered for the next couple days! I LOVED everything about it and was in no rush to get out of there.

But then the time comes, and they discharge you. You excitedly dress your tiny human in the adorable going home outfit you’ve been imagining him wearing for months. You carefully and somewhat awkwardly place your babe in the car seat and take the giddy going home picture, so overjoyed to start your life as a family.

Then you get in the car, and you realize that you are taking this baby to YOUR HOUSE. How in the world did they put the stamp of approval on this? And it hits you. You have no idea what you’re doing.

But somehow you pull it together, welcome your baby inside your home, and start unpacking everything from the hospital. The busyness of it all distracts you for a while. That along with staring and thinking about how cute your baby is for about 98% of the day. Your precious miracle, now living and breathing in the great big world.

That first night is rough. At least it was for me. You’re on your own, figuring out night feedings, how to swaddle, and if you’re anything like me you didn’t sleep a wink because you’re too busy checking that he’s still breathing for the 176th time. But you make it through, and the sun rises in the morning, its rays more beautiful than you’ve ever seen as they offer hope of a new day and new life.

The next few weeks continue to be full of new experiences, trusting your motherly instincts and figuring out what makes you the best mom you can be. This is where it can start to get a little tricky. You start to realize that your personality plays a big role in how you take care of your baby. Just as your baby was created uniquely, each of us moms were also created uniquely. We were given our specific babies for a reason, and even though we’re new at this whole mom thing, we have an innate ability to feel and know what’s right for our family and kids.

It can get tricky here because at this point, you’ve probably been influenced by a variety of people who are near and dear to you, and maybe some who aren’t. Some of the things they do and advice they give make a lot of sense to you, and some of it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean one of you is right and the other wrong. It just means that each of us resonates with a specific parenting style because of who we are, and who our kids are.

As moms, we want so badly to do the best job possible, and in our desire to do so, it can be easy to think that our way is the best way. I don’t think it’s necessarily because we think those other moms are bad moms, but I think it’s because how they do it seems so foreign to us simply because we absolutely cannot imagine it working for us.

But that’s the beauty of motherhood and individuality, isn’t it? What would stress one mom out, makes another one feel closer than ever to her child. The point is, each mom is uniquely equipped to love her kids in a way that no one else can.

For those of us who are already moms, we have an opportunity to be involved in a major paradigm shift when it comes to how we interact with new moms and moms-to-be.

Instead of acting like we know it all, let’s come alongside our sisters, daughters, and friends in their new journey and offer nothing but encouragement. Let’s not have one of our first questions be, “So, are you nursing????” They might not do things the way you did. They might not want to follow a schedule or use disposable diapers. They might not want to co-sleep and follow the attachment parenting movement. They might not want to read BabyWise. Also, unless it’s positive, it’s really not necessary to suggest that you know more by saying, “Just wait until you get to this stage…”  Let them discover each season for themselves and form their own opinions about it!

I’d like to propose that we can be encouraging and offer our support without giving new moms unsolicited advice. Let’s shower them with praise and tell them what a good job they’re doing. Let’s lend a listening ear and let them cry on our shoulder.

Let’s be available and let them know that if they ever want to hear our thoughts we’d love to share our experiences, but leave it at that. If they want our advice, they’ll let us know.

For those of you who are new moms or moms-to-be…

You are starting on the most incredible journey you’ve ever been on. You might be overwhelmed right now trying to figure everything out. That doesn’t make you inadequate. It makes you normal.  We’ve likely been there, feeling tinges of worry during our pregnancies and insecurities during those hazy newborn days.

You are joining a world-wide community of moms who are cheering for you. We’re here for you, thinking about you, and want nothing but a smooth transition for you.

We know you have incredible motherly instincts and you know what’s best for your sweet babe. But if and when those times come when you wonder what’s worked for us, we’d love for you to ask. We want to help and support you in any way we can. We don’t have all the answers, but we’d love to walk alongside you in your journey.

They say nothing can fully prepare you for parenthood, and what a beautiful thing that is. Experiencing every precious moment firsthand is far more amazing than any book could describe.

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parenting With Perseverance

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A few weeks ago, Jake and I heard a loud thud in the middle of the night. Then came screeching and lots of tears. We rushed to Baylen’s room, and sure enough, the little monkey climbed out of his crib and crash landed on the floor. Poor thing was so scared. We immediately moved his mattress to the ground to make sure he didn’t hurt himself again, which basically turned into me laying with him the rest of the night so he we could all get some rest.

The next morning we loaded up the troops and made the 20 minute drive to Ikea. We let Baylen try out all the toddler beds, and after learning he didn’t have much of a preference or interest, we picked a bed that we thought would suit him.

After stopping to get Disney Planes bedding for our airplanes obsessed boy, we headed home and started the process of talking about and introducing his big boy bed to him. I think we all felt a little out of sorts. We have obviously never done this before, and hadn’t planned on transitioning him quite yet. I was happy to keep him in his crib for as long as possible, and hoped we still had a few months. Feeling awfully unprepared, I was frantically Googling tips for transitioning to big boy bed, trying to come up with a game plan that would work for our little man.

The stage he’s in right now has left me feeling incredibly humbled as a parent. The battles seem endless. As he gains more independence, he also needs more boundaries to know how he can use it. We’re figuring out what disciplining strategies work for him, and learning how painful it is when consequences are the only way to help him develop obedience.

Our sweet Baylen is strong-willed. He knows what he wants, and not much will stop him from going after it. As difficult as it can be to hone in his stubbornness, I know the time we put in now is going to result in great things for him in the future. He’s motivated, he’s driven, and I’m confident without a shadow of a doubt that he was born to do great things. Our task is to get him ready to do them.

So, we trudge through unknown waters and awkwardly try to figure out this whole parenting deal. We try a strategy, and it doesn’t work. So we try something else, hoping we don’t totally mess up our kids in the process.

Moments come, like when we had to return Baylen back to his bed 11 times in one night, and we throw up our hands because we simply don’t know what else to do.

We talk, we cry, and we turn it over to the Lord. Time and time again He reminds us that each of His children are uniquely made, and that we were entrusted with these specific little ones because we are the parents they need. What works for another family might not work for us. He encourages us to persevere, and that sometimes tough love is necessary.

And then, a breakthrough comes. After what feels like an eternity of having to be more stubborn than our child, something clicks, and progress is made. They settle into a new habit and we’re so glad we didn’t give up.

I imagine God might look at us the same way. He sees us with clenched fists and hardened hearts. He gently shows us the right way, but we likely don’t listen the first time. He meets us where we’re at, and uses people, situations and circumstances to draw us toward Him so we can get on the right track. He doesn’t give up on us.

Thank goodness we have the Lord as our ultimate parent, paving the way and working miracles in the hearts of His kids. May we lean on Him as we work through each battle with our children, as trivial as they might seem, remembering that they’ll all add up and turn into a lifestyle where they’ll know how to love and respect others and do GREAT things for the kingdom.

Let’s hang in there. It WILL be worth it!

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

 

 

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To The Mom Who Needs A Break

Right now I’m sitting in Starbucks by myself. The sun is pouring through the windows, and I’m savoring every sip of my vanilla frappucino. My sweet mom is taking care of the kids and gave me the day off so I could spend some time “filling myself up”.

It feels strange. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to just be. Sitting in a coffee shop for no reason other than to relax almost feels wrong. In fact, I just texted my mom a few minutes ago and asked her if I should head back home to help. I’m rarely away from my kids for more than a couple hours at a time, so when I reach that threshold, it’s like an internal alarm clock goes off and I feel like I need to rush home to be with them.

Maybe it’s a pride thing. I don’t like admitting that I need help, especially when it comes to my kids. For some reason I feel like I should be able to do it all by myself. When I start to feel overwhelmed and burnt out, I tend to blame myself for not having what it takes to power through. The lies start to creep in and it can be a slippery slope of feeling inadequate.

Have you ever been there? The love you have for your kids transcends any boundaries that you would have ever possibly set up to protect your well being. You have selflessly given so much and you truly love doing it. Being a mom is your favorite thing in the world, and you know you are greatly blessed to have little ones who call you Momma. But once in a while it catches up with you a bit. You’re tired. You might find yourself looking in the mirror asking things like, “Who have I become?” “Am I still me?” “Am I a good mom?” ”Is it bad that I feel like I need a break?”

As I’ve wrestled with these questions and brought them to the Lord, I’ve been encouraged by the refreshment that awaits me.

Our Heavenly Father knows how important the work is that moms do. Time and time again He has reassured me of this, and He wants to reassure you too. He never designed motherhood to be easy, probably because he knows the most beautiful things in life require us to depend on Him every step of the way.

He appreciates us every day, in the ordinary moments of life. He sees us feeding our babies at 3:00am, as we barely keep our eyes open. He sees us as we return our toddler to their bed for the 8th time that night. He sees us play and read and sing. He sees us teaching them, and He knows kids need to be taught everything. He sees us wipe the sticky macaroni and cheese off the floor followed by a sinkful of dishes that have piled up yet again. He also sees the extra hugs and kisses we squeeze in before nap and bed time, because He’s given us so much love for them our heart wants to explode. He sees it all!

He also sees us get tired. He’s given each of us our own capacity, which we shouldn’t compare to that of our friends. When we reach our capacity, He desperately wants us to run to Him so He can love on us and fill us up.

Oftentimes my tendency is to feel guilty for taking a break from my kids. When that happens I make myself run to this verse:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.’ There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” -Mark 6:31

No time to eat? I think that one is directed toward moms for sure!

In all seriousness, I think Jesus acknowledged his need for a break because he knew that we’d need to acknowledge our need for one too. The Savior of the universe set the ultimate example of how to thrive in persevering circumstances. He’s trying to tell us that we can be super mom and take breaks. Actually, maybe a better way to say it would be in order to be a super mom, we NEED to take breaks.

My prayer for all of us is that we’d be intentional about gauging our capacity, and know when we need to rest. For me, it means humbling myself and asking for someone to watch my kids for an afternoon so I can pour scripture into my soul and take my time drinking a cup of coffee.

How does the Lord fill YOU up? When do you feel most connected with Him? Will you do whatever it takes to make time for the only one who can truly refresh you?

As I drink the last few drops at the bottom of my coffee cup, I sit here humbled and thankful for the opportunity to meet with my Heavenly Father today. As always, it was exactly what I needed. Now instead of wanting to run away from my kids, I’m eager to get back to them, knowing that I’ll be able to be the mom they need me to be.

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

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When The Car Broke Down

As I alluded to in Monday’s giveaway post, last weekend we packed up the kids and headed south to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Kansas City. It’s a seven hour trip, so on the way there we broke it up and stayed overnight in Des Moines. Jake had some business to do there so it worked out perfectly to tag along. The kids barely made a peep the whole way and were happy to watch a few hours of VeggieTales.

It was so good spending time with Jason and Ali. They were so sweet and thought of fun kid-friendly things to do like visit an indoor playground and have lunch at Fritz’, where our food was served to us by trains. It was all so fun. photo-202photo-203photo-200

After a great weekend together, we left for home on Sunday morning. Since the night in a hotel on the way down there didn’t go well (so long are the days of looking forward to staying in a hotel room), we wanted to make it all the way home so we could sleep in our own beds.

A few hours into our journey we started having car trouble. It kept making strange noises, so we stopped on the side of the road, restarted and kept going. After repeatedly doing the same thing for a while, we decided we couldn’t go on any further. We stopped in Mason City and thankfully the Fleet Farm auto service was open. There also just happened to be a Target next door so we had a safe refuge to kill some time without the kids going stir crazy. We finally got word that the alternator was broken, but they said if they recharged the battery we should be fine to make it home. After recharging the battery was unsuccessful, they decided to replace the battery. By that time we’d spent about two hours in Target and were more than ready to get back on the open road.photo-206

We continued on and a while later, just after it was dark out, our car completely died and we coasted to the side of the road. There we were, in zero degree weather, with the heat quickly escaping the car and three little ones who were completely dependent upon us to keep them safe with limited resources.

After panicking a bit, okay a lot, actually by that point I was in tears, we said a quick prayer and by the grace of God the car started again, and ran just long enough for us to reach the next exit. The first business off the interstate happened to be a Mexican restaurant, and miraculously we had enough momentum to coast into their parking lot. We quickly transferred the kids into the warm building. Phew! We could breathe again.

The silver lining was that we were driving Jake’s company car and all the expenses, including a tow truck, were taken care of. After we stuffed ourselves full of queso, chips, and quesadillas, we crammed all of us and our luggage into a taxi and settled into a hotel for the night. By that point we were absolutely exhausted and completely sleep deprived. Did I mention we are also in the middle of transitioning Baylen to a big boy bed? Maybe not our best decision to travel in the midst of that.

Anyway, we survived, but I was a hot mess. It wasn’t fun, but I’m thankful for a couple things God reminded me of throughout our escapade.

First, I am continually amazed at how much I learn from my kids. As scary as it was being stranded with three little ones in that sort of weather, I was actually thankful they were as little as they were. They were totally oblivious to what was going on. They completely trusted us to take care of them, and didn’t doubt us for a second. Baylen thought riding in the taxi was the neatest thing ever and basically treated the whole ordeal as an adventure.  The girls were as smiley as always, and super pumped about meeting all the kind waitresses in the restaurant.

I guess it gave me a bit of a reality check. Am I always as quick to trust the Lord when situations are out of my control? Do I act like and believe that He is going to take care of me no matter what? Do I have faith like a child? Beautiful child-like faith makes God look so holy and gives Him the credit He deserves! I need more of that in my life!

Secondly, as I was frustrated and stressed and probably yelling at Jake as we were sitting there on the side of the road, I suddenly felt so silly. I was complaining about not having heat for a few minutes, when the reality for so many others is never knowing if they’ll have the necessities to make it through a day. I’m thankful for the blessing of a warm house, and enough food to feed my family. Gosh it is so easy to take those things for granted, and I know God calls me to more. May this serve as a wake up call.

Traveling with kids is full of adventure, isn’t it? It’s not as simple as packing light and jumping in the car. It takes a lot of work and planning, and when things don’t go as expected man am I thankful that God’s provisions are far better than anything I could think up. Thank goodness He is the ultimate parent, always steps ahead protecting us no matter what lies ahead.

“The Lord protects those of childlike faith…” Psalm 116:6

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

 

 

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How I Overcame Postpartum Depression

bay-mam-lovin-extra-depthHey guys. This post has been on my heart for a while now, and even though it isn’t an easy one to write, I feel like I need to share my experience just in case one of you out there can resonate with my story.

I struggled with postpartum depression, and I overcame it.

If you’ve had a baby, then you know that those first few weeks after giving birth are CAH-RAZY. Hormones and emotions are all over the place, and you find yourself acting in ways that you really can’t control. After I had my firstborn, every evening between 5 – 6pm I sobbed uncontrollably. For no reason other than my body was freaking out because of all the physical and emotional changes it was dealing with. The weight of thinking ahead to how the heck I was going to muster up enough energy to make it through another sleepless night overwhelmed me, and there I sat balling my eyes out. I’ll never forget one night when we decided it’d be best to just get out of the house around that time hoping that a change of scenery would help. We headed over to Noodles to grab a quick bite to eat (since you know, you basically have about a 20 minute window before you need to be back for the next feeding), and as we were eating our Wisconsin Mac & Cheese the water works came and I put on quite a show for the rest of the patrons. Aye yai yai…I’m so glad I can look back now and think that was funny. In the moment, let me assure you, I was a wreck.

Thankfully, after a few weeks I felt much more like myself again, and eventually started making it days at a time without tears. Motherhood became my new normal and I adapted into my new role nicely.

After I had the twins, my postpartum experience was much more intense. I went through the same phase I did with my firstborn, but it didn’t end when I expected it to. Honestly though, I didn’t think too much of it. I figured I was probably just exhausted. Twins was so different than a singleton. When I got more sleep I was sure I’d feel better. Then the girls started sleeping through the night, and I still felt like I was seeing the world in gray. Next I told myself it was probably just the fact that my body was so depleted from producing milk for two. Surely when I stopped pumping I’d feel better. When the girls were seven months old I had completely weaned them off of breast milk and onto formula, in hopes that if I took care of myself I’d be able to take better care of them. While it certainly helped me to become healthier in some ways, I still didn’t feel like myself.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the everyday moments with my kids. I was just going through the motions, without really feeling much of anything. I wanted so badly for my days to be filled with joy, but no matter how hard I tried to change my perspective I just couldn’t flip the switch. I wasn’t able to enjoy the presence of others like I used to either. When people would visit I felt like I didn’t have much to encourage them with, so often I would just choose not to say much at all. I felt emotionless. I could make it through my days and I wouldn’t say I had the most severe case in the world, but it was distractedly inconvenient.

One day I decided I needed to do something about it. I’m not sure why I waited as long as I did. Probably because I was ashamed and prideful. It also didn’t help that someone who wasn’t invested in my life flippantly accused me of having postpartum depression which made me more upset than I’ve been in my entire life. You just don’t do that. 

I called my doctor’s office. I made an appointment with my OB and told her what was going on. Oh my goodness, naming the reality that had been going on in my mind gave me freedom that led to my first step of relief. She reassured me that so many women deal with this. It was an imbalance of the chemicals in my brain and it was completely normal. Normal? Then why did I feel SO alone in this? We chatted about treatment options, and I walked out the door with a prescription in hand.

Over the course of the next few days, I prayed about next steps. The medicine sat in my cupboard, unopened. It felt like such a big deal to start taking it. In Christian circles, I think taking medicine for mental disorders feels like it can come with a certain stigma attached. In my opinion, it’s really unfortunate, and in a lot of instances I would guess that it probably prevents people from getting the appropriate help they need. I’ve heard comments like, “What sin in your life aren’t you dealing with to make you feel like that?” among others. Let me tell you, until you’ve experienced your own case of anxiety or depression, you have no right to pretend you know what someone else is dealing with. And even then, every case is so unique.

I’m certainly no expert in this, but I do know that for me, taking medicine was the best decision I could have made. For others, perhaps it’s therapy or counseling.

I love how God’s timing works. After feeling so alone and confident that none of my other friends dealt with this, I randomly happened to have two different conversations within two days of meeting with my doctor. I respect and admire these friends dearly and learned that they too had battled anxiety and/or depression and had success taking medicine. Normalizing anti-depressants made me feel supported and encouraged to know that there was hope.

I started taking my pills, which I quickly started calling my happy drugs, and within about four weeks I felt loads better. There was a week when I started to see light again and my world became more colorful. I genuinely laughed with my kids and found JOY in the little things. I felt like myself! I wasn’t snapping at my husband like I had been, and I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my little family.

I praise God for medicine. It makes sense to me. I’d use it if I was having other medical conditions, so I don’t see mental issues being any different. After a few months, I felt it was time to wean myself off. It was like my brain had been reset, and my mind relearned the behaviors that made me feel happy. I’ve had great success since being off of it, but if I feel the need to get back on someday, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

If you think you might be dealing with postpartum depression, please don’t wait as long as I did. Seek out help. Tell someone how you’re feeling. You aren’t crazy, and you aren’t any less of a mom if you’re struggling with it. What you’re dealing with is very real and very normal. Do what you need to do. I certainly don’t think everyone needs to be on medicine. Do what makes sense to you. Maybe that’s finding a counselor. Maybe it’s surrounding yourself with a team of prayer warriors. But please, know that you aren’t alone in this, and you don’t have to keep feeling like you do. There IS hope. 

We’re we’re weak, HE is strong.

If you’d like to learn more about my experience, I’d be happy to chat with you. Feel free to email me at ambermkuiper@gmail.com.

XOXO,

Amber

*The opinions expressed in this post are my own from personal experience. Please consult a doctor or other healthcare professional to decide what is best for you. 

 

 

 

 

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The Time We Have

Happy Monday! I don’t have much time to write today, due to three sick kids who need extra cuddles from mommy, but I wanted to share something that’s been stirring in my heart over the past couple weeks. This video was shown at our church recently, and I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve watched it several times now, and each time it reminds me how quickly life is passing by and how I need to intentionally soak up the daily moments that can so easily slip away.

As a mom with young kids, some days can seem so long, but good grief, the years go by way too fast. In just two and a half years, Baylen will go to kindergarten and I’ll never have him home with me full time again! I want to look back someday and know that I savored each day with my sweeties. I believe in my heart that I’m in the best days of my life right now, getting to spend quality time with them all day every day.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look and let it inspire you too!

XOXO,

Amber

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Heart Issues

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We’re in the midst of the first substantial snowfall of the year here in Minnesota, and this is the current view from my window. It’s the perfect afternoon to grab a hot cup of coffee and cozy up to have a chat. Even if you don’t have a beautiful dusting of white stuff, I’d love it if you grabbed your own cup and joined me for a little heart to heart.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I go to a bible study every Tuesday morning, and it’s a major highlight in my week. I’m so thankful to have other women with biblical perspectives investing in me and challenging me to pursue the Lord so I can be a better mom.

This morning we started a new study which follows the book, “Shepherding A Child’s Heart.” It focuses on how important it is to work on heart issues with our kids because when their heart is in the right place with the Lord, everything else including proper behavior will follow. I’d heard about this book a while back, and after our first lesson today it made me so excited and motivated to be intentionally prayerful about how to come alongside Baylen, Emersyn, and Mckinley and steer them in the direction of godliness.

It also got me thinking about how important it is that I am constantly filling myself up with truth. I’ll be honest and tell you that life can get so crazy while I’m hopping from one thing to the next and it can be easy to forget to spend as much time working on my own heart as I need to. Proverbs 4:23 says that the heart is the well-spring of life! More than anything I want to be a life-giving example for my children, so I need to make sure my heart’s in a healthy spot to do so. God entrusted me with three of his kids, and my lifelong goal is for them to have Jesus in their hearts and glorify the Lord with their lives.

As moms, we have amazing opportunities on a daily, moment by moment basis to make a difference and raise up the next generation so they can go on to change the world and win over hearts for Christ. WE get to help them do that! Wow, what an honor it is to be a mom.

I’d like to challenge myself and anyone else who wants to join me to spend some time this week and pour back into ourselves. My guess is that many of you are running on empty, and in desperate need of a retreat. Maybe you aren’t able to take a long vacation, but I think we’ll all be amazed at how much God can do with even just a few minutes of our time. So much that we’ll crave more and keep running back to Him to fill us up. When our hearts are in the right place, it will overflow out our mouths and be infectious to everyone around us (including our kids)!

I’d also challenge you to find a bible study of your own to join! I randomly joined mine at a church where I knew no one. Having other real godly women in my corner is one of the biggest blessings. Plus, most churches offer great childcare for your little ones where they get to learn about God while mommy does! AND you get a break! :)

Don’t underestimate your value as a mom. YOUR heart is precious, and you need to protect it!

Question: How do you take care of your heart? Do you have any tips for other moms as to what helps you to make it a priority?

Love,

Amber

 

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