How I Broke My Brain.

Yes, you read right, I broke my brain.

I had a pretty wonderful and settled childhood. We moved to the country, lived by the sea, played in the hills all day. I remember thinking as a young teen how lucky I was, and I couldn’t imagine a future where our family wasn’t together.

And then, at fifteen, my parents broke up in pretty unusual, and very painful, circumstances. My life took a dramatic turn, and I had to learn how to cope with all that had happened, all that was going on inside me, trying to sort out my emotionally dysfunctional family, and dealing with being a teenager.

I didn’t know it at the time but, in doing all of the above {that is, coping with what life had thrown me}, I broke my brain.

How I Broke My Brain.

Yeah, apparently you can do that. Break your own brain. Who knew?

I only found out yesterday, actually. Remember how I wrote how I had gone off my anti-depressants? Well, I’m back on them again. As much as I want to feel like a failure about that, I’m not going to. Because, actually, this anxiety disorder isn’t something I can “fix”. My brain is a bit broken and, no matter how much I try my best and work hard to be my best, at the end of the day, I’m a bit sick and need medicine.

Anyway, how did I break my brain?

In part, it’s genetics. And that is something you definitely can’t do much about. The other bits are personality and family. {It’s the whole born vs. raised thing, which really, isn’t either, it’s both.}

When my family world fell a part, I had to deal with a lot of revelations, burdens of other people’s hurt and sin. I had to cope with living in different places, I always had a suitcase. I had to cope with my own trauma and emotional pain. I made bad choices as a young woman – as a way of taking control of my own life – but it made it all so much worse.

I kept everything inside. Some things I pushed down, deep down – and kept doing that even when those thoughts/feelings/memories kept rising up. I was faced with repulsion and a side of human nature I had not known before. I tried to think about it and process it all.

Somewhere, in those few years, something happened. All the pressure, all the pain, all the intensity of emotion must have broken some neurons or brain “switches”, because the chemical make-up of my brain changed. I did not know it at the time but, instead of talking to a counselor or someone I could trust, all that internalising damaged me.

I was very unstable. There was not a rational thought in my mind. If there was one amongst the crowd of thoughts that were constantly going through my mind like factory-line, it was drowned out by the louder voices of fear, condemnation, lies, pain.

I was emotional all the time. I would cry or feel like something terrible was going to happen even if nothing indicated that it was. I expected bad things to happen to me, like it was my due. And despite being saved at nineteen and God helping me get my life on track, I was a mess.

By God’s grace, He sent me my husband who came from a family with strong, solid theological roots. For the first time, the Bible made sense to me. Truth started pouring into my broken self and God started freeing me from certain ways of thinking and feeling. In the almost nine years we have been married, I am a far cry from what I used to be. Having a loving husband has healed me. Growing in my faith and knowledge of the Bible has healed me. In many ways, becoming a mother has been the making of me.

But my brain is still broken. And, in all likelihood, will always be.

I am not depressed. Anxiety gets lumped into depression, but can be quite different from it. As my doctor told me yesterday,

“Some people get depressed so bad they get into this hole that is hard to get out of. You, on the other hand, are a little bit bad all the time. And you need help.”

When I came off my medication, I was great. I had felt normal for three years, and felt it was time. But I’d forgotten that this broken brain of mine is not something I can make better by shear force of will. I would love to make myself better. The perfectionist side of me feels like a failure for not being able to “pull my socks up”, as my mother-in-law would say.

But the truth is, this anxiety is part of me. One day, when life is less hectic and busy and sleepless {yep, we still have those times}, I may be able to do it through cognitive therapy. But right now, that is so much effort. And just another thing I have to work on in my list of all the things to do. So I’m back on my pills, and I am accepting that in God’s grace.

And to my readers who have broken brains, too: We’re okay. We’re not nutters, even if there are periods of time when it feels like a crazy person is living in our brains. That’s just wiring gone a bit haywire. It feels real, the fear is overwhelming – but it is not Truth. The Truth is you are loved, cared for, held in the hands of an Almighty Father who, in His wisdom and mercy, enabled medicines to be made that can help us. So don’t be afraid to seek that help. You’re not a failure. It is wisdom. It’s wisdom to get help so that you can wake up one morning and think, “Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to be me. Life is good.”

For more on my journey with mental illness, read this series.

 

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Winter Fashion: Ideas & Specials

Here Down Under in New Zealand, we’ve just come out of a long winter. Despite being mid-Spring, our climate is very changeable – one day we’re wearing t-shirts and shorts, the next day, we’re back in woolly jerseys and boots. {If you ever come here to visit, make sure you pack a variety of clothes!}

With many of my readers from the Northern Hemisphere heading into winter, I thought I might share with you some of the type of clothes that I have really enjoyed wearing this past cold season. I’ll be using the amazing American-based company Cents of Style, one of the companies I’m grateful to be an affiliate of.

For my disclosure on my affiliates, please see here.

Cents of Style

Basically, if you want almost anything for your wardrobe, Cents of Style is the place to shop.  Tops, dresses, shoes, jewellery, inspirational lines… You name it, they probably have it. And they have it for you – not just models for photo shoots and catwalks.

They have clothes for you, modeled by people like you.

If you’re like me, a busy wife and mother, then it might be encouraging to know that many {if not most} of the women who work for the company, are mothers. Working mothers or at-home working mothers. This company is made by women, for women. And I love that.

Part of their company statement says that:

“Our purpose at Cents of Style is to empower women to lead bold and full lives. We believe that if you look good, you feel good.”

As an average women, I really believe this is true. When we take the time to care for ourselves and dressing in a way that makes us feel like we’re putting forth the best of our beauty, we feel really, really good. And as a Christian, I believe that dressing with care and style brings glory to our Creator. As flowers are adorned with grace and style, so ought His people be!

As you can see, Cents of Style create clothes for all women so they can dress as real women, for real moments. Any of the clothes above, I would wear in an instant. It wouldn’t worry me as I herd my children out the door to go to the supermarket or to church. I would feel stylish yet practical. And I am all about practical!

One of their latest dresses out is their Remi Swing Dress. Light, draping, feminine. And in lots of colours.

If you watch below, you’ll see how they demonstrated how gorgeous it can look on different body shapes.

I absolutely love it. This is what real fashion should be about. Women feeling confident to wear beautiful pieces of clothing, glowing in their femininity, showing off their strengths. Gorgeous.

Favourites

Looking through their catalogues, I’ve picked some of my favourite pieces that I think you will love to wear this fall and winter. All are clothes I would wear myself, a busy mother with a husband to love, a home to care for, and friends to share life with. I hope you find some inspiration!

Scarves

To me, scarves are a staple for any winter wardrobe. Where I live, we have Antartic winds blowing up the island. And, living only a few km’s from the beach, we get a Pacific wind that likes to nip through all our layers. When it’s cold, I never go anywhere without scarves. Bright and colourful ones are my favourites, especially florals. But don’t you just love these tartarn ones? Stunning.

And, for the 30th and 31st of October only, these scarves are only $12.95USD with FREE SHIPPING. When you check out, pop in the code: BLANKETTREAT.

 

Boots

This past winter, ankle boots were my friends. With skinny jeans or leggings and a tunic, I felt immediately dressed up and ready to go {even if my little girl had kept me up in the night}. I love wearing boots with a baggy top or jersey. I feel really comfortable and confident in this sort of style. But, I also love wearing a knee-length dress with leggings and knee-length boots. Both styles can be casual or dressed-up.

Tops

When I’m wearing jeans with flat shoes, a pretty top is a staple. I love these gorgeous Bohemian-style tops. They would look beautiful with dark jeans. And to stay warm, it would be easy to wear a thermal top underneath so there would be no need for lots of layers. Or, with a really nice cardigan and scarf, you can look really cute and cosy.

 

Leggings

As I’ve mentioned, I wear leggings a lot. They can go under skirts, dresses, tunics, or even a long jersey. Leggings are so comfortable and can make an outfit not only stylish but modest, too. I love leggings with boots. I wear them in summer also as I’m unable to wear skirts or dresses on their own. Leggings are essential and I love all these different patterned ones from Cents of Style.

And, if you buy TODAY {the 30th}, you can grab a pair of leggings for 50% off with this code at the checkout: LEGGING16. {All are under $10USD}

So there you have it. Cents of Style is a fabulous, real-woman friendly clothing company that is passionate about making all women feel good in what they wear. I endorse them and their values, and I just love the everyday styles. I hope you’ve seen something you like and that your winter wardrobe might be spruced up a little because, as Cents of Style believe {and so do I!}, you deserve it.

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Why Pursuing Perfection Makes Me Less Faithful.

For many years I have struggled with a pursuit of perfectionism.

It is a drive I have that pushes me forward in many ways, though this desire for perfectionism doesn’t stretch to all areas of my life. I don’t, for example, want a perfect house. {Which, those who know me, would nod in agreement because my house is never, ever in a perfectly ordered way.} Neither do I desire to have perfect cooking skills or perfect sewing skills. When I craft, it’s in a very wing-it sort of way.

Yet, despite that, I would call myself a perfectionist {and that’s not in a positive way}. You see, the kind of perfectionism I seek is character perfection. I demand a lot of myself. I demand very high standards of my character and my behaviour. I demand excellence.

Now, before I get all theologised — I totally and completely get that I am not, nor will ever be, on this earth, perfected. I believe with all my mind that I am saved by faith and by grace alone.

It is God who directs people to Him.

It is God who shows them their dark state.

It is God who helps them repent.

It is God who saves.

It is God who begins the good work in a saint and who will complete it into perfection.

“There is none that is good.” ~ Psalm 53:1

I am not good. I know this very, very well.

But my heart? My heart likes to lead me into all kinds of deception {Jeremiah 17:9}.

My heart fools me into thinking that I can actually attain perfection, in and of myself, with my very own hard-working hands. It purrs with self-satisfaction when I feel like I have achieved a high standard I have placed upon myself … And it churns with false guilt and self-hatred when I fail — which is everyday.

the-wedding-of

 

It is exhausting to be someone who seeks perfection in themselves, all by themselves. The standards are high, and they are never lived up to. Jerry Bridges, in his book Transforming Grace, called this the “performance treadmill”. We can never get off because we’re always running to reach the standards we set ourselves. And we kill ourselves in the process.

Thankfully, God has slowly been working in me. My brain and my heart are connecting on this issue, and I am being transformed by His grace.

Recently, I have noticed however, a new aspect in my pursuit of perfectionism that I didn’t see in me before. I have noticed inconsistency in my actions. I’ve seen how I drop something completely if I don’t do it perfectly. My heart has been opened to the reality that, when I pursue perfectionism in the things that I desire to be perfect in, I am less faithful in them.

Take our preschool-at-home, for example. I’ve had so many plans, so many ideas. I’ve made routines and lists {perfectionists love lists and boxes to tick!}. I’ve tried to implement things into our days. But then —

  • the kids won’t have a bar of it
  • it’s raining
  • there are too many errands to run
  • it’s too hard
  • I’m tired
  • the house is a mess
  • etc etc.

Something, or a few things, will get in the way of my great plans and, because I’m not meeting those standards of mine, I just stop. I don’t continue. I feel like I’m a failure. It’s too hard. I can’t do this perfectly, so I won’t do it at all.

Losing weight. Being consistent with exercise. Daily time with God. Homekeeping routines. Building a blog. I could go on about all the things that I have continued to drop and start again because of this pursuit of perfectionism. There are many.

But God is showing something to me. Not only is the Good News {that I can’t be perfect and I need Jesus to be perfect for me} getting more rooted and becoming more life-giving in me, I’m being stunned by these simple words that keep cropping up in my life:

It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being faithful.

Being faithful: that’s all God wants of me. He wants me to listen to Him, obey Him, and be faithful.

Being me? He just wants me to be faithful with the person He made me to be.

Being a wife? He just wants me to faithfully love and care for my husband.

Being a mother? He just wants me to faithfully love and raise up and admonish the children.

Being a loving neighbour? He just wants me to faithfully love those He puts in my path.

In all these things, He wants me to faithfully obey Him according to His Word. He knows I’m never going to live up to it all. He knows – and sees – how I muck up everyday.

I eat too much chocolate – again.

I snap at the kids – again.

I put myself before my husband – again.

I ignore a chance to witness to Christ because I’m scared – again.

Again and again my pursuit of perfectionism hits the dust.

“When people insist of perfection or nothing, they get nothing.” ~ Edith Schaeffer

If I continue in this, I will get nothing.

But instead of nothing, I can turn my eyes upon Jesus and receive everything. I can accept that He’s done it all for me. The light of the Cross falls on me. I don’t deserve it. But He covers me in His grace.

And because of that grace, and of that mercy, I can sit comfortably in being imperfect. I can pursue consistency. I can be a faithful person in the tasks God gives me to do. 

Can you relate to this at all? Please share.

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How I Recovered From Mummy Burnout.

Less than a month ago, I was almost on the edge.

I was really, really tired. I was emotionally all over the place. Every day dragged and I was constantly irritated with the kids. Situations with them were trying even when, normally, they wouldn’t have been.

And, like always, you never know how tired and at the end of yourself you are. You keep pushing through, hoping you’ll wake up one morning and feel better. But you don’t. I certainly didn’t.

This year has been a very busy year and hard. Tim is out a few nights a week, working often 50 hours +, on a billion different rosters at church… And being alone with two kids under three much of the time is amazing, but draining.

One Friday morning in the shower, I had had enough. I text Tim and said, “This is too hard.” And I sent lots of arrow prayers up but, when you’re in a bit of a state, your brain tells you that God isn’t listening. Or that He isn’t close. Or that you’re going to feel like this forever.

But, of course He is. Always.

{And I laugh at myself because, how many times must He remind me of how amazingly awesome He really is?}

recoverburnout

 

That Monday, Tim hurt his back. Badly. It was disasterous at the time, especially when the physiotherapy actually made his back worse. After never taking more than two days off work in his life, he was forced to stay home for over two weeks.

But God knows, doesn’t He?

Both of us were burnt out. Both of us were at the end of ourselves. Both of us desperately needed space, time to rest, recover, and recouperate. Being a husband/father/provider is hard work; being a wife/mother/homemaker is hard work.

So when it was obvious that Tim wasn’t going back to work anytime soon, we went into holiday mode. And, oh, it was glorious.

By the time Tim went back to work, we were different people. And for me, I felt like a new wife and a new mother. I felt like the real me again. The one who loves this life. The mother who was writing about having a vision for motherhood while struggling to retain her own was behind me. I was back.

God had made it really clear that Tim and I needed to have a break. So here’s what we both did to help ourselves get better.

Rest

We both took lots of different times to have space to lie down. Obviously Tim had to do lots of lying down for the beginning because of his back, and it was really beneficial for him. And when he was able, he took charge of the kids and enabled me to rest. So I slept. At 2pm, I would sleep for over an hour. I did this lots of times over the two weeks. We took turns getting up with the kids in the morning while the other one slept.

We were really generous with one another and cared for the other person’s needs. Sleep was much needed for both of us.

And I would say that sleep is the foundation for a person needing to recover from burnout.

If you have trouble sleeping, I really recommend natural sleep drops {not an affiliate}. When our daughter goes through a period of time when she doesn’t sleep well, sleep drops really help encourage sleep. They’re not addictive or bad for you. They are completely safe.

I would also recommend using an essential oil like lavender. I put one or two drops on my pillow and I really believe they help me calm to sleep. Again, I put this on my daughter’s pillow every night and I believe it makes a big difference for her sleeping patterns.

709749d77d6f6ba69977590ff10653ce

Relax

Relaxing may sound exactly like resting to you, but I believe they are quite different. Whilst resting is doing exactly what God did on the Sabbath {ie. He stopped creating}, relaxing can quite easily involve doing.

Rest is giving your body {and mind, soul, and heart} a break. To me, relaxing is doing anything that brings you joy. It revitalises your soul. It restores your emotional and mental well-bring. It reminds you that you are you and you enjoy relaxing in this way because it’s part of who you are.

Do you relax by exercising? reading? hiking? cooking? writing? coffee catch-ups? watching tv? playing games? painting? organising? sewing? helping? doing the dishes?

The way someone relaxes will look completely different to another person. I think it can often depend on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. An introvert {like me} would love nothing better than to be alone and read a book or write a letter to someone. An extrovert might completely thrive and relax by shopping in a busy mall and catching up with a friend.

Whatever it is that feeds and nourishes you – the way God made you – that is relaxing. And when you’re trying to recover from burnout, doing what relaxes you will be incredibly healing and restorative to your mental health.

Regroup

What do I mean by regroup?

Once you feel on the mend and you don’t want to run away from everyday things that threaten to overwhelm you, start evaluating your life. Look back on the period leading up to your burnout and be honest with yourself about why you ended up where you did.

Have you over-committed yourself? Have you taken on things that are good but just aren’t for this season of your life? Have you over-committed your children to too many things? Are you having enough down-time at home? Are your standards too high? Are you living a “by works” faith? Are you having regular relationship time with God? Are you feeding your soul so you’re not pouring out on empty?

There are many questions we need to ask ourselves. It can be hard, but it is necessary.

Once you know why you’re in this place, make active changes. Cut back on roles. Change routines. Set up a routine. Have a planner so you can see your life on paper and manage it just as if you were your own PA.  Allow yourself a break. Ask God to show you what to do.

Life is as complicated as you make it. It can be as simple as you make it. But YOU have to make it that way.

The biggest thing we need to do as married women with children is remember that God expects nothing more of us than: loving your husband, loving your children, run your home, and care for your neighbours as yourself.

{There is a reason why Paul told the older women to instruct the younger women. Those young women were being busy and nosey everywhere else but in the sphere God had placed them in for that season. And because it’s in the Bible, God knows we need it today in our crazy, hectic 21st century.}

Burnout is a horrible place to be in. Life still demands you. You’re still needed. But you can recover from it. You need to be active in getting the rest you need, the relaxation your well-being requires, and the opportunity to get your priorities in order. This is what I did and, by God’s mercy and grace, I’m out on the other side.

Have you ever gone through burnout? How have you coped and recovered?

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A Simple & Delicious Bread Recipe

This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family.

I mentioned on Instagram recently that we have been doing a health over-haul in our house. Nothing crazy. We’re just trying to eat more natural, wholefoods. And we have a treat over the weekend.

As a mother, trying to go grocery shopping with healthy foods in mind and a budget, it can be super depressing. Real food is so expensive! {At least, in New Zealand.} Everything that is cheap is fake. Even bread. Good bread is expensive, but even that bread is made to last for at least a week in a pantry.

Real bread should only last a day or two, max.

So I’ve started making our own bread. And it is AMAZING.

bread

My dear friend, Rachel {from The Purposeful Wife, follow her, she’s a kindred spirit} asked for the recipe. I’m no food blogger. So none of these pictures are gloriously done. They’re like me: simple but real.

And so is this bread. Oh my. I can’t remember the name of the cook book I got it from. But it was a memoir-type recipe book, and the bread was one of her father’s tried and true recipes. I can see why.

The original recipe is for a white loaf. The above picture is the white loaf. Recently I’ve been using wholemeal flour and it works out just as well. Moist, dense and perfect for little sandwiches. It’s more filling and the kids breath it in.

I make two loaves that covers two days. This is because my husband isn’t eating bread during the week at the moment. But if he were, I doubt two would last a day. They fit in a normal loaf tin when baking, and only take about 15-20 minutes to prepare, and about the same time to rise if in a warm space.

bread

Instructions are in the metric system {sorry, I’m from Down Under!}.

 

The loaf tin I use is small {this one looks about the same size} and it is silicon, so I don’t need to add butter or baking paper around the edges {this one looks just like my own one}.

breadrecipe

 


This loaf is just delicious and is perfect for lunches or a Saturday morning treat. Pin or share, and let me know if you try it!

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Motherhood & Mental Illness: When I Am Weak

This is now part of a mini-series found here:
Anxiety. Mental Illness.
They can be hard words to swallow about myself. But I do.
This week I have been reminded that I live in a frail and fallen body. It’s easy, when things are fine, to fool myself into thinking that I have it all together, that I am strong and able to cruise through life independently and alone. And then, something happens and medication isn’t enough to keep my anxiety at bay: once again, I’m thrust into the whirling pit of a speeding mind, the sense that something is very wrong, intense emotions and a body wound up like an old-fashioned toy.
I have been “fine” for so long. It’s two years since my last pregnancy and post-partum struggles. It’s been well over a year since I have tried to wean myself off my medication, only to have my old friend come creeping back through the brain stem of my mind. Life has trundled along – busy, routine, safe. I’ve been okay.
 motherhoodmentalillness

How I Went Under Again

Last week Tim was suddenly put on night shifts {who knew builder’s could be on night shifts?} and everything was turned upside down. I was sole parenting day and night; I was stressed trying to keep a toddler and preschooler quiet during the day in our small house so as not to wake Tim; therefore, we went out and about everyday. It was a struggle. By the end of the week, the muscles around my shoulders were sore from being tense all the time and, by the weekend, I could feel the unnamed panic starting to creep over my heart, my mind like a deer in headlights.
Now I wasn’t handling things as I normally do. Squabbles, disobedience, dawdling filled me with irritability at best, rage at worst. Long days in sole charge of the kids from sun up to sundown {Tim has night classes several times a week and is gone for work by 6.30am} built that pressure of responsibility to bursting point as I struggled staying on top of it all.
Finally, by Wednesday, I acknowledged to myself that I wasn’t well and needed to stop trying. This brought a sense of relief. It usually takes me a little to face my anxiety; I often keep going as before, productive and ignoring my rising tension. I think I don’t need help. And then, I realise I can’t – –
and I throw myself before God and simply ask for help. “Give me grace, O Lord. I just can’t do this without you.”

Why I Accept This Thorn

And that is what this thorn in my side is really for. God knows me so well. He knows I love comfortable and, more than physical comfort, I crave idolise emotional comfort. And He knows that when I ask, in trepidation, to help me need Him and desire Him more than anything else, the thorn shifts and I’m reminded that it is weakness that keeps us within the safety of His refuge.

Peace and safety certainly don’t come from striving for the perfect life or being the world’s best mother. These are the goals of my flesh. They war with the God-directed spirit in me – the new me – that only wants Him and His ways and His will. These two parts of me grate against one another like the plates of the earth, and it is my anxiety that is the earthquake, shaking me around a bit, keeping me at the foot of the cross.

Nothing in my hand I bring, 
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to you for dress;
Helpless, look to you for grace;
Stained by sin to You I cry –
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

I used to plead this illness away. I used to fight it and deny it and crucify myself for being so weak. I feel shame that I need such a quiet and uneventful life to keep me steady, that such a minor thing like Tim working night shifts can throw me off “my game”.

But part of the valley I experienced after Josiah’s birth helped me see it with a humble heart. I saw this world and our broken bodies differently, for what they are – tents, that flap in the wind a bit, and which pegs sometimes get ripped out of the earth. We are clay vessels, we’re easily broken.

Grace Upon Grace

Our culture emulates perfection – perfect bodies, perfect jobs, perfect families, perfect wealth. But what a lie. We will always come against the fallen. This world is not meant to be it.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

… So the power of Christ may rest on me. Did you hear that? We aren’t meant to strive in our brokenness. Rather, we are meant to rest in His grace, His power, His mercy, His blood. We can acknowledge who and what we really are, and divorce ourselves from perfection. We are to pursue holiness, but that is not the same as pursuing perfection. We are to pursue being a set apart people, who trust and obey God.
Now, however much I hate my illness, I accept it. I embrace it. I acknowledge that it is a gift from God. Yes. A gift. I would rather be sick, on my face before the throne of God in desperate need of Him, than cruising through life thinking I’m awesome and invincible. I would rather see myself as a weak wife and mother, than sit on my high horse, not able to be real and in the trenches with other needy women. I would rather experience the Gospel in pain than understand it in perfect theology, sitting comfortably, unscathed by broken. I am really, really grateful I’m broken. It makes me need Jesus.

Do you struggle with anxiety or another form of mental illness? How do you accept it as a struggling mother?

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Birthing Babies: Grace In A Fallen World

“Children are a heritage from the LORD.” Psalm 127:3

I am a mother by the grace of God. As part of His plan for my life, and my husband’s, He has given us two children. And as I have said in my page about me, it looks like our two little ones are it {at least, biologically}.
My youngest turns two in a few weeks and I was thinking yesterday that it’s been so long since I have been pregnant. It still feels as strong a relief as it did the moment she came out. But, I long for another one. I would like to have another baby.
Yet, I shouldn’t have another baby.
As Christians, we love rules. We love adhering to a standard and making our stand on it: “Yes. This is God’s way. We all must be this way.” No, I am not saying there is no absolute truth, of course there is. Morally. But on many life issues, the Bible offers principles. And on child-rearing? Children are a blessing, plain and simple. That is why those who love the Lord ought to pro-life. God loves children and His hand is on the origins of every human being. They are not tissue or just a fetus.
But, I digress.
Children are a blessing. It is good to have children. It is part of our mandate as we rule over creation {Genesis 1:28} and it is a beautiful part of married life, and being one flesh {Genesis 2:13-25. And yet – it is not always as simple as we would like it to be.
Before Josiah, we had two miscarriages. I wondered if I could ever carry. Then, blessedly, Josiah was born. My body did okay with pregnancy, though I developed one blood clot in the later stages, and birth left some stitches. Then, I had a really rough bout of anxiety/postpartum depression that was really, really hard on this first time mother. But, once I got some help and pushed on through, life looked brighter.
Rosalie was born sixteen months after Josiah. Her pregnancy was hard. My blood turned to sludge and I developed nine blood clots during my third trimester, with strong prelabour from thirty-two weeks which involved two hospital admissions. I was on daily blood thinners and her birth worsened what was damaged from my first. When she came out, I cried, “It’s over!” And I wasn’t meaning birth. 
Pregnancy for me has the real possibility of being dangerous. It would be a significant risk for me to get pregnant again. I find that really hard, and I have wrestled over the chasm between my will for another child and the reality of what it means to have another child.
Birthing babies has taught me more and more that everything on this earth is tainted and destroyed by sin. Nothing is like it was before the Fall. It reminded me that we have it easy today with hospitals and medicine and life-saving operations. A close friend, if she had been around one hundred years ago, would have died with her first baby. She literally has no room to push a baby out so she must have c-sections. 
We are blessed and we are cursed.
Some Christians forget this dichotomy. I know why they do for, a part from loving rules we also love God’s ways and it is God’s way to have children {as opposed to our children are a burden/are despensible culture}. The only trouble is when well-meaning Christians make mandates about how many babies we ought to be having they forget that we are made for perfect, but perfect isn’t here yet. It is coming. But until then, we’re just waiting in a world that is groaning like in the pains of childbirth {Romans 8:18-23}.
Some women can have many children and, though it is hard, can do it by God’s grace. Some women can’t, or have a few, and do it by God’s grace. God, above and overall, is in control and all births and deaths are in His hands {Psalm 139}. And really, we ought to mind our own business and live a quiet life {1 Thessalonians 4:10-12}.
If I were to discover tomorrow that I were pregnant, I would be over the moon. Children are a blessing. I haven’t always felt that way, but I have always thought that way. My struggle would be entrusting my body to the Lord, knowing the great risks, but accepting His hand on my life. Life or death, I am His. But, we are not looking to get pregnant, in grace.
So if babies or pregnancies are a difficult issue for you; if you are frightened to have another one; if you want to but can’t; if birthing babies breaks your already broken body more – – drink in grace. God doesn’t condemn you for a broken body. He broke His own so that one day you will be perfect. But right now, we’re having to do this all in bodies, in minds, in places, in a world that is decaying.

As Charles Spurgeon said,

“It is grace, and nothing but grace, from first to last.”

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