Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Discussion About Mental Health

If you've been on any form of social media this week, you have probably noticed that it's emotionally charged with polarizing debates about how to handle the heartbreaking epidemic of violence that is quite literally killing our nation.  While these conversations are imperative to our healing, they are not the issue that weighs most heavily on my heart.

Today I want to talk about mental health because if you haven't already noticed, the only conversations that we have around the issue occur within the context of analyzing a mass murder, and nothing could be further from the true story behind an illness that's simply not talked about.

It's the story of the child who lives in an emotionally and physically unsafe home, yet is brave enough to wake up and make it to school each morning because they know that's where they are seen and loved.

It's the story of the teenager who suffers from anxiety because of the exhaustion of living up to everyone's demands - academically, athletically, and socially. All they really want is for someone to say "you are enough."

It's the story of the young mother with postpartum depression who wants to bond with her baby but finds life with a newborn completely overwhelming and almost debilitating at times.

It's the story of a middle-aged man who bears the weight of providing for his family, training his children, and leading his wife, while also working to achieve a level of success defined by a society that values materialism over relationships.

It's the story of the spouse who must become the sole caregiver to his or her life partner and best friend when the devastating medical diagnosis is handed down - the spouse who is flooded with precious memories of better days while being haunted by their current reality and fears of the life that is to come.

Let me ask you, if you were that child, that teenager, that mother, that husband, or that spouse, would you ever reach out for the support and treatment necessary to help you heal when the only discussions you've ever heard around mental health involve debates about guns and mass murderers?

You wouldn't and that's part of the problem.  Because that teenage gunman was once a kindergartner living in chaos.  What if someone, anyone, had talked about the elephant in the room?  What if someone ignored the stigma associated with mental health by reaching out to that family and saying, "me too."  "I get it.  Let's get help and work through this together."

Eli was two months shy of his second birthday when I finally reached out for help in what would become a diagnosis of postpartum depression.  I knew something wasn't right.  I knew my feelings were unhealthy.  I knew I needed help.  But there is so much shame that comes with the stigma of  mental health, and we are doing ourselves a disservice by not discussing it.

We need to talk about the warning signs, diagnosis process, treatment options and a general lack of access to quality health care.  We need to talk about how this impacts the patient and his or her loved ones.  We need to stop being afraid of words like "suicide" and train ourselves on how to truly care about this issue that impacts so many people. Mental health is so much bigger than a mass murderer.  It's the story of your neighbor, your friend, your coworker.

It's the part of my story I never saw coming.

We don't have to solve all of these problems today, but I encourage you to think before you flippantly post something on social media about mental health.  Because the unintended stigma associated with that comment could deter someone from seeking the treatment they need. Instead, let's offer love, support, and encouragement without judgment.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Life Comes At You Fast

Ten years ago today, Eric asked me to be his wife.  In a way, I am tempted to say something cliche like, "time flies."  After all, wasn't it just last week that I was twenty-one and super enthusiastic about life, planning a wedding and living "happily ever ever?" Ya'll, I blinked and...BAM...I'm in the "thirty something" club with two kids, a mortgage, and weekends that revolve around my children's social calendar.

I mean, really?  When and how did this happen?

On the other hand, if I'm being completely honest, time hasn't always flown.  There have been seasons that it's dragged and even moments that it's stood completely still.  That's the funny thing about time...there's no good way to measure its passing.

The year we got married there was a Nationwide Insurance commercial that came out with the tagline, "Life comes at you fast."  I think that's a more fitting depiction of our romance.

From meeting in the newsroom to dating was less than five months.

From dating to engagement was less than five months.

From engagement to marriage was less than seven months.

From marriage to pregnant was less than seven weeks...surprise!!

I've always thought "Life comes at you fast" is much a more accurate description for our life together than is "time flies."

Cause life, it does come at you fast.

You never know when the next hardship will arise or when the next blessing will abound.  The good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow, the laughter and the tears - they rise and fall with no consistency, no foreshadowing of what is to come.  Time seems completely contingent upon the rise and fall of these seasons.  Sometimes it flies and other times it stands still, but what I've learned is that the unpredictability of it all is what makes marriage so precious as you learn to navigate it all together.

No one knows what they're doing when they say "forever" to what lies ahead.  And I was no exception. Ten years later, and I'm still learning. What I do know is that even though we can't choose what life throws at us, we do have a choice in how we react.

Love is a choice.

Saying  "Im sorry," is a choice.

Forgiving is a choice.

Fighting for each other is a choice.

Turning toward each other in hard times is a choice.

I'd love to tell you that I've always made the right choice, but that's simply not true.  However, after ten years of learning to navigate this life together, I know that there's grace upon grace to cover those moments when we just don't get it right.

And at its root, it's that grace that makes life together so, so beautiful.  I don't know what life will throw at us in the next decade, but I do know that together with the Author and Protector of our love, we can face the unpredictability with confidence knowing that He's carried us this far and promises to guide us each step of the way.

It's been a beautiful, wild, fun, crazy and absolutely unpredictable journey and there's NO ONE I'd rather have by my side through it all.  Happy 10 Year Proposal To Us!!!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winter Storm 2018: Days Four & Five

We're on day five of this Winter storm, and I have a love/hate relationship with it.  Ok, those are some strong words...I like it and I don't.  The family time we've had is amazing and we've accomplished a few little organization projects, but staying home is just not one of my strong suits.  I am ready to get back into our routine and caught up again at work.

Nonetheless, I have greatly enjoyed my time with the kiddos and Eric.  Yesterday morning, we were both off of work for MLK Day, so we cleaned out some closets and decided to bust out of the house and make a run to town before another round of snow came through.  After dropping some stuff at Goodwill, we went to Sam's and Kroger's for a few things, which was good because, oh my goodness ya'll, round two was a bit more than we bargained four.

We woke up to about five inches of snow instead of the "dusting" they called for.  Ellie was kinda snotty last night and we were worried she was getting sick, so we went ahead and kept her home today just to be safe.  She's fine now, so we're thinking that it was just a runny nose from being outside sledding.

We opted to stay inside today so that we wouldn't risk anyone getting sick in these cold temperatures. I got a ton of work done so that hopefully tomorrow will be easier when I get back into the office.  We rounded out the snow day fun with dinner, hot chocolate and a civil game of Yahtzee.

The driveway is cleared, the car is turned around and facing the road, we've secured a spot at daycare and Momma is ready to get back to work.  But we're keeping our fingers crossed that we can fit in one more night of sledding when we call get back home. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snow Storm 2018: Day Three

Today was Day Three of Snow Storm 2018.  I'm actually kinda over it and ready to move on.  One good snow and I'm happy, so this is enough for me.  Except round two is on the way with another two inches expected.  I've already told Eric that I'll have to work on Tuesday no matter what, cause I'm ready for some structure.

But for now, we are enjoying our slow, lazy days.  I wasn't feeling so great when I got up, so we didn't make it to church.  After resting most of the morning, Eric took Eli to lunch and to play basketball while Ellie and I made the most of our time at home.  I eventually got bored of my view from the couch, so I cleaned out her dresser drawers and closet.

When the boys got back home, we all went out for a short sledding adventure.  It was more of the same from yesterday until Ellie got cold again.  She and I came back inside to get warm while Eli and Eric had a snowball fight.  I'm so glad my kids have a daddy who will do that kind of thing with them.

We grilled burgers for dinner, bathed the kids, and settled in for a movie.  Ellie fell asleep, so we're gonna hold off another night on watching Frozen...cause what else is there to watch during an ice storm?  

I'm not the best at staying home for days on end, but I sure have enjoyed the past few days with my babies.  Looks like tomorrow will be more sledding, more closet organizing, and if we're lucky, a trip to town for groceries before more snow makes it way into the area.

Then, let's talk "spring."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Snow Storm 2018: Day Two

Eli woke up at 5:20 this morning ready to go sledding.  I was not super thrilled with his enthusiasm for life at that hour, especially after he woke Ellie, the dog, and everyone else he could think of.   Ha!  Luckily, he fell back asleep and so did everyone else in the house. 

Shortly after we got up, we got a text from a friend inviting us to borrow her front yard from some sledding, which was the most unexpected and sweetest surprise ever!

Eric and acted like we needed to run some errands, and once the kids were dressed, we told them to get in the truck because we were going to the store.  They were bummed that they didn't get to play immediately, but it was super fun to hear their surprise when we pulled unto our friend's road.

After a few runs down the hill, we developed a little system where I would stand at the top and give them a push while Eric waited for them at the bottom on the four-wheeler and then drove them back to the top.  

It was all fun and games until Ellie got cold.  Oh my heavens the crying!!! She is just not a snow bunny at all.  Eli, on the other hand, LOVES it.  After we left our friend's house, we headed home and decided pizza sounded good, so we called in Papa John's.  

After lunch, we took a nap before heading back out for round two.  We don't have much of a hill in our yard, so Eric built two ramps for them, one for each sled.  We spent about an hour or so pushing them down, and they loved every second of it.

The best part of my snow day was when Eric bought me tickets to Aladdin!!!  I have been wanting to see the musical for so long, and it's finally coming to our area this year.  It's not until June and we still had the hardest time finding a show with two tickets together.  It was the best surprise and I can not wait!!!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Snow Storm 2018: Day One

This morning we were supposed to wake up to sleet, freezing rain, and ice as the first winter storm of the season rolled into the region.  When I woke up it, it was raining and there was ice on my car, so I assumed it meant the roads were slick and called into work.  Except, the roads were fine.  I felt like an idiot.

The time at home hasn't been wasted though.  I've caught up on laundry, played with the kids, and sent Eric about one thousand texts to pick up stuff that I forgot.  Eli can't wait for the snow, but Ellie isn't much for winter weather.  In fact, she decided today would be a great opportunity to channel her inner mermaid.  

I'm a little concerned about cabin fever setting in since the snow hasn't even arrived and we are already getting a little "batty" with each other.  Ha!  When Eric gets home we are going to make potato soup, play some games and go to bed early so that we are ready for the sledding fun to come tomorrow!!

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Our end of town has a new Parks and Recreation gym that is just absolutely amazing!  While the facility is super nice, I think the best part is probably running into all of our friends at the basketball games since we aren't all spread out at random elementary gyms across the county.

Tonight we ran into some of our buddies from baseball, so naturally we had to take a group photo.  And despite the nearly matching uniforms, Eli is on a different team, which means we're missing our buddies. While I do enjoy watching my boy play some basketball, I'm kinda ready for spring and reuniting with all of these boys and their families.

I wonder if they're ready for me and my enthusiasm?  Haha!

Oh, and perhaps the most excited of all are the little sisters who run screaming toward each other every time we bump into each other despite the fact that they see each other at daycare everyday.  I guess there's just something special about being bleacher buddies.