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*Podcast banner.002Today we take another look at Jonah’s prayer from the depth of the sea and how God is faithful, even in our deep places.

Sometimes the waves of life come and go and times are hard, but I bounce back. I learn from them, and may even find my devotions replaced as a result of the distress. Yet there are times when the waves consume and I find myself like Jonah, in a deep place. The deep, dark place where my soul is more than weary, my heart is broken, and my hope is almost gone.

Even these deep places are a provision of God.

Show notes:

my only hope.001

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Enjoy!

I shared my heart a few months ago, about my struggle with being a stay-at-home mom. It was a post that I knew I was supposed to write, but felt myself extremely frightened hitting publish. For the most part, the “bearing of my soul” was incredible well-received, and you all just showered me with encouragement and stories of your own struggle.

Thank you, for that.

The more I share my heart, the real me, the more I realize that there are so many others out there that also struggle. This is all so strangely freeing.

To know I’m not alone in my depression and struggle with motherhood.

Of course, I know the struggle is mostly in my head—that I am not the only imperfect one. But getting it to sink deep down into my heart? That’s a different story.

Most of this is about the battle to connect my heart’s cry with my what my mind knows.

Dealing with Opposition

So, I said that it was mostly well-received. There was a bit of opposition. I’m not afraid of opposition, and I am so thankful for those comments. We all need to be able to hear the criticisms, and take them to the Lord. He has given us each other to point us to Him—sometimes through difficult conversations.

I did take the concerns to the Lord, and to my husband, but came out from it back where I had landed—that this IS the best place for us now.

Yet, I find myself feeling a bit mis-understood.

It is difficult to communicate by heart, and all of my story in 700 words. My struggle with being a stay-at-home mom is only one part of the journey. The words of the concerned commenters were very kind, but I could hear the worry in their words—the worry that I was going off the deep end, losing my focus—and my children would be the ones to pay for my “mistake”.

I don’t know, maybe this is all about the same issue, that I care too much about the ideal and what other’s think. But it still weighs heavy on my heart—that you all might be out there thinking that since I have given up my pursuit of being the typical stay-at-home mom, I am now giving my kids second-best.

How I’ve Become a Better Mom

There are certainly other factors involved, but the bottom line is that the pursuit of the ideal had led me to depression, and as I have taken steps away from trying to fit into a certain “homemaker” mold, my depression is lifting. (That, and a certain little blue and white pill.)

I did not making it lightly, this decision to not homeschool. Nor did I flippantly make the decision to start working outside of the home. Neither were made out of emotions—on solely what I feel. These decisions were prayerfully, slowly, and carefully made by my husband and me.

I was absolutely against going back to work and putting the kids in childcare, even for just a few days a week. It felt like a deferring of my God-given role to someone else. I had my heart set on homeschooling and continuing the typical full-time stay-at-home mom pursuits. But there was one big problem.

It wasn’t working.

Honestly, I was a really bad mother most of the time. Extremely irritable; completely un-motivated to do anything around the house, while I wallowed in my “failures” because my time at home didn’t look like so-and-so’s.

I was so overwhelmed by all that I wasn’t, that it paralyzed me from being who God made me to be.

I have been searching the scriptures lately, on this phrase in Titus 2 to be a “worker at home”, this phrase that so many see as the lynchpin to motherhood. I’m kinda surprised by what I have been learning, and observing…

…but that is all for another post.

Do you feel the pressure to be a certain “type” of “good Christian” mom?

Where do you feel you may be trying to fit into a mold God never designed you to be in?

Have you experienced this “walking away from the ideal” to find that it makes you a better momma?

 

I struggle through the funk of depression, and ride the wave of figuring out what works for us; press past the pursuit of the ideal, to find the realistic.

It’s hard to make these decisions. Endure the thoughts and judgements of others; worry that I’ve lost respect.

There are a few things that I hold to, through this bumpy time. Tangible facts I can tether my feelings to, and drown out the voices of disapproval—including my own. Markers which give me confidence that the Lord had led us here for a time, even thought the “right way” wasn’t always clear.

I am within Biblical boundaries. I am not walking in a pattern of sin by working outside of the home, or not homeschooling. There are no direct commands that I am disobeying. I am above reproach.

My husband is with me in the decision. He was the one who first suggested I go and look for a job. He has been in agreement with all the changes we’ve made, and he still supports them. We’re in this change together.

I’m walking with the Lord. I’m in the Word. I am listening to His Spirit the best I can. He is near. I am experiencing His grace, and the good news of the gospel more and more every day. I am safe in His presence.

My motives are right. I am not setting out to climb any ladders, or find my significance in my performance at work. I am not working so we can be more comfortable financially. I work to see if this depression will keep at bay.

My soul is getting better. Through having a new routine and a few days in my week that I can control and produce results, a part of my soul, which for years has been suppressed and told to hush, is now allowed to show herself. Perform. Keep things nice and organized—without anyone there to mess it up. And when I head home to the mess and chaos, the organized, non-flexible part of me can rest, and know that she will get her time again in a few days.

Many of you have been kind enough to share your own struggle with me, and I thank you. It has been a gift, to be embraced in my struggle and not criticized. My prayer for us all is that we can walk with the Lord, and then walk in confidence to where He leads each of us.

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Write It, Girl

This is our last week of Write It, Girl. What a journey! Thank you for joining Stacey and me.

We have another treat for you, this week from the fabulous Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky.

“When was the moment you first believed you were a writer?”

When was the moment I first believed I am a writer? oh wow. Why is that so hard to answer? I think because even now, after having written a blog for six years and two books for a publisher, calling myself a writer still makes me feel a little school-girl silly. It’s because I so greatly respect the title. It’s because I so love the title. It’s because I’m a little shy of the title. I think I began to know it for sure when I stopped writing after my husband and I were married ten years ago. And for those few years, I felt a little lost. When I started Chatting at the Sky in 2006, my soul began untangling and it was then that I knew, oh. I feel more myself now. Maybe I’m a writer.

Funny how writing was the thing that convinced me I’m a writer. Maybe it’s that way with everyone?

Emily is bringing back Tuesdays Unwrapped for the month of December. Check it out!

Link up below! Anyone is welcome, just be sure to link up to your own Write It, Girl post (not your homepage), and comment on at least the post before yours in the link-up. Of course, we would love it if you use the button so we can find each other!

Write It Girl

<a href=”http://blog.katieorr.me/tag/write-it-girl/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i1038.photobucket.com/albums/a463/ckopb/WriteitGirl001.jpg” alt=”http://blog.katieorr.me/tag/write-it-girl/” width=”125″ height=”125″ /></a>

Since I am on this journey to just write, and to share my life with you in a more deep and honest way, I’ve been going back to those 10 unpublished posts I mentioned—the posts I have been afraid to post. I published one of them last week, and all I have to say is WOW.

The response to it has been incredibly humbling and enabling at the same time. Thank you for your gracious words and encouragement. It does a weary momma’s heart good.

This one has been sitting in my draft box for seven months, yet the reality of the struggle is near.

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Its been a hard day.

I find myself bawling on the way home from the Doctor’s office. There is something about that place that brings out the worst in my kids. I knew I shouldn’t have gone with all three—it is a recipe for disaster.

And a disaster it was.

Spent, tears well up as soon as I leave the building. Frustration. Anger. Embarrassment. Shame.

I’m not ashamed of my kids, but of me; of how I feel about my kids at that moment, and how I just want out. Out of this motherhood thing.

I can’t do this.

This is the only thought I can manage.  I can’t do this. I CAN’T do this. I CAN’T DO THIS.

This being a momma; it is too hard. The screaming. The whining. The fighting. The dishes. The laundry. The interruptions.

Its all too hard.

As much as I want to run home, put Max and Ruby on for the kids, and collapse into my bed, I can’t. Antihistamines and antibiotics have to be dolled out, and there’s a line. I pull the car into a dusty, empty lot, and cry.

Kenneth asks why I am crying. I squeak out some words through my sobbing, “I can’t do this. I can’t be a good mommy…I am trying so hard, but I just can’t do it. We need to pray for mommy…I can’t be a good mommy with out God.”

He says he can’t be good either; he needs God, too.

We get through the car line at CVS and head home. I can’t help it, I am still crying. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Defeated.

Kenneth says “Mommy, will you pull over? I want to do something.” Bewildered, I pull over. This five-year-old gets out of his buckles, steps over the molding sippy-cups. and ground-in Cheez-its, down the aisle of my blue mini-van and hugs me. With all his little might he hugs me.

I sob. I can’t stop. I am a complete mess.

I am not even sure where to go from here. I know what is true. I know I’ll get through this. I know I need Jesus.

But in these overwhelming moments, which come all too often, it is incredibly hard to preach the truth. My mind will listen, but my soul ignores.

Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalm 143:7-8 ESV)

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Every Monday in November we are sharing our hearts. Letting go of what hinders us in our writing, and linking our words with others. No criticism, no grammar-police, just encouragement. All we ask is that you do some blog-hopping and at least comment on the post before you. (And, it’s always nice to see the Write It, Girl button!)


 

I really struggle with being home with my little ones. I love them, incredibly, but after six years of being home full-time it has become clear this is not a good place for me, right now.

It has been a hard pill to swallow, this realization that I can’t be the stay-at-home-mom I think I should be.  

Somewhere along the lines I have bought into the lie that to be a good Christian mom I need to stay home, keep my house clean, plan out my meals and bake my own bread. I must homeschool my kids, with a well-thought out plan for each day, and I should enjoy it every step of the way.

Fact is, my house is a wreck, my awesome husband does most of the cooking, and I dread making plans for our day. I am continually looking for ways to divert my children’s attention away from me, and I breathe a sigh of relief when they are all finally in bed.

I don’t like being a stay-at-home mom. There, I said it.

The Bible is clear that my family must come first. It is clear that I am to love, serve and teach my children. I am to be a worker at home—my home ministry is to be my base and what is most important. However, it is not clear on many things.

There is no command in scripture I see that says I must educate solely from home (as much as I wish I could homeschool). The Bible does not forbid me from having a ministry outside of the home, or working and putting my kids in childcare. I will not be condemned for feeding my kids McDonalds or letting them watch more than an hour of TV a day.

No one has said these things directly to me, but somewhere along the lines I have believed these lies. Slowly I have bought into the thinking that there is only one type of mom that is the “ideal mom”.

It has proven deadly to my soul.

We’ve made some big adjustments, in the last few months, in order to change the unhealthy trajectory of my well-being. I am settled and content with where the Lord has me. I have a messy house. I don’t meal plan, and when I do cook it usually involves a can opener and a microwave. I am not a homeschool mom. I work part-time, and a few days a week, my kids are childcare kids (and to my surprise, they love it!)

I have had to let go of what I thought the “ideal” mom looked like, and as I have, it has freed me up to become a better mom.

Life: UnmaskedLinking up with Joy.

Target. Three kids. One cart.

Pushing. Pulling. Screaming. Fighting.

And lots of people around to hear it all.

Things settle down a bit, and a lady (sans kids) comes up to me, “I just want to say I’ve been there”. I nod, unsure of what to say.

“This time goes by so quickly, mine are fifteen and twelve, and I can’t believe it! I really miss this time.”

“That’s what I hear!” I answer. If I could have given her an eye roll, without being rude…I would have.

She says goodbye with a smile on her face and look of nostalgia.

I’m a bit stunned. YOU MISS THIS?! You miss having to try to manage chaos while dozens stand around and watch? You miss being constantly needed? You miss the sleepless nights and the difficult, draining days?

Yet, something inside of me knows she is right.

I need to savor these moments.

……………………

Hours later, just miles away, a friend lost her baby boy. A big boy, really. He was almost three.

We just saw him at the library today.

We sang ring-around-the-rosie together.

I told him I liked his cowboy boots.

He stayed close to his mommy most Wednesdays during story time. He loved to sit in her lap.

That image of him sitting, content in his mommy’s lap, worn-out cowboy boots pointed at the ceiling is forever burned in my mind.

You could see he knew that he was loved.

……………………

Lord, forgive me for the many, many moments I have wished away and wasted.

They are gifts you have given and I don’t want to take one second for granted.

Give me the grace and strength to say yes to my sweet ones when I hear “Mommy, can you come play with me?”

Help me to linger long and make the most of each day I have to spend with my children.

……………………

Will you say a quick prayer for this sweet family? God knows exactly what they need.

May He be glorified.

Photo Credit

Linking up with Joy  and Michelle

I’ve had some dark days lately. This cloud has followed me, off and on, for a few years now. While I feel as if I am just now realizing the depths of the darkness, God has been faithful to bring me hope through His Word.

I love the honesty of the psalmists. There are deep emotions communicated in this God-breathed book of the Bible; it makes me feel normal or at least glad I’m not alone in my craziness.

There is much to be learned from these men of God, as they walked through depression, betrayal and deep, deep hurt. While I haven’t experienced betrayal or enemies chasing after my physical destruction, my soul has it’s own enemies. As I follow the example of the psalmists, here are three actions I have found helpful…

I’m hanging out with Kat today, over at Inspired to Action.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

While you are there, be sure to sign up for the fall session of the Maximize Your Mornings challenge. There are already over 1200 women signing on to get up early to spend time in the Word! I’ll be a Twitter Accountability Captain, and would love you in my group, just make a note when you sign up!

Tears welled up as I left my little boy at the door of his first grade classroom. He was proud and excited to be there.

My heart was crushed.

We were supposed to homeschool this year. I’ve spent months researching philosophies and curriculum. We’ve carved out space in our house for a school room and have decked it out with supplies, maps and boards. Chris made a built-in desk that runs along the wall. We prayed over our space and our homeschooling time. We purchased our books and curriculum. In July we had our first day of school, filled with baskets of goodies for our homeschool year.

Yet, something has just not sit right with it all. It’s not because getting into a new routine is hard, or trying to manage the little ones while we try to do school. I knew it would be hard. There has just been something unsettling about it. That unsettling feeling which the Lord usually uses to tell me something is not where it should be. God has led both Chris and I towards the realization that this is not where we need to be, at least for now.

This has been a hard pill to swallow.

Most of my closest friends, including my sister, homeschool. They love it. I long for what they have. But, it is just not right for us.

I long to be with my children, to train them up into the knowledge of Jesus and all He has done for them. I want to be their main influencer. I want our family to spend good, quality time together. I want to take them on fun field trips and do experiments together. I want to live life beside them and show them how to walk with God.

Yet, I know I can still do these things, whether or not we homeschool. I can have “Bible class” and read them all the fun books we had planned. We can still go on nature walks and field trips. I can still be a part of Kenneth’s days through volunteering in his class regularly. I can and will continue to teach them about Jesus and model to them the best I can how to walk with the Lord.

Ok, so I am just giving myself a pep-talk right now, thanks for sitting in on my self-dialogue. I am sad. But, I know that God’s will is always best. I am fighting all the mommy guilt that comes along with this decision. I am fighting the “What are people going to think about me, since I keep changing my mind?” that echoes through my head. But, I know it is all a lie. Psalm 143 continues to be the comfort and truth I need.

So, I say goodbye, for now, to homeschooling. Trusting that the Lord had His perfect plan in leading us in every step we took this spring and summer towards homeschooling. And knowing that He has good plans for us ahead, especially as we choose to walk in obedience to His will, regardless of how I feel about it.

How have you navigated through tough decisions? What truth do you cling to as you battle mommy-guilt?

This has been a difficult season of life. I’ve had some defeating days lately. I struggle with getting my heart to believe what my mind knows.

Specifically, I struggle with my role as momma. I know that I am a good mother. Not perfect, but I am not neglecting them. I love them, feed them and care for them physically. I point them to Jesus and their need for Him. I pray for them. Their basic needs are met, they are loved and the gospel is readily available for them.

Yet most days I don’t feel like a good mother.

Moments come and I lose my temper. Days pass where I have wanted to be anywhere but in the trenches of discipline, diapers and dirty floors.

There have been some moments where this feeling is completely overwhelming.

“I can’t do this.”

“I am a horrible mother.”

“I want to just run away.”

Emotions seem to overtake my soul. Anger. Despair. Hopelessness. Fear.

In this season of battling my feelings with truth, Psalm 143 has been both a comfort and a source of strength. If you, like me, have been battling with negative emotions and overwhelming discouragement, will you take a moment to read this Psalm? If a truth resonates with your soul, will you stop and cry out to the living God who knows every part of your soul?

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
2 In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge!
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

Psalm 143 ESV

I’ve been memorizing these words, journaling through them and listening to them over and over again on my phone as I drive around town. I am excited to share more soon about what I am learning from how David dealt with his despair.

Do you struggle with overwhelming negative emotions? Do you struggle with the disconnect of what you know and what you feel? What have you found to be helpful as you battle these dark days?