The Peach Sweater

Originally published October 2013 on another blog I authored.

This morning I carefully folded our laundry, like I do almost every morning. When I came to my white and blue stripped cardigan, the one I’d worn on my wedding day, I smiled. I was grateful the butternut squash soup from yesterday hadn’t left a stain. I hung it over a hanger and hung it up next to my most beautiful sweater of all: the peach one I’d bought this summer.

The one with delicate fabric. The one I’d paid more for than I had planned on when going on my shopping endeavor to find something warm to wear to a wedding in Colorado. It was so beautiful, and I knew it would go with everything. I adore that sweater, and I’m glad I bought it. It is beautiful and soft and really does go with everything.

However, this morning, in horror, I noticed it’s shoulders had been stretched out by the hanger it was hanging off of. And as I looked closer, I saw a hole right there in the shoulder.

I quickly grabbed my sewing kit from the closet and found a light gold spool of thread… I didn’t have peach, so gold would have to do. Carefully, I examined the seems and determined the best way to pull them back together.

Carefully, I tended to my beautiful sweater. I’m not proficient enough to do it quickly. So, I took my time. I carefully folded the fabric over to check my line; to make sure it’s straight.

I finished mending the hole in the shoulder and noticed the tag was pulling at the delicate fabric. I wished I hadn’t accidentally put it in the dryer that one day. I knew the damage I was fixing was a consequence of my negligence in the past.

When the knots were tied and the thread cut, and I held up the sweater to assess it’s condition, I happily realized my work would suffice. My sewing skills were satisfactory. No one will notice anything had ever been wrong with the sweater.

But, I can’t help but wonder, how would the designer of this sweater have fixed it? Of course, she never would have accidentally put the sweater in the dryer, so she wouldn’t have had this problem to begin with. But, if I knew her, and could ask her to repair my damaged sweater, what would she had done differently?

She would have used the right color thread. And her lines would have been perfect, because she knew exactly how they were supposed to be to begin with. She would have considered more than I did. How would her repair hold up during future wear? Would her repair affect the purpose of the sweater? Would it still be beautiful?

I was just trying to fix a hole so no one would know it had ever been there.

She would have considered more. She would have considered the whole picture.

A realm I do not understand, because I know so little about sewing and fashion design.

But she would know everything. And my sweater would be in better hands if they were her’s and not mine.

Isn’t this our life? We have so many holes as a result of our negligence, or shortcomings, or weaknesses, and we try to patch them and fill them, all by ourselves, so no one will know we ever had anything wrong with us.

Some of us might do okay, for a while. We might even be able to convince others that the holes are fashionable. But, inside, we know that wasn’t how it was designed to be. And we know we don’t have the skills, or knowledge, or strength to keep fixing and filling anymore.

So let’s stop trying to do something we’re not equipped to do.

Let’s give it back to the Designer.

He’ll repair the holes. He knows the best way how. The method of stitching might hurt a little. But, when He’s finished, we’ll be whole again.

Her name is Shame, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can catch up HERE.

And now, part 2. If you’re a Christian reading this, and you choose to continue reading, you may want to do what my dear friend Beth Hollingshead says, “Take your feelings and put ’em in your purse and zip it up real tight.”

The truth is Christians say the worst things to people with depression. And I know because I’ve said them.

I will never forget one day standing in the driveway with a loved one of mine. No one knew she was struggling with depression, and I was the one to witness the first signs of it, there that afternoon. I saw a person who was strong, in every kind of way, a leader in her church, a woman who loved Jesus and served and knew him. And, I, in my naivety said, “It’s going to be ok. You know God’s got it.” And that’s when she began to tear up. A person I’d never once seen get emotional, was about to start crying right in front of me.

Years later, the same kinds of words were spoken over me, and although they were meant to be encouraging, they only made me feel even more foregone.

I’ve explained depression to others as the feeling of drowning- that’s how it is for me. So, in my dark season, I felt like a buoy in an ocean. I knew I wouldn’t sink because I was a buoy, but I also knew I was in a storm, and it had been storming for a long time, and the waves had yet to cease crashing over me. When people make comments to a Christian who is in a place like this, it feels like an enormous weight is pressing down on you and pushes you, the buoy, under the water. It’s a physical struggle to force yourself back up, and when you do get back up, it’s still storming.

Common comments in regards to postpartum depression are…

“Have you tried praying about it?”

“Maybe you should trying joining a small group?”

“Children are a blessing from the Lord. Think about how many women would do anything to have what you have.”

One day I turned on our television to watch an HGTV show and finally eat my lunch while my kids napped, and the TV was turned onto God TV. Yes, for those of you who do not know, there is a channel called God TV. And yes, we try to always leave it on God TV so that way when I turn the TV on to queue up a recorded episode of Daniel Tiger, there aren’t half-dressed women stroking a bare chested soccer player in a cologne commercial on the big screen in front of them. Fragrance commercials drive me batty. But, I digress…

I turned on the TV and was hitting all the buttons on my remote to find one of my recorded HGTV shows, and while I was navigating to it, a female speaker was talking in front of a congregation. I never caught her name, and I’m sure she’s a very nice person, and I’m sure she didn’t mean for what she said to shame anyone, but when she said what she said, my buoy was plunged 20 feet under water.

Basically, what she said was that she believed our society would be a lot less medicated if we were living with the joy the Holy Spirit fills us with.

So what I heard was, “This journey of postpartum depression I’m walking through is my fault. I did something wrong or I am doing something wrong in my relationship with Christ, because obviously, because I take anti-depressant medication, I’m not filled with that joy she’s talking about- I’m filled with depression.”

Christians, please understand something, it is possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have depression at the same time. I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to do SUPER NATURAL things. He is in me. There are men and women I know, personally, who walk with Jesus, who spend daily time in the Word with Him, who serve Him in numerous ways, who too were struck with this, severely.

So, when you make comments like those above, even though you mean for them to be encouraging, they often bring shame upon the person you’re speaking to.

Are your feelings still in your purse? Put them back if you just took them out.

Shame is sneaky. The Enemy uses shame to bind. So, it’s no surprise to see how the Enemy of course would use the words that [often] well-intentioned, caring Believers offer to their friends and family when they see how they are hurting. HOPE is being extended, but the Enemy translates it to Shame.

Again, I’ve been that Christian who has said something well-intentioned, something that was TRUE, but it was still the wrong thing to say to a person with depression.

So, “What do you say?” the Christians are wondering, because Christians, it’s true… God is in control, of course we should pray about it; we should pray about everything. Yes, a small group is a great idea, but you know what, you can’t always join one right when you need to. And many church’s small group schedules take breaks, so what are they going to do when it’s the middle of summer and you tell them to go join a small group? And for the love of EVERYTHING, do not tell a woman who has postpartum depression that children are a blessing from the Lord and that other women would do anything to have what she has. Yes, this is true true true, but believe me when I say it will offer her absolutely no encouragement- all she will feel is shame.

So, “What do you say?”

I’m not a licensed counselor or therapist. So, all I’m going to share here are the statements that helped me…

“It’s going to be ok. It’s going to get better. You’re not alone in this.”

“You are not alone. In fact, _________ dealt with this too. I’m sure she’d love to talk with you if you wanted to.”

“What can I do to help? You’re not alone in this.”

Those statements loose Shame’s grip.

I fear that there are so many Christian women sitting in their houses, sobbing on the floor, feeling like they’re 20 feet under water, who are only hearing the Shame statements from the other Christians in their life. People who love these women, who love Jesus, and of course would never, ever want to make that woman feel worse! Yet, I fear this is happening far more than anyone realizes. Because I was that woman. And I am forever grateful for the Christians who said the right things to me- because there were Christians who said the wrong things too. But, the Christians who said the right things, including, in my case, going to talk to my doctor, God used to pull me up to the surface of the water. To give me air. To give me strength to stay afloat.

Shame has lost her grip on me. So, sweet sister, who read this whole thing that’s walking through depression right now, I’ve been there too. You’re not alone in this. It’s going to be ok, and it’s going to get better.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Kindness

I bought this shirt as an impulse buy one day while looking for a daddy-shark t-shirt for my husband (inside family joke). I’m not sure why this burgundy v-neck was included in my search results, but there it was on my screen displaying back to me a phrase I say over and over again to our kids every day, “Be kind.”

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It’s kind of baffling to me how easy it is to be kind, and yet I see this phrase plastered as a reminder everywhere I look these days- on t-shirts, on social media newsfeeds, on hand-painted signs at craft and decor stores. But why do we need the reminder when it’s so easy to be kind?

Sadly, I think it’s because so many people are not kind. One time I joined a public group on Facebook for moms who use a specific kind of baby wearing carrier thing. The group’s purpose was described as a resource for people who use that baby carrier- a place where you could post questions, including pictures of yourself with it on, and your baby in it, for tips on how to adjust all the straps the right way so you’d be wearing it correctly. Well, I quickly understood why a facebook support group existed for this baby carrier, because it was incredibly confusing to get on right. So after my husband and I watched a few videos on YouTube and still hadn’t figured it out, I posted a selfie with me wearing it with my son in it along with a caption that went something like this, “I know I don’t have this on right, but I can’t figure it out. Can someone please advise?”

The comments almost brought me to tears; they were so mean. I couldn’t believe people would respond that way to a person asking for help, especially in a place where those questions were encouraged. Shoot, the entire purpose for the group was for women like me to post exactly that kind of question/picture.

It was a wake up call. It took me a couple hours after I’d deleted the post and left the group to realize what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary. It’s comments like the ones made about my selfie that warrant the plastering of “be kind” everywhere.

But still, I just kept thinking to myself, “It just isn’t hard to be kind.”

And when it comes to our words, sometimes being kind is just being quiet.

Sometimes it’s hard to be quiet. And social media lets us shout anything through our fingertips with a captive audience 24 hours a day, so “sharing” and “transparency” are constantly encouraged if you’re connected at all to that world.

Other times it’s hard to find the right words. Especially when you don’t agree with someone, or they’ve offended you in some way. However, there is a way to disagree and confront another person in a kind and respectful way. If kindness and respect are not what are bubbling up from inside of you, you may want to wait to use words in that moment. (Something I’ve definitely had to work on at times.)

It’s really easy to be kind to others, but I fear it just isn’t our nature. I have a little song I sing with the kids that my mom made up that we apply a fruit of the spirit to when we sing it depending on which fruit applies best during that situation. Our top three are kindness, patience, and self control.

Kindness, kindess

Jesus gives us kindness.

Kindness, kindness,

Jesus gives us kindness

Through the Holy Spirit.

When I sing this with the kids, it diffuses whatever situation we’re currently finding ourselves in. (I find singing when I get mad or they’re mad is SO helpful!) It also reinforces which choice they should be making, so in regards to kindness, it would be whatever the kind choice is in that situation. And, most importantly, it reminds me how badly we need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and refine that sin-nature we all have into character that reflects Jesus.

If you’re currently finding yourself in a place where kindness is not being shown to you, I just want you you to know that I prayed for you before I published this post. I know how much that hurts when someone isn’t kind to you, whether it’s through social media or directly to your face or behind your back. Remember that there is Someone who wants kindness for you in this broken, self-centered world. Keep giving it, living it, and letting the Holy Spirit grow it in you. Hugging you.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

PS – This post does contain an affiliate link, but my opinions are always my own. Thank you for clicking through!

Dear Pregnant Mama of a Toddler

I have so many friends who are pregnant right now with their second baby. There is something in the water where we live, so all the rest of us who are done having babies are drinking bottled FIJI water. I kid, of course. But in all seriousness, I’m loving not being pregnant (or nursing) and watching my friends in this special season. I’m also remembering how hard that season is, and I’m wishing I could write a letter to myself when I was in that stage – pregnant with a toddler.

But, since that isn’t possible, I thought I’d write one to those of you who are in that season right now…

Dear pregnant mama of a toddler,

It’s ok to have such mixed emotions right now. You’re excited, but you’re so miserably uncomfortable. You can’t wait to meet this new little baby, but you also can’t imagine how you’re doing to do it with two little ones. How will you have enough love for both of them? Enough arms for both of them? Will this second one be anything like the first? What if they aren’t? What if they are? 

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If you want to know what “pitting edema” is just look at my swollen foot. This picture was just days away from my due date. I originally captioned this photo as, “The only good thing about my legs being this swollen is there’s more room for ‘A’ to sprawl out on.”

Well, they’re going to be different. And you’re going to be different this go around too. You know more now. Do you remember how intimidating it was when you had to figure out how to change the liner in the diaper genie? Or the first time baby #1 had a fever? Or just getting the baby in and out of the car by yourself when you ran your first errand after being cleared to drive a car postpartum?

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That is definitely my child going through all the magazines at my OB’s office. I promise we cleaned up everything before we left that day!

You feel kind of guilty for not wanting to do things- like take your toddler with you to your OB appointments, which is totally fine to do, especially if your OB delivered that first baby anyway. 

But you know what mama, once I hit that third trimester, I hired a baby sitter to watch my toddler while I went to those appointments, and not me or my husband even blinked at it. It’s hard running any kind of errand with a toddler, and when you’re pregnant, it’s super hard, and when you have to sit in a waiting room with them while your OB has to run and deliver a baby, and that waiting room, or even exam room, if you’re lucky, doesn’t have toys and TV’s playing Daniel Tiger for them to watch, that’s kind of like torture.

Honestly, I took almost every person up on their offer to help me before my due date. If someone offered to come over and watch my toddler, I said, “Come on!” In fact we have an aunt who would come over a couple afternoons a week and watch our toddler just so I could go to the grocery store by myself or get caught up on house work. So, if someone offers to take your child for a couple hours, take them up on it. (They know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.)

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When you get to get out of the house with someone who is super helpful to you, GO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH THEM! The one and only Kristina Goodwin snapped this pic btw, and she is one of the most helpful people on the planet. Hence why I’m smiling so big. (It could have also had something to do with that faux fur coat I’d just bought from her vintage shop, but I digress.)

You probably have your birth plan figured out- or at least the basics like who you’ll call if the baby comes in the middle of the night. And who you’ll call 2nd if the first person you call can’t come for some reason.

I remember thinking my labor and delivery with baby #2 would go a certain way, just like I had expected baby #1’s to go a certain way. Well, you’d think after baby #1 did not go at all the way I thought she would, I’d have come to the realization sooner that baby #2 wasn’t going to follow my plan either. I do wish I’d been a little more prepared for Plan C- which in my case was a failed epidural and “natural” delivery, albeit induced. I’ve talked to other mama-friends who were in similar boats. They’d wished they’d been mentally prepared for Plan C and Plan D, not just Plan A with fleeting thoughts that entertained Plan B. So, just something to think about…

I also wish I’d thought about how feeding baby #2 could potentially be different than feeding baby #1. I nursed baby #1, and I loved pretty much every minute of it. It was such an incredible experience that I looked into becoming a lactation consultant while I was pregnant with baby #2. I never dreamed that nursing baby #2 would be anything but just-as-amazing, so I didn’t have milk pumped or back up formula in the pantry that first week home from the hospital when I really wanted to go to the emergency room for the kidney stone I was passing (again, without pain medicine!). I wasn’t about to take my newborn to the emergency room, but I had nothing for anyone to feed him with if I left him at home. I also didn’t have anything stock piled to feed him when my milk “dried up” after I went on Zoloft* for postpartum depression. A can of formula in the pantry would have done a lot of good, had I had one…

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Are you taking a lot of pictures right now? I’m so grateful I took a lot of pictures of my firstborn while I was pregnant with baby #2. That season is so fuzzy when I try to remember it. I love looking back at the videos and pictures. They remind me of all the sweetness there was in that season.

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Try to focus on the cute bonding going on here between the siblings and not my cankles.

It reminds me that there is so much sweetness yet to come. Yeah, there are uncomfortable days- days where you just want to fast-forward and get through this season and at the same time you don’t want to miss one minute of the sweetness you have right now with this first little one looking back at you. 

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First time making ginger bread houses. We called them ginger bread forts.

So, dear pregnant mama of a toddler, basically, be encouraged. This season is everything you feel right now, and you are not alone in it, or the season you’re about to step into. 

From this mama who made it,

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

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*I started Zoloft at about 3 months postpartum. It did not dry up my milk, but I lost the sensation of let-down, so I thought my milk had dried up. Since I wasn’t pumping, when I tried to pump, I didn’t experience the sensation of let-down, nor was I able to express any milk. Regardless, we knew my baby was still getting milk because there was absolutely no change in his wet diaper count. ❤

Roots & Jaguars

We took the kids to the zoo earlier this week. It is one of our favorite places to go spend a few hours together as a family. It’s just the right size for our small children and has a fairly wide range of animal species for being a smaller zoo. David and I agreed that day was by far the most active we’d seen the animals out of all our visits. David suggested it could have been due to the slightly cooler temps we had that day. Whatever the reason, it made for a livelier walk through the zoo than normal. (I’ll share my story about the bird who was trying to attack me through the fence for another time.)

 

Not only were the animals more active, but some of the animals who usually keep themselves hidden away were out for us to see. We saw the grizzly bear, another bear that I didn’t catch the name of, these dogs from South America, some really cool monkeys with long white hair, and the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen… a jaguar.

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It was the most beautiful creature I think I’ve ever seen. I even walked back to his exhibit after we left, so I could take a picture. While I was doing so, David walked up behind me with the kids and said, “You know, that right there is what you were probably running around with that one time.”

My eyes got big, and I cringed. I knew exactly what he was referring to.

“You could have had one of those up in the trees while you were running and you never would have known it.”

And now it’s time for a story to put his statements into context…

Several years ago I served as a team nurse on a short term mission trip to Ecuador. It was my second time to go there and serve with this particular ministry. I’d gone several years prior as a teenager with my youth group, so I thought I knew what I was signing up for.

I had no clue.

This trip was unlike any I’d been on before. (And that’s saying something if you know much about my history.) I could tell you story after story about the things we experienced- it’s almost mind boggling that we were only down there for 10 days.

But, one experience that stands out, which David was referring to, was the trip we took via one engine aircraft to a remote jungle village. I honestly don’t remember the name of the village. I wish I did. But, it was located just a short walk from the Curaray River and 15 minutes upstream from Palms Beach, where Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Flemming, and Roger Youderian were killed by natives in 1956.

Our plan for the day was to fly in, hold an open air meeting at the village, and then if time permitted, travel by boat to see the beach where this tragedy occurred, sail back, hop on our planes, and fly back to the city.

Upon landing we were greeted by a swarm of warm smiles including that of an old wrinkly gentleman holding the skull of a jaguar, whom he’d killed a few days prior after it tried to get inside his hut. Then someone mentioned something about a small child being snatched out of a canoe by an anaconda the previous week.

I considered climbing back into the plane and staying there all day. But, the planes were leaving. Although we had chartered them for this trip, these weren’t private jets. They were Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) planes that delivered medical and food supplies to remote villages. These pilots had a full schedule to get to, and I had a team of teenagers to help look after, so I swallowed hard and just focused on keeping an eye on our surroundings.

I heard a pilot mention to our host missionary that we had to be back at the airfield (which was just a giant clearing in the jungle forest) by 2:30pm, and if we weren’t there, they’d have to come back for us the next day, because they had a schedule and couldn’t wait. Our host missionary told me as the pilots were getting ready to leave that if it rained and the field was too wet, the planes wouldn’t be able to land, so again, they’d come back for us the next day.

And so I started praying against the rain while the little old man walked by with that jaguar skull and burned 2:30pm into my memory bank. We would not be sleeping in the jungle that night.

A couple hours later I found myself looking at a very skinny wooden canoe with a motor on the end of it. This, we were told, would be the vessel that would take us to Palms Beach. There was just one little problem… It only fit half our team! The captain apparently had it all worked out, so half of us climbed in, and motored off.

I assumed another canoe was going to pick up the other half of the team, but when we got to Palms Beach, our captain told us to hop out, so he could go back and get the rest of the team. We scratched our heads, as there was just one more little problem…

There was NO BEACH.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

The beach had eroded away. So, there we stood, IN THE RIVER praying an anaconda wasn’t swimming nearby. It was at that moment that I remembered the faces of the parents when they dropped their teenagers off with me and the other leaders before we left on this trip and their asking me to take care of them and my promising to bring them home. (Cue internal sobbing.)

After the rest of our team made it to the “beach” we spent about 20 minutes hearing the martyrs’ story (and praying the anacondas would stay away). And then we, as respectfully as we could, scrambled back into the canoe- well half of us at least.

But, there was just one more little problem….

The canoe pulled over to the side of the river about halfway to where we had initially boarded. The canoe was out of gas. So there we stood without our translators (who we’d left with the other half of our team in the middle of the river) by a little hut with a few chickens running around on the banks of the Curaray River… where anacondas apparently reside. It never even occurred to me from where or how the captain would acquire gasoline in the middle of the jungle. There was a woman and a few children outside the hut, but they didn’t appear to have that kind of resource.

Our team leader, Michael, and I were starting to get very nervous as we knew 2pm was approaching, and he didn’t want to sleep in the jungle any less than I did. I noticed there was a trail leading upstream that appeared to be parallel to the river. So, I asked, in very broken Spanish, if one of the little boys by the hut knew how to get to the airfield. He nodded and then started walking up the trail.

I grabbed two of the girls on our team. We followed the kid in hopes of making it to the airfield before the planes landed, so we could stall the pilots until the canoe got gassed up and the rest of our team transported up the river.

That kid walked as fast as the speed walkers do in the Olympics! We had to run to keep up with him. But we were desperate to get to the airfield by 2:30pm, so we ran as fast as we could, jumping over thick, twisty roots along the trail.

Eventually, dripping with sweat, we emerged from the jungle into a clearing, which just so happened to be the airfield. And no sooner had we run across the “runway” did we hear the little boy shout, “Avion! Avion!” and point to the sky.

The MAF planes were preparing to land.

Praise the Lord, by the time all the planes had landed, our entire team had made it back to the village, and therefore, none of us had to sleep in the jungle that night.

Fast forward to this morning, where I stood looking at that jaguar while I chewed on David’s words.

He was right. There very well could have been a jaguar up in one of those trees as I ran through the jungle towards the airfield- and I would have never known it.

Sure, a jaguar would be hard to spot even if you were looking for it. But, if you’re focused on something else, like not tripping on twisty roots on the trail, you’re definitely not going to notice the large cat perched over head.

How much is this like many of us , focusing on all these things that make our day harder, like hitting all the red lights on our way to work, the baby spitting up all over your new shirt RIGHT before you have to leave the house, the toddler needing to go to the pediatrician AGAIN for a suspect ear infection, the co-worker’s passive aggressive comments, the spouse forgetting to do that one thing you ask them to every day, the slow internet speed (or worse, slow computer) that makes you late turning in that report to your boss…

At some point all you want is a coffee and for someone to bring it to you while you cry out to God, “Can’t you cut me a break?!”

Meanwhile He’s keeping a jaguar from jumping on your head, which in the non-jungle-parts-of-the-world means any zillion number of things.

The twisty roots really hurt when you trip over them. They do. Especially when you don’t see them coming and you land on your face and scratch up your hands and your knees. I’m not belittling them. They beat me up some days.

But man oh man, am I sure grateful I’m not having to keep that jaguar off my back too.

So, I took a picture of the jaguar at our zoo, and he’s my new wallpaper on my phone. When my days are extra rooty, I hope the picture will remind me that while I run this race where God is calling me to run and try not to get tripped up on the roots along the way, He’ll be keeping a sovereign eye (and hand) on all the things I can’t see.

And in case you were wondering how much Spanish I speak, I speak enough to get to an airport.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay