Maybe you don’t have to live like this

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30

“I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”

“But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”

Maybe you don’t have to live like this. 

Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry but I don’t have to live with it.

I’ve been on medication for over a month now, and I feel normal again, like myself again.

I was the frog in the boiling water. Slowly, slowly, insidiously, this sadness filled me up and then one day I couldn’t tell you anymore whether I was an introvert or extrovert. I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do or the last time I enjoyed going somewhere. The boiling happened so slowly that I don’t know when it began or how long I’ve lived in the hot, dark water. I don’t know when I started to lose who I was.

It was like I was living in a dream.

But now I’m awake, and to mix all the metaphors, I feel like I’m in the sun, like I’m out of the boiling water, like I can see clearly, and most wonderfully, I know who I am again. I didn’t lose my personality. I am still me.

I wrote a love letter to myself this morning to help me understand again who I am. The beginning of the letter goes like this:

Dear Sarah,

You’re struggling to figure out who you are lately. If someone asked you, “Who are you?”, you’re not sure how you would answer. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can help.

First, you are loved and chosen and seen and known by God, who is your Father and who loves you with a faithful, steadfast, pure love. You are His daughter and He knows every intricate piece of your heart and soul and mind. What you don’t know, He knows. What you don’t see, He sees. Where you feel lost and confused, He is sure. So the first thing, dear Sarah, is that you are a loved and known daughter of the God of the universe.

I’m not advocating medication on a whim, I’m just telling you that I am better. Something was wrong, but now it’s right. That’s all I know.

I also know that my mother struggled with depression, so maybe there is some genetic stuff going on. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing a book about the redemption of humanity and the thread through it is the story of my mom and I and the crazy, complicated, hardness of it all. Our story is messy and sad and confusing and nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s that my hormones adjusted my brain or that this human body is just not perfect here on earth.

All I know is that I was blind but now I see. And I give God all the glory.

If you’re boiling, or if you don’t even know you’re boiling but you know something is off, I want to encourage you in a two specific ways that two different friends encouraged me:

1.) It’s okay to put everything on the table.

Anything can be put on he table for discussion, whether it’s homes to buy, educating our children, anybig life decision, there is nothing wrong with putting it on the table.

And in that putting in on the table, we lay our hands open knowing and trusting and believing that He is faithful and He guides.

2.) Maybe you don’t have to live like this.

Maybe you don’t have to boil. Maybe God is calling you out to the light. He wants obedience over sacrifice. But the real point I’m trying to make here is this: God loves you and He wants you to live in the light. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever suffer or be in hellish circumstances. What it means is that there’s an inner peace, an inner light, an inner joy that can never be taken away, and sometimes we need outside help to find that joy again. And that’s okay.

The paradox for the Christian is that while we may suffer, we can also experience great joy. And we are free to get help.

The Scripture at the top of this post affirms that God understands our human hearts, and how we need light and joy and goodness to keep on. Here’s another version of that verse that I just love:

The light of the eyes rejoices the inner man, the heart, and good news takes away the ashes.

We have a God who sees us and loves us and helps us and takes away the ashes.

Lord, would you search our hearts and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Show us anything in us that is offensive or hurtful. Unfold freedom for us, bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts, and lead us in the everlasting way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23,24, Psalm 147:3)

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. Try writing a love letter to yourself. I know it’s weird, I acknowledge that, but it’s also helpful and kind.

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Following the Spirit to Public School

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. 

 John 3:8

My kids started public school a few weeks ago.

(I know, weird and surprising.)

To put this in perspective of the randomness and weirdness and unlikeliness of us putting our kids in public school, my husband reminded me that I told him that if I ever died to never put the kids in public school. (No pressure or anything). I don’t know why I was so adamant, but apparently, I was. It’s all a blur now. All I know is that last month I found myself thinking about it all, and then I found myself driving to the district office for enrollment papers, and then I just casually filled them out “just in case” and all I can really say is, I guess the Spirit moved.

I’m not being silly. There is no way to explain why we all of a sudden put our kids in school. But we did, and we follow God and are in His will, so, so be it. We follow the Spirit even when we don’t know where He is going, or why this is happening. It’s all a faith walk.

Now a few things about the decision I want to share with you:

  1. It felt agonizing at first to even consider putting our kids in public school. I wrestled with feelings of failure and selfishness. I wondered, was I sacrificing my kids? Why was I even considering this?
  2. It felt, and feels, surreal. We’ve never considered public school, at least no since they were babies and my husband and I first discussed schooling options. We keep looking at each other and saying, “This is so weird.”
  3. I was so scared that my anxiety would keep me up at night if we put them in school and I begged God for peace if this was from Him.

Now let me dive into the things I just mentioned:

Am I a Selfish Failure?

Shame runs deep, and when you believe you are selfish and a failure, especially as a mom; it’s gutting. I kept telling a friend of mine, “Is this selfish? I just feel so selfish if I put my kids in school, because if they’re in school I’ll write, and I like writing and working, and that’s just selfish of me.” She said, “Is that selfish though?” And that question got me thinking. And thinking. And praying. No, it’s not selfish to put my kids in school and it’s not selfish to like working, because we are following God. Also, my husband thought the whole selfish thing was messed up. He said, “If you put the kids in school, don’t be a martyr about it, enjoy what God has next.” Yes. I like that. And it’s true.

I spoke with another friend over my questions and feelings and she reminded me, “God is good, and God is faithful, and God is gracious. Ultimately, it’s the Lord that goes before you and it’s Him who’s going to fight for your children. This is not law, and we don’t find our righteousness in how we school. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ alone. Nothing at all changes in who you are and how you are viewed by what you choose to do with your children and school. This is not a sin issue, a righteousness issue, and this is not a law issue. You are under grace. So be free.”

Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m not a selfish failure.

It is Weird

At first, it was super weird to not have the kids with me. I cried for two weeks and then I went to a doctor and got on anti-depressants. There is more to this story of course, but I can see now that having the kids with me all day was covering up something inside of me and God, in His kindness, was going to be peeling back the layers of my heart. Now that’s it has been a month that the kids have been in school, I can see more of why God led us the way He did.

Peace AND Joy

After I made the agonizing decision to put the kids in school, I got the peace. The peace came after the obedience, as it usually does. And not only do I have peace about the decision, I have joy. I feel grateful and joyful and confident in what the Lord is doing with our family.

“Not only is it to the Father’s glory that we get to bear fruit, but we actually get to find joy in it!” -Beth Moore

As an aside, some of you read my post on depression, and I want you to know I’m doing well. The meds seem to be working and I’m feeling like myself again, light shining in the darkness.

God is so kind.

Love, SM

kidsbus.jpg

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

When You Can’t Fix Your Weary Soul

It feels like being stuck in a glass box. You can see out but you can’t get out.

It feels like you have to cook a feast for 5o people while also cleaning your house and schooling your kids, and you have less than a day to do it (but really you have nothing to do).

It feels like drowning and trying to swim is just too hard.

It feels like rage under your skin.

It feels like fog.

It feels like loneliness when you’re surrounded by people.

It feels like being in a slow-motion dream.

Everyone else seems so normal. Everyone seems to have energy. Everyone seems to be able to get dressed and do things and take pleasure in air and people and pumpkins.

I am tired. I am so tired and I am sad and I feel overwhelmed nearly all the time for no reason. My body crawls with anxiety, in the middle of the night, during the day.

I am jealous of people who seem to be able to function well and get things done and enjoy life.

I am tired. I have tried to claw out of this box, this thing that has me under it. But I can’t. I can’t fix this weary soul.

“God, help.”

Read the rest over at (in)courage.

Love, SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Grieving the end of the little years

Is it weird to cuddle your adult children? Because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to cuddle them when they’re grown.

I almost can’t handle the fact that right now my oldest is over cuddling, and even when she tries, it’s so brief, so fleeting, so…gangly. Arms and legs everywhere. It’s just not the same. And she’s just not into it.

How long do I have before my son and youngest are over the cuddles? I CAN’T HANDLE CUDDLES BEING OVER. I told my mother-in-law tonight that when they won’t cuddle me anymore I’m going to need them to go ahead and have some babies so I can cuddle grandbabies.

I know. Don’t say it. I don’t really want my kids having babies young. Just, you know, maybe in their early 20’s.

WHY AM I EVEN THINKING ABOUT MY KIDS HAVING KIDS?!

I’ll tell you why: something happens when one day you look at your people and you realize, in a blink, they grew up.

I mean, I feel it now and my kids are only preteens. BUT I FEEL IT NOW. The pull, the break, the moving towards more and more independence. Yes, even my 8 year old feels like she’s growing too quickly. Wasn’t she just three?

Having kids is like water, it just slips through your hands and you can’t quite grasp it.

First you parent in a fog, when you have little ones, but then you parent in a blink, because it goes so fast.

Today I went onto the Please Touch Museum website to see about taking my kids one last time before they were too old and you know what? They’re too old.

We missed the last time I would take them to the Please Touch Museum. And all of a sudden it hit me, this blink, this growing that’s happen in hyper speed.

The loooooooooooong days of babies and toddler-hood and all the fog that comes with it is gone. And now I can’t keep up.

My sweet, precious babies are growing up, and I just want to pause.

But there’s no pausing, no extended breath to get “it” together. There’s only now.

There’s me observing that my heart is grieving the years going by quickly and the realization that NOW IS THE TIME, the time to KEEP GOING, invest in, listen to, lean in, and stay strong.

And by strong, I mean beg Jesus to help me keep going, give me energy and vision and motivation and EVERYTHING I NEED to MOTHER ON during these golden years.

I want to feel the ache of time so that I won’t take for granted these fleeing, special years.

This is the time.

These are the years.

I will keep going. I will give what I have to impress upon them, teach them, nurture them, disciple them, and love them. I will do this out of my weakness but with perseverance and the power of the Holy Spirit who is ever with me.

I will mother on.

And you can too. Don’t give up. Don’t regret these years. Keep going. AND GET AS MANY CUDDLES AS YOU CAN WHILE YOU CAN.

Love to you today, SM

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (The Message)

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Thigh Dimples, Gray Hair, and an Underarm Situation

We were at Burger King because my kids like Whoppers and it was baseball season and it was just EASY.

I reached over to the nice lady handing me our food and my sweet, precious, delight of a child took hold of the skin UNDER MY ARM. You know the place, where triceps are supposed to be. The dangling place. The place that has names I shall not refer to as to not offend. THAT PLACE. She squeezed it, and then she jiggled it. With her sweet little fingers SHE JIGGLED MY ARM LIKE IT WAS JELLO.

Let’s take a moment.

Okay. So she did that and I said, “Could you please not do that?”

She grinned.

She took her hand away from the place. We moved on.

So here’s the thing: my bits are changing.

I am growing out my gray hair (which, by the way, I reserve the right to change my mind about at any moment). I am realizing that I am going to have to make peace with the thigh dimples because I have no Jillian Michaels abilities in me. At all. I called to cancel my gym membership the other day and the lady was all, “You’ve only been a member three months.” Nice try shaming me lady. I LIFTED 20 POUND WEIGHTS AND MAYBE SPRAINED MY WRIST IN THE PROCESS. I’m on medical leave. Anyway.

The dimples aren’t going anywhere.

My wrist hurts from lifting a dumbbell, (Lord, help me).

I’m not going to starve myself (goodbye metabolism).

And while I’m watching my sugar intake and eating more smoothies and salads, there are times I just want some wings and beer in bed with my husband.

Here’s the point: It’s okay to age.

Read the rest over at (in)courage today!

SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.