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Thankful on a Thursday - A bit tired.

Today, I don't have much to offer. I've had a rough day, a long day, and my body just needs to shut down for a while. I could sleep for a week. 

But, I'm here and I'm going to offer up my thankfulness. Because, even in the thick mud of the hard days, I'm choosing to be thankful, grateful and humbled in front of the One who restores all things anew. 

What are YOU thankful for this Thursday?
Please share your Thankful on a Thursday post with the link sharer below!

121. Spending time talking with and seeing the face of one of my oldest and dearest friends... even if its through a screen.

122. The excruciatingly cute giggle that emerges upon the sight of one rubber ducky. 

124. My deliciously hot cup of coffee that I get to enjoy every morning.

125. The fresh roses on my desk that came from the backyard.

126. An unbelievable web guru who is giving this place the biggest makeover you've ever seen. 

127. Naps in the sunshine.

128. Summer is here, which means I stop wearing makeup.

129. A really great camera that captures really great moments.

130. My church's successful move into a new building.


Some Summer Rituals.

"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me, there any an invincible summer." 
Albert Camus

I absolutely love each season. With all the fullness of my heart, I love every single one of them in a different way.

With the arrival of summer, I feel like a part of me is set free. Summer is for warm weather. Bathing suits. Sunscreen. Messy hair. Barbecues. Fireworks. Late nights on the porch. Camping.

And now that it is summer, I am happy to revisit my summer traditions:

1. No makeup. Yep, you read that correctly. I try not to wear any makeup in the summer! If it's a special occasion, I'll get crazy and put on some mascara, but for the most part, I go completely makeup-free for about 3-4 months. I can't tell you how amazing this little tradition has been for me AND my skin.

2. Curly Hair. When summer rolls around, I try to just let my hair do what it wants. No blowdrying, no straightening. Just big, messy and crazy curls. Sometimes, it drives me nuts, but it's good to just let it be for a while. And, it's a LOT easier and I get so much more time in the mornings!

3. Wake up earlier. I try to be awake, showered, dressed with coffee in-hand by 7:30am.

4. Go to bed later. Yeah, combined with #3, I get less sleep during the week. But, it stays light here until about 9:00pm, and I'm going to enjoy every second of it. So, I go to bed much later than I usually do. Around 10:30 or 11:00.

5. Get out! I make an effort to leave the house and do something every day. Yep. Every. Single. Day. Whether that's go to the river, lay in the sun in my backyard, or just go to the grocery store, I try to leave the house every day.

6. Write Letters. I think about people I haven't spoken to in a while, people I care about, people who are in other countries, and I actually hand-write letters to them. There's nothing better than getting a beautiful, heart-felt letter in your mailbox from a friend in the summertime... telling you of their adventures in life.

What do YOU do every summer?


Soaking in Summer

The laundry was piled, the house was covered in dog hair and the bottles needed washing.

I had just put Rowan down for his afternoon nap when I stood up from the couch to stand against the sliding glass doors in the kitchen. The sun, beaming and warming the air to 82 degrees, was shouting at me to leave everything undone and just bathe in the light. I nodded and smiled.

Donned in a bikini I haven't worn in two summers, I grabbed the blanket-sized beach towel from the closet and rushed outside. I plugged in the baby monitor and coated my skin with a thick lacquer of 70 different SPFs.

[Don't laugh. If there's anything that can take away the joy of an afternoon outside, it's a sunburn. Not to mention, I'm half Irish and half Russian. You can only imagine what my skin looks like. My makeup color isn't called "Porcelain" for no good reason.]

With my tattered copy of Gilead in my hands and my sunglasses perched on my nose, I laid there. Baking. Soaking in every ounce of Vitamin D that I could in those short two hours.

I took the time to notice little things around my new backyard. The bushes that sit against the cedar and chicken-wire fence are starting to grow blooms of bright pink and red roses. The wind blew gently and little white pieces of fuzz started to swirl, though I couldn't seem to find the origin. I peered over into the garden... pleasantly surprised to see that the strawberries had turned a brilliant shade of red overnight.

Rolling over onto my back, I looked up into the endless blue to see Osprey headed towards the river to do some fishing. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

I closed my eyes, allowing my skin to be bathed in the warmth of the sun, imagining God's arms wrapped closely around me, bringing me in towards him in an embrace. I could feel Him, I could see Him, I could smell Him.

For too long have I let my heart be turned towards the things of the dark... bitterness, anger and discontent. It took a couple of hours in the Light and Warmth to see that I need to be turned around... away from the stench of garbage and turned towards the smells of freshly cut grass, Water Babies sunscreen and grape popsicles. The things of joy. Of love. Of contentment.

For me, I just need a couple of hours outside to be set straight.

What does it take for you to have your heart realigned?


A post about Postpartum Depression.

For those of you who have been around here for a while, you know that I battled, fought and won my war with postpartum depression. I don't really talk about it and I didn't talk about it while I was in the thick of it either. It's not something that I have allowed to define me... as a mother, a woman or even as a person. It is something that I went through and something I came out of. I have spent many, many hours and days processing everything that I went through. Now that I'm on the other side, I feel that I offer a rare and unique perspective on this crippling, devastating and terrifying condition.

For those of you that frequent this place regularly, I apologize for what seems like a break in our regularly scheduled programming. Things will get back to normal tomorrow with Thankful on a Thursday!

There are a couple of things about this post that I want to make CRYSTAL clear before I begin:
  • I am NOT a medical professional. I am NOT a licensed counselor. I am NOT an authority figure on the subject of postpartum depression. I am only a woman. I went through it and now I'm here to tell the tale and offer my perspective. That's it. Take it or leave it.
  • Yes, this post is written in response to the conflict that recently came up with a few well-known bloggers. I read every post and every comment and came to the conclusion (after MUCH prayer and conversation with others) that as a fellow survivor of postpartum depression, and more importantly, a follower of Christ, it is my duty to speak light into a dark place. 
  • I am NOT jumping into an argument. This post is strictly informational. Too many of the comments and posts stated words along the lines of "I don't have PPD, so I don't understand." I believe every person should seek out understanding and knowledge before jumping into conversations so fragile as these. So, as someone who has been through the hell of postpartum depression and is now living happily, joyfully and depression-free with my family, I thought I'd offer what little experience and knowledge I have to maybe help others understand more what these women are facing every day.

Now, I'll offer what I know to be true in my own personal experience:

One of, if not the most overwhelming, feeling that comes with PPD is guilt. It's perpetuated by the lack of sleep, irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, detachment from the child, feelings of hopelessness and just general sadness. In my own experience, I wasn't over-the-moon happy when Rowan was first born. In my mind, I believed I should have been... so the guilt crept in. Before I knew it, it had me completely incapacitated with irrational feelings of worthlessness. This led to suicidal thoughts and I danced a razor-thin edge of acting on those thoughts.

The key (in my experience) to understanding PPD as opposed to dissatisfaction with motherhood, or even just the baby blues, is the word "irrational." I knew that something much more serious was happening when I was having irrational thoughts of killing myself, believing that my son and husband would be better off without me around. Now, as a person who has never struggled with depression or mental health issues of any kind, this was indeed an irrational thought process for someone like me... leading to an accurate diagnosis of postpartum depression.

Another thing that's crucial to understand about postpartum depression is that for many women, it feels like we're being attacked at random moments. It is not abnormal for a woman suffering from PPD to tell you what a great afternoon she had with her child, then literally 10 minutes later, be crying uncontrollably in a heaping mess on the floor, wracked with guilt, sadness, or even uncontrollable rage. PPD for many is not a 24/7 feeling. So, to translate this into the blogging world, that means that when one post is a glowing picture of their child and how much they love them and the next is how they have feelings of inflicting harm on aforementioned child, THAT is PPD, my friends. It's not trying to cover it up. It's not pretending that everything's okay. Sometimes, there are okay moments! But the not-okay moments are crippling at best. And its in those hard, broken moments that the small victories are passed off as insignificant. Are you beginning to see the battle that's being fought here? There is no rhyme or reason to postpartum depression, it seems. It strikes at will and sometimes, it's all we can do to keep standing when it does.

The next thing I want to talk about is coping and healing. This is where everyone has an opinion and everyone is always happy to give it freely. Every woman copes with postpartum depression differently. For me, I played my cards pretty close to the chest. I can count on almost one hand how many people knew about my struggle. We didn't even tell our immediate family! It's not because I was ashamed, or that we didn't trust them with the knowledge, but simply because it's what I needed, personally. I knew that I needed a small community of people around me, who could come be WITH me in the flesh. I knew that answering questions about my depression on the phone every time I talked to my family would be too much. I knew that writing about it for the world to see was not something that would benefit me or my healing process. My goal was to separate myself from the depression, to see it as "other" or outside of myself. Something that I could look at objectively in the good moments and put plans into place for the bad moments. If I was asked about it every five minutes, I wouldn't have been able to do that.

I was also able to come out of PPD victoriously without medication. I am NOT saying that medication is bad. But I took my counseling sessions very seriously, did my homework, and sought after healing very vigorously. My mission was to come out of PPD without medication. Personally, I was able to do it with the community, counseling and support that I had in place. It took a LOT of work from a LOT of people (including myself!) to get me out of it, but by God, we did it. This is not possible for many, many women. Sometimes, and often, the hormonal and chemical imbalances behind postpartum depression are just too much for the human body to overcome on its own. 

I will go ahead and say this: Whether you believe you are suffering from PPD or not, going to speak to a counselor about your experience with motherhood is a GREAT and HEALTHY thing to do! Counselors and therapy should not only be reserved for those struggling with severe mental health issues. They are able to offer great, objective perspective on different situations, allowing your mind to rest, expand and see things differently when needed. I also believe it's important to find a counselor that is a good fit for YOU. I came to know my counselor through my dear pastor friend at church. She came highly recommended and I was told "She has a a very calming sense about her." That's what I needed. It was a beautiful fit. If you meet with one counselor and it doesn't seem like a good, comfortable fit, don't be afraid to speak up and ask for another recommendation. Comfort and trust are huge in your relationship with your counselor.

So this leaves me with one final discussion point: What can YOU do to help someone going through postpartum depression?

I am a huge believer in the power of genuine, empathetic human connection. I believe that when we come together to overcome an obstacle, great things are accomplished! However, statements like this: "I don't have PPD, but I know how you feel!" Are not helpful, because it's not a truthful connection that you're trying to make. Your motives might be pure in trying to help by creating a sympathetic, or even empathetic connection... but unless you REALLY know how that person feels, maybe it's best not to say that. Instead, maybe you can offer up a good word of encouragement... because as my friend says, "We all struggle. We all need cheerleaders."

Instead of trying to offer up feelings of false empathy, maybe you can send a friendly email, asking if there's anything, big or small, that you can do to help in a practical way. Maybe you can offer to send a pack of diapers to their home so that they don't have a breakdown in the baby supplies aisle at Target? Maybe you can get a group of other bloggers, friends, or acquaintances together and purchase a few movie tickets for a night out with her husband, or gift certificates to local restaurants in their area. Or maybe you can just read more about postpartum depression and get involved in your local area to offer support or childcare for other women going through the same battle?

Even though the connection that we have with each other is strong, the power of human connection never trumps the power of divine intervention. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a woman going through postpartum depression is to get on your knees and pray on their behalf. If you are not the praying type, maybe just spend some time reflecting on their battle and offer up some encouraging thoughts or quotes that come to your mind. Sometimes, just knowing that she is being remembered in her struggle is the biggest gift she can receive.

So, that's what I know. I hope this helps shed some light on some common misconceptions and misunderstandings. If you or someone you know is going through postpartum depression, I would love to hear your story and offer to pray on your behalf.

I pray for all the love, compassion and comfort of Christ for you today.


Summer's First Trip

Yesterday, we went for a float down a small section of the Rogue River here in southern Oregon. Erik grew up on this river, and I've become familiar with it after many summers of being so closely tied to the rafting company he works for. But, yesterday was Rowan's first time down the river.

Erik and I are currently in possession of his dad's drift boat. For those of you who aren't familiar with river-speak, this is a kind of boat that is specifically made for navigating rivers. Sometimes you'll see motors on them, but ours is powered by my husband's strong arms on the oars. And really, on this river, there's not much need for a motor.

Anyway, we have access to the aforementioned boat. This particular boat is special... it was the boat that Erik rode in for the first time down the river with HIS dad when he was 9 months old. It was really fun for us to use it into the next generation.

We packed up some snacks, slathered sunscreen on Rowan and myself and traveled down the Rogue. It was beautiful. Stunning. Picturesque. I am so overwhelmed by the beauty that lies practically in my backyard. I am so looking forward to many, many floats this summer.

Rowan did amazingly well. He wasn't a huge fan of the lifejacket, but he managed to stay pleasant the whole trip and even fell asleep when we traveled down the flat sections. He was a trooper and it further solidified our belief that our child LOVES being outside.

Enjoy a few of the pictures!



I have been in a writing slump. A big one.

I am often inspired to write by stories of change and transformation in people's lives. I'm inspired by the Gospel going forward. I'm inspired by creativity and books and conversation and big acts of love and compassion.

Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, but lately, I've had a difficult time finding inspiration in the writings of others. Lately, I have seen a lot of negativity, a lot of unnecessary conflict. Those things don't inspire me. They make me gloomy. Bitter. Unmotivated.

So, I'm asking you... my lovely and dear friends, where are you finding inspiration? What have you read or seen lately that has inspired you to write and create? Truly the Lord is in all things and I am certainly seeking Him out and wrestling with His changing my heart... but I have a deep craving to see and hear how He is changing you and how He is working in your life.

Tell me:
What's challenging you? What's inspiring you? What's new in your heart?


Things I loved this week.

There are a few blogs around the web that have a weekly post on Fridays, listing the things they found around the internet that they loved. I think this is a great idea, because I love sharing the goodness! I mean really, who doesn't love a hilarious YouTube video, or cute Etsy find, or a piece of writing that makes your spirit want to soar right out of your chest?

So, here are a few things that I came across this week that I really loved:

1. The launch of The MOB Society (did I mention that I'm a contributor? No? Oh, well I am!)
2. This video from Viral Video Film School on the greatest YouTube pranks. Hilarious!
3. "How to really enjoy other people" by The Gypsy Mama (Lisa-Jo)
4. This book. It is stirring and beautifully written. I'm reading it for the third time.
5. An amazing organization that's raising up local, indigenous leaders in South Africa.
6. Josh Ritter's newest album.
7. Seeing blogging friends enjoy the adventure of the outdoors, even if its in flip-flops.

What did YOU enjoy this week? I would love to hear!

Happy Friday!