Count Your Blessings

I have written most of my posts about the trials and hardships that we have gone through over the last few years. I am sure many of you are wondering if I have anything to say that is happy and thankful. Well yes there is and I would like to take the time to count some of the many blessings that God has given me/us.

  • I am thankful for my wonderful husband. Married life has not been all sunshine and rainbows but I am incredibly blessed to have such a perfect mate. He really does complete me, and compliments my personality. He is a great dad and the kids adore him. He loves the Lord and is serving in the youth ministry in our church and he encourages me in my own walk with God. He helps me around the house and he is a good cook to boot. He is so gentlemanly in the way he treats me, it really is a pleasure to be married to him.
  • I am thankful for my four beautiful boys. There were individual problems with each of them during pregnancy and birth and had things gone differently I may have lost a child. I am thankful they are all healthy. I am thankful for their gorgeous smiles when they greet me every morning and for their sloppy kisses. I am thankful for the “I love you so much mummy” and the cuddles and snuggles. Even amongst all the craziness and the noise and the mess they create, they just bring such a joy to my day that I can’t help but smile at them. 
  • I am thankful for our van. When we found out that we were expecting twins we knew we would need a bigger vehicle but we had neither the money to buy one nor the stable job to be able to borrow money from the bank. A family from our church gave us a gift toward the purchase of a car which was a tremendous blessing and the Lord provided the rest of the funds by means of a sizeable tax return. We were able to find a suitable car and even to pay cash which means that we own the car outright, no finance was needed and we don’t have a bank loan sitting over our heads. 
  • I am thankful for our church family and other friends and relatives. After all three births the families from our church provided meals for a couple of weeks so that we could settle in without having to do shopping and worry about meals. They also came to visit us and gave many gifts. We are so blessed to be a part of a church that is so willing to be a blessing to others. There were other friends and family members as well as the church family who also helped out with some housework and who also helped us to move house numerous times, helping to pack and unpack, clean, sort, move furniture and everything else that goes with it. God has blessed us in placing us in this church and the people are a real encouragement. Over the years we have had both friends and family give us baby clothes and cots, blankets, beds, mattresses, car seats, dining tables and chairs, couches, toys, TV’s, sound systems and more. Many people have been very generous and through them we have seen the love and care of our great God. 
  • I am thankful for my parents. They offered us their home when we had the twins and they helped to look after me while I was recovering from the c-section and they looked after our kids. They have had so much input into the lives of our children and are very much loved by them. They have looked after them a number of times so that we could spend time together and have a break. They have had such a godly influence in my life and they are just really wonderful, really caring people with a heart for others and they love their grandchildren very very much. We may not always see eye to eye, but even when they say things that seem harsh and may upset me or my husband, I know that they only say things because they love me/us and want the best for me/us. I am thankful that I have parents that are willing to tell me/us things, even if they know I/we might not like what they have to say, they say them anyway because they love me/us.
  • I am thankful for my parents in law, like my mum and dad they have looked after our children for us on numerous occasions. They adore their grandsons and are adored in return. They are wonderful, generous people and having had five children themselves all close together, they have been a wonderful source of advice and encouragement on how to handle our four boys.  I am so grateful that we have a good relationship with both sets of parents. I know of so many couples who sadly have issues with at least one set of in-laws. The Lord has truly blessed with giving both my husband and I wonderful, godly parents. 
  • I am thankful for family, I love all my brothers and sisters in law. I only have one brother (who I love dearly) so having all these sister in laws is so nice for me. They are all lovely girls and they compliment their other halves so well. We don’t always agree with each other as all sisters are apt to do, but we are all really good friends and always have a great time of fellowship whenever we get together. 
  • I have so many other things I could express my thanks for but I will share just one more for the moment. I wanted to save the best for last. I am thankful for Salvation. I am a born again, Bible believing Christian. There may be some of you who are reading this and thinking “oh great, she’s religious.” Well that’s not really accurate. You see when I made a choice to accept Christ into my heart I didn’t enter into a religion, I entered into a relationship. God calls us to follow him in a personal way, not to just go through some ritualistic worship but to really get to know Him through study and prayer and even through the world around us and the people around us. Now I will admit that I don’t always do a great job in maintaining my relationship with God. I struggle with sin (the bad things we think, feel and do) all the time, I am not perfect. But I do love God and I love my family. And I do my best to treat them the way God wants me to and to live a life that honours God and my family as well. I teach my sons about God and the bible and I pray that one day they will make the same choice that I did. God loves me and he created me, He gave me my husband, He gave me my sons. He gave me my parents, my parents in law, my brother and all my brothers and sisters in law. He has given me a house to live in, a car to drive, food to eat and he has given my husband a job. Without God and his hand of blessing we would have nothing. 

Psalm 121 (King James Version)

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

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The longest year

When the twins and I came home and my milk came in, I tried to breastfeed but one of them had a tongue tie and it was very painful. The other twin fed ok but I still felt bad that one was getting all the breast milk and the other wasn’t though I did try to express for him. Around six to eight weeks later we decided, for our sanities sake to put both of them on formula. We went through at least eight or nine different formula’s before we found one they could both tolerate without screaming every time they ate. But it was really expensive and we had just been informed that my husband was being made redundant and had three months to find another job. The twins meanwhile were waking up every one to two hours both day and night. As anyone who has had children will know, severe sleep deprivation messes with your head, your body and your emotions. As does the constant crying. The twins would scream as if they were being murdered every time we changed their nappy and my parents would wonder why on earth they were screaming so much.

I was recovering from my c-section while also being extremely fatigued as a result of low heamoglobin from blood loss. I had two other young children to take care of as well as a house to maintain and washing to do. Now I mentioned in my last post that we were living at my parents house. My mum and dad helped so much in those first few weeks. My parents are amazing wonderful caring people and I am so blessed and so grateful to have them in my life. I love them so very much. But here is the low point. My dad is suffering from a degenerative motor neuron disease for which there is no cure.  Once the symptoms start to escalate there is usually only a few years left before you can no longer do things for yourself, talk or even recognize people. My grandfather had it as well so I know what to expect and it breaks my heart to think of my father, the man I look up to the most and love with all my heart, being in that state.

Then there is my mum, she is slowly watching him deteriorate and it is very painful for her, add to this the years of church ministry as pastor and pastor’s wife and also working in childcare and you have the perfect recipe for stress and highly strung emotions. So while all of these things were going on in the background; in the foreground now there  were children running around everywhere, a once very tidy (pretty much spotless) house was now very messy, washing was not being done very often as the house had stairs and I couldn’t go down to the laundry and by the time my husband got home it was almost dark and we had the kids to feed and get to bed. Dishes needed washing, bottles sterilising, toys were all over the place, there was noise and mess and lots of it. Then there were the thirteen to fourteen weeks of extreme sleep deprivation because of the twins sleeping patterns (or lack of). Many times my mum came upstairs to look after the twins because my husband and I had been up all night trying to get the twins to sleep the night before and we couldn’t handle doing it again.

When you have two families squashed together in one house and housework etc is not getting done properly and there is a lot of sleep deprivation and emotional issues and health issues and financial stresses and noise from babies and kids, sometimes you snap. There were a few times when harsh words were spoken from both sides and even to spouses. There were tears, there were arguments and disagreements. We didn’t always see eye to eye with my parents and this only added to our stress because now we were worried about making too much noise and worried about the housework not getting done and worried about what they thought of our ability as parents. We got discouraged as I’m sure they did too. But I don’t know what they were thinking or feeling so I can only give an account of our feelings and thoughts at the time. We had never felt so alone and so discouraged by anything.

After admitting one day to our child health nurse that we were beginning to not want to be around our kids any more simply because we weren’t coping well and that we were going through a lot of stress at the time, she referred us to a Family Centre that specializes in helping parents to get babies/children eating and sleeping, behaviour management etc. So off we went for a week, just myself and the twins and my husband came after work. I’d like to also point out that my husband has a genetic disorder called haemochromatosis (inherited iron overload disorder). This basically gives him the symptoms of chronic fatigue while also suppressing his immune system. There are other issues involved also. He was not doing well mentally or emotionally either. While at the clinic it gave us time to think and to spend some time together (the nurses were wonderful in giving us a break when we needed it) but they also helped us in getting them to eat more which in turn helped them to sleep more. They also helped us to work out ways we could get them to sleep without constantly picking them up (which we did to keep them quiet so they wouldn’t disturb my parents or their older siblings).  It felt a little like being at a summer camp because all the meals were provided and we didn’t need to wash dishes etc. 

We both talked with a psychologist while we were at the clinic. While the psychologist acknowledged in her patient review that I was going through a tough time, from what I had told her she didn’t feel that I was in danger of being depressed and felt that given time I would be able to work through and overcome the situation. My husband’s review from the psychologist was not so optimistic. He was reported to have severe depression, severe anxiety and high levels of stress. Those weeks of the twins crying and very little sleep, along with the pressure to find a new job and provide for his family, as well as help with housework and spend time with the kids were all taking its toll on him. In the end, once we came home, he just had to put his foot down and say that he was only going to do as much as he could do and he wasn’t going to push his body to do more.  After we came home from the clinic things did get a little better, we put the twins into their own rooms and in their own cots (they had been sharing one before the clinic), and they were feeding and sleeping a lot better as well. But then I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilytis, which I have written a little about in an earlier post. Because of this I developed problems with my eyes and had numerous doctors and optometrist visits. When my husband was home or able to get time off he stayed and watched the kids or my mum would if she was able. Sometimes we had to ask my parents in law or other family members to look after the kids. My husband was out of a job for roughly three months before he was able to find another job so my mum had to go back to work so they could pay the bills (we were paying them rent but my dad earned) very little as a pastor. 

I felt bad that we had to keep putting other people out to watch the kids because of my health issues and when my husband got his new job I feared he might lose it if he kept taking time off for me. Amongst all this my parents were in the midst of selling their house, we were looking for houses to rent, my dad was resigning as pastor. After a year of all this mayhem and craziness we finally moved into a house of our own, my parents sold their house, my husband was promoted in his job and the kids were all sleeping through the night (unless they were sick). We have been through some trying times, but God’s hand has always been with us and he has provided for our family and blessed us in so many ways which I will share in my next post. But I want to leave you with this poem, I am sure you all know it, it is called Footprints and it is by a lady named Margaret Fishback-Powers, it is my favourite poem and a great reminder that our Lord is with us always. 

Number 2, 3 and 4…oh boy

When our oldest was about two and a half I gave birth to our second child, also a boy. I was really excited about being pregnant as we had been trying for about six months and I did two tests just to be on the safe side. I was super excited and wrapped the tests for my husband and gave them to him like a present. The look on his face when he saw that I was pregnant was one of pure joy. The pregnancy went fairly well with him, I had pretty bad nausea but did not throw up often thankfully and it went away at about eighteen weeks. He ended up being in breach and we scheduled a c-section which happened at thirty eight weeks and thankfully everything went smoothly. After he was born he was a pretty good baby, he didn’t cry that much and he slept and ate well. Life was peachy, we had moved into a really nice house when I was eight months pregnant so we were enjoying the space and the nice home and starting to enjoy each other again and our children. We thought, yeah, we can do two kids this is pretty good.

Three months later, the company that employed my husband was having financial issues and we didn’t know if he was going to keep his job for much longer, we talked about maybe having to move house yet again (we had moved at least five times in five years of marriage). And then I was out shopping alone one day, my kids were with my parents and my husband was at work, I had been feeling a bit funny and I was due for my period so I thought I would do a pregnancy test, just to check (though I was pretty sure what the result would be), sure enough I was pregnant. I was so upset, not because I was pregnant again , though I was worried about being pregnant so close after a c-section, but because I knew how freaked out my husband would be because of his job situation, and by extension our financial situation and all that goes with it. I remember walking to the car and ringing my husband, I cried and said “I am so sorry, I’m pregnant.”

After I told him we both began to stress and worry about how we were going to be able to afford to live and care for another child. Then I started to get really bad morning sickness very early on. It got so bad and I lost so much weight that I had to get tablets to stop myself from being sick. I couldn’t cook food, I couldn’t wash dishes (the smell was too much) so my husband had to once again pick up the jobs I couldn’t do. When I was about eleven weeks along, I had gone to the toilet one day and my husband, needing to go, happened to look into the toilet and saw blood in it. He asked if I was bleeding and I was shocked so I checked and sure enough I was bleeding. We scheduled an urgent appointment with our doctor who sent us for an ultrasound. The sonographer confirmed I had had a slight bleed but nothing to be overly concerned about. I noticed that my uterus looked quite enlarged, after looking at the screen for a bit I thought, I bet there is twins. After pointing out the quite large space she voiced my thoughts and began to look for another baby. Sure enough there the was the bub, hiding behind the other sibling. My husband was so shocked he had to leave the room but quickly became excited and rang our entire family to let them know.

After this news I was told that I needed to try to rest as much as possible so that the place where the bleed occurred would have time to heal and also so that my still newly healing c-section scar would not be overly aggravated. This meant no heavy housework (such as vaccuming and mopping), and only lifting my little six month old and my three year old when I absolutely had to. When we had gone for the ultrasound at eleven weeks, they could not tell if the twins were in their own sacs which the Dr’s were worried about.  We had to go for another ultrasound, this time at a hospital to see if they could find a separation of the sacs. If twins are in the same sac, there is a high possibility that they will develop what is known as twin to twin transfer. This is where one twin takes the lions share of the nutrients coming from the placenta and the other twin gets very little. This is very dangerous as the twin who is not getting enough usually does not develop properly and that twin may be miscarried as a result. Thankfully, they found the separation but because of all of my previous birth related medical history, I had to have ultrasounds fortnightly as well as obstetrician appointments. I felt like I lived in the hospital. 

My parents were very worried about me and this pregnancy and also worried about how we would manage with so many young children, especially once my husband went back to work. I would have three kids under the age of one and all four would be under four. They offered for us to move in with them and we reluctantly agreed that we really had no other alternative. We loved our house where we had been living, it had been perfect for us but we sadly said goodbye and moved in with my parents. The majority of our belongings had to go in to storage as we couldn’t fit them in.  

My mum was working at the time so she took time off work to help look after us. My father was the pastor at the church we were attending and was very busy but he also has a degenerative motor-neuron disease and his symptoms were starting to progress. Because of all of these factors my parents were also under a lot of stress and going through emotional turmoil as well. The twins were delivered at thirty six weeks and I had major problems with the surgery. I had always had a feeling of foreboding about this c-section and there were quite a few times where I had been in tears because I didn’t want to die or have anything go wrong.

The anaesthetist who put in my epidural and spinal block had told me that they would not start anything until they were sure that the anaesthetic was working.  I had remembered that with the last two c-sections I had not been able to move my toes and when I found that I could, I questioned her and she assured me that they would check and ask if I could feel things etc. before they started to cut. The next thing I remember is that I was told the doctors had started with the surgery. The babies, again both boys, came out fine though one had swallowed a bit of fluid and had to be suctioned but they were actually quite big for the age they were and also for being twins. 

The anaesthetist we had at the beginning of the surgery had needed to leave part way through and another one had come in. This anaesthetist however sat playing with their iPad instead of  paying attention to me. The obstetricians (at our request) performed a tubal ligation (tied my tubes) while I was in surgery so we wouldn’t have to do it later. I could feel them moving everything around and I remember just feeling really horrid though I couldn’t tell you whether or not it had been pain or not. But it probably should have set off alarm bells with the theatre nurses, the doctors and the anaesthetist. The next thing they told me was that they were stitching me up. That was when I noticed I could feel pain on my left side where they were stitching. The doctors offered to stop while the anaesthetist topped me up but she told them to keep going as the anaesthetic would take effect almost immediately. They told me that they were almost finished and my husband was told he could go outside and wait for me as I’d be out soon. 

Famous last words. My uterus wouldn’t contract and I continued to bleed. The doctors tried to put what they call a “balloon” inside to try to stem the bleeding and force the uterus to shrink. But this did not work. They told me they would have to reopen the stitches and try to stop the bleeding. I was too out of it to be too scared but I remember thinking that my predictions of something bad happening were going to come true. I was terrified that this was going to be it and that I wouldn’t get to see any of my kids again. My husband had known all of my fears about something going wrong in surgery, so when they told him what was happening he demanded to see me.  After he had come in and made sure I wasn’t a terrified, blubbering mess he had to once again go and wait outside. 

The anaesthetist topped me up yet again and I’m pretty sure I was drifting in and out of consciousness the whole time. There was one point though that I remember feeling really nauseas and trying to call out for the anaesthetist but she was on her iPad again and the obstetrician had to get her attention for me. She ended up holding a bag while I threw up, they said it was from the drug they had just injected to make my uterus contract. So four hours later and with a litre and a half of blood lost, they finally wheeled me into recovery. They explained that they had needed to clean out some blood  clots and then they had injected me with the drug to make my uterus shrink and then they had been able to close my stitches. 

I was in hospital about four days and I wasn’t awake for most of it. Because of the blood loss my haemoglobin was low which made me very tired. I also didn’t get to see my boys a lot during this time as I wasn’t able to take care of them adequately. I tried to express what little colostrum I had for the twins but I was too weak and in too much pain to go and see them regularly. I think my husband saw them more than I did. The nurses tried to get me to walk around but it was too painful and I burst into tears every time we tried. Then one of the nurses, who by the way had been on the ward when I had given birth to our second son and so she remembered us, came and told me that the twins were getting really hungry and were screaming and they really needed something to eat. At the time I didn’t know it, but I believe she told me that because she knew it was the only thing that would get me out of bed and walking around (they could just as easily have asked me to fill out a form consenting to formula feeding if they were really that worried about them). I think they were getting worried about clots, especially as I had bled a lot in theatre. My babies needed me, so I strapped on a pregnancy/c-section recovery belt which I had brought to hospital with me, and it helped a lot. It relieved a lot of the pain and gave me the muscle support that my body at the time could not. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and still very weak and light headed from the low haemoglobin but somehow I managed to make my way to the special care nursery. I attempted to feed my boys, though I am not sure how much they actually managed to get, then I made my way back to the ward. 

The next day they did come with a form asking consent for formula feeding, they were hungry and I had very little to offer them. On the day after that the twins were finally moved into my room for the first time, but I was so sick of being in hospital. Sick of being away from my family and I was very lonely and my baby blues always got worse the longer I stayed in hospital so I asked to leave. I couldn’t stand the thought of staying there one more night, and finally at about nine at night (I had asked to leave at about nine that morning) they signed the paperwork and we were free to leave. But as horrible as staying in hospital was, nothing could have prepared us for the coming weeks and months.

If hindsight were foresight, what would be our focal point

So often we focus on ourselves and our circumstances instead of trusting in God and his leading in our lives. Just as Peter looked at the storm around him so too do we look at the tidal waves of life and we start to sink into despair. In my devotional time one day I made up this analogy.

Our lives are like a ship on the ocean and we can either choose to be the captain of the ship and steer ourselves in the direction we think we should go or we can be first mate and take our directions from God, who SHOULD be our captain. The problem comes with the fact that we don’t actually know where were going. We don’t know what God has planned for us. We can’t see the big picture. So how on earth do we expect to be able to steer the ship in the right direction? While everything is smooth sailing, we are usually more than willing to let God captain the ship and steer it where he wills. But when we run into rough weather and face the stormy seas we want to wrestle the wheel from his grasp and take over as captain. God, letting us exercise our free will, relinquishes his grasp on the wheel and we inevitably end up shipwrecked.

We believe we are deserted, having been marooned by our former captain and with no hope of rescue. But then He graciously reaches out to us, binds our wounds, comforts our souls and repairs our ship. He sets us on the right course again and then we, still battered and bruised are happy for him to captain our ship once more. Until there is another storm and the story begins again. How much pain and suffering could we avoid if we trusted the Master of the ship instead of wanting to save ourselves? 

Imagine if hindsight were foresight, if we could see what was going to happen and the things we would learn from it. How much we could achieve, how much easier would it be to bear everything that happens in our lives. All of our life experiences could be met with confidence, knowing that we would come out the other side a better person, richer in knowledge and stronger in character. And closer in our walk with the Lord.

But hindsight is not foresight and unfortunately I had neither to guide me. I was so wrapped up in my own little world that the only thing that I thought about was just how dramatically my life and our lives as husband and wife would change. Now I will admit that I was being selfish in my thinking but what people need to understand and remember is that having a child is a huge responsibility and undertaking. Many couples spend years planning for children and then many months preparing themselves for their new arrival once they succeed in falling pregnant. We hadn’t even adjusted to being a married couple yet let alone the prospect of becoming parents. I was scared, I was angry, I was hurt, I was worried. There were so many things going on in my head and my heart.

Even now, 5 almost 6 years later and with 4 boys I have to stop and think sometimes and not get anxious about where we are and wonder how different our lives could have been had we had children a couple of years later. I know that sometimes when your plans for life are blown out of the water, it can be easy to become resentful and wonder why did this happen to me? But it is so important to focus on God at this moment and know that he is in the Directors chair and he knows the big picture. Look around, find the purpose for the situation you find yourself in. I know it can be very hard, sometimes seemingly impossible to find, or to focus on but trust that God has something for you or for someone else to learn through this and to be either blessed or encouraged by it.

And the truth is, you are only hurting yourself by having these thoughts and holding onto those feelings and worse still, you run the very real risk of projecting those thoughts and feelings onto your children and spouse. They then become the object for those thoughts and emotions to be focused on and that in turns causes all sorts of relationship issues. You don’t want your children to grow up thinking that you didn’t want them and love them, or your spouse thinking that you are upset with them and resentful for how your life has panned out. While you may have had feelings that were negative towards your child while you were pregnant with them, it is so very important to reconcile those feelings before they are born. Acknowledge how you are feeling yes, talk about it, grieve, be upset about not having things your own way but then deal with those thoughts and emotions and move on. I wish I had done this while I was still pregnant.

It took a year and a half, almost two years after the birth of my son for my emotional and mental well being to begin to get back on track. I often took my son to task over things that really were not necessary to discipline him over simply because I was an emotional tea kettle ready to boil over at any second. I found myself yelling at my little one year old for things he didn’t even understand. All he knew was that Mummy was upset. That was so, so wrong, and I was always ashamed after I did it and remembered his little face with tears streaming down his cheeks, but I can never ever take it back. Thankfully I don’t think he remembers any of it but looking back, I wish I had been able to be kinder to him and be more gentle and patient. We did have times where we managed to have a lot of fun together and we cuddled and kissed and did things that Mummies and babies/toddlers do together but I also know that I didn’t treat him as well as I should have, as well as he deserved. Praise the Lord my son is a happy healthy boy, with a wonderful creative mind.

Now, I make sure he knows that Mummy loves him and I know that he loves mummy. I’m glad I made a decision to change the way I dealt with him and reacted to things that he did or said. Don’t let your emotions hurt other people, especially your children. If you are unable to work through them alone I urge you to seek help, I never did (but it is OK to, even people with lots of money and celebrity status seek help with PND so your not the only one who doesn’t have it altogether). Perhaps if I had I may have been able to deal with my depression sooner and been able to face motherhood with a better attitude.

But whatever you do, make sure your children know that you love them and that  whatever your feelings were before, they need to know NOW that they are loved and wanted NOW. Unfortunately most children and even a lot of teenagers are so self-absorbed that they cannot understand the concept of parents having issues that they need to deal with. Often they take any negative behaviour that the parents exhibit as a reflection on them and they may think that it is their fault that the parent thinks or feels the way that they do. You have the power to impact your child’s life negatively or positively through your words and your behaviour, but the impact you have is your choice, you can choose to let go of all the hurt and pain and anger and confusion and let God work in you and through you or you can hold onto it and let it eat up everything good in your life. God has so much planned for your life if you are willing to yield. It’s your choice.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you (or listen to you). And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord…” Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Marriage Woes – Part 3: United as One

When my husband became a Christian, things changed so much. When he told me, I didn’t know what to think. At first I was upset, I felt like everything I had ever known about him and our lives together was a lie. I didn’t know if I could trust what he said anymore, I mean I thought he was saved, HE thought he was saved. I thought if he could be so deceived about that what other deep dark secrets could he be hiding. But, God truly had done a work in his heart and it began to show in his life. He treated me better, he stopped complaining about everything and started to help me with things around the house willingly (I was pregnant with our second child at the time and we had moved house, yet again) He wasn’t so angry and the times when he was he would stop and try to work through it rather then just blowing up. He began to really show that he cared about me. My husband and I have discussed those years many times and we have both come to see that when we were first married, he did not love me. When I went through my depression and the birth of our first son, he did not love me. In fact thinking about it all, he had not said the words very often at all during those first few years, or if he did they were often an automated reply.

When I had first confessed my love for my husband before we were engaged he had told me that he didn’t know if he loved me. On the day we were married he had said that he loved me and he had told me over the course of those three years but the love that he had spoken was not what he had shown. Now his words matched his heart and he showed me in so many little ways that he did indeed now love me. I had never known how caring and wonderful and gentle a man could be, but my husband began to show me the meaning of true love. And I fought it, I was scared, I didn’t know what to think, I was still in the process of wrapping my head around all the changes that were taking place, and with the pregnancy hormones at work as well, I was fairly emotional. I was still emotionally distant from him, I was still trying to figure out if I still loved this man. But he was persistent, I remember that although during this time he told me he loved me and that he wasn’t going anywhere, he let his actions speak louder than his words and that was what really made the difference. I began to realise that he really was the man of my dreams, however cheesy and cliche that might sound.

I began to trust him, more than I had ever trusted anyone, which was a HUGE step for me, as because of issues due to sexual abuse as a child (which I may work up the courage to say a little about in another post some day) I rarely trusted people with what was truly in my thoughts let alone my inner heart. But I trusted him enough to finally, after four years of marriage, talk to him about all of that in detail, as well as my lack of trust in God (also due to the abuse) and he helped me through it. He helped me to see that God’s hand of protection was on me then and was still on our family through all the trials we had endured. I began to realise that I had never stopped loving my husband, I had only stopped liking him. I loved him now more than I ever knew I could love anyone, and our relationship became one of sweet sharing and partnership. He now also had a desire to be the godly leader in our home to move our family forward in a relationship with our heavenly father, something that I had been desiring since we were married. I had not wanted to take on the role as the spiritual leader in our home, I wanted him to be, but after a few discussions about it I had given up. Now he had a fire and passion for God which was refreshing.

The other noticeable change was the way he treated our son, he no longer found him annoying and frustrating but he began to play with him more and spend more time with him. It was a time of great joy for our family and things seemed to be getting better. We were a happy family for the first time and we were delighting in the love and warmth that had now entered our home. With the arrival of our second son we thought our world was now complete and our little family was whole. God had changed my husbands heart and brought him into the fold, we were overjoyed at all that the Lord had done in our lives and all the blessings he had given us. We were happy with two sons, we thought two was our number, little did we know that God hadn’t finished yet.

Thankyou

I would like to take a few moments to say thank you to all those who have been reading my blog, following and sharing and sending me words of encouragement. I am honoured that by sharing my story I am reaching out to others in some way. My heart is filled with joy at the thought that I may be able to be used by God to encourage another mum who may be going through a rough patch. So I would just like to say…thank you for your support, and for encouraging me in this, another part of my journey. And praise God, for his mercies are new every morning.

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS.” Lamentations 3:22,23

Rach xo

Marriage Woes – Part 2 – as the Husband

Well, where do I start… Well I suppose the beginning would be the best start… 6000 years ago. Sorry, I  know it’s a bad dad joke but I’m allowed to do it. After all I am a dad. But all humour aside, My wife and I have been married now for almost 6 years. And before that  the progression of our relationship from friends to marriage was a rapid one (I believe my wife has already covered this one). We were married on the 12th December 2009. By February 2010, we were expecting our first child. My wife had just turned 22 and I was 26 when we found out about this pregnancy. And boy did it start out rough. I remember as though it was yesterday. My wife was late, she wanted to do a test, and when it came up positive my excitement went through the roof but her face went straight to despair. That is when everything in our marriage started going downhill. I found it difficult to deal with the situation as much as my wife did. However the differences were stark in contrast. My wife immediately went into depression, and very quickly my excitement went into hiding. I new my excitement would make my wife worse.

This is where it started to get rough, my wife started to develop bad morning sickness, where she was vomiting at least 4 times a day, which, with the circumstances she has mentioned already, made it harder for her to be happy about her situation. This lead her deeper into depression which then affected her motivation. As her husband I wanted to be there for her but as a shift worker I was finding it hard to deal with all the house work due to her depression causing lack of motivation. After awhile I secured a temporary contract which meant that I could work at sane times and be home to help out in the evening. All through this I found it difficult to show my excitement because my wife was heading further down the path of depression. I tried to cheer her up. I tried to refocus her, but nothing seemed to be working. I started resenting my wife at this point in some small measure which continued to grow as time progressed and my wife’s depression continued to deepen. Then my wife would withdraw more and do less and then I would do more and then try to encourage more and then start to resent more as it then continued to get worse. At the time I didn’t realise that I was being selfish… I wanted her to be the perfect wife and mother, and I didn’t see what I was doing

Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Little did I know that at this time, when things were getting bad, it was the beginning of the most beautiful event in our lives as the verse above states. God works in ways we don’t understand. Two years after our first son was born my wife was still in the grip of depression. That was a total of 3yrs where not only was I the sole income earner, I also was the person responsible for the upkeep of the house. I am not going to lie, my disdain for my wife was nearing hate. Which leads me further into my past. As I was growing up I was bullied a lot, even by some teachers in the schools that I attended. My family also changed churches a lot which made it difficult to make friends and to keep them. This caused resentment in me to everyone I came into contact with so much so that I now know that I almost hated everyone and to my everlasting shame even my family. So with all of this in my life  pre-marriage, I was trying hard not to hate my wife, but I think I did eventually end up there. I felt as though my wife should be over the depression and that she was being selfish. I wanted to have time to relax after a big week, I wanted time to play my computer games. I wanted everything for me.

When we started doing some bible college courses the first one we did was on the principles of spiritual growth (if you want a good one “The Green Letters” by Miles J Stanford) as I was learning about yielding to the Spirit, I started to put the principles into practice. I knew I was sinning and that I needed to yield to the Spirit to over come sin. But for some unknown reason it wasn’t working. So I would try harder and fail even more spectacularly then before. Over the course of three months leading up to the 3rd of January 2013 I was waking up in tears knowing that I was going to fail again everyday. I was begging God Almighty to help me overcome what I clearly could not. And no matter how much I cried out…. I got no answer… no change. I was broken, I was weak, I was alone in my suffering. I had ignored my wife, and I couldn’t find a way out of where I was and because of my hatred even toward my own parents it took me 3yrs outside of my parents home before I could receive an email from my father without discounting it immediately. But this time was different, for some reason when my dad send me this email with a youtube link in it, I was compelled to watch it.

I was at work, it was the 3rd of January 2013, I opened up the link and listened to the message while I was working. Then five minutes into the message I stopped working and started to listen intently to what was being said. In this message I was confronted by God himself. He came to me, He showed me who I was, it was at this point I realised that I hated so many people, I realised that all of their blood was on my hands 1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him… he revealed to me what he did… and in shame… I cried out to God and begged him to save me, not only from my sin, but from who I am… a sinner. And to my joy he did. He released me from my burden and set me free from my sinful self, if you have ever listened to Handels Messiah there is a choral piece at the end called Worthy is the Lamb. I then proceeded to listen to this as I praised the Christ who died for me and set me free. On the 3rd of January 2015 God took my hate from me… it was gone… and I haven’t hated since.

The very next day I called my dad and talked to him about it and he said “I think you just got saved” I was shocked… I was saved at the age of 7, although I don’t remember it much. So for the the next three months I prayed that God would bring back my memory in regard to my “salvation” when I was 7. Slowly it happened and then I remembered… My reasons for becoming a christian at the age of 7 was that I wanted to have the Lords table/communion. I went to my Pastor I talked to him about it and he confirmed it by my own testimony.

After my salvation, I started to treat my wife better. I told her about what my father said… she was not happy with me because of my selfishness… But God fixed me up… the principles of Spiritual growth started to work, I had a thirst for God and a love for my family and people in general that i could not explain. At first my wife didn’t think anything would change but as time progressed she saw the change and started to love me again. And I started to look past her faults and thank God for the wife he gave me.

In the end I came to the point that I beleive God put us through such a hard time for a few reasons

  1. To confound me in my wicked ways
  2. to show me my insufficiency
  3. to reveal to me his salvation
  4. and to accept me into his family.

But ultimately for His glory. At the time I didn’t understand why this was happening to us, but as one of the verses above states. His ways are higher than ours, and if you allow some poetic licence His ways are also better than ours.

Marriage Woes – Part 1 As the Wife

So I promised to share about how our marriage was struggling through this time of my battle with depression. When we were first married we thought we were perfect for each other and I thought I was marrying the most wonderful man I had ever met or known. And he was a wonderful man. However, my depression put a great strain on our relationship. When I got married I wanted nothing more than to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. For those who don’t know what that means, there is a passage in the Bible that talks about a woman who is an amazing wife and mother, she is held in high esteem by everyone. I have included the bible reference below.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life…her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land…she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:10-12, 23, 26-30

I so badly wanted my husband to be proud of me, for his ‘heart to safely trust’ in me. I was determined to fulfill my duty as a wife and home keeper, but the moment I found out I was pregnant I found I was mentally and emotional incapable of doing so. Someone once said that we do not see things as they are; we see them as we are and that is so true. At the time I couldn’t see the circumstances for what they were I only saw them through the veil of my feelings. I could not motivate myself to do anything, even for the husband who I loved dearly. I won’t go into too much detail from his point of view because I want him to write it from his own perspective (stay tuned it will be the next post). But I felt like I had let him down and this made me feel even worse.

We fought a lot. At the time I didn’t think we did but looking back and going over everything in my mind, we did. And sometimes it was not pretty. He was never physically violent towards me or our son, but I remember things being thrown, not at each other but across rooms and at walls, there were a lot of nights spent in different bedrooms, my husband driving off into the night on a few occasions, nasty text messages, name calling and blame laying and everything that goes along with that. Our love life was virtually non existent, we’d be lucky to be intimate 2 times in a month. But the worst thing for me was that I found out that my husband was a very angry man.If there is ever anyone in the world who can scare me it is an angry male.

Now the majority of this anger was not directed at me or even caused by me. Most of it was because of things that previously happened in his life and he had just kept it all bottled up, but when you are going through a tough situation all your bottled up emotions can very easily come exploding out. I wanted to fight for our marriage but I didn’t really know how. I desperately loved my husband and I didn’t want to lose him, but I didn’t feel worthy of his love and I definitely didn’t feel attractive. I clearly remember one day not long after our son was born where I was going to a friends baby shower and it was about an hours drive from where we lived so I asked my husband if he would accompany me. He really didn’t want to go and he came up all sorts of reasons for why it wouldn’t be a good idea etc. So I went alone while he stayed at home with our son. I’m pretty sure he had been playing computer games that morning and continued to do so while I was away. And this only made more upset because I felt that the only reason he didn’t want to come was because he wanted to play games instead. Now I have nothing against playing computer or video games as a way to relax but if you are using them as a way to escape reality to the point that you would rather play them then spend time with your family then there is a big problem. I know of families who have been torn apart because of video game addictions. And there were numerous times where I felt that the computer was more important to my husband then I was. I understand that at the time that was his way of getting away from it all but still it hurt that he was choosing to play them a lot more often instead of spending time with me.

I think the baby shower had been in late morning or the early hours of the afternoon. When it was over, instead of going straight home I went to the beach and I stayed out until it began to get dark. My husband didn’t call me once or even message me to find out where I was until AFTER it got dark. I had decided that it would be my test to see if he cared about me and the fact that he didn’t message or call until he realized it was dark spoke volumes to me. I felt very unloved, undesirable and alone. I began to wonder why my husband married me if he didn’t care about me and I wondered if he actually loved me, then or ever. We talked about the idea of seeing a marriage counsellor or a pastor a few times. And then one night after a particularly heated argument, my husband had once again driven off. This time when he returned he told me he had seen his parents and mine and had booked us in to go and see a pastor to get some marriage counselling. I remember getting so upset and angry at him because it seemed like he always talked to everyone else and opened up to everyone else but me and he didn’t even discuss with me about our own relationship, not that I could blame him as I was deep in depression at the time but I still felt betrayed.

But most of the time that was what happened, we would get upset and not want to talk to each other or discuss it and then it would get so tense that we would both just explode and it caused a big argument. I told him on a few occasions that if we made him so unhappy then why didn’t he just leave. This was us, not even married for 2 years and we were on the brink of separation. I was left feeling like I had married someone who never really loved me and therefore I would never be good enough for him. Now I’m sure that for someone who is in a normal head space this would be devastating enough but for me, suffering from depression, I felt like I had somehow deserved it and I felt many times that both he and my son would be better off without me. I was not suicidal though I will admit that I did have the occasional thought about how easy it would be to just let my car run off the road and crash and that would be the end but thankfully I was never inclined to actually do any of that.

I moved through my depression, and began to get better but our relationship was still not repaired. We did not spend a lot of time working on our relationship and it felt like we lived separate lives. He would go to work and come home and do whatever he wanted and I would be at home with our son and keeping house while at night doing whatever I wanted. I was at the point where I didn’t even know if I loved my husband anymore. I know I didn’t respect him and I did not really like him as a person. I had even began to think about other men as being attractive and wondering what it would be like to be in a relationship with someone else. But then God in his Love and Mercy, reached down and touched my husbands heart and his life and he began to change in a way that I never knew was possible and this in turn changed me. Now I won’t go into those changes because my husband is going to write a post about his side of the story and then I will do a third post to wrap up the Marriage segment. But I do want to leave you with a couple of thoughts.

  1. Love is a choice! You have to choose to love your partner, you made a vow when you married to love and honour them in “better or worse”. The problem is most people only really mean the better, and when it gets tough they seek greener pastures elsewhere. Loving your spouse takes commitment, self sacrifice, long suffering and a heart that is willing to forgive, I mean truly forgive. That doesn’t mean holding all your hurt inside and saying, yes I forgive you and then throwing it all back in their face when the next argument comes along. Let me tell you now, that gets you nowhere!
  2. God is good. He is with you walking beside you always. He knows your deepest hurts and he knows your biggest fears. But he will never let you go and even when you can’t see the path, know that his hand is guiding you on your journey.