The Low down on Depression

I think depression like all mental illness has a certain stigma attached to it. So many people don’t understand what it is like to go through depression or anxiety. They think it should just be easy to snap out of it and get back to normal. And people can be so intolerant, often they look at you in disgust because they think your just out to get attention or sympathy or they think that you are lazy and selfish and that the alleged depression is just an excuse to justify your behaviour. But unfortunately depression is one of those things that can be triggered by many things, sometimes yes, it is possible that it can be triggered by things that may seem selfish. But everyone is allowed to have hopes and dreams for the future, plans for how we hoped our lives would pan out. And it is good to have a direction for your life. But things sometimes don’t go to plan and people can get upset, even depressed about it but they don’t need other people telling them they are selfish or that they should just let it go. They need someone to listen, to hold their hand and say “look I know this didn’t work out for you but maybe you have a different direction to go in.” They need to work through how they are feeling and move on once they have come to terms with it. Sometimes depression comes simply because we find it difficult to cope with stresses in our lives.

When one thing after another, after another just hit you out of the blue and things just don’t seem to be working or you feel like you just keep messing up it can be very difficult to maintain a positive mental and emotional attitude. Some days it just feels like the whole world is against me so what’s the point of getting out of bed. And in those situations it is really not something that they can just snap out of. Practical help during this time is often needed for these people so that they can have assistance in getting things back in hand and feel like they have some control in their lives again. Sometimes again, they just need someone who is willing to hold their hand and say look I understand things are not going well for you at the moment but I’m here for you and we will just work through this together. There are others for whom depression means withdrawing.

I have often heard it said that you cannot help someone who won’t help themselves. Whilst this is true, it is also in one sense an unfair observation. Sometimes the person in question cannot help themselves but they don’t want to ask for help because they don’t want to impose on people and they fear other peoples responses or remarks. People should not be made to feel bad or selfish for being depressed. Depression is more often than not a response to a failure to cope with a certain situation or a chain of events. Even if the depression is a selfish response, most people can come to that conclusion on their own and pointing it out to them only sinks them further. Some people withdraw from others when they are depressed. This can be for many reasons, they fear people’s response, they feel a sense of guilt or shame or they don’t want to burden others. Often it is the people we love the most and who love us the most we withdraw from because we don’t want to hurt them and because we don’t want them to get upset with us for still feeling this way.  When I was suffering with depression it took me about 2 1/2 years to start to get over it. I felt horrible, I felt the shame and the guilt. I was frustrated with myself and I knew that it was affecting my marriage but I felt powerless to do anything. I think that if I had of had just one good friend who could of held my hand and sat and listened to me, even if I repeated the same things over and over again. If they could have just let me work through the feelings and the thoughts and helped me to make sense of everything and helped me to  be able to cope, I think I would have gotten better a lot quicker. People are so quick to judge when they hear that someone has depression but it is real and it kills. 

The Australian Bureau of statistics records that between 2001 and 2010 a mental or behavioural disorder was recorded for over half of all individuals that committed suicide (22,526 deaths were registered where suicide was determined to be the underlying cause. Of these suicide deaths, 22% (4,932) were recorded with a multiple cause of death; that is, any condition, disease or injury which was involved in the morbid train of events leading to death) and for whom a multiple cause was identified. The highest incidence of these disorders was observed in younger age groups: 58.6% of persons aged between 15 and 24 years and 61.6% of persons aged between 25 and 34 years. Within the category Mental and behavioural disorders two disorders were most commonly associated with suicide: Mood disorders and Mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use. These disorders were also the most common Mental and behavioural disorders recorded with suicide across all age groups. Mood disorders were reported in 28.1% of all suicides where a multiple cause was identified. 

Be kind to people with depression and be alert for signs in friends and relatives, especially around this time of year when they can feel lonely or overwhelmed.

Christmas Nostalga

So with Christmas looming ever nearer I am feeling nostalgic and I thought I would embark on a trip down memory lane. What family traditions have you held onto and which ones have you created with your own family over the years? For the most part I loved my childhood. We were a close family and my parents did their best to ensure that we still went on holidays and had adventures even when money was tight. We went camping a lot and my parents love the beach so we spent a lot of our holiday time at the beach swimming and fishing and walking etc. Christmas morning for our family usually began with me waking up at some obscene hour and jumping on my parents bed asking to open my presents. I can’t remember that my brother was ever as excited as I was but I think when we were young he would also be up very early and jumping on mum and dad as well. As we got older my parents told me that we had to wait for him to wake up before anything happened, and as every normal, impatient little kid would do I went and jumped on him and made him get out of bed as well or when we were older I would thump on his door until he got up to answer it. 

Then once everyone had been sufficiently roused from their slumbers we would sit on mum and dads bed while my dad read about the birth of Jesus from Luke 2. To this day it is still one of my favourite passages of scripture. Then would come the gift giving. It was always exciting to see what my parents bought us for Christmas and my brother as he got older would buy me things as well or make things for me and I cherished those gifts especially. My brother is not overly demonstrative with his affections or emotions so when he gave me something it was more treasured because it showed me that he did care and that I wasn’t just the annoying little sister. Sometimes though we were away for Christmas and then we would do things a little differently. If our cousins were with us we would all get up and go into the living room or wherever the presents were and try to find our presents and maybe see if we could guess what they were. Usually we would end up making a lot of noise and the adults would wake up and come in and then, once everyone had gathered we were allowed to open our presents. Then we would be so caught up in playing with our presents that we would forget about breakfast. The rest of the day was usually spent eating and for us younger ones, playing. 

Sometimes we would meet up with my Nan at the beach and we would have lunch there and open presents and go swimming and shell collecting. As I got older I found I thought it less necessary to get out of bed early for which I’m sure my parents were grateful. Though I remember one year in particular when I was still quite young, my mum had decided to try something a little different. She had put all of our presents in a pillow case like a Santa Sack and placed them in our rooms. For whatever reason I had woken up during the night and I saw the sack of presents. I knew one of the presents I was getting so I went through them to find it. But in my excitement I opened all of them but only kept out the one I had been looking for and stuffed the rest back in the pillowcase. My mum had gotten up a bit later as well and saw the light on in my room. I was asleep again with my new stuffed toy under my arm and she thought it was strange that I had only opened one present.

If your family is anything like mine, you will end up with copious amounts of food that will continue to be consumed for the next two or three days after Christmas. We usually ended up with an abundance of puddings, trifles and rocky road. Not to mention the ham, turkey and lamb roast. Then there is the fruit. One of the best things about Christmas is the variety of fruit that is available. We always have a fruit platter at Christmas. 

Another thing I remember from childhood about Christmas is the various activities we had at our church. We would often have a Christmas event held by the ladies from our ladies meetings, then we had our Christmas Cantata where our choir sang and sometimes there would be verses read throughout so that the scripture passages and the songs told the story or sometimes we would have a Christmas themed story that went with the songs. We would also have a Christmas Banquet and all the families would give gifts to each other sort of like a Secret Santa type arrangement. We would also all contribute some food items etc to go to some of the poorer families in our town. A few years at school we participated in the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox program which I also enjoyed.

We went and saw lights too, sometimes we would just walk around, other times a group of us would drive around from place to place looking at the houses decked out in twinkling lights. It just feels so much more Christmasy when houses are decorated with lights. I love going out for a drive and seeing whole streets bedecked with lights, its just so beautiful and cheerful. We also used to go carolling which was always fun. But my favourite thing was Christmas Eve. Instead of having a Christmas day service we would have a Christmas Eve service. We would usually have a dinner and we would have some bible passages read but the thing I looked forward to the most was the Carols by Candlelight. I love Christmas Carols, I love singing them and I love hearing them sung, they are just so happy.

We didn’t have a tree growing up but we decorated our house with other things. We used to put a big string up to hang all the Christmas cards. We would hang tinsel and beads and home made decorations. I would always want to hang them up in November so I could get the most out of the Christmas feeling and I would listen to our Christmas CD’s everyday. I love decorating for Christmas and I am hoping to acquire a large collection of lights and ornaments that light up so that my house can eventually be one of those houses that people want to stop and look at because of the beautiful light displays. At the moment we are very busy at Christmas time as we go to my in-laws on Christmas Day and then my family on Boxing day. Our church also has a Christmas morning service as do a lot of our families churches so everyone is rather busy on Christmas day. We would like to start our own tradition at some stage of spending Christmas together as our own little family and then go to family on Boxing Day and after. So what traditions do you all have for Christmas and what fond memories do you have of childhood Christmases and holiday season activities? Merry Christmas everyone.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour. which is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:11

Kids Need To See

Yesterday (1 December 2015) did not start out so well and ended even worse. The twins woke at 3:30, then 4:00 then 4:30 and then all the boys woke up at 6:30. I was tired, very tired (I still am), and I had a migraine which was making me nauseas. Last week the boys all had a vomiting bug and I am exhausted from that as well. Yesterday was my oldest boys Kindy Graduation. When we arrived at the school, the place where I thought the graduation was being held turned out to not be the right place after all. After making inquires, I was told that the Kindy Graduation Ceremony was being held tomorrow. I had brought a plate of food for morning tea so I was a bit frustrated when I was told this news. However I had to take my son up to his kindy classroom anyway so we trudged up the hill to the classroom. When we arrived, it turned out that the Kindy Graduation was happening so that was fine but my phone battery was almost flat which meant I couldn’t take photos which made me upset but we got an official graduation photo taken which my son was very excited about. Anyway after the ceremony and the morning tea we walked back to the car and one of the twins lost his dummy.

Our twins only take one kind of dummy. It is a dummy that is nearly impossible to find in the shops. They will not sleep without their dummy. I got the three younger boys in the car, it was very hot and I started driving hoping the coolness from the air conditioning would calm the boys down and stop their whinging. Our van has been having troubles with the radiator and every time I got to an intersection and slowed down, the car sputtered and stopped. So the air conditioning was not very cool, the car was overheating and I was still at least 10 mins from home. We did manage to get nearly the whole way home but the car died about half the way up the hill near where we live. So I had to get the twins out and put them in the pram. And my toddler had to walk with me, up a hill, in the blazing sun. And I was pushing the pram, up the hill, in the blazing sun. When I got home I was hot and I was irritated, the boys were all hot and irritated but thankfully I had put the air con on before we left in the morning so it was nice and cool. After a big drink of water I attempted to put the twins down for their nap. They cried for about half an hour because they didn’t have a dummy (even though the were very tired) and then finally fell asleep.

I had rung my husband to let him know that the van had died and he rang his dad to come and get it for me which I was very thankful for. But later that afternoon I had just put the boys back into the car to go and pick up my oldest from kindy. The van would not start. So now my oldest was stranded at kindy and I had no way to go and get him. At this point I started panicking and I rang the kindy to inform them of what had happened. A lady from our church works at the school and after explaining the situation to her she was kind enough to let him stay with her as she was doing some rehearsing at the school for end of year awards. I then started to ring anyone I could think of that would possibly be free to go and pick up my son. I had been informed that the usual school policy was that children left at the school were taken to the office and if no-one came to collect them by the time office hours were over, Child Protective Services would be called. So I was panicking…a lot. Thankfully my sister-in-law was able to go and pick him up after I rang and tearfully explained the circumstance for which I was extremely grateful. 

Dinner time was a trial as usual and after we finally got everyone into bed I sat down and attempted to write this post but my migraine was getting worse and I really thought I was going to end the night by throwing up. Thankfully that didn’t happen but what did happen was that my twin boys decided that they were going to wake up at 11pm about an hour after I had gone to bed. So I tried to rouse my husband to go to the boys as I was still feeling unwell but being a typical man (which means that once he is asleep he stays asleep unless there is a natural disaster and even then he probably wouldn’t hear it) he didn’t budge. So I went in and tried to console them and laid on the floor and patted their back and rubbed their legs and held their hand. At about 12:40am I made my way back to bed as I thought the main trouble maker had fallen back asleep. As soon as I left the room he started crying again. I laid down anyway hoping that he would just fall back asleep after a while but this didn’t happen, and the unmoveable mass was still fast asleep. So at about 1:30am I made my way back to their room and stayed in there consoling and shushing until finally they were finally far away in dreamland. As I made my way back to bed once more I looked at the clock and saw that it was now about 3:15am and I knew my boys would be awake at 6:30am. 

I was upset with my husband, I won’t lie. I know he has to get up and go to work in the mornings so he can’t always help out when the kids wake up at night, but I had thought that he could at least make an exception knowing that I had had a migraine when I went to bed. Besides which I had an early morning and bad sleep the night before because the twins were unsettled and I had already gotten up to the twins once that night. In any case, the morning came, or rather the sun came up, and as I had predicted the boys were all awake again at 6:30am. I stumbled out of bed bleary eyed and got the toddler out of his cot and carried the twins downstairs. My husband apologised for the night time fiasco and I was too tired to be angry with him. The car had been booked in to have the radiator replaced today but when I rang the mechanic and I tried to start the car he said it sounded like the engine had no compression. Its 23 days until Christmas, we can’t travel without our van. We were meant to be going to my in-laws for Christmas lunch and after Christmas we are supposed to be going down to NSW to see my family for Christmas. When I am really tired I get very emotional so as I was letting everyone know that we couldn’t make it for Christmas I was also bawling my eyes out because all our Christmas plans now seem to be ruined.

Now the point of me writing all this, besides venting, is that sometimes things pile up and make us upset or stressed. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be something big it can be be a whole heap of little things. When I am really tired, apart from being overly emotional I also get irritated very easily. This tends to lead to me yelling at my kids more rather than figuring things out in a calmer more rational manner. I know a lot of people say that you shouldn’t yell at your kids and there has been research done on the effects of it on children etc. And I agree that yelling at your children all the time whenever they do something wrong is not the right way to go about parenting. However, that being said, I think that yelling at your children on occasion teaches them a very important lesson. When you are fed up and at breaking point, when your emotions are raw and you are running on precious little sleep I believe that those times when we slip up and we lose our self control shows our children that Mummy is only human. I think that often us Mummies get placed in an exalted position in the minds of our children. They don’t see Mummy as having emotions and needs and they think that Mummy will just keep going forever and will handle whatever is thrown at her. And to a certain extent we usually live up to that Mummy image that our children have created in their minds. But those times that we crack and we yell, or burst into tears, or just lock ourselves in the bathroom to escape and stuff ourselves with chocolate from our hidden stash, shows our children that we are not a race of super beings. Mummy gets upset too, Mummy can’t always cope when you chuck a tantrum for the umpteenth time today. Sometimes Mummy doesn’t want to know that your brother hit you in the head with a car or that he has done a poo. We don’t want to see the big puddle of water that someone has made with the sippy cup yet again and is now gleefully splashing in, or the fine blanket of baby powder that is covering the floor of the living room and being crawled through and spread to the rest of the house. No. Sometimes Mummy doesn’t cope, and I think it’s important for our children to see and understand that. They need to know that we have limitations and that it is not ok for them to selfishly demand all of our time and our strength and our mental fortitude. Children need to see. So on that note I hope that you are all having a better week than mine and for those who are doing it tough, hang in there Mumma’s. Your job is hard. We are thinking of you and praying you through the week.

This is my favourite Veggie Tales song and whenever I hear it I tear up. It is good to remember, especially on days like today and yesterday. 

“Sometimes life can be tough and some days are just rough. Things just stink and you think that your not good enough. And people upset you or sometimes forget you. Your heart shrinks and you think its a day you can’t get through.

But this is the day the Lord has made. You’re special to me, you’ll be okay. Tomorrow will dawn and I’ll love you still. Things will get better, I promise they will!

When your days been a mess and you feel it intensely, don’t forget Whose you are and Who loves you immensely! God made you His child and you’re treasured as such. You’re precious, you’re treasured, He loves you so much!

And this is the day the Lord has made. You’re special to Him, you’ll be okay! Tomorrow will dawn and He’ll love you still! Things will get better, I promise they will!”

“Things will get Better.” Lenny and the Lost Birthday from Veggie Tales Episode “Robin Good and His Not So Merry Men.” 

Busy Week

Hi everyone, I just wanted to apologise to everyone for not having my blog post published on time. We have had some issues this past week and I have been unable to finish it. I am working on it as we speak and it should be up tonight. 

Rach xo

To Encourage or to Discourage, That is the Question.

Have you ever had someone you know go through a rough patch and you just didn’t know what to say to them. So often it is difficult to know how to respond to someone when they are feeling low or experiencing some turmoil in their life, especially if it is a family member or close friend. Knowing what to say is a delicate art. More importantly is knowing when to say it, or even if you should say anything at all. Ever had one of those people who just don’t seem to be aware of other people’s body language or emotional state? They just barge right in like emotional bulldozers and can say things that are really insensitive. Most of the time these people have good intentions, they just don’t realise that what they are saying is actually making you feel worse, not better. Sadly many times these people often appear in the form of family members or close friends. It can be very discouraging to find that the people who you thought would and should be your biggest supporters are sometimes the greatest source of discouragement. And it is a tricky situation to be in because one one hand you are getting hurt because the things they are saying are making you feel like you should just give up because it seems like no-one understands or is willing to listen but then on the other hand you know that they are just saying these things because they love you and they genuinely want to help you (sometimes they aren’t trying to help and are just sick of seeing you sit and wallow in self pity, but most of the time they are saying things out of love and concern).

But every now and then God sends along someone who is concerned about you, who may very well think you need to stop wallowing in self pity…BUT they don’t say it. They just sit and listen, sometimes for hours while you pour out to them from the depths of your heart exactly how you are feeling. And the funny thing is, most people know that they should’t be wallowing in self pity, they know, they don’t need someone to tell them. They feel bad enough already about how they are feeling, don’t make them feel worse by telling them what they know everyone else is thinking. Sometimes all they need is for someone to come alongside them and be a silent hearer. What I mean by a silent hearer is someone who will sit and listen WITHOUT trying to offer advice on what they should or should not be doing. If someone wants your advice they will usually ask for it, IF they feel like they are not going to be judged in the same breath. I think a lot of people don’t talk about their thoughts and feeling because 1) they are afraid of what other people will think and 2) they don’t want to feel like they are disrupting someone else’s busy life. It is so easy to get caught up with what is happening in our own lives and the struggles and stresses we have that we don’t notice the plight of others along the way. 

God calls us to edify one another and to bear one another’s burdens. We are to love one another with a brotherly love and to show to each other the Love of God. 

Galatians 6:2 says “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

This needs to be one of the key principles of our marriage as well. To always take the time to find out how your husband or wife is doing emotionally and spiritually. It is hard to connect with someone if you don’t know them. For those who have children it is very easy to get caught up in that and to put your marriage in the back seat to get back to later. This is wrong thinking. As much as taking care of your children is important, taking care of your spouse MUST come first. If your focus is on the kids or on working or whatever it may be, then all of that is going to be for nothing, if your marriage breaks down. The man was created to be the provider of the home and the woman was given to the man as a help meet, someone who compliments and completes him. Now there is nothing wrong with working so that you can earn money so that you can have a decent life, but it should not be your main focus. And it is necessary to spend time with your children to nurture and to guide them, but that should not be your main focus either. Your spouse should be your main focus AFTER your relationship with Christ. If your not maintaining a good relationship with your heavenly father, your not going to be maintaining a good relationship with anyone else. 

James 1:19 ” Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

Be willing to hear what other people have to say, especially your kids and your spouse. Assuming that you know what they will say does not set you up to have a good conversation. Listen to what they want to tell you, wait until they have told you everything AND then have your say, don’t interrupt them. That says that your are only interested in your own opinion and that you haven’t really been paying attention. Don’t focus on the negatives. We are sooooo good at focusing on what we find most annoying in other people aren’t we? It somehow makes us feel better about ourselves that we don’t have the same annoying personality trait or habit as “such and such”. The bible says we should focus on ourselves first before we try to fix “problems” we see in other people. 

Matthew 7:3-5

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

It is not your job to try to fix someone else (especially your spouse), it is your job to show them the love of Christ. If they are living a life that is in direct disobedience to God’s word then yes rebuke them but don’t go in guns blazing. We are to be humble and to show them kindly and lovingly from God’s word that the situation they are in is a direct result of their disobedience or rebellion. But if someone is simply going through a hard time then be a SILENT HEARER. Give your opinion if and when it it is asked for, otherwise just encourage them, let them know they are loved and valued and that they are not a total failure. Sometimes just having someone say this is enough to give us the strength to keep on keeping on. Pray for them, if they are willing, pray with them. If your are married make it a regular habit to have devotions and prayer time as a couple. It can be difficult when you have so many other demands on your time, my husband and I fail in this area a lot. But it is very important and we will be persevering until we find a way that works for us. Love God, Love your Family, Love Your Neighbour and Do Good. Encourage and Edify Others and make a concerted effort to Not Discourage, even if your intentions are well meant, think about what you have to say and ask yourself “Is what I am going to say going to help this person in this situation?”

I leave you with my favourite quote from the first movie I ever saw in a cinema and one of my favourite movies.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin at all.” Thumper (Bambi)

A Prayer

Such a sad week the world has had. Not that the world and it’s people do not experience sadness and hardship at other times but because this was very public, our attention was drawn to it. You all know of course that I am referring to the attacks on Paris and Behruit and the earthquakes in Mexico and Japan. While the death toll for Paris keeps rising we are reminded that the choices we make and the actions we take have an irreversible effect on those around us. We have the capability to do great good or the capacity to commit great acts of evil. If I were to throw a rock in a lake, the ripples would spread in all directions for many metres. We cannot expect to live our lives in a bubble and our actions not to affect others. So with this post I would like to encourage everyone to pray for the people of Paris, Behruit, Japan and Mexico. Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who may be able to rejoice, having escaped harm.
“…choose you this day whom ye will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15


 

Trust

Trust is a very important part of any relationship and I will come back to the issue of trust later on. I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I had been sexually abused as a child and I was also sexually harassed by three guys as a teenager. These experiences were probably the biggest shaping tools in my life. I am not sure of how old I was at the time of each period of abuse as a child but I do know that I was very young. There were two main perpetrators both of whom were from families who were friends of ours and attended the same church as us. Both of them were significantly older than I was. For the purposes of this story and to make it easier for people to follow (and for privacy reasons) I will assign a letter for each person. It may or may not be a letter associated with their actual name.

J was the one it all started with and he told me not to tell anyone about what was happening. In truth I wasn’t actually sure what was happening I just knew I didn’t like it and that it hurt. Every time we visited his family he would take me for a walk and do things if he had the opportunity. My mum found out due to some abnormal behaviours I was exhibiting and I believe she talked to J’s parents about it because the next time he saw me he was angry and told me off for telling my mum and after that he never spoke to me again. I was too little at the time to be able to explain everything to my parents and I do not know what he told his so I guess I will never know what either his or my parents actually knew about the truth of his actions.

R was the second boy and he was a teenager as far as I remember and I think I may have been about 5 or 6 but I am not sure of my exact age. I was very good friends with his little sister and my parents were friends with his. Every time we went to their house and we played games in teams my brother would want to be on the team of R’s younger brother who was closer in age to my brother and R would ask for me to be on his team. I would protest and say that I didn’t want to be on R’s team but the the other boys didn’t listen because they wanted to be on a team together. I don’t blame them, my brother would have done something if he had known I know that for a fact but he didn’t know and he was also too young to understand or to know something was wrong. The games we usually played involved some level of hiding or stealth so that we didn’t have to be all together all the time. This allowed plenty of opportunity for R to have time alone with me. How long this went on I am not sure but I clearly remember the last time it happened. We had separated into teams again and he had taken me to what I think was an outside shed or workshop or similar. He was in the process of showing me something I absolutely did not want to see and had a hold of my arm. I was trying to get away while also begging him to let me go. My mum started to call my name and tell me to come and get my hat and after a couple of minutes he had to let me go or risk being caught. I do not know if my parents thought anything was amiss after that day but I don’t remember ever going to R’s house again and R completely ignored me from then on. It was only years later when we had moved to a different town that my parents questioned me about it. I do not know how they found out or why it was only brought up then, I can only assume that R had been caught abusing some other poor girl. I wasn’t ready to talk to my parents about it and I felt like I had been forced to confess under duress. After that, I put up many walls and my true feelings and thoughts about many things were hidden from the world.

Through the years I grew to be a very boyish girl. Subconsciously I think I figured it was the best defence. To try to make myself as undesirable to the opposite sex as possible. See if I was like a boy and tough like them and were interested in the same things they were than I figured no one would be interested in me and my body. This brought about a twofold effect. I was lonely because I didn’t really have any girl friends. I had a couple but they were usually older or younger than me, not really anyone my own age and the couple of friends who were my age in primary school told me they were only my friends because I let them boss me around. And then in high school I felt lonely because my friends had guys who were interested in them but I didn’t. I was one of their mates I wasn’t girlfriend material. I will admit that I did have some male attention, I didn’t manage to scare them all away and this helped a little to make me feel feminine and desirable. But most of these guys were not “good” guys and the relationships were not healthy.

Then there were a couple of guys who tried to take advantage of me. One put his hand on my leg (under my skirt) under the school desk on a couple of occasions but I soon told him where to go and he didn’t bother me after that. Another was more persistent with putting his arm around me and holding my hand and calling out things to me like “sexy legs” etc. He was also friends with our family and came to our church youth group. He followed me to my house one day, I had been out walking my dog,  and tried to follow me everywhere I am not sure what his intentions were but my dad put paid to any ideas he had. Again he was another one that wouldn’t talk to me after that and even started a fight with my brother at school. The last was the son of a family that we were very close to, and although I tried to bring up his behaviour towards me with his sister on one occasion, she basically told me it was all in my head. He finally left me alone though after trying one day to get his hands up my skirt and my school blouse but I managed to get away from him and after that he was again another one who never talked to me again and treated me like dirt after that as well.

As a young adult I had a series of unhealthy relationships with guys, some of whom were very emotionally manipulative and through that made me do things I didn’t want to do. I was not in a very good mind frame as a young adult, having previously been through a bout of depression and self harm and this was probably why I allowed myself to be in these situations with these guys in the first place even though I knew they were trouble. I guess I was just crying out for someone to care and to see the real me. So how does all this relate to trust.

First of all, I didn’t feel like I could talk to my parents openly and freely about things because they had forced me to tell them about the abuse. And I understand that they were just trying to do what they thought was best by trying to get the information they needed to deal with the situation but it just made me feel that my personal and private thoughts and being had been trespassed. I have never really spoken to them about it though we have hinted at certain things over the years and I don’t think my parents know the extent of the abuse from my childhood and they do not know about all of the guys when I was older. Over the years I think my parents have come to believe that I am one person, the person that I put on and pretended to be, the strong, boyish, extroverted person and I think a lot of other people think that as well, I am not sure if I could count more than a handful of people who actually know the real me. So first lesson is that trust issues can lead to you in essence “lying’ about who you are and making people believe that you are something you are not.

Secondly it affects your friendships. I didn’t have many friends, well girl ones that is. I had plenty of guy friends because I would play sport with them and talk about cars and motorbikes etc. But then I was socially awkward with the girls and never really fit in. Being able to trust that someone will like you for who you are is a big part of growing up I think, for every child, even ones with “normal” childhoods. Everyone has things they are afraid to share with others, and so people try to present a version of themselves they feel will be more acceptable.

Thirdly, and most importantly because this had a huge impact on all other areas of my life, I didn’t feel I could trust God. For most of my life I thought that God had let me down. He couldn’t protect me from the boys, and my parents couldn’t protect me so the only one who could was me. I was very afraid of so many things, sleeping was a huge challenge as every little noise frightened me, I hated and still hate being alone, especially at night. I used to sleep with a knife under my pillow (which my husband promptly forbade the moment we were engaged). I was so angry at God when I was a teenager, one of my friends dad’s who had also been like a father to me passed away and I was angry at God for that, then a few years later God called my parents to a ministry in another state and I was angry at God for making me leave my friends. So not only did I now not believe that God could protect me physically I also felt that he had let me down emotionally by making me move away from all my friends. I was stagnant in my spiritual walk, unstable in my emotional and mental state and incredibly angry and bitter at God and in some respects my parents.

After many years of God working in my heart and with some maturing, I started to grow again in my spiritual walk and change in my thoughts and feelings towards God and others but the one thing I still could not seem to overcome was my lack of trust in God. Then one night, my husband and I were having a D&M (Deep and Meaningful Conversation). This was four years into our marriage and only a few months after my husband had told me of his recent salvation, I finally felt I could open up and tell him about what had a happened all those years ago. I had told him small parts but I had never told him the details or the extent of it all, but this particular night we were talking about God and my husband had questioned my salvation and I had been talking about my lack of trust in God. After telling him all that had occurred, when I got to the part about R in the shed, my husband told me that he believed that R had intended to rape me that day and that God had saved me by sending my mum to call for me. For the first time in my life I saw that God had indeed protected me. And for the first time in my life I cried about all those things that had happened to me when I was younger. It was like God healed my heart and restored my trust in Him all in that moment.

God does not necessarily act in a way that we think/feel is the way he should. Sometimes he allows us to go through certain things so that we can use them later on to be a testimony to others and a witness for the goodness and greatness of God. We focus too often on ourselves and how we are feeling and the trials we face. We may not see God’s hand at work in our lives or in the lives of others until it is pointed out to us. But we should sing as David sang “Yea, though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

” I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the hand of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:13,14

Where are we at?

When my husband first asked me to marry him almost six years ago, I never would have imagined that we would be where we are now. I thought we would both work for a few years, spend time together going out to dinners and movies and maybe travelling together. I would have finished my nursing degree and be working in a hospital somewhere and even maybe gone on to study medicine and become a doctor. I imagined that we would have been able to save up enough money for a deposit for a house. Something that seems like an ever distant and unattainable dream right now. If we ever were to own our own home, I would cry like a baby. To be able to share a home with my husband and my children, I just don’t have the words to describe the feelings. To be able to feel like we belong somewhere and that we could be free to do things to make it our own, make it special would just be so amazing. We have moved seven times in the six years we have been married. We are so sick of renting and moving and not being able to make it feel like home. You can give a place homey touches and make things feel special but it will never be the same as having a place of your own. 

But that being said, the Lord has blessed us with the houses he has given us to rent, each being what we needed at the time. So currently we are in a three bedroom town house complex, our two oldest share a room and the twins share one as well, the third is our master. The complex has a pool and there are tennis courts next door and a park across the road. We have a very small backyard but the kids enjoy being out there all the same, they especially love playing in the dirt. The town house is probably a little small for us and we would definitely need to move when they get bigger, but for now, the rent is very affordable and that is the main reason we are here. It is also close to where our oldest will be going to school next year (he turns 5 on Wednesday) so location wise it is ideal. 

My husband was recently promoted at his work and even though he is still on a probationary period, it seems like the bosses are happy with his work. This was a blessing for us as we were trying to decide what to do with our son when it came to school next year.  We were hesitant to send him to a public school as there were some things in the curriculum that we did not agree with. We talked about home schooling but with the ages of the three younger children and also with my AS I would have found it very difficult to keep up with the demands of home schooling, and taking care of the three younger children while also being a domestic Wonder Woman. So we looked into private school, and although it can be expensive, we felt much more at peace with this decision as it is also a Christian school and it is the same one I attended for my senior years of high school. We believe this is main reason the Lord allowed the promotion and subsequent pay rise, not so we could spend the money on “pleasures” but for our sons education. Our oldest is already attending the kindergarten and he loves every day which we are very pleased about. 

We are still attending the same church where eleven years ago my father was called to be the Pastor. I am a country girl at heart and I hate living in big cities. They are OK to visit or just pass through but living in them is just horrible. But, if we hadn’t moved up here to the big city, I would not have met my husband and we wouldn’t have our four boys and that would have been a tragedy. God knew best. Our church is going through a transition at the moment with my father having to resign from being Pastor due to his declining health and our new Pastor and his family will arrive in the next few weeks. I will miss my parents, (they have moved back to our home town) and my boys will miss them as well, but we are looking forward to the next phase of the journey God has for us. 

The relationship between my husband and myself, for the last three years (since he came to Christ) has been so delightful and I am grateful that through all the trials and worries, that God was still leading us. The growth that we have both gone through over the last five and a bit years has been tremendous. We have grown spiritually, psychologically, emotionally and in our bond together as husband and wife. We are both so much more mature in many areas, there is nothing that will make you grow up quicker than having a child, or three, or four. I am positive that God has bigger plans for our future than we do. And although I may be a little apprehensive to find out what they are, I am also excited because I have seen God’s hand at work in our lives already in many ways and I am looking forward to seeing what he will do next

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.

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.