Tag Archives: Christianity

Faith & Motherhood: Upcoming Bible Study

 

It’s a lazy Sunday around here. We stayed home from church this morning (I know, I know). I would have stayed home regardless due to strep throat. The family didn’t go because well, it’s been pretty stormy here and they did not want to be out and about in a downpour. I can’t say that I blame them. Sometimes, it’s best to stay home and enjoy a quiet day at home.

When I was a little girl, I listened to a lot of Christian music. Among the Christian artists I really loved was one in particular – Sheila Walsh. Imagine my surprise when my daughter received a Little Princess devotional written by none other than Sheila Walsh. I had no idea she had begun writing devotionals.

Then, I discovered she was on Twitter.

Oh my heart.

She’s quirky, inspirational, compassionate, and all around awesome. I love this woman to pieces.

Lately, she’s been promoting her most recent book, The Shelter of God’s Promises. I checked it out on Amazon and really liked what I saw. The reviews were excellent too. I rushed out to a local store to purchase it and started reading. It got set aside due to sick kids, life, etc. But I want to dive back into it. And I want you to dive in with me.

So here’s the deal:

Pick up a copy of The Shelter of God’s Promises by Sheila Walsh either through Amazon or your local bookstore. For me, it was cheaper to get it locally plus I didn’t have to pay shipping. Start reading. In two weeks, on April 10, I’ll start with the introduction. I won’t be going too in depth as far as content of the book but will instead be focusing on my reaction to the book and the lessons it offers. I hope you’ll read along with me and start a discussion in the comments.

I can’t wait to begin exploring The Shelter of God’s Promises with you. I have a feeling it will be a very powerful study. Life-changing for some, even.

Faith & Motherhood: 02.13.11: On Feeling Forsaken

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.

~Charles C. West~

Just as mechanics kick the tires when evaluating a vehicle, carpenters shake foundations, kick legs, make sure they’re strong and will withstand the wear and tear that life will bring their way.

Sometimes? God does that with us.

Every so often, He shakes our foundations to make sure we’re awake. To make sure that we are growing strong in Him as we journey through life.

It’s not fun when God shakes your foundations. Sometimes He shakes them until they break. Then we are left to decide if we will rebuild.

The thing is? God knows what we will do before we do. And He is there to help us do it. He’s got the plans, the tools, the nails, the screws, the crew, everything.

We just have to ask.

Every day, all day, every day.

Even then, though, the help we ask for may not appear in the manner we expect.

Prayer, while an important aspect of recovery for a woman rooted in faith, should not be the only tool used to fight depression.

God may send help in the form of an awesome therapist, a non-judgmental friend, medication, herbal remedies, etc.

What’s not okay is for someone to use your faith to make you feel guilty about your depression.

God often took strong men and women and put them in perilous situations in order to grow their strength. Think of Job, Esther, Jonah, Daniel, David, and many more.

I leave you today with Bible verses that kept me thankful for every single thing which happened after the birth of my second daughter. These verse soothed my soul during the month she spent in the NICU. It soothed my soul as I spent time in a psychiatric ward. I carried them with me everywhere I went.

The verses are from James 1:2-4:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Know that my prayers are with you as you find yourself tested by God. I know first hand it is not an easy place in which to be, especially when you have little ones who so desperately need you and cling to your every waking moment.

He is there with you even if you cannot sense His presence. He may be carrying you. He may be waiting for you to call upon Him but He is there, oh yes, He is there. He is always there. That’s the easy part. The hard part is trusting Him with it all, waiting, and listening for His answers. They may not be what you expected them to be but they will always be just what you need them to be right when you need them.

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Faith & Motherhood: An Introduction

Good morning.

Today marks the beginning of a new Sunday Series here at My Postpartum Voice, Faith & Motherhood. I’m glad you’re here.

When I began my journey down Postpartum’s dark path, I had strayed from my faith. Little did I know that God had plans for my path through the dark woods of Postpartum. His plans ultimately brought me back to Him showing me I had not strayed nearly as far as I thought. For this, I am thankful.

Maybe some of you reading know me via Twitter. Perhaps you’ve seen me say I’ll pray for this person or that person. I mean it. I pray right then and there and add them to the daily list of things I pray about throughout my day as God speaks to me and moves me to pray.

I also believe in meeting people where they are at the moment in which they enter my life. It is not my job to judge, hate, or dismiss. As a Christian, I am to love, listen, learn, and grow in God. I believe we are all family and therefore I am to love each and every one of you as if you were my sister or brother, regardless of your current state. I do this because I know that once upon a time, God loved me regardless of my current state. Loving those around me is the least I can do in gratitude.

As I moved toward supporting new Mothers struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders, I struggled with the question of faith’s role in my own recovery. Do I talk about it? Do I keep quiet? Do I make the meetings secular? Non-secular? How do I answer the questions about what got me through my darkest days? Do I have the meetings at a church? Will that make non-Christian women feel unwelcome? What do I do? I needed answers.

Then, as if to answer all of those questions and so much more, God put Tara Mock in my life. Tara Mock founded the website Out of the Valley Ministries, a Christian-based website for women with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Through email correspondence with Tara, the role of faith in my recovery became easier and easier to discuss with her, with others. I grew bolder and stronger.

Through Tara, I came in contact with Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me through Postpartum Depression. She sent me her book which I devoured in a single sitting. Sue’s book is one of the only books I know of which deals directly with Postpartum depression from the Christian perspective. Sue opens up about her experience and details how her faith carried her through. If you are a Christian woman struggling with Postpartum Depression, I strongly recommend this book.

Even though God put these two amazing women in my life, I still struggled with talking about my faith once I started to blog. I have mentioned it a time or two in relation to my husband’s battle with addiction and possibly once or twice in relation to my Postpartum recovery. More and more though, I have come across blog posts from moms talking about their faith and how it relates to Postpartum Mood Disorders. They have been increasing in number. In fact, this week’s Postpartum Voice talks about faith.

I feel that it’s finally time for me to address the issue of faith and Postpartum Mood Disorders on a regular basis here at My Postpartum Voice. To continue to ignore this topic would be akin to silencing a large part of who I am. If you’re a regular reader here, you know I’m not a big fan of silencing any part of anyone.

I will be addressing the Christian faith specifically when I post. I hope to find regular contributors to share their point of view based on their faith or their culture’s faith. Faith plays a large part in many lives and therefore in many women who struggle with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Their faith may reject them for their struggle, judge them, play into their guilt, steer them away from valuable therapies which they need to recover, or it may be their solace. Whatever the case may be, I believe the faith aspect of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety plays a large role in a family’s recovery.

I look forward to exploring this topic with you each Sunday!

On the Twelfth day of Dismissmas: Twelve Ladies a-praying

On the twelfth day of Dismissmas,

Postpartum sent to me

Twelve ladies praying,

Eleven instant cures,

Ten women drifting,

Nine ladies grinning,

Eight maids no longer nursing,

Seven sins a-lurking,

Six women a-denying,

Five hours of sleep,

Four Just Snap out of Its,

Three perfect babies,

Two depressed parents,

And a wailing mess in a pear tree.

 

Prayer is a powerful tool for any deeply religious person. I believe deeply in the power of prayer. The past year has taught me to rely upon God for all things and to trust Him for all my needs. He has provided every single one of them.

There’s a story I would like to share with you that I use as an example for people who tell women with Postpartum Depression to just pray harder and they will be healed.

Once there was a great flood. A man, who had faithfully sandbagged his home, witnessed the flood waters rise over his meticulous sandbagging efforts. Forced to abandon the first floor of his home and eventually the second floor, this man became trapped on the roof of his home.

He began desperately praying for God to save him.

Shortly thereafter, a police boat motored up to his home.

“Sir, come with us. We can save you.”

“No thank you, I’m just fine. God will save me.”

With that response, the boat left.

A fire boat soon came by as well.

“Sir, you really need to come with us. The flood is only getting higher and will not recede any time soon.”

Again, the man answered with a calm, “No Thank you, I’m just fine. God will save me.”

With that, the fire boat left as they had several other families to save who gladly accepted their help.

A few hours later, with the flood waters now lapping at his toes, a helicopter came by, winch lowered. The crew madly encouraged the man to grab on in a last ditch effort to save his life.

The man refused and was swept away in the flood just thirty minutes after the helicopter left.

When the man reached Heaven, he had a question for God.

“God? Why did you not save me?”

“Son? I sent two boats and a helicopter. You didn’t really expect the Heavens to open and scoop you off the roof, now did you?”

God’s response to our prayers may not be in the form we desire. They may not be within the time frame we desire. All answers are His and His alone, within His time frame. Our answers may come in the form of therapy. Or medication. Or social connections. Or herbal supplements. Whatever path you choose, whatever faith powers your life, do not turn your back upon it when you are struggling. Lean hard upon your core values, trust them, pray if you so choose, but do not let anyone at all tell you that praying harder alone will save you from Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression is not a sin for which you must ask forgiveness. It is not  a punishment for a prior sin. It is a mental illness from which you can recover through the aid of the approach of your doctor and your own personal beliefs.

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: Raising Little Women’s “The “D” Word”

I loved this piece not only for the beautiful and talented writing but for the inclusion of Christianity into the battle this Mom is currently fighting.

When I was first struggling through Postpartum OCD, I had a Christian background but did not consider myself to be Christian at the time. As I started my support group, I shied away from starting it at a Church so as not to make potential attendees uncomfortable. Then I met Tara Mock, the founder of Out of the Valley, a faith-based Postpartum site. Tara led me to Sue McRoberts and eventually I met Rebecca Ingram. While we all haven’t met in person yet, I admire all three of these women for their strong faith and know in my heart of hearts that God put them in my path to help my own faith grow.

And grow it has.

I was baptized (again) this past April. I have no doubt that whatever has come my way is for a reason even if I do not believe it a the time. It has been so very comforting to finally be in a place where, if something goes wrong, I know I can lean hard on God to take care of it all. Even when I was not at this place, it was not because I had not prayed enough. It was not because I had been a bad “Christian.” It was not me. It was God, carrying me through a storm because He knew what was down the road for me. I am finally grateful for my experience. Do I wish it had never happened? Sure. But it did. So I deal with it I must.

Today’s voice hid her depression for five long years despite having noticed not feeling right after the birth of her daughter, Sarah. She observes her reason why so many struggle in isolation with depression:

Depression is a subject that many people do not like to talk about, especially in the church, which is very unfortunate for those that face this day in and day out. We should be able to come to one another, as brothers & sisters in Christ, and share one another’s burdens. But yet so many people face depression alone.

I believe the cause of this is due to what is being said from pulpits, what is written in books, blogs or spoken amongst friends. I once believed the lie, that if you are struggling with depression 1) you have sin in your life, 2) you have turned your back on God 3) God is punishing you for past sins.

As she moved forward to seek help, she also struggled with these very issues.

I started searching online, found a sickness that I thought I had, went to the doctor, told him what I thought was wrong, and wanted him to fix it. I can’t remember exactly what I told him I thought I had, something about blood sugar. When he told me he thought I was dealing with depression, I fought him on it, and then I broke down in his office. He told me, basically, I was dealing with PPD (postpartum depression) I wouldn’t let him speak the word depression, he finally started calling it postpartum anxiety so I would listen to what he had to say.

She found herself on and off medication for the next few years. This past April she stopped taking her medicine again.

A couple weeks/month later I hit the bottom. Hard. I literally could not think straight, make a decision, or go a day without having a meltdown.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt terrible, sick, all the time. To make it worse, all the thoughts I’d had previously, came back. The guilt alone was enough to push me over the edge. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to go back to the doctor. I think I was still clinging to the lies, in fact, I’m pretty sure that was it. I started questioning my salvation. I started doubting everything I knew to be true. I hated myself, who I’d become. I felt like a liar and cheat. I hated that people thought me better than I was, who said kind words about me, I actually, to put it nice, wanted to hit,  and yell at them. Those who told me they wish they could be like me, stay at home, do it all, I wanted to take them up on it, but I just smiled and said, thank you.

I applaud her for speaking up about her experience even if it took her so long to do so. Her story will undoubtedly touch women of faith as they too struggle with their own brushes with depression. We are just human, even if God is on our side. He is there to lean on in the hard times, and will always be there when we need Him most. And ladies? HIS opinion is the only one that matters. He will always love us. Always.

Now go read the whole piece over at Raising Little Women: The “D” Word.

 

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Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Religion/Spirituality & Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Just talkin tuesday logo

(Yes, I know it’s Monday. Realized that AFTER promoting at Twitter & Facebook. I was just so darn excited about this post I had to put it up an entire day early!)

Welcome to the very first “Just Talkin’ Tuesday!” Glad you could make it.

Have a seat! Share some thoughts!

Over the past few years, I have come to embrace my own Christian faith as what has carried me through my experience with Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A favorite quote of mine is by Mother Theresa – “God will never give you more than you can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” (I paraphrased so not sure if that’s the precise wording or not!) And over the past few years, somehow, I’ve managed to earn a LOT of God’s trust. I don’t quite know how I achieved such a feat but alas, I did and here I am.

The past week has had a couple of interesting things tossed my way. The first was the inclusion of a link to an Islamic forum post dealing with postpartum depression. It’s specifically about a woman who’s husband has recently passed away but someone used the term Postpartum Depression in one of their discussions so Google quickly catalogued it for me. (Ain’t I lucky?!) You can read the post here. I found it quite fascinating because there is not a lot of information out there for the general public in relation to Islam and Depression. In fact, one of the posts includes a link to a PDF version of a book entitled Don’t Be Sad written by Aid ibn Abdullah al-Quarni. I skimmed through the table of contents and the introduction. Seems fascinating.

The other topic I found fascinating was coming across Stacey’s blog. Stacey is an atheist, a belief she has every right to hold, but I find personally hard to understand, especially given the role that faith and God has played in my own recovery. It’s really got me thinking about some things. (You can learn more about atheism via wikipedia by clicking here.)

And that brings us to the topic for today.

As you (or a loved one) journeyed through Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorder, what role, if any, did your faith/spiritual belief play in your recovery? Was it minimized or maximized? Did you completely change course? What are some of the sentiments your faith expresses about mental illness? Were you outcast because of your struggle or decision to treat with medication? How were you expected to treat your illness?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ here!

Sharing the Journey with Sue McRoberts

I have had the good fortune recently to get to know Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me during Postpartum Depression, and 1/3 of the blogging team at Totally New Moms. The following are 10 questions I emailed to her and the responses I received. Enjoy!

(As a side note, interviews with Arlene and Rebecca from Totally New Moms will be arriving shortly as well!)

Sue McRoberts

1) When did you become a Christian and what has helped to solidify or sustain your faith over the years?
 I became at Christian at the age of 8 but I didn’t really understand it until I was 14.  In college I started really living out my faith.  What has solidified my faith is God’s faithfulness.  He’s always done what he says in scripture he will do.  Seeing God’s consistency and compassion has sustained me.

2)      What made you decide to write your book, The Lifter of my Head: How God Sustained Me through Postpartum Depression?
I went to a local Christian bookstore, looking for a book on postpartum depression from a Christian’s perspective.  There was no such book on the shelf.  After doing some research no one at the store could  find such a book on the Internet either.  The clerk suggested to me that I should go home and pray about  whether or not perhaps God wanted me to write that book.  At first I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard.  God gave me no peace until I started writing!  
 
 
3)      What kind of process did you go through to write your book? What part was the most difficult to write?
Writing from beginning to end what happened to me during my PPD experience was excruciating.  I wrote 95% of my book while I was sick.  I wrote the book as these things were actually happening.  Only editing was done while I was well.  I cut about 35,ooo words from my final manuscript. I had a lot I wanted to share!  The process itself was simple.  I had  a brainstorming notebook I constantly wrote in.  I wrote constantly when ideas would come.  Sometimes at 3 a.m I would do my best writing and thinking.  For me the toughest part was describing the darkest parts of my illness.  I wrote the whole thing in faith that God wanted me to do it.  But I never believed for one second that anyone would relate to my experiences with psychosis.  I was wrong!  Other than that, reading the book in it’s entirety for the audio CD’s was a nightmare.  It’s one thing to write it and edit it over 6-8 months.  To read it in 5 hours was tough emotionally.  Hearing those words come out of my own mouth about broke me. 
 

4)      Prior to Motherhood, what was the main focus of your life?

I was a teacher and a coach.  My students were my life.  I miss teaching and coaching so much that it’s difficult to express that emptiness in my life.  I’ve filled that with a great husband, three kids, and much ministry but boy do I miss it.
 

5)      What is the hardest part of Motherhood? The easiest?

 The hardest part of motherhood for me is having strong willed kids only to discover that maybe I’m strong willed too.  That can be volatile so I’ve learned to be a little more passive and easy going.   What else is hard for me is that  I can’t make them choose the right things in life.  I can only guide them and that is scary.  I’ve learned to guide them and pray for them but let God take the reigns. It freaks me out to much to try to control these little people.   They aren’t puppets.  I was shocked when I discovered that!

The easiest part for me is playing with my kids.  I love pitching baseball to them, kicking a soccer ball, riding bikes.  My five year old can’t stand when I want to work on reading or math with him.  He sees me as his soccer pal.  So playing is a very important thing in our house. 

6)      How has becoming a Mother changed you? Has it strengthened your faith in God?

 I have three strong willed kids, all of which have worn me out at times.  I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and know what those things are that I will battle on and which ones aren’t so important.  Strong willed kids will get in your face no matter what though.  They love a fight and a challenge.  So I have had to rely on God for strength, creativity in parenting, rest, and most of all some grace for my kids.  It has strengthened my faith in God tremendously.  When my first child got her first spanking at 18 months she looked at me and said, “Is that all you’ve got?”  I knew I was in trouble!  But God has stayed with me!

7)      In your opinion, what aspect of Motherhood should be most celebrated?

 The fact that we  are molding and shaping godly men and women one diaper at a time, one feeding at a time, one school grade at a time, one conversation at a time.  Every day we are impacting our children’s lives.  Mothering matters!   It’s only what you do for Christ that counts.  Leading your kids to Christ, teaching them to walk with and depend on him…these things count.

8)      When you get time to yourself, how do you pamper yourself?
 
I eat breakfast out with my friends, go to dinner and a movie with my husband, or go for a nice  long run.
 
9)      How did the idea for your joint blog, Totally New Moms with Arlene Pellicane and Rebecca Ingram Powell come to fruition?

 I knew when Rebecca agreed to write an endorsement for my book that we would one day work together.  I prayed about it for ages.  I don’t even know if Rebecca knows that.  We both have a heart for girls and women.  That drew me to  her.  Arlene was Rebecca’s special find!  I’m pretty sure the idea started with me and Rebecca talking about it.  Then Rebecca  found Arlene and it took off from there.  I think the three of us have such different styles and personalities, we complement each other well.

10)   If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?

Look for resources around you, they are everywhere.  Printed material, experienced mothers in different seasons of life, your Bible, your doctor, your neighbors.  Listen and learn.  Be open to other’s opinions and take help when it’s offered.  And above all, don’t be so hard on yourself.  We aren’t perfect and that really shows up in our mothering.  But don’t beat yourself up for a decade because you did or said something wrong to your child.  (I’ve done that…)  Kids are resilient.  We aren’t most of the time.  Ask God’s forgiveness and move on.  There’s bigger things to come!   And just think, some day you’ll be entering middle age and you’ll not know where the time went.  Cherish the good, the bad, and the ugly of mothering because it all matters!