Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sacred Sunday

Today we tried something new at church.  I heard about it on our Bible study blog a while ago and decided to look it up on Youtube.  It's called "Cardboard Testimonies" and it is incredibly moving.  I cried when I watched this video, which was my first experience of it.  I sent this video to our minister and he decided that we were going to work towards doing it ourselves.  

We were all really nervous.  What should we say?  Would we look stupid?  Several friends were really regretting trying it and then it started...I had no idea how much more powerful it would be to see this in people that I know and have contact with weekly.  Seeing things like rape, hopelessness, depression, eating disorders, infertility, etc... in people that I know are functioning, strong, amazing people was just clear proof to me of God's power.  We wound up by singing "In Christ Alone"... I can't remember the last time I felt so much power in a room when people were singing.  I love that hymn anyway but I have rarely felt more need to raise my hands and praise.  I will carry that with me all week.

If you haven't seen this before, it's definitely worth watching.  What would your cardboard say?

(by the way, in case you are wondering, Dh and I did it together - His said "Separated by depression" and mine continued with "And fear"  When we turned them over, it said "United in Christ's healing LOVE.")

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I'm feeling really blue today.  Actually, I have been for the last couple of days.  I am not really sure why other than that it might be hormones, I am not pregnant (again) and the pms is bad this month.  I suspect that I am really tired, too - with getting up early for Bible study (which I wouldn't trade) and trying to do a bit of reading at bedtime, I rarely get more than 6, at most 6 1/2 hours sleep, which I think is really catching up with me.  I feel like summer will never come (this cool and rainy weather is driving me crazy and my garden is suffering) and that I have so little control over my life right now (not a state I exist easily in).  Pk is so much fun right now and there are good things happening that way but she is also really volatile right now.  I think it is teething but she goes from happy to extremely fussy on a dime and wants to be up in my arms ALL THE TIME.  Please tell me that this stage will pass - I love cuddling my girl but as any of you can see who see her pics, she isn't a lightweight and my back is getting tired.  I love my Ergo but she is at the stage that she is not so easy to get in and out anymore and it's getting too hot for long stretches on my back.  Whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.

I get so frustrated with myself for feeling this way.  Objectively, I know that I have a wonderful life - a great husband who is my best friend (and who is healing so well right now), a wonderful, funny, quirky, creative, inquisitve, challenging daughter, two wonderful dogs (o.k., one wonderful dog and one who is a pain but I love anyway), a cat who is just so elegant and comfortable (and not clingy or difficult), a comfortable house (if not anywhere near my dream, it is home), good friends, safe, reliable and mostly rewarding work, etc., etc., etc...  I still feel this chronic exhaustion and discontent.  Any advice, anyone?  Is this what it is to be a working mother?  Is this what it means to be a mother to a toddler?  Is this just the result of the shift from working woman to working mother?  Is this my frustration at our fertility struggle?  I just feel so ... tired and frustrated.  Sorry for complaining, you are just such good listeners...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sacred Sunday

Do you ever find yourself having a moment when something strikes you as being really deep or profound or that the significance of something has just shown through, for the briefest second?  I had one of those moments today.  The thing I find frustrating about these moments, on the rare occasions that they do happen, is that I know that I probably won't be able to articulate how I felt or its significance and it will come across sounding trite or shallow.  Oh, well, here goes.

We had Communion today at church.  I hesitate a bit on this one because I know that some people get rather upset about things like this.  It's all about Pk having Communion with me.  Some churches totally frown on children taking Communion and make a huge deal about its start in their lives.  Communion and Baptism are two things I don't talk about much because those that do, feel really strongly, those that don't feel strongly and the appropriate age for each can be pretty controversial, too.  So, I may offend people here but really, who would be reading this blog if they were that set in their ways?  I do tend to amble all over the spectrum...

Anyway, I am off topic.  I grew up in a denomination that didn't use to allow children to take Communion.  To be honest, I don't know what the official position is but I do know that one time, when Dad gave me Communion when I was 7 or so, some people were upset.  The idea was that young children would somehow be degrading Communion by not taking it as seriously as it deserves (you can imagine the furor when my father allowed a woman with severe Down's Syndrome to join the church - instead of taking her through the long-winded questions of the day, he asked her whether she loved Jesus, which was good enough for him and fortunately, also for the session of the church).

Well, times have changed.  At our congregation, anyway, not only are children allowed but the nursery and Sunday school kids get fetched back into the sanctuary before Communion begins.  Pk has been there before but really, it was a disaster (last time, she threw a major fit because she wanted all the bread for herself).  Today, she seemed to have the idea that something special was happening.  It was also special given that it was the first Communion that happened in the new church and the minister insisted that instead of our sitting spread out around the sanctuary, we actually compress ourselves so that we were sitting with neighbours.  I had an older man I had never met before sitting beside me very tightly on one side.

As the bread was passed, Pk seemed very interested.  She grabbed at the bread with abandon (although fortunately, this time, she was o.k. with just one piece).  When the wine came around (grape juice at our church), it looked like there might not be enough (a great problem to have) and so I took one for us to share.  She was desperate for it.  She kept trying to grab it out of my hand and I finally let her have one sip.  Her face lit up (guess her sitter has never given her grape juice - we don't give juice at home).  She started bugging me for more.  By the time everyone had been served, she was falling over herself (so I only got a tiny drop- again, it was enough).   Then the thought dawned on me - as Christians, we should be so eager for this gift.  We should be gleeful and enthusiastic and joyful.   We should be "tasting and seeing that it is Good!"  In her abandon, she had given me a clear lesson in faith.

Then came the best part.  I had been a bit concerned about the man beside me - she was being pretty restless and I didn't want to disturb someone else's quiet moment.  When Communion was over, he turned to me and said, "What a beautiful thing that was to watch."  

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Favourites Friday

I have moved Friday Favourites over to the other blog - mum loves reading that blog and I am trying to post as often as possible there with anything that isn't one of my private thoughts.  So, if you are looking for my fav, pop on over to read about my love of lilacs (and how I have learned to get nice pics for my blog).  

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Things are definitely getting better and I find it interesting that they have improved in a way that I wasn't expecting.

As I have said, Dh has been having a huge battle with depression.  I haven't gotten into it in terms of the cause or the reasons that he gives but they are now relevant to what I will say today.

His family is what could easily be called "difficult".  He and I have been together since 1991 and we have been dealing with off and on turmoil with his family the entire time.  The family is very small - just his parents, Dh and his sister, who is my age (and shares the same first name).  She and I could not be less alike.

For years, he and I have been upset by the way we have been treated by his family.  His father is very sweet and we enjoy his company.  His mother can be very overbearing, critical and utterly dismissive of the feelings of others.  I have found her extremely frustrating to deal with - we are constantly told what to do and the way that we do things is criticised, she openly favours the sister and her children (she has never even bought a gift for Pk, she just gives small amounts of money) and she does a lot of playing Dh off against his sister.  At times, we have distanced ourselves from them to avoid conflict.  It has been especially hard on me - I grew up in an open family, one in which we always knew we were loved, regardless of whatever trouble their might be.  We believed firmly in trying to talk through problems.  Our disputes could be intense at times but they were short-lived and we always resolved things and moved on.  In dh's family, there is an avoidance of anything that is uncomfortable and things fester and fester.  I have to admit, I might consider taking a break from his family entirely but for the fact that they are Pk's grandparents and I would not want to take away her chance to know them (although they will never be with her without one of us).

His sister is another matter entirely.  She is mean.  We have been thrust together for years and I have always been polite, helpful, kind and have felt myself filled with terror at the prospect of any family gathering.  She is highly critical but in ways that catch me off guard.  I will avoid conflict at just about any cost but with her, I come away feeling so upset at things she has said to me and I was so shocked that I just let it go.  I feel this strong feeling of claustrophobia and I just want to flee.  Whenever we are getting together, I try to prepare myself for whatever is coming and to find a way to deal with it directly without being nasty and she always manages to get me in a way that I was not expecting.  She is horrible to dh and has been for years and yet his parents continue to refuse to admit that she is out of line.  We have been told we are fat, that we were wasting time and money on our education, she has criticized our home, our parenting, our cooking, etc, etc., etc.  I could easily say things back (when Pk was first born, there was tremendous pressure on me to take Pk over to visit SIL during the day in the week so that Pk would know her well - SIL does home daycare and I had to stop going because the way she treated the children really upset me.  There were two girls, both three, and she would constantly talk in front of them about how bad the one girl was and how good the other one was.  She also told me, although fortunately, I didn't witness this, that she had washed the "bad" ones mouth out with soap for speaking disrespectfully to her.  You might not see that as being as inappropriate as I do but if Pk's sitter did that to her, I would have to debate whether to call  Children's Aid and Pk would absolutely not go back).  Anyway, I have avoided giving criticism for things that go totally against our values but I was not deserving of the same respect.

Last year, things got considerably worse.  I suspect that SIL was angry that we had Pk - she had been the mother for years and we were the freaks who were too busy to have children.  She had been very difficult when we got married and I suspected that it would be the same when we had a child and I was not mistaken.  She has been awful to dh and finally, after yet another nasty attack, last fall, I decided that I had enough and sent an email saying that I needed to disconnect until she was prepared to treat us with respect.  That blew things up, of course, but it became between she and Dh.  He has been so hurt by the fact that his family has refused to admit that he has had to deal with anything and they continue to insist that this is just "how she is" and that we need to just accept being treated this way because she "doesn't mean it."  I have seen how the conflict with his family has taken a toll on Dh.  This all started long before I cut off with her and I could see that their lack of recognition of his struggle was impacting his self-esteem.  I suspected that his short temper and hyper-sensitivity came from them but I wondered whether I was just finding them a convenient excuse for anything negative that he was feeling.

I can't tell you how hard this has all been.  I have felt so torn - family is important to me and I wanted dh to feel that I was there for him and would deal with his family as much as he wanted because I didn't want him to get into a situation of divided loyalties.  I felt like I had to choose between my own self-worth and family harmony and have been really hurt by some of the criticism along the way.  My inclination has been to cut off, at least from SIL entirely but as a Christian, I wonder whether I am somehow to blame and how much burden there is upon me to fix this.

Now, onto today.  Dh had seen an intake intern on Monday and she had told him, at the end of his appointment, that it was obvious that we have been hugely impacted by his sister's negative behaviour.  One of our struggles has been that we are baptising Pk in July and we didn't know how to handle his family.  SIL hasn't been speaking to us and we really didn't want her there to find a way to ruin it but my MIL can't stop going on about having SIL there and MIL is quite capable of coming and spoiling everything whining about SIL not being there.  We felt like we couldn't win.  The intern suggested that it is time that Dh and I deserve the chance to have a meaningful event for our family without it being a highly stressful experience - that baptising our daughter is such a momentous event for us, we shouldn't have anyone there who would take away from our joy.  We didn't feel like we could keep them away (in the meantime, I guess we have one bit of good news - SIL refused to come when FIL asked her to, so at least we don't have to deal with her, although we will have to deal with a maudlin MIL, I suspect).

Dh saw the psychiatrist today.  Her finding is that his depression is situational and largely related to his family stress, the lack of sleep he began to have because of worrying about it and unresolved trauma from events in his childhood (their home was not a nice place to be, despite the fact that they liked to broadcast that they were this loving, Christian family).  The only DSM diagnosis that he really heard was about his sister - based on what the psychiatrist heard, she strongly suspects that SIL suffers from both borderline personality disorder and clinical narcissism and warned Dh that she will not change and that for the emotional health of our immediate family, unless SIL gets help and does intensive work, we should have as little contact as possible.

Now, I wouldn't do everything based on what one psychiatrist says but after 18 years of criticism, attacks and self-doubt, it feels so good to have someone in authority finally recognize our struggles.  We are NOT the ones who are hyper-sensitive (as it has been presented to us) and we are not being "difficult" by setting boundaries and doing what is best for our stability.  I am glad that the psychiatrist is sending Dh for counselling to work through his feelings about his family and to learn strategies for dealing with all of this.  It's kind of funny, too - a good friend gave me a book last week called, "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" - a guide for the children of narcissistic mothers... she had been reading it because of her mother in law and the more she read, the more she thought of what I had told her about mine.  No wonder Dh has issues.

This has definitely helped to get insight into who he is and how he came to this place.  The book on the narcissistic mothers talked a lot about coming into adulthood realising that one doesn't have the warm-fuzzy memories of mother contact growing up.  Just as an experiment, I asked Dh what he remembered of his mother growing up.  He could come up with stories of his father showing love and affection but he no loving memories of his mother at all.  How tragic.  It just makes me want to make the rest of his life so full of love that he can work past the lack of it early on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sacred Sunday

This is going to be super short tonight since it is getting late.  This week, my mind has been on submission.  What does it mean to you???

This is something that is a REAL struggle for me.  We are doing a study of 1 Peter in our church Bible study.  Last night we were in the later part of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3.  I sat and cried through much of it.  Submission is not an easy thing for anybody but for me, it is at the core of my struggles these days.  

I believe that there is a path for my life.  I struggle a bit on this one - some Christians believe that everything is pre-ordained and they don't really have a choice.  I don't believe that.  I believe that God may give us opportunities or challenges designed to teach us or strengthen us or refine us but that we choose whether to be refined or whether to just get burnt in the fire.  I should be more trusting that God has my best interests at heart but I am not good at that.  I want things my way on my schedule and being flexible about the "grand plan" doesn't work for me.  I have been feeling like this whole question to have another baby has totally taken over my life.  Instead of learning how to say, "What will be, will be and it's up to me to find a way to be happy", I am so fixed on one path.  That is the opposite of submission, I would say.   I should change but quite frankly, I am struggling with the fact that I don't want to.

My other real struggle with submission is that of submitting to others (see the section on husbands and wives, slaves and masters...). While I see that there is a kind of power in submission, I feel like I am being called to submit to so many different people that submitting to one automatically means defying another.  There is such a gray area between submission and integrity, I don't feel comfortable with this, at all.

So, what is your perception of submission?  What does it mean to you?

Friday, June 5, 2009


What is it with people and unsolicited opinions????

As you know, we have been going through rather a rough time.  Dh has finally seen the doctor and she has put him on a mild antidepressant to help him to sleep at night.  It is working somewhat, much to my relief.

I have this cousin, he is a shiatsu therapist who considers himself a medical expert.  He is a crazy researcher.  Well, on Wednesday, for some stupid reason, Dh told him about being on medication.  (why, why why???).  So, in the last 24 hours I have gotten not one but two emails from him about how Dh should be on a different medication.  

I could cry.  I am really, really fragile at the moment.  My mother and father both commented on how fragile Dh seems at the moment and how that is so "un" him.  Mom's retirement prompted her to browse through old photos in her desk (of which she has MANY) and she has told me repeated this week that the photos just show her how unlike himself Dh is these days, that he used to always be smiling and happy and now, he just seems so on edge.  When I am already trying to convince myself things aren't really that bad, this just underscores for that me that they are.  While I keep trying to remind myself that we are doing what we can and at least our doctor is trying to help and dh will be seeing a psychiatrist next week, I already feel helpless and afraid.

When I got the email from this cousin, it just made me feel even more helpless and panicky.  I emailed back, thanked him for the information and basically just said that things are very difficult right now and while I appreciate the help, I need to trust someone and right now, that someone is my doctor and dh's psychiatrist.  He launched back at me an angry email about not putting one's head in the sand, etc... 

I feel so helpless.  Of course, I want Dh to be on the best medications with the best counselling and the best of everything.  I find it very hard that I have a hard time getting in touch with my doctor, that there are incredible wait lists for everything and that I know that anti-depressants are associated in suicide in the first little while with most depressed people.  I wish there was an easy solution and I so wish that our life together hadn't gone off on this little sidepath.  I feel so overwhelmed and then this is the kind of help I get.  I didn't mind the first message, it was an attempt at helping me.  To continue when I had expressly asked him to stop was rude and insensitive.  

Sorry, I guess this blog has turned into my personal whine.  I need that right now so if you want to stop reading, I won't be offended.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It's my birthday tomorrow.  It's interesting how a number can mean so little or so much.  For a number of reasons, I have very mixed feelings about this one.

I have never been huge on birthdays although my parents always went to a huge effort to make us feel special.  We never had much money but my dad had so much fun getting birthdays together. We always had games and prizes and often in funny places (the schoolyard, a church basement) followed by cupcakes.  They weren't elaborate or expensive but we had so much fun.  There was always the party and then twice a year, a big family birthday celebration (all of our birthdays are June and December, which is convenient).

As a teen, I wasn't so into birthdays.  I had a amazing friend, Kittenpie, who is the best gift giver in the world.  She would come up with a collection of amazing little gifties that you had no idea existed or that you wanted but man, could she ever make you feel special!  I will always remember the big basket she did one year.  I could never keep up and have never been good at gifts (and have always felt like I let you down in that dept. Kitttenpie - in case you didn't know, you are truly the most thoughtful and generous gift giver I have ever met).  Birthdays weren't a huge event but they were fun and something to be savoured.

The last few years, my birthday has largely been a non-event.  Dh and I are not big party people and I don't drink so that big blast people often have isn't something I want.  I am a teacher and really, having your birthday with a class of students is probably the most fun you can have (if your nerves are up to it).  Whether anything happens or not, it is such a huge event in their eyes.  My kids often will come to school with cards/homemade gifts and their excitement is contageous.  Just sitting here writing is making me think that I need to finish here and go and make some cupcakes - my kids will be so thrilled.

Like I said, though, 37 is a hard one.  The fertility stuff is probably the biggest cause.  I don't see age as being important.  I have had people think I was younger than my age and haven't changed at all and then there was my neighbour's sister to asked me if I was Pk's grandmother (that was pretty upsetting for a while!).  I tend to think that people who fret about age are silly - it should be worn as a badge of honour and you can't stop it anyway.  Right now, for the first time in my life, I feel like my age is against me.  Yesterday, I was reading up on some of our fertility options.  Imagine my pleasure at seeing that for a particular procedure, it has great results IN WOMEN 36 AND UNDER.  The clock is ticking and leaving me behind.

I have this annual tradition.  For my birthday, I buy myself a nice, new journal and record my dreams, hopes and goals for the year.  Last year, I had this feeling that 36 was going to be a wonderful year.  I probably set myself up for failure but I just had this feeling that 36 was going to be a special year.  Instead, it ended up being one of, if not the worst, of my life.  

So, I am going to try to make 37 different.  Instead of waiting for life to happen to me,  I am going to try and search out my own joy.  I won't lie, a goal for the year will be another baby.  What I need to do, though, is find the joy whether that happens or not and keep it from being the obsession that it has become.  My other goals will be to make more time for friends, to look for the joys in each day, to record Pk's progress so that I don't forget to capture those special times and to work hard to grow in my faith.  

Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I think that we have probably hit bottom and then I get hit again.  Dh went to the doctor last week and she gave him some meds.  Things were seeming up a bit.  The hard part was that he had a sperm check and it turns out at the moment, it is very low.  Basically, either something is really wrong with him or we got totally lucky with Pk.  It was devastating news.  I tried to be strong for him and to downplay it (you will see the specialist and they will get to the bottom of it, this must be caused by your not sleeping and depression...).  It really hit me yesterday what this might mean.  It's hard not to cry.  I don't know how I am going to to go to work today. 
Please, pray for me.  I would imagine that you are probably sick of reading about my hardships and whining.  I really need a place to talk.  If you know anyone who has gone through this and has advice, I would love to hear it.  I don't know where to go from here.