Wherein I Step Out in Faith

When creating this blog last week, I wondered to myself when I was going to get to the heart of the matter here on Crazy Catholic Mama.  Yes I am Catholic, and yes I am a Mama.  But my heart for this blog is mainly to share my struggles and triumphs living with anxiety and bipolar disorder – and most importantly, how our God redeems all situations for good.

I won’t get into a whole lot of background here today, but suffice it to say, these mental health issues have been my cross to bear since I was a teenager, and probably even younger than that.  Social situations scare me.  Not just intimidate or make me nervous – they down right terrify this girl.  Every time I’ve gone off my meds (for whatever reason), I fall into a pit of depression.   We’re talking stuck in bed for days at a time sort of stuff here.  And when I am on medications, there’s a good chance I’ll have some pretty nasty side effects to deal with: memory loss, inability to concentrate, inability to sleep as much as my body needs, racing thoughts and words, weight gain.  But I’d rather be a rambling idiot than so someone who can’t physically get dressed each day to face the world.

Which brings me to the heart of this post – community and stepping out in faith.  I moved out here to the Rocky Mountain West a little over two years ago.  Up until a few months ago, I could count the number of people I knew and could call a friend (or even an acquaintance) out here on one hand.  But when I stopped working in my third trimester with Stephen, I knew things had to change.  Staying home with him all day every day with no friends to call up or planned activities to look forward to was a recipe for disaster.  Please don’t get me wrong here – I L.O.V.E. being a wife and mama.  My two boys are my entire world.  But man (and certainly woman) was not meant to live alone.  We were made for community, for relationship, for people.

So back when I was rocking my ginormous baby bump, I took to the internet in search of local moms groups.  I found one for a neighboring community on Facebook and joined up.  I began following all of the playdate posts longingly, to the point where I’d RSVP yes then back out at the last minute with some sort of a lame excuse.  I couldn’t very well say, “hey, I really, really, REALLY wanted to join y’all today but my social anxiety got the better of me so I stayed home and slept for ten hours in the middle of the day instead.” Or, “I’m so desperate for friends, but the thought of showing up and meeting a whole group of strangers makes me sick to my stomach.”  So I just don’t show, and use my pregnancy or new mama title as a cover-up.

But eventually I did step out in faith.  I showed up to an event and was welcomed with open arms.  That combined with new meds was the impetus for me to not only attend gatherings, but to organize and plan events of my own.  After reading just a few short chapters of Shauna Niequist’s wonderful food memoir and cookbook, Bread & Wine, I tossed out the idea of a cooking club to the ladies in my moms group.  The response was overwhelming, and on a warm July night, this scared-silly mama opened her home and heart to nearly a dozen other mamas, all relative strangers.

The night was filled with chopping vegetables, simmering a homemade sauce, overflowing pots of boiling water and frying up batches of chicken cutlets.  And by the time dinner was served, we had each found ourselves immersed in conversation with somebody new.  You see, the ladies that showed up that night, most of them did not know each other either.  We were a house full of near strangers that became friends over bruschetta, chicken parmigiana, and cheesecake.

image

I thank God for the courage to put myself out there and open my home to a dozen new friends.  And I thank Him even more for putting just the right women on my doorstep that night.  I pray that as we continue to meet monthly, each of us will be blessed by friendships and community and a homecooked meal.

 

1,000 Gifts: July 29th – August 4th

I’ve been a long-time follower of Ann Voskamp and her blog, A Holy Experience.  She counts gifts as graces from God, and I’m humbled to join along with her and the amazing community she has created at Multitudes on Mondays.  Please join me in counting your own blessings today and each day.

3 Gifts Together

1. Stephen looking into my eyes when drinking from his bottle

2. Sitting side-by-side with my best friend in bed each night reading

3. An evening walk as a family





My Creative Sanctuary

Today my husband gifted me three beautiful pieces of Ikea furniture via Craigslist and a local moms group on Facebook.  They are going to be the foundation for my scrapbook room – the room I’ve been planning and dreaming about since we began planning and dreaming about building our home last summer.  This room has been filled to the brim with unpacked boxes and clutter galore for eight months now.  And the end of this domestic chaos is on the horizon – I can see it now. 

Why am I so giddy over some laminate particle-board and boxes of crafting materials?  Well, you see, creating is a part of what makes me, me.  Whether it’s a scrapbook layout that took three painstaking hours, a tie blanket for a beloved niece, a big casserole to feed family or a love letter to my husband, I need to create to feel whole.  God created me to pour myself into these passions so that I might show His love to others.  While I love the tedious work of pouring over my photographs and picking the perfect papers, embellishments and placement, it’s about far more than my hobby.  Every photo album, every written word, is a gift.

I remember the hours of entertainment I received from flipping through baby and wedding albums as a child.  Oh how I wish more of the every day was captured in these chronicles of my past.  I want to see how we spend a lazy summer day, the look on my face when I first learned to ride my bike sans training wheels, the jumbled mess on the sofa when my brother and I snuggled up next to our mom after dinner each night.  I want to pass down these kinds of memories to Stephen.  I want him to share them with his children one day.  This is our family.  These are our stories.  This was our favorite hike on a cool fall morning.  These were the ornaments we made for our cousins last Christmas. This was grandma’s curry or grandpa’s spaghetti.  I believe that we all long for a connection not only to our past, but to our future.  We want the best of ourselves to be passed along, and the rest to be washed away by God’s grace.

So tomorrow as I continue cleaning out our upstairs junk-drawer of a room, I will be saying a silent prayer that the creations to come will be a blessing to our family, both today and down the road.  Because if we don’t preserve those memories, share those stories, feed those hungry tummies, who will?

Introductions

Thank you for stopping by.  I’m the Crazy Catholic Mama, otherwise known as a Jesus-loving, book-obsessed, baby-snuggling, husband-adoring, wannabe foodie, Suzy homemaker Southern gal who found herself living in the Mountain West.  Oh, and I was diagnosed with serious mental health issues at the ripe old age of 18.  This is not my story, however.  It is the story of my beautiful Savior, the One who can (and does) redeem all things for good.  It is a story of brokenness, grace and gratitude.  Always gratitude.  So pull up a comfy, cozy chair and join me here at Crazy Catholic Mama.