Overcoming

I should be packing right now.  We should have been packing all weekend.  But instead I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so prone to procrastination.  What is it inside of me that causes me to wait until the last minute with every important task I don’t want to complete?

I suspect it’s probably the same thing that keeps me from Mass on Sundays when I know I should be there.  The same thing that causes me to make plans with people all the time, and then flake out at the last minute.  That thing that kept me from completing my college degree.  Anxiety.

I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life.  It permeates into all corners of my little world.  My stomach twists and turns into a knotted mess, my heart races, breathing becomes shallow.  While I’ve accepted anxiety as my cross to bear, I know that God calls me to a better life.  Because while as inconvenient as the above circumstances may be, the worst part of my anxiety is when it causes me to run and hide from God.

When I know I haven’t been on the right path for some time, when my quiet times have disappeared and my Bible hasn’t been cracked open in ages, I get that same sense of anxiety.  I try to fill my time with Facebook, Pinterest, shopping, cooking, even just hanging out with my hubby and baby.  But what I should do – what will take away that anxiety altogether – is lean into Him.  Time spent in prayer, in Bible study, in adoration … these are all things that restore my soul.  Instead of being fearful of God’s disappointment over my absence, I should freely receive His grace and mercy.

As a Catholic Christian, I have a remarkable, tangible source of this grace and mercy.  It is found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is where we humble ourselves before God, admit our sins and ask for forgiveness.  When we are truly contrite and genuinely make the effort to not repeat the sins again, we are assured of our forgiveness.  And if you’re not Catholic, or it’s just been a long time since you’ve experienced His grace in this Sacrament, I can tell you that it is the biggest anxiety relief I’ve ever found.  It gives you such a sense of peace.  You feel restored, not only in your soul, but in your relationship to God.

As I wrap this up, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7

“…for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.”

With Him, we can overcome anything.  The more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we will become.  And while my anxiety might always be around, it doesn’t have to keep me from living my life.  Thanks be to God.

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What Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed about having a family of my own.  A handsome husband, a small gaggle of children running around, white picket fence, yadda yadda yadda.  I daydreamed what my life would look like, and I’m here to confess today that it’s not really what I had pictured.

I’m really not sure what I thought it would look like – perhaps lots of cuddling, hours upon hours of reading together, doing loads of laundry and prepping dinner during naptimes.  Well, these days my 9-month old son only cuddles me when we’re in new situations and the “stranger danger” phenomenon kicks in.  If I had known how quickly his newborn phase would pass, I would have spent all my time, every single day, with him in my arms.  We no longer co-sleep (he sleeps like a little champ in his own crib in his own room), so I don’t even get that warm little body next to mine each night.  I’m praying that when he gets a little older, he’ll come back for some Mama Snuggles.  Can anyone verify that this is actually a thing that happens, or am I being naive here?

My husband and I aren’t very good about bedtime routines – Stephen gets a bath a couple times a week at best.  Hey – he’s not exactly out digging in the mud, and I know frequent bathing is so rough on his skin in this dry climate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  But the bookworm in me laments over the fact that we’ve yet to successfully establish reading before bed with him.  Each time we try, he just grabs or hits the book, or tries to eat it.  Forget turning pages – he’s a little book-ravaging monster.  How will he ever grow to appreciate the written word when I can’t read him a 5-page board book before he goes to sleep at night?

As far as all of those homemaker tasks that I thought I’d be able to get accomplished each day, well …. I’m failing miserably, y’all.  Ever since I had Stephen, my depression has come back pretty full-force.  It’s a struggle to check off the most basic tasks on my to-do list each day.  Am I still in yoga pants and the sweater I’ve worn at least half a dozen times since it was last washed?  You betcha.  Now I don’t know if it’s my hormones, the lack of sleep, or the constant attending to my baby’s needs that has me so flummoxed over keeping my house in order.  But I do know this – it stinks!  My poor husband comes home to a house in shambles most days – dinner not even started, topped off with a grouchy mama and crying baby.  He is my God-send, though.  He takes over caring for Stephen immediately and lets me have some Mommy-time in the kitchen preparing our dinner.  A huge part of me wants to defend myself here and give a disclaimer that I do, in fact, love my son more than words could ever imagine.  But sometimes, I just NEED.A.BREAK.  Even if that break comes in the form of chopping onions and sauteeing chicken.

I sometimes wonder what I got myself into.  Is the wake-diaperchange-feed-play-diaperchange-nap routine just going to play itself a million times over?  It’s then that I realize that these are the little things God talks about in Luke 16:10:

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much…

God has blessed me with a million little ways to serve Him each day.  Every diaper change, every feeding, every time I pick up my crying little boy, I am proving faithful to God’s calling on my life.  This is a season of mundane routines, to be sure.  But it is also a season of wonder and excitement.  Stephen has gone from rolling over, to crawling, to sitting up, to pulling himself up on anything he can get his hands on – all in less than 6 month’s time.  He smiles at me whenever I enter the room, and that’s no little thing, folks.  While I do look forward to the future and all it has to offer, I try to maintain a practical view on it.  My expectations may not line up with the reality of how things will actually go, and that’s okay.  I know that God is training me for bigger and better things each day.  For in truth, there is no greater gift than the opportunity to raise up a child for our Lord.

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.

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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.

 

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.