Archives for May 2012

Depression: Is There Joy in the Morning?

This post has been on my mind for some time now. I wanted to address the topic, but it is a topic that is tread on very lightly in Christian circles. I even find myself not wanting to speak about it for fear of condemnation from other Christians that may feel that depression is a sign of spiritual oppression. And then there is the question of qualifications? I feel so inept at offering anyone any advice about something I struggle with so often.

I am writing this to all of you out there struggling to let you know that you are not alone. I don’t have all the answers (in fact I have very few), but I do have hope in Christ alone and I know that He is enough to share with you all.

I have suffered from bouts of depression on and off for as long as I can remember. I was married when I was sixteen years old and most of my memories for that first year of marriage are filled with me crying. Over the years, I have had periods of time that I would be fine, then it would come on me again like a storm cloud rolling in.

I think the hardest thing for me is the fact that as a Christian, I know I should be joyful. I have more to be joyful about than most people. And yet, at times, I find it so hard to experience joy.

As I said before, there are many that believe depression is entirely a spiritual issue. I believe there is more to it that that. As human beings, we are created with three parts: body, mind, and spirit. I believe that depression affects all three of these areas. When I become depressed, my body shuts down and just wants to be still. There is sadness and dispare in my heart and I have a hard time praying and staying in the Word.

Over the years, I have found that I am more aware of “triggers” or situations that facilitate depression.

  • lack of rest – One of the biggest factors (for myself) that can lead to depression is being overly tired or overwhelmed. I am getting better at recognizing my need for rest and trying my best to rest when it is available. I have found that it is especially important to rest on the Lord’s day.
  • pull of the world – As a homeschooling mom with six children, I live in direct opposition to the world and it’s values. However, this doesn’t mean I am immune to the pull of the world. Sometimes, even “good” things can have a worldly pull on us. This happens when we covet what the Lord didn’t intend on us having/doing. We must make sure that the Lord’s desires becomes our desires.
  • expectations – When reality doesn’t meet our expectations, it can leave us feeling torn inside. There have been so many times that I have been disappointed, not because of the situation, but because what I expected didn’t happen. In instances like these, it is important to take a look at our expectations and replace them with God’s promises. He doesn’t promise that life will always be rosey, but He does promise never to leave me or forsake me.
  • self-pity – There are times I find myself dwelling on my circumstances or the trial I am in.  To counter self-pity, I must choose to be thankful and content.  This reminds me of the “glad game” in Pollyanna.  However, we don’t have to just pick arbitrary things to be glad about, we can rejoice and be thankful…if for nothing else, for our salvation through Christ Jesus!
  • lack of seeking – This is a big one for me.  I have given up seeking joy in the world, but I have neglected to truly seek joy in the Lord.  I must wholeheartedly delight myself in the Lord!

There are many things I have found to help combat depression before it begins.  I have found that depression creeps in when I am not being diligent at doing the things I should be doing.  (These are not scientifically proven methods, just things that have helped me.)

  • reading the Word daily – even meditating on a few verses will greatly help
  • running to the Lord – as soon as I start feeling overwhelmed, I need to bring it to the Lord
  • going outside – just sitting in the sunshine is wonderful, or walking, playing with the kids, gardening, (I have found that visiting my chickens have been so therapeutic!)
  • taking vitamins – I am still taking my prenatal vitamins and have noticed a huge boost in energy when I do.  I have chronic anemia, but as long as I continue to take my prenatals I am doing good.
  • routine – I don’t do good with schedules (they overwhelm me), but I function so much better when I follow a routine.  Sometimes it is difficult, but if I get out of my routine one day I just pick up and try again the next.
  • de-cluttering – If my house gets too cluttered and messy, I start feeling heaviness.  Each morning, as soon as we get up, the kids and I start working on picking up the house, cleaning, getting ready.  If we linger and don’t get things done, I can tell that it makes my day not as pleasant.
  • listening to my body – I had mentioned that I am learning to realize when I am getting too tired, but I also have to watch for signs of hunger or times of being overwhelmed.  As a mom, I think we are sometimes so busy serving others that we forget to take care of ourselves.  It is ok, even preferable, to stop and rest, to eat, to recharge!  When I nurse my babies, I try to lay down with them so that I get some stillness in my day.

Final Words of Encouragement

Here are some specific verses I find helpful to be reminded of, not necessarily when I am depressed, but rather to help me avoid depression.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

One last thought…I wanted to add that while I have mentioned many things that can help fight depression, there are times that the Lord still allows us to walk through the valley. Whether He has lessons we need to learn, or is just sanctifying us through our dark times, I don’t know. But I trust that He loves me beyond my comprehension and will be with my always.

Psalm 30:5
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you struggle with depression?

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I am looking forward to reading how the other moms have found “joy in the morning”!

Keri Mae at The Happy Home

Stacy at A Delightful Home

Brandy at The Marathon Mom

Andie at Happy Andersons

Puppet Theater Tutorial

Last month my niece turned 7, and I was at a loss for what to get her. I wanted to give her something fun that would also promote creativity. My sister doesn’t have ample space in her house, so it needed to be something that didn’t take up too much room. After some brainstorming, my daughter and I were able to create a Big Top Puppet Theater.

Head on over to The Happy Housewife where I am sharing my tutorial on How to Make a Puppet Theater!

Knitted Sock Puppet Tutorial

Today’s post is a guest post from my daughter, Kendra. You can visit her at her blog, Sanka Pup Designs or at her etsy shop.

For my cousin’s birthday, my mom asked me if I could knit a couple of puppets to match a puppet theaters she was making for them. The colors: rainbow. I needed a pattern that was quick and simple, because her birthday was very soon (not that I take an extremely long time for just a pair of puppets, but between graduating and finishing working at the yarn store, I’ve been kept busy!). So I started my first idea. If you’re looking to make a pair of puppets, take a look at both of the different ways I made each of them, and then choose the one you want!

Note, these are more of general “how to’s” rather than patterns. Plus, what may fit my cousins may not fit the recipient of your handmade puppets! What I will do is tell you the construction, and you can play around with the size. If you did a gauge swatch before to figure out how many stitches you get per inch, then you could measure your hand, and multiply your stitches per inch times the width of your hand/wrist (depending on how snug you would like it). For these how to’s, we’ll call this amount of stitches (your gauge x recipient’s hand measurement) “X”. The nice thing about these how to’s is that you can use it for any weight of yarn! Well, enough chit-chat, let’s get started!

Toe Up Puppet

For my toe-ups, I like to use Judy’s Magic Cast On (follow the link to a video on how to do it). My only problem with it is that it’s not very DPN friendly, and I’m a huge fan of double pointed needles! But for this cast on, I would highly recommend the magic loop technique. It saves your project from being thrown across the room, and it saves you the frustration.

Top Portion of the Puppet’s Mouth

Step One:
Using Judy’s Magic Cast On, cast on roughly 1/7 of X stitches. Make sure that you round it to the nearest even number. For example, I did mine in sock weight, and cast on 8 stitches or so. If you cast on fewer, it’s going to be more pointed, whereas if you cast on a few more, it’s going to be a little more rounded. Note, casting on *too* many stitches will result in a flat “toe”, so try to stick close to the 1/7 of X stitches!

Step Two:
Place two markers. One at the beginning of your round, and one at the half way mark, then proceed, working in the round.

Step Three:
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: K1, M1, knit to one stitch before first marker, M1, K2, M1, knit to one stitch before second marker, M1, K1

Step Four:
Repeat these two rounds until you have X amount of stitches. This starts the top portion of the mouth of the sock puppet. Knit in stockinette stitch until you reach the desired length you would like it to be.

Step Five:
Once it is desired length, put all the stitches on waste yarn unless you have another set of the same needles to use for the next part.

Bottom Portion of the Puppet’s Mouth

Repeat the instructions of the top portion, only changing the length of the stockinette stitch in step four.

Joining the mouth

For this, you definitely want to know the kitchener stitch (grafting stitch) well. We will call the top part of the mouth of the puppet part A, and the bottom part of the mouth part B.

Step One: Put half of the stitches from part A on one needle (use the markers to help guide where “half” is). If you’re using magic loop, you won’t have to worry about this, they’ll already be evenly splitter.

Step Two: Repeat step one for part B of the mouth, putting half the stitches on one needle (note: this is not the same one needle as part A)

Step Three: Graft the stitches from both A and B off of the two needles (part A’s needle and part B’s needle).

Step Four: Make a new round by joining the other half of part A and the other half of part B together. Be sure to pick up two stitches from each corner of the mouth and knit them as part of the new round. This will increase your number of stitches, and will help to close up any gaps between the two joined pieces.

Knitting the body

Knit for as long as you would like the straight stockinette portion to be, then switch to “k2, p2” ribbing for as long as you’d like ribbing.

Finishing

Cast off and weave in all ends

Sew on eyes, maybe a mane, a couple ears, a nose if needed, or whatever accessories strike your fancy.

Top Down Puppet

Knitting the body

Cast on X amount of stitches, do a “k2, p2” ribbing for as long as desired, and then straight stockinette as long as desired.

Bottom of Mouth

Step One: Knitting on only half of the stitches, knit in stockinette until desired length minus short row toe length (I did a slip 1 at the beginning of each of my rows)

Step Two: Do a short row toe.

Step Three: Knit back up the stockinette you made in Step One, picking up one of its side stitches each row and knitting (or purling) it together with the first stitch of each row.

Top of Mouth

Step One: Now that you have knitted back to where you left the rest of the stitches, join back in the round, and knit for desired length minus length of toe.

Step Two: Make a toe by decreasing two stitches at each side every second row until you get to about 1/7th of X stitches.

Step Three: Graft remaining stitches together using kitchener stitch.

Finishing

Weave in ends

Add desired embelishments

Have fun with your puppets!

Finishing the Race: Graduating Our Homeschooled Student

It has been a little quiet here on the blog lately.  Our family had a busy time of preparation last week.  Friday evening we graduated our oldest daughter from high school.

This is the child that made me a mother for the first time.  Then she made me a homeschooling mom.  Now she has made me a mother to a beautiful, grown-up young adult.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

This verse was so present in my mind this weekend. There really is no greater joy than seeing your children grow up to absolutely love the Lord.

As we were preparing for the graduation and the subsequent family dinner, my daughter and I were reflecting back over the years of homeschooling. She was asking me about my thoughts of homeschooling over the years. Here are a few of our reflections:

1. Homeschooling is not about education.

Surprising, huh? But it’s really not. It is about training up your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The “education” comes in as a part of this mandate, but not the whole of the mandate. We learn to read and write and do equations so that we can better serve the Lord. I loved what the graduation speaker, John Stonestreet, said, “God has created us as human beings, not human doings.” It’s not what we do that matters, but who we are.

2. Everything the public school advocates say is true.

Our kids are not being socialized, I am not qualified to teach them, and yes, they are being indoctrinated. And you know what, praise God it is so.

I don’t want my children being socialized. I have seen how socialized children act and I don’t want any part of it. I would much rather them learn to be encouragers, to be communicators, to be the kind of person who can reach out to people of all ages and not be afraid.

And, no, I am not qualified at all to teach my children. I don’t know enough, I am not patient enough, and I certainly don’t get it all done. I sleep too late in the morning and we have never had a school year where we finished all the curriculum. But you what, by the grace of God, and through Him, I have ran the race and finished well.

3. I have learned more than I have taught.

It is true. Each step of the way, I have had to learn not only the material the children needed to learn before I taught them, but also the character qualities. If I didn’t exhibit the learning in my own life, it was being properly taught.

I think this is part of the plan the Lord has for us in teaching our own children. By teaching them, we are being refined in our own learning.

4. The hardest part about homeschooling — staying home with my kids each day.

We are all sinners and being around sinners all day is difficult. There is no way around it. I just thank the Lord that He uses my children to sanctify me, and uses me to sanctify them.

5. The best part about homeschooling — staying home with my kids each day.

What a blessing to wake up each morning and spend my day with bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed kids! What a blessing to be the one to see them take their first steps, to hear them read their first words, and to sit in the passenger seat as they take their first drive!

There are lots of people out there that are really great at taking care of babies and teaching kids, but I am the one that the Lord has given these children to. I am the one He has blessed with their presence. I am the only one that can really do the job of being their mother.

Making the Old New: Recovering Chairs

When we left for Spain 3 years ago, we were forced to lighten our load. We had an old, heavy table that we decided to part with. At the time, i assumed that when we got to Spain, we would just buy a used table at a yard sale or thrift store. Unfortunately, the Spaniards don’t do either. Our only option (well, besides cardboard boxes) was a dinette set with fabric covered chairs.

Cream colored chairs.

They were cream colored anyway, until we pulled off the plastic.

Needless to say, when we arrived here in Kansas, recovering the chairs was a priority. I have never recovered anything before, but I figured I couldn’t make them look any worse.

My son and I started on the first chair. In theory, the job should have been very simple. You take a butter knife or staple remover or flat head screwdriver or something and pry the staples out. Apparently the staples were made of titanium or something because they would not budge. A couple of hours into the job and my husband took pity on me and helped us out.

Here’s how he did it:

The seats to the chairs screwed onto the frame. He turned the chairs over and unscrewed the seats from the frames.

After removing the seats, he turned them over and took out the staples. Then he took off the old fabric. We used the old fabric as a pattern to cut out the new fabric. I bought the new covering at Hancock’s…just a fake leather type fabric. I wanted something I could easily wash off after each meal.

BTW, if you are a homeschooler, ask for a teacher discount card. They let me combine the discount card with a coupon for a really great deal!

Once we cut out the new fabric, one of us would stretch the fabric over the cushion while the other stapled it down.

Once the seats were recovered, it was just a matter of screwing them back on to the frame.

A look at our “new” chairs…