Mother’s Day and Mental Health?

mom2Yes! This is the year that Mother’s Day and Mental Health month are running at the same time. Coincidence? I can hear several jokes coming. I have heard that hospitals experience a high volume of emergencies and mental health related problems on Mother’s Day.

How can you have an hmd (Happy Mother’s Day)? Here are a few ways to make your day special. Begin with the end in mind—how do you want to feel that day? Well, moms . . . I want to encourage you to allow yourself to receive on Mother’s Day. It is good to teach your children to give and not just take from you. Also, please speak to your husbands ahead of time about what you are hoping for on “the day”. In other words: are you hoping to relax, to take a bike ride, to eat out, to nap, to read a book, or just sit around and play in the yard? It is good to ask yourself what kind of day you would like and then spell it out for your family. Now, we all know you will likely NOT get everything you wish for. But a card, a treat and an activity of some kind is not too much to ask for. Homemade cards are awesome.

If you are going to Grandma’s house, you may want to encourage your kids to make her a card or do something special for her. No cost fun is always the best. So get out some balloons and blow them up, or fill them with water and have a balloon toss outside while she watches (just don’t throw one at her! Whoops!). Make sure you decide before you leave how long you will be staying at Grandma’s. Maybe it’s a two hour visit and then you go home so that you yourself have a bit of the day to be celebrated. Make sure before you go, you clarify this with your husband and kids!

So along with the above examples, check out these important mental health tips for moms:

1. Clarify expectations with your family (and husband)

2. Give yourself permission to receive (and not just wait on everyone else)

3. Ask for what you want (yes you have an opinion and a vote)

4. Be realistic (about your list of expectations)

5. Honor the Grandmas

6. Set boundaries around how long you are going to stay

7. Have fun! When Mama’s happy, everyone is happy!

“He loves each one of us as if there were only one of us.” St. Augustine

 

Suzan

Apologize Correctly

stayfit3Most of the apologies that come out of our mouth are bad ones. If you ever stop to listen, our go-to apologies sound something like this:

“I’m sorry, ok?” so get off my back.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were so sensitive” this is your issue.

“I’m sorry if you were offended” because I didn’t really do anything.

“I understand that mistakes were made” but they sure weren’t mine.

“I’m sorry but you…” my behavior is your fault. 

Guilty as charged. How about you? Making mistakes is just part of being human. But when you are confronted, what kind of message are you sending? Are you apologizing completely? Or is your sorry just a quick attempt to escape the conflict altogether?

A bad apology can create just as much conflict and hurt as the original offense. If you don’t do it effectively, your apology can lose its value over time. Don’t let your words become meaningless. Get good at the “I’m sorry’s” and stay fit in your marriage! Click here to read more…

 

Rachel is one of our contributing writers. You can read more of this post on her blog

Stay Fit 16 Years in Marriage

16 yearsPastor Dennis Pierce and his wife Tabitha will be celebrating 16 years of marriage this August. They have 5 children ranging in age from 3 months to 12 years old.

How did you guys meet?

Dennis: I remember the date. It was February 2, 1998. I started a new job in the mailroom at Billy Graham Association and Tab was doing my orientation. She was my boss.

Tabitha: He was flirting with me the first night.

Dennis: I kept trying to take it to a more personal level but she was all business. In fact later on, I got my performance review (I still have it) and it was just terrible. So I said, “I’m not signing this, it’s not fair at all.”

Tabitha: So he took it to my boss and said, “This is the review that I got.” And my boss goes, “Tabitha why did you give him such a poor review?” Nobody knew it but we were dating by that point. But I was still his boss so I felt like I had to be objective.

Dennis: She was totally overcompensating and he made her increase it!

What surprised you most about being married?

Tabitha: I think being with someone 24 hours a day is different than being with them when you choose to be. You know, like all of a sudden some of the things that were cute didn’t feel so cute anymore. And Dennis is notorious for saying to me, “You knew about this before we got married.”

Tabitha:(To Dennis, laughing) “You’re not laughing. It’s funny.”

Dennis: No, I was gonna go the opposite way and say it was more pleasantly surprising and how natural it felt and…how little conflict there really is.

Tabitha: Yes, I agree with that as well. But there is a difference when someone sees you at your worst all of a sudden.

Dennis: But accepts you and loves you anyway.

Tabitha: Yeah, yeah. There’s a huge acceptance in that also. Like vulnerability, when someone who is seeing you at your very worst still loves you. It’s a cool thing.

Dennis: You know, you always kinda think, “Oh am I gonna lose my independence?” But then it turns out that you’re more yourself than you ever were, I guess.

Tabitha: And there is a safeness in that too in being fully known by someone and still being…

Dennis: Fully loved.

Tabitha:…(giggling) and mostly accepted. [Read more…]

Confess Your Mess

confessThe word confess sounds intimidating, but it’s really not. In fact, all my relationships – including my marriage – depend on it. And so do yours.

Too often the idea of sharing our dirty laundry with others makes us feel nervous, unsafe, and too vulnerable. So we put on a good face and keep the bad stuff hidden from sight.

Fear will make you hide

Whenever my husband confronted me on something my immediate response was to come up for air. I got defensive, rolled my eyes, got emotionally charged, or argued my case. In a nutshell, I was really just trying to save face.

After repeating this a thousand times, I realized my response was an attempt to cover my shame. That painful feeling of embarrassment combined with the exposure of my wrong or foolish behavior made me want to run and hide. The voice of shame says, “I don’t deserve, I haven’t earned, I’m not good enough, they’re out to get me” and encourages us to perform, to succeed, to be perfect so we can earn love and security. I feared that any wrongdoing would somehow expose that I was a failure, and failures were unworthy of love. Confrontation felt like I was being exposed, like the rug was being pulled back to reveal all the junk I’d been sweeping under it for so long. My response was a way to deflect attention away from myself. To turn a blind eye to the hurt and pain I had caused. Instead of facing my behavior, I ran from it in all sorts of ways. Click here to read more…

 

Rachel is one of our contributing writers. You can read more of this post on her blog

Stay Fit 1 Year in Marriage

marriage titleWe will be talking with couples from various life stages about what they do to keep their marriage fit. We’ve ask each couple the same questions so you can see how the answers may differ. Meet Dan and Aimee Vechart and hear what they have to say after their first year of marriage!

 

How did you meet?

Dan: Because I am in the Landscaping business, the winter months are quiet. I started coming to Xcel sports to play hoops and work out.

Aimee: And since I work there, I would see him all the time and say “hi.”

Dan: Our mutual friends, Dave and Ingrid, invited us out together to watch a basketball game in Neenah. Their son Isaac was playing. While we were out, I was thinking, This is fun! Maybe I should pursue this relationship…and the rest is history. 

So when did you meet?

We had our first date February 28, 2014. We got engaged on October 11, 2014 and were married March 28, 2015!

That seems rather fast! When did either of you realize this was it?

Dan: It was sometime in June. We went to a wedding and spent the night dancing and having such a great time. I thought I would love to spend the rest of my life with this woman! I remember spending some time in prayer asking God for confirmation!

Aimee: It was a few months later for me. In August I had been praying about our relationship when suddenly the thought just came to me, I want to marry this man! Things had been leading up to this, we had fun together and he was kind. I had Mono over the summer and he would read to me. I realized that he cared for me!

Dan and Aimee: We remember talking about how we wanted to marry each other and we hadn’t even said “I love you” yet!

Dan: I think it was very helpful that we did activities together and with friends. We didn’t just go to a movie or watch TV together. We DID things.

You have been married for almost a year now. What has surprised you the most about marriage?

Dan: I think what surprised us the most was how [Read more…]

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

survivingthefirstyearThe other day I realized that Eric and I are quickly approaching our 2nd anniversary – man does time fly. Although we had been together for almost 10 years before getting married (yes, we were just lowly, immature middle schoolers when we first started “dating”), I am realizing that marriage is not as easy as I was expecting it to be. When you’ve known someone for that long you think nothing about them will surprise you, right? Wrong. So wrong. At least in my case.

People always tell you the first year of marriage is the toughest. You listen and nod your head, and not that you don’t believe them, but you assume that won’t be the case for you. I mean, you both know each other so well, you have had so many experiences together, you have talked through all the big things – money, how many kids you want to have, where you want to live, etc. You’re supposed to be in the honeymoon phase, right?

But that first year of marriage will, in most cases, be a very eye opening experience into the wonderful, exciting, stressful, annoying world of marriage. You will learn more in that first year about anger, stubbornness, jealousy, and regret that you have in your entire life. And hey, those are just the qualities you brought to the table! Your spouse hasn’t been perfect either. :) You will discover it’s the little day to day things that you never in a thousand million years could have ever prepared for. Click here to read more…

 

Lindsay is one of our contributing writers here at Haven Help Us! In this post, she gives great insight and tips on how to navigate the first year of marriage. Starting your marriage off with realistic expectations and godly responses will bring growth to both you and your spouse! The rest of this post can be found on her blog, The Newlywed Notebook.

Finding Mr. Right: 10 insights from those who are married

married

A recent shift in American culture has now made it more appealing to be single. In fact, there are now slightly more people staying single than getting married. But for those of you still searching for your soul mate, this post is for you.

While the waiting game can be long and tedious, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you’re waiting for. I feel many are searching for their soul mate and dreaming of their fairy tale wedding without a real understanding of what marriage entails.

So for all my single friends out there, keep this advice in mind when you’re searching for Mr. Right: Click here to read more

How to Stay Fit in Your Marriage

stay-fitBeing healthy takes work. And lots of it. 

Marriage is no different. A good marriage is not something you automatically start out with on your wedding day. It’s something that is carefully and intentionally crafted over time.

Join us over the next 6 weeks as we begin our study on how to stay fit in your marriage! You’ll hear stories and advice from couples married throughout the decades, from new beginners to seasoned ones. You’ll also see posts on how to find Mr. Right, how to survive the first year, how to handle conflict, etc. 

Marriage can be hard. The race is long and the road can be rocky. You may not be able to avoid the tough times, but you can prepare for them.

[Read more…]

If You Think Your Life is Small and Ordinary

titleflowers“Which hand?” My daughter stood facing me, hiding both fists behind her back. Her eyes sparkled, and a wry smile teetered on her lips.

“Hmmm. . .” I played along, tapping my fingertip on my chin. “This one.” I pointed to her left arm.

“Yes!” She swung her fist around and opened her palm. Nestled in the crook of her hand sat two tiny yellow flowers, each just millimeters wide but perfectly formed and detailed—delicate saffron petals with green stems like trailing embroidery threads. She turned her wrist and emptied the flowers into my hand.

“Sweetheart, these are beautiful!”

“They’re for you, Momma! I found them outside. I love you! Bye bye!” And off she ran, back to her toys and grassy yard adventures. I sat in my office chair studying those dainty gifts, so small and ordinary and yet—they might as well have been diamond earrings, precious as they were to me.

Sometimes the little gifts mean the most.

I need to remember that.

On the days when I feel like I have nothing to offer God. When my floor sweeping and lunch packing and smiley-face toast making seems pathetic compared to grander pursuits. I mean, I’m not building an orphanage in Haiti. I’m not founding a nonprofit against human trafficking or giving millions to world outreach. Heck, I’m not even making the money that pays for the Cheerios in my daughter’s breakfast bowl.

I’m just being a mom. Getting up every day and praying that God will help me to honor him with the way I treat my family. Putting one foot ahead of the other, one breath after the last, wiping those bottoms and cutting those crusts and texting “I love you” to my husband.

I am so very small and ordinary.

But to God, I am enormously special.

And so are you.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Wow. Think about that. God called us—he chose us (before time even began!)—to live . . . what? A mundane, nothing-to-offer life? No.

A holy life.

And not because we’ve done anything magnificent to prove ourselves. What we call ordinary—the carpooling, casserole-baking, homework-helping life—God calls purposeful. He calls it holy.

Huh.

Imagine that.

Yes, you’re a mom. And that means what you do matters. God sees it. He values it. He knows your heart and he gives you your blessings. Try counting them today, and see if you don’t start to agree that this small and ordinary life is holy indeed.

Later that day, my daughter pressed her hands against my cheeks and leaned in until our noses touched. “Momma? Did you love those flowers? The pretty ones from outside?”

“Oh yes, sweetheart. They are very special.”

“I just know you love them, Mom.”

“You do? How do you know?”

She patted my face with her palm and gazed straight into my eyes. “Because they’re from me.”

Ah. Sweet girl. She gets it.

 

Becky

* * * * * * *

Are you trudging through the ordinary responsibilities of raising a family? Feeling like your life is nothing glamorous? It’s time to see yourself from heaven’s perspective. Join us on April 23 for a special moms’ event—Glorious! Finding Beauty in Your Ordinary Life. AAC’s own Becky Kopitzke, author of The SuperMom Myth, will present a fun and encouraging morning filled with relatable stories and wisdom from scripture. Fellowship, refreshments, door prizes, and lots of fuel for your soul are in store. Register online!

Let it Rain: an Easter devotional on grace

titleThis is the time of the year when one season fades and a new one is born. We are on the verge of spring, and with it comes the rains that wash away the harsh winter.

I love watching the rain, especially in the spring. It falls gently at times, yet powerfully at others. Its quenching ability draws me to it and I am often tempted to run outside, raise my hand up, and twirl around in abandon; soaking up every drop the clouds have to give. There is something freeing in allowing the rain to wash over you; to wash everything away. While I plan on doing that someday (dancing in the rain) there is a much greater rain to dance in. Right now. Today. And that is the rain of grace.

God knows the burdens you bear, the shame you hide, the past you would like to forget, the decisions you have made, and the redemption you so desperately need. He sent His son to carry the weight of all you have done and will do, to bear your scars, so that you may throw your hands up and accept this ultimate gift of grace. Grace is offered to those who are not perfect. To those who aren’t good enough. Mistakes are a prerequisite to grace. There is no sin that is too great, too dark, too unforgivable. Jesus was perfect. And He died in your place. He suffered the consequences of your mistakes. He took the punishment so that you can have a relationship with God free of shame and guilt. All you have to do is trust Him, rely on Him, and live for Him. His grace washes away all sin. God’s grace covers everything. Stand under the rain of this truth, open your arms wide, and accept the healing cleansing as it pours over you. And then dance. As you soak in the grace of God this Easter, may you be nourished by it.

As it seeps into your soul, may it grow in you a strong belief of the truth that is written in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”

Grace will nourish and grow you. Your soul will continue to grow, blooming into a fragrant flower as you seek to grow in God’s love and knowledge. You will continue to grow in the life giving nourishment that only God’s grace can give.

Remember to embrace the rain, to accept Christ’s sacrifice for you. Don’t be afraid to get wet. Remembering you are washed clean. Then celebrate it.  Dance. Jump. Skip. Hop. Twirl. Pray, as in Psalm 51:2,”Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

I encourage you, the next time it rains, to step outside, lift your hands up high and in abandon worship God for the amazing grace that is bestowed upon you. Give joyful thanks for what Christ has done on the cross. For you. For me. For all of us. May you accept the rain of grace. May it never stop nourishing your soul; may you hold on to the hope that is in Christ. And may you continue to grow into the beautiful flower God created you to be.

 

Elizabeth

 

Isaiah 45:8: “You heavens above, rain down My righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.”