Archives For strength

I am sure that we have all heard the debates about whether moms should work outside the home. I have heard it said that women can’t win, if they work outside the home then they must love their kids less. If they stay home then they don’t want to contribute to society or to their family financially. If we listen to society and these debates then yes, women can’t win. There is no way that we could please everyone with these two options. But, it really shouldn’t be about society and what others think of you as a parent. It is about what God thinks, what your family needs and what you feel about yourself! I left my job a month before my son was born and thought that I would be a stay-at-home mom forever. It’s funny how we make plans for ourselves but God’s plans usually end up in the opposite direction. Here are 10 things I have learned from being a working mom.

  1. Your Child Loves You! My little guy loves me and that love did not change because I went back to work. I visit him every day at lunch and he always has a bright smile and begins to tell me with excitement about his day. His love is unconditional. For that I am grateful. It is all too easy as a mom to make ourselves feel guilty for a number of things. But, our children see us more graciously than we see ourselves.
  2. More Intentional. I have always tried to be intentional with our family time. I never wanted to be the family that all we did was watch TV together. But, it is easy to do when you stay _MG_2659at home all day. Once I began to work outside the home I have found that our family time became more intentional. Less TV time and more playing games, going to the park, evening walks and lots of lego time. It’s not that we were less intentional before, it’s more that we cherish every moment and want to make it count. Even if it is simply hanging out at the house running around like robots.
  3. God Knows Best! Our plans are just that, they are ours. God’s plans typically will differ from what we planned. But, I have learned through the years that He always has a reason for what He does and His plans are always better than I could have done myself.
  4. Making Friends. There is nothing more special than watching my son make friends! He gets excited every day when he walks in to a room full of his best buddies. In our families situation it was not always easy to spend time with friends when I wasn’t working because we are a one car family. Many days we were stuck at home. This has offered a chance for my little guy to play with friends on a regular basis.
  5. No Lesser. I do not feel that being a working parent makes you any lesser of a parent than staying at home. Both roles are extremely important and both roles work hard. It’s easy to tell yourself that you are lesser because you are not home, but this is a lie that we are telling ourselves. Remember, our child loves us unconditionally and sometimes working is what your family needs. Doing what your family needs does not make you lesser! _MG_3138
  6. Always A Mom. This is plan and simple but sometimes you just need to remind yourself that you are a mom no matter if you work from an office or if you work from home. Moms love their children, look out for their best interest and care for their needs. This is true of working moms just as it is true of stay at home moms.
  7. The Mold. There is no perfect mold. Just because you have friends that work or friends that stay home doesn’t mean that you must do what they do. Sometimes what your family needs is not what you even expected. Every family is different, every situation is different and only you know the needs of your family. Don’t feel guilty for knowing the needs of your family!
  8. No One Is Perfect. You will not be perfect in either situation. If you work, you will have days that you feel like a failure as a parent. If you stay at home you will have days that you feel like a failure as a parent. The parenting thing is not easy. Don’t believe the lie that other people have it together, because we are all learning as we go. We are all doing the best that we can, but the truth is that no one is perfect. We will mess up. But, instead of feeling guilty we should lift each other up and support one another because parenting is hard!
  9. Struggles. The grass is not greener on the other side. I have done both and have thoroughly enjoyed both. But, each come with their own struggles, even if you can’t see it when looking in. Working you struggle with juggling your time, stress of the job, and all things parenting. Staying at home you struggle with all things parenting, being isolated, and often times a tight budget. Let’s stop putting up a front and just be transparent with each other. It’s okay to say that you are having  a bad day!
  10. Calling. I firmly believe that if God called you to it, then your family will not be content and thriving unless you are obedient. This is true in either scenario. No matter if God called you to work or if God called you to stay home, you will only ever find true joy being in the will of God!

 

Go On, Admit It.

September 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

This is not an easy post to write. You see it is very common for people diagnosed with any disease to struggle with depression. But, no one wants to talk about it. Why? Because if you admit to having dealt with this issue then suddenly you will be seen as an emotionally unstable basket case. At least that is what we believe others will see.

typewriterThe truth is, it’s very common to deal with depression. In fact the Lupus Foundation of America states that “between 15 and 60 percent of people with a chronic illness will experience clinical depression.” That is a significant number! So why do we fear to mention this “symptom” of our disease? Because we are scared that others will view us differently. 

I have dealt with depression. There I said it. And honestly it’s not even easy for me to admit to you right now. I am actually sitting here thinking about your response as I type this.

At first I didn’t even realize that I was dealing with depression. I thought that I was emotional for one reason or another. When I finally began to realize what I was dealing with I didn’t want to admit it out loud because saying it means that it’s a reality. The thing is I wasn’t depressed about any one thing, I would find myself crying for no reason at all and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out why. I struggled understanding what was happening because I never really had a melt down after being diagnosed. There was a peace that I felt when I heard the words Lupus. There was finally a name to the problems I was having, and I knew that everything was in God’s hands. But, what I didn’t take into account was the changes that happened days, weeks and even months ahead. Fatigue that caused our family to end a Saturday outing earlier than normal, nausea that lasted all day, painful joints that left me sitting on the couch with heating pads all evening. It could be much worse, but it was change that I didn’t see coming. I also now know that certain medications can have a side effect of depression. Eventually my emotions began to shine through and I was able to see that yes, I was dealing with depression.

I don’t believe that depression is something that can ever truly be a hurdle that you leap over and never come to again with a chronic illness. The difference is that once you know it can creep up along your path at anytime you know what to do with it. For me, I look at it as another way to help others. You see I truly believe that my Lupus is more than just an illness. It is a ministry. If I didn’t battle with the things that come with my disease then I wouldn’t be able to encourage others in the way that I can connect with them now. So I write this to you today to say that it is okay to not be perfect! It is okay to admit that our illness stinks! It is okay to admit that your having a rough day! Because then we can stand together and fight our illnesses side by side!

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.

I Am Not Lupus

February 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

In a little over a month it will be a year since I was diagnosed. To receive a diagnosis that changes everything is tough. You never know how you will take that kind of news until you are faced with it. It can be so easy to sink into depression, searching for the answers to questions that run a continual loop in your thoughts… why me? Why am I sick? What will the future hold? It’s also difficult to process because not everyone will understand what you are going through, because you might not look sick. But we can not stay in this place! When we stay there it can be a long and bumpy road ahead. I believe that my God is with me each and every day. He is there on good days and my horribly flared up days. I have no doubt that my going through this diagnosis and now living with Lupus is teaching me things I would not have learned otherwise.

Snow Day

There is so much more to me than just my Lupus.

But, we all have bad days and sometimes we just need a little reminder… some inspiration to keep us going. The truth is I don’t want this blog to be a constant story about the woes of my disease. Sure there will be posts about some rough flare ups, that’s just part of it. The point is I have Lupus but, I am not Lupus. There is so much more to me than that. I am a wife to the most amazing man who I am blessed to say was my high school sweetheart. I am a mom to an adorable little boy. I am a writer. I get so passionate about writing my thoughts, creating make believe in my novel I am writing, and sharing and expressing myself as a writer. I look at my disease as only giving me more perspective, not just my sole purpose of writing. Lupus is something that affects me every day. Even when I am feeling good I still have things that just come with having a disease to deal with that no one else has to worry about. It will always be a part of who I am. But it doesn’t have to be my identity. I don’t have to be strictly Lupus.

After several months of processing through my diagnosis I decided to take this blog in a different direction. I had been writing this blog for a while but felt it was time to for a change. For me Raising Inspiration is about my life, my journey and my disease. I want to spread a little awareness and some inspiration. My hope is that someone who is having a bad flare up will stumble across here and see that tomorrow is a new day. Perhaps a little laughter is what they find and it brightens their day, because sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. I don’t know why I got Lupus, I just did. And that’s okay. It’s part of who I am and now I have more to add to my story.

 

 

 

Challenges and Rewards

January 29, 2013 — Leave a comment
The following is a guest post by Ashley Furman. She is a fellow blogger, mommy of two and living with Lupus. I am so thrilled that she has written a post for me and I know that you will enjoy her writing as much as I have. Make sure to head on over to her blog and check it out Oh, my aunt has Lupus.

Being a mom is challenging. I don’t think that statement is a surprise to anyone. Being a mom with Lupus certainly adds to that challenge.

guest blogMy husband and I got pregnant with our second child when our daughter was only 10 months old. If you are unaware, 10 months is right on the difficult cusp of toddlerdom. Let me fill you in, in case you haven’t been there before- this is the time when your sweet little happy baby starts turning into this autonomous being, who refuses to eat and sleep, and goes into full blown panic attacks every time you leave their field of vision for more than 3 seconds. I quickly began seeking advice on what life would be like with 2 kids under 2 years old, and something I was told often was essentially “prepare for a crazy hard first year.” Some people were more encouraging than others, but I was left in a constant limbo between excitement for the beautiful chaos that would take place, and “Oh God. What have we done?”

Being pregnant with an infant-eventually-turned-toddler was definitely hard for me, especially during the weeks that I had my head shoved in a toilet 5+ times per day. And I reflect on those days often when I’m having a particularly difficult time mothering my kids during painful Lupus junk. Feeling so sick while pregnant but knowing you are still responsible for the life that you already brought into this world is a lot like the dilemma you face as a mom with a chronic illness. (I guess when you can compare your pregnancy with a chronic disease, it’s safe to say they’ve been rough…) You’re tired, you don’t feel good, you would give your left middle toe to stay in bed just a little longer. But your kid is crying and you remember, much to your disappointment, that stay-at-home-moms don’t get “sick days.” You have to get up, you have to make breakfast, and you have to find a way to get through the next 12-15 hours before they go back to sleep and you can be longingly reunited with Mr. Sandman. That almost sounds dirty, but it isn’t, I swear. The bottom line is, you don’t have a choice. As a parent, your kids await. And whether you’re sick or not, I’m a firm believer that if you’re doing it right, parenting will be hard. It’s supposed to be. Children are a gift from God, and I believe He uses the challenges that parenting brings to refine us and to draw us closer to Him. I now consider living with Lupus similarly. Having a chronic disease is a constant reminder of my weakness, but it’s one that Jesus is ready to answer with His own strength, drawing me closer to Him. And how thankful am I for that, because sometimes it’s near laughable at the circumstances that I’m functioning under.

My husband is a second year Medical Student. When you account for time he spends in class and time studying, it more often than not adds up to approximately 80 hour work weeks. Because I stay at home with our daughter Makaila, who just turned 2, and our 5 month old son, Cohen, I definitely feel the burden when my husband isn’t available to help during any hour of the day. However, by the grace of God we were given a baby who, unlike his sister, is one of the easiest, happiest babies of all time. However, also unlike his sister, he still wakes up every 2 hours throughout the night. So although I am dealing with Lupus fatigue on top of standard motherhood exhaustion, the ear-to-ear grins from my toothless babe at 2 am help to keep me going.

Beyond sleep deprivation, having a baby and a toddler has naturally come with its own challenges. Possibly the biggest of which with Cohen has been that he has a mild form of plagiocephaly, aka “flat head syndrome.” We were told at his 2 month appointment what was going on, and essentially given doctors orders to NEVER put him down, in hopes it would “correct itself.”Luckily I was already prepared to do my fair share of baby-wearing, so I had a great wrap on hand (because how else do you take care of a newborn and a 19 month old?) but in practice, keeping him off his head and in my arms at all times has been downright exhausting. (Side-note: I would like to say right now that if his head does round out over time, I am fully claiming it as a fruit of MY hard labor, and not giving any credit to his greedy skull bones. Correct itself? Give me a break. Mom did that.)

So really, in perspective, the most difficult part of having Lupus for me is simply trying to keep up with life while having Lupus. Does that make sense? I guess what I mean is, Lupus isn’t the hardest part of my life. Life is the hardest part of my life. For example, last Sunday, Cohen screamed and cried all night long. Literally. All night. Since it was so out of character for him, I took him in to see the Pediatrician first thing the next morning. Come to find out, the poor bugger had a double ear infection. Then the very next day we found out that my daughter somehow contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease, and she was struggling to even drink a glass of milk without screaming in pain. Totally heartbreaking. A few days later it became apparent that my husband had managed to catch the virus from my daughter, and then he too was hardly functioning. So, all week long I had an entire family of sickies to take care of, including two extremely needy, demanding, and frequently crying children, all while working through my own joint pain, headaches, body aches, and fatigue. That’s just a recent example of how Lupus made some standard life circumstances that much harder. And while things may be less taxing during a normal week, honestly my normal is always hard.

I’m one of those moms who makes a big effort to keep my kids engaged in things other than the television (or iPad, iPod, computer, whatever…) My baby boy won’t be allowed screen time for at least another year, and my very spirited (and thus very energy consuming) toddler has her’s kept to a minimum. To keep children occupied, happy and safe while simultaneously trying to shape them into responsible, moral, gospel-centered, educated, and kind individuals, is no easy task. There are days when I’m so tired that my oldest will get permission to watch an extra episode of Yo Gabba Gabba (in which I have to extend grace to myself, as to not feel like I’m failing her. Perhaps silly, but true.) But the meat of the day is spent together putting together activities that foster her creativity and development. And although he’s still a little tot, the same goes for my 5 month old. There are definitely times I think of how much easier my life would be if I could stick both kids in front of the television and zone out for an hour or two, but alas, my convictions always come up stronger than my desire for a morning of inactivity. So while I’m fantasizing of going back to sleep, what actually happens is I gulp down some form of caffeinated beverage, take a horse pill of ibuprofen if I’m feeling extra achey, and I try to remember that it’s only going to be on the Lord’s strength that I can get through the day in any type of meaningful way. And then I take it as it comes. And it can be good, and hard, and exhausting, but it’s all beautiful. And I’m thankful.

For me, having 2 kids under 2 has already proved to be challenging, no doubt. As is being the wife of a Med Student, as is living with an illness like Lupus. But what I expect from challenges is that they also offer us the biggest rewards. My family brings me amazing amounts of joy. Every day, every hour. How could they not? I was given 3 incredible people to love. And although there are a lot of trying times within the dynamics of our relationships, I am beyond blessed by all of it. I really believe that God is also going to use the challenges of my Lupus in a similar way. If I am handing it all over to Him- submitting to Him my head, heart, and hands, including this disease in its entirety- He will lighten my burdens and I will be conformed more to the likeness of Christ. It’s not like He’s going to leave me hanging as if I’m less valuable to Him now that I’m sick. On the contrary, I think the Lord actually has big blessings He wants to bestow on me in the midst of my relationship with Lupus, and that ultimately, He will use this disease in my life to bring glory to Himself. And although it can be difficult, in the end that is the biggest reward I could ever hope for.