Monday, March 18, 2013

In the Trials with Shari

There are people in this life that we meet that bless us so much more than they will ever comprehend.  Shari is one of those friends.  Her heart for sharing even in trials will encourage you all so very much.  Thank you so much Shari!  I love you girl!
Hi! I’m Shari. What a delight it is to join you ladies here at The Houtz House Party! Thanks for inviting me to contribute Kelly!

I write over at Three Monkeys in the Jungle where I share about motherhood, homeschooling, and our adventures in life. I’ve been wife to my hard working husband, Casey, for 7.5 years and we have three children, Sean {4.5}, Logan {3.5}, and Ella {2.5}. We just recently moved to Vilonia, Arkansas {a tiny town just north of Little Rock, AR}. Between long work schedules and three energetic children, there isn’t much time for quality marriage building {hello date nights at home!}. Thursday night is our “Friday” night and we usually stay up a little later than normal to watch a movie or play a game together.
First off, I want you to know that no two days are ever alike in our household. After we began to settle back into a normal routine after our big move, I created a “loose” block schedule that included what we “normally” do during the periods of “morning,” “afternoon,” and “evening” to encourage a more productive day. If you don’t think you run on much of a schedule, just try writing down what you normally do starting from when you wake up and you may just see you have a “pattern” or a general schedule to your day. Then just add in your cleaning tasks and activities. I like to leave lots of room for mothering my children and surprise messes.  

I had every intention of sharing what a day from our life is like with you for this series but my life just hasn’t been normal since our move. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t get into a routine or snap out of what I thought was perhaps a feeling of depression. Moving is just really tough physically, financially, and emotionally so it wasn’t exactly alarming. But, there was more going on in my life. On Monday February 4th I had an odd feeling some of my symptoms were eerily familiar and I took a pregnancy test. This was quite surprising as we’d been taking measures to prevent pregnancy for two and a half years. I completely jumped out of my boots when the test showed up positive! I was literally shaking all over from the shock of this new discovery for thirty minutes afterward.
You see, I’ve secretly or sometimes not-so-secretly desired a fourth baby for over a year now but with my husband’s job situation and having three children so close in age {all going through the toddler/preschool years together!}, my husband was just not ready and didn’t want us to begin trying until he was at least more stable financially. Finding out that I was “miraculously” pregnant was a huge surprise and I was elated. I just couldn’t stop smiling. That was the first day.
Friday the 8th I had a doctor visit that turned into a nightmare as the sweet baby {discovered to be 6w6d along} that I was carrying was revealed to be located in my left fallopian tube very much outside of my uterus. I was devastated. A doctor came in and told me that I had no option but to go to surgery that very afternoon. I was bawling. The doctor and ultrasound tech left the room so I could call my husband and then my mom. Once I felt somewhat composed, I drove the hour back to my house from the doctor’s office to get my husband and kids to return back to the hospital {I’m surprised that I made it home alive as I was having to see to drive through tear filled eyes}. I’d never been so scared in my entire life.

I’m sharing this very personal albeit brief account with you all today to say that sometimes life doesn’t go as expected. Sometimes our best laid plans get ruined. Sometimes we may have to ask other people for help just to get through the day. So, as badly as many of us moms desire order and routine in our lives for our sakes as well as for our children and husbands, we have to be willing to let go and let God guide us through the unexpected or even the expected rough patches.

You may not be experiencing a physically and emotionally painful situation like the death of a loved one, a very ill child, a miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy and subsequent surgery, but you may be dealing with morning sickness, the flu, or a husband who travels a lot for work. Life throws curveballs that don’t fit neatly into schedules. So, I hope you find my situation and advice to be helpful wherever you are at in life.

My tips for making it through a much unexpected schedule disruption:
We didn’t eat every meal at a fast food joint but we did eat out more often than we usually do and I think my husband and kids had hotdogs a few times which is usually a rare treat for us. We’ve also been eating cereal which is something I usually avoid for breakfast in favor of more homemade options. Being willing to let go of our usual standards was a way to reduce stress. I’ll also say that I love a well-stocked freezer and before my surgery I had in my freezer bags of browned hamburger as well as frozen b/s chicken breasts, roasts, pork chops, and bags of leftover soup. It’s easy to plan frozen dinners to have in the freezer before a baby is due or if you’re exceptionally organized at freezer cooking but keeping even a few items on hand that aren’t planned for anything in particular {such as always keeping a stock of frozen chicken that your hubby can toss in a slow cooker} may be really helpful should something unexpected come up and you can’t cook. Having at least a general idea of your inventory is really helpful too so you can tell your husband in the case that he needs to prepare a meal in an emergency situation.
The day after my surgery, I felt guilty about how messy my kitchen was {I’d sort of neglected it with all the stress of the previous week} and decided to at least unload and reload the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, and sweep the floor {I left the pile of dirt for someone else to bend down to sweep up though}. I was in a bit of pain and was really pushing myself to get that much done but I didn’t do much else for a few days. Your house won’t start to rot just because you have to take some time off cleaning or minimize your usual cleaning expectations. I have a “daily focus area” list that has my home divided up into five sections and I assign one focus area per weekday. When life is normal, I don’t neglect the entire house to focus solely on that “focus area.” My routine includes time in the morning for my focus area cleaning and time in the afternoon for general tidying up of other areas of the home. So when things aren’t working out like normal, I drop the focus cleaning and just do general tidying as I am capable of physically. Be reasonable about what you can really accomplish and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Like I said above, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The number one most helpful thing that happened after my surgery was that my parents came to help us out for a couple days. I didn’t have to ask them to come but I knew deep down that I really did want them to come for emotional support if nothing else. It turned out that they helped with the kids, keeping up with the dishes, and the cooking {my mom is a great cook!}. But, the emotional support and just having my mind on something else {visiting with my mom} was exceptionally invaluable. My husband took off some time from work and the kids helped out some too. I’d be willing to bet that friends and family that live nearby are willing to help if asked. Sometimes people don’t offer because they’re afraid of intruding but are perfectly willing when asked. And, giving food is always a great way to help someone out during a physical or emotional trial.
I’m going to be honest, this has been such an whirlwind ordeal that I haven’t been reading my Bible as much as I should and we don’t even have a church yet here where we moved to because my husband works Sundays and he has our only vehicle. But, other people were praying for me and I was praying for strength very often throughout my time waiting to go into the surgery and afterward as I started to grieve again. God didn’t take away my pain but instead He placed unexpected people in my life that brought the very encouraging words I needed and I know He provided that for me.
When an unexpected event arrives at your door, be willing to relax and let go of what you normally expect. Don’t spread yourself thin doing what you normally think is necessary. Understand that children and even pets may sense the increased stress level in the home and behavior changes may follow. It is helpful to distract them and provide extra attention for comfort. Be willing to let go of that grip on your schedule because, believe it or not, life won’t suddenly implode into chaos. Relaxing your expectations will give you room to grieve, heal, serve others, pray, or rest – whatever is applicable to your situation.

Sometimes the super mom is not the one who does it all but the one who knows when to let go of her control on her life. Take a step back and reflect on what really is important. If it is necessary to have clean clothes and dishes {I highly recommend paper plates for such situations} then either just do those things or ask for help in getting those tasks accomplished. If you are relegated to spending most of your day on the couch then don’t despair that your kids are being neglected, read books from the couch to them and play with them when you are capable. If you really love blogging and simply can’t clear your mind enough to write then just take a break. Give yourself some grace during a really challenging period of life and when you’re ready, you’ll be that much more up for the task of getting back to your “normal” routine.
Have you been in an emotionally or physically trying situation that disrupted your routine? Feel free to share your number one tip for healing and getting back into a normal routine afterward. Thanks for having me today!

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