Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘Marriage on a Monday’

Marriage Isn’t For You

I’m sure you’ve seen this great post doing the rounds on the web, but it’s too good not to share for Marriage Mondays here on Joy on a Shoestring. This has certainly been the number one marriage save for us. And when we forget what it’s REALLY all about? Well, that’s when things go a bit pear-shaped.

Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each…

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Hanging up the cape


My world right now feels like one giant, endless white desert, and every horizon – as far as the eye can see – comprises nothing but the word TIRED in large, 3D letters. For some reason, I can move freely through these letters – and I do. Despite seeing the desert clearly through the letters, they seem solid enough. But walking to – and through – a word, shimmers it like a mirage, moving it so that it always fills utterly the sum of my view.

So tired, the very word brings me to tears.

Shaking with stupid, soundless sobs.


And my back hurts.

It seems even more contemptible in words than it does swirling round in the vortex of energy draining my brain, as if someone pulled the plug at the base of my hypothalamus and let it all out.

Adrenal Fatigue is the official diagnosis. The cause? Years and years of intense (and mostly self-inflicted) stress, far too much coffee, and way too little sleep. I don’t know when it all started, but I do know that I was well and truly entrenched in this lifestyle by the time I was 14 years old.

That’s a lot of life.

The treatment is a simple, three step programme:

    1. Sleep
      Apparently I need to plan on getting at least 9-10 hours of sleep every night for the next two to three years. (Looking wistfully to her right, she sighed slightly as she suppressed a mirthless snort of laughter. Sleep. Oh how she laughed).
    2. Drink less coffee
      Again, ha ha ha. Coffee is fuel. I need it more than oxygen. It’s not a beverage, it’s a personality trait. I have been instructed to cut back to no more than 2-3 cups a day. Please, hold the applause while I announce that I have actually succeeded at this so far (today is day four). I feel awful, and it turns out I really do have absolutely no personality without coffee. Duller than ditchwater, me. And you thought I was dull when I ditched the vino. *Snigger*. All I am now is a bag of well-padded bones with a sleep-deficit and a self-deprecating bent that went out of style in the ’80s.
    3. Exercise – moderately!
      I started exercising on Saturday. Have I mentioned how much I love to run? I do. I love it. And I haven’t run in at least eight months. Why not? Well, we’ve recently had a spate of crime that kept many of us runners off the roads in the wee hours of the morning. And I have been VERY busy.So I ran. Not far or long – at all. I really am VERY unfit, as it turns out. And now my back hurts, and it’s hard to walk.

Wow. That is some pity party.

Superwoman? Not so much.

Superwoman? Not so much.

Okay, I’m done with that bit. I’m going to start a series on uncovering the basics of adrenal fatigue. But for today, I’m just going to start with the first thing: the implications.

For a long time, my goal has been to have it all. I want to have a career – and business – that changes the world for the better. I want to have an amazing relationship with my well-rounded, brilliant children who have all the input they need from me, loads of crafts and adventures, and a balanced education. I want a welcoming, perfectly decorated home, always brimming with fresh, allergen-free edibles, ready to welcome weary travellers. I want to be useful and supportive in my church, helping ladies draw nearer to God even as I do the same. And of course, I want to be the world’s best wife. Ever.

In short: I want to be Superwoman.

To my enormous disappointment, my body and mind are not on the same page as my will. And, to my horror, my will has lost. I need to face the facts, be realistic, and lay the cloak aside.

Interestingly, this message has come from a number of different places in the last few weeks, and really brought home the fact that it’s time to be realistic, and get some rest.


A time such as this

Papa Bear is depressed.

depressedI don’t mean that he is sad. It’s not that he “feels blue” or is “out of sorts”. He has depression. We’ve analysed it, and it seems apparent that he’s suffered this debilitating condition since at least his late teens, if not longer.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that he’s tired all the time. He is physically incapable of “helping out” around the house. It’s all he can do to get up in the morning, and seeing clients a few times a week takes mammoth self-motivation. Billing clients is practically a superhuman feat. Once these basics have been achieved, he has no resources left.

It means he needs to be taken care of. He needs someone to make sure he eats well and gets adequate nutrition. He needs help remembering – well, pretty much everything.

It means he needs understanding. He needs acceptance. He needs sympathy. He needs love.

He does not need condemnation or judgement. He gets enough of that from himself.

Giving it a name and understanding what it is and what he needs has been vital for me. I can accept the limitations his condition places on him, and not expect anything beyond what he is able to deliver. When he does more, I can accept that as a wonderful, unexpected gift. I can care for him unconditionally, as one would care for any sick or disabled person. He can’t help it.

It means that, a lot of the time, I’ll have to take up the slack a little bit when it comes to things like earning and income or taking care of the kids. Not because he doesn’t want to do those things; just because he can’t. Accepting that fact alone has been the defining characteristic of the past few weeks.

Working all things for good

I have been struggling with understanding how I can use this situation to help others, when I feel angry and isolated though it all.

Then, last week, we studied the story of Esther in Sunday School. Mordecai says to Esther:

“and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14c

In our church, and among my friends outside of church, at least 6 of the ladies are married to men who battle with depression. Most of them are on medication for this, and a few have even been hospitalised for it. When they try to reach out for support, they’re told to “honour your husband”, “stand by your man” and “pray for grace”. Those things may all be true, but hearing them doesn’t make you feel loved, supported or understood. It makes you feel alone.

That’s why I’m coming clean with a very personal story. Because perhaps I can help. Perhaps I can be here “for a time such as this”; I can understand. I can listen. I don’t have advice, but I do have experience, and I do have a little, tiny bit of hope. Perhaps I can share that.

– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

Do you livewith someone battling depression? Do you battle it yourself? How do you cope? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice on the subject.

I choose joy

A couple of days ago I wrote about the way the Lord has quietly, gently and with infinite grace and mercy shown me His care and presence. That post led me to find a bunch of other really fantastic and uplifting posts and articles on the same subject, and I advise reading them all.They’re listed below.

But the one in particular that really spoke to me and rejuvenated my flagging spirits was this one: why I choose joy. It is a vital reminder that complaining is toxic to your family.

The author makes the very clear and concise statement that

Complaints are poison.

Unthankfulness is cancerous.

Criticism is corrosive.

The lives described in this post are saturated with joy – but not without hardships and trials. Some of these people have faced some of the most difficult things we ever have to deal with in our lives, and yet they still speak of the pervading joy they have in every facet of their lives. That is what I want. That is what I choose. That is why I will be resilient.

  • This post is an honest assessment of living with depression.
  • A genius compilation of brilliant quotes on the disciplines of being a Godly woman.
  • Here’s a post about the wisdom and necessity of praying for our children


– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you think we can choose our outlook on life every day, or are we adrift at the whim of our circumstances? Id’ love to hear your thoughts (but please be nice).

Showers of Blessing

Yesterday at Church, our pastor preached an encouraging and uplifting message on the nature or trials and temptations. It was like a soothing balm to my soul, and I will definitely post my notes here tomorrow.

Something else happened this weekend, though, and I need to share that first. Recently my faith has been waning. The trials of recent times, coupled with my selfishness and poor attitude, have festered inside me until I had a great big wodge of bitterness in my gut. Not pretty. It had been one of those dry times where it felt like my prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling, not achieving much of anything.

Then, there was the refreshing sermon, reminding me of basic truths, and shining some perspective on recent events. I’ll link this post to that once it’s live.

Secondly, (and I really think this is what reassured me of God’s presence in my life, even when it feels like He’s far away), a good friend came up to me, gave me a hug, and said, “I want you to know I pray for you every single day. I pray for wisdom as you work and teach and keep house. I pray that you’ll have the time you need to do everything you need to do. I pray for your testimony, and that those around you all the time will understand that you’re human. And I pray for your health. I worry that you work so hard and don’t get enough sleep.”

Her words touched me so deeply, and stayed with me for ages. Even now, I feel their comfort and kindness. I was struck by her awareness of what I was going through, when I had (unreasonably) felt so very alone. And I was made palpably aware of how much we need to be reminded that we’re being lifted up in prayer, and the need to tell others the same. (Of course, it needs to be true!)

When you've lost your joy | Women Living Well

When you’ve lost your joy | Women Living Well

And finally, today, I stumbled across a book filled with wisdom, comfort and direction. And it’s free! It’s called “When I don’t Desire God“, written by John Piper. I subscribe to the Women Living Well blog, and this book was referred to in today’s post. Frankly, the picture on the blog post spoke to me, and I just had to read the rest.

The fabulous Courtney quotes the following from this well-timed book:


Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.

When I saw that, I just had to read the rest, so I’ve downloaded the rest and I’ll dive into it tonight.

How good is our God, to take the time in the midst of my drawn out, slow-motion temper tantrum, to remind me that He is good. He is faithful.

He is there.

Hope With Feathers

I loved this post about squeezing our ideals into the reality we face!

Hope With Feathers.

The ebb and flow of peace

We live in a cottage (not in a wood, unfortunately). It’s quaint. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Apart from a suffusion of yellow, it’s fairly featureless. However, it meets our needs (close to amenities and affordable), and it’s home. For now.

When we moved here, we were in the middle of an economic crisis. Our kids were in school all day. We spent all day in an office. All we needed a house for was a place to cook meals once in a while, and a place to sleep.

Then things changed.

“School” became the dining room table. “The Office” became our bedroom. Our bedroom moved into the en suite bathroom space, and our lives became compressed. As our business has grown, we’ve taken on staff, as one does. First we had a flexible and understanding lady two days a week. Then three. Finally, five. Then another lady – also flexible and understanding. Also two days a week, then three … Pretty soon she’ll be full time, too. I work with freelancers, who come in to the “office” from time to time to work – often with home schooled kids in tow. Friends come over for play dates with my children. And we still need a PFY (pimply-faced youth, aka tech assistant) for Papa Bear!

In other words, our cottage’s ability to meet our space requirements is being tried. Sorely.

A side effect of this is that we occasionally devolve into chaos. In theory, a small space is easier to maintain, but in practice, sometimes there just isn’t a place to put stuff! We’ve debated various options (moving, storage, rearranging), and finally settled on a combination of a space rearrangement, and a brutal clean up. Then we spent about a month psyching ourselves up for the task at hand. For some reason, yesterday, Papa Bear and I both woke up raring to go. There was nothing for it but to get stuck in. We gave our staff the day off, loaded the station wagon to the gills with junk, and moved things around. We raised a lot of dust, and we all still feel as if we’re encased in a light coat of cement. Not to mention the hayfever everyone is battling. But that’ll be over soon, and for now we seem to have a working solution. We have also managed to achieve a modicum of privacy (did I mention that until yesterday the office was in our bedroom – and we have no interior doors?).

So, to the title. It seems that I manage to instill and maintain order relatively well in my space. I have a sense of peace as things find and stay in (or return to) their  places easily and regularly. Timetables are established and maintained. Dishes are done – all the time. I feel good about myself as domestic diva, and happy to entertain stragglers.

Then I get busy. I finally realise that I need to actually work for a living. I get involved in clients and meetings and deadlines and late nights and early mornings. Before I know it, it’s been a week since the girls received focused education. The dishes are done on an “as needed” basis, and meals consist of frying whatever happens to be closest to the door of the fridge. Papers pile up, toys accumulate in flotsam eddies around the driftwood of disorganised furniture, and it’s hard to believe we haven’t just been the victims of a robbery. (Actually, I’m sure this acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves. They think we’ve already been hit!).

At the back of my mind is a persistent belief that there is some kind of balance to be found here. I am sure that it must be possible to achieve a reasonable degree of personal organisation AND a reasonable degree of business organisation at the same time. Surely I can do half as much of each as I ever do of just the one or the other, on an ongoing basis, and manage to maintain an orderly home and an efficient business, with happy, educated, adjusted kids? Is there anyone out there who is doing this successfully? Or do we all do what I do, swinging from one extreme to the other, with only intermittent applications of peace in isolated areas of our lives?

I’d love to know. But in the mean time, I am putting off the billing so that I can tackle this severely overdue pile of filing. Wish me luck!

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