In Which I Talk About Things I Probably Shouldn’t (Like Hormones and Hot Flashes)

I thought turning 40 would usher in a new era of zen. I would have life figured out and I would finally be comfortable with who I am.

As luck would have it, my body greeted turning 40 by gathering my hormones and sloshing them up and down like a kid with a snow globe. Only, it’s not a pretty serene scene. It’s more of a disaster movie. And not the fun kind of disaster that includes punching sharks that happen to fly through the air randomly.

I can look back at the last several years and guess that this started happening right around the time we moved to TN 4 years ago. I was only 36 at the time. I promise you the thought that I was going through perimenopause didn’t occur to me. In fact, I  wondered, several times, if I could possibly be pregnant. That seemed just as unlikely. I wrote it off to the stress of the move. About two years after our move, I decided maybe I should figure out if something was wrong with me. Maybe I was starting menopause? I asked my new doctor and she assured me it was unlikely. I don’t remember that she had any answer for me, at the time. Nothing looked unusual in regard to the blood work.

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(This is pretty much how I feel right now. Ha-ha-ha)

But now, I think I’m at the point where there is no denying this. According to Web MD, the average length of this process is 4 years. For some women, it’s a 10-year ordeal. Have mercy. In the last 1 – 2 years, the drop of estrogen speeds up and causes noticeable symptoms. Here is a non-exhaustive list for you:

Hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings and trouble sleeping.

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Maybe this means I’m in the last  1-2 years of this. Right? I’m not sure if that should reassure me or make me curl up and cry. I mostly feel old. And bloated. And grumpy. And teary. And sweaty.

You know how emotional and irrational preteen girls are? I am right there with them. You should be praying for my husband. Bless his sweet heart (for you northerners, that means “good luck”). 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Health.

Simplify

I started going through the book Simplify by Bill Hybels with my Wednesday morning Bible Study class.

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It’s timely.

It seems like everyone I know feels like their schedules are too much for them to sustain. They feel pulled in all directions.

Our challenge for this week was to consider, not just what we need to get done, but who we want to become and to evaluate our calendars through that lens. We do this in light of Matthew 6:33. We seek God’s kingdom and His will first. The rest gets filtered through that.

I love that question: “Who do I want to become?” Growth doesn’t happen accidentally. I needed that reminder and maybe you do too.

 

Necessity, Motherhood & Invention

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

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I’ve heard that saying for years. The idea is that when there is a need for something, it can spark creativity to formulate a solution. So true.

But as I sat thinking about it this morning, I honed in on the “mother” part of the saying. Do you know who is the most likely to move the world to figure out a solution? A mom. More specifically, a mom whose child is struggling.

We can’t sustain it over the long-run, but, sometimes, in the middle of the adrenaline-filled crisis, we come up with something brilliant. When it comes together, it’s a thing of beauty.

This week, after months of my child being unable to enjoy playing with her Barbies because of a bully that’s called OCD, she had some homework from our therapist that gave me an idea of my own.

I sat down and wrote a letter to Audrey from Barbie. It was brilliant. I laid it on her pillow with several of her Barbies sitting next to it.

For some reason, it worked.

We’re playing with our Barbies again and I’m feeling like a bit of a superhero.

 

(Related OCD posts here)

 

Sometimes You Can’t Pray It Away: Mental Illness & The Church

Yesterday, I spent an hour at a therapist appointment with one of my children. We were both looking forward to it because life has been hard lately.

She had done some work leading up to the appointment. We had not seen the therapist for about a year because she was doing pretty well. She didn’t want to forget anything important and wanted to make a list of things to talk about. She listed 4 big things. When I say “big”, I don’t want you to gloss over that word. Imagine one thing that really distresses you to think about. The sort of thing you would do anything to avoid. She wrote down 4 things of that magnitude.

It should have occurred to me that it might be too much for her for one hour of therapy, but it didn’t. I was just so proud of her for thinking through it on her own and wanting to be prepared. She’s 9!  Sometimes she blows me away in the best way! She had even drawn a comic about defeating the bully OCD. It was amazing and her therapist was seriously impressed.

**It’s possible that my perfectionist daughter is doing work to impress her therapist, but maybe we can address that another time. **

Anyway, our therapist worked through the list with her. I sat next to my daughter and watched her do what she could to talk about intrusive thoughts that were really upsetting to her. She did her best to downplay how upset these things made her. She tried to distance herself from them. Used words like “sometimes” and “kind of”to make it easier. But, after an hour and some comments about how hormones that increase at this time of her life can make OCD bigger and trickier, she couldn’t hold it together any longer. She wilted like my unwatered flowers in the back yard. Tears came and she couldn’t stop them.

She has some hard work to do. We have a list of things to work on to fight this bully. And we could use your help. Specifically, we could use help from our local church.

 

  • If you know someone who struggles with depression, OCD, or other mental illnesses, understand that a simplistic approach that assumes a spiritual issue is not helpful. It’s shaming and isolating.

I found this quote from an article:

“When we treat mental illness as a spiritual problem, prescribing more faith or prayer, we suggest suffering people aren’t eligible for God’s grace. We behave like the Pharisees, whom Jesus said “don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23:3-4).

Our bodies, minds, and spirits are interconnected in ways too mysterious for us to unravel. And technically, all sicknesses are ultimately spiritual in origin—they entered our world as a result of humanity’s rebellion against God. But to assume that disorders and diseases which attack the brain have direct spiritual causes and solutions is to misunderstand the way we are made. Mental illnesses are real, treatable, and manageable conditions caused by genetic, biological, or environmental factors, or some combination of the three. To withhold or discourage medical and psychological intervention is as cruel as to deny treatment for a broken arm or a case of diabetes. I find it baffling that people who believe other physical ailments should be treated only with faith and prayer are considered cultists or heretics—but such a perspective on mental illness is accepted within mainstream Christianity.” (from Amy Simpson at this link)

Yes, please pray. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer. There is always the possibility of spiritual forces at play. However, an initial response of wondering if it has to do with something spiritual sometimes insinuates to the person who most needs your help and encouragement that this is their fault. That needs to stop.

 

Ed Stetzer had these powerful words to say:

“It is common practice in churches, however, to treat mental illness differently. We immediately assume there is something else, some deeper spiritual struggle causing mental and emotional strain.

The fact is that mental illness and spiritual struggle can be (and are) related. We are not separate things, we are complex people—remarkable connected in spirit, soul, body, mind, etc.

But, let me be direct here: if we immediately dismiss the possibility of mental illness and automatically assume spiritual deficiency, our actions amount to spiritual abuse. I know those are powerful and pointed words, but I believe them to be true. Please, don’t miss them.” (emphasis mine) (source)

  • Understand this is a big deal. 18% of the adult population in the US suffers from some mental illness.

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(graph from this source)

18% is not an insignificant number. To put it in real numbers, of 100 adults, that’s 18. Of 600 adults, that would be 108 impacted. I don’t know that the numbers look like when it comes to children.

We are so thankful for the people that God has placed in our lives that truly have taken the time to listen and understand this struggle. Thanks for walking with us through this.

The Trifecta Of Terribleness

Terribleness might not be a word. It works here, though.

 

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I’m feeling the tension between posting happy shiny things and hard dark things. I think there must be a happy medium. Sometimes I write encouraging things when I’m sad because I need to preach to myself. Sometimes I come with no resolution, only a mess of questions.  You find both here because that’s the honest reflection of real life: lots of joy interspersed with fear and doubt that I’m cut out for the task.

If you read my post about anxiety last week, you might be wondering how we’re doing. Or you might not, but I’m going to tell you anyway 🙂

We’re okay. We’re just in the middle of what I am not referring to as the Trifecta of Terribleness. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Well, I’ll be happy to explain it to you. The Trifecta of Terribleness happens when these three things are happening all at once: OCD + beginning of puberty + mom starting perimenopause.

Any one of those things can be a load that is hard to handle. Mix them all together and you’ve got something truly amazing.

These days, our brains are in fight or flight mode about 70% of the time.

OCD doesn’t look the same in every home, but in ours, it manifests in my child needing reassurance about thoughts that are disturbing. Now, I know there are parents everywhere who say, “I wish I knew what was going on inside the mind of my child,” and I get that, but I’m on the other side and I just want to tell you in the most gentle way, “NO YOU DON’T!” There is a reason why God made our thoughts to go silently through our heads with no one seeing or hearing them. Sometimes they are irrational, bizarre, not based in reality, not something you truly believe, or not completely fleshed out.

For much of last week, anytime my child had time to sit quietly and think, they would come and tell me thoughts they had. Some things were easily dismissed as not a big deal. Other things scared me. Things that made me question if my child had been hurt. Terrifying things.

On Sunday afternoon, I was so tired and desperately needed a nap, but I knew Nathan was about to take one of our kids somewhere leaving the other one with a quiet house and too much time to think. That meant there was about a 95% chance my drowsy, exhausted self was going to have to deal with reassuring someone about thoughts that were making me equally alarmed. Nathan saved the day by taking both big kids with him. I would have laid in bed, bracing myself for the next incident if he hadn’t.

One evening last week, as I was getting ready to fall asleep, I whispered to Nathan that I didn’t think I was going to survive this stage. I told him that if my brain was going to have to listen to every fear or intrusive thought brought on by the hormones of a child with OCD going through puberty, I was going to need some strong medicine. And then I started sobbing. Not sweet quiet tears, but an ugly-cry that wouldn’t stop once the flood-gates opened.

I know I will likely figure out a way to deal with this. I know this is the combination of misfiring brains, my child starting puberty and my own 40-year-old hormonal changes (yep, I’m going through peri-menopause earlier than many folks do). We’re just not there yet. In the meantime, it’s difficult. Our Trifecta of Terribleness.

Actually, as I think about it, it’s not a trifecta, because there is a fourth factor at play. It’s easy to discount the spiritual aspect, but it’s definitely a part of the mix. Satan likes to capitalize on situations like this.

Thankfully, we’ve had people praying for us. Yesterday, I was able to have some conversations that brought some peace and every day brings us a little closer to our therapist appointment. I am so grateful for wise mental health professionals.

Thanks for reading and for caring about our family.

Summer Of Fun: Part II

Our Sumer Of Fun is in full force.

Honestly, it would be easy to summarize last week as “not fun”. We are dealing with some really heavy things and trying to figure out how to navigate it all, but that hasn’t sucked out all our fun.

First of all, if you need an easy way to infuse FUN into your summer, that doesn’t require much from you, the parent, you can’t do much better than getting your kids to VBS! That’s what we did last week! 5 days in a row of singing fun songs with hand motions, stories, games & crafts! And I didn’t have to do it! They hung out with 650 kids and had a blast!

Here are my wrist-band/claim tickets to collect my kids at the end of the day:

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Speaking of free things to keep your kids occupied, may I suggest a trip to the library?

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Audrey picked out some books about puppies and American Girls. Isaac got a book about deadly spiders. This is a pretty good picture of what my life is like 🙂

 

We wrapped out our week with a shopping trip to prepare for Father’s Day.

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I was happy to have the kids with me. It turns out, Ethan knew exactly what his dad wanted to Father’s Day and where to find it! They are the best shopping buddies! I am not a lover of shopping and we had just spent the morning the sun. I was so exhausted. If Ethan hadn’t been there, I would have bought a box of red hots and called it good 🙂

 

**Edited to Add This: I am fully submerged in watching LOST. I’m only supposed to watch 3 episodes a week and then discuss it with my Show Club, but that has turned out to be too much to ask. I’m 16 (or so) episodes in and I have so many questions. It’s been a fun diversion!

Tell me about your Summer Of Fun!

Here’s What You Really Need In A Man

Did you ever make a list of qualities you were looking for in the man you would marry someday? I had a list. The problem with the list is that sometimes we focus too much on looking for the perfect date and not so much on the perfect mate.

A flashy date is impressive over the short-term, but the shiny wears off and doesn’t last.

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Do you know what women need more than flashy? They need dependable, hard-working and self-less.

That’s the person we want to sit next to at our kids’ graduations. The man who will text prayers for his daughter to see when he can’t be there to tuck her in sometimes.

 

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Don’t look for slick and cool. Those are extras.

Look for someone who makes you laugh, brings out the best in you and loves Jesus.

Because a man who loves Jesus first will love his wife and his family. That’s a man you can trust. A man you can live with.

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You don’t need a man who is trying to impress others, but one who serves them.

Do you know what’s really impressive? A man who cleans out puke buckets and doesn’t call parenting “women’s work”.

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In the end, what we need ends up being what we want. Because, who wants a smooth-talking, flashy immature boy when you need someone to help you fold a fitted sheet, take out the recycling, figure out if the kids are okay, and you want someone to watch a season of Castle in 3 days?

Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know. You set the bar high for our daughter’s future husband and that’s just the way I like it!

This entry was posted in family.

Summer Of Fun: Part I

I’ve officially declared this summer, the Summer Of Fun. One reason is that I plan to make my writing super easy, for the most part, this summer. And I want to be intentional, as a family, in having fun together. We only get so many summers (7 more before our oldest is in college) before the kids flying out of the nest. Sunrise, Sunset and so on. . . Hee hee.

So, in answer to the question, “How can I set up a system for writing this summer that isn’t too hard and also encourages me to enjoy this season?”, the answer is to make 2016 the Fritz Family Summer Of Fun.

So, what exactly does this Summer of Fun look like in our house? I’m so glad you asked!

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Let me introduce Peanut & Henry. This is a photo of them enjoying the drive from MN to TN. They were great little travelers sitting in their cozy dog bed. They belong to Isaac. Isaac loves this little dogs so much. He’s often updating me on what they are doing. Yesterday, he was sad because one of his siblings moved on to playing something else before Isaac wanted to be done playing with the puppies. I told him that in the afternoon, I would help him with his dog training (that’s what he was playing).

And then I actually did it. I followed through and made Isaac’s day. We sat upstairs in the little area overlooking the entryway and trained our dogs. We learned to not reinforce their bad behavior (being wild and jumping up on us) and to give them lots of positive attention when they were being good. We even taught them how to jump through a little hoop.

The second genius move of last week was this one. Sometimes we invent things out of necessity. This was one of those times. I really wanted to sit and read a book. I also didn’t want to have the kids spend that time sitting in front a computer or television. That’s when I invented the idea of playing “Old-fashioned Cabin”. I told the kids we were playing “Cabin” and that the downstairs family room was the cabin. They could play with their toys and board games or read a book because that is what I picture people doing in their cabins on vacations when they are inside. I added the “old-fashioned” part because I wanted this to be a cabin without TV or internet. Genius move, right? Audrey played with her Barbies, Ethan played against himself in checkers (and won) and I don’t remember what Isaac did. Feel free to steel this idea.

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Another way I’m enjoying this Summer Of Fun is by watching the show Lost. It’s on Netflix and I’m several years late to the party, but a blogger I read is hosting a “Show Club” (instead of a book club) and we’re watching three episodes a week and discussing them online. This is not deep and it’s not anything that is going to contribute to my spiritual development, but it’s going to be fun! I’ve watched the first three episodes. If you haven’t watched, or you loved it and want to watch it again, you should do this with me by watching it on Netflix. If I follow the schedule, I’ll finish the first season this summer. Check it out here.

 

Who is with me? Let’s do this Summer Of Fun together!

When Anxiety Is Taking Your Motherhood Hostage

I feel tongue-tied or finger-tied or whatever you call it when you want to write, but you don’t know how to start. So, I’m going to start with where I am right now. OCD is kicking my tail.

I’m scared. Anxiety has a vice-grip on my parenting life right now.

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I dropped the kids off at VBS today (praise the Lord for morning drop-off VBS that I don’t have to staff) and I came home and prayed and cried. I moved on to folding laundry. Then I prayed and cried some more. Next, I multi-tasked and folded laundry and prayed at the same time.

This would be a particularly good time to have a mom to call. I was able to speak with my dad for a while and I’m so grateful for that.

Over the last year, we’ve had a long stretch of time where OCD wasn’t causing us much grief. This summer, on the other hand, is a different story. One of our kids is struggling with intrusive thoughts. This is a particularly nasty trick OCD plays. Combine a world full of horrible crap that an innocent child can stumble upon at any moment (an innocent internet search for Barbies that can bring up things you wouldn’t want to see that come up even with filters in place, foul language at the park, a scary movie,  . . . .) with OCD and your sweet child suddenly can’t stop a random loop of thoughts that make them feel horrible.

Lord, come quickly. How do I raise kids in this world? It’s so different than the one I grew up in. If you would have told me, before I had kids, that my own children would be raised in an age where they could carry in their pockets access to the worst the world has to offer, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So, I hold the child who is struggling and do my best to hide my own anxiety while assuring them that they are loved and that their brain is conspiring against them. I try to think of what tools we could use to fight back. It’s not the sort of thing I have given a lot of thought. Now, I have to think about it a lot.

Mental illness doesn’t play fair. OCD isn’t simply alphabetizing your DVD’s. Oh, how I wish it was.

I made a call the therapist’s office and asked for the earliest appointment. I need it as much as my child. Have I mentioned that I’m scared? The ironic thing is that OCD is anxiety-based and mixing that together with my own tendency toward being anxious, we’re a great big mess.

I’m praying that God will fill our minds with truth. Will you pray with us?

 

 

 

 

My 2016 Summer Reading List: Part I

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I should do this more often, but summer is when I really set aside time to read. Reading makes me think and dream. It fills me up and gives me something to draw from when I want to write. So, I’m considering this part of my job. I’m good with that 🙂 I’m also curious about other people’s reading lists. Summer is a great time to find new lists to inspire your own. This is what is in my stack right now:

Defiance by C.J. Redwine. This is the first book I finished this summer. It’s the first in a trilogy and I loved it! If you are looking for a good YA read that is reminiscent of Hunger Games, you’ll like this.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. I’ve heard lot of recommendations for this book and I can’t wait to dig in for myself.

Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl by Dannah Gresh.  Here’s a description from Amazon: “Studies show that the foundation for an emotionally healthy teen girl is built between the ages of 8-12 and that a good relationship with mom is one of the most important factors. So when the world wants girls to grow up too fast, how does a mother help her young daughter navigate the stormy waters of boy-craziness, modesty and body image, media, Internet safety, and more?”

Found Art by Leeana Tankersley. This is a memoir of the year the author spent in the Middle East with her husband who is a Navy Seal. I love memoirs!

Prayer Warrior Mom by Marla Alupoaicei. Honestly, I know nothing about this book. It was on the bargain shelf at Lifeway and I decided I needed it. Having a resource to encourage me to intercede for my family is something I know I can use.

Simplify by Bill Hybels. I’ll be helping lead a Bible Study this summer that is using this as a resource. It has sections on streamlining your schedule, spending wisely, relationships and God’s Word.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. This book has been on several book lists I’ve seen.Here’s a paragraph description from Amazon:

“Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time.”

 

You might not be able to tell from this list, but I’m making space for more fiction this summer. You’ll see more of that in Part II that I’ll post later. What’s on your list right now?

 

 

This entry was posted in Books.