Several years ago, we had a year where everything fell apart.
Things had started off so well that school year. We found out we were expecting a new baby in August. We already had two wonderful boys, and we were so excited to welcome another little one into the family.
But, I was nervous. I didn’t think much about anything going wrong when I was pregnant with my first two, but for some reason I was anxious this time around.
My husband was facing a tremendous amount of stress at his job, and it was wearing him down. To make things worse, he was battling some health problems we didn’t understand, which were just exacerbated by that stress.
That October, I had the opportunity to go to a women’s conference with our church. A whole weekend to relax and not have to change diapers? Count me in!
And then, in the midst of an amazing weekend, it happened.
It started off with a little bleeding. My sister-in-law drove me home from the conference early. Within a few days, I had miscarried our little one. My doctor told me it was a genetic abnormality, and that it was unlikely I would miscarry again.
Within two weeks of miscarrying, we made a drastic diet change for my husband and boys to try to help their health problems. Within a few months of that, we went through several urgent care and ER trips for various problems, and we felt like we were continually sick.
In February, we thought things were starting to look up. I got pregnant again, and we were cautiously optimistic.
Two days after that little positive stick, my husband found out the news: the district would not be hiring him back for the fall. The job hunt began – which, as those of you who have been through that before are well aware, is a roller coaster of a journey full of lots of hard work and sometimes little return.
A few weeks later, at the memorial service for my great grandfather, I started bleeding again, exactly as I had at the start of my miscarriage. One more thing piled onto a crushing year.
It’s even a little surreal to look back and see all we had gone through. How in the world did we survive?
What do you do when everything goes wrong? When life crushes you and you’re just overwhelmed?
And I don’t know if you feel the same, but this is sometimes how I feel:
Some days you don’t even know how in the world you can face for the next few weeks, let alone months.
Some days, it feels incredibly lonely.
Some days, you’re plagued with self-doubt and worry.
Some days, it feels crushing.
I know many of you may have faced, or are currently facing, much more trying circumstances than what I’ve faced. Some of it I don’t think I could even begin to fathom. But my hope is that some of this may help, even if only a little.
I know what you may be thinking – “Ellen, this just isn’t a simple season…everything is complicated!”
And I hear you (oh, do I hear you…). There may be a lot of craziness going on, but I’m betting you can find at least a thing or two to simplify in your life or home.
Get creative. Don’t try to do all of these at once (that isn’t keeping things simple!) but pick one or two that may work for you:
- Get rid of some excess clutter that may be stressing you out
- Hire someone to help clean or trade favors with a friend to get some help
- Buy paper plates (guess what we’ve been using this summer?)
- Make simple, easy meals – or grab ready to go meals from the store if you can
- Say no to things that aren’t necessary or that are just adding unneeded stress to this season of life
This may be a friend who gets it. It may be supportive family who is there for you. It may be an online group of people you trust and who understand what you are going through.
For me, this is my sisters-in-law. We do a lot of Google Hangouts, and we are always sharing tips with one another. They are a constant source of encouragement to me.
Find joy in what you can
It might not feel like there’s much joy in your life when you’re facing struggles. But try to find joy in the small things. If it helps, start by writing down one thing each day that you are thankful for.
There is such encouragement knowing that the almighty creator of the universe is there for me and can help me.
And one of my favorite books…
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode (affiliate link) – Let me tell you, I was skeptical of this book at first. Not because of the author – I loved Crystal and had been following her blog for years! But it came out a couple months after I miscarried and smack in the middle of all of that craziness I was telling you about.
In the midst of all that was happening, I thought, “Say goodbye to survival mode? I’m in the trenches of survival mode with no end in sight! What could you possibly say to me that would help me say goodbye to it?!”
But I bought the book. And I am so glad I did.
It helped me wrestle through some things and think through what I was doing with my life. I now re-read it every 6 -12 months, especially focusing on going through the priorities exercise she has. And I learn a little more every time.
I encourage you to get this book. Even if only a little helps you, it will be worth it.
Back to my story…
I was crushed when the bleeding started. Even after an early ultrasound and the doctor assuring me the heartbeat was strong, it was hard to imagine everything would be fine. I thought I was going to have to go through it all again – losing another child.
But, by some miracle, we didn’t. Our little guy was tough and strong, and now he’s 20 months old and full of so much life.
I’d love to tell you that life has been sweet and dandy since – but that would be a lie. Many blessings have come. My husband got a job at an amazing district we love, with an incredible, supportive staff that feels like a family. We were able to move closer to family, back to our beautiful hometown. I started working from home at a job I love.
But, we are still struggling with some serious health problems. Some days it feels it still feels crushing and overwhelming and lonely, and we just want to curl up and cry (and sometimes we do). We keep things as simple as we can, sometimes feeling silly at how many things we have to say “no” to. We keep going, and remember our purpose.
If you’re having one of those months (or years) where it feels like everything is falling apart, take heart. Use just one tip from above to see if it will help. Maybe it’s buying some fresh flowers for your home. Maybe it’s finding an encouraging book. Maybe you send a quick message to a friend letting them know you need prayer. Just keep pressing on, and find joy in what you can.