Feb 29

What’s Next?

2008 at 3:29 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

We’ve readied ourselves for hormonal seasons, cut out unnecessary activities and devised simple strategies. All that is left is to do our duty; to get off the couch, to change the diaper; to go to work, to make the bed—whatever task is right in front of us.

It might be the last thing in the world we feel like doing, but God will provide the strength; and grace to endure will come as we obey. It’s a simple “way of escape” that this poem describes:

“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, DO THE NEXT THING.

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, DO THE NEXT THING.

Step by step, next thing by next thing, God will be faithful to help us to glorify Him in these challenging seasons.

The conclusion of our PMS Prep series next week, and Friday Funnies before the day is through…

Feb 28

A New Normal

2008 at 3:09 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

“I have been unexpectedly catapulted into menopause because of the chemo I was on last year” wrote a friend who is recovering from cancer. “This is a fairly common side affect for women my age. In my effort to ‘get back to normal’ I have been trying to go full throttle with everything. Wondering why I keep crying. Anyway, I think the hormonal changes have a lot to do with it. I am making an effort to simplify and look for a ‘new normal’ in this season. Thank you all so much. You have really encouraged me.”

My friend is right. We often need to find a “new normal” in these seasons of our lives. We need to adjust our lifestyle to keep the most important things most important. We brainstormed and came up with just a few “strategies to simplify.” These can all be useful for the week of PMS, the months of postpartum depression, the years of menopause, or any other unusually busy or difficult season.

To feed your soul:

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2Do whatever is necessary to spend time in God’s Word each day. If you are unable to do so in the morning (the ideal time), carve out space in the afternoon or evening. And if you don’t already, make sure to have a good Bible-reading plan to feed your soul. We highly recommend DA Carson’s For the Love of God, Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon, and Spurgeon’s commentaries on the Psalms.

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2Create a list of verses and gospel-focused quotes that can feed your soul. You could write them on index cards or even make a little booklet. Often, in these difficult seasons, we need simple, bite-sized truths from God’s Word to sustain us.

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2Have worship music or hymns, Bible readingor the Valley of Vision audio, or even good sermons around the house and in the car. Turn on a soundtrack of truth to replace the lies of your conscience and the enemy.

To serve your family/roommates:

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2 Focus on food and laundry (and not much else!). And keep it basic. No gourmet meals or new recipes! Go paper plates. Freeze meals ahead of time. Buy already prepared food. Do cereal if you have to! And simplify laundry by sending dress shirts to the dry cleaners or getting the kids to help sort.

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2My mom always said: “If you make your bed and do the dishes in the sink the house will feel a whole lot cleaner!” Don’t worry about the toys on the floor or the baseboards that need scrubbing. Just set simple, achievable goals like getting the bed made every day.

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2Get a shower. You’ll feel a whole lot better.

Stockxpertcom_id66407_size1_2Take naps and go to bed early.

We told you these were simple ideas. Although they may seem elementary, we often ignore them in favor of more complicated strategies designed to stuff our lives as full as possible. Instead, during these seasons, we should look to make extra space to meet with God and serve our families. And if we’re more peaceful in the process, then we’ll be a blessing to all around us.

Feb 27

A Simple Season

2008 at 6:06 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

My life is pretty simple these days. I’ve cut way back on activities and responsibilities. As I wrote in a previous post, I have been more sick (and emotional) this pregnancy than with Caly. When sickness first set in, I tried hard to keep my normal schedule: still waking up early and tackling my to-do list. But I was failing royally. I was exhausted and couldn’t keep up. Change was needed. I knew I needed to simplify.

I had to acknowledge that the Lord had placed limitations in this season of my life. It was humbling, but these limitations were God-given and for my good. So, I pared down my life to the two most important things: tending to my soul and caring for my family (to the best of my ability).

Making these two areas a priority meant cutting out other projects and pursuits and even disappointing people at times. I have said “no” to certain social events and photography jobs. I have barely picked up my camera in over two months. (And for someone who used to take pictures every day, that is pretty drastic!) I purposefully take one to two naps every day. All this so I can conserve my energy and spend it on a quiet time and caring for my family’s basic needs.

How can you simplify in hormonal seasons so that your family and your spiritual life are the main priorities? What do you need to cut out of your life temporarily so that these two most important things don’t get crowded out by less significant activities and events? If we don’t purpose to pare down in these difficult seasons (or days of the month), then we’ll most likely end up overwhelmed and exhausted, neglecting what is most important.

This week I have begun to feel the sickness lifting. Slowly but surely my energy is returning. And soon I will begin adding things back in to my schedule. But in six short months, when baby number 2 arrives, it’s gonna be a “simplify” season once again.

Check back tomorrow for “strategies to simplify.”

Feb 26

Get Ready

2008 at 5:20 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

As promised, we’re going to spend the rest of the week considering some practical ways “ways of escape” in the midst of hormonal seasons such as PMS or menopause or postpartum depression. The first is, “Get Ready.”

Now, of course, we can’t always plan ahead. Maybe we are caught totally unawares by postpartum depression or perhaps menopause comes early or our monthly cycles are irregular. This will be true for many of us, and God’s grace is available to help us through.

If these seasons do come unexpectedly, though, we can still stop and pray and plan for the duration. Maybe we pull away for a few minutes when we realize it’s a PMS day. Or, we take an afternoon to pray and read if we find ourselves floundering in the midst of menopause or postpartum depression.

Here are three simple suggestions to get ready:

1. Check the calendar: If you know you struggle with PMS every month, then figure out Stockxpertcom_id717493_size1_2 when that might be. Tell your husband or roommates as well. If you experienced postpartum depression with your first child, be aware (not afraid) that you might experience it again. And while we can’t predict when menopause will come exactly, we do know it will probably be in the middle to later years of our life.

2. Read up: Soaking ourselves in gospel-centered materials will help strengthen us for the fight ahead. Consider reading books such as Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper (you can read online) or Chapter 13 in Seeing With New Eyes by David Powlison, entitled “What Do You Feel?” Also, getting a medical education (from a biblical perspective) can be of great benefit. We suggest you begin with Blame it on the Brain by Ed Welch. Or, if it is something as predictable as PMS, simply having a verse at the ready can be invaluable.

3. Get Help: If you think menopause might be around the corner, pursue godly women for practical and spiritual advice. If you believe you might experience postpartum depression again, ask for help from your husband and a godly woman to prepare. Or simply ask someone to speak truth to you in the middle of PMS. Obviously, help from your doctor may be in order as well. We’ll touch on that later in the week.

Some practical “in the middle of it” thoughts tomorrow…

Feb 25

Never So Bad

2008 at 1:56 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

To learn how to handle our feelingsrejoice even when we don’t feel happy, resolve to obey even when we don’t want to—this is Way of Escape #1 from the hormonal maze.

Way of Escape #2 (and #1 in order of importance) is to remember the gospel. More specifically, remember that we are justified—declared righteous—before God on the basis of what Christ has done for us on the cross and not our performance during PMS.

When hormones are raging, we’re often prone to focus on our (lack of ) obedience and become discouraged when we fail. We sometimes (wrongly) feel we can’t “get right” with God until our postpartum depression goes away. We tend to walk around in a cloud of condemnation instead of coming to God, repenting, and receiving forgiveness for our sins, and strength to endure.

Stockxpertcom_id96073_size1 That’s why we must remind ourselves more vigorously than ever that we are justified ONLY by what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross. We are not less able to come to God on days when we feel discouraged, depressed, or have been irritable than on the days when we are rejoicing and victorious. That’s because we are only ever acceptable to God because of Christ and what He has done for us on the cross.

Or to paraphrase Jerry Bridges (in a way I’m not sure he intended, but hopefully one he would approve of): Our PMS days are never so bad that we are beyond the reach of God’s grace, and our best post postpartum depression days are never so good that we are beyond the need of God’s grace.

Tomorrow: we’ll continue with more practical “ways of escape.”

Feb 22

Unhappy, Yet…

2008 at 3:57 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

Stockxpertcom_id9476252_size1 I used to think that if I didn’t feel happy, I must be sinning. So during PMS, all my unhappy feelings were compounded by the guilt and condemnation I felt over my unhappy feelings which only generated more unhappy feelings!

This bit of advice from D. Martyn Lloyd Jones has helped to break that unhappy cycle:

“There is all the difference in the world between rejoicing and feeling happy. The Scripture tells us that we should always rejoice [Phil. 4:4]....To rejoice is a command, yes, but there is all the difference in the world between rejoicing and being happy. You cannot make yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice, in the sense that you will always rejoice in the Lord. Happiness is something within ourselves, rejoicing is ‘in the Lord.’ Take the fourth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. There you will find that the great Apostle puts it all very plainly and clearly in that series of extraordinary contrasts which he makes: ‘We are troubled on every side (I don’t think he felt very happy at the moment) yet not distressed’, ‘we are perplexed (he wasn’t feeling happy at all at that point) but not in despair’, ‘persecuted but not forsaken’, ‘cast down, but not destroyed’—and so on. In other words the Apostle does not suggest a kind of happy person in a carnal sense, but he was still rejoicing.”

Happiness is something within ourselves, rejoicing is ‘in the Lord.’ What liberating truth. Our feelings and emotions may fluctuate, but the eternal God never changes, and we can rejoice in Him, no matter what time of the month it is!

Feb 21

Not A Time to Analyze

2008 at 4:36 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

PMS can be a time of spiritual growth. It is not a time to assess your spiritual growth. It is not a time to measure your maturity, or take stock of your sanctification.

Stockxpertcom_id6253241_size1 Martyn Lloyd Jones’ advice is sound: “Do not spend too much time feeling your own pulse taking your own spiritual temperature, do not spend too much time analyzing your feelings. That is the high road to morbidity.”

On a normal day we should be careful not to spend excessive time analyzing our feelings. But on a PMS day, such self-examination is most unhelpful. If we try to “take our spiritual temperature” when our hormones are raging, the reading will most certainly be inaccurate. And we run the risk of compounding our discouragement and despair.

Today, if it’s a PMS day, is a chance to grow. Tomorrow we can evaluate that growth.

Feb 20

A Time to Grow

2008 at 5:37 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Dealing with PMS | Dealing with Menopause

There are few times I feel less spiritual than when I face physical and hormonal challenges such as PMS and (now) menopause. I feel tired and irritable, my sin sometimes spilling over onto those around me.

My strategy has often been to try and wait it out. Once this is over, I tell myself, then I’ll get back to making progress in the Christian life. I forget that I am smack in the middle of God’s plan for my life! God has ordained these hormonal days along with all the others! Menopause isn’t simply a trial to get through. It’s an opportunity for testing faith and spiritual growth.

Elizabeth Prentiss beautifully expresses this point:

Stockxpertcom_id859159_size1 “God never place us in any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress.”

The best kind of progress. Far from precipitating a spiritual decline, we often grow more in these difficult seasons than when life is easy, and we feel like we’re flourishing (remember, those feelings can’t be trusted!)

That’s why the apostle Paul sees weakness as an opportunity for boasting in the Lord:

“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

For the sake of Christ, we are to boast in our weaknesses, we are to be content in menopause or PMS or postpartum depression. For when we are weak, it is then that His power rests on us. What an opportunity!