Tag Archives: depression

Homeschooling with Depression

I was a homeschool mom who suffered with depression for the first eight years of homeschooling. I hope sharing what allowed me to function and homeschool in the midst of depression and what brought me through it might be helpful to other moms who find themselves depressed, discouraged, or simply feeling down.

Depression wasn’t a part of my life until after I began having children. Then it was something I faced on a regular basis over the course of several years. Amazingly, the Lord called our family to homeschool while I was still in the middle of dealing with my depression.

A Schedule for Life in Depression

I know I say this often, but I will say it again. Having a schedule was a lifeline to me as I managed homeschooling with depression. I did not want to give up homeschooling because of depression. The schedule was a tool that allowed me to care for my young and growing family plus homeschool.

That schedule directed my time usage and alleviated many decisions that I know would have been overwhelming to me, and which I likely wouldn’t have been able to make. When we think of a woman and depression, we tend to imagine her curled up in bed all day. The schedule, along with a great measure of God’s grace, got me out of bed each morning and moved me through the things that needed to be accomplished every day.

Because of the schedule, even with depression we had meals at a set time. We were faithful with homeschooling, and the children excelled in their academics. I could keep up with laundry and housekeeping. Can you imagine how not doing those things would have fueled my depression because often depression can lead to a vicious cycle? Tasks aren’t being accomplished, and the feeling of failure and the increasingly-overwhelming list of things to catch up on leads to still deeper depression. If you want to know what I learned about scheduling and how you can schedule, that information is found in Managers of Their Homes.

Scripture Overcomes Depression

Part of my schedule was time in God’s Word first thing every morning. Does a depressed homeschool mom feel like reading her Bible? For me, the answer was no. To be honest, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, except maybe crying—and I did a fair amount of that. Yet I knew the ultimate solution for my depression was in the Lord Jesus, and I was aware that His communication to me came through His Word. I clung to passages of Scripture that I could relate to and that gave me a measure of hope. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Not only did Scripture give me hope while homeschooling and being depressed, but it also directed my thoughts when they were consumed with negativism and gloom. I regularly read Lamentations 3, and I related to the descriptions there. These verses were something I could use to push out the wrong thoughts. “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lamentations 3:21-24). Hallelujah!

Because my depression included worry, anger, and self-pity, that time in the Word each day was teaching me God’s way to deal with each of those. I certainly wasn’t a perfect student, reading a verse and applying it immediately and consistently to my life. However, in spite of my slow and stumbling spiritual learning style, the Lord gently taught and encouraged me.

Living the Word Helps Depression

Reading His Word had to translate to moment-by-moment action, which for me was harder than simply reading the Word. Sometimes I remember feeling spiritually uplifted and excited as I read my Bible, only to begin my homeschooling day in defeat if my mind was playing the same negative, broken record of depressed thoughts. Those thoughts needed to be replaced with Scriptural thoughts.

I found this verse to be very true: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). I needed to pair that with this verse: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

“Learn and do” was the theme of my spiritual walk during those days. The doing was not so much physical, although many days it was acting differently than I felt. The doing was mostly accomplished in my mind—taking the wrong thoughts captive and replacing them with the truth of the Word.

My natural responses came from my life before Christ when I was walking in the flesh, filled with selfishness and pride. Those all had to be transformed by the renewing of my mind with the Word and then obediently using what I was learning.

Prayer Enables Through Depression

Does it sound like at that time I was a spiritual giant to be able read God’s Word, learn from it, take my thoughts captive, and be a transformed woman with no more depression? I was too weak to do that on my own so I was continually crying out to the Lord for His grace, mercy, and strength. Often I felt like it was a minute-by-minute prayer. “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily” (Psalm 86:3).

I was bringing my failures to the Lord in repentance and asking for His help in overcoming them. Failing, repenting, and failing again in the same area heaped guilt onto an already fragile heart. These two verses were ones to which I clung: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). That was truth!

Exercise and Depression

Another priority we kept in my schedule was daily exercise. For me it was a walk. That put me outside in the fresh air, away from the environment that I struggled in, and gave me some time away from my normal responsibilities—all that in addition to getting exercise. I usually walked with my mom or with Steve so I had companionship and communication during the exercise, too. These days we read that exercise provides not only physical benefits but also mental ones by stimulating the production of endorphins. I think, for me, it had both those positive impacts.

I Didn’t Use Medication with my Depression

In my depression, I chose not to use medication. That was my decision, but my husband agreed and approved. There were several reasons I didn’t want to use medication. The main reason was that I wanted my healing to be from the Lord. The secondary reason was that I thought there was a possibility that if I started on medication, I might not be able to stop using it. I was concerned about the long-term health effects of being on a pharmaceutical.

Homeschooling with Depression

I am eternally grateful that the Lord allowed me to homeschool through my depression by giving me physical and spiritual tools to combat the depression and to be able to live life with it. Even though that depression lasted over the course of about eight of our thirty years of homeschooling, He gave me many more homeschooling years without depression than with it.

While living with the depression seemed long and tedious, I now look back and see all the work the Lord did in my heart to bring me out of the depression, to allow me to homeschool with it, and to mold me into what I am today. I praise His glorious name.

We have some resources that might also be beneficial to you in this area:

Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit
Sweet Journey
Sweet Relationships

Each of those books have come out of my experience with homeschooling, depression, and the work the Lord Jesus was doing in my life. The testimonies we have received over the years affirm that they can help you too.

Here is a link to another article I wrote about my depression.

Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In Sweet Relationships, I mentioned godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow. Recently, I had a mom request that I write a Mom’s Corner with more information on the difference between the two. Here are the verses from which I get the terms “godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow”:

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Difference Between Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In context, I think that godly sorrow here is talking about sorrow for our sin and the state of our lives before salvation. That sorrow leads to the repentance that is necessary for a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, as I would read this section of Scripture during my years of depression, I could see that those terms related to the sorrow that I was dealing with in my life.

When I failed—perhaps I was angry with the children, for instance—I would feel sorry, intensely sorry. My sorrow, though, wasn’t godly sorrow but rather worldly sorrow. My sorrow focused on myself, my inability to be patient, and my continual failures. I had a pity party for myself through my sorrowing—“poor me” was at the center of my thoughts. Sometimes I would cry and cry over my failure. That type of sorrow was certainly leading me further into depression.

As I cried out to the Lord for help, He began showing me the difference between my worldly sorrow and what godly sorrow would be. The focus of godly sorrow is those who have been hurt or offended by the action—the Lord and the other person—not the offender. My thoughts needed to turn from “poor me” to the actual sin and the ones I was wronging through that sin. My emotion should have been for them rather than for myself.

Through those insights, the Lord showed me how to move from worldly sorrow to godly sorrow. He also gave me a specific verse to facilitate this change. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). For me, godly sorrow meant that I would confess my sin not only to God but also to the one I had sinned against, usually my husband or children. I would ask for their forgiveness.

I am not perfect in having godly sorrow instead of worldly sorrow, but that change was instrumental in pulling me from depression and in keeping me from it. Godly sorrow is my desire now, and when I realize that I am wallowing in worldly sorrow, I know the path out of it.

Distinct Markers Between Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In the years since the Lord showed me the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow for my own life, I have observed some additional contrasts. Often, worldly sorrow uses the words, “I am sorry.” There is no real response to that statement. On the other hand, godly sorrow uses the words, “Please forgive me.” That statement gives the other person the opportunity to forgive, which would be a biblically-correct emotional release for both parties.

Worldly sorrow generally makes excuses for the action, such as: “I was tired. I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t thinking straight. I can’t handle so much going on at once.” That seems to indicate it wasn’t really the fault of the person who did wrong. Sometimes those excuses can almost put the blame on the one who was wronged, implying that in some way they actually caused the other person’s negative words or actions. Godly sorrow takes the blame. When I have godly sorrow, I say I was wrong and ask for forgiveness without justification.

Worldly sorrow seems to exist in a realm of pride, whereas godly sorrow appears to be wrapped in humility. Because of the excuses and focus on self, my worldly sorrow was the epitome of pride. It was there because I couldn’t handle or face my failures. The repentance involved in godly sorrow is a key factor in humility. 1 Peter 5:5-6 tells us to “ . . . be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God . . .”

Another difference between godly sorrow that is rooted in humility and worldly sorrow that is likely rooted in pride is that worldly sorrow does not want the offense brought up once it has passed and been worked through. The humility of godly sorrow allows it to be spoken of in the future, and the offender once again expresses his sadness to the offended over the situation.

An extreme example of this is marital unfaithfulness, but it can apply to lesser offenses as well. The situations that have been shared with us have involved a husband being unfaithful. In the aftermath of that, as the couple tries to rebuild their lives together, worldly sorrow reacts to any boundaries that a wife may desire. For example, the husband will be unhappy if his wife wants to know where he is going alone or asks to have protection on the Internet. The man who lives in godly sorrow welcomes accountability and uses it to affirm his commitment to the marriage and love for his wife.

I have walked in both worldly and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow only brought greater despair to my life, whereas godly sorrow led me to peace and freedom. I pray that each of you may experience the victory of godly sorrow rather than the condemnation of worldly sorrow.

A Journey Through Depression

In one of Steve’s monthly homeschooling articles for dads, he mentioned that my bouts with depression were part of the reason we decided, at one point, to limit our family size. We were amazed at how many people e-mailed us, after that one sentence in his article, to ask how we had dealt with the problem of depression. It seemed fitting to put together our thoughts on a subject we would be just as happy to shove into the closet and forget was ever a part of our lives. However, there is the possibility that our experience and the changes the Lord has brought in this area might be helpful to others.1 Certainly, depression plays a huge role in the stealing of a meek and quiet spirit.

It has only been eight years since the Lord has given me freedom from the at-times-devastating depression with which I had struggled. It was usually worst during the year I nursed a baby. My pain through those difficult years was very real and is not that distant. I can fully understand the concerned feelings of a mom who is struggling with times of depression, and the worry of her husband, because that was our experience too.

I can’t point to a miracle cure, nor did I discover a twelve-step program to overcome depression. This is probably so I can take no pride in what I did but always know it was the Lord’s work. I will share what we see, in retrospect, about things that helped move me away from depression, and perhaps there will be something here that the Lord can use in another’s life.

One of my first lessons to learn was that the Lord works in His time. I wanted to be over the emotional downs right away. I didn’t want it to be “in process,” and sometimes I was even angry with God because He wasn’t helping me to be better right away. If He was the One to work in my life and I was still depressed, angry, and struggling, then it was His fault! That thinking was totally wrong, but that was how far off my ability to think truth had moved. I had to learn to accept my failings and sinfulness and wait on the Lord for what He would do in my life. It was not my time table. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

My depression was humbling because I knew I wasn’t what I should be or what He wanted me to be. I even confessed to my church family what was going on in my life. That was a start towards the healing process for me. The depression was no longer something I had hidden away in my private life. Rather, now the Lord could use the prayers of my church family to help me.

I stayed faithful to daily Bible reading and prayed through those dark times, even though I might feel distant from and forgotten by the Lord. However, in the midst of those black days, I was sometimes closer to the Lord than I have ever been. This was because I was totally helpless and needy, not knowing where to turn or what to do.

We discovered that there were very real hormonal imbalances that affected my emotions. I would do everything I could to deny this, but it was very obvious to everyone except me. What I could normally handle one day would send me into tears another day. I used the natural progesterone cream (can be found in most health food stores or see Note 2 at the end of this Corner) for a time along with vitamins suggested by our naturopathic doctor friend (You would need to research the vitamins on your own, because I no longer have that list.). I eliminated caffeine as well.

Daily exercise was critical at this time. I know daily exercise sounds impossible to an already depressed, overwhelmed, terribly tired mom. Exercisemy walks—were about the only time I was away from home. Just getting out of the environment that I was struggling with for a short period each day, plus the effect of the exercise itself, was very helpful. When I would begin to feel myself spiraling down, getting out would sometimes be the only thing that would change the course of my emotions.

Being tired was a sure way to put me off balance. I am a light sleeper, often being wakened in the night by a noise or perhaps the need to nurse a baby. After that, I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. For eight years now, I have worn earplugs (The soft, spongy type; see Note 3 at the end of this Corner) when I sleep. It has transformed my ability to sleep. I thought not being able to sleep was just a part of my physical makeup. Not so! Since I began wearing earplugs, I hardly ever have a sleepless night. Steve became the “ears” for our family, and I know he will wake me up if the children need me. (Earplugs may not be an option for a mom whose husband can’t do this.)

If you want to see what being tired does to even the most “spiritual” of people, look at Scripture. The story of Elijah running from Jezebel after the Mt. Carmel experience is a great example. Elijah was tired and this is what happened from 1 Kings 19:3-5, “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” Sisters, guard sufficient sleep in your life very carefully. Don’t trade it for quiet late nights when the children are asleep, and you can have some peace. It isn’t worth it!

I discovered I made it best through a time of depression when I didn’t try to analyze what was causing it. It was better to accept my feelings—as Steve would encourage me to do—like a physical ailment to be patiently waited out. The more I ferreted for the causes the more discouraged and upset I would become.

However, the times I accepted the feelings and said, “Lord, I don’t like this, but I’m going to focus on You and not on me. I am not going to make any major decisions. I’m not going to root for the cause. I will just wait. If I wait, it will pass with no damage except for feeling down. If I think about it and talk to Steve about it, it will pull me further down, resulting in wrong thoughts and words.”

When Steve had run out of ideas for how to help me on his own, he found a pastor’s wife who agreed to counsel with me. Janice and I only met in person one time for an afternoon. She started by making sure that I knew I was saved (see Note 4 at the end of the Corner). With that assurance, she then gave me a couple of tangible projects to put my focus on the Lord rather than on myself. I called her a few times on the phone—at Steve’s insistence—but the path she set me on was exactly what I needed even though we didn’t have multiple “counseling” sessions.

Here are two of her projects. Perhaps they will be helpful to you as well. The first project involved learning to take captive my wrong thoughts—thoughts of being depressed or overwhelmed, thoughts that I was going to ruin my children, thoughts that I would never feel normal, thoughts of anger, bitterness, or defeat, thoughts of being overwhelmed. Those thoughts were all lies. Second Corinthians 10:5 is now one of my favorite verses. It says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” I was to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ! For example, the truth in regard to the feeling of being overwhelmed is that the Lord hasn’t given me one more thing than there is time to do. If there isn’t time to do it, then He doesn’t expect it of me. My family was better off with next to nothing being done and me being happy, then for me to try to do everything my expectations said needed to done while I was depressed and my mind running in circles, able to concentrate on nothing.

The pastor’s wife encouraged me to begin a notebook. She showed me hers. It was a simple 8 ½ by 11 inch three ring binder with “ABC” tabs in it. Behind the tabs she had notebook paper, each with a topic on it such as, “Anger,” “Discouragement,” “Discipline” etc. When she had her Bible reading time, she would take verses that applied to her and copy them down in her notebook under an appropriate heading. Then when she needed to think “truth,” she could open her notebook and read it.

I would suggest that moms, who are prone to depression, do some of this evaluating of what you are thinking and replace the lies with God’s truth. Begin a notebook such as I have described. If you can’t think of God’s truth—I know there were many times when I couldn’t—get your Bible or notebook out and find that truth. Read God’s truth. Speak it out loud if necessary! Sometimes, I would have to say the words of truth out loud because my thinking was so muddled and twisted that I could not concentrate on or accept the truth when it remained in my mind. However, when I spoke the words, my heart would grab hold of them!

For the second project, I was to have another section of the notebook titled, “Sin List.” Every time I sinned, I was to write it in the notebook. I was then to confess the sin to the Lord, repent, and ask His forgiveness. In my notebook, I would write “FORGIVEN” over that sin.

How do you handle it when you are depressed? Do you become more and more unhappy with yourself for being depressed and make a worse cycle downward? I would do that, or I would end up becoming angry with the children and “beat” myself up about that. In my Mom’s Corner, No Condemnation, I share how the Lord gave me victory over that cycle although I write of it in terms of the struggles I have now. However, the truths I apply with my current problems are the ones the Lord taught me in the depths of my need. Learning “no condemnation” came from the “Sin List” project Janice gave me.

I believe a most powerful change came when I made a decision before the Lord one morning. I remember showering and thinking, “Lord, I just feel like crying all the time. I am miserable. My family is miserable. I can’t seem to do anything about how I feel, but I can do something about how my family feels. I can act like I am happy whether I feel like it or not. My emotions don’t have to drive my behavior, and I can make that choice because of my love for my family.” Those reading this, who are living with depression, may think this would be impossible for them to do. I encourage you to test yourself. When you are down and go to church, can others tell by looking at you and talking to you that you are depressed? If you can make this choice to act differently than you feel there, you can do it at home!

I think if depression-prone moms could figure out a way to work on even a skeleton of a schedule, it would help. I have had many moms write me and say that when they are distracted, brain dead, or just overwhelmed that their schedule directed them through their day when they couldn’t make decisions themselves. If you have somewhat of a schedule in place, despite tiredness, despite feelings, many things would get done because it would be the easiest path to take – just do what the schedule says. Without my schedule, on those bad days, I would have just sat and cried. That would have made everything even worse because then I would have been a day behind! Plus you can let your schedule direct your children when you don’t have the energy to keep up with what you would like to be doing. At least they are accomplishing things rather than just undoing everything you have done.

If it is any encouragement, I asked my older children if they remembered the struggles I had during those early, difficult days of their lives. My older boys (21 and 23) remember nothing negative. Can you believe the Lord can blind our children to what is going on inside of us especially when so much of it is easily visible? My 18 year old daughter only remembers one time that I was really struggling. I don’t share that as a license to allow the hormones or depression to control your life and emotions. Rather I tell it to help you to not feel that it is ever hopeless because there is too much emotional damage already done to you and to the children.

Twenty-three years ago I would never have believed where the Lord has brought me in relation to depression. I thought it was impossible to be free of it, but I am. The process was gradual. I wanted it to happen right away. Looking back, fifteen years isn’t all that long to lose what was such a devastating, negative part of my life.

As women, God has created us such that there are emotions and hormones to be coped with. That is still true in my life. However, a disappointment, a “down” day, a discouraging situation is nothing more than that. These no longer send me spiraling through depression. They are simply normal burdens to be left with my Lord Jesus, while I rest in Him.

I pray the Lord will give each mom, who needs help in the area of depression, insight into what will make a difference. Steve always encouraged me that as long as my heart’s desire was to please the Lord, He would answer that heart’s cry.

Somehow these words just don’t come close to describing what all those difficult years were like, but my prayer is that you will sense in my heart a deep desire to be able to encourage moms that it can be better even if you are homeschooling, if there are more pregnancies and more babies, or if there are more challenges of any kind. My growing out of the depression was a result, I believe, of a process the Lord brought me through in the midst of homeschooling, pregnancies, and babies. Seek the Lord!

Love,
Teri Maxwell

The September 2000 Dad’s Corner also focuses on Depression.

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Notes:

1. We are not doctors; we cannot make medical recommendations. We are only sharing our own personal experiences. We encourage each of you to pray and research as you look for your solutions to depression.

2. The progesterone cream I used is called ProGest, and it is made by Emerita. There are many progesterone creams currently available, but ProGest is the only one I had experience using. Here is a link to it at Amazon (this is an affiliate link, so if you purchase something, the Titus2 ministry will receive a small portion: see our policy here).

3. You would need to research the vitamins on your own, because I no longer have the list.

4. The ear plugs I use are called “Classic” by Cabot Safety Corporation, 317-692-6666.

5. Scripture verses outlining salvation:

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:8-10: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Romans 10:9-10: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

A Husband’s Perspective on His Wife’s Depression

We have had so many e-mail us to ask about how we dealt with the depression Teri suffered from years ago, we decided to write this month’s Corners on it. It is important to remember that we are not doctors giving advice but believers sharing our experience. What I am writing in this Dad’s Corner is a result of what the Lord taught me through the years Teri struggled with times of depression. Depression was a part of her life off and on for about fifteen years. It was the worst when I worked long hours and traveled a great deal. Only in the last eight years has the Lord brought Teri out of those dark times. Not only was the depression something Teri had to cope with, but it obviously had an impact on the children and me as well.

When a wife is suffering with depression, it can be very difficult for the family. Depending on the age of the children, they may be aware of it and asking questions as to why Mommy is crying or sad. There don’t seem to be any easy answers. However, everyone is in agreement that they want Mommy happy again.

Working through issues in my mind was critical to developing a godly perspective on Teri’s depression. It was very easy to think about myself and not the pain Teri was suffering. I believe that was absolutely the first and most important step: that I would get my mind off of myself and focus on my wife’s and children’s needs. Isn’t that what we are really called to do as husbands and fathers? Isn’t that a perfect picture of the shepherd who is tenderly caring for an injured sheep?

I had to realize that God was not surprised by the situation. He had a plan for it. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29). God desired to use my wife’s depression to conform me into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note that the word “conform” is from the Greek word “morphe,” from which we get the word morph. His desire is to morph us into the image of Christ. Are we willing?

It may mean that there are “things” in my life that are hindering God’s conforming me into the image of Christ. I believe that God uses problems in a wife’s (and children’s) life to bring serious pressure to bear on a husband. As long as things are smooth sailing, we might not be willing to deal with areas that may be displeasing to the Lord. However, as the pain grows in my family, I become increasingly more willing to surrender what I might not previously have let go. I have now learned to use every serious difficulty that our family faces as motivation to cry out to God to examine my life and for Him to point out sin that He wants to eliminate. Pain in the family can become a wonderful stimulus to seek God’s will for change in my life.

I also saw my wife’s struggles as opportunities to show her my love. It is easy to love someone when she is pleasant and meeting my needs, but what about when her eyes are swollen from crying, and she isn’t much fun to be around? Maybe it isn’t too difficult for one or two days, but what about when it is longer than that? Truly, I could demonstrate that I meant my wedding vows by choosing to love Teri through better or worse. Whether my wife is discouraged all the time or just a few days a month, I must be understanding and love her as Christ loved the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Those are not just nice-sounding words used to fill up an empty page; God commanded us husbands to live them out. I must choose to give of myself in whatever way God tells me to. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). So what does “according to knowledge” mean? Vine’s Expository Dictionary amplifies it as “to come to understand.” I needed to understand the struggles my wife was having. I needed to shoulder the load she was stumbling under.

When Teri was depressed, I had to learn how to listen. As I prayerfully listened I heard about things that I had not adequately dealt with, things that produce bitterness and hurt. Unresolved offenses are fertile ground for Satan to sow seeds of doubt and discouragement in a wife’s heart.

As I listened, I heard about areas of intense struggle with the children that she did not have answers for and that led to frustration. Again, they had to be dealt with as well. A dad may hear that his wife is discouraged because she is too busy while accomplishing too little. Dads often can be the cause of encouraging lots of activities for the children. This can be terribly draining to Mom of both energy and time, not to mention introducing many additional character problems with the children. We need to be prepared to encourage the elimination of unproductive use of time and be willing to help. It might mean doing the grocery shopping or cleaning house; whatever it takes, we should be prepared to do it as long as necessary. Although one caution is that I don’t believe it would have been good for Teri if she’d had nothing to do. Idleness gives Satan much opportunity for working in a person’s mind. A certain balance of work and rest is good, but having nothing to do is harmful.

One thing I learned was that doing the family budget was stressful for Teri. She had begun doing it to free up some of my time. However, it was adding to the pressure she was under and was actually hindering me from being financially responsible. I have found, and now believe, that it is good for the husband to manage the finances so he feels the financial pressure. I am freer with money than Teri is, and when she tracked the spending, it caused her to worry. However, if I have to manage it and see the bills, I’m more likely to be careful. I now handle the finances–not as efficiently as she did, but adequately and without her having the pressure.

There could be other areas of responsibility that a wife has taken on that really should be her husband’s. When a wife is shouldering any extra load that God did not intend for her to, it can clearly lead to depression. Unfortunately, most wives will quickly step in to take over an area when the husband is not doing the job.

There are many things I don’t understand about women, and one in particular is the effect clutter has on them. I can be content with a closet so full it takes a week to find something in it! As long as the door is closed, I’m fine. Not so with most women. There is something about clutter that nags at a woman’s heart and will bring her down. I know that when I help Teri by building storage areas and weeding things out, she is unbelievably grateful. It is as if a big weight is lifted from her shoulders.

When she was struggling, I needed to understand that her choice of words might be less gracious than normal. I had to be prepared to be loving and accepting anyway. The situation would not have been improved if I became insensitive and offended because she was more direct now than at other times. Truly, we need to be men of understanding. Next, I believe that the husband needs to take full responsibility for his wife’s depression. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). It was not my wife’s problem, but it was my problem. We are one, and if part of the union is hurting, we are both hurting. Unless I took full responsibility for my wife’s depression, I was not going to have the compassion that God desired for me to have, and I would not have been crying out to Him for direction. I believe that most of what Teri is sharing in her Mom’s Corner is a result of God answering our prayers. It was not a pamphlet we picked up somewhere, but our Lord hearing our cries to Him and slowly showing us new things.

Just after moving to Florida in 1980, I was extremely troubled and concerned for her. I was led to fast and pray about the situation. God is so good! In my heart, I felt strongly that He told me not to worry, but to be loving, patient, and supportive. I would have preferred a quick solution, but God had as much for me to learn as He did for Teri. One of the most critical things I did was closely maintain my walk with the Lord and do everything I could to encourage Teri in her walk. “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him” (Psalms 28:7). Oh, how great our pride to ever think that we can get along without a close walk with the Lord. During times of depression the mind can play all sorts of games, and to focus on God and His truth is imperative. If we have neglected the Lord, we must repent and turn to Him. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Taking responsibility also will ensure that I am not being judgmental. It was easy to become impatient and critical. However, Teri would have given anything to be herself, and it was not a wrong choice she was making. If anyone could have just willed it differently she would have, but she couldn’t. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Again, God commanded me to love my wife as Christ loved the church.

Don’t be distracted by “non-issues.” Often when Teri felt bad, she would think some circumstance must be the cause. Most things were not really the cause of her feelings, but they would seem very monumental at the time. We would discuss it, and I, in typical male fashion, would come in and tell her how to fix it. Finally, it dawned on me that what she needed was someone to listen to her. I didn’t have to fix it, just listen! There were times when I would ask her, as she would begin to share a problem, “Honey, do you want me to listen or fix it?” That helped so much as I finally understood, at that moment, that all I needed to do was be sympathetic and listen to her. I think this was one of the most challenging lessons God had for me. To my shame, there are times now when I really just need to listen and not jump ahead to a solution. So much still to learn and so little time.

In our experience and that of people I’ve spoken to, there just doesn’t seem to be a “silver bullet.” Unfortunately, that is what we usually want. We need to be very cautious if one is proposed–a quick fix so we can get back on track and things can be normal again. Husbands, we must get our heart fixed on Christ, and be prepared that it could take a while. How long before our sovereign God says it is enough? Obviously, no one knows, but we need to set our expectations such that if it takes years, then we will minister in whatever way God calls us to during that time.

That is about all I could think of that God might have me share. Truly, it can be such an awful time for husbands and wives. I think the easiest to deal with was when the depression was mostly caused by my failures. Then, if I’m willing to humble myself, God is able to resolve the situation fairly quickly. However, God designed women the way they are for a purpose. Hormones are not a design flaw; our wives are perfect according to His plan. When the depression is physiological in nature, it might last a while, and we need to be the strong, faithful shepherd that God desires us to be. This won’t happen in our own strength, but it can happen when we are in full, complete dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our strength and our shield. All praise to Him.

We’ve Reversed a Bad Decision

Before you read any Dad’s Corner, may I share a caution? Dad’s Corners are from a father’s heart to another father’s heart. It is our desire that these Corners would build the family up and never create a controversy between a husband and wife. It is possible to undermine our goal if a mom read and agreed with a Dad’s Corner and the husband didn’t. Never would we want to undermine respect for Dad in the direction he has chosen for the family. Therefore, we would encourage moms not to read Dad’s Corners first, unless as a couple, you have discussed and agreed who should read the Dad’s Corner first.

Recently I loaded the five younger children into the van so we could be off for Kansas City. The children’s big toy (backyard climbing playhouse) was in need of some repair. After about seven years in the Kansas sun, dry rotting had weakened some of the dowels and boards. Our mission was to buy the necessary replacement parts.

Each Saturday I try to spend some time with the younger children by running errands or on building projects. It is a special joy for me to spend time with them. Understand, I’m not saying that they are perfect every minute as we do have opportunities for growth (either on their part or mine). However, in general, I love being with my children, and next to Teri, there is no one I would prefer to spend time with. In between conversations in the van, I thought back to the early eighties when we only had three of the eight children we now have.

We lived in Clearwater, Florida, and had some very difficult times. I’m hesitant to share such a level of personal trial, but it might be an encouragement to some. Teri and I loved the Lord Jesus and were growing in knowledge and our relationship with Him. However, due to her body’s inability to regulate progesterone, Teri was suffering with extreme depression.

In addition, the three children we had were presenting significant challenges for Teri to cope with. The medical community, and even a Christian counselor, had no solutions for us. It became clear to us that three children were all that Teri could manage, so we looked to ways of eliminating further pregnancies. Members of our conservative church accepted surgically cutting off more children through sterilization as a practical way of doing this. I sought counsel from her dad and others, and all were supportive that it was the wise thing to do. So, around 1984 we cut off the possibility of more children. We were content with our decision. We enjoyed our three greatly, and I spent all my free time with my family. However, we truly felt it was necessary to prevent future pregnancies.

In 1985 we moved to the state of Washington, and we continued to grow in the Lord Jesus. We still had some very difficult times, but it was getting better. One thing began to trouble us, though. We started to feel that we were wrong in cutting off more children. We would frequently re-evaluate the decision even though we “knew” that it was imperative that we did it for Teri’s well being. This continued to be a subject of discussion and prayer until one day I was home from work, ill.

I told Teri that I was going to find out what the Lord had to say about children and settle the matter right then. I spread my Bible and reference books out on the bed. I began looking up each verse about children to see what God had to say. I started in Genesis and continued through the Bible. After a while I had tears running down my face, and my heart was broken. I cried out to the Lord, “God, I was wrong in cutting off additional children. I can now see that children are our heritage from You. They are our reward and, next to salvation, the most precious gift You could give us on earth.” I will share what God has shown me regarding children.

“Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:3-5). I thought about the issue of inheritance and how happy most people are to be informed they are in someone’s will. Imagine someone being told that they would inherit a tremendous amount of gold and saying, “No thank you. I have enough and am very content with what I have.” No one would refuse the inheritance because of the value that is placed on gold. Frankly, had I truly valued children we would not have had them surgically cut off.

The word “heritage” also draws our thoughts toward the One giving the inheritance. Usually, when parents leave an inheritance it is out of a desire to bless their children with something they will cherish as a token of the parents’ love. Had we understood the preciousness of the gift of children from the Father we would not have rejected more children.

Malachi 2:15 reads, “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. . . .” God’s purpose in marriage is to produce godly seed. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. . .” (Genesis 1:28). God never took the command back. In His Word, He never told Teri and I that we were to decide how many children to have. Had I understood His purpose and command for marriage, we would not have cut them off.

As I reflected on the physics of intimacy, it was clear that God intended to be the One in control of the family size. Truly God gave man an ongoing desire for intimacy. However, He did not give man the natural ability to control whether there was conception during times of intimacy. This was no mistake, but clearly God’s plan. God’s creation of the body is so incredibly perfect. Had He intended us to be in control of whether children were conceived, He would have designed that control into our bodies. As science has progressed, modern man has figured out ways of preventing pregnancy. If that had been God’s intent, however, He would have designed that into the “system” at creation.

Some might have said we were foolish and “not counting the cost” in considering reversal surgery and risking another pregnancy. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). However, this verse speaks of commitment. It does not say we must consider whether we can afford more children. Jesus was challenging the disciples to evaluate their level of commitment. If Jesus meant this verse to be applied to whether we have the funds for raising children, He would have been contradicting His own teaching.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” By feeding the birds of the air, Jesus meant their offspring would be fed as well. Jesus continues and compares those who would worry about such things with the Gentiles. They had no god who would provide for them and therefore had reason to worry.

That is why I believe this issue strikes at the very heart of our walk with Christ. If I choose to let Him be in control of my family size, then I must trust the Lord to provide. That can be a scary thing. Not until I began writing this did I notice the “therefore” at the beginning of Matthew 6:25. It refers back to Matthew 6:24, which reads, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

The fact is if I let the Lord choose the size of my family, He might not let me have the standard of living that I’m accustomed to, or I might have to sacrifice for my children. Even if I were called to sacrifice for my children, isn’t that the essence of Christianity? Are we not to die to self for the sake of someone else? The servant says, “Lord, I am Yours, and You tell me what You want me to do.” That is why I have come to believe that this is one of the greatest issues within the family and church today.

I was convicted that we were wrong in taking matters into our own hands and determined to set it right. Almost immediately, we sought out a doctor and prayed that God would provide the funds to reverse the previous surgery. Within a short amount of time, God provided a doctor and the funds for the surgery.

Once the decision was made, a funny thing began happening in my heart. Even though I knew the decision was right and children were a blessing from God, I was still a little apprehensive about more children. However, the closer the surgery came, the more excited I became about more children. The Lord took our small step of obedience and replaced our fear with joy and trust.

Frequently, when I look at my family seated at the dinner table, I can’t help but wonder how many more there would be if I hadn’t made a poor decision. Even now with self-employment, RH factor complication, Teri’s age, and miscarriages, I know we can trust a mighty God.

This seems to be a forbidden subject in the church, but in Dad’s Corners, I’m able to share my heart and experience. Most men have never sat down with another brother and heard him share about such things privately. If this strikes a chord in your heart, praise God, but if not, forget it. May God bless you as you strive to be the man God wants you to be.