anxiety

I began writing this post in late January.  For reasons which you will understand through the post, I have been absent from this space for several months.  I can hardly remember writing it, but it seemed fit to return with this post.  I found it in my drafts this week, and the words came to finish it.  Even though it was difficult to revisit these days as I wrote, I have prayed it brings the praise to God which my heart longs to share.


We’re snowed in on this frosted Sunday, and my mind keeps racing back to the last time I stayed home from church on a Sunday.  A couple of the children were sick, you know, the little guys that don’t cover their mouth when they cough.  Although it was prudent to keep them home from church, the worst part was that the baby was sick too.  I can’t remember having a sick baby this tiny before, and his cough was bad.  Even though I’d taken him to the doctor a couple days before, hearing clear lungs and nothing to worry about didn’t calm this mama’s heart.  Making things worse, I had been dealing with an awful sinus infection for almost three weeks.  

The pressure was aggravated by having extra people in our home since everyone is a bit out of sorts.  My parents were here visiting us for a couple of weeks, and they all went to church together.  As soon as my dad walked in, he cheerfully (clearly his soul and body had been refreshed by worshiping) asked how the morning had been.  I about lost it.  Seriously!  He wants to know?!  “Wiping noses again and again, pumped twice, changed three diapers, bathed the baby, dressed the toddler, made beds, ran the laundry, rubbed eucalyptus on their chests several times, gave them cough syrup.” And I stopped. 

The more I was rattling off the stresses of the morning, the more my anxiety grew. Right then Nathan walked in and immediately knew I was a mess. “We’ve just walked in, and you’re in a terrible mood.” All the sickness, all the messes I can’t get to –everything is getting to me. I knew what it felt like, so I excused my behavior and said it was anxiety. I thought I was being very brave to call it by name, but Nathan reminded me “It’s still wrong.”

Since the birth of our eighth child, it has been a stretching season. From experiencing a colic baby for more than three months, to not training to sleep very well, to nursing difficulties, I have felt challenged like I haven’t experienced before with our previous babies. It’s been a constant journey of laying my burdens down before the Lord, seeking His wisdom, and crying out for help. How easily I succumbed to the lie that this is too much for me! I wanted to wallow in defeat.

Living in a state of feeling overwhelmed means I lose sight of joy, and God’s sovereign and good plans for me, and I’m depending on my own strength instead of His. After weeks and perhaps months of feeling overwhelmed, my natural tendency is to become anxious.

Anxiety is deep fear that we can’t keep up with our calling.  It becomes too large to bear and too heavy to share, yet God has been bringing deep refreshment to my soul in the last few weeks.  He gently continues to calm my anxious heart.  The lie that I can’t do it comes from the enemy, but the truth is God did not give me more than He would also supply the grace for me to handle.  He will equip me for the calling.  

As we allow these verses to dwell in our minds and hearts, let us also pray for each other:

God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:5-7

“But he 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

 with love, Damaris
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Calm and Comforting Holiday Hosting

Baby James is a month old today, and oh how sweet this first month has been! He is getting little rolls and nothing cold make me happier! I will be sharing his birth story soon, but I seem to be having difficulty finding enough uninterrupted time to write it : ).

We shared five simple ways to prepare for all your holiday hosting here, and since we’re all gathering in our home for Thanksgiving again, I’ve been doing a little more putzing around the house than usual. Moving a few things from room to room and picking up a couple new, inexpensive items help me savor the joy of preparing for guests. Tasseled throws, velvet pillows, candles that delight the senses, and specialty maple coffee help to warm up our home and make it a place of comfort.

Although keeping the décor and the traditions simple is key during this busy season, I try to make an effort to maintain enough routine and tradition that it’s motivating and inspiring to me and those that share our home. This special season of gathering with those we love is the perfect time to find joy in arranging cozy, spaces that are lovely and inviting.

We’ve all been most giddy and filled with excitement about cousins, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents gathering in our home for the upcoming feast. We’ve also been taking time to write down reasons we are thankful and sharing gratitude to the Lord for his steadfast love fills our hearts and home with contentment.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

– Psalm 138

With love, Damaris


A Bundle of Boy

Photo credits: Maria Wild

After so many months of waiting, after so many weeks of prayer, after so many days of anticipation, on Sunday, October 21st, we met the newest life that had been growing – James Nicolas Kirkpatrick!

Born at 11:06 am, 6lbs 15oz, and 21inches long. Handsome, intelligent, brave…and according to Daddy, looked as squishy as all of our other ones : )

We have been so thankful for all of your prayers, and we cherish those who continue to pray with us that one day little James will know the one who brings true life, the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ!

Jesus said to them,

“I am the bread of life;

whoever comes to me shall not hunger,

and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

With love, Nathan & Damaris


Verses to Meditate Through Labor

At 38 weeks pregnant, the reality of labor is very near. We anticipate the arrival and long to see the joy this new baby will undoubtedly bring to our family. The Lord has been providing through the waiting with reminders of the blessing of children and the heavenly gift that children are. These verses fill my soul with longing and gladness during the last few weeks of expectant pause:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Psalm 127:3

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

Psalm 128:3,4

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13,14

God often uses pain as a means of drawing our attention off ourselves and on to Him. It is a beautiful process for a woman to see this pain as a means of helping her refocus her attention on her Savior, who is her provider and source of strength. Therefore, focusing on worship, Scripture and prayer during labor are appropriate responses to the process. I believe this is all a part of the sanctifying process of childbirth. Jesus promises the peace that passes all understanding. This does not mean a perfect pain-free labor, but rather the calmness to embrace God as my strength.*

Fear in labor produces excess amounts of stress hormones in our body that can lock up your muscles and limit the supply of oxygen to your uterus and baby. More fear means more pain one will experience. Acknowledging the fear and turning to the Lord for help to let go is surrender.

I believe the Word supplies us with much needed sustaining grace to enable a mother to proceed through labor and delivery. Drawing near to the Lord while learning about the physical process of childbirth glorifies the Lord.Seeking God’s will for one’s care during pregnancy and birth while trusting in His design for your body is acknowledging that He made us and takes care of us.

As I seek to rely on the Lord and wait for Him, I found it helpful to write a few verses on little cards that I keep on my nightstand. Also, these verses will be beneficial to mediate on Scripture to help conquer fears and surrender during childbirth:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6,7

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter5:7

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3,4

But he 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.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.

2 Timothy 4:17.

*passionatehomemaking.com

With love, Damaris


For the Love of Books: September

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The books are linked for your convenience.

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution

by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

The Lord’s Prayer is indeed radical and still relevant to our times. As I read this book, the Lord’s prayer became less of a rote passage I’ve recited so many times and more like a Gospel message, a cry for God’s justice and power to be shown. The author brings theology, conviction, and understanding to the prayer. This short book on the Lord’s Prayer emphasizes that our prayers are the best evidence of our theology.

“The Lord’s Prayer takes less than twenty seconds to read aloud, but it takes a lifetime to learn.”

“Prayer is never an isolated event. When we pray, we convey our entire theological system. Our theology is never so clearly displayed before our own eyes and before the world as in our prayers. Praying forces us to articulate our doctrines, convictions, and theological assumptions. These aspects of our Christian life come to a unique focus in prayer because when we speak to God we are explicitly revealing who we believe he is, who we believe we are, what his disposition toward us is, and why he has that disposition.”

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Knowby Emily Oster

In the pregnancy world, there’s a lot of “probably fine” and “low-risk” vagueness. Since the author’s profession is to find and analyze research, she started reading studies about pregnancy and drawing conclusions. The result is an easy-to-read story of her own pregnancy experience, the choices she made, and the research she found.

“Pregnancy seemed to be treated as a one-size-fits-all affair. The way I was used to making decisions — thinking about my personal preferences, combined with the data — was barely used at all. This was frustrating enough. Making it worse, the recommendations I read in books or heard from friends often contradicted what I heard from my doctor.”

“When I got pregnant, I pretty quickly learned that there is a lot of information out there about pregnancy, and a lot of recommendations. But neither the information nor the recommendations were all good. The information was of varying quality, and the recommendations were often contradictory and occasionally infuriating. In the end, in an effort to get to the good information — to really figure out the truth — and to make the right decisions, I tackled the problem as I would any other, with economics.”

with love. Damaris


Taking Time to Evaluate and Refocus

I recently shared here how much I enjoy having the children home and the delight of spending the moments learning together. I am grateful to be their encourager, for the time to get to know them and they me, as well as the satisfaction it brings me to complete all the homeschool tasks of the day. I thrive on list-making and getting things done, so every subject for every child is that many more opportunities for me to cross something off my list : )

Although we can all admit that a job completed is rewarding, it is equally important to take a bit of time to evaluate how the days and weeks are going. As much as I love checking lessons, tests, and reviews off the list, it’s good for me to stop and see where I need to refocus. These are some questions that I found to be helpful*:

  • Did I feed myself with the Bread of Life today?

  • Did I discipline my children to love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength?

  • Did today’s homeschooling give my children a clearer picture of who God is, what He has done, how He sees them, and how He calls them to serve Him?

  • Did I prioritize learning wisdom at the feet of Godly teachers over academic achievement today?

  • Did I focus on character and help my children apply their learning to life?

  • Did we worship God in the chemistry experiment (or the math class, etc.)?

*The complete chart is on generations.org.

I also wanted to share some of the verses that help me to refocus on my calling. We have these verses hanging with a magnet on our schoolroom whiteboard:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

With love, Damaris


15 Simple Fall Pleasures

Today I gathered all of our autumn books from the schoolroom shelves and brought them to the coffee table in the living room. This simple ritual seems to the official inauguration of the new season in our home.

I love autumn! While I am fond of the fall foliage, the quieting outdoors (no more toads, cicadas, nor crickets), and the abundance of apples and pears, what I truly love most is the change. Just the change. Each time I begin to feel it in the air, I am in awe of a God who delights in giving good gifts to his children. I can’t help but thank Him for the new colors, textures, and light of the moments that make the transition from summer to fall.

The other day, I sat down to write a list of things I can’t wait to enjoy in the coming weeks. I thought it would be fun sharing it with you!

Here are the Simple Fall Pleasures that have me all giddy lately:

  1. candles flickering all day

  2. pumpkins on the porch

  3. deep bowls of chili

  4. crunchy leaves under my feet

  5. visits to the cider mill

  6. brown paper bags of warm donuts

  7. plaid flannel shirts

  8. lamps lit early

  9. hot drinks to warm my hands

  10. slow simmering soups

  11. picking apples

  12. collecting colored leaves

  13. hikes in zipped up sweatshirts

  14. warm cups of cocoa and a game of Masterpiece

  15. pumpkin spice everything

What are the little pleasures you’re delighting in this new fall season? I’ll love to add some to my list : )

With love, Damaris


The Joy of Having Them Home

We now have over a month of completed schooldays, and there are so many things I am pondering.

I adore this season! I’ve been loving this September weather with chilly mornings that turn to warm afternoons. The leaves on the maple outside the schoolroom will be glowing golden soon enough. Even though I love the apple orchards, the sweaters, the colorful leaves, and the hot cider, I mostly love what this season represents – a fresh start. The intentions, goals, vision, and perspective that come with a fresh beginning.

This summer was a fun-filled adventure, as summer should be! However, I’ve been good and ready to inch back into a flow of more home-days of learning. This last month of homeschool has brought that rhythm, and I have to acknowledge the delight it brings to my soul. Taking care of our home and the people in it while consistently schooling is a daily act of worship. These are a few of the reasons that having the children home bring me joy:

I am grateful to be their encourager.

Many layers of learning concur while we spend our day together at home. There is emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual training that happens not only in the children, but in me as well. I find great delight in encouraging them and hearing them encourage each other. I love to see them learn to serve one another even in the little things like buttering toast at the breakfast table.

I love the time to get to know them, and they get to know me.

The multiple opportunities for discipline and correction are truly a privilege. I am able to see the problem, address it, and pray with them for forgiveness and God’s merciful help. I get to know the kids, and just as important, they get to know me. The moments reading Scripture, praying, confessing our sins, eating every meal, and just being gathered in the same room is a joy.

I thrive in the satisfaction of completing a task.

As I think about these last few schooling weeks, I smile because I love the routine – the early morning coffee, the quiet rooms (everyone working), and the reward of tasks accomplished. Perhaps these are more superficial joys though gratifying none the less. As much as I admit to embracing simple and slow, I love to work hard and get things done. I gravitate towards productivity, so the fulfillment of giving a spelling test, finishing the first phonics book, completing and grading math lessons, working through two diagrams, and reviewing the memory work by lunchtime makes me very happy.

With love, Damaris


A Candle in the Window

While I sit here on the porch swing on this gorgeous afternoon, my mind is replaying all of the kids’ excited chatter about a recent experience our family had to host through A Candle in the Window.

If you have never heard of it, A Candle in the Window is a hospitality ministry that provides a network for Christian families around the world. When you sign-up, you can offer your home for conversational dinners or for folks to stay the night if needed. A couple of weeks ago, we received our first email request from a father and son who were on a long-distance road trip and needed a place to stay for two nights. As we cleaned and cooked and prepared beds for them, the children grew more and more curious as to how it was these “friends” were coming, but we knew nothing about them. Meeting new people from far away places can be intimidating, but it didn’t take long after their arrival for us all to feel comfortable and blessed to have the opportunity to welcome them into our home as family.

A Candle in the Window, provided an opportunity for us to learn to be gracious and generous, and it was a good chance for the children to practice being engaging and well-mannered. While we were prepared to provide for our guests’ physical needs after long days of travel, we all were spiritually filled.

During the couple of days of hosting, our family had the privilege to have other believers join our table, sharing their testimony, and speaking of God’s goodness in their lives. It was such blessing for us and our children to be exposed to God’s working in the homes of believers clear across the country! We also enjoyed their musical talents at the piano and the accordion, we shared in family worship, sang together, and stayed up late talking about our families.

This was our first A Candle in the Window experience, and our whole family was enriched and blessed. We’re excited about opportunities to host again. Do you think this sounds like something your family would enjoy too?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby, some have entertained angels unaware.”

Hebrews 13:2


For the Love of Books: August

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The books are linked for your convenience.

Since this month I am only reviewing one book, I took the liberty to share a good deal of quotes with you.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds

by Jen Wilkin

So often we come to the Scriptures haphazardly – not having a purpose nor a goal. Sometimes we read passages wondering what do the verses mean to me. The author makes a clear call to study the Bible so we may know Him and be like Him. She helps us see that we cannot love God if we don’t rest our gaze on His Word. She gives practical guidance for daily Bible reading/study. Very convicting and encouraging book! I recommend that you pick up a copy.

“Bible literacy matters because it protects us from falling into error. Both the false teacher and the secular humanist rely on biblical ignorance for their messages to take root, and the modern church has proven fertile ground for those messages. Because we do not know our Bibles, we crumble at the most basic challenges to our worldview. Disillusionment and apathy eat away at our ranks. Women, in particular, are leaving the church in unprecedented numbers.”

“For years I viewed my interaction with the Bible as a debit account: I had a need, so I went to the Bible to withdraw an answer. But we do much better to view our interaction with the Bible as a savings account: I stretch my understanding daily, I deposit what I glean, and I patiently wait for it to accumulate in value, knowing that one day I will need to draw on it.”

“We must be those who build on the rock-solid foundation of mind-engaging process, rather than on the shifting sands of ‘what this verse means to me’ subjectivity.”

“We must love God with our minds, allowing our intellect to inform our emotions, rather than the other way around.”

“the One whom we most need to behold has made himself known. He has traced with a fine hand the lines and contours of his face. He has done so in his Word. We must search for that face, though babies continue to cry, bills continue to grow, bad news continues to arrive unannounced, though friendships wax and wane, though both ease and difficulty weaken our grip on godliness, though a thousand other faces crowd close for our affection, and a thousand other voices clamor for our attention. By fixing our gaze on that face, we trade mere human glory for holiness:”

with love. Damaris