Saturday, July 6, 2013

Still Discerning


Hello, everyone!

I can't believe I haven't posted since February. I've received some very kind emails from some of you, wondering where I've been, and I want you to know I really and truly appreciate you checking in with me.

I'm sorry for being completely AWOL. Before I get into the reason for why, let me just catch you up quickly.

Sophia just completed the first grade. She's eagerly looking forward to celebrating her birthday in a couple of weeks. James is beginning to read! He'll be starting school in the fall, and just turned four. Abby celebrated her first birthday a couple of weeks ago (picture above). She is a big fan of food in general and cake in particular (who isn't?).


As to where I have been...around. A combination of things have prevented me from logging on here to type a new post for the past five months.

For one thing, I have struggled quite a lot of postpartum depression since around Thanksgiving of 2012. The motivation to write, and in particular, the guts to make myself vulnerable on the 'Web were big contributing factors to my absence. But I can't put all the blame on hormones.

If I'm honest, my heart has simply been hurting a lot lately.

There has been so much unkindness in my world. Too many harsh words. Too much callousness.

I started this blog over five years ago as a creative outlet and to explore what it meant for me to be a wife and a mother in a world that seems to increasingly devalue both roles. For the most part, I have found many open-minded and even some like-minded readers who have been a great blessing and support to me. I hope I have done the same for them (you). But I have also found that the things I have said on my blog have greatly angered and even deeply hurt people who are very dear to me.

In the past year, I have lost two very close friends, because of the things I have written on this blog. Even though I cannot fully understand this devolution, it has saddened me to my core.



On the other hand, I have had women write to me--even approach me "in real life" and tell me that the things I write are a great blessing and encouragement to them. This dichotomy has been somewhat baffling to me, and as I said, my heart has been sore as I ponder it.

Of course, I know that you can never please everyone. The beauty of humanity is that we all have such varying experiences and opinions. But it is one thing not to please someone. It is another to cause them pain. To have  them walk out of your life because you have tried to share your heart. To have desired to uplift and, instead, to find the death of friendship.

It hasn't been easy.

And so, I am continuing to discern whether to continue writing at The Apple Cider Mill. If I do, it will probably be in a different capacity, sticking to posts about family, food, and homeschooling. I may very occasionally tackle posts on faith, but the backlash I have encountered in my personal life from those posts (even ones I believe I took great care to write with grace and charity) have been devastating to me, and I don't think it is something I can continue, for my own well-being.

I am trying to discern now what sort of time-frame I might be able to post (once weekly, twice weekly, twice monthly, etc.) if at all. With homeschooling (2 children now!), youth ministry, and writing my novel, in addition to the reasons above and the daily demands of being a homemaker, I need to be sure that this is still the right path for me.

Please pray for me, and know that you all are the reason this decision is so very, very hard for me to reach.

God bless,
Bethany

20 comments:

  1. I have loved reading your blog over the last few years you have truly been an encouragement!

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  2. I too have enjoyed your blog for the past few years. It is an encouragement to me, and is such a blessing to find others who value motherhood and the making of our homes as our calling by God. I have also enjoyed your recipes, your holiday traditions, and the way you share your faith with your children. I'm sorry to hear that you have been struggling, I will absolutely be praying for you. Please know that the things you have shared over the past few years have been a blessing, I will miss your posts should you choose not to write anymore, but I know your family and well being must come first. I'm praying that God will give you peace whatever you may choose. Holly
    p.s. I recently found a book that I'm finding to be very encouraging that you may like, I will add the link here. (I have no affiliation with this publication, I just thought you may enjoy it)

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Christian-Homemakers-Handbook-Ennis/dp/143352838X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373165857&sr=8-1&keywords=the+christian+homemaker%27s+handbook

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  3. Oh Bethany!
    I have been so worrie about you! I wish I knew earlier that I could have emailed you ( am not that web savvy) You are one of my sources of encouragement and sometimes envy -- I am as of yet a still unpublished writer and I am in the middle of a separation from a verbally abusive spouse-- I know God will lead you in the right direction. Pray,pray, pray! I am so sorry to hear that you have lost friends, please know that even though we may never meet, I think of a dear friend and pray for you. I wish I did know you in "real life" because when I was battling post-partum depression your blog was a great source of comfort and support. If you decide to discontinue your blog you will be missed, but I know you will make the right choice for you and your blessed little family.

    Kim

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  4. Thank you all for your support.

    Kim, I am so sad to hear you are going through a difficult time. Thank you for your prayers. I will pray for you.

    Bethany

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  5. I have enjoyed your blog for a number of years and I am glad to see you writing, again. You are right, you can't please everybody. As the song goes, you've got to please yourself. Your blog is about sharing ideas and personal expression. If your friends can't agree to disagree, or if they can't brush off the words that bother them, maybe the problem is with them and not with you.
    I've found that, when you've reached your thirties, your ideas/ideals change and sometimes, you no longer mesh with some friends. Sometimes, the things that you chose to overlook about your friends, when you were younger, bother you a lot more and it's very difficult to put up with certain behaviors. Then, you have to decide that if a friend bothers you that much, it's time to, lovingly, move on. It isn't meant to be harsh, you've simply grown up.
    Also, how things are worded makes a huge difference. I have friends who are passionate about specific subjects and in their excitement, offend people when they express their thoughts. The problem is that they meant to say one thing, never considering how their words could be misinterpreted. Then, they end up not only NOT getting their true message received, but frustrating people in ways beyond imagination.

    Don't lose heart, be true to you and you'll find your way.

    Good Luck!

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  6. I've missed you too! I so often have been checking back even if I didn't email to let you know. On a personal note, when I first started reading your blog, I wanted to learn about beautiful Catholic families because I thought I'd be starting my own soon and I found your blog encouraging and inspiring. No children for us since then but I guess God's timing is perfect. However, I so enjoy reading your thoughts on your family and your Catholic faith and your strength of character in this crazy world. God bless you. I am praying for you.

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  7. I'm so sorry you have been having such a rough time of it. I have always enjoyed your writing. You have a gift. I've missed reading your insights and about your family life.

    Jen in OK

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  8. You are a breath of fresh air in the muck and mire of the inter-webs :)
    Seriously though, your blog was a major catalyst for me coming back to the Church after many years away. It also greatly helped me to discern my own call to motherhood and to a greater commitment to my marriage.
    I tell you this to thank you for the difference you have made with your writing and your example, not in any way to pressure you to continue should your discernment process tell you otherwise.
    I'm so sorry first about the post partum depression. I have been there, twice. I know how scary and isolating it can be. Please know that I'm praying for you and that THERE IS a light at the end, it does go away, and you WILL BE better for it (spiritually, as a mother, growing in virtue, etc)
    I'm also sorry that your commitment to speaking the truth of your faith as you understand it to be has lost you loved ones. Jesus did warn us of this, but that doesn't mean the wounds won't still sting when it actually happens.
    Take all the time you need to recover and heal. The inter-webs will be here when and if you feel like returning.

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  9. I've missed you too and was so excited to see you had finally updated! I have prayed for you, and hope you find clear leading to the path that is best for you and your family. Some of the old posts I have often gone back to reread are the ones about homeschooling - I love your style and wish I could see more of that!

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  10. Bethany,

    It's been at least four years that I've read your well-crafted and carefully reasoned writing, and you know that in many cases, you and I see eye to eye, and in some places, we don't. However, I'm not sure that matters at all, truly. What matters to me is that you approach every subject you write about, especially in the last year or so, with a sense of care, a tone of love, and a mind that desires engaging conversation and thoughtful consideration on topics that you are passionate about. You don't toe the line simply because it feels good, and I appreciate that. It's easy, when talking about faith, family, and how to serve God amid all of it, to put up boundaries and walls and squelch any doubt or disagreement. However, I admire that you don't do that. While of course we've never met in person, I am thankful for your online presence and hope you'll continue. I still have much I can learn from you!

    I will be praying for your struggles with depression. I dealt with a similar struggle these past 9 months (though not postpartum), and it was an all-consuming battle. God is with you though, Bethany, and I pray God puts peace in your heart and gives you strength to persevere.

    Finally, these pictures of your children are just delightful and so beautiful. They are growing up so much!

    Hugs,
    CG

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  11. Praying, praying, praying. Bethany, I am almost 4 years out of having my youngest child, and STILL struggle with depression and anxiety. You are NOT alone. Most recently, my eldest child (he's almost 6, next month!) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It has been a season of hurt for many people I know.

    While I would LOVE to see you continue to write, I will only pray that God's will be done. Pray, pray without ceasing. Get the help you need, take your meds, and trust that God is guiding those you have chosen to treat you - this is a chemical imbalance, not anything you could "prevent".

    Peace to you, dear sister. Rest in Him.

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  12. Well it was wonderful to see your update (sorry I was late in seeing it) ~ I've just been reading a REALLY wonderful Christian book full of practical tips on raising boys, that I thought might interest you; it's called 'Raising Real Men' by Melanie Young. You can preview it on amazon if you would like to consider adding it to your library also! God Bless you and your family!

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  13. I'm so sorry that you've lost friends and experienced hurt due to words that you've written. I've loosely followed your blog and I'm neither Religious or a wife and mom yet I enjoy your words and glimpse into your life. I find your blog a happy and peaceful place and hope that you'll continue.

    Regards,
    Cari in New Hampshire

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  14. Bethany, first of all i'm sorry that you are going through a rough time. I'll be praying for you.
    Never for a moment think that you're writing was of no use etc.
    I have followed your blog since 2/3 years and your posts have strengthened my faith. I would specifically like to mention them :
    1) Your post on Mary - pic in a schoolgirl uniform (The Annunciation) inspired me so much that i began to say the Rosary.
    2)Your post ' Going it alone' (on a case where the wife is a practicing Catholic and the husband is not).....was beautiful.
    3)31 days of Prayer for your husband - i read this on your blog and would you believe it....actually completed 31 days of prayer alongwith reading and meditating on the verses of THE HOLY BIBLE.
    I thank Our Loving Father for you.....you are a gift, sister! May all your storms clear off, may God Bless you and your family.
    Courage to you....Remember, sweets, This too shall pass.

    Regards,
    obejoyful

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  15. Bethany,
    I just wanted to express my sorrow for the friendship losses you have suffered. May your heart be comforted!

    ~Lin

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  16. I am sorry to hear of your sufferings. I don't feel I could ever put myself "out there" on the internet with such grace as you have done. Thank you for all of your encouraging posts. Particularly, I remember when you wrote about hoping for another child and the pain of not receiving one as quickly as one hoped (or at all). I really connected with that. Thanks be to God, my lovely 2-month old son is sleeping in the next room. But your words really helped me during a difficult time. Your children are beautiful!

    Elissa

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  17. Bethany,
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I am praying for you! Your writing has been such a blessing to me (for several years), I hope you keep writing. But if God is calling you to stop writing, then I will miss your writing and wish you the best.

    Reading your post on how to pray the rosary, taught me how to pray the rosary and I used it to pray my very first rosary about two and a half years ago.

    May God bless you!

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  18. Echoing what the others have said...I love your style, and conviction, and the grace with which you manage to share it. They're right - often it is another's attitude or conscience that takes offense where none was intended or even presented.
    I am not Catholic but I have appreciated your posts on your faith, partly because they help me understand Catholicism better, and mostly because I am illuminated by your attitudes, traditions, etc. and try to adopt a similar approach toward my owh faith. It has been wonderfully uplifting! You of course must do what God would have you do for the good of your own family, but I do hope you will be able to continue posting at least occasionally, or leave the blog up if discontinued so we may still glean treasures from the archives.
    Many prayers, and God bless you abundantly!
    Sherri

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  19. I know this is a bit late. What a blessing your blog has been to this non Catholic homeschooling mom of 5. I am so sorry to hear that you have been facing some challenges. I can relate because I have experienced the loss of friendships due to my personal writings, and have gone through ppd as well. It has been a few years since the loss of friendships occured, and I can now see why it happened-- God had a reason for that. I thank you for all of your encouraging posts. God bless you.

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If you have questions, words of blessing or encouragement, or simply want to say, "Hello," you are more than welcome to share here. I do ask visitors to respect this as a place of peace, not dispute. Please refrain from posting any ungracious comments. Thank you.

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I do so look forward to sharing with you all and, God willing, meeting some new friends. May the peace of Christ be with you all.