08 November 2013

Whom shall I fear?

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
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.

I am struggling so much today. While going through marriage counseling this week, I had the revelation that I have a huge fear problem. I am afraid of everything. I've known for years that I have panic attacks, but I never realized how much I fear people thinking poorly of me. It consumes me and dictates my actions. I just never recognized it!

I cling to my fiance too tightly at times because I don't want him to stray, meanwhile pushing him away. I sometimes cling to my children a bit too tightly as well, not giving them as much independence as they deserve at their respective ages. Sometimes, I don't say specific things at work because I want people to like me. And I can't handle the idea of people NOT getting along with me, even if it's something as simple as someone not feeling well!

So today I found that someone close to me has been spreading lies. Horrible lies. The kind of lies that would knock your breath out of your body anyway, let alone if they're said about you. And of course my first response was fear. Will anyone be able to take me seriously? Will anyone know the truth? What will happen if...? And it just went on and on until I can't handle it anymore.

So here I am, confessing my weakness. I am afraid of what people say about me. I am afraid of having a bad reputation, even though my Savior Jesus came and had NO reputation when he very much deserved the highest honors (Philippians). Why can't I learn to be more like Him?

It is my hope in confessing and recognizing my weakness, that I will allow the Lord to be strong. Lord, take this area of my life, all this fear. Help me to rest in Your love for me instead of worrying about the love of other people. Help me to see your beautiful, perfect love and let it be enough.

01 November 2013

Moving forward when the past tries to drag you back

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yes, that is more commonly known as "shell-shock" and frequently occurs in military vets. It also occurs in survivors of domestic violence. Oddly, children are not as likely to have PTSD because the domestic violence situation is their "normal," whereas the adult's brain understands this trauma is not "normal."

So a few years ago, I was at work and had to get in between a large man with dementia trying to hurt a smaller woman. Suddenly, I felt a panic. I had dealt with the man before but never in this context. I had to actually run out of the room once another staff member came in, and lock myself in a small medication closet, falling to the floor and crying. I was in there a good 20 minutes or so, just crying. It was the weirdest experience of my life. I felt utterly helpless and hopeless. I felt ashamed. I felt like I was not present, that I was detached and partly somewhere else. I had some memories of specific past home events over the next few days. I fell into depression.

Eventually, my depression got so bad that I knew I needed help. I couldn't function. All I could do was get my kids to school and get them fed and wash their clothes. We had no quality of life. I cried and slept off and on, but I never slept much at a time due to nightmares. I hospitalized myself and finally began talking to a psychiatrist. He was wonderful! He told me that even though I thought of PTSD as a war disease, I had been in a war zone for 12 years. He had a point.

I began taking anti-depressants and began talking regularly to a therapist. I learned how very vital routine is to my well-being. With routine, there are less out-of-control times where I feel panicky. Sadly, life with four very busy children leaves me with very little routine! I realize I could fight for routine but I am so tired. Too tired to fight. And so depression occasionally rears its ugly head and I feel helpless and out of control again, and then the flashbacks begin. Thankfully I am able to get a handle on it after a few days.

I'm now getting ready to marry a wonderful, kind, gentle man. A man who would never hurt me, never belittle me, never shame me on purpose. A man who prays for me and loves me despite my past. But the PTSD makes me have this fight-or-flight thing emotionally. I push away when I feel even the slightest chance he might do something like that. The offense can be something as slight as looking at me a certain way. I fight imaginary demons - I create them!

One of the symptoms of PTSD is emotional avoidance. I find this to be more true than the "flashback" for me. Though I seem happy and bubbly, it is sometimes just an act. Many times I am just numb inside. Not depressed, not happy, just numb. It is easier to be numb. It is control.

So with a wedding that is looming two months away, what do I do? I say "looming" as a joke, because I love my fiance and desperately want to marry him and share life with him. I want to trust him and the part of me that is "me" (and not PTSD) DOES trust him. He is wonderful. But doesn't he deserve someone who won't sometimes pull back from his touch?

I want to get married. I want to live happily ever after. I just don't know how.

09 September 2013

Reality is definitely stranger than fiction

What happens when...

Megadeth meets Morrissey?

Sci-fi meets Fantasy?

Ironed and tucked-in meets "I think this might be clean?"

Action meets Musical?

Order meets Chaos?

Usually early meets Often late?

Realist meets Dreamer?

Tech nerd meets Pop culture geek?

Third doctor meets Ninth doctor?

Cat person meets Dog lover?

Vocational track meets College prep?

Military meets Undisciplined wannabe hippie?

New and eager Christian meets Old and bitter believer?

"Betrayer" meets "betrayed?"

Meat-and-potatoes meets Occasional vegan?

Coffee meets Chai?

North Carolina farm meets Florida concrete?

Introvert meets Extrovert?

Gentle and quiet meets loud and vivacious (a nice word for "obnoxious")?

Broken-hearted meets broken-hearted?

Lonely meets lonely?

Sinner meets sinner?

What happens when...

Two people who need God's grace find it?
Two people who cried out to God for a best friend find that and more?
I could tell you the answer. But I think I'll know a little more in ten months...when I can blog about "my husband."

02 June 2013

Seven years out

He never did let go, even when I thought He did.

The best adventure tales start with the hero in dreary circumstances, and typically involve him going through a series of trials and tribulations in which he finally learns his true identity, defeats the bad guy, and lives happily ever after. In some ways, my story is like that. In other ways, it is not. In my story, there are bad actions and good actions, and a bunch of flawed people who do both. 

My story starts seven years ago today. June 2, 2006. I was a homeschooling mother of four beautiful children. We ate all-natural food, we played a lot and did school via action more than books. Two other homeschooling families lived on our peaceful little street, so the kids never lacked playmates. In so many ways, it was a perfectly ideal situation.

But it wasn't. I will spare the more gruesome details and give you some images instead:
  • A pot of macaroni and cheese being flung across the kitchen at me because that was the wrong dinner.
  • An indent in a wall from a child's rear end, because she had been angrily pinned against it using a sleeper sofa(yes, this was reported to Social Services later).
  • crutches
  • fear
  • not being able to go anywhere because my keys were taken during the day

Seven years ago today, those images forever became a thing of the past. I woke up. I left. The kids and I left. We didn't take anything with us. I detailed later that we eventually were able to pick up a few rubbermaid totes (four, I think, in total) of our things. Then the trials began. Again, sparing the gruesome details:
  • Kids going into public school for the first time, in a small-town environment where everyone is related
  • Me searching for a job for six weeks, finally landing a waitress job, then breaking my foot and losing my job
  • My inability to make even the simplest decisions or figure out how to run a house because, until then, all decisions and schedules were made for me
  • A crazy neighbor who would threaten us, harass us, and even beat up my dad
  • Nursing school
  • more details of abuse emerging from the children once they were in a safe environment
  • my oldest child's numerous (10+) short-term hospitalizations, and her 2.5 years gone from my home, gone so far and we missed her every. single. day.
  • my oldest child's eventual readmission to my home and all the fallout from it
  • me trying to navigate relationships, both friendship and romantic. 
  • Despair, lack of faith, hopelessness

Factor in all the usual tribulations of raising children (stitches, puke, lying, bullying, lack of sleep).

I remember yelling at God a lot. I remember doubting He existed or, if He did, He must not love me. I resented the situation I'd been thrown in. Sometimes I wanted to press rewind and go back to our old life. I think all the trials lasted five years, almost six. It seemed like FOREVER. It's only since last June 2nd that I've realized we're finally getting out of that junk. I only realized it because last June 2nd, I didn't even notice it was June 2nd because I was busy with my kids and boyfriend!

So we should be coming to the true identity part, right? I'm not sure. I've learned a lot about myself in seven years. I've learned that I was called to be a nurse, and I believe that with every fiber of my being. When I am  at work doing what I do, I feel...right. I've also learned my horrible weaknesses and flaws as a single parent, but I've gained so much more love and appreciation for my children. They are my world, even if my teenagers think I'm mean and don't love them.  I've learned that a man CAN love me for me, and a man can be gentle and kind to me.

Most of all, I have learned grace. I have learned, as my pastor often paraphrases, I am more sinful and lost than I could ever imagine, and more loved and accepted than I could ever dare dream. I have learned to show grace and compassion because that is what the Lord has shown me. I have learned to let go of my cynicism that I once held up like a shield and am learning to drop the sarcasm I so often use as a weapon. Instead, I choose to carry grace in both hands, neither weapon nor shield, but instead a healing balm for those I offend and those who offend me.

The bad guy? Well, that's humanity, isn't it? My ex-husband is not a monster. He is a deeply flawed person, yes, but not a monster. He was once a little boy who toddled and grinned: Somewhere deep inside is that little boy still. I can only pray God, through His love, lets that little boy come out again. The bad guy is me, you, and everyone else who chooses selfishness and pride instead of grace and love. We all do it. We all screw up the world with it.

As for a happy ending, we'll just have to see where I'm at in seven more years. The sweet boyfriend and I are talking big plans for the future. My youngest child is going into seventh grade. My oldest child has been in college for 2 years now. My middle daughter will be a senior, and my son will be a freshman in high school. I'm back in school getting my RN and should be done in a year at most. So all I can guess is that the next seven years will be the kind of happy adventure that gets tacked on in the epilogue of a great book!

OHHHHH...and why did I write this? Because I know there are some of you in the midst of your own trials. I want to remind you that your Author has a plan for you. :)

07 May 2011


I hide behind
  my weight
     my hair in my face
       my scatter-brained way
I put up my walls in silly physical form.

I say I don't care what you think of me


I cringe when
   I make a joke and you don't laugh
     there are awkward pauses in our conversation
       my voice carries a little too loudly
         I don't look just so

I am told I am perceived as confident and smart


Inside I am

How glorious is it that the King of Glory
sees the real me and loves it?

And now...

I hide behind
   His Word
     His death
       His resurrection
He tears down the walls in their spiritual form

and I find that I
   care less and less about what you think
     enjoy quiet reflection
       rejoice that I've been given a voice

Inside I am

18 March 2011

Vegetize me!

So most everyone's heard of the movie Super Size Me, where the guy eats nothing but McDonalds and chronicles his health's downward turn. I'm about to embark on the opposite journey, abandoning the American junk food diet and hoping my health improves.

The rules for Vegetize Me are as follows:

1. Each meal or snack should contain at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable besides corn or potatoes.

2. I will not be eating any animal products because I know my cholesterol sucks and I need to bring it down. The only POSSIBLE exception is if my refusal would directly insult someones hospitality.

3. I will weigh in and check blood pressure weekly. I will document food daily.

4. Food will not be made from mixes. Sigh. No tofu helper.

5. I will share a meal with someone besides my kids once a week. Part of good health is good social health!

So there we have it. Let's see what happens!

09 February 2011

It gets better, but not if you're straight

Before anyone gets upset, I am NOT downplaying the work at The Trevor Project which has a MASSIVE anti-suicide campaign aimed at gay youth. I believe with all my heart that each human life is priceless to God, regardless of sexual orientation. So now that that's said...

My 12-year-old son is getting bullied a lot. His guidance counselor has put an end to the physical bullying, such as pushing, stealing, etc. But the name-calling continues. Every afternoon after school, I pick up a kid who's faking a smile until he walks out the door, when he dissolves into tears. Every afternoon after school, I deal with an emotional meltdown. I try not to baby or tell him what to do. I try to just listen, and I encourage him to work it out. I tell him it will get better.

Thing is, it hasn't improved yet. It's getting worse. My son, in an effort to look "cool." dyed part of his hair blue-green last night. This is not prohibited by the school's dress code. It reads, " The
following conduct is illustrative of disruptive behavior and is prohibited:...  appearance or clothing which (1) is disruptive, or (2) is provocative, offensive or obscene;  (3) endangers the health or safety of the student or others, or (4) violates the dress code adopted and publicized by the schools...

So he went to school. I stopped in to talk to his guidance counselor about the bullying situation. When I stepped back into the hall, there he was, walking down the hall with the principal, crying. He'd been in school 1/2 hour. He says his homeroom teacher looked straight at him and told him his hair looked terrible. Kids started calling him "queer" and "fag" and asked if he did his hair because he likes boys. This is a typical insult for them, that he's gay.

The principal said that we live in a conservative county and my son should have known better than to color his hair because it makes people pick on him. First off, this isn't true. The high schoolers have piercings and dyed hair galore. A girl in the middle school band has pink hair. The art teacher's hair is artistically colorful. Secondly, people pick on my son regardless of his hair. The homeroom teacher happened to notice it because he noticed the HAIR. But of course, it's my son's fault he gets picked on. It's his hair that was disruptive in class, not the kids who have been calling him gay since the first day of school. So he got sent home and told to fix it so he would fit in better.

We're home now and my son is asking me the questions I so wish I had answers for. What happens tomorrow when people still pick on him? When is it going to stop? Why is it his fault, and why can't he fit in?

And I have a few questions of my own. Where are the anti-bullying campaigns for straight kids? Why is it OK for my son to get called "fag" and "queer" when school systems wouldn't tolerate that happening to a gay kid, thanks to the media attention? (and I'm not saying they SHOULD tolerate it!) Why is my son told that it's HIS fault people pick on him? This is the same kid who was held in the office during recess in 4th grade to "protect" him from the bullies who were allowed to have fun and fresh air on the playground. Why is my son being punished while the offenders get to do & say whatever they want?

I'm juggling all of this. I understand the principal's viewpoint. I understand that sometimes you have to try to meet people in the middle, find common ground. But if you've tried that, how long do you keep at it? How long until he stops being sick to his stomach every morning and in tears every afternoon? How long until it gets better?