Pray Before You Overthink!

“God, help me to focus on my relationship with you first.”

It’s been a while since I have published anything on my blog. About 6 months to be exact! I am really disappointed that the words stopped coming to me so easily, but that is actually a good thing.  When I hurt and struggle with day to day life and anxiety, it’s the only way to get it out of my head.  Now, I am much better equipped to handle many of things that had me in such disarray.  I have sat down to write countless times and the words just don’t flow, so I stop. My writing is something that clears clutter in my head and comforts my heart, even when I’m writing about unpleasant times in my past and I am finding new . The blog was not just for me, though. I share my story in hopes of giving someone else hope that they, too, can come out the other side of a difficult childhood! So it is important to me to get back to sharing. I have a half dozen partially written topics sitting in my drafts! They may or may not get completed. God gives me the words to share with you, so if he leads me back to those topics or stories, I will publish them! This morning I was sent a beautiful worship song on YouTube and it really cleared up some major confusion going on in my head and as I was creating a FB post a bit ago, it was obvious to me that I was to be writing on this topic, not just sharing a small post. The nudge, a feeling that I have been ignoring more often than not recently, got a hold of me and here I am sharing with you again. Don’t ignore it when God nudges you! Clear the clutter so you can hear His voice that is always calling you.

Saturday night I was to attend an event that is very close to my heart, but was unable to go due to a migraine. As I sat on the couch that evening, feeling sorry for myself, I became more and more angry and bitter over things that have been going on in my life and the things I have missed and lost due to the physical pain I have been living with for the past few years. I have become accustomed to cancelling at the last minute because I hurt; I have broken the best habit I had, working out; people around me checking my temperature before approaching me…will I bite their head off or is it ok to merely say “hi” to me? I have drank a lot more than I have in years, because it helps me relax and alleviate some of the pain when nothing else does. (Or maybe I am just forgetting I hurt by having a drink!) These are just a few things that dawned on me as I sat there pouting and looking at the pictures of the event on Facebook. As I continue making a mental list of the things that are “wrong” in my life and placing the blame “appropriately”, I decided the coming week would be different. It had to be. I vowed to take time for myself, refocus my life and start tackling these negative feelings, one by one. What I didn’t know, was the “how”. How would I successfully do this? How can I change my ways of thinking so much that I change my patterns? I’ll make a list of things to do, start writing my daily gratitudes again, get back to reading the stack of self-discipline/help books I have. I’ll focus on things that make me happy and fill my cup. Sounds right, doesn’t it? All of those are great, positive things; good habits to practice…but they are not what will get me to the content, healthy and loving place I long for. That is probably why I felt a bit of overwhelm as I was trying to set a plan, and know how to proceed. It didn’t all feel quite right, but I started acting on my plan anyway thinking sometimes you have to just start and things will fall into place.

I find it truly amazing how God puts people right in your path and you have no idea that he has a plan for them in your life! We all have purpose and the ability to serve Him in ways we don’t even know and this is yet another perfect example of that. This morning, a new friend sent me a link from YouTube and when I clicked on it and the tune played over my truck speakers, tears welled in my eyes and my heart softened. As I listened to the words of “O Come to the Altar”, my true needs became very apparent and while the needs didn’t change, I saw them differently. Through the fog this morning, I couldn’t see much outside but the wrong turn I made was crystal clear. Thankfully, we always have an option to turn around and get back on the right track, get back to God. I haven’t been praying or worshipping the way I know I should, and my lost feeling and grouchy attitude are the result. How can something be so obvious yet you don’t see it? Even more so, how incredible is it to know that He is always there with open arms waiting for us to come back to Him?! So grateful.

I became a born again Christian at the age of 11. Yes, I knew what it meant and I while I was forced to go to church 3 times a week, you cannot force that love in your heart for our Savior. 35 years later I find myself in familiar territory needing guidance and fulfillment I won’t find from another human. This time around, my needs are quite different than they have been in the past. I have so much to be grateful for. I have a great job and an incredible stream of passive income as a result of helping people reach their goals; thank you Jesus! I have a beautiful, warm home where I love to spend time; thank you Jesus! I have the man of my dreams at my side and amazing supportive friends; thank you Jesus! I have my health and so does my daughter, thank you Jesus! This all sounds like an amazing, blessed life – right? So what more could I ask for? Yes, I have a very blessed life, but I am missing the unconditional love he offers and the joy I feel in my heart when I am living my life for Him instead of me. While he does live in my heart, sometimes I lose focus and secular life starts taking over. I have always sought comfort in the arms of the Lord when going through hard life events, but this time it’s not truly a difficult time, but an unfamiliar season. I am making things more difficult by not following Him. Getting in the word of the bible, praying and surrounding myself with others that love the Lord the way I do is so important to getting back on track and continuing on that path. Actively worshipping and praising Him is the only way to keep that focus. Just hearing a simple hymn can bring you back to where you need to be. That is the great thing about being a Christian; you always know where to turn regardless of the challenge you face. Sometimes we just need a reminder to nourish our relationship with Him, first! Everything else will fall into place. Thank you Cindy!

Needless to say, my plan has changed quite a bit and I know the outcome will be a much better one! I will allow God to restore my heart, replenish my faith and refocus my heart and mind on the things I desire in my life. I have a couple of obstacles to overcome to get myself back where I belong and I know He is the only way.

Instability, displacement. Blessing, disaster, or a source of strength?

“Stop leaving and you will arrive.  Stop searching and you will see.  Stop running away and you will be found.”  -Unknown

It is sometimes hard to really determine what affect our past has on our current day life and relationships. If you really stop and consider it, did your upbringing guide you to strength and stability, insecurity and instability, or someplace in the middle?  I believe that we often just go through the motions of life as we grow and don’t realize the impact and work on the shortcomings that we may have developed.  This is the main reason for my blog, my months (so far) in therapy and so many of the changes taking place in my life now.  I am understanding myself better than I ever have and realizing, as I have stated in multiple other blogs, why I am the way I am and understanding many of my fears.

I believe I have mentioned before that throughout my life we moved a lot and rarely stayed in one place.  This created more issues for me than I ever realized.  It made social skills a challenge, trusting people has never been a strong point to this day.  It is hard to walk into a room and believe that you belong when you are constantly on the move and having to make new friends everywhere you go.  If you read my original blog, you know – I was born in Corpus Christi, TX, was adopted there and at 3 years old moved to Mountain Grove,  MO.  I won’t take through every single move I went through, that would be incredibly boring!!  BUT, I can tell you that in the 17 years I lived at home I lived in 10 houses (that I can remember at the moment) as well as in our camp trailer or in our van for many months and 2 additional locations as well as a lot of camp sites and road time.  My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools, living in 2 different states!  That year stands out for me as the hardest year of my younger years for obvious reasons, and more that will come out at a later date.  It’s so hard being the “new girl” anyway, that being the new girl in the capacity in which i was, was extremely difficult.  What do I mean by “in that capacity that I was”, right??

Well let me back up just a bit and I will explain a bit.  At 8 years old, I was a pretty well adjusted kid living in Blue Springs, MO, attending the 4th grade local elementary school, not fully aware of how abnormal and inappropriate my life was.  I knew my life was a bit crazy and things were not the same as for most others, but as I have mentioned before, I was too young to fully understand the depth of what was taking place and what the lasting affects would be.  There were a lot of things going on inside of my household that many would not believe or comprehend, things that people might say was a tall tale or a wild imagination.  Many of the things I don’t fully understand to this day myself; and yet I lived it!   While many of you may think that what I sometimes post is just family drama or dirty laundry that should be kept within the family confines, it is my story that I am sure somebody relates to.  I tell you in such detail what took place in my life because I believe that to understand me and my story, you have to know details and what feelings were inside me.  You cannot put yourself in my shoes and understand if you don’t know the feelings I had and I truly want people to understand and feel what I experienced.  So know, this is very personal and graphic for a reason.

The well adjusted kid disappeared at 8 when my somewhat normal life came to a screeching halt.  Craziness escalated when my brother Brian got married.  He had married someone that he didn’t know well enough to marry and it didn’t take long for this to become a disaster.  This quickly caught up to him and he realized he shouldn’t have married her.  I mentioned before that my dad was my hero, but Brian was my idol.  I loved him so much, I idolized him.  He was the most handsome big brother, he was cool, he had the prettiest girlfriends and I admired him so much!  And most importantly, he loved me and he protected me.  He got me out of the house when he could, he bought me things I wouldn’t otherwise get; he took care of me the best he could from a distance, since he didn’t live with us.  That year, he bought me a teddy bear that at 8 years old, was the same size as me.  I remember sleeping with this thing on top of my body because it was just too big to cuddle, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of it.  That was the coolest thing I had ever received, and today, one of my best childhood memories.  He will never know how much that bear meant to me.

Anyway…how this ties to my topic today – instability and displacement.  Brian had married and had a child with a woman that was not who or what she claimed to be.  He was so trusting and such a loving soul; he believed her, he loved her, he married her and had a child with her.  He quickly found out that she was not someone to be trusted and she was also a child abuser, abusing their new born son, my nephew Willie.  Willie was the sweetest and most handsome infant I had seen!  I loved my nephew an incredible amount and so did my entire family.  Still wondering how this applies to topic I’m sure, but keep reading and you’ll understand this sets the stage for the displacement from my home.  My sister-in-law was a very unstable young girl and severely misled my brother.  She had lied about her age, her situation and multiple other things; and she did not want the baby she had just delivered.  She called my brother at work daily, saying the baby wouldn’t stop crying so he would come home.  After some months of him bringing the baby to our house so he could go back to work, very concerning things were appearing.  Willie was crying uncontrollably at our house on a regular basis which was abnormal, after examining his body, my mom found little pin holes in his fat creases.  Having the heart he did, Brian struggled with believing his wife would do anything to harm their child and tried to figure things out – how to keep his wife happy but protect his child.  When the crying worsened, it was clear he was in pain and doctor visits determined his esophagus was burned and tests ensued to determine cause.  It was confirmed that she was sticking him with pins to make him cry and she was putting lye acid in his vitamins which was the cause of the burned throat and the stomach pains he was having.  Ultimately, my brother clearly couldn’t tolerate the abuse and made the hard but only decision he could, and took the baby and left her.  He had to find help and my parents were readily available.  He didn’t want to divorce her yet, he still wanted to understand.  Unfortunately, as he began to understand there was no option but to move toward ending their marriage and cut off all contact.  It was an incredibly difficult and tumultuous break up.  The cops were called several times for disturbing the peace and as a civil escort when she was granted visitation rights with the baby.  This was a devastating time for my family, although I had no idea how deep it would go.

I know this sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie and I have often joked about my life being like a movie.  The sad truth is, it’s not a joke.  My life truly has very much resembled a messed up movie with multiple crazy family members!  But guess what!!  That was my REAL life!  That’s the cards some of us were dealt and that makes it hard to handle but we have no choice but to handle or crumble.  I’m not a crumbler, there fore it may not have always been easy, but I handled it!  Until the past year, when I began falling apart and looking at why.

Now, this is the segway back to topic and into  our next and most significant move.  Because of the craziness happening with the baby being poisoned and his health declining, the baby’s life was in danger.  The courts wouldn’t suspend visitation rights and my brother and parents feared that one more visit with her and Willie could be dead.  Nobody was willing to take that risk, we loved him too much.  That week, we spent the week packing our home into a storage unit, and putting only what we absolutely needed to live into the van.  Leaving behind my life-size teddy bear was the hardest thing I had to do to date in my short 8 years.  While I knew we were having a serious situation, I was still a child and that bear was my favorite thing on earth.  It was symbolic of my brother’s pure love for me which was so different than the perverted and disgusting lust that my other brother had.  Two very different types of affection, one is NOT love.  In any case, my heart was broken and my parents PROMISED me I would get him (the bear) back, along with all of my toys, my bedroom and our home for that matter.  For the record, I never saw the bear or anything else including our home, again.  We packed what we needed in our van in the night and went on the run.  At this point we were fugitives of justice, considered kidnappers with a baby.

There were 5 of us in the van:  Dad, Mom, Willie (baby), Andrew (abusive brother) and me.  This series of events over the next couple of years stands out as some of the roughest times I have ever been through in my life.  I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t know at 8 years old what “running from the law” meant or how serious the repercussions would be!  I wish I had never learned, but eventually I did.

The only positive thing about this period of my life is that with all of the distractions and the fact that we were living in our van, on the road, there was very little opportunity for my brother to bother me with his perversion.  This allowed me to relax a little bit and try to be a kid, but I didn’t really know how to any more.

After some weeks in the van (I’m not really sure how long), on the road traveling cross country to many states and stops, we landed in Saucier, MS where my parents had some friends from when they lived in Corpus Christi who were willing to help.  We stayed on their property in a camp trailer for a short time, until we found a tiny 2 bedroom house for the 5 of us to rent.  I started school again, being my second school in the 4th grade.  The insanity of the situation we called life kept me from being able to play with friends after school or have sleep overs, so I didn’t exactly have many friends.  My parents fought too much to have anybody over anyway…it would have been mortifying for anyone to witness that.  Then, some normalcy – I got to join a basketball team, my first sport ever!  I was so excited!!  My parents came to my first game, amidst a fight, and my mom made such a horrible scene at the game that I never went back.  As you can imagine, I was incredibly uncomfortable and nervous ALL of the time.  I also had developed what, at the time they called “nervous stomach”, which kept me in pain a lot of the time.  It was a long time before I actually got to go the doctor to find out why my stomach was hurting me all the time and I was the least of my parents concern.  Ultimately I got some medication that calmed my intestines and helped the pain so I could relax as much as possible, which still wasn’t a lot.

When I think today about some of these things it blows my mind that this was my life.  So while I have not had an easy storybook life, I have had built up a lot of strength, understanding and empathy for others.  This part of my story is long from over, and I will continue in another post.  For today, my focus was to discuss instability and displacement and how it affected me.  My crazy life has offered me so many advantages and many disadvantages; I mentioned a couple above.  Feeling the comfort of a home is critical to me.  For the past year and a half, my daughter and I had been sharing a house with my friend which allowed me to get bills paid off, relax a little bit financially, but also gave me a very unsettling sense of displacement because it wasn’t mine.  I wasn’t providing for myself fully.  Last weekend I moved my daughter and myself into a new home.  I have a sense of security again that I have been missing for the past year.  I couldn’t be happier!  It is very important for me to be in control of my life now because I had no control growing up.  I have been dependent on someone else for my happiness for a lot of my life, sadly.  I admit I am very much a codependent.  My self confidence has been low most of my life, but I am raising it.  Now, through so much work in my life, I am learning for the first time in my life that I am more than capable of making myself happy, taking care of myself and my daughter and overcoming the remaining humps in my life.  Today, I am an over-comer and am excited for every day that comes because it is another step in the right direction and continued healing!   I have learned the importance of giving back to those in need, I understand what it means to be without.  I want to give and help with my knowledge or my paycheck, whichever is most appropriate, at any given moment.  I am thankful for my life and the terrors and what I have learned.  I love my family, I love my friends and I love my mankind.  This will not change, but will grow!!  Thank you for reading, and I welcome any feedback or comments.  Please share if you know anyone that might be interested in my story!