Sunday, December 27, 2015

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I remember staring at the ultrasound pictures trying to see if she had my nose. I wanted to see in what way she resembled me. When she was little I would stare into her big brown eyes and wonder who she would grow up to be. Once she laughed so hard she snorted a little... just like her mommy. We use terms such as "carbon copy", "mini me", and "Faith Jr." 

Over the last eleven years we have expanded from one baby girl to three. Each one so different from each other and yet so much like us in their own ways. Abbie has my goofy sense of humor. Our Elizabeth is strong willed and fiercely independent. Last but definitely not least, Charlie is affectionate and a social butterfly. Each one is so precious and fits perfectly into our family. When I would look at my daughters I would think of how each one is like me, but tonight I realized that while they take on the good characteristics they might also take on the tough ones. 

While there are a lot of traits that I love about myself, some of my traits are a little more difficult. The most difficult trait would be that I am an over-eater. I have an addiction to food and I use it in unhealthy ways. I'm bored... I need something to eat. I'm angry... I need something to eat. I'm happy ... I need something to eat. I sad... I need a lot to eat. I use food to pacify myself and it is an addiction I have had for a very long time. Thankfully the last year and a half I have gotten a lot of help and am beginning to find ways to let God change me. I am still not where I need to be, but I have more control over food now than I have ever had before. I knew food had become a problem when I was willing to lie, steal, and hide my behavior. I felt an unquenchable hunger literally and figuratively. 

I know my daughters will each have their trials and temptations. I know that they will sin and only God will be able to help them. I know these things, but seeing them struggle still hurts. It especially hurts when I see the same struggle and behavior that I struggle with. Part of me feels guilty... is she doing this because of my bad example. Has my sins and struggles passed down to her? How can I teach her how to do something that I am still not able to do? 

Tonight I discovered that one of my precious girls has a problem with food. Her every thought seems to be around food. She is constantly seeking food. Tonight we discovered that she had been stealing food and eating it secretly in her room and had made holes in her mattress and in her sisters to hide the evidence. The amount of evidence we found was shocking and disheartening. I so wish I could take this away from her. 

What to do when children are sinning... 
To be honest, I have no idea. 

I am going to seek God's wisdom in this situation. We are going to try as a family to take the focus away from food by having scheduled eating times and no sweets, limiting temptation. I am going to be transparent about my own struggles and try to help her as much as I can. 

I can't change her heart and I can't keep her from sinning. I can keep pointing the way back to God and help her seek her identity and comfort in Him alone. 

Please pray for us as we seek out God's wisdom in all the aspects of parenting. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Family and Funerals

This morning my husband asked me if I had ever been to a "black funeral". At first, I was confused by the question. I began to quietly ponder on what might be different between funerals I had been to before with my family and a funeral with his family. 

A week ago my husband had lost a beloved cousin, Glenn Strong, to violence. The news was shocking and devastating. I saw my news feed fill up with the outcry of his family and friends. Part of me thinks the violence aspect caused even more pain and confusion than other situations. As the week progressed, I watched as my strong loving husband went from shock to brokenness masked only by keeping busy. Even in the midst of everything he remained strong and steadfast for his girls. My heart ached in empathy for him and his family and I felt completely helpless and unable to comfort. The only thing I could do was to follow his lead and stand by him to support and love him. 

So this morning we were planning the events of the day and the timeline,when he asked if I had ever been to a "black funeral". 

While we were at the funeral there were some minor differences, but that might even be just differences in churches. Most all of what I experienced was exactly the same. 

We heard the mournful wails of the brokenhearted sister. We saw the husband holding up his wife as she said goodbye to her baby boy. We saw the cousins who were both broken-hearted at the loss of someone so dear, while also so thankful to be reunited with other family members. We heard the gentle crinkle of the candy wrappers from the elderly lady who passed them out to restless children. We smelled the food that had been lovingly prepared for the family. We heard the lyrics to "His Eye On The Sparrow". We saw the room overfilled with all those whose lives were touched by Glenn. We heard the words of the pastors who pointed the glory back to God. The thing that was exactly the same was the feeling of love that poured from the family. 

From the first time I met my husband's family, I have felt loved and welcome and the very first person I met was Glenn. It is one of my favorite stories and I even told it less than a week before Glenn's passing. 

When I first met my husbands family, they were having a reunion in a park and we had arrived after it was already dark. There was very little lighting and I only knew his dad and brothers who had arrived with us. When the hubby was speaking to some family members I went to walk around and introduce myself. I walked up to the first picnic table and introduced myself to a kind man. He said, "It's nice to meet you. I'm Little Glenn." We spoke briefly and then I went to another table. Again I introduced myself, or reintroduced myself. He said, "Hi Faith, I just met you. I'm Glenn." I was slightly embarrassed but it could have happened to anyone. I went to another group and yet again reintroduced myself. (Now remember it is very dark and they are all family..) Again he kindly responded, "Hi Faith. I am Glenn. Why don't I walk you around and introduce you to everyone?" He walked and talked with me as I got to meet all of my husband's family. 

Through the funeral and the reception Abbie, our oldest, kept mentioning that she loved her daddy's family. She also mentioned how loving his family was. I reminded her several times that they are all her family not just her dad's. She was a part of this amazing loving family. 

After spending more time with his family I came to a realization. Just like Abbie, I had continued to refer to them as his family. The reality is they are MY family. Eleven years ago they welcomed me in and have made me feel so incredibly loved. We see them far too little and I hope to change that. I love my family and will be lifting them up as they face the loss of Glenn, the first one to welcome me again and again and again. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Preparing for the Turbulence

The plane arrived at its gate with no delay. All the passengers quickly and quietly boarded the plane, placed their bags in the overhead compartment, and buckled themselves into their seats. I looked out the window looking at the fluffy white clouds. The clouds seemed so soft and the blue sky extended into the horizon. Looking about the plane I could see people playing on their devices, chatting, and even napping. Then I heard the voice of the pilot saying, "We are going to be flying into some turbulence. Please remain seated and buckle up." The stewardesses walked back to their seats, checking each row they passed. The skies still looked peaceful, but I knew that I didn't have a good view of the upcoming storm. As we continued to fly the sky became dark and the clouds became thick and grey. The once bustling and energized passengers were  now silent and stiff. It was just a matter of time before we would feel the turbulence. 

There are times in life when you can see the storm as it approaches and all you can do is prepare for the turbulence. Life can feel overwhelming and chaotic. Anxieties can build and often it feels like you should be doing something to help the circumstances, when there is actually nothing you can do but to take your seat, put on your seat buckle, and trust the pilot. 

Right now, my family is in this very spot. God is taking us in a new direction and we are just trying to seek His will in all we do. In a couple months I will be transferring to UMSL and at the same time the hubby will be doing a training for eight weeks, in which his income will almost become obsolete. The training has the possibility of giving us more financial stability for the long run. While we are trying to walk in faith, it is tough. Sometimes I wish I could just have a glimpse of the outcome, just to know if we are going in the right direction. We are following His voice, but it seems so many things are trying to distract us. While at moments it can be difficult, we KNOW that God is good. We know that if we walk in His will, He will provide a way. We know that God has never left us or forsaken us. We know that God is in control and knows the plans He has for us. 

I place my anxieties and fears down at His feet, but then keep picking them back up. When I try to carry the load on my own, it is so heavy and I feel the crushing weight of it all. Thankfully, I just have to cry out to Him and place it back down at His feet and He takes it and carries me through it. 

I have so many questions. Will I get the scholarship? Will we find financial stability? Will we be homeschooling next year? Will we be able to get her into the private school? 

While they are good questions, I cannot choose to be obedient in my timing. I have to walk in faith, knowing that in time all the questions will be answered. 

God is my pilot. He is in control of where this plane will go. I have to trust Him to protect and provide for us. I have to stop trying to do things on my own terms because instead of helping, it only makes things more difficult. I need to be obedient and I need to prepare my heart and mind for the turbulence that is to come over the next several months. 

I will keep trusting in my pilot. I will keep giving Him the control. I will also praise Him for all He has done and all He is about to do. I will praise Him for the places He is directing us toward and I will praise Him for the turbulence. 

Jeremiah 29:1 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 Peter 5:7-11

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

John 10:27-30

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Exposing the Secrets- My Dyslexia Research Paper

Exposing the Secret

     Growing up I lived a life filled with fear and shame. For eight years I hid my deep dark secret from my parents, siblings, friends, and teachers. My secret came with self-hate. The self-hate began to fester and infect other areas of my life, leading me to fall into a deep depression. I sought relief from pain through drinking, promiscuity, and self-mutilation. What was my secret? I could not read.

     Dyslexia is a disability that impacts a large portion of young students. Robin Boda, the Director of Education at Hope Education, describes dyslexia by saying that “it is a brain difference, neurological brain difference. Often going hand in hand with that, are gifts and strengths” (Boda). Yale’s MDAI, Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative, posted “20% of the population is struggling with this hidden disability” (MDAI). Goldish, author of Everything You Need to Know About Dyslexia, wrote “It is further estimated that 10 to 15 percent of school-age children have dyslexia. Yet despite the large number of people with dyslexia, it is estimated that only 5 percent of dyslexics are ever properly diagnosed and given appropriate help” (Goldish, pg. 20).

      A Huffington Post article said, 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read” (Crum). When Boda was asked for her view of Huffington Post’s statistic, she was not surprised. She described how the majority of her adult dyslexic students made it to very high levels in their high schools, many even graduating. Dr. Greene and Dr. Forster did a study on high school graduates readiness to enter college. They found that “only 32% of all students—fewer than half of those who graduate and about one-third of all students who enter high school—leave high school with the bare minimum qualifications necessary to apply to college” (Greene). Dyslexic children are going undiagnosed.

The Stigma:
     When I was in third grade, I asked my dad to have me tested so I could be in the resource room like a couple of my friends. He responded by telling me that I was not retarded, because no kid of his was retarded. Then he told me that I was just being stupid and lazy to slack off with my friends. That is the moment I realized how disappointed my family would be if they found out just how stupid I was. It was my job to keep my struggle a secret.

     Dyslexic children are going undiagnosed due to the stigma attached with the term dyslexia. People with dyslexia are often seen as lazy and stupid. “Sometimes because dyslexic children are so bright and seem to have all the cognitive "equipment" necessary to read, their continuing struggles are blamed on lack of motivation or not trying hard enough” (MDAI). The MDAI also found that students, thinking that they are not intelligent, often give up on themselves and have no hopes for success or happiness. These false beliefs, lead many dyslexic children to keep their struggles a secret.

     John Corcoran is a dyslexic teacher and an advocate for education reform. When he was young, his teachers told his parents that “he was simply ‘unmotivated’ and ‘immature’ and would learn to read at some point” (Feeney). Corcoran went through life pretending that he could read and even got through college and became a teacher. “Still, he maintained the illusion of literacy, carrying a newspaper or book under one arm and listening carefully to conversations in the teachers' room” (Feeney). When a student does reach out for help, the parent does not believe the student. The reaction of those parent’s and my father was described by Boda, “The parent doesn’t know how to deal with it so they don’t exactly believe the kid. They say try harder and you’re not focusing.”

     While the common belief is that dyslexics are stupid, this belief is completely false. “Dyslexics are not stupid. Most have average intelligence. Many are above average” (Goldish, pg. 20). MDAI describes the talents of dyslexic students saying that they “usually excel at problem solving, reasoning, seeing the big picture, and thinking out of the box” (MDAI). Many teachers, parents, and even students believe the negative stigma on dyslexic students.

The Signs:
     When I would sit down and read, I would spend an hour trying to read the first few words. The letters on the page would begin to dance around and blur into and out of focus, often giving me headaches. I felt stupid and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. All the members of my family are geniuses, and I could not even read a couple words. I kept my secret until I was seventeen years old. My Spanish teacher was the first person I felt I could tell without a fear of judgement. She supported me and inspired me to be an advocate for myself. She helped me tell my parents and fought for me to get tested.

     Dyslexic children are going undiagnosed because people are unaware of the signs of dyslexia. Dyslexia has many signs including: Speech problems when young, problems with handwriting, bad spelling, difficultly reading out loud, low reading comprehension, thinking out of the box, does not test well, headaches when reading, and even ADD/ADHD. Students often do not have the same signs. “[Dyslexia] appears as spelling errors, but it is far more complex than just switching letters like b and d. There is a huge range of dyslexia and it is on a spectrum” (Boda). Goldish describes the spectrum saying, “dyslexia can range from minor problems with spelling to complete illiteracy” (Goldish, pg. 19). It is important for teachers and parents to be educated on the signs in order to help students.

The Shame:
     Exposing my secret to my parents was one of my most terrifying experiences. To my surprise, my parents did not react as I had assumed they would. They were supportive and immediately got me tested. My parents were shocked to discover that I tested at a third grade level. They sacrificed their time and money to get me specialized tutoring. After a year and a half of intensive tutoring, my reading level went from third grade to high school, it gave me the coping skills I will use for the rest of my life.

     Dyslexic children are going undiagnosed due to their deep seeded shame. Clinical Psychologist, Gershen Kaufman, studied shame in adults and found that “adults who have not learned how to read and write feel acute shame over their deficiency” (Kaufman, 1992, 199). Boda found that fear and shame were so common that they were the two things she had to overcome with every student she has. She said, “They try to hide it, cover it up, don’t seek your help” (Boda). When John Corcoran exposed that he could not read it “marked the end of shame, anxiety, and ingenious evasions and the beginning of a crusade on behalf of literacy and education reform” (Feeney). 

     Sonya Bridges is another inspirational person. She is also a teacher and she also discovered that she had dyslexia when she was an adult. Even though she had to work harder than most of the kids in her class, she persevered and did well in school. Bridges was tested when she was an adult, after years of wondering if she was dyslexic and “when the results finally came in, Bridges was relieved, but embarrassed. She kept her findings secret for a while” (Graham). Shame is a powerful force that is very common in the life of a person with dyslexia.

The Solution:
      Five years ago when my oldest daughter was in first grade, I discovered she is dyslexic like me. I refused to have her live a life of shame, low self-confidence, and hating school. When her teacher and counselor at school said she was too young to test, we pulled her from public school and began homeschooling her. She goes to a tutor once a week and we work with her throughout the week. Over the few years, she has caught up to grade level reading, a passion for learning, and a high self-confidence.

      Dyslexic children do not have to go undiagnosed. While there is no cure for dyslexia, fortunately, there are ways to greatly improve the life of dyslexic people and to empower them to reach their full potentials. The first step is to educate parents on dyslexia. About thirteen years ago Mary Buchanan discovered that her teenage daughter could not read. Parents often do not realize that their child has dyslexia. “Unfortunately, teachers and parents do not always notice that a child has a language disability” (Goldish, pg. 9). Boda describes the reason parents don’t catch their child’s learning disability, “A lot of parents trust the school to take care of all of that. Parents go many years without listening to them read, or if they do listen to them read they will listen to them read stories that have been read to them many times that the student has it memorized.” (Boda).  I was able to catch my daughter’s dyslexia and get her help, because I was educated on the signs of dyslexia.

     Mary Buchanan described her feelings as shocked and saddened. She was shocked at how she could not have known and was sad to think of all the years and the lost opportunities. When asked about what steps her husband and she made to help their daughter, she said, “We went and got her tested and paid over $9,000 to get her tutoring.” She also said that it “would have been helpful to get info out to parents to know what to look for, signs to watch for” (Buchanan). The sacrifice she and her husband made have had a huge impact on her daughter. I know this impact because she is my mother. If it wasn’t for the way they responded and fought to help me, I would not be about to graduate from college and the cycle would not have been broken for her granddaughter. A parents love and support are key to a child’s success. “Because of the love, encouragement and academic help from her mother, Bridges endured the bullying and laughter of classmates, and worked hard to become an achiever” (Graham).

      The second step to helping dyslexic children, is to adjust their education to encourage their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. In order to find the student’s strengths and weaknesses, it is important to test them young with a non-standardized test. Since dyslexia is inherited, it is especially important to test if any other family members are dyslexic. If a student is diagnosed with dyslexia, the school needs to find ways to educate within that child’s learning style. Many schools are trying to fit students into a box, and dyslexic students often don’t fit. For example, standardized tests might reflect the knowledge and understanding of many, but dyslexic students do not test well. Dyslexic students also need more time in getting the foundations of phonics and reading. To push the student along in hopes that he or she might catch up, will actually hinder the student. “The existence of other social problems does not excuse the public school system’s inadequate performance” (Greene). Boda believes that we have to do school differently. She describes the importance of having a high standard but a different standard for each student.

     While the tutoring helped me read, it was not a cure. When I became a student in college, I assumed that I would hate school and would get bad grades just as I had done growing up. I was shocked to discover that I was able to get onto the honor roll and even ended up being honored as an Emerging Scholar at a banquet. I will always struggle with my dyslexia, but I am now empowered to succeed. I am finally starting to break from the chains of self-hate as I am discovering that I am a strong, talented, and highly intelligent woman.

Work Cited
Boda, Robin. Interview. 21 July 2015.
Buchanan, Mary. Interview. 21 July 2015.
Crum, Maddie. "The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn't Changed In 10 Years." The Huffington Post., 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 July 2015.
Feeney. "The Teacher Who Couldn't Read: John Corcoran." Biography 3.10 (1999): 82. Middle Search Plus. Web. 25 July 2015.
Goldish, Meish. Everything You Need to Know about Dyslexia. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1998. Print.
Graham, Charlotte. "Dyslexia hits home for former local teacher." Laurel Leader-Call (Mississippi). (September 19, 2011 Monday ): 1305 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2015/07/25.
Greene, Jay P., and Greg Forster. "Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States. Education Working Paper No. 3." Center for Civic Innovation (2003).
"Illiteracy Statistics." Statistic Brain RSS. 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 July 2015.
Kaufman, Gershen. Shame, the Power of Caring. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman Pub., 1985. Print.
"MDAI: Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative * The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity." Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative * The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. Web. 29 July 2015.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What's on my heart


I am a white woman with three daughters. 
What do I have to teach them? 

I have to teach them to love God.
I have to teach them to respect authority.
I have to teach them to love themselves.
I have to teach them to be kind.
I have to teach them to work hard. 

I am a white woman with three black daughters.
What do I have to teach them? 

I have to teach them to love God.
I have to teach them to respect authority, because if they don't they can become victims.
I have to teach them to love themselves, even when people judge them. 
I have to teach them to be kind, even when someone makes ignorant remarks to them.
I have to teach them to work hard, harder than others to get the same pay and respect.
I also have to teach them how to not live in fear, even when so much injustice is happening to people who look like them. 

I am... 

I am heartbroken. Heart broken when I see the footage of people being treated so wrong by the people who are supposed to protect them. 

I am worried. Worried about how I, as a white woman, can teach my three black daughters to grow into strong black women. 

I am tired. Tired of seeing good people be defined by a few bad ones. 

I am sickened. Sickened by the way our society blames and then destroys the reputation of victims, both victims of injustice, violence, and sexual assault.

I am waiting. Waiting for a day when I don't have to live heartbroken, worried, tired, and sickened. 

I am thankful. Thankful for all those who love and support my family and for those who come out to help others when their is a crisis. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Discovering Dyslexia

Junior Year 2002-2003:

Senora Boulanger’s very presence in the classroom demands attention. She is exuberant. Her energy and love for the Spanish language and culture intrigue me and make me wish I had that kind of passion for learning. She makes learning fun and exciting, but for some reason I can’t retain the information. The only thing she seems to love more than the language and culture is teaching. She is always willing to take her time to speak to her students about class or even their lives. It is my junior year that Senora Boulanger forever changes my life.

Walking up to a teacher’s desk usually evokes fear and anxiety. As I step closer I feel as if the walls are closing in on me. But with senora Boulanger it is never like that. She has the room where we all go to during homeroom and talk to her. One time when I am speaking to her I mention that I can’t really read or comprehend. Finding the words is difficult because I don’t really understand why I am so stupid. A couple days later she gives me something rather odd. It is a plastic overlay sheet that is used on an old school projector, but instead of being clear they are tinted different colors. She tells me to place them over the section that we are reading to see if it helps. When I place it over the pages in my book the letters seem to stand more still. My eyes hurt less but I still struggle to comprehend the words. I tell her about the phenomenon.

Senora Boulanger asks me if I had ever been tested for dyslexia. I am not even sure I know what that word means so I tell her know. The one thing I do know is that getting tested would require my parents to know that something is wrong with me. I am in fear of what might happen if they know I am stupid, not normal stupid but legitimately stupid. Senora Boulanger encourages me to speak to my parents, even offering to speak to my mom with me. It is because of her that I am able to get help. My loving parents don’t react the way I expect them to. I get tested and start tutoring at a learning center after school. The whole time I continue to go back to her classroom to tell her how it is going.

Senora Boulanger was the first teacher to catch my disability and fight for me to get help. 


Abbie, my oldest daughter, is struggling in school. She is only in first grade, but I can already see signs of what I went through. She is continually writing words and sentences backwards, but the teacher seems unconcerned. I fear that she might be like me, too much like me. As Abbie continues in public schools, I grow increasingly concerned. Abbie starts to hate school and her self-esteem is low when it comes to reading. I can understand how she feels. She feels stupid and it is all my fault, because she got it from me. During her summer break, the hubby says I can pull her from school to homeschool her. While I am excited to homeschool, I am secretly terrified that my inabilities would forever hinder her education. Can a dyslexic mom teach her dyslexic child to read, if they can’t even teach themselves to read?

When talking to my mom, she mentions that her friend Robin works with kids who have learning problems. She tells me that I should contact her. I send her a message on Facebook expressing my concerns. She gives me her cell phone number so I can call her and talk to her. She also offers to meet with Abbie to do an assessment. Over the next month, Abbie continues to struggle with homeschooling. While she seems to like it more than public school and is learning a great deal, she is still not where I think she should be. I contact Robin again to seek her advice. She quickly becomes an important source for us. Robin tests Abbie and, as I had suspected the year before, Abbie is dyslexic. While the words brought some peace in knowing that I wasn’t crazy, they also are a little disheartening. Abbie would forever struggle to read.

Abbie begins tutoring with Robin, but I feel that I am learning too. Not just about the phonics, but also about myself. Robin has this amazing way of seeing dyslexia, of seeing me. When Abbie says something “out of the box”, Robin replies with how great her brain works. She remarks on what a blessing it is to be able to think in such a creative way. Each time I see Robin, I feel a little more confident. I begin realizing that I am not stupid. Abbie is not stupid. This is not a curse. We are very smart and are just wired differently. Robin sees us for our abilities, nor our inabilities. Over the next couple of years I can feel the shame and self-hate melt off of me.

Robin was the first person who taught me to change my perspective and to be proud of the person I am, and will become.

While I can never repay these two women for all they have done for me, I hope to impact others in the way they impacted me. God placed them there for a purpose, and they were vessels of God’s love and mercy in my life. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Feeling Defeated

Last night I cried myself to sleep. I allowed myself to feel defeated. I allowed myself to be defined by my inabilities instead of my abilities. 

Flash back to earlier in the day.... 

The house is quieter than most days. Only the gentle patter of one child's footsteps could be heard. As Charlie played quietly I decided that it was the perfect time to work on school work. I cleaned off the table and stacked my books neatly in the upper left corner. My colored pens sat neatly on top of my purple spiral bound notebook. My computer set up on the classes website with a tab open to the e-textbook. I felt prepared and empowered to get work done. 

I spent the next several hours reading the chapter and taking notes in different colors to help me understand the material better. General information written in blue ink, vocabulary words in purple ink, and notes from the teacher's video links in pink ink. When Charlie would run into the room to get attention, I pulled her up on my lap and read over the teacher's power point in funny voices and having her repeat specific words. I felt that I was understanding the material and mastering it. I had a little more time until the older kids would return, would I dare start an quiz? Since Charlie was now asleep on the couch, I figured no time would be as perfect as now to do my quiz.

I opened the page and read over the questions then re-read over them. The first couple questions I answered with ease. Then the next page opened and the questions became much more complicated. It wasn't the material that had become confusing, but rather the wording. I kept reading the same question but when I would answer a purple box under them with "Incorrect" written in bold words appeared. When I read the correct answer and the reason I got it wrong, I felt stupid. "I should have known that", rang in my head. Each answer made me feel more defeated and the words began to go in and out of focus. My head became fuzzy and the screen began to seem too bright. Knowing I had a time limit I continued on, hoping that I could get my brain to focus and understand the words. The words came off the page and went into my brain but did not stick. I became frustrated. Finally, I finished the quiz. 

I began feeling nauseous and the sound of the hubby watching tv was booming. I felt dizzy and ill. The migraine was setting in and I hoped that taking my medicine would kick it before it got any worse. It didn't. We all packed up and went to fellowship with friends. One friend made some coffee for me and even after four small cups the migraine still remained. When we got home I felt emotionally disconnected from my family. 

I went into my room and took a second dose of my medicine. I opened up my ipad, turned down the screen brightness, and hopped onto Facebook. I tried to scroll down and read what was written, but my brain was so fried that I couldn't read anything. The words danced around and became blurry. I wasn't even able to read my own words. I grew angry and I threw myself a five minute pity party.  

It's not fair. I wish I could read like normal people, there is so much I would love to read but just can't. Why does it have to be such a battle each time? I wish I wasn't so stupid. I thought that the pity party would help, but instead it released so much deep pain. I fell into my pillow weeping. My head was in pain... my heart was in pain... my spirit was in pain. 
I cried out to God. "God if you wont take this from me, give em the strength to live with it and to do my best to glorify you through it. God your grace is sufficient. God I want to succeed so much." 

I want so much to succeed. I want so much to be a good example to Abbie and to my future students. I want to show them that they can do anything, but at this moment I didn't believe it myself. The weight of it all fell upon me. 

Unable to calm myself, I went out into the living room. The house was dark and quiet, thankfully all the girls were already asleep. I saw my hubby sitting on the couch and all I could mutter was, "I need a hug." He ran to wash the white cheddar dustings from his popcorn off of his fingers and sat down beside me. He held me as I wept some more. Then he asked what was wrong. I tried to articulate my feelings over the sobbing. "I wish I was normal," I cried. "If you were normal you would get on my nerves." he responded. I was confused. "What do you mean?" I questioned. Then he said the best thing anyone could have said to me. He said, "Obviously, I am not attracted to normal." His words made me chuckle. He loves me just as I am. 

He sent me back to bed to get some rest. As I lay in my dark room with an ice bag on my head waiting for the medicine to kicking in, I listened to worship music and forced myself to praise. My eyes closed and the notes of the music danced around, like a fairy skipping along a pond. With each tap of her toe upon the water, vivid colors expand into rings. Though I was listening to music it is like watching a clip from fantasia. I was tired, my eyes were tired, my brain was tired. Tears still falling from my eyes as I fell into a calm sleep. 

Last night I cried myself to sleep. Normally I can handle my struggles without becoming emotionally involved, but last night I allowed myself to feel defeated and defined by my inabilities rather than my abilities. 

We all have something that we face and we struggle with. Most of the time it may seem we are winning the battle, but sometimes we face defeat. If you are in that place, it is ok. Don't allow yourself to be defined by the very things you struggle with, but rather by the times God has granted you the strength to overcome them. Fall into His arms and let him carry you into a place of peace. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Becoming a Submissive Wife

Before I tell you why I long to be a submissive wife, let me start with a little background about me and my view of submission. My view point has changed drastically over the years and I am sure that it will continue to be tweaked and changed until my last breaths. It is also something that I struggle with greatly day to day even hour to hour.

A little about me...

I am strong willed, very strong willed at times. Growing up I was even more so. As a child I remember my constant interest in fighting for justice and for whatever cause I picked up at that time. I remember my Papa teaching me about recycling and then I became obsessed with collecting information on it and telling everyone around me what they were doing wrong. If I thought a teacher was wrong I would try to form sit ins in my classroom to defend my rights. I took a couple years of auto mechanics class, just so I would never be in need of assistance from anyone (especially a man). If I liked a boy I would often declare it boldly and not wait for him to pursue me. I often would not hold my tongue for anyone and I would speak bluntly, even harshly, to people. I would take up causes just to cover my own behavior, such as a strong anti-smoking stance, abstinence stance, and information on suicide hotlines. All of this while I was smoking secretly, became pregnant in high school, and struggled with suicidal thoughts. I knew how I wanted things, even if it hurt me, and I would do whatever I needed to in order to get it done.

My past views on submission...

Growing up I thought my mom was foolish for trying to submit to my father. I thought she was weak for asking his opinion and asking for his agreement on things. Even her speaking about submission felt archaic. *My mom is one of my closest friend, mentor, and a wonderful God-fearing woman. I can only hope and pray that one day my children will see me with as much admiration as I, and so many others, have for her.* I told myself, and probably her at the time, that I was never going to submit to anyone especially a man. I refused to ask anyone permission or even be held accountable to anyone. I never wanted to be helpless and need a man to help me. I remember often thinking about how I would adopt kids because I never wanted to get married to begin with.

When I met my no husband I was still certain that I would never submit to him, especially by choice. If anything he would have to submit to me. I would always speak about my rights. I had the right to be happy. I had the right to have someone wooing me at all times. I had a right to leave if I felt my needs were not being met. The wedding vows to love and respect were not unconditional, but rather based on how he was treating me.

I ended up falling and failing big time. I fell to pieces and had left my life and my family in shambles. God had taken my pride and made me realize that I am nothing without Him. That is when I flipped. I made a mistake and went from one extreme to another. I thought that submission was forced and required. I thought it meant never saying no and not allowing your voice to be heard.

I ended up giving my spouse all the power over me. I became a mat for him to wipe his anger and frustration on. I allowed myself to be defined as he defined me, not God. I sought his approval, not God's. I had become unequally yoked. I went a few years with accepting mistreatment, then God taught me how to love someone and still have  boundaries. I called it, loving from a distance. Yet again I felt so lost and was all alone. I didn't understand where I had gone wrong. All I wanted was to be closer to God and to be good. I didn't understand that all I had to do was accept the grace extended to me. Nothing more nothing less.

God began to teach me and strengthen me. I had to step up as spiritual headship for myself and my oldest. She needed someone to be leading the family spiritually and to be an example to her. The weight of it began to wear on me. I would pray that my hubby would be saved through my faith and obedience. I hit the point where the thing I wanted most was for my husband to be the spiritual headship our family desperately needed. Through the years I saw huge changes. God began drawing my husband nearer and nearer. We still faced some extremely large obstacles, but God used those. One day God called my hubby into a closer relationship with Him. I am so thankful that I was blessed to be there at that moment. It was a turning point in our lives. God had made a new creation in him.

I was amazed to see all that God was doing in our lives, and yet I still felt impatient at waiting for the spiritual headship I needed. It didn't take long at all. It was difficult at first to step down and allow my husband to takeover for me, but it was completely worth it. I found myself naturally seeking communication and wisdom from him. I wanted to become submissive. I remember some of my friends reactions when they would ask if I was able to go out for a bit and my response was let me talk to the hubby. When I would have people ask a favor or for my involvement in a ministry or activity, I began to say "I will talk to my husband and we will pray about it." Submission wasn't a punishment but rather a gift God had given me. By giving up a little bit of my pride I am able to receive godly advice from someone who knows me and loves me more than any person. I am able to have a protection. I am also able to have someone to lead me and my family. I also have someone to hold me accountable and to help me on my daily walk.

My view of submission has changed drastically over the last several years. God gave me someone who I love and respect so much that I want to submit. My husband is someone who loves me and who ministers to me and often submits to my needs and wants.Our marriage is stronger and we are a unified front when we both submit ourselves to God first. I had once heard of the "umbrella theory" and more and more I see the value and truth behind it.

Above I described three things. I described how submission is a choice, submission is a protection, and submission is a gift. The final important thing about submission is that it is a way to minister to our spouse. Submission is not always easy. Often when it comes to my pride, it can be tough to bite my tongue and to submit when I think my way is better or I don't like the advice of my spouse. Those moments are when they become a wonderful opportunity to minister to my spouse. When I am struggling and I am frustrated I have to pray that God would change my heart and give me a heart of service, love, and obedience. It is a great way to say, "I love you and respect you."

I asked God for almost seven years to give me a spiritual headship and He did. I am thankful for all God has done in my life, my hubby's life, and our marriage. My prayer is that God continues to help me as I submit to my husband and even more-so as I submit to God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Recycled Christian

With Earth Day coming up in just a little over a week, it got me thinking about recycling. Merriam-Webster defines recycle as, "to make something new from (something that has been used before)."
God recycles. 

God has taken something old, broken, and used, and turned it into something new... me. 
I am a Recycled Christian. 

When accepting Christ, the Son of God, we are made into a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 
What wonderful news for us. We are no longer bound to our old destructive broken sinful selves. God has taken us and remolded us. 

I often like to say that I am barely even a reflection of my old self. Yes, I still have the same bright red hair and the same smile but other than my physical appearance I am in no way the same person I was even ten years ago. 

Ten years ago to this day I was a lost and immature girl. I lashed out and hurt my friends, family, and myself. I couldn't go a single minute without thinking suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm. I would go out and try to self medicate with alcohol. My language was almost as foul as my attitude. My daughter who was only one at the time, lived in filth. I was constantly sabotaging my marriage and trying to push my husband away. I almost lost him when I made the selfish choice of turning to another man out of anger. I acted happy often for those who weren't close to me but it was a very superficial mask that I wore to keep people at arms length. I knew of God from being raised in a Christian home but I had not given Christ the authority over my life to be my Lord. I was willing to have Him as savior as long as I didn't have to change my ways. I had severe mood swings and would often go without sleep. I had no interest in learning or growing as a person because I didn't even think I would be around for long enough to do anything, and if I had tried I was sure I would have failed. I was institutionalized so many times I had lost count. I was on and off so many medications I felt like I lived in a fog of numbness, so I would go off them and be thrown into an out of control state. My family feared that I wouldn't survive through the year. I was old, broken, and used. I lived in a state of trying to survive the day, hour, minute, even moment. This was me at my lowest. It was the moment when I cried out to God. 

While the only words I could mutter were, "God, I can't. You have to." those words embodied all of my anguish. God, I can't be the mother Abbie deserves, you have to help me. God, I can't be the wife my husband needs, you have to change me. God I can't stop thinking about ways to kill myself, You have to take them from me and give me strength. God, I can't do this on my own, You have to carry me. God I am so scared because I can't even trust myself, You have to teach me to trust you. Those words were from the depths of my soul. I cried out from the deep pit of depression and loneliness, praying that He could pull me out of it. 

That is when God recycled me. It wasn't all immediate. I struggled with my thoughts for months, but each thought I turned over to God. Even as God began to take away the thoughts of suicide and self harm, I still questioned every thought in my head. I would constantly wonder was this me, was it my bipolar, or was it God? Even simple things such as small purchases, because before I was extremely impulsive. I found support in the very person I caused so much pain and heartache, my mom. She became my sounding board for years, as I would ask her when things came up. 

As I came closer to the Lord and was becoming this new creation, I became further from my spouse. The sins of my past had left deep scars in him and he had to face God in his own way. I prayed for years for him and often lost faith in God's ability, although God showed me over and over that He was in control. Several years later my love had been changed by the hand of God. I was blessed to see God do great things in his life and how God mended our marriage making it stronger than ever before. God not only recycled us as individuals, but also our marriage. 

I often like to say that I am barely even a reflection of my old self. None of it was through my own power or ability. It was all through God's mercy, power, and love. I am so thankful for the person He has created me to be, and I know that I am no where near done. I look forward to seeing the transformations He does in the next ten years. 

If God had not saved me I would be in the landfill. Instead He recycled me. 

Would you rather be recycled or end up in a landfill? 
How has God recycled you? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The boxes around us

I don't fit in the box you place me in. For a long time I placed myself in the very same boxes and even in other boxes, but I have broken out of them.

I don't fit in the box you place me in. I am not just a statistic or a generalized definition of any of my characteristics or quirks.

I don't fit in the box you place me in. The boxes are beginning to feel to constrictive and sometimes they even cause me pain.

I don't fit in the box you place me in.

This last weekend I saw the boxes my husband gets placed into. His response made me so proud.

When we were at the bank signing up for a joint savings account the woman helping us was very kind. She applauded our parenting and the good behavior of our three daughters, at the same time she was shocked that we were married. We have the same last name, are at the same address, have our three children with us, and had wedding rings on. She asked us our marriage status, which would be general protocol. Her completely shocked and amazed reaction was not protocol. When she heard that we have been married for almost eleven years she was even more shocked. My husband and I just let it roll off as we do so many other times.

When we left the bank we went to Target. In the checkout lanes an employee walked right past my hubby to me to tell me what a great job I did teaching the children to be well behaved.

Lady: "Good job, mom. You did a great job teaching them manners."
My hubby responded by saying, "Excuse me. I had as much to do with it as she did."
Lady : "Sure you did. Everyone knows that the mom is the one who do all that."
Hubby: "No, we both do. I am there for them and teach them also."
Lady sarcastically: "Well congratulations on being an involved black man."

When leaving the store she apologized to him and he graciously accepted.
When we left I was so proud of him. He not only defended himself but also all black men.
I also felt a broken for him.

There are more boxes than there are people. For a long time I tried to fit in boxes: teen pregnancy, mental illness, dyslexic, overweight, and so many others. The boxes became so constricting until God broke the boxes open and showed me that his plans for me are too big for the boxes. When I go back to placing myself in a box I also end up placing God in a box, because that means I am not trusting Him and His plans.

So often we place ourselves, others, and God into false boxes. What boxes are you confined to? How did it feel to break free of a box.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

.. but God... (Two of my favorite words)

but God... 

Those are some powerful words. They are preceded by heavy words of our inabilities and of hopelessness. Then they are followed by uplifting words about God's abilities and God love for us. 

but God...

I have had many "but God.." moments that have shaped the person that I am today. 

I was a slave to mental illness. I could not go even a couple minutes without thoughts of hurting or killing myself. I tried to self medicate with alcohol. I was consumed by self hate and fear to the point of being hospitalized over and over again. But God broke the chains of bondage. He gave me purpose and a new identity. He sought me out in my darkest moments and held me. He gave me hope. 

I was a young mother unaware of what motherhood really meant. I was neglectful of her basic needs for a safe and clean home to the point that I almost had her taken away from me. But God protected her body and her spirit. He gave me the abilities to care for her and to become a better parent. She has no recollection of how bad it really was, but she knows I am only the mom I am today because of Him. 

My marriage was in shambles. My scarlet letter tore down my husband and began to fester. Hostility and anger built up and infect all the areas of our life. Even after having found God and repented, the gap in our marriage began to widen. He went into a very dark place that I was not able to bring him out of. I prayed for years and years that he would find God's love and grace but I grew weary and hopeless. But God spoke to his heart and brought him into a saving grace. He healed the many wounds we had caused each other. God united us in Him and strengthened us. He is constantly deepening our love for each other and our relationships with Him. 

I had never been a good student. For as long as I can remember I have felt stupid and insecure. I would sit and reread the same two words over and over again having no idea what they said or meant. I felt it was my fault and that I was either stupid, or lazy, or both. The only thing I liked about school was my friends. It wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I realized that something was really wrong. My parents got me tested and got the tutoring I needed to help me catch up. I will always have dyslexia, but God has a plan for me. I was able to get enough help that I can read even though it is a bit of a struggle. I was also able to catch it in my oldest much faster because I knew the signs in me. God has helped me to teach her and raise the bar for what she thinks she can do. 

I have so many wounds from my past, but God healed them. 
I was ashamed of all my scars, but God has and will use them to His glory.  

Six months ago, my city was shaken. Lines were drawn and people divided. My family felt stuck right in the middle. I feared for my safety, the safety of my children, and the safety of all those involved. Instead of things calming, the anger and pain in people began to overflow like lava, slowly moving down the streets bringing destruction and impossible to stop. My heart was broken because I could see so much pain and hurt. The wreckage to the buildings and structures were nothing in comparison to that in the heart of the people. Out of the pain and heartaches came anger and fear. We cried out for God and at moments it felt so lonely. But God... but God brings restoration. But God brings hope. Even with such division there was so much unity among God's people. There were so many who went out to help and to spread God's love. There was communication about things that had been ignored too long. God had also placed his protection upon the people. For all the damage that was done, there were so few injured and killed. God poured out his peace upon his people in the darkest of moments and while buildings were sitting in embers and the streets were filled with shards of broken dreams, God's name was being lifted up in praise.  

I was broken ... but God healed me
I was afraid ... but God comforted me
I was lost ......but God found me
I was in bondage but God set me free 

... but God is good and worthy of all honor and praises even in the darkest hours.

... but God is able to transform your life
... but God 

What "...but God" moments have you had? 

1 John 5:9 
We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

Hebrews 12:10 
They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we might share in his holiness.

Hebrews 8:7-9
But God found fault with the people and said:
            “The days are coming, declares the Lord,
            when I will make a new covenant
            with the people of Judah….”

Hebrews 3:4 
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

2 Timothy 2:8-10 
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Galatians 4:7 
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Psalm 66:18-20
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Psalm 73:25-26  
Whom have I in heaven but you? An earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 74:11-13 
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them! But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.

Jeremiah 10:11-12 
“Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”
            But God made the earth by his power;
            he founded the world by his wisdom
            and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

Romans 5:7-9 
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Psalm 9:17-19
The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
            All of the nations that forget God.
            But God will never forget the needy;
            The hope of the afflicted will never perish.
            Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph;

            Let the nations be judged in your presence.