Showing posts with label struggle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label struggle. Show all posts

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why I HATE Reading To My Kids

I remember the days that my daughter would return from school with little notes to all of the parents. The reminder was that we should be spending at least 15 minutes a night reading to our child. While many mothers saw this as a kind honorable reminder I saw it as a personal attack for a few reasons. The first reason was that I already knew the importance of reading to my child. I see the signs, hear the PSAs, and am even reminded by doctors and teachers. This was not a new concept to me. The second reason was because the note made it seem like they were saying, "it's only fifteen minutes of your day, isn't your child worth it?" It wasn't only fifteen minutes a day, to me it was FIFTEEN MINUTES a day. The final reason was because the picture of a mother happily and lovingly looking over her child's shoulder as he sat quietly and peacefully in her lap was in no way my reality.

So today I thought I would put a new spin on things and tell you why I hate to read to my kids. I hope that by the end of this either you will find some comfort in the fact that you are not alone if you also hate it, or to help you understand why some parents don't read to their children so you may better support and encourage them.

Why I hate reading to my kids-

It is Frustrating... As I sit trying to read the story Abigaile becomes fidgety. She starts to pick at her fingers and her skin. I try to focus on the book but my eyes keep being pulled to what she is doing. I lovingly place my hand on hers, our little sign that she needs to try to stop fidgeting, and search for my place in the book. She begins to gently  tap her pencil on the table and I again loose my place. I then ask her to stop and she having not even noticed her actions quickly sets the pencil back on the table. I find the word I ended on and try to begin again but can not seem to get my eyes to focus. I notice that the entire time I have only been repeating the first few words and I can't seem to continue. I feel like a scratched record that continues to skip. I am filled with frustration and shoot her the good ol' mommy scowl, but my frustration is soon turned into guilt because I know that it is not her fault that I can't focus.

It is Anxiety Provoking... As Elizabeth proudly and excitedly brings me a book her eyes beg for me to read to her. I agree and make room for her on my lap. I open the first page and boldly read the title page. When I flip the page I notice an avalanche of words pouring from each page and trapping me. I am filled with anxiety just at the thought of trying to read all of the words. I had hoped that since it was a child's book there would be more pictures. I try to decide if I could make up a story instead and lie about what the book says but it is too late. I am frozen in fear of the idea of climbing out of each page and making it to the summit. I close the book and pray that she will be distracted by another simpler book.

It is Embarrassing... As I begin to read I feel confident in my abilities. I have already pre-screened several books of which my daughters could choose, many of which I am very familiar with. I begin with a good pace and sail smoothly through the words and pages. Then it happens... like a wave crashing on board a ship I am caught by surprise and stumble on a word. I quickly recover and continue on with my face slightly flushed from the embarrassment of the error. As I continue to feel embarrassed I seem to have lost course. The words seem to become more and more choppy, like the the uneasy sea throwing a boat around. I begin to doubt myself and my skills as a parent wondering "What kind of parent can't even read Dr. Seuss to their kid?" I begin to wonder if they notice how much I am struggling and most of all I wonder if they are embarrassed of me as well.

This is what reading to my kids is like. This is the struggle of a dyslexic parent. It makes me wonder how many of those parents who don't read to their children are secretly facing similar battles. If that is the issue for someone.. I promise a little friendly reminder to read to their child won't help. They may need encouragement or help with their own struggle. I hate to leave things on a negative note and I wanted to offer comfort to those who also hate reading to their kids.

Why I make myself read to my kids-

They are Rewarding... I get to see my children's passion for reading grow. I have never read a book just for the fun of it, but to see my child do it is an amazing feeling. When I ask them questions about what they have read, their eyes light up and they so clearly articulate all the fascinating things they learned. My oldest daughter also struggles with dyslexia and I am able to watch her push through and learn to read. There is something so beautiful about watching your child overcome something you yourself have battled with.

They are Understanding... I often have to remind myself that my daughters don't care if I skip words, make up words, or even mess up words; they are just happy that I am trying to spend the time with them. For them it isn't about the book, it is about us being together and going some place in their imaginations that we could maybe never go in reality. I am truly my harshest critic and my children are my biggest fans.

They are Loving... I have learned just how loving they are through my transparency with them. I have learned to openly tell my oldest daughter when I am struggling with reading and together we push on and continue. It gives me a chance to also teach her that we aren't defined by our struggles but by how we handle them. I hope when she is struggling with reading that she can remember that she isn't alone. She gives me so much encouragement when I have a difficult time reminds me that her love for me is not based on how well I read to her.

The biggest reason I make myself read to them is so that they won't hate reading to their kids. I hope to break the chain. I also hope that they will not just tolerate reading but will find their own passion for it.

I have found that through making myself read to them it has gotten better and I have begun to enjoy it more. So I say out of a place of understanding and love, read to your kids. Not because you love it but because you love them.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

From One Mother to Another

Tonight my heart is heavy with concerns for mothers who feel insecure, scared, and alone. I don't think that personal struggles are expressed openly in our society and I fear that it is causing more mothers to feel alone in their struggles. For example, postpartum depression is not often talked about amongst friends and yet it supposedly affects 11-20% of mothers. Personally, I wonder if the number would be higher if women did not feel guilt when admitting their struggles. 

Let me start by saying that I truly feel that motherhood is an amazing gift from God. I am so blessed to have my children and wouldn't change a thing. 

Now that I have said that, I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret. Motherhood is hard... actually it is not just hard. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is overwhelming, stressful, tedious, frustrating, painful, and the toughest things I have ever had to do. There are times that I am so overwhelmed that I can't decide whether to yell or cry. There is overwhelming fear that controls you when you think your child is in harms way. There is frustration that can lead to your body physically shaking in anger when you have no idea how to get through to a disobedient and disrespectful child. There is the exhaustion of waking up through out the night with a baby or a sick child. There is the physical pain of trying to carry everything and care for everyone. Motherhood is hard. I am not saying all of this to bring you down or create fear if you are expecting a child. I am saying this to let you know that you are NOT ALONE! You are not a BAD mom for having these emotions! All of these things are completely worth it and can actually bring you closer to your child. It doesn't matter whether you have a newborn or if your child is already an adult, some of these feelings still apply... most of all the feeling of inadequacy. 

So often I will feel that I am not a good mother. I am not doing enough. I didn't respond the right way. I didn't do things like other mothers. We feel like we could have done more to help our child. I truly feel that my mother is an amazing (perfect if possible) mother. She is everything that I wish I could be. Yet, I know that through the years she herself has felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. She is always wishing she could help us more, protect us more, and show us that she loves us more. Though it may sound twisted, it gives me great relief to know that my amazing mom struggles too. She understands me all that much more after facing it herself. Even though I am in adulthood, I know that my mom still worries about me at times. It doesn't matter how old we get... she is still a mother. 

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia defines postpartum depression as  "moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later." (If you click on the link the page describes some of the symptom.) After I had Abbie, I struggled with postpartum depression. I had heard of it before from my doctor but I had never heard friends openly discuss it. It seemed like it was a embarrassing secret. At first I would fear that others would think of me as a bad mom or that people would take my baby away from me if they knew. As I began to open up about it I realized how common it really was. This is my story...

After Abbie was born I didn't feel as connected with her. I loved her as I thought I should but I didn't feel attached to her. I was already battling with bipolar but something seemed different. My husband was working two jobs, one of which was overnight. When Abbie was only a few weeks old I went to give her a bath. As I was bathing her a terrifying thought came into my head. "I could just hold her under and drown her." As soon as the thought entered my head I grabbed her out of the bath and put her in her crib. I didn't even throw a diaper on her but instead placed her blanket over her and left the room. I sat the the recliner for hours weeping as she slept. I was so scared that if I told my husband, he would take her away from me. When he got home I told him what had happened. I also told my mother. I was so scared that I would harm my baby. What kind of mother would even think of hurting her child? We setup a plan to protect her. My husband and mother would give her baths and if I ever had thoughts like that I would make sure she was safe and physically separate myself from her. I held onto the guilt from that incidence for years. It wasn't until much later that I realized how common it is for some mothers to have thoughts of harming the child. The thoughts aren't what makes me a bad mother.. it was the actions if I had gave into the thoughts. I never had that thought again after that day but I still use the guidelines for myself. If I am angry or emotionally upset by something I do not punish my children. I separate myself until I am ok or until their father can handle it. 

It is ok to need physical and emotional space from your child. I call this a mommy timeout. When a newborn is crying and you are exhausted and feel like you are on edge, it is perfectly fine to put the baby down and walk away for a few minutes. Being hormonal, sleep deprived, stressed, and not know what the baby wants can be perfect setup for disaster. Another tip is to have a friend that you can be open and honest with during the situation. It is nice to have the extra help but even just venting can help. 

Being a mother is hard. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is overwhelming, stressful, tedious, frustrating, painful, and the toughest things I have ever had to do. It is also the most amazing thing I have been blessed to do. There is the times that they smile at you full of love and melt your heart like butter. There is the pride that comes with the times they do something new for the first time. There is laughter when they say or do something hilarious but have no idea what they did. There is the the peace when you watch them as they lay sleeping. There is the hope you feel when they realize a mistake a change their behavior without being disciplined. There is the strength you feel when they run into your arms for protection and care. 

I know that I am a good mother not because of what diaper they wear or what grades they get. I am a good mother because I do my best, I love them with every cell of my body, and because I point them back to God. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Parable of the Personal Trainer

I woke up early, placed my tennis shoes on my feet, grabbed a healthy breakfast, and drove out to the gym to meet my p.t. (personal trainer). He was the owners son and it was very obvious that not only did he know what a person needed to do to get muscles and live a healthy life, he himself was the perfect example. He talked about his strict diet, his love of reaching and showing others the best way to live, his daily commitment to maintain what he set his goal as, and he definitely practiced what he preached. I did my research and chose him carefully. Having a p.t. came with a bit of a cost and I would have to have someone I could trust.

So there I was talking with him and I asked him to make me stronger. I told him that I wanted to not be bound by things like junk food. I told him that I wanted to be like him. He looked at me and said, "Ok, if you want to be strong like me, then you need to start by jogging two miles."

"I don't want to jog," I replied.
He looked shocked and said, "Faith, I thought you said you trust me. You need to jog two miles. I am right here with you and if you get tired I will even help you."
I was becoming frustrated with his persistence. "NO, didn't you hear me? I don't want to jog two miles." I stormed out, went home, and sat on the couch eating the remainder of the ice cream.

After a couple weeks past, I became frustrated at my lack of discipline and lack of control over my lifestyle. I decided to make a new appointment with the p.t. for the next day. I felt ashamed of my actions and decided that I should apologize to him. The next day at the appointment I told my p.t. how sorry I was for not listening and for leaving. He said, "It's ok, I forgive you. Ok lets get back to what we wanted to do. Do you still want to be stronger?"

I thought for a moment and agreed. "Ok, lets start with some of the weights." He picked up the weights and began to do lunges, first the right leg then the left. "Now just do what I am doing," he said as he handed me the weights. At first things seemed to be going better, but then I could feel the burning sensation in my legs becoming stronger. I began to complain, "I can't do this. It burns too much. I just can't do it. I am not as strong as you."
"Faith," he tried to comfort me, "you can do it. I am right here with you and trust me I wouldn't give you something I knew you couldn't do. Just keep trying."
Again I became frustrated and felt defeated. So I set the weights down and quit. 

So often we pray that God will give us things such as strength, patience, perseverance, and faith. We might think we want them but when we see what it takes we want to give up. 

You see, Christ is our P.T. and is our example for how we are to live our lives. We choose Him because we knew that He was true and that he was perfect. He lived the disciplines that he asks us to. Luke 14:27 "And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." He has left us with the Holy Spirit to help us, lead us, and comfort us. When God gives us or allows us to go through trials we should rejoice and lean into our source of strength, God. Philippians 4:13 "  I can do all this through him who gives me strength." God wants to help us grow to be stronger Christians. When God gives you a challenge don't feel defeated and quit, but instead see it as a chance to become more like Him. 

I know that it sounds easier than it is... I truly do. I myself struggle with it, but God has been teaching me to stick it out and fight. Now only if I could do it in my physical health too... ;)

James 1:2-4 
Trials and Temptations
 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

1 Peter 6-9 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Psalm 71:20 
"Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up."

How has God helped you to build strength? Was it difficult? 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Thorn In My Side

As a child, I had two dreams of careers that I had wanted. The first one was to be a writer, I love the process of putting the pen to paper and letting the words flow from the tip of the pen onto the paper. I loved using my words to create an atmosphere and a mood. I loved pulling others into my world, into my head, and through the adventure of emotions. Like a roller coaster, I was able to pull others through the highs of excitement and down to the lowest darkest parts of myself. My second dream was to become a massage therapist. I began giving back massages to my father, uncles, and grandpa's. I had very strong hands, so strong that I actually bruised one of my uncles shoulders from the deep tissue massage... don't feel bad for him I had asked him to tell me if it began to hurt. In school I combined my two loves and wrote an essay about my love for massage therapy and won a scholarship. With the money I paid for classes in Reiki. 

When I was in sixth grade I began to notice that my hands would have sharp shooting pains through my shoulders combined with an achy pain between my hands. When my family would play cards, as we would do very often, I wasn't able to shuffle the cards any longer because the pain would begin to shoot. As the year progressed my hand pain would make it hard to hold a pencil and write in class. I went to years of testing. At that point I had a fear of needles and was claustrophobic and had a difficult time with all the blood tests and the MRI's. The doctors were not able to find a causes. I got moved from specialist to specialist. I got sent to a Neurologist that had me get an Electromyography done. The technician inserted needles all over my body at different points and attached the wires to the machine. I was told that I could not move or talk because it can change the results of test. As the test was going I was given shocks. The pain was unbearable. Then the tech looked at my dad and let out a little laugh and said, "Your daughter is strong, I accidentally had it turned up too hard. This would have had a adult in tears." I thought my dad was going to jump across the room and punch him. It was at that point I quit. I couldn't go through any more testing. 

The doctor said that I had symptoms but they couldn't find the cause. He gave us some long name, or it seemed long as a child, of what I had. We couldn't remember the name but think, based on how he described it, that it is fibromyalgia. It was so upsetting. The doctor decided to give me medication to see if it would help me with the pains. The doctor put me on a medication called Neurontin. After taking the medicine the first time, I woke up and was unable to move any part of my body except for my eyes. I was terrified and wanted to call to my mom but my mouth couldn't move. I lay there for a few mins with tears streaming down the sides of my face but was unable to wipe them away. Finally, I was able to scream out to my mom. The doctor explained that it is normal. The paralysis went away after what seemed like an hour. After the doctor raised the dosage I was finally finding some relief. I would still be in pain but I could at least do the things I needed to do. 

As the years continued the pain became worse and began to spread to my feet. I couldn't lay still at night and would have pain shooting through my feet into my legs. The dosage again was increased. It ends up that the dosage he had me on was more than any adult should be on, and I was just a child. I was taking 900 mg three times a day. In school, timed tests with essays were terrible. I wasn't able to write more than a couple sentences with out having pain overtake my hands. Then in high school, I had a strange fluttering in my chest, became lightheaded, passed out, and hit my head on the stereo equipment. My dad found me on the ground and they ended up taking me to the ER and then to my doctor. They made me go through EEGs, EKGs, and I had to wear a heart monitor for a period of time. They could never figure out what was wrong with me but as any new driver would hate, I was told that I couldn't drive at all for six months. 

I had to go off the medicine my senior year when I became pregnant. The doctors said that due to being on high doses of medicine, for the pain and for bipolar, when I became pregnant and for the first few months they said the baby had a 97% chance of being mentally disabled and 98% chance of being physically disabled. Thankfully, Abbie was born with no health concerns. In order to go back on the medicine my doctor wanted me to go back through all the testing. 

It is now fifteen years after the pains began. They have spread to my back, neck and hips. I have learned to live with the daily pain. There are times when I think, "I can't make it another year with this," but I just remind myself of the fifteen years I have survived. In some ways it has kept me from things I wanted to do. I have a hard time doing my daughters hair, holding them, playing games and chasing them around, writing, opening jars, and so many other things. At the same time, God has given me strength. He has provided the peace I needed. I pray that I am healed, but I am also thankful for this "thorn in my side" because it keeps me close to the Lord. I have to draw into Him. I am finally at the point where, once we have insurance, I am willing to get testing again and maybe get on a medicine to help. Until then, I will trust God to help me. This post started because today for the first time since sixth grade, I was completely without pain. My body felt like butter and I was able to sleep and relax. Even if they are momentary, I am so thankful when God gives me times of peace, whether it is physically, emotionally, or spiritually. He knows when I need rest and today he gave me rest in all of those areas. 

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Facing others (Part 1)

Have you ever ran into or met someone that you personally don't know, but that person knows about you? 

Growing up I had this happen often. My mom would tell someone at work or one of her friends about me and what trouble I was giving her. When I would meet the person I would feel mildly embarrassed but would brush it off. It was never anything that I considered too personal. I am often that way. As I have said before, I am an open book... the strange thing is I at least get to know who I am an open book to and I am the one choosing to tell the person which gives me a sense of control. 

Tonight, I was blessed with being able to attend a small group of very loving people, but I was also extremely anxious because the leader of the group knows of some of my scars that I am not and won't be able to divulge anyone else with. There was a situation that I did not cause but it ended up effecting me. God has been so gracious in the grace, healing, and restoration He has brought to the situation. One of the persons who God is using as a vessel to heal this situation is the leader. 

I had heard so many good things about this man's ministry. He has taken a deep wound from his past and gave it to God. Though his wound had hurt many around him, he was able to seek restoration and healing through Christ and is now showing others how to do the same. His name is Tony Ingrassia and he is one of the pastors at Outpost Church. His ministry strongly focused on the healing of so many kind so wounds. When I met him, he was nothing but gracious to me. He introduced himself and involved me in simple conversation to make me feel more welcome. I was so glad to meet him and to get a chance to see the group I had heard so much about. Suddenly, my excitement turned into nerves. 
I felt as if he had seen some deep hidden place in my heart, a wound that had been concealed for the welfare of others. I had decided to give God my anxieties and to listen whole heartedly to what God had for me to learn (I will cover that part in the second half of this post). My feelings were very similar to those written about  in "Killing me Softly."

As the discussion part started I had a battle dwelling within me. Part of me wanted to be honest and vulnerable about what God was showing me through the lesson, but the other part didn't want to make myself any more vulnerable that I was already feeling. 

"There's a battle between good and evil
And it's raging inside of me
There's a struggle - it's God and the devil
It's Love against the Enemy"- Chris August

I did decide to share and I am so glad I did. I continued to feel anxious for a while after the group had ended, but I knew that I didn't want to give Satan a foot-hold. I have to give God praise and glory for helping me, teaching me, and for carrying me through my weakness. 

It is late and I would love to share what I learned from the lesson part but I need to go to bed. I will share with you all tomorrow.

Just as a bit of a preview, I will be sharing off of this thesis.. 

"You must give God direct access to the most wounded places of your past, to be healed in the present, so you can have a 
healthier future." - Tony Ingrassia, Outpost Church

Part 2

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Hate Static Electricity...

Have you ever had a small piece of plastic wrap that got stuck to your skin. As you try to put it down it continues to stick to you? It can even become frustrating, not the plastic itself but the lack of control and the inability to put it down. 

I sometimes have this problems with my struggles, sorrows, and sins. I will take them and place them at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes, it seems like they end up back on me. I begin to feel defeated or frustrated. Occasionally, I will question my amount of faith saying, "If I really believed that I gave it over to Christ, why am I still struggling?" 

It does become easier. Like anything else, it takes practice. You have to place it there and as soon as you pick it up you have to place it right back. I do this with worries. I will be worried about my children and I will pray that God protect them and give me strength, peace, and faith. Still after a little time I end up worried again. The longer I hold on to the worry, the more difficult it is for me to put back down. I think my flesh is holding on to the things that I know in my spirit only God can control. 

It is like playing a game of hot potato with God. The longer I hold the hot potato the more it burns me.  I need to keep tossing it to God and letting Him provide for me. When I pick it back up, I need to toss it immediately back into His hands. 

There is a beautiful song about laying sorrows at His feet as the place you find joy. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 142:1-2 "I cry aloud to the Lord;
               I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. 
               I pour out before him my complaint; 
               before him I tell my trouble.

Do you pick back up the things you lay at His feet? How can He show you love, peace, and grace? 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 6

What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

There have been many difficult times in my life. My struggle with Bipolar, teen pregnancy, health issues, and friends betrayal. The most difficult though would have to be the separation from my husband. 

***To clarify ahead of time so nobody will be concerned, the things I am going to discuss have been resolved. We have had a healthy marriage for almost six years now. This passage, also, is not to bash my husband but to show what God has done in our lives since and to show what a drastic change both of us have made. I love my husband very dearly and could not be more proud of him, though I do complain from time to time.*** 

2007 was a year that was stained with my sins past and my husbands addiction. The anger from my prior infidelity had boiled up over the years and began to fester in his heart. At first he was just a little controlling. I would be asked where I was going and what I was doing. Slowly it turned into a state of isolation and complete control. I was not even allowed to go with my mom to the grocery store. He was very emotionally distant from our oldest daughter, Abbie. I would have to pay him to babysit her. I am very thankful that we were living with my brother and his wife. Even though they didn't know what was happening, it kept things from escalating and kept me from becoming completely isolated. 

When I went to stay with my mom for a week after she had a surgery, he moved out and left me in debt. I moved in with my parents at that point. We were separated for several months and he would not offer to help take care of Abbie. When we reconciled and he moved in with me I noticed that he was much more verbally cruel to me. I felt constantly attacked verbally and weak. I felt like a empty shell of myself. I wanted so much to be a good submissive wife, but at that time I didn't know that a submissive wife isn't a doormat. Someone had shown me a website with a verbal abuse quiz on it. As I sat at the dining room table reading it my eyes were opened. The pen in my hand checked off almost every box on the quiz. I was warned that often there is an escalation to violence if nothing is done, but I didn't care enough about myself to do anything about it. I continued to take it. I am very thankful that I was at my parents home during this terrible time.  

It was five thirty and I went to the store with my mom. To make things easier on the hubby, I put my daughter who had just turned three into her highchair to color and watch television. When we got back I asked him where she was. He told me that she was in bed for the night without dinner because she kept disobeying by breaking her crayons. I explained that you can't just leave a child alone in a highchair with crayons and not expect them to be broken. Trying to be submissive I just accepted her punishment and went on with my night. A few hours later, when he was in bed, I went to check on her. She had welts on her bottom from being spanked  hours prior. That was the point I decided to no longer accept the abuse. I didn't care if he hurt me, but I wasn't going to let him hurt my daughter. 

I sat down with him and had my parents there to mediate. I showed him the checklist and told him that he was abusive. I made a list of demands. He had to move out for at least six months. In that six months he had to get a job, get in counseling, get on medication, find a church, and financially provide for his daughter. He could not say or do one abusive thing, he couldn't see me, and he had to have his mother present if he wanted to see Abbie. If he did everything I asked then we would go to marital counseling for a period before deciding whether or not to reconcile.  

One night he put Abbie in bed and then didn't see or call her for over a month. This had a terrible affect on her. For several years she was afraid that her daddy would just leave if she went to sleep. Sometimes, she still sneaks into our room to check on him. 

I was extremely depressed, confused, and angry. I had felt lonely in a marriage for so long that being lonely by myself wasn't as difficult. I tried to focus on making myself a better person. I went back to school, got a job, made new friends, and became involved in church activities. I had assumed that since I was the main one taking care of Abbie, that being a single parent wouldn't be much more difficult. Unfortunately, I had a long time to realize that it is more difficult because you have to financially provide and there is no breaks. I am very thankful for the amazing support system God had in place for me then. 

I was looking through the poetry I wrote during our seperation... here are some passages:

Don't You See? (May 25, 2007)

Do you see me? Have you forgotten that I feel too? 
Do you see her? Her little cries missing you.

You don’t blame us for why you go,
But it is us you hurt when you don’t show.

You can hurt me, I am strong.
But with her is where you belong.

She doesn’t know why you aren’t here. 
To me your selfishness is very clear.

I’m glad you are enjoying your little break,
But letting you hurt my baby is my mistake.

Melting Away (February 1, 2008)
How dare you,
I am the snow in your heart.
You walked all over me as you watched me slowly disappear.
At one point I was pure and delicate,
I was beautiful. We were beautiful.

You trampled me into slush.
You stepped all over me.
You pissed on my purity while trying to mark your name on my life.
Your hot temper melted me,
I was beautiful but now I am ugly.

Will I ever be what I once was?
Can I regain what you took from me?
Why did you burn me like you did?
I don’t want to disappear anymore.
I was beautiful when you were ugly.

I blame myself for being blind.
I hate myself for still wanting you.
You made me weak and I began to believe your words.
I can’t heal if you are near me.
I am beautiful and you are ugly.

She too is as pure as snow.
I wont let you step on her.
I refuse to watch her disappear, melting into nothingness.
She is still delicate and happy.
She is beautiful. We are beautiful.

Dear Little One (February 15, 2008)

Thank you for loving me,

When I feel unloved.

Thank you for understanding me,

When I feel misunderstood.

Thank you for trusting me,

When I made you hero leave.

Thank you for smiling at me,

When I felt like crying.

I'm sorry I didn't protect you,

Before you got hurt.

I'm sorry you saw him hurt me,

Before saying goodbye.

I'm sorry I wasn't stronger,

Before he changed me.

I promise to love you,

When you feel unloved.

promise to understand you,

When you feel misunderstood.

I promise to be honest,

When you need the truth.

I promise to hug you,

When you feel like crying.

Why Goodbye (February 16, 2008)

You hurt me, leaving bruises on my soul,
Then dare to ask what’s wrong.

You trap me in my home, a cage with walls,
Then ask why I don’t get out.

You constantly lie to me and cheat on me,
Then ask why I don’t trust you.

You are killing me with each word you say,
Then wonder why my eyes cold.

You tear down my confidence in public,
Then tell me to smile.

You treat me like a hostage, not a wife,
Then wondered why Goodbye.

I will heal from the bruised soul,
That is why I said Goodbye.

I will not be a prisoner in my home,
That is why I said Goodbye.

I will learn to trust once again,
That is why I said Goodbye.

I someday will come back to life,
That is why I said Goodbye.

I will have my head held high,
That is why I said Goodbye.

I refuse to let you hurt her,
That is why.

At the end of the eight months, I had no interest in reconciliation. I was having an emotional affair with a friend. I had become extremely angry at my husband and wanted to be free. I also had a lot of fear that when we would get back together the abuse would just resume. My father, being a very wise man, told me that I needed to go to marital counseling so that my husband wouldn't use my bipolar to fight for custody and because for Abbie's sake we would need to be able to communicate. So we went back to counseling but I made my stance clear... I wanted a divorce and even had the papers written up. 

Through months at counseling God softened my heart towards my husband. Alvin had made so many great strides and wanted to heal our family. He was repentant. We took things slowly and began to date. I had asked the counselor how I could trust that he wouldn't be abusive. She assured me that since we had a clean break for such a long period of time supported by medication and counseling, we would be fine. I am so thankful that God gave us a strong Christian counselor who could speak the words I needed to hear. 

Looking back now, I can see how God used the time apart to help us both grow.It is almost as if our marriage really did end and an entirely new one appeared. Alvin is becoming a strong godly husband and father. I love him so much and can see drastic changes he has made. I find it amazing that the entire time, though I was going through great trials, God was there and had provided people to help me make it through. 

Jeremiah 29:11 "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."

Psalm 46:10 
    He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; 
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

What has God brought you out of? What is the hardest thing you have gone through? Do you believe a person can change?

Friday, June 1, 2012

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 4

List 5 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.

1. Lose the weight now... You may think that you are obese but you are only slightly overweight. It would be a lot easier to lose the weight now then to try to when you are obese. 

2. The fibromyalgia pain is not going to go away... Don't feel defeated, but also don't let the pain stop you from doing thing. I know you want it to just mysteriously go away but it wont. It may sound weird but you will grow to appreciate it when you see that it pulls you closer to God and creates character. 

3. Be more active in school activities... I know you think it is cool to be one of the "weird" ones and to rebel against the system but you will regret not doing any activities with your free time. 

4. You are not stupid... The reason you have are having problems reading is not because you are stupid. Your reading level is definitely not where it should be, with help at Sylvan, things with be so much better. Don't wait to tell the parents and to get help.

5. Spend time with your brothers.... I know that you must be thinking "Whhaaatttt?", but trust me. In a few years you wont really see either of them except on holidays. One will be starting a family and be very busy, and the other will isolate himself from the family. You are going to miss them and maybe by forming a better relationship with them now you can keep the connection. 

Even though I may say all of this to myself, I know that 16 yr old be was hard-headed. I didn't really listen to anyone. Though I would recognize my own face, I would not recognize anything else about myself. I will become, what was at the time, my own worst fear. I became my mother... lol

Part of me wants to warn myself about friends that will deeply betray me, but I even though they caused me pain I would not give up the time I had with them. It was a good time. 

There are lots of struggles after I was sixteen (teen pregnancy, manic depression, shaky marriage, ect.), but I wouldn't tell myself about them because it would just make the younger version of me anxious, and because God uses it to build my character. Those things also are what brought me to making Jesus the Lord of my life. Prior to my struggles He was just Savior. 

Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Romans 5:2-5 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

What would you tell your 16yr old self? Would you take back anything? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Struggle and Victory

Tonight for some reason I was feeling down. I was feeling so low that I just wanted to lay in bed and not talk to anyone. I wanted to have a pity party for one and wanted to let depression take control instead of having self-control. It took everything in my being to not lay down and wallow. I decided to go on a jog. Now this might surprise those of you who know me, especially my friend Christine who goes walking at the mall with me occasionally,  and know that I hate jogging, I hate outside, I hate the heat, I am overweight, and I have asthma. I said to myself, "If you want to punish yourself I will punish you in a way that will do some good." I went to put on my shoes even though I, in my flesh, just wanted to just sit down. I pressed on. 

I asked Alvin for his headphones so that through worship and prayer, I could draw on God's strength on my walk. I put Eb in the stroller and told Alvin that I was going to walk until I wanted to give up. 

When I took the first steps onto the sidewalk I told myself, "Try to make it to church, if I don't make it at least I tried." Immediately my lazy flesh pleaded with me to only go to the end of the block. I dug my feet into the concrete, turned up the music, and I pressed on. 

When I made it up a block I saw the steep hill of torn up land before me. I felt defeated as I creeped towards it. "I will glorify God with my every step. I will push myself until I can't go on and then will take one more step." My calves were on fire, my lungs were collapsing, and my face was pulsing; but I pressed on. 

As I continued things became a little easier so I decided to run in spurts. I made it to church but then saw the stairs. My flesh would have rather turned back and walked home then walk up the stairs to the bible study, but I knew that God had brought me that far and I could not give up. I dragged Eb's stroller into the church, picked her up, and I pressed on. 

It took almost ten minutes for me to catch my breath but even when I was out of breath I felt invigorated.  I was so glad I went and got the chance to fellowship with my brother and sisters. I was so blessed with my time with God that I looked forward to the trip home. 

God used tonight to teach me so much. None of what I did was in my own strength, it was through God's awesome power. God taught me about being willing to fight my flesh and just take a step out onto Him. The entire time I was fighting my flesh, from my wanted to lay in bed to each step. He taught me self-control. I find it interesting that often self-control is just knowing when to give Him control. He taught me to depend on Him in my weakness. The physical state of my body is not God's fault. It is my fault that I am lazy and gluttonous, but God still uses me as I am and helps me, strengthens me, and encourages me. He taught me that He can bless me in my faithfulness. Finally, He taught me that I can give Him glory in everything, even in just walking. 

Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Today God gave me victory, actually God always had the victory but I hadn't laid claim to it. My prayer is that God uses this in other areas in my life that He has victory waiting for me. I pray that I choose to press on to receive His victory instead of giving up, instead of choosing to feel defeated, and instead of being lazy. God is so good.