Monday, July 27, 2015

What's on my heart

Motherhood

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. 

2012:

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. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Life of the Lonely Extrovert

So many of you know me, but don't know that I have battled with loneliness since I was a small child. This might be confusing to many who read this because I am extremely extroverted. I am the person who can walk into a crowded room of strangers and less than an hour later know many of them personally. I have tried to protect myself from the dark grasps of loneliness with walls of social encounters. I place these walls up from those I socialize with to keep them from seeing how I fear they will not be able to accept. Even in a crowded room of friends I feel completely alone. 

Ever since I was a child I had this thought that nagged at me. The thought would tear me down and diminish my worth and make it impossible to be vulnerable. The thought whispers to my heart, "No body wants you around, they are just acting nice because they are kind but you are just a tag-along." In that moment I am brought back to being the little sister who follows her big brothers and their friends. 

I remember my mom staying up with me at night and praying with me that God would provide friends for me. For years I had thought that I was the most unpopular kid at school but I was rarely teased and bullied. Looking back I see how blessed I was to have people consider me their friend. 

The very castle I have built to protect me has become a fortress of solitude. It keeps me from connecting with others and the walls keep people who care so deeply for me at a distance. It allows them to share their struggles and vulnerabilities with me, but I keep mine locked up until I have dealt with them enough to share with others. I am living the life of the lonely extrovert. 


Monday, October 27, 2014

What to do when your kids are afraid of black people...

Let me start by saying this is not meant to offend anyone. Yet, I am sure it will offend someone. 

Two weeks ago my nine year old daughter was talking to me about the things happening in our hometown. She tries to hide her feelings and shuts down sometimes, so I saw this as an opportunity to help her communicate her feelings and to help her process everything she is seeing and hearing. She feels stuck. She is a biracial girl living in the middle of Ferguson, MO and she feels stuck. We have tried our hardest to protect her from media overload and to not overwhelm her with facts and yet she is still seeing and hearing things that scare her. While we were talking Abbie suddenly got quiet and looked away. She began to weep to herself. I asked her what was wrong. She looked at me and sheepishly said, "Mom, I am afraid of black people." When the words came out of her mouth, I could see the guilt written across her face. She was scared, angry, filled with guilt for the feelings of which she couldn't control. I wonder know if she saw my expression when she had said it. I don't know what my face said but when I heard her say those very words I felt as if I had been punched the the gut. It hurt emotionally as well as physically. I tried to soothe her telling her how proud of her I was for her openness and willingness to communicate her feelings. We discussed how there are good and bad people on every side with every race and background. We reminded her of all the black people who love her dearly and are wonderful people that we don't fear. We also talked about how not everyone feels the way those who are scaring her do (those looting and rioting). 

When we got home and I had some time to myself; I began to think about what she had said. Each time I thought of it, it broke my heart. I was shocked and confused because it was the last thing I had thought that one of my daughters would have to face. We had tried so hard to fight the hatred and judgements of others and to be an example of love and acceptance. How could my child be afraid of black people? I was concerned that this will negatively affect her as an adult. I don't want her to disconnect from one side of her background because of the things in Ferguson. I don't want her to harbor bitterness and anger in her heart which can create self-hate and internal racism. Just as she felt guilty for feeling afraid, I felt guilty for having a child who felt afraid. 

I wanted to fix the problem but I knew that it isn't something that will vanish and I needed answers. I turned to the places I usually find answers: the Bible, family, friends, and google. The title for this blog is because they were the exact words I typed into for my google search. I found that in this instance, as well as many others, the counsel I found in the Bible, with friends, and with family was far superior to google. This is I why I wanted to write this. Maybe I could share the wisdom I have found with other moms. 

What to do when your kids are afraid of black people.. or any group of people. 

  1. Listen. Allow them to communicate their feelings. They are going to have the feelings either way but by listening it allows it to not fester and grow out of control. It also strengthens the bond between child and parent to be able to accept advice and wisdom.
  2. Help them to view the situation or the fear from different aspects. Noting positive people who go against that fear. Also noting that whatever behavior is happening that caused that fear (rioting, bullying, ect.) comes from a condition of the heart. It is affecting everyone around them but it really is a thing that they need love and grace through. Also reminding the child that the person they fear is just a person too. They might be someones brother, father, sister, mother, or friend. So often we begin to see people as "the others" and stop seeing them as people created by the same loving God. They might be lost, hurt, or heart broken but they are still loved by God. 
  3. Acknowledge the power fear has over us. Sometimes we give fear very little attention and it does not affect us greatly but other times we can let it consume us. That little bit of fear can become infection and lead us to act out of hate and anger. I am always reminding my daughters and myself of who is in control, God. I can't be in control but He is and I need to cling to the faith in His promises. 
  4. Educating ourselves on people who lived through similar circumstances. Esther's family and people were being persecuted and her cousin Mordecai told her that she was made for a time such as this. Anne Frank who said, "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." I think there is especially power in learning about people who are of the race your child is afraid of. 
  5. Encourage social interactions. I want my daughter's life to be filled with wonderful loving godly people of all races. Just as it is said "it takes a village to raise a child", I wholeheartedly agree. I can only bestow one perspective to my children and I have been giving an amazing supportive group of friends and family member that I can allow to bestow other things to her. We are going to let my daughter go spend some time with her Nana. I also am setting up some times for her to play with friends of mine who are black. I want her to face that fear and be able to say truths to herself to combat those thoughts. So when she thinks, "black people scare me" she can then think, "actually I know Ms. Jaye is amazing and I love her. She doesn't scare me so it isn't true." 
  6. Look for the blessings. Anytime we are filled with fear or frustration we can become stuck. By looking to the blessings and the things we are thankful for we can slowly get out of our tough spot and see things from a different view. 
When my daughter said those words it broke my heart. I never wanted any of my children to feel that way. If a child who is biracial has these feelings, how many more children are out there feeling stuck and afraid? How can we help them communicate those feelings and show them that race is not a thing to be afraid of, but hatred and injustice are? 

I love you all and am inspired by so many to be able to communicate my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Thanks to a friend who recent wrote a post about her feelings, which inspired me to not stay in hiding with mine. 





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stuck - Poem for my oldest daughter

I wrote this poem based on what my daughter was experiencing being a biracial child in Ferguson, MO. She feels stuck. We are trying to form open communication to help her with her feelings. All of this is written off of what she has told me when we were talking, so while the format is mine the feelings are all hers. 

STUCK

All I see is black and white, literally and figuratively,
And I forget to see all those in between.
What does that make me?
Stuck
I see blacks angry at the whites for mistreatment,
And whites unable to understand the pain.
What does that make me?
Stuck
I have been exposed to so much hate,
And have to pretend to be brave for my sisters.
What does that make me?
Stuck
I was only a little girl with big dreams,
Now I don’t know who I am supposed to be.
What does that make me?
Stuck
I feel like a black girl in a white community,
And like a white girl in a black community.
What does that make me?
Stuck
Ferguson is the city I love,
and a place that I fear.
What does that make me?
Stuck



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Child's View of the Ferguson Riots

I thank God that my oldest daughter has found peace in writing and drawing, just like her mama. Recently I had posted a picture she had drawn and now she has brought me a letter she wrote to those causing destruction. I told her I would share with you all. 
This is the picture Abbie drew the other day... 



This is her letter...

I am sadPeople are trying to kill my Papa. I say do you want to be killed? NO. Then why would you do it. but God said shall not kill in the 10 commandments. I have a question. What are you teaching your kids? You're teaching them when you are mad you can be bad. I like this onebut some people like this one . Don't you want happiness? 
-Abbie

I spoke with Abbie and encouraged her to continue sharing her feelings. We also spoke about not allowing the frustration and anger to build into hate and bitterness. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Food is My Drug of Choice

Food is my drug of choice. I use it to numb all the pain and frustration that I feel. 

Over the last week I have felt this heaviness weighing on me. It can be best described as feeling BLAH. It is like a damp cold blanket resting upon my body. I don't feel sad but I am just not happy and joyful. I remind myself of how faithful God has always been and how He is my strength through this but a moment later I call upon my other little "g" god, food. This other god brings me no hope, no relief or strength. It only brings be temporary numbing from the situation until my mouth is no longer full and my stomach is in pain. When I am turning to it I find excuses such as, "At least these chips are much healthier for me" or "I've had a long day, I deserve/need it." Yesterday I spent twenty minutes in Target staring at the candy section struggling to pick my poison. Choosing which one would best cover the tension. When I got home I shamefully hid the candy bars under the blanket so that I would not be judged and I would not be asked to share. I wanted to indulge and feel special and pampered. It leaves me disgusted as I look around and see the trail of chocolate wrappers and empty bags of chips scattered across my bedroom floor. 

There is a disconnect between my heart and my head. I know that God has freed me from these chains of bondage but I can feel the heavy grip of the iron on my wrists and the weight pulling me down. I call upon God to set me free, but I am only looking to Him for a quick fix. God can and will set me free but not though a snap of his fingers... instead through teaching me self-control and perseverance.  

Food is my drug of choice, but I don't need a drug. I need a healer. 

1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Stages of Grief: Anger

One of the stages of grief is anger. It can be anger that is aimed towards the circumstance or can be aimed at someone/something else. For me it is often followed by guilt. 

So last night was filled with excitement but not the good kind. I got so angry at my baby that I ended up just breaking down into tears. 

My daughter Charlotte, who is almost eight months, is still yet to sleep through the night. She wakes every two hours to eat. I allow her only because she is very underweight and can use all the time eating she can get. She has been much more attached to me the last few weeks ever since she was in the hospital. A lot of crazy emotional stuff has happened and I know that she feels the tension even if she doesn't comprehend it. With everything that has happened I was surprised how well I have been able to keep myself composed. 

My surgery to have my gallbladder removed a week an a half ago has left my side extremely sore, especially near the incisions. The other night we tried to get Charlie to sleep in her own crib or even in her arms reach playpen. After throwing a fit for a few hours I placed her back in our bed and all night she kicked and pushed into my side. When I would try to turn over my back would begin to ache from the awkward position. When we got up in the morning I was in more pain than I had been in several days. My husband was kind enough to sleep on the couch so I could have the entire bed to myself and then when I had to have Charlotte in bed with me she could have more room. 

So last night started like any other. She fell asleep next to me when I was playing on my computer and once my head hit the pillow she woke up. (An evil trick that I have never been able to comprehend how they do it... do they place secret sensors in my pillow so they know when I am about to sleep?... Any way she woke up and I fed her. She decided to sit up and talk for an hour while I tried to plead with her to sleep. She wanted to stay attached to the boob and I allowed her to eat again, even though it had been only an hour. I scooted her back on her daddy's side and she began to crawl against me. I scooted her back and she got upset and began to cry then proceeded to roll back to my side and scratch at me. I again placed her back in her spot and turned my back to her in hopes that she would get the point. I heard her wrestling around then felt her little finger tips scratching and pulling at the back of my shirt. She wedged herself right under me. Frustrated I placed her in her playpen next to our bed, knowing that if I took her to her room she would wake up her two year old sister and that would be an even bigger issue. She began to cry and whine. I hoped for it to stop but it continued for a couple hours. That's when the anger broke in. "Shut up charlotte... just shut up.", I pleaded with her. She continued. I could feel the anger growing in me and tried to calm down by placing headphones on with peaceful music. It seemed as if she got even louder. "Shut up.. I told you to shut up.", I said much louder than before. I began to contemplate my choices. Could I place her in her car seat? No, it was in the car. Could I line the bathtub with a blanket and place her in there? No, she would go from crying and whining to a full blown scream and it would echo loudly in the small bathroom and would wake up the entire family. Could I leave, just go and crash in the van or at my moms house? No, it wouldn't be fair to the hubby and she would need to eat again. I knew the anger was not from her actions alone.. it had been building up for longer than I had realized and so I began to feel guilty for feeling angry towards her.  I broke... I was overwhelmed with anger and didn't even want to touch her. So I sat on the edge of my bed and began to bawl uncontrollably. 

My husband heard me and came to my rescue. He tried giving her a bottle with a little water but it didn't soothe her so he brought the two year old into our bed to sleep and put the baby in her own bed.  This gave me enough space that I was able to place my headphones on to drown out her screams and was able to calm down enough to handle the situation again. When I was a little calmer I was able to go feed her, swaddle her in a blanket, and place her back in her bed where, thankfully, she fell straight asleep. I tried to sleep but still felt a pestering anger at her for me being still awake and took a late night hot shower. The anger seemed to drip right off me along with the streams of hot water. 

I lay down and prayed. I prayed that she would sleep for more than two hours. I prayed that the two year old would sleep. I prayed that I wouldn't be in pain. I prayed that I could be filled with peace... then I felt led to pray for others and not just my needs. I prayed for my friend who lost her dad. I prayed for the couple who lost a child to SIDS  just the night before. I prayed for the young lady I began to talk to and minister to. Through praying for them I was able to see outside my circumstances and how small my woes were in comparison. I felt thankful for all my blessings and I began to tell God just how thankful I was. I thanked Him for my three girls. I thanked Him for my healing. I thanked him for my support system. I thanked Him for sacrificing his son for me. With each word of thanksgiving my heart was filled with more peace and I was able to sleep. We all slept. I woke up five hours later and Charlotte was still asleep. The two year old was asleep and her hand was on mine. My nine year old was sawing logs in her room. They had all slept in for me. Now that is something to be thankful for. 

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.


My nine year old suggested I post this video with the blog to make you all smile. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Stages of Grief: Denial

I have always found writing very therapeutic especially in times that I can not completely process my feelings and thoughts. I decided that I would write my way through the five stages of grief. 

As a general background on grief, there are said to be five stages of grief. DABDA.. Denial... Anger... Bargaining... Depression... and Acceptance. I believe that everyone goes through all the stages when mourning but the length of time a person spends in each one varies greatly from person to person. For example some people might only spend a few seconds in denial while another can spend a day or week. All of the stages are our bodies way of processing and protecting us. 

Today I lost someone... well I didn't really lose them because I know right where he is. He is in heaven. He is a man of many names. Some call him Carvin, some call him Pastor Don, some call him father, grandpa, husband, and I called him P. Don. I met him when I was in a very broken place. I was recently separated from my spouse, I was caring for my daughter alone, I was without a church home, I was feeling completely unloveable, and I had no idea what God had in store for me and my family. I was bitter and confused. I was broken. To be honest on first time meeting P.Don I would have never believed the impact he would have on my life. I went to his church with my parents and through that event I ended up working at the church's daycare. Since I didn't have transportation I worked on the bus route with P.Don. We spent hours a day talking. We talked about life and about God. Pastor Don taught me to seek a deeper understanding of God. He taught me to not just blindly follow what others said but to search scripture for truth. He taught me that reconciliation with my spouse was possible. Most of all he taught me that I am lovable. That was one of my toughest lessons, just hearing the words would bring tears to my eyes each time. Far to often I would end up crying because he would push me to grow and while it was difficult I thrived. I would not only spend most days at the church but would go to the bible studies and hangout during the weekends. Pastor Don also taught me how to love others just through watching his interaction with everyone around him. He spent the time speaking to the parents of the kids. He would pray for them and evangelize to them... not by hitting them with the Bible but by understanding how lost and broken they were and reaching out through love.  After our reconciliation,  I would text my hubby to let him know that I was on my way home and I would type P.Don instead of spelling out the entire thing and  once he, Pastor Don, had heard me say it to my hubby and told me what it sounded like when I said it out loud. Instead of being offended he laughed and smiled. He was always that way... instead of being quick to anger he was quick to love. He has set the bar high for all the other pastors. I was trying to describe who he was to me and I couldn't quite articulate it. He was a friend, like family,  a mentor, he is P.Don. 

Denial is one of the first stages of grief. It is the stage I am still in. One day I was watching an interview of Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory) on Ellen. She, Kaley, was describing how she had severely broken her leg in a freak horse riding incident. Basically the she got thrown from the horse and then the horse got spooked and stepped on her leg. When she was describing the events she said that she couldn't feel anything but she noticed her foot was facing her and she thought "oh that's going to hurt." That is kind of like what I feel right now. I can see how bad the damage is going to be and I know that it is going to hurt really bad but at this moment I don't feel it... I am numb. When I am in denial I become very logical and think through the things that need done and how I need to go about doing them but I don't spend time reflecting on the emotions. When those come I will completely crash so for now I need to prepare for the storm as best as possible. I feel heartache for his family and for all those who loved him but I don't feel the loss myself. I feel a little concerned that it will hit suddenly and hard when I least expect it, like when speaking to someone in public, but I know that I can't live in fear. When it gets tough I will have to keep putting it back at the feet of the cross and letting God give me the strength I need. I would not make it through if it weren't for the grace of God. 

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.