My Faith Journey is very sacred to me. These are the things that bring me joy. Faith is what grounds me and keeps me from going insane. This category has my Scripture thoughts in it. Also, just the things that I trudge through on a day to day basis.
What is Faith?
This is believing even when I cannot see. I have struggled in this area but God is good and He keeps reminding me to HOLD ON to Him. To HOLD ON tightly and to not let go.
I simply hold on and do not let go. Simply can’t let go because if I did, I would drown. Like in the song “Oceans” there are times that I simply am just keeping my eyes above the waves.
Here is a recap of Day 3 of Retesting Hunter. As you might remember from yesterday’s post, lots of stuff happened. So many delays, a co-vid scare, and a tick on his penis are the highlights. Mix in being hungry, exhausted, and frustrated and there you have our first (and only) 2-day stay at the hospital. Let’s talk OMS, shall we?
Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (OMS) is difficult to diagnose. It is easier when a child has a paraneoplastic type or a neuroblastoma. Yet, being idiopathic is just a shot in the dark. Sadly, Vanderbilt has not really done us well, in our opinion.
The 1-day screw-up or the 2-day delay…was that God saying “stay home?” Nah, God hasn’t spoken to me in a while (in my opinion, not His). I press on, determined to get an answer with one of my many phone calls or messages.
We get there and most goes smoothly. Get to our room and things start falling into place. Nurses come in and do their thing. We get the IV going, tests begin running, questions being asked. You know, all the things. The co-vid test was a NIGHTMARE, but we got it done.
Is He Speaking Louder?
At 5 am, the neuro walks in to inform me that Hunter tested positive for co-vid. I told her that it had to be wrong because we have been nowhere. He has no symptoms. She said that it was positive and that we were being transferred to the co-vid unit.
They decided to retest him at 530 am. Fun, I know. Regardless of the outcome of that test, the aliens came in and whisked him down to the “red-headed stepchild” ward. I kid you not, that’s what people call it.
My mom called and said, “Brandi, can’t you just go home?” I told her no because we need these tests. That was my third warning and our second positive test.
In the Meantime
My family, back at home, are getting tested right and left. It’s a lot of people to get tested. Yet, once it was all said and done, everyone tested negative. It wasn’t surprising and I still questioned whether or not that the test was accurate.
Yet, we had an attentive resident who seemed to “see” me. We had a wonderful nurse who put Hunter at ease in every aspect. I decided that I would ignore all the warnings and second-guessing myself and we pressed on again.
Well, He didn’t just give me signs, feelings, phone calls, and such. This time, He just said, “leave.” The powers that be came in and said that there was nothing that they could do for 20 days. We should just go on home and come back.
That was loud and clear.
On Our Way Home
As I turned down the road to home, it began to pour down rain. My boy woke from a nap, it began to storm and the rays of the sun were shining down. I prayed for the Lord to give me a sign that all will be okay. I looked in my mirror and saw a HUGE double rainbow. It was glorious.
I had Hunter turn around and I told him the story of Noah and the ark. Hunter informed me that he knew all about the ark and the flood. We talked of salvation, the Holy Spirit, God’s promises, and such.
We turned on some praise and worship. Hunter was raising his hands and singing so loudly to each song. It warms my heart to know that he has been through so much and he still praises Jesus. I felt peace and warmth blow through my body.
BTW: Hunter and I tested on the 3rd and we are CO-VID FREE!
Today, I am going to let myself be seen. Today, I am going to declare that I am enough. For so long, I have struggled with conformity friendships. I desire to conform but when I do, it is not me. I lose myself in that moment and I realize that I am doing this to fit in.
Sisters, you are not created to fit in. You are created to be salt and light. You are created to be a city on a hill and not a face in the crowd. I was not only a face in the crowd, I had customized masks to wear for each crowd I was in.
I learned at a very young age, that I was not like other people. I thought differently, acted differently, and believed differently then my schoolmates, roommates, boyfriends, siblings, and parents.
At the age of 10, I remember standing in the driveway of my grandparents house declaring that, one day, I would adopt from Ethiopia. How I even knew where that place was is still a mystery. I wanted to adopt and I wanted to adopt an older Ethiopian boy because that is the child that no one wanted.
Storing Up His Promises
I kept that stored in my heart, never releasing it because my family struggled with racism. I was informed, at one point, that I could either choose my black children or choose my father. I thanked my father for the love and protection he had given me, kissed him in the cheek, and then I told him I would choose my children.
Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? People pleasing me.
Judgement of Others
The people that no one want to be around are the people I am drawn too. I have been told to be careful who I associate with because it could call my faith and salvation into question. I have also been told because I’m loud that I cannot be submissive to my husband. I have been told that I am not worthy to stand in front of people because no one wants to hear what I have to say because my hair is pink and I have tattoos. I have been judged on my children acting like children and had horrible things said to me in regards to them. Things have been said that I still struggle to forgive the words and the people who said it.
My best friend was 79 when we met. She was my Lady. That’s what I called her. It started out as mentor, then moved to friendship, next, it moved to me being her caregiver, then a closeness that I cannot explain, and then I had to give her to Jesus. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My Lady saw me. She saw through the masks and the facades I tried to put on. She loved me without abandon and she treasured my family, though we are all different. She was my person.
That is What Everyone Needs
They need a Lady, a friend, a confidante who sees you and you see them. It was beautiful, but short lived as she passed away. I miss her. Her telling me that my tattoos are stupid but she always wanted to look at them and touch them. She would ring my neck if she knew her name was on my body. I took Faith(ie), Hope, and Love to a whole nother level. There is a cross (love), with a semi colon, doves (hope), and Faith(ie) because her name was Faithie.
I challenge you all to be you. Love you. Embrace your weirdness and never ever do you have to explain yourself. Ever. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no and zero explanations.
Over the course of the last several years, there has been a crimson thread that has interwoven into the beautiful tapestry that God has created for my life. That crimson thread has been the works of the evil one, who is so desperate to destroy my walk, my countenance, and to steal my joy. 1 Peter 5:8
A wise man told me in Sunday school, that HAPPINESS is based on circumstances but true JOY comes from the Lord and according to Psalm 30:5b….weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
That statement rocked my little world. It is common practice for me to doodle in class or in church. It is not because I do not listen or I am bored. Quite the contrary. It is because I have to have something to do with my hands. I concentrate better when I’m moving my pen along a notebook. Weird, I know.
I’ve made quite the masterpieces in Sunday school and church. I was doodling, this particular morning and I will never forget when Mr. Benny Watkins said that statement. I stopped doodling, I sort of had a perplexed look on my face. I do not remember anything else about that lesson or about the sermon.
Happiness vs. Joy
I never understood happiness vs. Joy.
That statement made the answer crystal clear. We may not have happiness in this crimson thread but we are children of an amazing God and we CAN have joy in those crimson times.
“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go both now and forever.” Psalm 121:7-8
Even when you are at the darkes on that thread…He is watching over you, loving you, and protecting you. At that moment, it may seem like He has left you…He never moves….turn your head and there, you will find Him with open arms.
Jesus Spoke to Me
Jesus has been speaking to me about taking back what satan has stolen from me. He has stolen a lot and has tried to ruin my tapestry. He has done this simply because he enjoys it. Yet, with one drop of the Blood of Jesus, I can reclaim what was taken. I reclaimed so many things. I told Him that if he wanted me to write, I would write with no fear. If he wanted me to speak, I would speak with no fear.
Here I am
Writing for the world to see, yet no one reads 🙂
My days have not been rainbows and sunshine. The crimson thread has nearly taken over my tapestry. 2015 brought about the continuation of a porn addiction that nearly broke up my marriage, the sudden death of a family member, the stroke of my best friend, and gaining custody of our 21 mth old great-nephew.
In 2016, my dad had a stroke and my Lady was still recovering. I was alternating my time between my family, my Lady, and my dad. Oh, and our continued fight for custody of our great-nephew.
My oldest daughter’s fiancé broke off their engagement and soon after she was let go from her job, our 3rd child’s volatile behavior hit its peak, and my niece was captured and placed in jail. So, one could say that those 2 years, alone, have pretty much-sucked pond water.
I felt alone, abandoned, hopeless, and depressed, very far from God and just numb. It has been difficult….I mean gut-wrenchingly difficult. My theme verse for this season of my life was Romans 4:18-21 (I am paraphrasing): Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing. And Abraham’s faith did not weaken. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this, he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
So, in my own private time and life………without uttering this theme to anyone, I held onto hope that, one day, I would have a rainbow. I know that my rainbow will come because the Lord says in Job 38:11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!”
Let the Oddities Begin
Then, in December of 2016, the strangest thing happened. The red thread had begun to overtake my tapestry. We were in a transition of trying to find the right church for our family and we had been visiting one for a few months. We were at church and we were getting ready to worship. We knew the pastor and his wife, as well as, a few families. We really didn’t know anyone else. We had not been going very long, but it was definitely different than what we were used too.
Before service started, there was a welcome and then our pastor called up a man because he had a “word” to give some people in the congregation. We have learned that this is somewhat normal, but still very abnormal to our family…we simply were not used to that. So, we sat and we watched this man pace back and forth in front of the congregation.
I am a people watcher/reader and the thing that caught my eye was the fact that he never opened his eyes when he was pacing or talking. He kept touching the insides of his hands and you could tell that he was uncomfortable but being obedient.
He said that he had had this word from the Lord and he wanted to make sure that it was, indeed, from Him and not from this man’s flesh. He realized through his sleepless nights that this was from the Lord and he had to be obedient.
A Word from the Lord
He said that he had a word for someone in the congregation and so we sat, listened, and watched him pace. He made his way down the aisle that we were sitting on and he stopped in front of Big Daddy. I felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room and my mind was whirling. He asked Big Daddy to stand up.
I looked up to the altar, where our pastor was standing, and he gave me a look, a nod, and a smile that it was okay. This man, whom we had never seen or met, told Big Daddy to hold onto his hand. Now, Big Daddy is not a tiny man and his hands are ginormous, so when he stands, he is noticed.
This man said that the Lord was telling him to “Hold on. Hold on tight to the rope and do not let go. To trust and just hold on tight.” I felt an energy move through me and tears flowed freely, which I don’t usually cry or get swept up in my emotions, so this was strange to me. The moment was fleeting but the air was thick and I knew, in my soul, we were in for a ride.
We are Still Holding On
Come the beginning of 2017…..so many things happened. My daddy had quadruple bypass surgery, my niece (my youngest son’s mom) was sentenced to 10 yrs in prison, my nephew was close behind her, my daughter went to military school due to behavior, we were trying to get custody of another great-nephew.
My oldest daughter called off her engagement and was downsized at work, fighting with insurance companies for my son’s surgery that he needed, then my Lady got sick, again, I had surgery, my 6th son had surgery, stitches were had by kids…..then the straw that broke the camel’s back happened. Needless to say, we were reminded to “hold on” a lot over the course of the first 6 mths of 2017.
During the custody battle over my other great-nephew…Big Daddy and I were trying hard to win that case and it was simply out of our hands. We knew what we could do to help the situation…we were willing…but it was not our call. As I spoke to a friend of mine, asking for prayers, she said that the Lord revealed to her what I need to know. She said I needed to “hold onto hope.” She also said that the Hebrew meaning of “hope” is “rope”, so hold onto the rope.
I caught my breath and I texted her back and asked her who had told her that. She said no one and that it was a word from the Lord to me. I asked her if she knew the man that had said the same thing back in December and she did not know him. That is twice, the Lord has said to “hold on.” We lost custody of this little boy and I thought our ride was over…..we had held on but now our trials were over….now we could retreat and heal from the past couple of years.
Then the call came
My sister called me on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Now, she rarely calls me on a Tuesday…we talk on Monday. I asked her if everything was okay and she said that she woke up to an odd text. She said it was from a friend, a former neighbor, that she used to walk with. That friend said that the Lord placed my name on her heart and that she was praying for me.
I have never met, spoken to, or even seen a picture of this woman. She simply knows me from what my sister had said and I’m sure I wasn’t the topic of every conversation…although I am awesome like that. I told my sister I did not like that and that meant that something was fixing to happen. My sister told me to take it as a blessing, but I was unsettled.
On June 6, 2017
I knew the meaning and the prophecy behind my theme verse and behind these people telling me to hold on tight to hope. I knew what was to come was going to rock our family to its core….and it did just that. I had spent the previous night in the hospital with my Lady…..the Drs had told me her time is near.
Preparing for the death of your mentor, your best friend, your Lady……there are no words for that. When I got home on the 7th, my son was acting strangely, crying, shaking, everything upset him, so we were really excited for naptime (or at least I was excited). He slept well and my oldest son got him up.
We hugged and snuggled and then I put him on the floor and told him to go about 5 steps to the potty. He went 3 steps and fell….he began shaking violently and said his legs hurt. I picked him up, thinking his legs were asleep, so I held him even more and I rubbed his legs. I put him back down to go to the potty and he fell again.
I knew, then, something was wrong. I called my sister (his grandmother) and said meet me at the ER, the baby can’t walk. From there, we went to Vandy with no results…we got back home and I immediately packed and headed to Kosair’s.
Running on No Sleep
I had not slept since the 5th because I had been at the hospital around the clock with my Lady. Bart stayed home with the other children. Things progressed quickly. He had lost his ability to stand, talk, feed himself, sit up, walk…..all he did was shake from the top of his head down. His eyes were constantly moving, as well.
After a 2-week hospital stay, spinal, EKGs, and so many more tests….we got the diagnosis of Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. He has either had cancer and his body has so aggressively attacked cancer that now it is attacking his brain OR he will get cancer within the next 3 years and this is just a precursor. During this time, I had to learn to yield control. I had to graciously accept help and ask for help. It was just me and him up there most of the time.
Blessings of Others
I had strangers bringing me meals. I had family come up and sit with me. My sister *always* had her phone by her so I could sit and just cry. Friends and strangers fed my family at home, people gave us money for gas, we were on multiple prayer lists. I am still humbled by being on the receiving end instead of the giving end. Our journey is far from over. Since, we have done chemo, heavy steroids, and many doses of immunotherapy. He still struggles….every day is a different symptom. He has good days and bad days.
Hold On, God is Fixing to Start a New Color
Looking back in what I was seeing as hopeless….God was still telling me to hold onto hope….hold onto that rope of hope. Looking back, my husband was delivered and our marriage was saved, my best friend who had a stroke and was so sick finally went to see her Jesus, and she was restored, we adopted our 7th child right before Christmas in 2016, my father recovered from his stroke and his quadruple bypass, my niece is sober and safe in prison, our daughter who left due to her volatile behavior is figuring out life again, my oldest daughter is happily employed married, and with a baby, we won the insurance battle, and my 6th child will be able to hear (out of both ears) by Christmas, stitches were removed, surgeries healed from, and my baby, well, he is not in remission, but he is doing okay and we are learning how to navigate our new normal. God is good……….He is good all the time and all the time He is good. Job sums it up pretty well In chapter 42:5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my eyes.
Eventually, I will write about 2018-2021…the roller coast has not ended but my tapestry will be beautiful when it is done.
In Isaiah 30:19b it states that “He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”
He knows your heart, He hears your cries and as His children, He will answer you…but it may not be the answer that we want because we see a fraction of the picture…He sees from beginning to end.
Be comforted in knowing that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to end.” Eccl. 3:11 He has written your story…He has it all in the palm of His mighty hands. Trust and obey every step of the way.
We are STILL holding onto hope cause 2021 has been a rough one.
I have struggled with depression my whole life. There are short seasons, there are long seasons, then there are *really* long seasons. There have been a couple of times that I am missing a year because I simply cannot remember due to my depression. There are seasons that are circumstantial and once those circumstances have been dealt with, my sad cloud leaves. The other seasons are just plain ole crappy.
I withdraw. I sleep. I do not get out of my house. I do not change my clothes. I do not get out of bed. It takes too much effort. My husband does not know what to do with me. In our early years, he was oblivious because I was great at placing my mask. In our middle years, he recognized and then tried to fix the problems. Depression cannot be fixed by well-meaning spouses.
In Later Years
In the later years, he just sits and he loves on me. He lets me be me and he loves me through the valleys. We have come a very long way. I have learned to take off my masks and ask for help through lots of prayers, Jesus, therapy, and medication. He has learned to stop trying to fix me and to stop trying to understand the darkness that can consume me.
In 2015, I was struggling with a hard season of depression. There were days when I struggled in getting out of bed, getting dressed, brushing my hair, etc. I did the best I could, but at the end of the day, depression won. I would sit in my bed, sobbing about being a failure as a believer, wife, mom, daughter, sister, and human being. Deep down, I knew my worth in Christ but, sadly, I listened to what the evil one was whispering in my ear instead of the Truths of my Jesus.
In Walks My Lady
On a Wednesday night, my family and I went to church for dinner and our classes. We got there, got our food, and sat down to eat. The side door opened and my Lady walked through the doors. She is an amazing lady and she has taught me so much and I knew, regardless, that I was loved by her.
I got up, from my seat, and I went to give her a hug while my son ran and grabbed her some dinner. She has this ability to, not only, look at me but she can look THROUGH me.
That night, she looked through me and she asked me what was wrong. Tears welled up in my eyes and I just said “I don’t know, I’m really really sad and I can’t shake it.” My Lady looked at me and firmly said “well, get over it. You have a life to live, a husband who needs you, children who need you…now get over it.”
I think you could have knocked me over from the shock of that statement. There has never been a person, over my long history with depression, that has ever said anything like that to me. I almost let it hurt my feelings. I almost listened to the evil one saying “she does not love you, she does not care, that was mean.”
Instead, Jesus took me and shook me, that night. With Jesus by my side, He flicked satan out of my ear and He said “I sent her to you. She is my gift. This is your kick in the pants from Me through her. Now, get over it!” I walked around in a bit of a daze, that night.
Purposing to Follow-Through
The next day, I got up and I purposed to do a few things to better myself. I am well aware of my deficiencies in the “follow-through” department. There is also the thought of wanting to succeed at something and if I set my goal too high, then I will not follow through and I will fail. I set the bar VERY low.
My first set of 30-day goals were incredibly simple. The first thing was to brush my teeth every day. The second was to put a bra on every day (you laugh…girls….but you know what I’m talking about…especially being a home school mom).
I also purposed to read 1 chapter of Psalm and 1 chapter of Proverbs, daily. I did this by starting on whatever day of the month it was. It made it easier for me to remember. I had just received a great study bible, a new journal, highlighters, and pens for Christmas. I was set. In my journal, I listed 5 blessings first. Next, I listed prayer requests. Then, I would read my chapters, highlight the verses that meant something to me and I would write them in my journal.
I made it through that first month! I was so proud of myself and the Lord revealed SO much through His Word. I also maintained my two tiny goals of brushing my teeth and wearing a bra.
The next two goals were pretty simple. The first was to take my medicine regularly (always take your meds as prescribed by your doctor) and to not wear my husband’s clothes, but to wear my own. Again, you people might be mocking me, but hey, my husband is a big man and I feel really skinny when I wear his clothes. I like to feel skinny!
I had powered through Proverbs and I still had a ways to go with Psalm, so I thought I would add in a short book of the bible to make myself, again, feel good about accomplishing something. I still kept my journal, but I was on a new journal because I had filled the first one up!
Getting Wild Up in Here
This time around, with my prayer request, I got wild and mixed things up! I went back through my prayer request and I highlighted the answered prayers and I dated them and wrote how they were answered. In my dark times, I was able to flip through my journal and I could physically see the answers and that God still moves even when I feel He is not moving.
I also began branching out with my prayers. When I felt myself closing up and moving inward with my sadness, I forced myself to look to someone else. I texted people in my contacts how I could pray for them. The replies, to my texts, were humbling.
My friends would say “How did you know? What do you know? Who told you? I was just praying about that and I feel like I have confirmation. In my darkest, you reached out.” Oh my goodness. This was such a source of light and comfort for me. The Lord was using my depression to further His Kingdom!
My Prayer Journal
My journal filled up REAL quick and I had to upgrade to a notebook. For each person that I asked how I could pray for them, I gave them their own page and added any requests on that page. I would follow up with their requests to see if the Lord had answered them and when they were answered, I highlighted and dated that request.
Eventually, I branched out even further and I extended prayer to my friends on Facebook. The responses were overwhelming. I was and still am humbled to stand in the gap, with prayer, for people. My notebook got full and I have since moved to a binder! I love my binder. It is never far from me and I have my pens and highlighter ready to go.
What I Learned in my Season of Depression
In this season of depression, I not only learned how to pray, but I also ended up reading through the entire bible in about a year and a half. There were the dreaded books of the bible that came to life because I was reading it through a new set of eyes. The Lord revealed so much, I started sending out lessons I had learned along the journey. My season lifted because one person spoke what I needed to hear. “Get over it!”’
Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness
Depression is real and it is not talked about in society. Please, I am urging whoever is reading this, seek counsel. If counseling does not help, go to your doctor and look to getting on medication. There is no shame in that. I have been on medication, on and off, for several years.
There are seasons of your life when “get over it” does not cut it and you need more help. My hope is that the stigma of depression and other mental illnesses is eradicated and that we can talk freely, get support, and become free from this disease.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from any type of mental illness, and you are afraid that they may do the unthinkable, the Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. They are there 24 hours a day. Never be ashamed. Never think you are alone. Never not know your options. Reach out! Live! Teach others! Through your ashes, beauty will be found.
Have you ever felt invisible? That no one really sees the pain that you carry around on a daily basis? Has your pain ever been so intense and you have stuffed it so far, that you are numb to emotions? Have you ever been called emotionally stagnant or unable to feel things as they happen? Well, that’s me in a nutshell.
Childhood trauma, young adult trauma, adult trauma, PTSD, whatever it is that you may face. It’s a bitch. In the moment, I feel nothing. I’m always on mode go go go go go and then once I’ve gone, I relax. Then, I cry and feel all the feelings. It’s horrible. I’m working on processing the traumas, whether big or small, past, present or what I foresee.
Have you ever taken the ACE test? The Adverse Childhood Experience study? My score is 6. This means that “People with an ACE score of 6 or higher are at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years. ACEs are responsible for a big chunk of workplace absenteeism, and for costs in health care, emergency response, mental health, and criminal justice.”
Drug Allergy Testing
So, this past week, I had to take Hunter back to the allergist at Vanderbilt. This time, not for seasonal allergies but for a Decadron Challenge. Doing this definitively tells me whether or not he has an allergy to this specific drug.
Luckily, we had the same nurse as last time and the dr that we met via telehealth the first time. These ladies are so very nice. They explained things to Hunter and me very well. We had to leave a bit early and I got so turned around that we were almost lost.
This place is in a shopping mall. I kind you not. We had to go to a mall to go to the doctor. It is so weird. Add that to the fact we have to go up one escalator, down a thousand hallways, and up an elevator to get to where we were going. I was tired, he was getting anxious, we all know the drill.
10 Minutes Late
We got there, just in the knick of time. The nurse called us back and said how she remembered us from the last time. She did all the things and got us to our room. Hunter was behind me, twirling his shirt and hopping. I sat down, feeling defeated but stoic. Ready for this next test, next doctor, next hospital, next next next.
The nurse came over and asked to hold Hunter’s hands. She looked at him and told him exactly what we were going to do. That nothing, today, would hurt him. She comforted him and asked him if he was okay. He said he was scared and she softly assured him that there was nothing to fear. That touched my heart of stone.
Then, It Happened
She got him settled with the promise of Teddy Grahams and power aid. Next, she rolled back to her computer and started typing something, asking me the normal round of questions. Then, she quickly turned her chair around and looked me dead in the eye.
She said, “are you okay?” This was done with such sincerity that it threw me off. I was speechless. Then, I felt it coming. Tears welled up in my eyes and I gently said “no.” She rolled over to me and patted me on the leg and said that it was going to be okay and that I was going to be okay.
I Felt Seen
At that moment, I felt as if she could see directly into my soul. That she saw everything that had been stuffed down and she wanted to assure me that it is okay. I am okay. This is all going to be okay. I felt such comfort and calmness. A peace fell over me and I could physically feel my body relaxing.
On cue, Hunter must have felt something too because he did his thing. Ever since he got sick, we have listened to Ms. Debbie. She has recorded us about 8 songs. He knows them all by heart and asks to listen to her because it calms him. He turned around and said, “can we please listen to Ms. Debbie?”
We both listened and praised God together. I am learning, listening, and trying to trust in the process. It is coming up on 4 yrs and we are both just tired. God, give us rest and heal his weary body.
Get Your Fight Back is one of the first videos I saw on TikTok. This, well, it gave me chills. Every time I hear/read it, I have the same experience. Sarah Jakes Robert is amazingly delivered this sermon.
“Get Your Fight Back” by Sarah Jakes Robert
It is titled “Get your fight back.”
Girl, get your power back.
~Girl, start acting like you are a king’s daughter, and that there has always been a crown attached to your head.
Even when I was sick I was still His. Even when I was dead, I was still His.
Do you know who I am?
I am a child of the highest God.
He has kept me alive so that I can be a testimony to everyone attached to me.
Get Up: There is No Hold on You
Girl, you can get up again.
And Girl addiction can’t have you.
Girl divorce gotta let you go.
Get up girl, Girl get up, Girl get up, Girl get up, Girl get up again.
Girl Depression gotta let you go.
And Girl anxiety has to lose its hold.
I’m pleading for you to get up.
My daughter needs to see you get up.
And My sister needs to you get up.
Get up, Get up.
I gotta get up, I gotta get up again, I gotta get up again.
Get Your Prophecy
God’s you just sent a word, And now I know I need to get up again.
Something died on the inside of me, but I feel my spirit coming back.
I feel my power coming back and my ideas.
And I feel these dry bones shaken and coming back to life.
I’m getting up, I’m getting up.
I’m getting in position.
And I’m tired of crying about it.
I’m tired of fighting about it.
So I’m getting in the position.
Girl, You gotta get up.
I’m getting up for my daughter, I’m getting up for my sister, I’m getting up for my kids, I don’t even have them yet, but I was getting up for them too.
And I’m getting up for my community and marriage.
Gotta get up, I gotta get up, I gotta get up, I gotta get up.
Jesus, you’ve been chasing me too long.
I’m here and I surrender.
I gotta get up, I gotta get up.
The bitterness you got to Let me go.
Death, You can’t have me.
I gotta get up.
Honestly, I gotta find my joy.
I’ve got to find my peace.
I Gotta find my spirit again.
My friend made me who I am, my spirit got me into this.
And My spirit is gonna get me out, My spirit is going to get me out of it.
I got my Spirit back.
God touch me, God overflow.
I need your spirit, I’m hungry for it, I’m desperate for it.
God help me up.
Who You Need to Let Know
Let Hell hear you.
And Let the Depression hear you.
Let the enemy know.
And Let death know.
The spirit is coming back to me.
This spirit, what spirit?
The Holy Spirit, the Name that is above all Names.
Yes. When we call on that Name things happen.
That’s what I’m calling on.
What I need
Jesus, I need your power.
Get Who You Are Back
The King of kings.
Lord of lords.
You are the way maker.
What I Call You
What I Say
You can have control.
Make a way.
Nothing is off limits
I say God touch me as only you can do.
God give me power.
Help me forgive.
I say God Cleanse me from bitterness.
Sermon Video and Full Transcript of Sarah Jakes Robert
Forgiveness is Hard The Hurt Mattered. It took me a really long time to understand what forgiveness actually was. I was under the misunderstanding that forgiveness meant that you were giving someone PERMISSION to do whatever that person did to you.
That is not correct.
What Forgiveness Actually Means
According to Webster’s Dictionary, forgiveness means “to grant forgiveness.” “To Grant” is extending forgiveness to someone. This doesn’t mean you have to let them back in your life. Also, this doesn’t mean that you have to trust them. What it means is that you no longer depend on them to right the wrong. You are releasing them from owning you.
That is a powerful statement. I am actively releasing them from owning me! When I harbor those feelings of resentment, anger, hate, disdain, irritation, etc I am allowing them to own me. They own my thoughts, my feelings, my actions, and my reactions. I am indebted to them.
Honestly, half the time most people do not even realize they did anything. On the other hand, sometimes they do remember and they try to avoid at all costs having a run-in. Earlier this year, I took the bull by the balls.
What Did I Do With Those Balls?
I cut those suckers OFF. My mental health is not great. I am big enough to admit that. There are things occurring in my life that I cannot control. Then, there are things that I can control. Yet, Christ says we are not in control. He is and I need to yield to Him because He fights my battles, I just need to be silent (Exodus 14:14).
Being silent is not one of my strong suits. Yet, I have been very silent over the last year. I have sat back and taken the words, actions, abuse, and dirty looks. Those things have been met with silence. Also, depression, uncertainty, fear, and so many other things.
I digress, Back to the Balls
There are several people that have avoided me like the plague. I mean, they have literally dropped off the face of the planet. These people will not return calls, emails, texts, FB messages, anything. I thought I had done/said something to hurt them. The thought of that tears at my soul because I try to be very mindful of my words. Your tongue is a double-edged sword according to Jesus.
I decided to give it one last-ditch effort and send one more message. Then, I was going to let it go. I was not going to let the uncertainty cause physical ramifications on my body, soul, and mind anymore. Forgiveness is what I asked for because I just felt like I needed to do that.
To My Surprise
These ladies answered me back. We had great conversations. I asked questions, they answered. They asked questions, I answered. This all happened like the 40+-year-old people we are (hello FB middle school, I see you.)
One lady misinterpreted a conversation that was had almost 3 years ago. She apologized and acknowledged my hurt at her disappearing during a very difficult season in my life. I apologized for not being clear in what I said. Guess what?
We forgave each other. Have we really sat down, face to face, to talk? No. Co-vid and all. I hope to soon. Will our friendship be the same as it was? I don’t know. Time will tell. I would love to see that happen, but I have to acknowledge my hurt because it did (and does) matter. I just can’t live there.
The Other Lady
Well, she did respond and it went well. I had done nothing wrong and she explained herself and her choices. She asked for forgiveness and I happily granted it. Again, I expressed my hurt to her. Yet, I chose not to sit in it because she seemed so sincere.
Sadly, I was wrong. Again, she has gone to the nth degree to believe something about me. I’m not sure what it is this time. Honestly, as I was talking to my husband today, I want to say I don’t care. It’s not like I see this person every day.
Then again, I do care and I want to know why. I opened up, again, as I did with the other lady and I tried to believe, extend forgiveness, and trust her. This time, I will choose to forgive her but she will never be close to me again. She no longer owns me.
The Last Lady
Wow. This one is a doozy. Out of the blue, she “friended” me on Facebook. I was appalled. This lady I knew but I didn’t personally know. Weird, I know. Completely offended and fired off a stern message.
We exchanged several messages. I expressed in great detail my complete disdain for her because of circumstances that she (and another member of my family) created. She danced around it and she did apologize.
I sat in it for a very long time. A very very long time. In fact, I told her I may never forgive her, and I will certainly never forget what she did. She was told to never contact me or my family again. Livid isn’t even a word to do my feelings justice.
It was my last straw today. The straw that broke the camel’s back. “Friend #2” again unfriended me and blocked me. Honestly, have not spoken to her since that one day. As I was talking to Bart, he told me to just delete FB. It is “from the devil.”
He is right. The last time I tried to do this, I redownloaded it. It is an obsession, even if you don’t realize it. I took the time to respond to messages that had been sitting in my message spot. Then, I reread some messages that were important to feel those feelings again.
I got to that woman.
As I was reading our messages, I didn’t feel the heat of anger or hate. Honestly, I felt pity. What a sad life this woman has led. She has been tied to this “what if” thought in her brain for over 50 years.
My hurt did matter. She altered my life and the lives of those I love. This woman-owned me. She controlled my emotions and dictated how I felt. Today, I simply wrote, “I forgive you.” She answered me back quickly. I deleted all the messages.
Today, as I hit the button to end my relationship with FB and this “friend” and another woman, I felt empowered. Validated. At peace. Today, no one owns me but Christ. I was purchased for a price.
Do You think that a California girl is supposed to have curls and wear a jean size 3? All the curves in all the right places, spray tanned faces like on TV? And we read in the gospel of Vogue that we’re all supposed to dress and move and be Visions of perfection Such a misconception ‘Cause the real connection is deeper than the eye can see
This reminds me of a post that I wrote about the little squares of life. We do use social media to compare ourselves to others. Anyone can control what they specifically present to the world. What you don’t see is the chaos behind the phone and in the background.
What’s inside of you What’s inside of me The hands that made the moon and the stars The mountains and the seas Made you wonderful, beautiful, marvelously Let the whole world see your True beauty
Aw, Psalm 139, about how God created us. If you haven’t read it, you should!
World Versus Truth
Don’t know much about Dolce and Gabbana Seems like a lot of drama to me And you can keep all your red high heels And open-toed shoes – I’m good in my bare feet Lets get down to the nitty gritty Enough sex and the city What about purity? Skin is just the surface The passion and the purpose that’s burning down inside us Is really what we need to see
Purity is a rarity these days. How sad is that? It is such a slippery slope when you fall in “lust” with someone else. Even if that someone is your forever. Everyone can fall prey to their emotions. It is natural. We just need to be wise, be held accountable, and don’t be alone with the opposite sex. Saves a whole lot of hurt, even if you are engaged!
What’s inside of you What’s inside of me The hands that made the moon and the stars The mountains and the seas Made you wonderful, beautiful, marvelously Let the whole world see your True beauty
Love and Peace
Doesn’t come in a bottle, doesn’t come in a box You can’t spray it on, you can’t wash it off You can’t nip and tuck, you can’t sew it up So don’t waste your time It’s the love in your heart, the peace in your soul The hope in your smile lets the whole world know This little light – you gotta let it shine
Love in your heart, peace, hope, smile, and shine is so important. This is can also be so hard to accomplish. As a person, that deals with mental illness, it can be really hard. This is just something that we all need to work on. I need to put sticky notes up that remind me of these things.
True Beauty from Within the Ashes
This song, True Beauty, is one that I have not heard in years. When this album came out, I bought it. Listened to it faithfully. Then, life happened and over the years, things get misplaced. I was working on my “Worship” playlist that I listen to often from Youtube. Shackles is a song that I love and that was what I was looking for. Then, I found the album.
Thought that since I am working on my blog and feeling the urge to write, I would listen to it. I heard this song and it felt like warm water was poured over me. It speaks to me on a completely different level than it did way back when she released this song.
Events of Today
As I was ministering to a heartbroken young lady, today, we talked about beauty from ashes. This is in Isaiah 61:3. It is one of my favorite verses. Her voice has been stifled for so long. From the abuse that she experienced to what is to come, she has been silenced. In her eyes, broken.
We talked about how the Lord has a purpose for all that went on and is going on. One day, she was going to find the strength to use her story to help others. She would, indeed, hold the hand of another and walk them through the ashes to help them find their beauty.
I hope that you find encouragement that you are not alone. You are loved beyond measure. Regardless of your past, current, or future circumstances, God loves you RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! You have to do nothing to gain His love. Also, you can do nothing to lose His love. He loves you yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day till He calls you home.
Setting Boundaries VS Putting Up Wall is something that I struggle with because I, sometimes, live in fear. I am choosing, now, to NOT to live in fear because fear is a liar. Honestly, I am so tired of living under the judgment of others. Let me tell you something, friends, oh my word. I’m fixing to use my words and all of them. My words may not be pretty, but sometimes you have to let it out.
I’m going to have to take a few minutes and watch a Chopped episode. My brain is moving faster than my fingers, and the emotions are strong. Let’s say I am completely and totally over it. A change is coming, and it may take till Jesus returns, but my goodness, I am done!
Let’s Try This Again
I am not a people person. Yet, I’m empathetic (so I’ve been told), and I have the heart to help others. Those people who are unseen. People that other people snub their noses at because they don’t dress/live/act “appropriately.” I’m just saying that those are my people. I see them, I feel them, I understand them.
Their problems, I feel deep within my soul. The look in their eyes can tell a thousand stories, and they want to share that story. They want to be loved, accepted, and NOT judged. I CHOOSE to love, accept, and not pass judgment on them. Honestly, I want to meet them where they are currently at and walk into their world. It is an honor to step into their stories.
What a hard realization that most people in this world do not think the same way. I just don’t get it. How can you not love and SEE the people around you? The unseen, the less than, the “you are not in my circle, therefore, you do not exist” people.
For the love of all that is holy Jesus’ second greatest commandment is to LOVE OTHERS. Matthew 22: 36-40 clearly states, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
The Things That Have Happened
I cannot and will not go into detail on the struggles we have had this summer. It has hit me hard that not everyone thinks like this. Love as Jesus says to love. What they want is to steal, kill, and destroy my joy. My joy is my family. They are all I think of and commit to 100% every minute of every day.
For anyone to presume to know what happens in my home shows their narcissistic personality in full bloom. The things that we have been accused of and the mud we have been drug through is astonishing. I thought 2020 couldn’t get worse. It can. Trust me.
So Much Loss and Pain
The loss and pain were completely preventable. Let’s try something radical. If you think something is wrong with a friend or their family, then TALK TO THEM. Ask how you can help them, pray for them with no details, listen to them cry. Clean their house, run an errand, cook a meal. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Radical, you think?
Or you could go the other route of gossiping, being deceitful, frightening your children, lie, manipulate. Just because you might have money with your 2.5 kids, .5 pets, driving your nice cars, and your paid-off houses do not mean my family is any less.
We do not deserve the shit you have drug us through. All you see is a tired mama of many kids who “look” normal. What you don’t know is what all we have dealt with and lived through.
Well, our outcome has been standing on Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight your battle. You have to be quiet.” I was quiet. There were lots of tears, lots of reflection. There was a period of hiding, a valley of severe depression and anxiety, another medical condition for a child due to the STRESS so-called “friends” put us through. Thank you for that, honestly. It’s been the most fun.
We have been redeemed and found innocent. It was proven that we are good loving parents. Honestly, with friends like I have, who needs enemies? We have discovered several of our “friends” are simply wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yet, now we know.
Choices Moving Forward
I will not hide. My children will not hide. We will parent as we have for 25 years until the Lord calls us home. I will not be afraid, and neither will my children. When I get my Spirit-filled feeling about someone, I will trust it. Then I will teach my kids what I have learned. I pray that that type of wisdom and discernment is something the Lord gives them.
Honestly, I knew better with these people, but I wanted to be wrong. I wanted a friend. A person who would listen and love us through it all. What I got was satan reincarnated and the judgy nature of those people. When bad things happen, the first person who physically showed up was my mama, my Oak.
This woman. She blew in like a whirlwind. Then, she ironed out all the people in my house and ironed them out. Next, she found me. That hug, I melted into her arm. I felt her love permeate every single molecule of my body.
She gently walked me upstairs, and we both laid down and talked. I cried, and she sat in silence and rubbed my hair like when I was a little girl. She permitted me to wallow for a day, but tomorrow I have to get up and wash my face and face the day. There will be no hiding for her little girl.
She loves me. Unconditionally. She sees me. Truthfully. She knows all that has happened, yet she loves the ones who have hurt her baby so deeply. If I am 1/2 the mama she is when I grow up, my kids will be blessed. I am blessed by her.
A Few True Friends
We discovered those who would stand by us and those who judge us. Prayer warriors surrounded us and kept us safe. We stood before God clean. Our family came out on the other side with no truth coming from the claims and lies.
These people may never answer for what they did on this side of heaven, but rest assured, Jesus has it written in His book. Each of these people will stand before the throne listening to him read their story from beginning to end. They will answer for it.
I choose self-care. Pet a cat (or 12), bake, eat candy, smile more, block people on social media, keep loving on the “less of these” people, wash my hands, wear a mask, parent my kids, love my husband, and love my God. My enemies cannot hurt me because God goes before me, after me, and stands on each side of me. If you want to get to me or my family, you must go through Him first.
Repeat after me: I am NOT a Failure. Those words still resonate in me after a late-night chat with one of my closest friends. After a particularly hard evening, I texted my friend and said: “can you talk?” She has as many kids as I do and her life is not easy. My friend is raising these kids from hard places and trying to maintain a farm. Inspiration. She is my inspiration.
What’s Going On?
That was all she said. Not even a “hello” just a statement. I don’t think we ever say “hello” when we call each other. It is rare when we get a few minutes, within a month or so, to dedicate to chatting. Yet, when it comes to me needing her or her needing me…we make time in the chaos.
Last night, she made time. I am forever grateful to my friend. She means the world to me.
I couldn’t even get words out all I could do was sob. There was a sentence I mustered about a life-altering decision that we have to make in regards to one of our children. Instead of instantly telling me all the things I already know, she sat, silently, and let me cry. Throwing in phrases, between the sobs, of “I love you. You love your children. He is not a failure because of his mental illness that I did not create. I am not a failure because I did above and beyond what needed to be done for him to live a successful, safe life.
You are not a Failure
She said that over and over. I repeated it and then I let it sink in. He is not a failure. I repeated that and it is sinking in. We are not failures. He just needs more help then maybe I can give him. That doesn’t mean I’ve failed him. It means I have loved him enough to get the help that he needs. Having to do what we may have to do does not dictate my love for this child. If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t fight so hard for him to succeed in life.
Yet who does what I’m doing? Who does what he is doing constantly? Why can’t love just fix everything? What about God? Where are You in the chaos? I know He is there. Yet, I can’t hear Him through the storm.
My Support System
My support system is small. I mean, I have my husband. The love of my children (whom I try to shield from all that swirls in my mind). I know my mom loves me and supports me. My sister who never waivers, judges, or advises without me asking, faithfully prays for me. What would I do without her? I don’t know. Also, I have a couple of faithful friends I can bear my soul with and never be betrayed or judged.
There are some serious trust issues that I have always had. Sadly, those issues have peaked over the last few months. I’m battling with anger (which is fear and/or sadness). I can identify the fear that no one believes me, that I have no self-worth, no confidence, that love comes and goes like the ebbs and flows of the ocean. Feeling like a failure because my dreams of raising kids are not what reality is. Honestly, feeling like all the things wrong is my fault and that I can’t fix them. Sadness because of the loss of what I thought I knew. I’m not sure it is even there. Maybe it is there but buried deep inside and doesn’t want to appear because of fear. There is such sadness at the choices of a child and her uncertain future.
That is what my counselor said that I was. When we got off the phone, I told my husband, and he AGREED. Then, I called my sister and told her. Guess what? She AGREED. I have a hard time expressing my needs, feeling safe, accepting help, and just being vulnerable.
I am not emotionally stagnant. The emotions are there and I pick and choose who sees me have a moment. Emotions, to me, instill weakness. If one is weak, one doesn’t think clearly and can then be overtaken.
That’s how I perceived my daddy growing up. He is not the emotional kind of guy (forever police officer). I rarely remember him yielding to emotion. He did, I guess, just not where us kids could see him.
My mom, however, is free with her emotions, for the most part. I just took more after Pop.
What People Do Not See
What people do not see is when I’m alone. Hiding in my room while crying my eyes out over my failures. People don’t see me taking long drives while crying my eyes out or screaming. The poison gets so intense inside me that I scream at the top of my lungs. So, I’m emotional, in a controlled environment. If I were to say to the people who have hurt me how badly I feel wounded. Honestly, they will not respond well. There are so many things that can be said. Also, those things that were said cannot be unsaid. If I did say them, they would no longer love me.
Fear of not being loved or belonging. That is a big one.
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in the deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made…
In the everyday chaos and uncertainty, He calls me to walk out on the waters. Where it is completely unknown. My feet will fail in the deep ocean. Yet, He says I will stand on my faith. When I call upon His Name, He is faithful to keep my eyes above the waves. He is calling me out on the waves to confront, in love, the people that I need to confront. One of those people is me!!
I need to know that I don’t depend on anyone’s love but His. My battles are not for me to fight according to Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight my battle. I just have to be silent.”
I won’t look around at all the things going on around me and the struggles that I am facing. My job is to step out on the waves, in the deep ocean, where His grace abounds. I am always loved, always believed, always worthy, in His eyes.