Adoption, Faith Journey

It is Time to Let Go and be Free

  1. It is Time to Let Go and be Free

It is Time to Let Go and be Free

What a phrase that is. Val Kilmer typed that to Tom Cruise in the new movie Maverick. I have been praying a lot. Primarily for clarity in a few situations that are ongoing in our family. God speaks in a variety of ways. I guess speaking through a film is one way to do it.  

At some point in my life, I have to stop torturing myself so much. It is constant. I torture myself daily. I am the kind of wife, mother, daughter, and sister that owns all the things. I question my motives, intentions, desires, and thoughts. Where things go wrong, regardless of who is at its root, I torture myself. Torturing myself has gone on for years. I can’t just let it roll off my back, it absorbs in my soul, and I wear the wrongs like a cloak.

I believe it is time to torture myself a little bit less. Today is a good day. I can believe everything I’m typing. Tomorrow may be different.

As I was floating in our pool, listening to H play, I thought of everything I “own.” Running through my list, I went through all our children, my siblings, parents, marriage, etc. Then, it hit me. 99% of what I torture myself about has nothing to do with me. I didn’t cause it, and I can’t fix it. Let’s jump back into our adoption years.

Life Just Isn’t Always so Tidy.

God’s plan isn’t always so easy to understand. Our first plan was international when we decided to expand our family through adoption. I knew Ethiopia was in our future at a young age. Yet God had other plans.  

He brought in our first set of kids for a season, reuniting them within about a month with their birth mom.  When the left, I thought I had done something wrong.

For some reason, I believed it was my fault that they returned to their mother. I was so young and inexperienced in foster care and adoption through the foster care system.

I know now that reunification is always the first thing to do, if possible. What a beautiful thing that they got to go back to the one that gave them life. It was a short season with her, but I know that they are safe and loved with the family they are with now. I can let that go. My love for those kids will always be powerful. Yet, God had other plans. Now, I can be happy and thankful I was a safe haven for them. They were loved by us and loved by so many people.

Release.

Sometimes Reunification is Not a Possibility.

When we got the call for our second set of kids, I allowed fear to creep into my heart. Sadly, I had not healed from the loss of the previous two children. Again, I wore a cloak and tortured myself for something that wasn’t mine to wear.  

Reunification was not in the cards for our second placement. We met these kids so full of tentative smiles and lots of hyperactivity. We were eager to expand our family. Yet, we tried to do everything right to reunify them with their birth mom. Sadly, that didn’t work, and trauma was prevalent.

Coming from Foster Care is a Tricky Thing

These kids were coming from multiple foster homes. Living in numerous homes was due to behavior, PTSD, and more. We were so ill-equipped to handle the needs of one of the children and we had no help or resources from the state.

Looking back, almost 16 years later, we see all the signs. Then, we just wanted to heal, love, and show this child Christ. One of my kids has written some powerful things about foster care and abuse. Those things are very well-spoken.

Now, this young person is someone I don’t even know. A lot of damage has been done, and bridges have been burned. However, my (our) love for this child will always remain steadfast, though we have to protect the other kids in our home.

I hope that one day, we can all be reunited. Forgiveness can take place, and healing can happen. Healing and forgiveness can only be orchestrated by the One that loves us all.

Right now, that isn’t what is going to happen. For years, I thought I was crazy. Hindsight is 20/20.

Now, I see where I was at fault, and I’ve apologized and made peace with it, for the most part. Again, I’m wearing a giant cloak that is not mine.  

I am not responsible for the decisions being made now. The things in the past I’ve owned, asked forgiveness for, and tried to remedy within myself. Sadly, I have no control over what is going on now. I pray that help is sought, proper medication, therapy, nutrition, sleep, and a lot of Jesus will permeate this child’s life.  

In my life, I choose to continue with therapy, confide in those closest to me, seek the face of Jesus, and prepare for rain. Preparing for rain looks different for everyone. In our case, we have cameras up, people who need to know are made aware of things, an attorney if things go in a way they shouldn’t, authorities are on alert, and documents are gathered. Preparing and doing these things are not indicative of anything other than protecting my other kids. My hope and prayer are still that the Lord reunites my whole family.

Release.

Things are Looking Up

Our pool is working, the air conditioning is cooking (though it is limping), we are all healthy, and great things are on the horizon. I have introduced my grandkids to music! Music is one thing that we missed in those years. We had to limit it due to some obsessions. Now, my home is flooded with music and dancing. My grands love opera! We listen to blues, the 60s, classical, praise and worship, old hymns, Frank Sinatra, and much more. Then there is J & D’s music. I’m not sure what you classify that as, LOL. It is so joyful and peaceful (most of the time).  

I have plants that are still alive. That is a fantastic thing! We are slowly redoing the things that need to be renovated in our house. Thankfully, I’m not obsessing over those little things. I’m reveling in the fact that we can and are making progress. H has made great strides and improvements with his OMS and behavior. J is thriving. D is succeeding, and his growth astounds me. Our relationship has improved a 1000%. We talk every night. I mean, honestly, what teenage boy wants to talk to his mom every night. Yet, he calls like clockwork, and we have the best conversations. My bigs are healthy, grandbabies are healthy, and my son is having an event in March. My parents are here often, and I love that so much.

Release.

In All the Thanks for the Above

I still miss my one. Still, I want that one here enjoying everything and being a part of our life. Yet, that isn’t going to happen right now. It can happen, and I pray that it will. For now, I continue to pray for healing. I revel in peace. Slowly, I take off the cloaks that are not mine. I’m giving them back to whom they belong while owning what I need to own. I’m prepared for the rain. I am not afraid. We are good, safe, loved, and healthy.   

Release.

Faith Journey

Shame and Guilt Revelation

Shame and Guilt Revelation

 

Shame and Guilt Revelation

I was speaking to one of my daughters today. It was a rare moment for us to be alone with her. Typically, we talk like a mom and daughter talk. Today, I pushed it a bit further. We talked about everything, and then I posed a question. I asked her, “In your history, as far back as you can remember, regardless of who it is about because I won’t get mad or upset, what is your worst traumatic memory?”

The blood drained from her face as she quietly told me what it was. At that moment, she said she felt shame. Shame is feeling that YOU are not good enough. Guilt is when you do something bad. Shame = you are bad. Guilt = you did something bad.

In Christ, our shame is undone. She is a person who does not have shame because she has Christ in her. Guilt, yes, she had. She did do something terrible. It was a domino effect that we could pinpoint where it started. That is the beginning of healing.

Our Box of Shame

We all have a box of shame. Traumatic things happen. These are things that we don’t want to talk about ever. Because we don’t want to talk about it, we put it in our box and put a giant lock on it. We pray that box sits in the dark corner and shuts the hell up.

Then, we have a trigger. The trigger can cause a person to act irrationally, have potent emotions, and do things they would never do (or say). You can feel where your shame is being held in your body. It is different for everyone.

Dealing with shame has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Now, I’m hyperfocused when I lose my crap. There are moments amid my chaotic moment when I think, “what is wrong with me? Why am I doing/saying these things?” Sometimes that thought process diffuses the situation, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are times when I need a timeout.

Overcoming Shame

Brene Brown has a shame and guilt TED Talk that I have listened to multiple times. I encourage you to listen to it because that is something that helped me understand the difference. As I stated above, shame and guilt are two different things. Shame is “I am a bad person,” and guilt is “I did something bad.”

As I was talking to my daughter, I told her that I had things in my past that had me engulfed in shame. When I think back on it, I get this rock feeling in my stomach. I then go further to think of the damage I have done and the situation’s outcome. So, if anything has happened, I blame myself for the entire future happenings in each of these. Does that make sense? So, shame has consumed me.

I didn’t share the details with my daughter because I’m not going to do that, but I did tell her how I felt and how that is more than guilt. It is shame. I was trying to encourage her to identify one thing that she feels shame about and teach her that it isn’t shame, but guilt. It is okay to feel guilty about something, but you can’t let it stir in you for too long.

My Goal in Helping Her Overcome Shame

My goal was to get her to take her “shame” box that is locked away and hidden, open it, and take one thing out. In that one thing, talk about it constantly. Write about it. Draw. Dissect it, find Scripture that helps you, and ask for forgiveness from God, yourself, and whoever was involved with you. Realize you don’t have to tell that person you are sorry physically. If you continue to talk about it (or write), eventually, you will be able to share your story without having those intense emotions, feelings of shame, and/or guilt, and you can distinguish between those two things.

Eventually, you will completely heal through the Lord’s guidance and grace. You will be able to take that one file from your shame box and have it fully processed and placed into your brain where it is no longer a “shame” feeling or a realization that it isn’t shame but a guilt feeling. It will soon just be a crappy life experience that no longer has power over you. It no longer consumes you.

There will be a point where you can identify those same emotions in someone else, and you can hold their hand while they find the beauty from their ashes. God uses your crappy life experiences to help someone else not live with those feelings of shame and guilt.

Her Box is Full. My Box is Full.

I explained that talking her story out (writing or drawing) takes power away from the enemy and allows her to heal. You can go back and learn from that experience and then help others.

I then flipped it back to my situation(s). As an adult, what I think of as intense shame for some problems when I was a young child, is horrific. Yet, because God doesn’t want me to do that (revelation), He placed a child in my home that did the same thing. When I discovered this, I scooped the child in my arms, and we rocked. We talked. This child talked. There was not one time I swirled her with shame or guilt. What I recognized was trauma. A severe trauma response to something that had occurred in that child’s life well before this child came to us.

Shaming or making this child feel guilty was not even on my horizon. I planned to find justice, alert other people, and get her into therapy. We did that, and justice was served. I never put two and two together until this conversation. There was not a moment I could correlate my experience with this child’s experience. They were different but the same. It’s hard to describe when I don’t share the details, which I’m not.

The Lord Intervened

He taught me to go back in time, like myself (a parent), and parent the child I was in those moments. Show her grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. Remove the shame because shame can’t exist where Christ lives. Convert that to guilt but then discover the cause of that guilt. Then you can release that guilt.

I took that little girl version of me in situations where I previously felt shame, and I scooped her up and rocked her. We rocked and talked. She little girl me shared and disclosed, and adult me did what I needed to do. I did not consider her a shameful child or a child who should feel guilty. Immediately, I called who I needed to call in order to protect her and fight for her. There was an opportunity to say that she did nothing wrong and that those actions directly related to something else. It was something else that needed to be addressed, and she had no choice.

I immediately had a rush of emotions, a cleansing cry, and healing. This shame swirl that I’ve lived in for over 40 years is gone. Now, I have to address the other side of it. By doing that, I can further free myself from this and, in turn, help someone else in the same situation or mindset.

My goal was to help my daughter. I hope I did. In the end, however, I did help myself.

 

Faith Journey, Guest Blogger

Tested by Fire

In today’s world, a couple who has been married for 27 years is a rarity. My wife, Brandi, and I have been married for that long. One thing I know is you don’t stay married for that length of time without going through the fire. We have had our fair share of fire, for sure.

 

At the beginning of our marriage, I was not a believer. That put a massive strain on us. The first seven years of our marriage were pretty rough. I was not following the Lord and leading like I was supposed to. On several occasions, we were on the verge of divorce. But in 2001, I did surrender to Christ, and things got better, not because of us but because of Him.

 

However, things weren’t all rainbows and unicorns after I was saved. I had an addiction to pornography that started when I was in middle school. My wife was unaware, but light was shown upon the darkness with any sin. Sadly, my addiction continued after she found out, and again our marriage suffered to the point of divorce. But God saved me from my addiction, and I have been delivered from it. He worked a miracle in me and saved our marriage.

 

But as always, life gets in the way of happiness. Job, children, finances, etc., were all distractions to our marriage. Many hurts happened, and we had grown apart. It felt like we were spiraling towards separation again, but God intervened. It was like he hit me over the head with a frying pan. He showed me that I was too focused on myself. I fell on my face and gave it all to the Lord. I decided to love, honor, serve and cherish my wife. God made me realize I was not fulfilling my role as her husband.

 

Since that night, I have done my best to live up to that decision. And I must say; that our marriage is on the mend.

 

Are we perfect people? No.

 

Will we always do or say the right thing? No.

 

Do we/I have the power to choose to love, honor and obey God and each other? Yes.

 

What I’m trying to get at here is that through it all, we have persevered. Has it all been bad? Not. We have more good years than bad. We dwell on the bad more, which is not how it should be.

 

But truth be told, God put Brandi and me together for a purpose. He did not make a mistake because He doesn’t make mistakes. I have loved her from the beginning. I have never stopped. She will forever and always be the one I choose and the one chosen for me. I love her more every day and will love her for the rest of my life. Love you, babe!

 

 

Faith Journey

What I am and Why God Version

What I am and Why God Version

What I am and Why God Version

It is easy to accept and own a person’s free-will version of themselves. The bad stuff is always easier to believe. What is difficult for most people is the Truth, as believers, as to what the Lord says about us in His Word. So, after yesterday, here is the Truth about What I am and Why God Version.

I believe I am going to do these verses in the Message. That is not my favorite version, but it does say things in plain English, and you certainly don’t question the meaning. Other versions can be harder to understand (for me). Ben Malcolmson compiled this list.

Beloved

“met God out looking for them!” God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3

A Child of God

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.” 1 John 3:1

Delighted In

“Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Forgiven

“He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing.” 1 Peter 2:24

Washed Clean

“Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.” This is God’s Message: “If your sins are blood-red, they’ll be snow-white. If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Free

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1

A Temple of the Holy Spirit

“Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you.” 1 Corinthians 6:19

Adopted into God’s Family

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” Romans 8:15

Co-Heir with Christ

“And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” Romans 8:17

Righteous

“How? you say. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

New

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

A Saint

” A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago, you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and our God present in us, the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:11

Set Apart

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you -” 1 Peter 2:9

An Ambassador of Christ

“We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

A Co-Laborer

“What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

A Sweet Aroma

“Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

Never Alone

“God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” Deuteronomy 31:8

A Masterpiece

“No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:10

Wonderfully Made

“thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation!” Psalm 139:14

Bold

“With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back.” 2 Corinthians 3:12

Having Guaranteed Victory

“You protect me with salvation-armor; you hold me up with a firm hand, caress me with your gentle ways.” Psalm 18:35

Holding a Secure Future

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11

Whole in Christ

“When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.” Colossians 2:10

 

Faith Journey

What I am and Why, the Free-Will Version?

What I am and Why, the Free-Will Version?

What I am and Why, the Free-Will Version?

Oh, how I wish I had saved the website of this personality test. I guess I didn’t, OR I got mad at it and deleted it. There are times when I do that. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by all the “footprints” I leave on the web and get into a deleting frenzy. So here it is What I am and Why, the Free-Will Version?

Clutter

Clutter in my home, on my social media, or emails clutters my brain. It is like a giant yarn ball. You cannot make sense of the mess. So, my solution is to organize, answer, delete, and so on. I can’t handle too much. There is nothing else I can control, but I can control the clutter.

That has nothing to do with my emotionally stagnant state of life, now does it. Well, maybe it does. Let’s dive into the comments on the test that I took. I will link some other personality tests, but they will not be the ones I took.

Younger Years

I was L-O-V-E-D when I was a child. My mama, my Oak, showed emotion and was so loving. My granny, my other mother, and the support friends my mom. I saw and felt love and emotion growing up. Daddy loved me, but it was shown differently. He was not emotional (a police officer), and I had to initiate affection.

As an adult, I have made peace with that. I see things more clearly. Was it hard? Yes. Is it still hard sometimes? Yes. Do I have an undying love for him? Absolutely. He is a different man today. He found Jesus and lived his life differently. Do I still have to initiate affection? Sometimes. Now, I’m vocal about my needs, and I can articulate them to him. He is not a mind reader; I have learned that over the years.

Communication is the key to most things. I didn’t know how to communicate my needs. Daddy didn’t know how to communicate (at all, LOL). Things are different. It is hard to explain.

The Path I Chose

I didn’t choose the path of my Oak. Being free with my emotions was not something I did. Some things happened, I began not to trust anyone (including myself), and I hardened. Regarding my children and grandchildren, I am free with my affection. There is not a time when I do not offer a hug, words of encouragement, or some way to show love.

Emotions

Now, I struggle with showing emotions when it comes to other things. I went through a period where life was tough, and my kids saw a side of me that they had never seen. It affected them terribly and frightened them, frankly. I could not contain my fear, tears, worries, words, or actions. Depression, reality, anxiety, all these things bubbled up in me, and I could not stop. Not even if I tried.

My son would tell me that my crying is like Superman with a broken arm. It simply can’t happen. Sadly, it scares them. Their rock is split and crumbling, and they can’t make sense of life. I wish I had never been like that at all.

Therapist Thoughts

As a person with a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, I can tell you what I do. Yet, I can’t take my advice. It’s like I’m stuck in sludge, and my feet are trying to move, yet they are stuck. My therapist said that I dissociate and have a dissociative personality. To dissociate means a “disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity.” For me, this comes from severe Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I check out.

You are not Very Emotional.

That was the verdict of the personality test said about me. I am not very emotional. Honestly, I can’t stand that about myself. I’m so guarded and do not trust anyone (again, not even myself). There are things I need to rectify within myself and with others. I need to do a lot of saying I’m sorry to others and myself. Then, I need to trust that those people forgive me and that I choose to forgive myself. Forgiving others is one thing. Forgiving myself is something completely different.

Assessment

Whether it’s natural self-control or a deliberate decision, you seem detached and don’t often show your emotions. You are alert and self-possessed and refuse to be blinded by your feelings.

However, since expressing our emotions is a way of coping with things, being indifferent is an emotional response. But whatever the reality is, you come across as cold and give the impression that you are withdrawn and isolated from the world around you. You don’t want to seem like a conformist, so you rarely express an opinion, whatever it is, not even if it’s to let people know that you are in a good mood or that you are happy.

Because you suppress your emotions, you seem blasé. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you are, in fact, extraordinarily emotional but unable to show it, keeping your real sensitivity locked away. Or maybe you have tried to remain impervious to everyday emotions to preserve your freedom?

You’ve developed a thick skin to protect yourself from others, and you try to be ‘zen’ about things to avoid appearing vulnerable. These are the qualities that make you a dominant personality. But living alongside your means constantly has to decipher how you feel because your moments of joy, happiness, love, resentment, indecision, anger, or fear are always tempered by your sang-foid.

In 1984, George Orwell portrayed the dangers of a world without emotion. What if you stopped hiding how you felt and allowed your feelings to work in conjunction with the other qualities you possess?

Spot On

This is me completely and totally on all levels. I feel so sorry for my husband. He honestly never knows. There is so much I want to say, but I fear judgment, condemnation, no one believing me, me not believing myself or my body.

I have never read 1984 by George Orwell, but I might have to read it. What if I allowed myself to stop hiding how I felt and let my emotions work in conjunction with my other qualities? What if?

What if?

I don’t know.

 

Faith Journey, Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger Jenny Clenenden

Faith Journey

Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Through the Fire

I heard this song, Through the Fire, at church for the first time. Oh, my word, this speaks to me on so many levels I cannot even be articulate. Our sermon, Sunday, was on John 9:1-7. I have read this a thousand and forty-five times. From this perspective, however, I have never heard it.

It is about the man, born blind, and the disciples ask what sin he did (in utero) or what his parents did to cause his blindness. God allowed his blindness. In verse 3, He says, “Jesus answered, neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

Wow

That is a verse that may be tattooed on my person. It struck me in a way that gave me a sense of peace about Hunter. Did he sin in utero? Well, we are born sinners, but I don’t think that is what caused his condition. Did his parents sin? That’d be a giant heck, yes. Yet, we must believe that the father’s sins come down to the children in the Old Testament, not the New. Again, different.

Maybe, Just Maybe

I should lean back on that verse and think that he has this condition because God allowed it so that the “works of God” could be revealed in him. I believe that is what I will cling to right now because A) I can. B) I want to C) Who will tell me different?

Through the Fire Lyrics

So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances
Or things I could not understand
Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
And my frustration gets so out of hand

I am Reminded

It’s then I am reminded I’ve never been forsaken
I’ve never had to stand the test alone
As I look at all the victories
The spirit rises up in me
And its through the fire my weakness is made strong

He Never Promised

He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting

What He Did Say

But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again

Within Myself

I know within myself that I would surely perish
But if I trust the hand of God, He’ll shield the flames again, again
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again
Gerald Crabb. © 1999 Lehsem Songs

 

Faith Journey

Whatever it Takes, Do It

Whatever it Takes, Do It

Whatever it Takes, Do It

 

Whatever it takes to keep your peace intact, do that. I am serious. As hard as it can be, Whatever it Takes, Do It. According to Webster’s Dictionary, peace means “a state of tranquility or quiet or freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”

These two things walk hand in hand with me—a state of tranquility and freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions. The last SEVERAL years have been riddled with chaos, pain, confusion, sadness, and intense oppressive thoughts and feelings.

Scripture

My Scripture reading for today was in Philippians 4:8, which states, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Whatever it takes, please do it. Whatever it takes to fix your thoughts on what is true. The definition is “freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions.” When our thoughts are on the things of this Earth, they can quickly become oppressive. Yet, God wants us to have freedom in our thoughts.

You can have freedom from your thoughts by capturing those negative emotions, casting them aside, and realizing what is true. According to the Lord, the truth can be hard to do, but it can be done.

Honorable

What is honorable? So, whatever it takes to be honorable, please do it. Be a person that is that city on a hill, be the salt and light of the world. When you are in that spot of depression that yields a lack of peace, it consumes all of you.

I almost feel like I am in a barrel, and sometimes I cannot even see a pinpoint of light. The last two years have been horrible. I have no peace. I am getting it back, but it was gone, like the wind. I did not do whatever it took for peace. It’s almost like I succumbed to the chaos around me.

There was no honor in anything I did because all I did was put down myself and live in self-pity. There was no self-care, self-acceptance, or self-love. I let the actions of others dictate how I looked at myself.

What is Right and Pure

Nothing I did was right or pure. I was derogatory towards myself and my circumstances. Sadly, I let a few people control my mind. Satan used “friends” to destroy my self-confidence. I’m so thankful the Lord allowed my vision to clear up.

He’s doing that allowed me to see people for who they are. These are the people that I had to step away from for my sanity. I could not have done what I did without the encouragement of my husband.

He sees me daily, and he sees through me. He sees my pain and offers love, support, and occasionally thoughts that would lead me to fix the problem. I am blessed with him, my mom, and my sisters. Without support, I may not be working towards healing.

Whatever it Takes, Do It.

I had to do the unthinkable to begin my peace journey. There were minor things that I changed, like being off of Facebook. Facebook is toxic. It can be a pleasurable space to keep up with family if you can change some settings.

I shut everything down. No one outside of my friend list had access to anything. I deleted all my albums and began a new email address to keep those unsavory wolves in sheep’s clothing away from me.

That is minor compared to the other things I have had to do and am currently doing. My goal is to achieve peace and retain what joy I have left. It can be done. Doing this has been the hardest thing in my life.

In The End

Be done.

Not mad, not bothered.

Be done.

Protect your peace at all costs.

 

 

Faith Journey

Letting Yourself Be Seen

Letting Yourself Be Seen

Letting Yourself Be Seen

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 it is not me when I do. I lose myself in that moment and realize that I am doing this to fit in. 

Sisters, you are not created to fit in. You are designed to be salt and light. You are made to be a city on a hill, not a face in the crowd. I was not only a face in the crowd. I had customized masks to wear for each crowd.

God Speaking

I learned very young that I was not like other people. I thought differently, acted differently, and believed differently than 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. At one point, I was informed that I could choose my black children or my father. I thanked my father for the love and protection he had given me, kissed him on the cheek, and then told him I would choose my children.

Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? People-pleasing me.

Judgment of Others

The people that no one wants to be around are the people I am drawn to in my spirit. I have been told to be careful who I associate with because it could question my faith and salvation. I have also been told that I cannot be submissive to my husband because I’m loud. I have been told I am not worthy to stand in front of people because no one wants to hear what I have to say. After all, 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 told, and I still struggle to forgive the words and the people who said them.

My Lady

My best friend was 79 when we met. She was my Lady. That’s what I called her. It started as a 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. My Lady loved me without abandon, and Ms. Jo treasured my family, though we were 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. She told me my tattoos were stupid, but she always wanted to look at them and touch them. She would wring my neck if she knew her name was on my body. I took Faith(i.e.), hope, and love to another level. There is a cross (love) with a semi-colon, doves (hope), and Faith(i.e.) because her name was Faithie.

I challenge you all to be you. Love you. Embrace your weirdness, and never do you have to explain yourself. Ever. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no and zero explanations.

 

Depression, Faith Journey, Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Get Over It Speech by My Lady

Get Over It Speech by My Lady

Get Over It

 I have struggled with depression my whole life. There are short seasons; there are long seasons, then there are ** long seasons. A couple of times, I missed a year because I could not remember due to my depression. Some seasons are circumstantial, and my sad cloud leaves once those circumstances have been resolved. The other seasons are just plain ole crappy.

 I withdraw, sleep, do not get out of my house, do not change my clothes, or 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. He recognized and then tried to fix the problems in our middle years. Well-meaning spouses cannot cure depression. 

In Later Years

In the later years, he sits and 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 to get out of bed, get dressed, brush 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. Sadly, I listened to what the evil one was whispering in my ear. Instead, I should have been listening to 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 a fantastic lady, and she has taught me so much, and I knew, regardless, that she loved me. 

I got up from my seat and hugged her while my son ran and grabbed her some dinner. She cannot only look at me, but she can also look THROUGH me. 

That night, she looked through me and asked me what was wrong. Tears rose in my eyes, and I said, “I don’t know, I’m 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.”

Shocked

 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 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 proposed 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 put the bar VERY low. 

My first set of 30-day goals was straightforward. 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 homeschool mom).

Next Up

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 five blessings first. Next, I listed prayer requests. Then, I would read my chapters, highlight the verses that meant something to me, and 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. 

Month 2

The following two goals were pretty simple. The first was to take my medicine regularly (always take your meds as prescribed by your doctor) and not wear my husband’s clothes but my own. Again, you people might be mocking me, but my husband is a big man, and I feel 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 a short book of the bible to make myself feel good about accomplishing something again. 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 highlighted the answered prayers, dated them, and wrote how they were answered. In my dark times, I could 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 sadness, I forced myself to look to someone else. I texted people in my contacts about 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 praying about that, and I feel I have confirmation. In my darkest, you reached out.” Oh, my goodness. The reaction of others was 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 quickly, and I had to upgrade to a notebook. I asked each person how I could pray for them; I gave them their page and added any requests. 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 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.

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 that 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 to seek counsel. If counseling does not help, go to your doctor and look to get 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. I hope 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, has any mental illness and are afraid they may do the unthinkable, the Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. People are there 24 hours a day. Never be ashamed. Never think you are alone. Know your options. Reach out! Live! Teach others! Through your ashes, beauty will be found.