Life or Something Like It

My Oak My Mama

My Oak My Mama

My Oak My Mama

When I think of an Oak Tree, I think of being little and standing next to the giant oak tree in our yard. It was so big that I could not wrap my arms around it.

I remember looking up at it and seeing it touch the clouds. The giant limbs stand firm in the wind while the little limbs sway back and forth.

I can still see the beautiful leaves that protect me from the sun. I also vividly remember the life living on and around it. The ants and critters crawled up the massive trunk of this tree.

Then, when I look down, I am standing on the roots. These roots are so big that they are bulging out of the ground. I can follow the roots from the tree’s base for as far as they reach.

Many days, I stood in awe of the beauty of this massive living thing that God created.

This mighty tree may bend, but it never breaks.

Our oak tree provides shade in the summer. It loses its leaves in the fall, and the old things pass away. The leaves dying allows the sun to shine through the branches and provide heat on a cold day. In the spring, new life forms, and it begins again.

The circle of life in this tree.

My favorite tree is a tree of strength, honor, and consistency. An oak tree to lean on in hard times. This oak tree brings me joy at the sight or the rustle of the leaves.

I would like to introduce to you my Oak, my Mama.

Thank you, Mama, for loving me without abandon and giving me solid roots.

Thank you for being that big, sturdy branch while I flopped in the wind.

You led me to Christ through your faithfulness in your walk.

Also, for guiding me back to Christ when I wandered off and got lost.

You have always loved my husband and my children.

Thankful that you have never judged but were consistent with your faithfulness.

For showing me love when I was unlovable.

You have taught me values and stood up for me.

Mama, you rescued me, rocked me, and baked with me.

More importantly, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, green beans & potatoes, and lima beans for your fried chicken.

You, my Marth, have been a living, breathing example of a Proverbs 31 woman.

You, my sweet Martha, are Oak Tree.

 

Faith Journey

Just Be Held

Just Be Held

Just Be Held. I am having a come apart right now. It has been a week, month, and year, just a lot. Here are the lyrics to this song.

Just Be Held

Hold it all together

Everybody needs you strong

But life hits you out of nowhere

And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting

Chained by your control

There’s freedom in surrender

Lay it down and let it go

Thoughts

As a mom, we all know this. We are the Superman to all the issues of life. We put things back together with superglue and a tampon. My son has told me that if I cry, that is like Superman with a broken arm. Honestly, moms do not cry. I have chosen my life, or maybe I am living the life God chose for me; hmmm, I need to ponder that.

My life is one giant complication. Marriage is not easy. Parenting at any stage is not easy. Throw in control issues, have special needs kids that were out of your control, a medically fragile child, aging parents, death, poor choices, and you have a mess.

But God

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still

But if your eyes are on the cross

You’ll know I always have and I always will

Thoughts

Right here. These words. They pierce my soul. I do see things falling apart. In 8 weeks, I’ve had two sons bullied by students and administration. The suspension has happened twice for one son. We’ve had a flare-up with another son. One son is spreading his wings. Daughters who are dealing with the hardships of lost relationships, a new marriage, jobs, and school. Just so much.

Yet, He is not upon the throne biting his nails or eating popcorn, wondering what will happen next. He has already created the perfect provisions for all these issues. Then there is control. Me. Free-will. If I would take my eyes off the storm and gaze them upward. Frankly, how would my perspective change?

No Tears Wasted

And not a tear is wasted

In time, you’ll understand

I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands

Thoughts

Honestly, I love those verses in the Word so much that I have Isaiah 61:3 tattooed on my body. Frankly, the other verse may also need to go on my person. For instance, He has captured EVERY tear of mine (and yours) and placed it in a bottle. This is how much He cares for you. Furthermore, it is like you are the only person on Earth whose sole job is to love and comfort you.

Chorus

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Just be held, just be held

 

In the Midst

Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you’ll find Me

And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

I’ll hold your heart

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Thoughts

Amid the storm, however, lift your hands. Furthermore, gaze your eyes above the waves. God is there, holding your heart in His hands. In Him, He has already fixed the problem. I pray that I will never forget that truth.

 

Adoption, Life or Something Like It

An Apology Without Change is Manipulation

An Apology Without Change is Manipulation

An Apology Without Change is Manipulation

Gracious, this is such a reminder of what I live with daily. It is so hard when you have such consistent, horrible things said to you and then a fake apology. That is exactly what it is. Fake. I probably have done that, but I learned to be sincere with my apologies. When I do something wrong or hurt someone unintentionally, it hurts me so badly. 

It Was Not Her Fault

There was an issue with an acquaintance, and though that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was not her doing anything wrong. I was just emotional. Yet, this is one isolated instance. I was not manipulating her, and I was sincere in my apology.

Now for my family member, this is a different ball of wax. This member has many types of diagnoses. Part of me thinks that this individual cannot help it. They do something wrong, have a hollow apology, and then do the same thing 10 minutes later.

It is almost to the point where I don’t want an apology. I want this person to leave me the heck alone. Can we say BOUNDARIES? I do not have boundaries, but they certainly need to be established.

Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder

They do this quite often. In this quote, kids with RAD are good at manipulation, Confabulation, and triangulation. According to Webster’s Dictionary, to manipulate means to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s advantage.

Confabulation means filling in gaps in memory by fabrication. To “normal” people, this means to lie. Then triangulation means allying. In this situation, it is a child with one parent against another parent.

It is all exhausting and makes my brain work on overload. My boundaries had to be firmly placed, though they broke my heart into a million pieces. I had to take into consideration other family members and myself.

The stress was hurting all of us.

Life is Hard

The Lord did not promise us a walk in a rose garden. If we had that or all the answers, we would not need Him. He completes and sustains us even when we are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from creating those hard boundaries.

He gives us the wisdom we need when we seek it, to “speak” to us. For me, this is done through intuition, Scripture, other people, and dreams. I have learned to accept that my family member does not understand what it means not to manipulate and to be sincere in the apology.

It is hard. Completely and totally. Maybe one day, the Lord will heal her mind, body, and spirit to where she can function well in the world around her.

 

Life or Something Like It

Barefoot Faith Journey Blog Update

Barefoot Faith Journey Blog Update

Barefoot Faith Journey Blog Update

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m updating my blog. This blog has been going on for about ten years. I started this blog when we began our third adoption. Initially, it was more of a journal for me: something to remember, a place to keep my family updated on our adoption, etc. 

He has been home for ten years, and things have shifted quite a bit. We thought adopting again was not going to happen. I, we, were utterly content with our six children. There was much to work through with their trauma, but we were in a good flow.

Content is a 7 Letter Dirty Word

I mentioned, in prayer, that I was content with my family. That I no longer desired to bring children in through adoption. Honestly, I just wanted to focus on the healing that needed to happen with my kids from hard places. I returned to school to get my master’s in marriage and family therapy, shelf-cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, and things.

However, with God’s funny sense of humor, in November 2016, we (at 42 and 41 years old) began raising our great-nephew. He was 21 months old at the time. Hello Shock. Nice to meet you. I had a 21-month-old 7th child, and my 6th child was eight years old.

So, my blog stopped. I was busy beyond busy. Lots of things going on in that familial situation put everything on hold for me. Then, in June 2017, H got sick with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. From then, my blog started back up a bit to process everything we were going through.

Keeping My Eyes Above the Waves

Since then, it has been hit and misses with when I write. I go in spurts of cooking, grief, trauma, life events, processing of everything, and a terrible season of suicide updates with lots of resources.

I’m trying to revamp what I want in my corner of the web. Yes, I still love Jesus, cheese, and cats. Also, I’m a huge adoption advocate but with a different perspective. I parent children from trauma, and we are muddling through that. There are moments when I’m considering getting my doctorate and going back to work. Cooking is not as much a passion though it is a necessity.

Sifting Through it All

I am going through the last ten years’ worth of posts, which is around 800 posts. There is a lot that I’m choosing to mark as private. Reflection has caused me to have a new set of eyes. I’m keeping them for my kids but not for the public.

There is a lot of SEO work that I’m doing, which is not my idea of fun, but it is necessary. You will never notice several things because it is on the blog’s backend. I’m taking all personal pictures of my kids and grandkids off of my blog. I don’t want to post any images without their permission. That goes for my social media stuff, as well. If you see a picture I might have missed, feel free to send me a message and let me know. I am also attempting (though probably going to fail) at taking my kids’ names off of here.

I want to share things in my journey that might relate to a lesson we have all learned through a parenting experience. Yet, I don’t have to attach a name to that story. I will forget and miss a post, but I will do my best.

PTSD Lockbox

For now, I’m reading a lot and learning a lot. I can process and refile something in my brain in the proper spot. I am working on going through my special “PTSD” lockbox, picking out memories or events, and writing about them so I can process them properly instead of keeping them locked away. I no longer want certain things to trigger me and cause a reactive response. If you work through those deep dark things, you can get them out of that lockbox and file them accordingly. When you do that, you no longer have a trauma response; you have a crappy life experience that no longer holds you captive.

So, bear with me. Subscribe if you want. If you do, you will get notifications in your email when I write something new. Be a guest blogger. I’m good with that as it is pertinent to my content. Give me book suggestions or ideas if there is something you want me to tackle. Ask if you have questions here, my email (barefootfaithjourney@gmail.com). You can also like and interact with my page on Facebook, Barefoot Faith JourneyPinterest, or Instagram.

Life or Something Like It

Upcoming Changes to the Blog

Upcoming Changes to the Blog

Upcoming Changes to the Blog

Upcoming Changes to the Blog are in progress. For one, I’m going to possibly have that boy in an arrangement with my second daughter do some behind-the-scenes work. That means he is going to do things I don’t know about.

An addition will be either a category or a page dedicated to book reviews. I have been reading a lot lately, and I want to share with you what I’m reading to see if it piques your interest. I usually stay away from fiction, though I can stomach a few John Grisham books, and then there are a few classics that I love. Mainly therapeutic books, brain healing (from trauma), Holocaust books, and so on.

I am definitely going to make a page dedicated to Momentum Influencers Network. I have been working with them for years. I want a space dedicated to the reviews and giveaways they offer. This is such a good company, and 98% of the time, they have great opportunities.

Another “piece of business” thing is I am in the process of taking pictures of my kids and grandchild(ren) off social media platforms. This is a personal decision because I never want people to think I’m exploiting my kids for profit (I make nothing). Still, my adult children can give me informed consent, but my young boys cannot. If I have one standard for one kid, it goes for all my kids. I will still talk about them, but I want to respect their privacy.

As for my blog content, I’m on the fence about whether or not to take down posts regarding H’s health or my adoptions. I may go in and rewrite certain things…I want people to know how good God is in everything He worked out about those subjects. Yet, I want to be sensitive to all parties involved.
Now, this will all take time as I’ve been writing for a long, long, LONG time. I don’t even know if anyone reads my blog. My blog is more of a journal for me and an outlet. Recipes are a given; my mental health and my faith journey will still be here, and I will still write about it. Also, I will be accepting guest bloggers on a case-by-case basis. I may even start my FB group back up. It was deleted when I deleted all my social media accounts a year or so ago. I may try and see if there is interest in that. We shall see.

Life or Something Like It

What is and is Not in My Control

What is and is Not in My Control

What is and is Not in My Control

What is and is Not in My Control. I am a work in progress. Without hesitation, I can tell you that trying to control everything is 99.9% of my problem. Well, that and lack of trusting anyone…maybe that goes hand in hand, I don’t know. It’s a problem. I know that, get it, and respect it. There is a problem, and I am it.

What is IN My Control

  • my self-care
    • I get my hair done
    • Massages
    • Tattoos
    • Alone time at night
    • Reading
  • asking for help
    • Reaching out to family
    • Communicating with Bart and being vulnerable
    • Therapy
  • my decision
  • the friends I have
    • I don’t do this one well
  • my actions
    • I have apologized to those I need to
    • Forgiven most people, I need to
    • The Lord has made me HYPER aware
  • my boundaries
    • Hahahahaha
  • my thoughts
    • Oohhh…
  • my attitude
    • Well…
  • my words
    • Uhmmm…
  • what I say
    • Learning how to use them
    • Learning how to RESTRAIN from using them
    • Work in progress

What is OUT of My Control

  • who likes me
  • past mistakes
  • other’s feelings
  • what others think
  • other’s apologizing to me
  • other’s actions
  • what other people believe
  • weather
  • who loves me
  • other people’s time
  • someone else’s distraction

What is on Your List?

My struggle in the “out of my control” list is who likes me (why does this bother me so badly), past mistakes (I can’t forget), what others think of me, others’ actions, what other people believe, and who loves me. Those are my Achilles heel problems. What is on your list?

 

Life or Something Like It

The Loss of Donna

The Loss of Donna

 

I started writing this on October 6, 2021. It has taken me all this time to finish because I have needed to grieve, process, sit in the quiet, remember, and honor those I have lost that was so dear to my heart.

I have been doing and posting a lot of reviews and having a ton of giveaways lately. It has been good to see some positive, heart-changing things on the big and small screens. Yet, it is also a way for me to dissociate and remove myself from being vulnerable or sharing anything that is truly painful.
So, here I am, not posting a review or giveaway. I am sitting in my new dining room, listening to a fan dry the mud from the drywall where we had a flood in our new kitchen, looking at my cat, who appears to want to murder me, and pondering on how this month has been affecting me.

Fall. I love this season. With the cooler weather and the changing of the leaves, the world is preparing for everything to die in the winter, only to regrow with beauty and new life in the spring. I love it. Yet, this month, in particular, brings tremendous sadness and grief.

October 1 is the fourth anniversary of my Lady’s death. That day never passed without me reflecting on our friendship and what she meant to me. How I miss her and how I have never really mourned her loss. I just push it down, push it down, WAY down. Thankfully I had a sweet distraction on that day. CM was here to love me and keep me extremely busy. I simply can’t wait until my next grandbaby makes a grand entrance next year. Grandchildren are God’s way of saying, “you survived raising children, now enjoy the fun part.”

Yet, today, I find myself struggling again. Today is my friend’s 62nd birthday and her first birthday in heaven. We met years and years ago; she was Leigh Ann’s mom, my friend that passed away a few years ago. I would not have made it through Leigh Ann’s death if it weren’t for Donna. I should have been a rock for her, which I was when she needed me. Yet, she was my rock in coping and reminding me of the fire that was Leigh Ann. A few years before LA’s death, Donna lost her husband to cancer. David was a sweet man. Quiet in nature unless you ticked him off, and then BOOM, he would explode. Those episodes were few and far between. He was the love of her life. Donna and I became incredibly close after the death of her daughter and my friend.

She was in the thick of raising LA’s kids and her grandchildren, and I was raising kids around the same age. We bonded over the silliest things. There were things we disagreed on, there were things we debated together on, yet our foundation was strong. We could love regardless of those differences. That is what friendship means.

We talked every night or every other night. I would watch Detail Geek and describe it all to her. She watched it vicariously through me. We would solve the world’s problems, discuss our day, and she would make fun of my suppers. She called me the Casserole Queen. That woman never made a casserole, and I made one every night.

Donna had not been feeling well since her granddaughter’s hospital stay. We both thought it was just stress, exhaustion, and adrenaline from what we thought was cancer which ended up being a severe kidney infection. The kidney infection led to the removal of her granddaughter’s kidney. She wasn’t eating well, drinking anything but soda, and smoking. Man, we mama’s can live off of anything in a stressful situation.

I encouraged her to go to the doctor, but she refused. She had a fear of doctors. You go in and never come back out was her mentality. We talked about her quitting smoking, which she did because the cough got to be too much. She began having dizzy spells and not being able to keep food down. All of these symptoms started in about March, I would say.

We thought maybe it was Co-Vid and that she just had a horrible case. Still, she wouldn’t go. She was just going to wait it out. Then, when it didn’t go away, we thought grief was beginning to settle in her. She never really had time to grieve her husband and daughter’s loss. Grief can, quite literally, kill someone.

She lived with the age-old question, “Is it better to know someone has something terminal, so you can prepare yourself and say all the things you need to say? Or, “Is it better for it to be quick, so you don’t have to see your loved one in pain?” She experienced both in a very short amount of time. Frankly, they both suck.

Then, she began losing weight. She had no appetite. She would say that nothing tasted good and she was just so weak. Nothing her son, her grandchildren, or I could say to her could get her to eat. She quit smoking and mainly just slept. There were times I could not understand her talking on the phone. That’s when I knew. I knew something was wrong, and I had to try again to get her to the doctor.

On her birthday, I surprised her and popped by her house. I knocked on the door (much to her dismay) and heard the dogs. Then, I heard Lexi running to the door. She opened the door, and I hugged her sweet little neck. Lex quickly disappeared back to her dungeon (LOL). As I walked in, my heart sank.

One thing those closest to me know is that I do not show emotion. Also, I’m a rockstar in stressful situations. When I am alone, that is when I process and stuff emotion. Healthy? No. What I do? Yes.
I turned to look at Donna lying on the couch. She was nothing but bones, and she was so jaundiced that the whites of her eyes were yellow. She had lost more teeth and had no strength. I stood in the doorway. Frozen. I put my head down, and the tears flowed freely. I could not hold them in.
She first asked me why on earth I knocked. Family does not knock. I still couldn’t move. Then, I heard her say, “Brandi, come here.” I walked over and sat next to her. I lay across her frail body, weeping uncontrollably. She just stroked my hair and said that things would be fine. She said she drank some that day and hadn’t thrown it up.

That moment froze in time for me. Again, here Donna is, knowing what she knew, and she was comforting me. See that day, she had called me earlier and told me that the good news was she did not have Co-vid, but the bad news was that she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

You don’t realize it until you see it. I knew Donna’s time was limited. She was going to fight and do all the right things. She was going to drink more water, eat more, and do whatever the doctor said, but by then, it was too late. She knew. I knew. We all knew. Yet, we hoped that it would be different.
I begged her to let me take her to the ER just to get some fluid. Her belly had begun to swell, and I knew she was hurting from losing so much weight and laying in one position. She refused. Every day I would go over there and stay for as long as possible. Most of the time, it was just us. Sometimes her grandchildren would come in and out of her son. They all lived with her.

With each passing day, she would get weaker. One day, she wanted me to brush her hair. One day she wanted me to rub her feet and legs. They were so swollen, but the pressure of me rubbing her feet made her feel better.

There were some days when her older sisters would come. One lived in Michigan and came home to be with Donna as much as possible. I tried to lift as much of the burden off of them so that they could spend good quality time with her.

Hospice had been called in, and Donna told them to get out out out. She refused them because she knew what that meant. I know David was flooding her mind in the last few days of her life. She knew hospice meant death. She was not ready for that. Her sisters bathed her, which seemed to exhaust her yet refresh her. Her great-granddaughter also came for a visit, which lifted her spirits; plus, she was expecting her second great-grandchild, a boy.

We had some excellent conversations once we were alone. A misunderstanding for a season took us apart for several years. That was the first time that Donna ever said she was sorry. It took me back because I had let that go years ago. She said that she remembered saying all those things, and then Donna looked into my eyes and saw the hurt and pain of what she had just said. Also, she stated that she couldn’t bring herself to talk to me because she was so ashamed of herself. That touched my heart and humbled me.

We talked about her daughter and all the things that come with her. It was so healing. She spoke of David and the plans she wants for her son and grandchildren. I have never really spoken to someone with such clarity towards the end of their life like that. We talked about the worst-case scenario and what we would do when she got better. Everything was covered.

Then, it was the afternoon of chaos. So many people had come in and out. I had found out some things I never knew and made phone calls I never wanted to make. Her granddaughter was overcome by it all and was acting out due to the trauma. I was called, and she was in the back of a cop car. It took me an hour to calm her down. I had to remind her of my love for her. L needed to know who she is in Christ. I am so glad the officers understood the situation and showed her grace upon grace. These kids have been through more in their lives than most adults will ever experience.
On October 15, 2020, As I walked into the trailer, strangers (to me) were there. They didn’t stay long; eventually, it was just her grandkids, her son, and her sisters. Donna was very uncomfortable. I rubbed her belly, legs, feet, head, hair, anything she wanted, but I couldn’t get her comfortable. I begged her to let me call 911 because her belly had so much fluid on it. I explained that I would go with her if she went, and she would not be alone.

Finally, she said yes because the pain was unbearable. I called, and we immediately moved things around to make it easier for the EMTs to get in with the stretcher. They got there and realized that the stretcher wouldn’t fit, so they had it out by the bus and brought in a wheelchair-type thing that she could be safely strapped to. I informed them of her bed sores and her protruding tailbone, and the discomfort that she was experiencing. They were so gentle with her.

As they were picking her up, she was screaming in pain. She was afraid she would fall out of the chair. I was holding her hand and explaining that they were going to strap her in, and I promised her they would not drop her and she would not fall. That I was right behind her, watching and monitoring the situation.

They got her down the three steps, and then I saw her arm fall off the side, and her head dropped. I screamed her name as the EMTs rushed to get her on the stretcher and get her O2. I could hear her grandchildren screaming. Her son with a panicked look on his face. Her sisters. There was no time for me to console them.

At that point, I jumped into my van with Stevie (her son), and we beat the EMTs to the hospital. Her sisters were not far behind. I parked and ran to the bay as they pulled into the bay. I feared that Donna would be gone. She wanted me beside her when she died. Donna didn’t want to be alone. She wanted to be with someone who loved her.

As they backed in and got to the back, I saw them drop her legs to the stretcher. I stood in fear with her sisters and son beside me. I looked up and saw Donna wave at me. At that point, I dropped to the ground. It was like my legs had no bones, and I wailed. That was not crying that came out of my mouth. I felt sick, scared, relieved, and like someone had taken an iron skillet to my body. I couldn’t move. Her sisters just stood there, trying to help me.

Finally, I pulled myself together, got my mask, and ran into the ER. They let me back (only because her family asked me to), and I stood/sat by her bed there. I was watching her. She looked over at me and asked me if she was going to die.

I told her yes. We talked about her salvation, and then we talked about what she wanted for each person in her family. After she had settled all that, and the doctors couldn’t do anything, they left us for a moment. She looked at me and said, “Well, we have got everyone figured out. Now, what about you?” I asked her what she meant, and she wanted to know if I would be okay and who would take care of me. In awe, I just looked at her and told her I would be fine. I would miss her every day and would keep an eye/ear out on her family and always be there if they needed me. I thanked her for her love and friendship. Without missing a beat, she said, “There’s room in the bed…I will scoot over, and you can lay down with me.” My heart. She knew that that was my comfort.

I told her they would probably kick me out if they saw me do that! Then, I asked if she wanted her sisters and son to return. She did, so I went to get them and let them have quiet moments with her without my intrusion.

They released her from the hospital because there was nothing they could do, and she wanted to go home. Stevie and I watched them pull out, and we beat them home again. We got the couch ready. By then, some people had begun to stop by again.

I was trying to stay out of the way and let those who needed to be by her side. At that point, she was not awake. Not long after I had gotten there, it was late into the evening. Bart called and said I needed to come home now. There was an emergency that could not wait. When he explained what was going on, I lost it.

I wanted him to try and explain to the person waiting for me that I was at an end-of-life friend’s house and couldn’t leave. They didn’t care. I hugged and kissed Donna. I told her I would be back shortly, and I flew home.

I can’t even with what happened at home. I do remember, after talking for what seemed like forever and completely losing myself, where I had been. I told her I had to go and she could come back or follow me. She let me leave.

As I was flying back to Donna’s, her sister called and said to hurry. I did the best I could. She took her last breath right before I got there. I walked into everyone sitting around, not knowing what to do.
As I did a week prior, I stood frozen in the doorway. I looked at my friend, and I went and laid down beside her. It was hard for me to catch my breath. She was gone, diagnosed precisely a week before. She went from okay; I’ll fight this to meeting Jesus and being reunited with her husband and daughter.

After I collected myself and the coroner came and took her body, I sat in the big chair. Her sweet granddaughter came and curled up in my lap. Grief had overtaken her, and I was the warm body that she fell on. With me, there has been nothing but love since she was 3. I had been there through it all, and I was again comforting my sweet girl.

I have been faithful to my word. I miss Donna daily. There are days when I miss her more and some days when I don’t think about it until the night. That is when we would chat. I have not watched Detail Geek again. Her son is okay, as okay as he can be. Her grandson is a father of 2 and working. Her granddaughter is living with a relative, and she is doing well now. She is working on school and has a goal for her future. We chat as often as a teenager wants to speak with a 49 yr old woman 🙂
I am ready for this month to be over. I am ready to heal. I am glad to remember the good times instead of the end. One day. Maybe when I see her again in heaven!

The Loss of Donna

 

 

Life or Something Like It

Misuse of the Word Friends

Misuse of the Word Friends

Misuse of the Word Friends

I have been chewing on the word “friend” for a while now. Honestly, I have no idea why. Yet, I feel we Misuse the Word Friends at an alarming rate. Maybe I have been thinking about this because this has just been a hard month. My Lady passed on the 1st, Donna passed on the 15th, and I miss them. Maybe the Lord is speaking to me on this subject.

Types of Friends

  • First
  • School
  • College
  • Church
  • Work
  • Fairweather
  • Fake
  • Social Media
  • For Now
  • True Blue

That’s a lot of different types of friends you will have over your lifetime. I can say, “Oh, my friend Jane, from elementary school just did this and this” according to social media.

We all know that the goal in life is to get as many “friends” as humanly possible on any social media platform. Honestly, though, are they all friends?

Have their feet been under your table? Do they truly know you now? Have they walked through difficult times with you or you with them? Even though you may not talk to them daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Can you still count on them?

If you can, and there are several I can, count yourself blessed.

Here are some examples from this list.

First Friend

I fondly remember meeting my first friend at Homemakers. My mom went, and Julie and I would sit on the floor and take our shoes off. We remained friends throughout all our school days. I went to her house and spent the night a lot. Honestly, I don’t remember her coming to my house, but she did come to my Smurf’s birthday party and for a sleepover one year.

Over time, we grew apart, as most people do. We know little to nothing about each other in our adult lives. Yet, I still hold her very dear to my heart. I know if I ran into her, we would quickly chat the night away and catch each other up on our lives.

Also, Terri Ann, we did not go to school together, but we did go to church together. She went to a “rival” school. We grew up together, and she was the first person I knew that had ever been adopted. She introduced me to the concept, which has stuck with me all these years. She even sang at my wedding. Again, our lives do not intertwine (she moved to another state), but if we did chat, we would not miss a beat.

School Friends

Do I even talk to any of my school friends? Did I even have friends in school? I had Julie, but that was about it. My school days were not significant. I was bullied a lot, and because my dad was a police officer, I never got invited to anything. Sadly, I would mask and try to inject myself into the different clicks. That didn’t work very well. I was just made fun of more, behind my back and to my face.

Honestly, I find it comical when people from my schools try to “friend” me on a social media platform. When I first got there, I would accept it and then look through their photos and read about their lives, yet there was no interaction. Then, I got smart. What makes you think you will like me now if you don’t like me? You treated me like crap. Forgiveness and transformation can happen, but that doesn’t mean I have to let you in my life. Does that make sense?

College Friends

I had and still have one college friend. We were so close in college; our lives took us in different directions. Once we stumbled back into each other’s lives, I counted her as a true friend. She has been one that I’ve reached out to for prayer and to share my heart, and I always get Christlike and honest responses from her. I adore her.

Church Friends

Aw, this one is tricky. You want to think everyone is a friend, the pastor and his wife. Then, you are slapped in the face with a frying pan. It’s all well and good if you stick to Sunday School and big church. Once you get involved, you see where the church is held together by duct tape and a q-tip.

The flaws, the lies, the theological differences, and the disregard of an entire group because of their age. Then there is the “looking over” the things that any age group should not do. From there, you get threatened by your pastor; your pastor’s wife says you should “get over rape and be available to your husband. Suck it up; it’s over.” I still cannot believe that woman said that to my face.

Pastor’s who say your family is too big and not to attend a program offered. Deacons forced my husband into “salvation.” They would not leave him alone and badgered the crap out of him until he decided to do what they wanted him to do.

“Friends” who told me that I was never going to be taken seriously because I was too loud, too outspoken, and my hair was pink. People threatened to turn me over to CPS because I didn’t let my daughter have dessert one night. They demanded to know their personal story. I refused. It is not my story to tell, and it is none of their business.

Luckily, I have still been able to maintain some respect and love for a few people from churches of the past. We don’t talk often, but I hope they feel they can call me if they need me. I would do the same for a very select few.

I am so glad to have stumbled on Christian Fellowship. Richie and Jenny are two of the most genuine people I have ever met…no matter where we are. The love of Jesus and the desire to make Him known oozes out of their pores. I have never felt such family, love, and support as I have felt going to this church.

Work Friends

Yep, again, I only had one. I called this friend my priest because he was going to school to become a deacon in his Catholic Church when we met. He did that. I was blessed to be invited, and I know he is one I can call. Other than that, there were none.

Fairweather Friends

These “friends” come and go like the ebbs and flow of the ocean. They get mad and step out of your life for a minute. Then, they get happy and start slowly beginning to communicate. Next up, they are all up in your stuff. Lastly, they flit off again. Several several several “friends” in this section of my life. I’ve decided to clip their wings, so there is no more flitting into my life.`

Fake Friends

I think we can all say we have had fake friends. Honestly, most of my fake friends came from churches over the years. Seeing how spiritual they are on social media makes it so funny to me now. Yet, when it comes down to slinging mud, getting dirty, and being the hands and feet of Jesus, they are entirely dismissive and judgemental.

I would LOVE to call these people out. Many people know these people and have horror stories of their behavior and actions towards others. It is embarrassing. Yet, I remember Exodus 14:14, saying, “The Lord will fight your battles. You need to be silent.”

There are days when I don’t want to be silent—just saying. My flesh gets all up in my feels, and I want to scream from every rooftop what a fake these people are and be aware.

Social Media Friends

In the world of social media, the more friends or followers, the more you look unique and vital. I’m here to say that is a crock of crap. I went a long time with all my social media deleted, but I had to open some of them back up because I do reviews.

When I do reviews/giveaways, I check to see if anyone entered to win whatever is being given away, but other than that, I am not active—on Twitter, Insta, FB, Pinterest, etc. I do have accounts, but they are linked through my blog, and I think most have my blog name. I do not follow or befriend anyone if you check (except FB and Insta). Now, I don’t necessarily do it on the platform. It may be through messaging or texts.

Over the years, outside of family, I have made three friends that I have been friends with for almost 20 years. We are all opposites; we don’t talk often, but we have mutual love and respect for each other. I am closer to one of those people than the other 2. I treasure every one of these ladies.

For Now Friends

These are in-the-moment friends. These people have been with me in so many situations, whether from adoption (for us), foster care adoption (again for us), special needs, etc. I can count on these people right now for this season. Sometimes these friends (or any friends) are for a season. They ebb and flow like the waves of the ocean. You know what, though? That is okay.

They were there for the season that you needed them. Glean what you can, apply it to your life, and then spread it to others who are in that situation.

When something arises, I know I can reach out to a few mamas raising kids from hard places. These are the ears I want because they are judgment-free and follow with prayer. I covet those friendships.

True Blue Friends

Well, this comes down to it. My college friend is a true blue friend. She is there, hopefully, for the long haul. Our paths may go in different directions, but her number is on my phone, and I do not hesitate to call. My Lady and Donna were my true blue friends. Now, they are with Jesus.

One of my social media friends can be counted in this group. We are so different and lead such different lifestyles, yet we respect each other and look past the differences to see the heart behind the human.

My For Now Friend is still hanging tight with me. I swear, we are the only two people who actually get what we are saying and don’t even think twice. She is such a friend that she stood in the gap when I had to take a break from parenting one of my more challenging children. There was never a hesitation. She just said, “you are doing this.” I was in such a state that all I did was cry and barely utter thank you. She has seven children from hard places, and she took my child for a little over a month to help my family regroup. Love her.

My pastor and his wife have my back at any time. Another couple from church we just think the world of would help us at any moment. By Steph. Forever. These are all people from church.

I could name more people, like Susan but know that my circle is small, and that is what I prefer. Slowly, I am finding more people who fall into this category that are new but hopefully long-lasting. You know, like an excellent battery.

I don’t have many (and I’m not even mentioning family), but the few I have are powerful warriors who would do anything to help our family if/when we need it. These people have seen us at our worst and still love, pray, and try to help. Lately, it’s been pretty bad!

Acquaintances

Let me sum it up with this meme.

Misuse of the Word Friends

Let’s start calling a spade a spade. A true blue friend is your friend through thick and thin. Most of the rest are just acquaintances with some genuinely extraordinary exceptions. Guess what? That is OKAY!

Oh! Just in Case You Were Wondering

My mother (my Oak) is not my friend. She is my mom.

My daddy is not my friend. He is my dad.

My children and grandchildren are not my friends. I am their parent; they have enough friends. They need a parent to guide them and not always agree with them.

My husband is not my friend. He is my lover, rock, person, husband, father of my children, grandfather of my grandchildren, stabilizer, and leader.

Friends come and go in the night. Family stays forever.

 

Life or Something Like It

Honoring My Lady and My Best Friend

Honoring My Lady and My Best Friend

Honoring My Lady and My Best Friend

Today, I am Honoring My Lady and My Best Friend. Every time I see this picture, this Lady is GORGEOUS in red! That was my favorite color on her. She was smiling because it was her 81st birthday, and her “boyfriend,” aka Big Daddy, was taking her on a fish date. I was the third wheel because all best friends are great third wheels.

How She Loved Bart

She loved him so much. Even during a very trying time in our marriage, she could have just said: “Leave him,” but she did not say that. She carried my weary body into her home, placed her beautiful hand on my hand and the other on my head, and prayed.

Then, she picked up the phone and called a trusted and fantastic human. She briefly (and discreetly) said a few things and then hung up the phone. As she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and a smile, she said: “It is going to be okay.”

In Time

It was, but during that “it time” part, she held me accountable for my words and actions. She also had another man work with Bart. Together, they walked with us through the mud. Our marriage is stronger because of the prayers and advice we received.

I miss her so much that I physically ache. Everyone should have a Ms. Jo. I mean everyone. Someone strong, not afraid to speak her mind, and loves so completely. I never doubted that she loved me. She never doubted that I loved her.

I Wish We Had More Time

We had little time, ten years maybe, not long enough. It is as simple as that. What started as me admiring grace and beauty (and her voice) moved on to noticing her beautifully crooked finger. Then it matriculated into me timidly requesting her to be my mentor. Quickly, followed by me sitting on her porch and squalling. I cried so bad that she said we were making the neighbors talk and, for the love of all, to get in the house.

Next, it moved to me helping out here and there, going to lunch, and running errands. Lastly, it moved more into caregiving and sitting with my Lady. Many nights of me making supper and eating it together while watching Jag. Cleaning. Oh my goodness, I cleaned things out. We looked at her billions of pictures, and I soaked up all her memories.

Find a Mentor

Talk to your church and see if you can set up a mentor/mentee program. It is so worth every moment! “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5).

You will not regret it. I miss you, Lady. More than I can even describe. My best friend, person, mentor, accountability partner, and teacher. I am so excited to see you again! Until we see each other again, I love your face off in heaven!

Life or Something Like It

Backpacks By Lesle’ Honore’

Backpacks By Lesle’ Honore’. Gracious how this stabs my heart. I am reposting this from Facebook. A friend of mine, Megan. I have never read this before. My son and I are having conversations that address these topics. Yet, I include my caucasian kids in the conversation too. If one can’t wear a hoodie, then none wear a hoodie. It just is what it is.

People in this world will only see my son’s skin color. What a shame. How sad or traumatic of another human to judge my son based on something so trivial. The first thing I see when I look at him is his beautiful eyes and the smile that lights up a room!

Reality

We all need to realize Jesus was not a blonde hair, blue-eyed caucasian person. He was middle eastern with dark features and dark skin. Yet, we are all created in His image. It will be a day when we can all love one another!

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Backpacks By Lesle’ Honore’

When black boys are born
We mothers kiss their faces
Twirl our fingers in their curls
Put them in carriers on our chest
Show them to the world
Our tiny black princes
And when they start school
As early as 3
We mothers
Place huge backpacks on their backs

And we slowly fill them with bricks

Etched with tools
Tattooed with truths
Hoping to save them
{Don’t} talk back
Don’t get angry
Say yes ma’am
Say no sir
Don’t fight
Even if they hit you first
Especially if they are white
Do your best
Better than best
Be still
Worker hardest

BRICK

they get a little older
And we add more
Keep your hands out of your pockets
Don’t look them in the eye
{Don’t} challenge
Don’t put your manhood before your life
Just get home safe
Don’t walk alone
{Don’t} walk with too many boys
Don’t walk towards police
{Don’t} walk away from police
Don’t buy candy or ice tea
{Don’t} put your hood up
I’ll drive you
{I’ll} pick you up
You can’t be free
Don’t go wandering
Come home to me

BRICK

They get a little older
And we add more
Understand you are a threat
Standing still
Breathing
Your degrees are not a shield
{Your} job is not a shield
Your salary makes you a target
{Your} car makes you a target
Your nice house in a nice neighborhood
Makes you a target
Don’t put your ego before your safety
{Don’t} talk back
Don’t look them in the eye
Get home to your wife
Your son

BRICK

They weigh them down.
This knowing
Of having to carry the load
Of their blackness
the world hasn’t changed
The straps just dig deeper into their skin
Their backs ache
But their souls don’t break
Our beautiful black men
When you say
#alllivesmatter
I simply ask
Will your son die with the world on his back
Mine will.

By: Lesle’ Honore’