Today, I am going to let myself be seen. Today, I am going to declare that I am enough. For so long, I have struggled with conformity friendships. I desire to conform but when I do, it is not me. I lose myself in that moment and I realize that I am doing this to fit in.
Sisters, you are not created to fit in. You are created to be salt and light. You are created to be a city on a hill and not a face in the crowd. I was not only a face in the crowd, I had customized masks to wear for each crowd I was in.
I learned at a very young age, that I was not like other people. I thought differently, acted differently, and believed differently then my schoolmates, roommates, boyfriends, siblings, and parents.
At the age of 10, I remember standing in the driveway of my grandparents house declaring that, one day, I would adopt from Ethiopia. How I even knew where that place was is still a mystery. I wanted to adopt and I wanted to adopt an older Ethiopian boy because that is the child that no one wanted.
Storing Up His Promises
I kept that stored in my heart, never releasing it because my family struggled with racism. I was informed, at one point, that I could either choose my black children or choose my father. I thanked my father for the love and protection he had given me, kissed him in the cheek, and then I told him I would choose my children.
Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? People pleasing me.
Judgement of Others
The people that no one want to be around are the people I am drawn too. I have been told to be careful who I associate with because it could call my faith and salvation into question. I have also been told because I’m loud that I cannot be submissive to my husband. I have been told that I am not worthy to stand in front of people because no one wants to hear what I have to say because my hair is pink and I have tattoos. I have been judged on my children acting like children and had horrible things said to me in regards to them. Things have been said that I still struggle to forgive the words and the people who said it.
My best friend was 79 when we met. She was my Lady. That’s what I called her. It started out as mentor, then moved to friendship, next, it moved to me being her caregiver, then a closeness that I cannot explain, and then I had to give her to Jesus. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My Lady saw me. She saw through the masks and the facades I tried to put on. She loved me without abandon and she treasured my family, though we are all different. She was my person.
That is What Everyone Needs
They need a Lady, a friend, a confidante who sees you and you see them. It was beautiful, but short lived as she passed away. I miss her. Her telling me that my tattoos are stupid but she always wanted to look at them and touch them. She would ring my neck if she knew her name was on my body. I took Faith(ie), Hope, and Love to a whole nother level. There is a cross (love), with a semi colon, doves (hope), and Faith(ie) because her name was Faithie.
I challenge you all to be you. Love you. Embrace your weirdness and never ever do you have to explain yourself. Ever. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no and zero explanations.
#Loveyourself. Never be any different than who you are.
Always be true to yourself.
Stop putting on a mask for every place/person you go/meet.
You be you.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
It took me a long time to be okay with who I am…and to be honest, I still struggle. I have been told for SO long that no one will love me, no one will listen to me, no one will believe in me, no one will take me seriously, I’m too much, I’m too outspoken, I’m too loud, etc.
Now, bear in mind, it was NOT my family telling me this….these lies came from “friends” or people I thought I trusted. My family loves me and has done nothing but edify me and love me.
I am loud, outspoken, and I speak my mind. Quite often, I march to the beat of my own drum. I do not color inside the lines or conform. That is something I never will do. There were times when I tried to cover up those traits up. I tried to play the game. I tried to make friends and be “normal.”
Let me tell ya, it was exhausting and I broke. I mean, I did not just sort of chip a nail, I broke in half. Completely and utterly shattered. In a very dark place…I guess it was the year my granny went to see Jesus. That was the same year I lost 2 children due to the lies of a social worker (must be noted that we had STELLAR social workers after this loss…this particular gem of a human, did not need to be a worker)…I snapped. It was so bad, that when I called the nurse to tell her that I needed an appointment, the dr must have overheard us. He took over phone call because he thought I was suicidal.
I would NEVER do that to my family.
Once he realized that I had the support of my family, he prescribed me some antidepressants to help even me out and get my mind in a better place. The meds did just that. I was able to see a bit clearer and I realized what I was doing to myself.
I did a lot of self-reflection and I examined my friendships, my hobbies, my marriage, my walk with Christ, the foods I thought I liked, I mean every single detail. Sadly, there was a period of time that I did not leave my house. My life consisted of parenting, being a wife, and self-reflection. There was a time when I had to relearn who I am, what I stand for, what I like, what I don’t like, and what I would and would not accept.
Now, there are times I still revert back to that old mindset but then I quickly remember who I am and what I will allow and not allow. I have learned to stand up for myself and believe in myself.
Here is my Factory Reset. No, no, no…I’m not talking about my phone or tablet.
I am talking about my life.
Do you ever wish you could close your eyes and then wake up and start all over?
No bad things ever happened to you.
You were not overweight.
You had the innocence and belief of a child but in your adult body.
Everything is fresh and new.
I must say, my depression has lifted a bit, so that is not a struggle for right now.
Everything else is a mess.
It’s kind of like when you throw a load of laundry, in the washer, get it out to throw it in the dryer. When the dryer finishes you open it up, and you wonder “what in the h*ll is all over my dryer and my clothes?!” Upon further inspection, you find the culprit….. make-up, a marker, paint, human crap (it can be washed and dried in log form FYI), a red sock with light clothes….you know the story.
That is my life.
A red sock washed with light-colored clothes in hot water in a hot dryer and now stained on everything from here to high heaven with no hopes of it *ever* washing off of anything ever again in the history of ever.
Yep. That’s my life. Hence the Factory Reset is necessary.
A Chat with my Daddy
I was talking to my daddy the other day…we were standing in the barn watching a bird, and I asked him a question.
“Daddy, do you ever just get mad at God because of all that you went through and all that you’re going through?” He never looked at me, but his eyes narrowed as he was focusing on that bird and he said: “nope, don’t reckon I’ve been mad at Him.”
I said “well, I think I am…..I think I’m angry with God right now….my little boy took a nap ten mths ago and woke up with his life completely changed and I can’t fix it. Yep, I’m mad.” I tried to hide my tears because I would rather eat a horse apple than cry.
At that time, my eyes were narrowing in on that bird, and I was staring intently at it, trying to wipe my tears discreetly. I felt his eyes looking at me, and he said: “well, how’s that working out for you?” Factory Reset.
My spirit was screaming “IT’S NOT WORKING FOR ME BUT DANGIT I AM PISSED, AND I AM GONNA STAY PISSED UNTIL I’M DONE BEING!” My mouth said, “it isn’t working so well, Daddy, but I don’t know how not to be mad.” The bird moved, at that point, Martha came in with Hunter, and our conversation ended.
An Unexpected Support
That night, I had texted my brother and told him I needed him to talk to another kid for me because of some pretty severe behavior issues. We missed each other in passing, I guess, so we were playing phone tag.
My brother and I have never been close. We don’t talk. I perceived that I was his least favorite person who ever walked the face of the earth, but I’ve been known to be wrong a time or two.
The Lord has seen fit to begin restoring our relationship….a moment at a time. Here was another moment.
He texted me back stating when he would be around. I replied with a vomited version of what had gone on. Then the text went on to say that I don’t know what to do. I feel like a failure as a parent because things are so bad, with this particular child and I’m at a loss.
His one-word reply has had me pondering all day long. “Prayer.”
My brother and I don’t talk about our faith together. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him attend church…maybe when we were younger, and Martha made us 🙂 I have not seen him in a church as an adult though, and I didn’t know where his salvation stood.
My job is to pray for him and for God to do the rest. This statement stopped me in my tracks. Since Thanksgiving of last year, there has been a shift in our relationship and how we communicate with each other. Instead of him, being him, and going off on doctors or just not answering me.
He said “prayer.” Again, Factory Reset
Dinner with Friends
So, two men who have lived (if you know what I mean), point me to the cross. The next day, Bart and I had dinner with our friends Richie and Jenny. We enjoy getting to go out with them or cook at home and have all the kids everywhere. There is lots of laughter at dinner, but we also had some serious conversations.
We are blessed to call them friends, but Richie is also our pastor…I respect him immensely (and sweet Jenny), but to us, they are not “superior” or above anyone…they are dopey, hysterical, down to earth normal human beings.
At the end of our night Jenny asked me if Richie’s Sermon, the past Sunday made me mad. I told her I hadn’t heard it because I was home with Hunter and Bart didn’t say much about it only that it was about “NO.”
Welp, I listened to it today. Richie and I texted back and forth while I was listening to it (link above). It’s about when God says “no” to our prayer requests. It hurt my feelings. Again, Factory Reset.
David and Bathsheba
His story involved David and Bathesba and the loss of their first son and how for seven days, David didn’t eat, drink, or change clothes…he begged God to save their son. In the end, his son died, and after he died…David got up and washed his face and asked for food.
He also referenced “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) This Scripture is hanging on a huge print in my living room, and I was looking at it before he brought it up in his sermon.
The other reference was Isaiah 61:3 after their mourning…..” to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” This verse is, not only another print in my dining room but a giant tattoo on my back. These are my verses…my life verses.
So, I am being hit by three unlikely places…my dad, my brother, and a weird statement from an awesome friend. The Lord is trying to get my attention. I’ve ignored Him and been mad for three yrs and especially this past year.
I can have a Factory Reset, of sorts, every single morning because each day is brand new and full of possibilities.
I can lose weight. Also, I can re-establish my relationships with my husband and children. Another thing is that I can mourn the loss of who Hunter was and learn to embrace our today. He is an awesome kid with a wonderful future ahead of him. A personal agenda is to firm up my relationship with my brother. Finally, I can confide and learn to trust a new set of friends when so many have just disappeared from my life.
Self-Care Not For Sissies. For about a year now, maybe a bit longer, I have been learning how to take care of myself. It is hard. As a wife, mom, daughter, friend, believer….it is hard for a woman to stop and recharge. For me, I felt like I didn’t have time. I had to go go go go and do do do do and when I was tired….go more and do more.
One day, I was at my Lady’s house, and I had things to do there. I needed to get laundry started, dishes started, do some computer clean up, get the trash, visit, and then I was going to make her dinner and bring it back and eat supper with her. Those were my favorite days.
I got there, and we chatted for a moment, and she looked me square in the eyes, and she asked me if I had slept any the night before. She always knew when I hadn’t slept…always. This day, I must have looked pretty darn bad. I just smiled and told her I was fine and that I would get some stuff started for her. So, I stood up, and she promptly told me to sit my butt back down in my chair.
It’s a Command Not a Statement
I sat down, and I looked at her, and I asked her what she needed. She had a sense of urgency in her voice when she told me to sit down. That smile, she just smiled and said for the next 15 minutes, I was going to sit there….be quiet….and close my eyes. I laughed at her, and then I laughed more. Finally, I told her that I was there for a visit and all I wanted was to visit. There was wisdom that I needed. Also, I needed to get some of her stuff done. She told me the stuff can wait and so can the visit, but I was not to speak or move.
Well, I leaned back, propped up the feet and I eyeballed the clock. I would do as she said, but if I didn’t….she’d get me, but I was not going to enjoy it and I was not going to sleep. Well, about 45 minutes and a ton of drool later…my eyes popped open. I was disoriented, I had no idea what was going on or where I was. I looked at her with this frightened look, and there she was….in all her wisdom and beauty….just smiling. She asked how I felt and, frankly, I felt like a million bucks.
I could not believe I fell asleep without the aid of meds or a fan but command from the greatest human ever. It was glorious. She explained to me that she was worried about my constant moving and going and doing…that I needed to stop and regroup or I would be sick and then I would be of no help to anyone.
I took her message to heart. I began, initially, claiming Sundays as a day of rest (literally). After church, I would come upstairs…take off my makeup….change my clothes and pile up in bed. I would watch movies, play on the computer, clean my room, or nap. Bart would buy Chinese, and I would not come out of my room all day long. Somedays, I just laid in bed. Other days, I would listen to praise music and just pray. To this day, I still do that. I used to feel guilty and now, I realize it makes me a better human.
Since that time, I have extended my self-care attitude. Occasionally, I would get a massage. I get out by myself sometimes. Also, somedays I would head to bed about 8. Now, I don’t go to sleep, but I take a couple of hours to be responsibility-free and just reset my internal clock. There are nights when I take long, hot showers. There are also times, I do face masks or hair masks cause I enjoy it. I look at pictures, listen to music, text my friends, call my siblings or mom.
My kids can still come up here and chat, my husband comes up here to chat sometimes. I still have a few critters up here in my bedroom. Now, Hunter goes to bed at 9, and his bed is close to mine, so it isn’t like I lock the door. Most night, I just sit….and be still.
Still, I am a Good Mom
I am not selfish and I am not trying to get out of my parenting/wifely duties. There are several nights I stay up, play cards with my husband or those boys who have taken over my girls’ lives. I am a mom of 7. Yet, I parent about 11 kids. I mentor, love, cook for, clean for, educate and haul all of these peoples. Every day, I have 4 special needs kids…one with behavior issues, one low functioning and with learning disabilities, and then Hunter with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. Sadly, I am tapped out by the time supper is over.
It does not make, us as women, wrong to go to our rooms and let our husbands take the reins of parenting. In fact, it makes me better. It builds relationships that might not otherwise be built if I’m always in the room. Let’s face it…my husband and I could be sitting RIGHT NEXT TO each other, and every single time there is a question or a problem, the kid comes to me. Every. Single. Time.
Daddy needs to know that our penis is bunched in our new Superman underwear. He also needs to know that the squirrels ate the wires in the car. Oh, wait, Daddy needs to answer the bazillion questions that arise with one of our kids. Also, Daddy needs to tell a certain boy that poop goes in the potty and not in his pants.
I’m happy to let daddy do ALL the things……….while I just chill.
To Conform or Not to Conform. I have struggled my entire life with self-esteem issues. Honestly, I really do not know why because I had parents that loved me. Also, I had people that were vested in my life. Looking back, I had my parents, my other parents, my granny, Becky Kelly, Edith Wallace, and so many more. Now I see how loved I have been, but hindsight is 20/20. Back then, I did not see that. I just saw myself as the girl in the “stupid kid class” who struggled with adding, multiplication, telling time, or what a freaking adverb is. Sadly, I was stared at and made fun of, daily, by my peers. It was such a difficult time.
How Many Legs Does a Dog Have?
Clearly, I remember in Kindergarten, the teachers wanting to hold me back. The reason was on a test, I was asked how many legs a dog had. I said 3. Again, I clearly remember my mother flying in my classroom. She said something to the effect of “she is not stupid, she has just never seen a 4 legged dog.” Seriously people. I. Had. Never. Seen. A. 4. Legged. Dog. Let that soak in for a moment. I was 6. Wow.
6th Grade Drama
In sixth grade, where there were hot guys, pegged jeans and jean jackets. It really didn’t matter what I did or said, I was never one to have friends, even back then. When I entered into sixth grade, I remember being put in the “stupid” class. I remember walking in line and having my peers stare at me and laugh. My mother ensured that I did not stay in there long, not sure what she said, but I was put back in the mainstream classes.
I just always felt different. Never really did I fit in with anyone or anywhere. There were points when I tried to do my hair like the other girls. Oh, and my makeup (Tera, remember the school picture you dolled me up for and the mounds of blue eyeshadow…good grief!). I tried to dress the way other people dressed and have the “in style” clothes. Stupidly, I would say things that I thought would make me fit in. When in reality, I just looked like an idiot and I was further isolated from my peers.
Wearing my Mask
I would put on the face to suit whoever I was in contact with. If I was in school, I would put on the “I don’t care that I have no friends and cannot understand my homework” face. If I were at church, I would put on my “sanctified holier than thou face.” If I were at home, I put on the “sullen no one understands me” face. I had several faces that I would take on and off, depending on my situation.
Reed in a Hurricane Syndrome
That “reed in the hurricane” mentality set me up for not so good things to happen in my life. There was abuse, anorexia, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and depression. My deep need to fit in led me down a scary path that, though I am sad because of the things that did happen, I praise my Father for protecting me from any further harm.
Coming to Peace
Over the years, I have transformed into a person that I think I can finally be at peace with. The exhaustion of being more than one person depending on the setting became too much for me. I no longer cared what anyone thought or felt about me. What is important is that I know who I am and WHOSE I am.
What Has Been Said About Me
I have been told that I cannot be a submission, honoring wife because I am too bold and outspoken. Also, I have been told that I control my husband and will not let him make any decisions in our family. There have been people who have said that I love my husband when he does things for me. Oh, wait, and I have been told that homeschooling is detrimental to my children because I am not smart enough to teach them. They will lag behind.
I have been told that I am perceived as an adulterous person because I chose to pray with a man over his marriage. Then there was the time I will never be taken seriously, I am not perceived as intelligent. Blah Blah Blah. My feelings have been hurt more than once because all these statements make me question who I really am. Then, I stop and I remember WHOSE I am. I am a child of the King.
He Knows Me
Psalm 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Truths About Me
For those of you who might want to know who I am or what I stand for….I love my Lord with all my heart and all my soul. Caring for the needy or destitute is what I do. I want to help the ones that no one wants to be near. Please know that I love my husband and my children. My Lord comes first and my husband comes second and children come third. Everyone after that will have to take a number.
I have hot pink hair most of the time. To a detriment, I am honest. I hold those I love very close to my heart. Trust does not come easy for me. I can read people very well. My jam is to sit and watch. I love to feed people. There are also moments when I love to share my past hurts in order to help someone else. I use humor to hide my hurts. Friendships do not come easy for me. I have a brain. Forgiving is hard for me to do, but I do it. I can say I am wrong and apologize. Lying is not tolerated.
If you don’t like me or assume something about me…that is fine. If you want to know something, ask. For the love of all that is good…never look at a person and make a snap judgment call. Get to know them. Put your feet under their table and see how they operate. Learn their story. Be mindful of your speech.
Different Does Not Mean Bad
I am different. Remember, I will NEVER walk the walk you are walking. Also, I will never talk about the talk you are talking about. I will not be the person who matches (though I like to think I try). Honestly, I will never be the one who is super smart. I will never be the one who will fudge the truth in order to make someone happy. Furthermore, I will always tell you how I feel. If you make me mad or hurt my feelings, I will let you know. I hate to cry. My job is not to please people. My command is to love God and love my neighbor. That is what I do.
Salt and Light
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
I will not hide my light. Also, I will stand out and I will be noticed. I will be myself and I will encourage, feed and love you. Regardless if you like it or not. Salt and Light, people….salt and light. My hot pink light will shine up on that hill until the return of Christ. Enjoy it, embrace it, or walk away….your choice.