Thursday, May 31, 2012

Warning Please

Dear Children,


In the future, if you would like to have deep theologically sound conversations regarding, death, life, salvation, heavenly bodies, who will be in heaven and who will not, I would like a warning.  I'd prefer to be sitting and not in the middle of putting away groceries.  However, in the midst of my disaster of a kitchen I will still sit down, pull you in my lap and calm your fears.  


I wish I could promise you that you won't die today, your siblings, loved ones and I won't either.  But I don't make promises cavalierly.  I know and have learned first hand that those kind of promises don't always come true.  Sometimes children precede parents and death and sometimes parents die before their children are grown or shortly after they have left the nest.  


What I can tell you is this:  most likely you and I will both die a long time from now and you don't need to worry about it today.  Most likely you will be long grown before you bury me.  Most likely I will meet whatever children you have and be there to watch you grow and change and become adults, responsible ones or not.  


And whether those things happen or don't, I can tell you this:  I will meet you there.  Whether you or I get there first.  I will be there.  And if God allows me to know who you are when we are there, I will be standing at the gates waiting for you.  Perhaps all of you theologians out there would like to remind me that I may be so enraptured with Christ that I may not notice that my children have entered heaven.  While I love Jesus, I have a hard time believing that, as do most mothers out there.


I have some very dear people already there that I can't wait to see again.  Jesus, yes, I want to meet him, I want to be there and I want to worship.  And I know I will have forever and ever to do that. 


I believe very strongly that the babies I have lost, those who did not draw a breath here on this earth, I will be seeing all three of them.  I will be rejoicing that they are there to meet me.  I, not so patiently, wait for that day.  And my sister, Blair.  I can NOT wait to see her again.  To rejoin with the sister I lost 23 years ago, that will be sweet, all the bitter erased from it.  


My Grandpa, flawed as he was here on this earth, he was the one who taught me what a man could be.  He was the one who showed my young self how a man could love a woman.  How to be strong, silent when needed and speak words when they needed to be spoken.  The one who fearlessly evangelized perfect strangers and invited Mormons and any one else who disagreed with him theologically into his house to have hours of discussion, prayer and debate.   I remember how passionately he spoke of Christ.  His pride in his family, his children and their lives was so genuine.  He is the man I hold up in my mind as one who loved fiercely.  I remember how secure my Grandma seemed in his love.  However meek she was in some areas, it was so hard to see that security flee after he passed.  If I were ever loved that way, wow, that would be amazing.  


My theology may be off.  I'm not too worried about it.  Do we recognize each other in heaven?  I'm not totally sure.  Today what Rowan and Harvey needed to hear was that they can live forever, not in this body, but they don't ever have to worry about disappearing.  Jesus is the path to that life.  The only one.  They know the path and to the best of their 5 and 6 year old abilities they are following it.  I am intimately acquainted with the fact that Harvey is already a month older than Blair ever lived to be.  Therefore, I will not promise them a long earthly life.  But I will promise them that I will follow the one that secures my ability to meet them in the afterlife.  


I love you, kiddos.  See you there.  Hopefully a long time from now.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In which I am honest

In which I am honest about not wanting to move.  


I love my house.  I do not want to move.  The likelihood of me staying here -33%, the financial wisdom involved in trying to make that happen -1485%  But I just need to be honest.  I really don't want to move.  It's not that I don't realize in my brain the this house will one day fall down and all the work I put into making it a home will be irrelevant.  I get all that. My house is over 200 years old so it may take longer to fall down then yours, but I still get it.  


There are so many things that make me not want to move.  All the work, all the identity I have spent it creating a home.  That's a huge part of it.  The good memories with my kids, the parties I threw for their birthdays and for just nothing at all.  The walls I've battled over color choices, the times I've cried sitting on the living room floor with friends, the jars and jars of things I've made that are now stored in the basement.  The craft room, ooohhh the craft room.  How I'll miss you.  Hmmm. 


But in my weird feminine way I feel like when I leave I will be leaving part of me behind as well.  Like I'll be cutting out one of my kidneys and it will remain here while the rest of me walks away.  Bringing Nina home from the hospital.  Planting my first official garden.  Living in a neighborhood.  Having the park next door, the pond in the back.  Fighting long and hard to get a free swing set in the back yard for the kids.  The sand box that is bigger than a full sized dump truck.  Mama Tree, the one I planted in memory of all the babies I lost.  To leave those things is so hard.  The two sets of steps, it's weird and dumb I suppose to be attached to something that is just rock and mortar and wood put together.  But somehow this house has knit itself into my heart and I've applied a little of my heart to each room as well.  


People keep suggesting that starting over somewhere new will be so great because Jonathan won't be able to taint anything at our next place.  I suppose that's true.  But my house feels happier now.  Without him in it.  It doesn't feel tainted.  He didn't spend that much time here anyway and when he did it was rarely with me.  Maybe it's tainted, maybe not.  Frankly, Alexandra (my cousin, our babysitter) has spent more time here and her presence is entirely welcome.  

I feel like moving is death.  A death of my hopes and dreams.  A big yard with a swing set in a safe neighborhood where my kids can run up and down the streets.  A death of a part of my life that I'll never resuscitate.  I don't want to be married again.  Uh - no, definitely not.  But to have a home, one that I'm not afraid of having to leave tomorrow.  To know my neighbors and what day is trash day and how to drive to all my favorite spots.  To have my hands practically be able to steer my car home without any conscious effort on my part.  That I'll miss.  To cook in my kitchen and know where every spice and utensil is just by feel, by instinct, that I'll miss.  



Don't try to con me into believing this is a happy thing.  It's not for me.  I'm not happy about it.  I won't fake it.  I don't like it.  Apartment living, walk-ups and street parking are where I'm headed and I don't like it.  I won't pretend.  


This will all pass away.  But I know in my heart my kids will remember where they grew up and I want them to look back on their youngest years with fondness.  I don't want them to remember how broke we where and how we had to move every year because mommy couldn't afford the rent.   I'm sad for them and for me.  My heart is breaking in this one small, stupid possibly completely irrelevant area.  




Goodbye house.  I'll miss you.  

I won't pretend to be happy I'm leaving you, even though all my friends who are over six foot will be really glad when they can walk through my house without ducking. ;-)  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Red Ice

I saw this awful movie five years ago and I still cannot forget it.  Awful in the sense that if I think about it too much I will have a nightmare tonight and for the next three or four after that as well.  There was a rape scene in the movie of a young teenage girl by her male teacher.  A male student witnessed the rape said nothing and the poor girl ended up pregnant and shunned by all who loved her.  What I would not give for every movie with a scene like this to come with a specific warning.  I would never need to watch any of them, ever, for any reason.  

But for as awful as the movie was, there was a scene toward the end of the movie that I remembered a few days ago.  The scene was set somewhere near the Canadian border in Hockey country.  There was a lawyer in the court room and he was interrogating a witness.  The witness was lying and he needed him to admit it.  In typical hockey fan fashion he asked the witness if the ice beneath him was going to be red or yellow.  Because you either lay it all out there and take the hit, you leave your blood on the ice or the ice is yellow because you chicken out.  (Guy movie, guy metaphor) 

This hit me as I was cleaning blood up off of my kitchen floor a few days ago.  A few drops of my brother's blood.  He's okay, just an accident, but as I scrubbed and tried to get it off I remembered that scene.   

And I thought, is the ice beneath me red or yellow?  

How many of my loved one's are shedding blood on my behalf right now? The blood of knees bent in prayer on the floor for me and my children.  The blood of anguish over my pain, the pain of my children, the pain that they know is coming but I haven't experienced yet.  The blood of grief for me and the blood of helping me feel and do and be all of the things that I need feel and do and be.  

How many of them would much rather spill some one's blood rather than shed their own?  And are choosing every day for me and for God's glory to shed their own instead of spill another's?  

How many of them are shedding tears mixed with blood for me on all of those nights when my tears won't come?  How many of them would be quiet and still the boiling blood within them when the anger rises fierce, and furious?  

Blood that was shed for me
I can't help but wonder if Jonathan realizes just how yellow the ice beneath him is?  Cowardice doesn't cover it.  There's all kinds of nice fancy words for what he's dealing with and what I've lived with.  But they're crap and unhelpful.  Addiction, compulsion, disease.  These do not help me.  What it comes down to is choices.  And we all reach that uncomfortable age of accountability.  We all arrive at the place where we eventually realize our actions have consequences.  It's not like somehow we don't know if we eat the entire batch of chocolate chip cookies that we'll get sick and gain weight.  We know, sometimes we make the bad choice anyway.  The cowardice enters when we aren't willing to accept responsibility for those choices.  The cowardice began when he purposefully looked up that hooker's number instead of being honest with me.  The cowardice continued as he drove to meet her, removed his wedding ring, leaving it in the truck and went inside.  It went on and on for years and years, like a  CD stuck on repeat, the cycle of cowardice.  


And then it took a sick and twisted turn after the light is was shone on the yellow ice.  The cowardice became continuing to wear that ring as if he somehow still had a claim on me.  The bravado with which he speaks of his commitment now; it's bravado disgustingly disguising as cowardice.  The sincerity with which he speaks of Jesus, my Jesus.  My Lord who has so graciously brought me out of the Hell that he created.  I would like to prevent him from ever speaking His name again.  How dare he defile it by letting it past his lips?!  Those lying lips.  And yet he speaks His name out of cowardice, disguised as spirituality, which is hoping to disguise his manipulation.  The cowardice with which he attempted to pray for marital reconciliation with my children.  Has he lost his ever lovin' mind????!!!!!

But that gracious Jesus, the one that I know and love, He has opened my eyes.  He has shown me the truth.  He has shown me the line that Satan will walk to deceive.  And unfortunately for Jonathan, the jig is up.  He is walking the path of Satan so clearly.

I am willing to bleed on this ice.  For the sake of Jesus, for the sake of my kids, for the sake of my soul and my health and well-being.  I know that this path will be hard.  I know I will be exhausted and broke and spent at the end of every day.  I know that life, my children, my career, my responsibilities are going to take far more of me than I have to give.  I know that I will be bleeding from somewhere at the end of every day.  


But I also know this:


The little bit of blood I lose every day in this life is glory.  Glory to me and Glory to God.  Because I know my vast army of loved ones are losing it for me too and if they've got skin the game, I better too as well.  And whatever skin they have in it, we know that Christ has more.  So much more.  Because He shed all this blood.  He could have spilled ours with His might and power but instead He shed his own.  


May courage find you today my friends.  In whatever fight you're fighting.  May you be willing to bleed on the ice.  Christ bled for you.  I hope you realize that.  And if He's asking you to step to something, if He's asking you to go beyond the cushion of your comfort zone and step out.  DO IT.  You will probably bleed.  You might even yellow that ice a little but stay in, stay in and fight.  Because whatever skin you have in the game.  God has more.  Whatever you think this fight can take from you.  God has more to give.  When you decide to fight and find the end of yourself, know this, right where you end, The Holy one takes over.  It's important for you to reach your end.  For you to go beyond what you have to give physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  If you never go beyond those things, you will never know what it's like to watch God carry you.  You may see your blood on the ice, but you will miss the glorious opportunity of seeing His.  His blood on the ice, shed for you.  Not just 2000 years ago on a cross but today, where you are, in your life.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Complimentary

Someone paid me a compliment last night.  It's not that this never happens I might receive a compliment once a day or so, sometimes more.  They usually have more to do with my competency at accomplishing things than anything else.  But for some reason this particular compliment caused me to draw a sharp breath in and stop dead in my tracks.


"You are a beautiful girl, Shannon."  


Thankfully I recovered quickly enough to say thank you but my reaction was noticeable if not to the woman who paid me it, certainly very marked to me.  


Two words stuck out to me: beautiful and girl.  Now of course this woman was in her 70s or thereabouts but no one has called me a girl in YEARS.    I have been considered used and unvaluable, relegated to the married unattractive childbearing status for so long it's hard to believe that anyone would consider calling me a girl.  For goodness sake I'll be 32 in a few short days.  Girls are my baby sitter's age.  And being a girl in our society is something to be envied.  I've swallowed the lie.  The lie that once you hit a certain age as a woman in this world you lose your value.  The race against the mercilessness of time.  Once the stretch marks take over and the boobs have been used for anything besides sex you have lost your cultural esteem.  You can no longer be a gorgeous woman and therefore you have no worth.  Because what do we want today, we want beauty.  


That's not to say beauty is bad.  It is SO NOT BAD.  Beauty is awesome and God given.  If you don't believe that beauty has been given to us directly by our creator you haven't spent much time in nature.  Did you know that biologists can find no reason for the necessity of flowers?  They aren't essential.  There are plenty of plants that produce fruit or vegetation that we could use as pollinators.  If we took all the simple only flower producing plants out of our world we would still be able to produce food.  There are other pollinators.  Why did God create flowers?  Because he loves beauty.  


Back to the compliment.  In my head I lost my beautiful girl status somewhere in my mid twenties.  I became a mother lost all my external, physical beauty in that process (my ex and I shared this opinion).  And my girl status flew out the window somewhere around the same time.  Besides all those years of childbearing, nursing and sleepless nights will make anyone feel tired and old.  And years of wearing nothing but yoga pants, maternity clothes and nursing tops will make the most confident of women feel unattractive.  


But the deeper questions is this: why did this mean so much me?  I'm cherishing it in my heart.  I wrote it down and now I'm writing about it.  If I'm shining light on the lie of this world that beautiful girls are what we should strive to be, then why does my heart feel so touched that someone would consider me one?  Is this more lie swallowing?  More self-deception?  More finger pointing at others who have skewed value systems, all the while I'm hoarding, hiding and possessing that value system myself?  


I'm not sure, to be honest.  I don't know.  Is the cherishing of this in my heart, the warmth that it brought to that dark place in my soul bad for me?  I don't know.  


I do know this.  My beauty is within.  Whatever I have of it.  If you add me up on an attractive scale I might tip slightly to the positive side, but it would be slight.  Somehow though life has told me that not only is my physical beauty nonexistent, my internal soul beauty is as well.    


And that is dangerous.  Sure is it fun to turn heads, ABSOLUTELY.  Does that often lead to sin for everyone involved, the head turner and the one looking?  Yep.  Sure does. 


But to know that you're beautiful on the inside.  To know that your value, your intrinsic worth is something that no one can ever take from you, that is what is truly important.   And when you feel that the world or a man or a woman or a god has robbed you of that, that somehow you have given away that part of yourself that was beautiful.  That is an awful place to be.  Can you squander your value, your soul?  Yes.  Can it disappear?  No.  


This is not to say that appreciating physical beauty is a bad thing.  Are beautiful people fun to see?  Can we not appreciate someone who puts time and effort into their appearance?  Absolutely we can.  That is good.  Putting time and effort into your own appearance is not bad (says the woman who's guilty pleasure is buying clothes ;-).  The problem becomes when we begin to use those people, or when we replace our desire for what is good - God, with our desire to look awesome or be with someone who looks awesome.  


It's so tempting to throw a bunch of Bible verses around about being created in the image of God and stuff like that.  But most of you know what the Word says.  You know that you aren't supposed to use your beauty or anyone else's.  That's not what I'm talking about here.  What I want you think about is how you view yourself.  What type of beauty is most important in your life?  Are you chasing something that is going to decay and disappear or are you chasing soul beauty that will last far into eternity?  When you pin those images of rock hard bodies on your thinspiration boards are you valuing your body above your soul?  Are you valuing the earthly above the eternal?  Do those Ryan Gosling memes nourish your soul or just your sex drive?  I think most of us know the answer to that one. ;-)  (yes, Ryan is hot, a little too much for me personally but to each is own)  


God values you people.  He loves you and finds you beautiful, the number on the scale and the lack of rock hard abs are irrelevant.  


You are His Beauty.  Treat yourself with the care the Lover of the Universe gives to you.  










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Monday, May 21, 2012

Honeymoon


I broke my toe last night.  Hours after I told a little girl at Life Group the story of how when I was her age I fell down the stairs so often my dad used to sit in his chair and brace himself when I came running down the stairs because I fell that frequently.  She had just fallen down the stairs and was embarrassed in physical pain.  It sucks when pain is physical and emotional at the same time; as if humility has to come to our body and soul at the same time. 

I have had a lot of that in my life time physical pain and emotional pain being concurrently experienced.  My wedding night was one of those times.  You see, I waited.  I bought the promise of great married sex hook, line and sinker.  I was not perfect in my previous dating relationships but I didn’t do it.  And I was rewarded with a wedding night that was tantamount to rape, in the sense that I said no and he said yes.  And well, I didn't quite acquiesce.  He predictably fell asleep and I sobbed for hours and cried out to God. 

“God, what in the Hell just happened?  I thought you told me to wait?  I thought you told all of us to wait?  What happened to the wise counsel we received about taking things slowly and only proceeding as the gradually as the most cautious of us, which of course would be me?  What happened to being blessed by all those ridiculously strict boundaries we maintained almost perfectly for nearly a year?”

My honey moon was a horror movie.  I cried and sobbed and begged to not have to do it again.  I begged him to stop.  There was no stopping.  And he was so “nice” about it.   He was so loving and kind as he calmly told me to just fake it until the feelings follow.  With his empty careless promises of doing what I was uncomfortable with and that by doing it I would eventually become at least comfortable.  BULLSHIT. 
  
But how was I to know?  I had never had sex before.  I was so confused; who was I supposed to talk to about this?  He had been married and had plenty of partners before and after his last marriage.  He was the “expert” and of course he knew better.  Besides this was my wifely duty.  I was responsible to meet his needs.  If I didn’t, even I knew I could throw my own Bible in my face. 

Eventually there was a sort of truce, I wasn’t doing it anymore.  I just wasn’t for months at a time. And he would wear me down/force me into it and we would again.  Then the truce would start again after sobbing and pain and more begging on my part.  Unbeknownst to me his part of this truce predictably included lots of porn and strip clubs and sleeping on the couch.  I would beg him to come to bed.  Trying to explain that his not sleeping next to me directly correlated with my uncomfortableness in our sexual relationship.  He would say he was going to come to bed and I would hear him crawl in about 5 in the morning or not at all.  He’d sometimes say I’m sorry, I fell asleep on the couch.  Sometimes he would say nothing at all. 

On my birthday, 8 months into our marriage I woke up, made coffee and went to check email in the office.  He followed me in and I turned on the computer to see hundreds of images of pornography.  Happy birthday.  Things I had never seen before and spent years trying to forget.  Some of them are still stuck rattling around in my brain, cropping up at the most inconvenient of times. 

I threw him out.  Seriously, 8 months in?  No desire to work on our sexual relationship, no desire to even have a relationship with me.  I thought it was over.  Perhaps it should have been.   But I got the stellar advice of not abandoning my marriage because if I let him down in this time I would sink with him.  Not great advice.  Note to self, sometimes a marriage can be saved after vows are broken and sometimes your partner is hell bent on your and his own destruction. 

So I stayed, we tried counseling. Our counselor tried to teach him to touch me with kindness and not demand his own way.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  And frankly I was so wounded it would have taken a long time of kindness and lack of expectation to bring me back from that place of brokenness.  

After several months he moved back in.  We celebrated, he committed himself to sobriety, meaning no porn and no strip clubs and no sex with anyone but me.  It didn’t work.  I was back to being ignored, marginalized, angry, and demanded of.  And the fruit of this was destruction, more and more destruction of me.  I’m sure he was destroying himself as well but his mask was so much more well-crafted than mine that no one, myself included, saw his downward spiral.  And because of my womanness and personality my disintegration was incredibly visible. 

A lack of wisdom and overly fertile reproductive system led to babies and babies led to ignoring the problem and ignoring the problem led to depression and my feeling more and more abandoned.  And eventually that led to me just knowing that God did not give a rat’s ass about me.  There was no way I could reconcile the hell in which I was living with my image of my God who I knew loved the world and loved people. 

So I decided, it was not even a great leap on my part to decide this, that something was more wrong with me than with the rest of the world.  I mean sure God died for me and I may or may not be in Heaven one day but between then and now God just didn’t give a shit.  Somehow I was more fundamentally flawed then most other people.  I mean just look at me, my own husband wouldn’t even sleep in bed with me.  And if you look at me of course you can understand why.  I mean what man in his right mind would ever want to share a marriage bed with this.  I certainly wouldn’t if I were him.  

His mother did a lot to help me understand his position.  She would regularly talk about how “obese” mothers made bad mothers even in the animal kingdom.  And how it made sense that I didn’t have much of a milk supply with my first born because overweight goats don’t have a milk supply either and their young often have to be sustained by other goats. 

Duh, I mean if I couldn’t even be a good mother because of what I weigh than how on earth would I be an acceptable wife?  I mean really, what was I expecting letting myself go to this extent?  Of course he would go elsewhere it totally made sense and was completely justified.  I justified it for him, she did as well, and he did in his own head. 

There is so much more here.  So much to ponder and process.  These were by far the early years of my marriage and there have been many more wounds and much, much more healing since all of this has taken place.  But it is still painful to remember.  What wounds my heart now is that there are so many women and men in the Christian community living in this hell.  It is a specially crafted by Satan hell, because he knows that the Church will help to keep them in it.  He knows just how to pervert the Truth of God enough to keep us there.  And he knows if we remain; if we allow ourselves to believe these untruths about ourselves and one another, he will take the men, women and children all down in one fell swoop.

Sisters and Brothers don’t believe the lie.  Men, if you’re buying into the lie of meeting your own needs through porn, you are going to school every time you do that.  You are teaching yourself and the women around you that: a real body will never be enough for you, one body will never be enough for you and your wife’s body will never be enough for you.  If you don’t think she knows, you’re lying to yourself and full of shit.  She knows.  We all know.  She might not know exactly what you are doing but she knows in her heart that something about how you are treating her and women is off.  You cannot love the women in your life and objectify other women at the same time.  You will end up objectifying all of us.  Our hearts are not made to work that way.  Women are not like toilet paper don’t use them and throw them away. 

And women, if this is happening in your life.  Be brave.  Be strong and courageous.  This is not your fault.  You are not responsible for someone else’s sin in their life, no matter how closely related to them you are.  How you look, how often you have sex with your spouse, what you do or do not do in the bedroom does not excuse this behavior.  Should you have sex, yes, of course.  But it should be mutually enjoyable.  Will it be awesome every time, probably not.  Should it be great more often than not, definitely yes.  Will you want to every single time, meh, I don’t think so.  But your sex life should be about both of you.  Not just one of you.  And if you are not enjoying it, that’s a problem.  If you feel like a prostitute, that’s a problem.  If you shudder when your husband touches you, that’s a problem.  Do both of you a favor, respect yourself enough to figure out what’s wrong.  Respect yourself enough to figure out why you don’t “work.” Respect him enough to be polite and kind and talk about the problem if there is one.  Real men don’t want to be suffered through and tolerated.  They want you to enjoy yourself and they’re probably really insecure about why you aren’t. 

Don’t use God as an excuse to numb yourself thereby enabling you to get through a part of life you hate.   That’s not what He wants for you.   He loves you all of you.  You and your spouse should love each other the same way. 

Blessings – S



Monday, May 14, 2012

Jar of Hearts

This song accurately describes where I was in my marriage in January of 2011,
 her spot on portrayal had to be shared. 




I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms
I learned to live half-alive
And now you want me one more time

Who do you think you are
Running round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts and tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul
So don't come back for me, don't come back at all.  


At that point in my marriage I was convinced there was nothing left for me to do.  I had my face in the dirt for years prior and I knew in my heart there was nothing wrong with me.  I could not fix this.  The problem did not lie with me.  

And this is where my Christianity kicked me in the ass.  Because I needed "proof."  I needed to be able to establish to all the haters, all the judgers and all the non-Christians that I wasn't leaving my marriage because of irreconcilable differences.  Even to my friends.  I needed to feel released.  Maybe God kept me in my marriage for that next year, or maybe guilt and shame were my jailers.  

During that year I told a lot of people, "I think it's over, I think I'm done."  AND so often the Christians in my life would say, well did someone break their vows?  And there it was the icy stake of judgement going right through my heart, being driven by those who presumed they knew me and my situation.  The outsiders.  Who thought they were on the inside track; they thought they were in the know.   

And in my lack of wisdom I listened to them.  I willingly let the shackles of judgement remain around my ankles.  If I had accessed that part of my heart sooner, the part that knows of love, I would have broken those shackles and danced my way to freedom.  

But for whatever reason, I stayed and I knew, something was wrong.  And with their judgement returned my doubt in myself.  With their misguided advice returned my belief that perhaps the problem did lie with me?
There was a war within my soul.  The war of condemnation and freedom.  The war of love and hate of self.  We know who fights on those battle lines, and we know the war is not a "clean fight."   It is ugly and vicious.  You see, Satan knows the buttons to press.  He knows the wounds from my childhood.  He knows exactly which lies to tell to get me to believe him.  He did in the Garden with Adam and Eve and He knew what to say to me as well.  

The problem with Satan in the Garden is the same problem with him today.  He takes God's words and changes them ever so slightly.  He's "praying" you will not notice the difference.  He's banking on it and staking his claim.  His claim is placed with that icy stake of judgement.   

It took months of soul searching, more months of my face in the dirt.  Many many more months of trying to understand the convoluted reality in which I was living.  Months of holding a standard in my marriage that was never upheld by my ex.  

And then it came, the first words of freedom. Last August for maybe the second or third time in my life I heard the voice of God.  "Tell him you are leaving."  

Wait, did I just hear that?  God, am I supposed to leave?  And then nothing but a repeat of "Tell him you are leaving"   So I did.  I told him.  I told him, "God told me to tell you that I'm leaving.  I'm not sure when or where or how.  But I'm leaving.  I am waiting on the next word from Him and I will be gone."

And then in my finite wisdom I shared this with a few others.  Other Christians who's support I thought I would need if/when I were actually to leave.  And there it came again, that icy stake.  And the advice that I will never ever forget.  "Don't ever ask anything from him"  "This will pass"  "Don't expect him to do anything for you or the children, ever"  "People have lived years of their marriages like this, I know them and things got better"  
And more advice from another friend "I think you will find the consequences of this decision untenable" 

Disregarding this I called an attorney and learned I would need $500 just to meet with her. And I gave up, went back to prayer and waiting.  Jonathan and I agreed to putting a two month hold on me moving out.  Unbeknownst to me he met with an attorney.  I did not.  I instead scheduled a weekend retreat in November.  The two month mark after which we would reevaluate.  

I went to the retreat and I came back understanding my side of the fence.  I understood the wounds he inflicted on me on a daily basis.  I understood how much he negated my existence as a woman.  I understood why.  I could explain.  It was no get out of jail free card but I finally got it.  I could put my finger on the problem or so I thought.  

So, I shared my heart one more time with him, I gave him the chance to own up and be a man.  To tell me what was really going on and to love me as he should.  Or at least to apologize and admit his wrongdoing.  He didn't take that opportunity, he choose another path and eventually God released me.  After one too many nights of him not coming home.  One too many months of bills not being paid while he was buying expensive beer and going out with the guys.  

I had enough. 

I felt released.  

I was done.  

And I told him so.  No longer was the thought of daycare and apartments and single motherhood scary.  No longer was the pain of being the one ending the marriage more than I could bare.  No more excuses, no more expecting nothing, no more marriage.  He tried to have sex with me that night, to follow me upstairs mere hours after he had slept with a prostitute.  As if now all of the sudden our bed was somewhere he wanted to be.  I refused and asked him if he'd lost his mind?  He knew I was done.  

The next morning I woke early to make my plan.  To figure out where to move, where to go, how to live.  And then it came, the revelation of the all out full scale insanity with which I was living.  The revelation of the fact that I was not crazy, I was not insecure.  He truly did see women as objects so there was no way he could have treated me any differently.  I was something to be used, for sex, for food, for production of children, for making his employees cookies, for doing his laundry, for keeping his house and books and paying his bills.  I was an appliance, easily used, easily broken and easily replaced.

And then I knew, my marriage had ended years ago.  Not knowing that his vows had long since been broken was really the prison I was living in.  

I still don't understood completely why he told me.  I was gone, we both knew that but he did and the gratefulness of living in the light has absolved me of needing to know the answer to that question.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherly Grateful

Today is Mother's Day...  The first one I've spent as a single mother but not the first one my mother did.  She had two single mother Mother's Days.  Between my dad, and my step dad.  I don't remember the sacrifices she made for me in those years beyond the shadowy glimpses of the Strawberry Shortcake curtains that she sewed for my room where we lived in the trailer, just her and I.  Bonding, hoping and believing in a future that looked so much brighter than where we were that day.  

I was a hope filled, delightfully oblivious two and three year old and she was my mother.  Working, going to school, painfully sending me to daycare.  Teaching me to potty train in a day, never turning on the car radio because she so cherished time with me and didn't want to miss a word I would say, and feeding me raisins telling me they were candy so I wouldn't develop a sweet tooth.  

It is painful now for me to try and access that part of my brain, to try and remember.  What would it have been like for her and I?  How were we really?  How did she deal with all of her pain of being divorced, moving 12 hours away from the only hometown she'd ever know, from the desertion of her family, of her feeling like somehow, she'd done something wrong.  

I now know that pain.  I am intimately acquainted with it.  I feel it's raw edges every day and as I look at my two year old daughter, I see the incredibly painful mirror of my two year old self.  

I may not be just like my mother, or I may and if I am I will embrace the parts of herself that she had to cut out to give to me.  She has bore me and her children for her whole life.  Ann Voskamp was right when she said, "as a mother, you never stop giving birth to your children."  The moment you push them into this world and they greet it screaming and crying, you right there crying with them; that is not the last moment of tears, pushing, screaming and crying.  The umbilical cord may be cut, but they have so much more to take from you.

You would think after housing and nourishing a child from your inside out for nine months there would be nothing else they could take from your physical body, but you would be so wrong.  There is nothing a mother won't give.  From her tears at wondering where you are until two in the morning to those shed on the gravestone of her second child.  There is nothing your children won't require of you.  And to be a mother, a godly mother you must give it.  

My mother has.  She has given it all.  Has it been perfect?  Do we have the closest most intimate of relationships, no.  But that is not what we need from one another.  What we need is to know, for me to know she has given her all and for her to know that I NOW, I now finally understand her pain.  I will not any longer question the path you have walked, Mom.  I understand it intimately.  And the thing about her being my mother, is that she would have rather had me sit in judgement over her for the rest of her life than for me to know this pain.  She would have rather me question her decision making process and how she expresses or doesn't her emotions.   Because she is still giving birth to me.  She is still loving me and taking things from her body to give and nourish mine.  There is still nothing she won't give me, not a single part of herself that she holds back.  

So Happy Mother's Day Mom.  I love you.  I wish I had more to give you back than understanding but today that is my gift to you.  

You are MY mom and I am forever grateful.  

-S

My mother, and my daughter

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not so much Happy Tears

Yesterday was awfully awesome for me.  Two of my dearest friends came over for the whole day to sew together.  They both live 45 minutes or further away.  One is pregnant, one is still nursing.  One has five children, the other four and with a fifth on the way.  I know what a sacrifice it was for them to come all this way especially for a whole day.  I am once again finding myself incredibly thankful. 

But I had not slept for most of the previous three nights, maybe eight hours total in three days.  So, I was a little edgy and there were ten kids in my house.  Ten kids in my house (they weren't all here) is not a quiet situation, despite the fact that I have a large house.   A not quiet situation and no sleep will add up to an edgy hostess, which I unfortunately expressed more than once yesterday.  My friends are such a gift to me, they were right there to parent with me.  Willing to pitch in and the kids, all ten of them, were great at listening to all of us.  But I hate expressing impatience with children, mine or other people's.  They're just kids and being loud and crazy and loving life is what they're all about.  Their play is how they learn about life and I don't like squashing that learning opportunity for them just because if they're any louder I'm going to have a migraine in 4 seconds flat. 

On top of that, I'm not a crier.  I can't use the word never for how often I cry but rarely is even a little too often a measure for me.  And let me just tell you, not sleeping is a recipe for a lot of crying. 

I think I burst out into tears at least three times yesterday.  I think it surprised my friends a little.  Not in a bad way, but in a wow, she never cries kind of way.  I kept apologizing for crying and they kept assuring me that I had completely legitimate reasons to cry. 

It is so great to have friends that you can be your most insecure, uncomfortable self with.  That self for me would be the crying one.  I didn't always feel like I had friends to do this with me, but I did.  They were there all the time.  I just didn't know it.  I was the one holding back the relationship.  Not them.  If I didn't cry in front of them it wasn't because they wouldn't have loved me through it.  It was because I was too insecure to do so.  I didn't love myself enough to respect my emotions and be okay expressing them.  Even insecurity is a little too weak of a word.  I literally COULDN'T cry. 

There was a part of my heart that had been closed off and not accessed in so long.  I knew that part of my heart was there, but I also knew that if I accessed it my old life that everything would have fallen apart.  That part of my heart is the tender, honest, I need to be loved part.  I couldn't access that part of my heart because none of those things were present in my life.  Not honesty from my partner, not tenderness with my soul, heart and emotions, not love and respect for me as I am.  Not because I didn't constantly fight for them to be present, not because I didn't lay my face in the dirt and beg God to provide them for me, not because I was looking for others to fill those needs instead of Jesus. 

I was totally okay with Jesus filling those needs.  The reason they weren't there was because Satan was reigning in my spouse's life and he was 'living' here.  And every time he walked in the door a cloud of deceit walked in with him.  It filled the home and suffocated my heart.  It shut that door to the tender, honest part of my heart and sealed it.  Satan was hoping it would never be open again.  He was hoping he would win.  He was hoping to take four more people down with Jonathan.  He wanted a 5 for 1 deal.  Well, he's going to have to go pedal his lies elsewhere because we have embraced the truth here and I am not letting it go.  I will hold to God's Words for me and His abundant desire for me to be loved on earth by Him and others. 

I have a tender side, it's always been there.  I have just been living a life that was highly inhospitable to tenderness.  It was survival of the fittest as in the animal kingdom.  It was a brutal life and one that required force and will to get through. Teeth and claws and running fast.  Now that the brutality of my life has subsided it is time for me to embrace that tenderness. 

There is plenty of open space in my life now for crying, for mercifully awesome love.  For being honest even when expressing deep scary places of my heart.  I have welcomed the opening of this door and the airing out of this room.  I have lit candles and found music and opened the windows.  I'm moving furniture into this room and making it my favorite one. 

It's a great room.  Rather unorthodoxed room for me.  But I like it.  I'm going to have to think about picking out some paint. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Provision with love and money

So I'm strapped, financially.  Not quite beyond strapped yet.  But strapped.  Counting pennies and dollars from selling stuff on craigslist.  Perhaps I should be more specific, I'm not selling sex on craigslist, just stuff, like camping gear and furniture.  I hear people do that, sell sex, that is, and not just on craigslist; I'm not one of them. I generally think there's plenty of sex you could get out there for free if you really wanted, besides there's lots of free sex in Vegas.  Whoops, it's not free there either.  Insert hysterical laughter about how witty I am here, if you're not laughing you might want to skip this post.  


Today, three times today, God has proven to me that He is intimately acquainted with my situation.  He sent provision from three different sources, none of which I was expecting.  He loves me so much.  He loves my children so much and He is going to take care of us. He doesn't always directly respond in obvious ways to my very specific needs but today He did and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.  


It totally surprised me that He could shock me with provision without me knowing it.  As if somehow I'm more all knowing than Him.  As if because I'm a detail person I could foreseeably know every single way for provision to come to my family.  Today it was really great to be reminded how small I am.  How big God is and how limited my creativity is versus His.  The cattle on those 1000 hills are more numerous than I can imagine.  


Perhaps tomorrow the provision will not be as direct, it could be a hug from a friend.  Sunshine, unexplained happiness or well behaving children, however it comes I will be grateful for it.  I will not stop counting my blessings, though they are innumerable.  But I will still number.  May my faith and yours be granted the sight necessary to see the visible touch of God in your life.  He is there friend.  If you can believe He is present my life, and you are here because you know my story, then certainly you can believe He's present in yours.  I am not a victim of my circumstances, you are not one in yours either.  You have not made yourself unacceptable to Him, because you cannot.  His love is boundless.  And He loves you.  You can not shame yourself out of His favor and He is not the one shaming you.   That is not how He operates.  


Grace, Gratefulness and Gifts to you.  


-S



Friday, May 4, 2012

Things you should tell your children, and I should tell mine too

Sugar and Spice and everything Nice.
Hair people pay for



That's a double Buzz

Click the link below for the things we all need to make sure we're telling those little people we love.
Loving your kids with your words:  You have to scroll down a little bit once you get to the link.