Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Macie's 5th Birthday

Tuesday February 16, 2016

The 4 above pics on from her birthday eve; setting up.

It is hard to believe that my baby girl is 5 years old! WOW! Leading up to her birthday, we had been staying with my friend Nichole and her kiddos because our kids did not have school those two days and so I was picking up more hours at work, so all the kiddos hung out at her secured building while we went to work. Nichole helped me set up the night before. Macie was asleep when I left for work (I had to go in at 7am) but I called her later that morning to wish her a happy birthday. I left donuts for a special breakfast treat and allowed her to open one gift while she waited for me to get home. Luckily I got off work at 3 (I worked straight through, no lunch break so that I could get to her earlier; this is her first birthday where I've had a job!). We were gifted with a gift card to Space Alien's, one of her favorite restaurants, so for supper Nichole and I and all 6 kiddos went there. We came back to Nichole's where she had made Macie a strawberry birthday cake and Macie opened the rest of her gifts. What a blessing to be surrounded by our new, sweet friends (will need to talk more on this later!). Macie and Asher will be having a joint birthday party on March 5.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! Mama loves you SOOOOOOO much!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

God at Work

On February 6th, our family received a blow in the forms of a couple different ways. I know this post will be vague, but I must share.

I tried to keep the faith but wasn't seeing how it would all work out. I said a miracle would be needed by the end of the week and I asked close friends to pray. We are now 11 days out and miracles are still pouring in from various sources, in various ways.

I am beyond thankful to those who allow themselves to be instruments God has used. Their selflessness has blessed my family. God has been good to answer our prayers so quickly, and then add additional.

I have a hard time with BIG life changes. I was a stay-at-home mom for 5 years. Macie's whole life I was home with her, and most of Asher's. God was good to slowly ease us into this adjustment. For the first many months of separation I was able to remain home, then when I started to work it was part time. Now several months in I'm working more, but it's been a slow process, therefore easier for us all to adjust to. And I have the most amazing boss. God is so good for this. It would've been harder and scarier for us all had it not been this slow adjustment.

I also want to add, God may not always answers prayers. I know this. Sometimes the miracle is in Him saying no. I wish I could share more of the details of the situation with you now, but it will have to wait for a later time. I do look forward to sharing this part of my testimony!

Enouragement from God

This was initially written February 3rd, 2016.

Encouragement from God

I'm in kind of a weird place right now. I'm on week 4 of spring semester and my butt is getting kicked. Between being a single parent to 3, full time college, working, and just life in general, I'm beyond stressed. I know I was last semester - but I got to a place where I was able to balance and eventually came up with a routine that worked. I am not there yet. In fact, I've been (accidentally) missing assignments - am grateful for gracious teachers who have been allowing me to turn them in late. I'm struggling with my course load - in both understanding the topic and the program. I feel like I'm not retaining information and having difficulty concentrating (thankfully, Frankincense EO is on the way to help with that!). I'm so, so, so tired. I can tell my body is not being taken care of the way it needs to be...but what choice do I have? I cannot add more hours to the day, I cannot make someone be there who has chosen not to be. 

I beat myself up with I could'ves, should'ves, etc. I don't want to fail my kids. I don't want to scar them. They themselves have come to the realization that dad isn't going to be around. The phone calls are becoming less and less. He doesn't really visit (he's stopped by briefly a few times over the last 3 months). It's hard and painful and this is new territory we're treading. My heart breaks for them and then I become frustrated and angry because I canNOT change this for them. I would if I could, but I have no control in the choices he makes. So now they ask for a dad. Macie the most. She wants someone to love her and live with her. All the kids have lists a mile long of qualities they want. And I become frustrated again, because I can't make this happen. I would love to have a godly husband, father figure and leader for our home, but I simply cannot make it happen. I can pray and hope, but my fear is what if it never happens?? My poor children. (Yes, I encourage them to pray and speak words of life, also reminding them God is a father to the fatherless.)

So, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with the daily, I recite criticisms to myself. So it's a kiss from Heaven when I tell you God has placed at least 5 people in my life since Thursday night to really lift me up and encourage me.

A counselor, for my youngest, telling me the milestones she has achieved. She tells me I'm doing a great job creating a good environment for this to happen. She commends my parenting. She gives me advice to encourage me. "A child is only as healthy as his/her parent." Wow.

My sister giving me credit for all I do, saying she isn't sure if she could (which I know she could). Encouraging me. Showing concern for my kids which means a lot. She is even sending a book to help Mace cope because she's been having a super hard time. She's even offered to drive 1800 miles to pick up my kids and keep them for a couple weeks. I mean, wow!

My sweet Crystal. My best friend ever. My favorite person (aside from family - but then again she is practically my family!). Today, she kept saying much of what I've been told the past couple of days...but she elaborates and tells me she believes, she KNOWS there is a great husband/father for our family. I love her faith. And so I cling to her words, hoping and believing, tailgating her faith. I have to keep the faith.

This next one sounds odd, but there was a guy I was talking to. We liked each other, but there was one area that we didn't see eye-to-eye. And so he wrote me kind of saying because of this, it wouldn't work. I understand.  But he said more...and though some may translate it as a player letting me down softly, I choose to see it differently. Sometimes it is hard to hold on to certain morals. But this guy commended me for opening up, and said I (me) don't really know the brave stand I took. He told me not to relinquish that belief over any guy "EVER".  And so this gave me hope in a time I was doubting,that perhaps there is a man out there who also will find my morals commendable, and want to pursue me because of them. 

And lastly, a talk I had with Macie's teacher last Thursday. The reason for the talk wasn't so great, but it ended with her complimenting my parenting and acknowledging the challenges of being a single parent.

I have to write these down so that I don't forget. So that in 6 months, 12 months, years down the road I can reflect and see how far my family has come. I am trying to pray daily for my children, for our situation, for our future, and for a godly man for our family. Me sharing that last bit is hard for me...that's me being vulnerable. That's me opening up. And it's hard for me to open up because I'm scared of being hurt, being rejected, being judged.

This next month or so will be crazy as we're heading into our family's birthday season! Four birthdays in a month. Woohoo! As challenging as today is, I know God is at work here and I'm excited to see what comes of everything. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Break The Silence

I'm taking a break from school work to write this, simply because it must be said. Too often people keep these things hidden when they should be brought to light...brought to light for healing purposes and to let others know they're not alone.

Various translations of Ephesians 5:13:

  • But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (NIV)

  • But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, (NLT)

  • But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, (ESV)

  • But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for [a]it is light that makes everything visible. (AMP)

  • But everything the light shines on can be seen. And everything that the light shines on becomes a light. (NIRV)

Things with my ex-husband are less than ideal. The visits, the calls all lessen over time. He has made the choice to not be involved in various activities of the children. His true narcissistic colors are showing more and more. Conversations always seems to come back to him instead of focusing on the children and their needs. 

He was *always* verbally and emotionally abusive. It was becoming more physical towards the end (with a few instances all throughout). All of our time together, I never saw it for what it was. Maybe it's because I witnessed an abusive marriage growing up? Dysfunction was my "normal". I blamed his anger on myself. If I would have done this, said that/not said that, if I would try harder... Those were my thoughts that kept me entrapped in a toxic marriage where he slowly tore me apart and was working on doing the same to our children. By the end of our marriage, he had already threatened to kill me a couple times. He was also waking me up in the middle of the night by throwing things at me and calling me names. At this point I was so broken, I knew there were no words I could say to calm him or make him stop. So, I stood there and took the words. I'll never forget the night his name-calling awoke our eldest, and my son hugged me tightly and told me those things dad was calling me, weren't true.

It got to the point I didn't want to live. It was always bad, but by the time we left Georgia to move 1600 miles away to live in a small town - I had lost my community, church and friends. All I had was this man who, the only interaction I had with him, was toxic. He yelled, name called, pushed me around, throw things at me, zero patience, 110% full force anger. It was constant. Not once a week or once a day, but every. single. interaction. every. single. day. I dreaded waking up in the morning. I had to be so strong to "save" my marriage, to PROTECT my kids (from their dad!). It was exhausting. I was still trying to recoup from cancer. I was so depressed. I felt hopeless. I hated the idea of divorce but it was starting to feel like either leave or die.

Since I left, since our divorce was finalized, I've had many difficult conversations with this man. Ones much worse than the one I had last night. But last night, it really hit me just how abusive this man is - still is - and we aren't even together and he still tears me apart every time he gets a chance, and I still sit there and take it. People say I'm strong, I even think I am to an extent, but last night it hit me how weak I am.

The whole point of me talking to him was about the children's upcoming birthdays. And wouldn't ya know, he took the opportunity to tell me what an awful wife I was, what an awful mother I was and apparently still am - what a horrible person I am - that he, my abuser, deserves so much better than me. Just on and on, with a smile on his face (this was Facetime). He believes those words. And I just listened as he spewed these lies at me. I didn't hang up - it's like I couldn't, I was frozen. Part of me was waiting for him to show some sort of feeling, waiting for him to say something remotely nice about me. How can you be with someone for 12 years, be married to them, have 3 kids by them and hate them so bad? Was I the perfect wife? Heck no, but I was far from the worst. I was faithful and I believed in him and I can honestly say I tried everything in my power, according to my knowledge, to make it work. But it takes 100%-100%, and as a narcissistic, he had (and has?!) zero desire to change. 

Ultimately, he ended up hanging up on me. My abuser hung up on me. I just wanted to talk about the kids birthdays and all I got was an earful of how awful a person I am and got hung up on. I cried to my sister about this. 14 months removed and I still have so much healing/growing to do. Don't get me wrong - these last 14 months have been full of positive improvements but I still have a ways to go. With the help of Christ, I'll keep working on becoming a stronger person. I will work on being intentional and cautious about the relationships I maintain. I will not repeat history

I share this because I think silence is dangerous. The reality is there are people in abusive relationships. We need to talk about this! We shouldn't have to walk this journey alone. I find talking about therapeutic, healing, and strengthening. This will not define me but refine me to be the best I can be. The more I share truth, the more power he will lose over me.  

2 Corinithians 12:9:
 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.