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Archive for November, 2013

Thank you

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On this the day before Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for the blessings in my life, including all of you…my WordPress family. I have so much to be thankful for. I listed something every single day since November 1st on my Facebook account. I found the closer I got to Thanksgiving, the harder it got for me to choose something because I realize now more than ever how very blessed I am, how beautiful my life is, even in its darkest moments. 

I am thankful for God and His goodness, forgiveness, and grace. I am thankful for all He does for me, for how many times He’s saved me both physically and mentally. I am thankful for the many family and friends that I have had and currently have in my life. I am thankful for the many ways my life has been enriched and blessed because of them. I am thankful for the joy they bring me, the lessons they teach me, the ways they inspire me, the encouragement they give, the push and drive they instill in me, & most of all the laughter and love. I am thankful for most of all for my son. He has taught me more about unconditional love than I thought I’d ever know. He is a light in my life that I thank God for every single day. I am thankful for my amazing boyfriend, for the rock he’s been, for the love he gives me, for getting to know me and accepting me as is, for all he does, and for all he is. I am thankful for the joy my pets have brought to my life. My cats have all been so loyal, friendly, and loving. They’ve been more than just pets; they’ve been family. 

The relationships in my life are most cherished indeed. I try so hard not to take anyone I love for granted. I want everyone I love to know how special they are to me for as long as I have the chance to do so. Life is fleeting and none of us knows how long we have here. I want to make sure I don’t waste what time I have. Not worrying or stressing out isn’t something I can stop outright, but I have been getting better at focusing more on the good in my life and there is a lot of that. 🙂

Besides the people and animals in my life, there is so much more to be thankful for. I have a job and even though my hours were cut, at least I have an income. I like what I do and am happy for the most part with where I work. Being able to pay bills and do things like provide for my son is very satisfying. Giving my son a good birthday a couple weeks back meant a lot to me. I live in a nice house in a decent neighborhood. It is a very good feeling for both Doug and I. I have a car that works, gets me to where I need to go, and looks nice too. I have enough clothes to wear, food to eat, books to read, music to listen to, games and puzzles to challenge me and that also allows my family and I many fun things to do together, and so on. I have my camera to make memories with and help others do the same. I have my voice…allowing me to speak and to sing. I have bad eyesight, but with the aid of glasses…I can do most things. I am thankful for technology that allows people like me to have a better quality of life. I have great hearing which allows me to enjoy music, the sound of my son’s laughter, and so much more. I have my wit, intelligence, and compassionate nature. God gave me so many talents and I am thankful for each one. Instead of complaining about what I can’t do, I focus more on what I can and also working together with others. When we combine our talents, we find we can do so much more than we could do alone. Seriously, when I really think about it, my life is really beautiful. There are bumps in the road, bad things happen, and sometimes my mood isn’t all that great….but I look at the bad now and see it all as lessons to learn and also it helps me appreciate the good in my life that much more. 

Like I said in the beginning, I am thankful to all of you who read my blog. Some have only run across one post and decided they liked it and I never heard from them again and some are avid readers. No matter how many times you read my words, listen to a video I post, or look at a picture I share doesn’t matter in the end. Any and all support is very much appreciated. Thank for each view, like, comment, and re-blog. I have said it before, I will say it now, and will undoubtedly say it again….thank you for inspiring me and letting me inspire you. I like reading your blogs. I don’t always have something to say, though when I do, I will. 😉 Do you realize that many of your posts have influenced mine? You guys and dolls are great! And then telling me many times that I inspire you is so humbling. I had no idea I’d touch so many hearts with my blog. It’s an amazing feeling. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this and for each of you that I have interacted with. I love ya guys and dolls, a lot. 🙂

I hope that those of you celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow will have an amazing day, filled with love….no matter who you spend it with. May it be filled with joy and may you make wonderful memories to last you a lifetime. Enjoy your family, friends, and of course the food too. 🙂 I know there are those across the world that don’t celebrate this day, so for you I just wish you a safe and happy day, whatever you do and whomever you spend your day with. Whether tomorrow is Thanksgiving to you or just another day, perhaps still take a moment to be thankful for your many blessings. Well, I am out of here for a few days…got a lot going on, take care and much love to all of you. Again, thank you for your support. YOU ALL ROCK! ❤

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You Are My Strength

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Beaten down once again for my mental crimes

I lie on the ground shaking, in tears

This has happened to me one too many times

Being brought low by my own insecurities, doubts, & fears

 

I have been my worst enemy for years

Allowing my own mind to wage battles against me

I do more to harm myself than any of my peers

It is time to stand up right now & from the evil within be free

 

To know my own worth is key

Being able to hold my head up high

Lord, in me You made someone of great beauty

For all you make is wondrous, that I can not deny

 

The road ahead will have many twists & turns

And I will surely stumble & fall flat on my face

But because within me Your strength brightly burns

I won’t be kept down long, for I am saved by Your amazing grace

Ivory Beauty

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Looking out my window on this cold wintry night

I see our quiet little street covered in a sea of white

So pure is its frozen beauty

Come quickly, tell me what do you see?

 

The only movement is the wind blowing in the trees

And my how beautiful they are covered in ivory

While the road remains still & silent

I feel at ease and for once not so defiant

 

For you see, generally when this weather comes

Depression hits and the more restless I become

Yearning for the world to be warm, beautiful, & green

But looking outside right now, I find there’s still beauty to be seen

 

 

 

 

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

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“Mirror, mirror on the wall….tell me, who is the fairest one of all?”

“It sure ain’t you sweetheart.” It drawled lazily

Well, this thing is useless, I thought as I smashed it to pieces.

I went through this process another dozen times until I realized beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin and find my beauty within, no one else will. As I came to terms with this, things began to change. My newest mirror and I are friends, which is a good thing because it was beginning to get expensive replacing them. 😉

Tidbit of Truth #1–Be Love

Amen to that!

The Importance of Step-Parents

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I was thinking about my son’s step-mom today and it really hit me just how wonderful she has been to my son. I have never been in that position, being with someone who has a child by someone else. I am a step-child myself, so I have seen it first hand how difficult it can be to accept someone else’s child, but I was the child in the situation. I know it wasn’t easy for Cindy to accept me, to welcome me, to love me. Over the years, she has done all of that and more. She has been so supportive, caring, and wonderful. I admire her greatly, for many reasons. Dealing with my dad has been a challenge in and of itself. She did the bulk of the caregiving for my half brothers and sister. Don’t misunderstand me, this blog isn’t designed in any way shape or form to put my dad down. Despite the issues, I know my dad loves us. And a lot of people don’t know all he’s gone through. Does it excuse all that’s happened? No, but it helps me understand him a bit better. I know that deep down we mean a lot to him and we love him just as deeply.

Back to the matter at hand, being a step-parent has its own challenges. We do give credit to them, but not nearly enough. For all Cindy has done for me and all Abby does for my son, I feel they deserve special recognition. They’d never ask for it, just like most Veterans don’t ask to be honored. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. If you go above and beyond what is asked of you and people want to acknowledge that, let them. 😉

My son is not the easiest to deal with. At first, the school told Jason that our son was showing signs of having A.D.H.D. Jason fought that tooth and nail, mostly because he was diagnosed with that himself and didn’t like how quickly people are ready to medicate someone. Eventually as problems at school worsened, Jason complied with the school’s wishes and had Zach evaluated. He was put on medication in K5. It was against what Jason wanted for Zach, but the school was insistent, especially after all the trouble Zach had caused. It was so bad that he was being suspended. It’s difficult too because Jason only has Zach medicated during the week, unless he has a game/match over the weekend and only during the school year…except for when he’s in summer school. Many, including myself, believe it’s unhealthy to go on and off his medication. Jason won’t listen to reason thus far.

Over the years, things have gotten worse. I knew since Zach was about five years old that there is more going on inside my son than most could see. I have bi-polar disorder, have since I was young, only I didn’t know that until I was an adult. Growing up wasn’t easy to say the least. I didn’t understand what was going on inside of me; I felt like a freak and had no one to talk to about any of it. Watching my son from early on, I knew in my heart that he was dealing with much more than just A.D.H.D. I have tried numerous times to talk to Jason about this, but he always refutes any possibility of Zach being bi-polar. No one wanted to listen to me at first to be honest.

Now my mom sees it, the school sees it, other family members, friends, and now Abby sees it too. Maybe she’ll be able to get Jason to listen, but whether she can or not, I must admit it feels good to finally have others see what’s going on. It has been so rough for everyone, but we’re doing our best. It feels weird saying this, but as a parent myself, I think it comes naturally to love your child. I would do anything for my son to give him a good life, to help him, to be there for him. I am doing what I can to get him the help he needs with the mental health issues. I will not give up! But, that’s the mom in me, I suppose. I don’t even think twice about doing what needs to be done, it’s just instinctive.

What is more uncommon is loving someone else’s child and doing all you can to help raise them. You’re doing more than just tolerating them for the sake of the one you’re with, way more than that. The child(ren) become so important to you, that you’d do what it takes for them to be happy and healthy. Abby does so much for my son. She goes to his games, even when Jason can’t, and supports him, cheers him on. She helps him with his homework, because she values his education. She disciplines him, even though she hates doing it and feels a little badly about it, because she knows he needs to deal with the consequence of his actions. She takes care of him when he’s sick, because she hates it when he’s ill and wants to see him get better. She encourages him when he wants do something like join the school newspaper, because she believes in him. She loves him, not because she has to for Jason, but because she wants to. A weaker woman would have walked away, not been able to handle all she has. I really do admire her.

She and Jason had a son of their own in 2010. He was born three months early. The hospital did all they could between August and November, but he was just so sick. So they told Jason and Abby they had a tough decision to make. They told them that he wouldn’t live very long and that his quality of life wouldn’t be good. He was blind, connected to a tube to eat, would be in a wheelchair, and so on. In the end, they decided they didn’t want their son to suffer, so they had him pulled off all the machines. He died that evening, in Jason’s arms. My heart breaks every single time I think about this. I can’t imagine how hard it was for them. Sometimes it is still hard for Zach, losing his baby brother. And I can only imagine it’s rough on them sometimes too. I don’t know how Abby got through losing her son. I don’t know how she helps raise mine. I don’t know how she does all that she does really. She is so important to Jason and to Zach, really to me as well. Cindy has been important to me as well. I can’t thank either of them enough for all they have done, for all they do.

I know plenty of others who have stepped up and taken on the roll of step-parent. In some cases, the other parent is around and in some, they’re not. But, one thing is true of all of them, they love the child(ren), accept them, and do all they can to help raise them. I want to tip my virtual hat to each and every one of you out there who is a loving, nurturing, and wonderful step-parent. Your role in their lives is more important than you know.

The Denomination Wars

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“I’m a Christian.”

“Cool, me too! I’m….insert denomination here, what are you?”

First, here’s a story of my background and my faith:

I used to answer that question, “Lutheran”. That is what my mom had me baptized when I was roughly a year and a half. She didn’t take me to church growing up though unless it was for a wedding, baptism, first communion for one of my Catholic cousins, etc. I think my baptism was more or less something she did for the family’s approval.

I knew of God growing up, but we never spent much time talking about Him. It wasn’t until I was 11 and a half or so that I started going to church. I met a neighborhood girl who would change the course of my faith. I believed in God, so to speak, before then, but I never delved too deeply into the subject until Amy Wells came along.

I went by her house one Wednesday evening to see if she could come outside to play. Her mom told me they were going to church, but then invited me to come along. At first, I was skeptical. Who goes to church on a Wednesday first of all? Isn’t that a Sunday only type of deal? Secondly, I wasn’t sure how I felt about going to church in general. I did later ask my mom if I could go. This was in part due to the fact I was miserable at home due the sexual abuse going on, by the hands of my mother’s boyfriend. I was also curious to learn more about God and thought I might enjoy going to church. My mom thought it would be good for me, so she said I could go.

It was a non-denominational church and everyone was quite friendly. The evening started out with worship, loved that part the most. I have always loved music. Singing is something I have always enjoyed, though I didn’t know any of the songs, so I just did the best I could to learn them. If I listen to one verse, learning the rest is pretty simple. Not long into the service then, the kids were called to their programs. So, I went with Amy and her brother Brian out of the sanctuary and into a Sunday school room. We played some games and then we began watching Gospel Bill. This episode was about your life before sin, about how God can change that, and what your life is like once you decide to follow Him.

Something in my heart knew right away that I wanted to trust Him, to let Him in. I knew I needed a savior and more than ever, needed a friend like Him. So, when they asked if anyone wanted to pray that special prayer inviting God into your heart, I raised my hand. Excitedly, a lady prayed with me. And for awhile, I was so on fire for God. Going to church actually excited me and not just because I got away from home. I really loved being at church, a place where I could sing about God, talk to Him, and be with others who loved Him and so it seemed, loved me too.

They eventually switched churches and this one was denominational, I think it was a Methodist church. I liked this one a little better. They had Awana, which reminds me a lot of Girl Scouts, except we learn Bible verses and sing about God. We earned patches & ranks, worked both together as a team, and also had individual goals. I was thoroughly thrilled to be a part of that. I even saw someone I went to middle school with there. Her and I became good friends for a little while. I thought it was cool that she, her dad, my dad, & myself have the same birthday. It was definitely a positive experience. The last church I went to was as well, but this one seemed to fit me and my walk with God better. During that time, I received my very first Bible, a gift from Amy and her family. It stuck with me till it fell apart.

About a year after I began going to church, my mom, the jerk, and myself moved. We didn’t move far, but I didn’t see Amy much after that. For a little while, I wasn’t going to church. I missed it, a lot. Eventually, I became friends with my upstairs neighbor. She started inviting me to church after a little while. This too was a non-denominational church. This one was the first I went to that wasn’t in an actual church building. They met in the downstairs of a bank. They were small in number, but huge in love and faith. I met so many amazing people there. I made some good friends and even met my first “boyfriend” as it were. I loved small group, talking about where our faith was and where we wanted it to go. I of course loved the worship! That is and always been my best way to praise God, to connect with Him, through song.

But then December 4th, 1992 happened. This is a day that I shall never forget. It was the day I couldn’t keep what I was dealing with inside any longer. I had told my mom a few times, but nothing ever changed. A few friends suspected, but no one said anything. I was writing about my feelings on the way to school one morning and a girl I would talk to on the way till she got off at her stop noticed how upset I was and asked me about it. I showed her what I had written and she looked worried. She told me I needed to speak up about it, told her I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I got to school and couldn’t stop crying at that point. A girl I barely knew in homeroom asked me what was wrong, so I showed her what I’d written as well since I didn’t feel like talking about it right then and there. She told me something needed to be done and took me to the school guidance counselor. After that, my life really turned upside down. The cops were called and I was in and out of class all day. By the end of the day, I was ripped from my home by a social worker and the jerk had been arrested. I stayed with a friend and her family for about five days. Angela and her mom both said they’d suspected. In fact, Angela said he’d weirded her out and she felt uncomfortable at my home, so she made sure we usually hung out at her place…which trust me, I didn’t mind. At this point, I felt pretty lost.

I was eventually put into foster care. I lived in a few different homes. I will admit I could be quite difficult to handle for one and for two, I was picky. The first home was with an older couple. They were old fashioned and set in their ways. Combined with my stubbornness, well that arrangement lasted for about a week. Then I went to Waunakee to become a part of the Babcock family. They didn’t go to church, so I rarely went. There were too many issues between myself and my foster mother. My foster dad was awesome and the kids were pretty cool, usually lol, except for the one who was about my age. So between dealing with her, my foster mom, and the kids at school, I eventually begged to leave. I was tired of being made fun of constantly at school, fighting with my foster mom, and fighting with & being stole from by my foster sister. I made some good memories there, but I was more than ready to leave.

The next home didn’t work out too well either. I was being hit on by one of my foster brothers and my foster parents were really difficult to get along with. We just didn’t mesh well. I ran away, twice, within a couple of weeks. So, I went to a group home. Three weeks in, I met Shirley. At the urging of Crystal, one of the girls in her home, I decided to give living there a try. There were some issues there too, but overall I was quite happy….especially because I finally found a church home again. A girl at school named Heather and I met through being a part of the high school musical and little did I know how meeting her would change my life. She first told me she was a Christian and asked what my beliefs were. She then invited me to church when giving me a ride home from practice. I happily agreed. I had missed going to church. I often felt like a lost soul and being a part of a church family always made things better.

The church I began going to was an Evangelical Free church, which in my opinion was as close to my non-denominational church experiences as I could get. I loved it there. The worship was amazing! Often times I’d cry because the music just moved me that much. The sermons usually spoke to me. I would even take notes. I eventually joined the choir there and even got baptized there (though that came later), as a symbol of my faith. I went on camping trips, state and national retreats, and so much more with the youth group. I loved it because I actually felt like I was accepted there. I made real and long lasting friendships. My faith was probably at it’s strongest for my youth during that time. I was truly happy at school, at home, and at church. Life felt pretty good. I was doing so well, not stealing & lying like I’d had problems with. I was thriving.

In the fall of 1995, I went home to be with my mom. In the end that didn’t work out. My mom was rarely home and I still felt as alone as I did when I was a kid. She sent me to live with my dad, briefly. I thought she should have known better, given he’s an alcoholic. That lasted about a month and a half. I then spent some time at a help center during the day and then temporary foster care at night. Then my foster parents from Waunakee took me in as a favor to my mom, since they’d become friends. That too was short lived. I didn’t want to live there and I made sure they knew it. I loved Ron, my foster siblings, and had a couple of friends…but overall, I loathed the town. It was full of cliques and I never really felt like I belonged. Plus Tammy and I still butted heads A LOT and I couldn’t trust Shelby. I just wanted out. My mom sent me to my grandma’s for three weeks, just after I’d turned 17. I came back and then lived with my mom again until a few months before my 18th birthday. In the time I was there, I still had issues with my mom not being home, didn’t want to go to school because I was tired of switching schools and being bored, etc…but I was going to the Evangelical church I loved. It was in that timeframe I was baptized. I was sad my mom wouldn’t come. My grandma came up from Milwaukee to see it and support me though. It was a touch and go situation for me. In some ways I was doing alright, but overall, I was not where I ought to be, but didn’t know how to get on the right path. I admit I made some pretty bad mistakes in this time.

Four months before I turned 18, my mom shipped me off to Milwaukee to live with my grandma. Through my youth pastor in Madison, I found a new church to go to. It was a Baptist church. There weren’t really any differences in how they worshipped, the way the pastor spoke, or how they treated one another. It didn’t take long before I decided to become a member. I would go to that church on and off for many years. I am thankful for all I learned there, the friendships I had, and the time I’d spent growing in my faith. While sometimes I felt later on that I didn’t belong, overall it was a very positive experience.

Since then, I have been to church numerous times. The one I’d spent the most time at was more of a New Age church, more or less non-denominational. They’re all very welcoming, some feel perhaps too welcoming. It didn’t bother me any. I love hugs! They’re very relaxed, many come to church in jeans, even the pastor. The worship is very heartfelt and moving. The sermons have spoken to me. I also met some wonderful people and got to know an old friend a lot better. Though as I grew, I knew I needed to find a new church home. One must go where God leads them. That took some time for me to figure out, what my next step would be, where I would best grow in Him, where I could best serve Him.

So now, I go to a Lutheran church. Ah back to where I “started”. They have one Sunday that has contemporary services and the rest are their traditional ones. My boyfriend is used to the traditional ones and I find I thrive more in the contemporary setting. The traditional Lutheran services remind me of the Catholic ones, too formatted so to speak. Stand up, sit down, repeat after me, and the like just isn’t my cup of tea. So Doug and I talked about it before attending his sister’s church and decided to give a few churches a try. First we tried the Lutheran church his dad goes to, one that he himself has gone to for a number of years. It was too traditional for me. They do have contemporary services every other Sunday, but we haven’t gone to one of those yet. First I asked him to try the New Age one that I’d gone to before. That was too contemporary for him. So next we tried a traditional service at his sister and brother in-law’s church. It was okay, but he agreed we could go to one of the contemporary services. I fell in love it right away. I left feeling energized and ready to live for God. He said even he liked it. So, we agreed to compromise and go to both. He and I both get what we need with God.

I have been to a number of churches, some I was serious about, some only went once or twice with friends or family for special occasions. I been to Catholic, Lutheran, Lutheran Evangelical Free, Evangelical Free, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Non-Denominational, e.t.c churches. They have all had some different to offer. Sometimes I wish there weren’t so many different denominations though, that we could all just consider ourselves Christian and leave it at that. Sometimes I think having those different sects within the Christian faith divides us, when we should all be united in Christ’s love for us and our love for both Him and for one another. I do understand that each person needs something different and our walks with God are as unique as we are. But is one denomination better than another? It seems that some feel that way. I don’t think any one sect is better or more Christian. If you love God with all of your heart, you live to honor Him, and you love others like Christ does…this is what matters, not whether you’re Lutheran or Methodist. When people ask me “what I am”, I simply say, “Christian” and leave it at that.

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