Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hotmess, Hooligans and My Cell Phone

I am sitting here today knowing that I need to write. I need to get out more stories and help others, but It’s hard some days to face my past without fear of what it will mean to my future. Matt told me to just keep going “what’s the next part of your life?” “what is the next story?” 

I love hearing from everyone who is following along with me during this time, but at the same time it scares me. I am like “oh no, you’re reading this. Please don’t stop being my friend!” Even though I pray that during this process, that God is taking me through, I won’t lose any of you, I know that my story could possibly strike a nerve that hurts you as well. 

So for today let’s not go too deep. Let me tell you about a recent story. 

How about when I called my poor husband during his busy day at work and told him “A Hooligan stole me cellphone!” in a tone that meant drop everything and come track him down! 

Yesterday, I met Emily and the boys at the lake near our house (I am starting think they are ponds, not lakes, but maybe lakes - anyway they are man made bodies of water that have fish and ducks). We normally meet twice a week to walk and to have our therapy sessions with each other. I just listen, but Emily, she gives me some serious therapy sessions (I should start paying her). 

Toward the end of our time together. Bekah had her first public potty accident as she was climbing up to take one more trip down the slide. It was stressful to say the least. Since she was soaked down to her white easter shoes (because you know that is the perfect footwear for a park) I let her ride in the stroller while Morgan walked. Now, Morgan (God love her) has two speeds: run as fast as her little legs will let her or little old grandma. Of course, since I was in a hurry to get Bekah to the comfort of our car Morgan chose little old grandma and it took us much longer than normal. We also had to stop to look at every turtle and duck along the way. 

Before we crossed the street to our cars Emily and I compared Fitbit steps to praise each other for sweating our hinny-es off in the Houston humidity. (mine is always off and Emily is always ahead of me - I think it’s the stroller). I am quiet sure I slide my cellphone back into the crease in my stroller’s canopy because that is where I keep it safely while I walk. Since Bekah was still in the stroller (all 35 pounds of her), I had to pick up Morgan to cross the street (because she was not ready to leave). It was a sight probably. Me pushing the stroller with one hand and trying to hold up a fighting kid - we’ve all been there right?  I safely got the girls in the van, said my goodbyes to Emily and drove home. 

As I pulled into my drive way I thought “urgh I left me cellphone in the stroller again.” Yep, this happens quite often. After getting Bekah out and sending her inside to take her pee soaked clothes off I stopped by the trunk to get my phone before getting Morgan out of her seat. I opened the canopy - no phone. I went to  the front seat - no phone. I looked by Morgan’s seat - no phone. Oh crap! I can’t afford a new phone right now! I quickly got Bekah back in the car and headed straight back to the lake. I scanned the street as I pulled up to where I had been parked before, no sign of the phone. I got out, looked in the grass, no phone. I even asked a fat duck who waddled up hoping for more bread, “have you seen my phone?”

I got back in the car and went across the street where I had checked my Fitbit steps. I kicked my feet through the grass, no phone. I started to freak a bit. I checked through the van, again no phone. (I keep saying car, but Shirley is a van - yep, she has a name). I quickly (but safely) drove home (less than 5 minutes) and grabbed my ipad. This is where I stress to you the importance of the Find iPhone app - it’s a big deal when you lose your phone. I found my phone, but it was in a neighborhood by the lake and it was MOVING! That is when I first thought, Oh my goodness, some hoodlum stole my phone. Where they watching me? How did they get it so quickly?  I watched in horror as my phone traveled though the neighborhood to a convenient store down the street. Yep, I threw the girls back in the van and head down there. I am not sure what I was planning on doing looking like a hot sweaty mess not to mention having a kid in the back seat wearing just cinderella panties and a starwars t-shirt. I drove through the parking lot and eyeballed everyone - no one seem to look glittery. You know a “I just took someone’s iPhone” look. There weren’t really any hoopty cars because you know that is what a cellphone stealer drives, so I decided to head home. 

Since my iPad runs off of wifi the map popped back up again as soon as pulled into the driveway, now my phone was at the edge of a gated community between my house and the major highway. “Maybe they dumped it” I thought, so I backed out (safely - I just knew I’d get in a wreck with no phone and the before mentioned hot mess state) and headed that way. I slowly drove around the entrance hoping I’d see my navy Pray More Worry Less phone case in the grass. I found nothing. 

I headed back to my drive way just to see my phone at an elementary school. I mean, really? It was going all over the place. I keep using the play sound feature on the phone which emits a loud sound from the phone so you can find it. I also had started Lost Mode earlier which included a message and Matt’s number for them to call when my phone was found. Or as I thought when the criminals couldn’t handle the loud noise and wanted to turn themselves in. 

It was at this point when I used my FaceTime audio to call Matt at work. I was in tears, “Some hooligans (or I could have said hoodlums) stole my phone! What am I going to do?” He was at a loss, pretty much there is nothing that we could do, but watch it travel around the map of our area. I was heart broken especially since I haven’t been able to backup my phone in months - so many pictures. 

I went inside (of course after getting the girls out of the van) and just stared at the map. When I saw my phone in a neighborhood next to our church and changed my lost message to say “Please please please stop. Give me my phone back. You can take it to St John. They know me there. Just please give it back” like I was pleading for the life of my child. Then my iPad rang. Matt said “go to the CVS. There will be a Fedex truck there. He has your phone.” Praise the Lord! 

My hot-mess self loaded my poor girls up again and met a Fedex delivery guy in the parking lot. “Do you know where I found your phone?” he asked. “In the middle of the street?” I asked. “IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET” he said in a scolding tone and then laughed. I started laughing and said “I just realized why it keep traveling everywhere - you were making deliveries - ha!” He told me that it keep going off, but the alert didn’t come up except for my pathetic plea at the end. 

Looking back I wish I got his name, his card or something. I owe that Fedex guy. He saved me and I could have just hugged him (and that’s big coming from me). Moral of the story don’t put my cellphone in the canopy of my stroller and don’t jump to conclusions about the people who actually save you! 

Hey, at least Bekah’s theory wasn’t correct either when she said, “Mom did a big duck take your phone?” Trust me as I saw my phone travel all over the place I thought about it for a minute - I’ve been watching way too many cartoons. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Story: Circle of Redemption

In Priscilla Shirer’s book (and bible study), Gideon she discusses the Israelites and the Circle of Redemption.  If you are familiar with the 6th chapter of Judges you will recall that at the beginning of just about every paragraph it says “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” They just could not keep it straight, constantly going back to following other gods. 

Today I want to talk a little about the Circle of Redemption (which I wrote out in my journal a few months ago) and how I saw it relating to my story. 

So the way the cycle goes is:

Rejection of God’s Way: pretty simple - doing/acting opposite of God’s plan for your life or opposite of His commandments. 
Decline of God’s People: Yep, trust me when you pile on those sins then you will see a decline. It can be physical and emotional. If affects you and those around you. 
Consequences called by God’s hand: oh that word “consequences.” There are so many consequences for our sins - they can come in so many different forms. 
Restored relationship with the Lord. 

Now Priscilla was writing this to show how this happened generation after generation for those poor Israelites, but I was like “wait, that’s me.” I could put my life events clearly into this circle three precise times. 

Last week I shared with you my first time through the circle. At the age of 14 my rejection of God’s way started. I experienced some serious decline which in turn lead to consequences that I still deal with today. Now, I want to share with you step 4: a restored relationship because I did have some really good years in my late teens, early twenties. 

So, first off I spent the summer when I was 17 with my Meme. This meant that I had a full dose of Jesus on pretty much a daily basis. Which reminds me of a funny story about my Meme and how she NEVER STOPPED PRAYING. You see, Meme would sit quietly and then you would hear her say “praise Jesus” in a soft whisper. She’d be driving, “praise Jesus.” Walking though a store, “praise Jesus.” Everyone kind of thought she was a bit crazy, but looking back that lady was praying her little heart out. I am not sure there ever was a time she was not praying for someone (a lot of times me - for many many years to come). (which seems a bit odd since I say I get most of my worrying from her - she seemed to always tell you how worried she was - hmm. - I am sure she was praying about that too - because I pray about my worrying often). 

I spent most of my days hanging out with my Meme. I spent many an evening with her SAGE (Seasoned Adults Gaining Enrichment) friends. There I learned the benefit of spending time with the “Seasoned Adults” in your church. You can learn a lot about life over a game of Bingo. Come On! (please remind me to write about the phrase “come on!” if I haven’t already, I haven’t right?) These are days that I would not trade for anything. I learned about friendship spending time with Meme and her BFF, Fran (I’ve written about Fran here). 

My best friend, Sara, and I met when I was nine. We got three good years together before I moved to South Texas. We kept in touch through letter (oh those were the days of mail, not texts) and then when I came back our friendship flourished. It was a good thing (stay tuned though, things don’t always turn out as great as they start). 

I was attending church every Sunday, sitting right next to my Meme. I felt all kinds of uncomfortable attending youth group because I felt so behind in my bible knowledge (like Moses in the basket is the only story I knew - my Aunt Mary bought my a bible story book one year when I was young).

I feel like I am just rambling on with only one real point - things were really good. 

Also, during this summer, Meme taught my a skill that would be so rewarding for many years to come. I learned to sew. Picked out fabric, pinned and sewed patterns. I was able to (with her help) sew dresses for myself. If you know me today, you know that skill (even though I haven’t really used it in the past year) has paid off big time. 

Another great point was that I was able to enroll in school (thank goodness I skipped those GED classes) and was able to graduate on time. You see before my demise I was a very bright student, I was so ahead in my credit that I could have graduated a year earlier, but I say “instead I took about a year off from school.” I did have to take one English class through Texas Tech, but other than that I was able enroll and finish my Senior Year on time (class of 1996). 

Going to a new school for just my senior year was interesting. I knew absolutely no one (take that back - I knew two people that I went to junior high with before I moved, but most people I knew before were at another school). Hindsight being what it is, I should have applied for a transfer and spent my senior year with people I knew. I guess that I was kind of blessed since this wasn’t my first time at a new school, though I wish I was better at making friend then, it wasn’t too bad. 

If you are keeping up with my stories, during my senior year in high school I met my first husband. I think he was the only strong friendship I made that year in school. Outside of school I had a great core of friends. It was good, it was healthy - it was more than I ever thought I would have. I real childhood again. I was a teenager, again. I had some serious restoration with God. 

That being said, I still was not “perfect”. There was still some things I was doing that my Meme would not approve of. Oh you know, premarital things and some underage drinking, but nothing compared to my previous life - nothing at all compared to what I had been through. 

Even though things were good, I think during my late teens is when I struggled the most with fitting in (well maybe not the most, but it’s really a big part of what I remember about myself then). I was always wishing I was thinner, prettier, had better hair. During the summer with my Meme I learned that I could take laxatives that could help me lose weight - I am so glad it didn’t last long because it was so unhealthy. (And let me just say that my Meme did not teach me this - it was something I picked up from watching something on TV. It’s super unhealthy and has physical side affects that still plague me - so don’t do it!)  Also, during my senior year I became addicted to an over the counter caffeine/speed pill called No-dooz (you know back in the day when they had a horrible ingredient in them similar to meth - lovely, huh?).  In turn, I look back at pictures of myself and think “why in the world did I have a problem. I was thin and I as very cute - oh the things we do to ourselves. 

I needed this time. I needed to heal. I am so grateful for the relationship that I formed with my grandmother and even more thankful with the restored relationship I had with God. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our Names

Today I am taking a break from the heavy stuff (but I’ll have more to share tomorrow) to link up with Andrea over at Momfessionals and share my story about Names!

First off, let’s talk about me! My name is Dana Rae (incase you missed that). I was named after a male soap opera star - not sure which show and not sure why,  but my mom just really like Dana.  (and I have yet to meet a male Dana) Rae is a family name. It is my great grandmothers’ maiden name and my grandmother’s middle name (My Granny’s middle name). My parents where really hoping for a boy which they would have named Luke Rae, after my paternal grandfather, Luther. I think I got off easy seeing as how I could have been named after some other women in my family like Fannie Rae or Maedelle. 

In September of 2001 my dear Shelby was was born. Now, Shelby originally started out being Skylar then, she turned in to Sidney. One afternoon while I was in my second trimester, I watched Steele Magnolias, for  the umpteenth billion time, and it hit me - SHELBY! Her fully name is Shelby Elizabeth. Elizabeth is my Meme’s middle name. Since this would be her first great granddaughter I thought it was perfect and In case you  didn’t know I had very strong bond with my Meme, so I knew it was meant to be. If Shelby would have been a boy the name I selected was Austin Glenn - so glad she is a girl! 

Before I became pregnant with Bekah I wrote a blog about my Aunt Becky and said that if I ever had another daughter I would name her Rebecca after my aunt. Well, when we found out that we were having a girl it was a bit of a chore to get Matt to agree on Rebecca since he went to college with a Becca that annoyed him to no end. We came to a compromise when we changed her name to the biblical spelling, Rebekah.  We knew that we wanted to keep with the grandmother tradition and named her Rebekah Genevieve after Matt’s material grandmother who passed away the year before we were married. I really can’t remember what Bekah’s boy name was - I know his middle name would have been Matthew, but I am sure as we usual we debated about a dozen names. 

Now, with Morgan we didn’t talk names until we knew we were having a girl. After we revealed the gender to Shelby and Bekah (you can read about it here) we went to dinner and scribbled out names on a napkin. I think I was pushing for Harper or Lola (which is my Granny’s name) and of course my husband was not for any name that sounded “old”. Morgan was the first (in a long list) of names that we agreed on, so Morgan was it! Again, keeping with tradition. Morgan’s middle name is Lynne after Matt’s grandmother Evelynne (she also goes by Lynne). I also have no clue what name we would have selected for a boy. 

So, how did you came up with your children’s names? Was it easy or do you have a husband who is very serious about name selection, too? 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Light of the World Forever Reign

You are more, You are more

Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Enjoy! I hope you have an Amazing Sunday! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Story: The Early Years

You’ll never hear me say, “Oh I had such a terrible childhood.” That is so far from the truth. My sister and I grew up very privileged. We had everything and more. I can say that that privilege did come at a cost. My parents worked very hard (especially my mother) to keep us in a nice upper middle class home, to keep us in designer clothing and to pay for vacations.

When I talk about my childhood (late elementary school/junior high age) I normally say that my parents got into that late 80s/early 90s trap of working as hard as you can to make a lot of money to just spend it on things. They were suburban yuppies (you may want to google that if it was before your time). When you have a child whose primary love language is quality time and you work almost continuously disaster is inevitable. 

This is the easiest part of my story to tell because I was young. It reminds my of the Maya Angelou quote “when you know better, you do better.” But as a mother of a 13 year old, this part of my story is the scariest. 

Before I continue, I want to say that the “when you know better, you do better” quote also applies to my parents. I admit I’ve carried around years and years of bitterness towards the decisions they made while I was a child, but being a mother (of a teenager) I have fully understood grace. Even perfect parents have decisions that they wish they made differently. To to make one thing perfectly clear to you - I have zero plans to claim to be a victim of my parents decisions.  The stories I am about to tell were things I DID - I had the ability to change my actions - I had the ability to take a different path in my life, but I did not. My parents did the best they could to maintain their lifestyle and raise two strong willed daughters. 

I also have many great memories of my childhood, just not that many during my teen years, which I plan to share with you today, but they were still there. We still had family gatherings. I still hugged my daddy and he still loved me through all of this. My parents would have never wished this for their daughter, but I think they just did not have the tools to get me out of the mess I am about to share with you. And they hurt for me, my mother endured medical problems including a ulcer trying to get me through these years. Also, I will be sharing things today that they don’t even know about - so please pray for them as they read through this.  I just want you to know (which you probably do) that I love my parents so much and forgiveness and grace comes as I heal from my teenage years. 

It’s funny that I am deciding to share this at this time in my life. A time when quite a few of my close friends didn’t have sex before marriage (including my husband) and many more of my friends have had only one maybe two sexual partners. I’ve never had so many friends likes this - I think it’s the benefit of being surrounded with people who were raised with a strong faith. I’ve never wished I was someone more (and I know I shouldn’t think that way). I would love to understand that feeling of being with the same person you gave that precious gift to. 

Not the best picture since I had to cut out the boyfriend, but this is how young I was. 

I was fourteen when I gave my virginity away. Fourteen - it was the summer before I started High School. I was as mature as Shelby is today - that is frightening. 

Before I get into how that feels and where that leads you in life, I want to share a little bit on how I got there. I am hoping if you have a teenage girl that maybe you’ll use these things as warning signs - oh my…I’ve become a warning. 

When I was twelve a decision was made to move from North Texas to far South Texas. I say far because if you look at a map of Texas and find the furthest part at the bottom of the map, we moved just to the right of that. I was raised on South Padre Island and when I tell people that, they say “oh wow, that would have been a blast” to which a think “not really.” 

Without going into all the details (not sure if I will later) I experienced what you might call reverse racism (forgive me if I am wrong with that term). I was a very fair complected, red haired girl in a very small school that was at least 95% hispanic. I stuck out like sore thumb and was reminded that every day. It got worse when boys started to notice me and I became the target of bullying due to the attention I was getting. When I was in the seventh grade an untrue rumor was spread about me performing oral sex to a classmate (in the seventh grade! My stomach hurts right now just typing that). It was so untrue, but it so gave me a reputation that I thought I had no way of repairing. I closed in - I hated school and after school I would stay in my room eating my feelings. I quickly gained a good twenty pounds which just added to my self esteem issues. I had a few friends, but those relationships just led to backstabbing and the normal junior high drama. I was so depressed. I remember thinking, I just want to go home (to North Texas). 

Then it started to happen. I took what others were saying and started to believe it, all. I thought I was ugly, but boys thought I was pretty and that made me feel good. I believed the rumor about myself that I was “easy” so I started experimenting with sexually un-pure things. I quickly discovered that if I did things then boys want to hang out with me.They wanted to spend time with me and if you know anything about the Five Love Languages I was quickly having my love tank filled. But you see the thing is (and I’ve had these discussions with Shelby), no one really loves when they are thirteen. I was getting the attention that I so longed for at home, but it lead to nothing - to hurt. 

That summer before high school, I started to believe Love Equals Sex. And since it did, me having sex with a guy would make him love me forever. If you are an adult reading this you know the error in my thinking and your heart is probably aching as much as mine is at this moment. If, by chance you are a teenager, let me tell you that outside of a committed marriage sex NEVER equals love. (also if you are a minor reading this please go talk to your parents now - this is something that needs to be talked out based on your family’s faith).

So I looked for love from boys. Which is an untrue statement. My first to sexual partners were legally adults while I was very much a minor. Four years is a big age difference when you are 14 and sleeping with 18 and 19 year olds (again, my stomach is hurting for that child). 

I always know that I’m giving you all my soul when I have to stop and cry while writing. Man, these words are hard to type. I just want to hug that young child and tell her that she didn’t want to do this. That what she is doing would effect every relationship for the rest of her life. That even twenty-three years later it would be so hard to not associate sex with hurt. 

Pretty quickly after starting to have sex, alcohol started. I remember being in Mexico when I was fourteen drinking - does that scare the mothers out there? I was stuck in a vicious cycle of needing to be loved, hoping my actions would cause love, not getting what I wanted and drinking to fit in (and to calm the pain). My girlfriends and I would skip school and spend the day cleaning out my parents liquor cabinet. My parents barely drank at the time so they didn’t notice that their vodka was water and the whiskey was Dr. Pepper. A trick I’d later use in high school as I drank to get through a day of school. 

I entered high school in a town that about 30 minutes away from South Padre Island (where all of my bullying took place a year or two before). It was a good school for me, but I was still sexually active and drinking. Then a decision was made to move back to the island, back into the horrible school with the kids who already labeled me a “slut” years before. Let me tell you, they didn’t forget the redhead and that totally sucked. 

As I ended my Freshman year in high school alcohol lead to drugs. What started out as smoking a little pot led to ecstasy, which led to acid, which led to cocaine which ultimately would lead to meth. Have you ever heard the story of the frog in boiling water? You see if you just try to toss a live frog in boiling water then he will jump out, but if you put in a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature he’ll never realize he is being boiled. It’s crazy how quickly it happens, but it is so slow that you can’t see how fast you are falling. (Am I making sense?) I know in my heart if you asked that 14 year old girl if she would be a drug addicted by the age of 16 she would say no. 

I quickly got myself into relationships that would make drugs something that was gift given to me or payment for services rendered. Did I just type that? I have a few years in there (15 to 17) that I guess weren’t that eventful because I don’t have stories - wait yes I do. 

My second boyfriend and I had an on again/off again relationship which lasted until I was 17 (so we were together about 3 years which meant I would grow old with him, right?). Well, this is a guy my parents didn’t agree with at all quite possibly because I was sixteen and he was 20 or 21. Anyway, I first became a run away at 16. I’ve blogged about it before. I just woke up one morning and never went to school. I was gone a good three or four days before my father found me walking down the road in the middle of the night. Of course I felt my life was over since I couldn’t be with my boyfriend. I left home again and again until finally they gave up and let the relationship happen. I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 and dropped out of school during the second semester for my junior year. The boyfriend’s father was wealthy and got us an apartment. It was all great - my happily ever after. 

The happiness ended when he was drunk and trapped me in a corner during an argument. This quickly escalated to my first experience with physical abuse. As I type this I can give thanks to God that there were other people in our apartment that day. He was pulled off of me and I forgave him believing it was alcohol induced anger. No less than a week later I angered him again as I sat on our kitchen counter talking to my friend. I was pulled off the counter by my hair, dragged in to our small bathroom and throw into our bathtub all the while enduring punches. It took three guys to get him off of me that time and I was done. I left and I have told that story with such “look at the strong woman I am” gusto so many times, but to be honest I broke that relationship off that night and then found myself in bed with one of the guys who helped save me. Because he loved me right? Um, yeah, not really. 

In a span of a week  I was on to another relationship this guy helped with my homeless status and I lived in his station wagon on the beach. He also helped me fall further into a drug addiction and experimenting with things like opium. I quickly became part of a drug ring. Not selling, but just a girl that hangs out (read into that all you want because it’s probably all true). I went from the station wagon to living on a top level drug dealers sofa. I saw more than I ever should about that world of drugs and I can just say that God had a protective bubble over me during that time. I attended far too many funerals during my teen years. 

I’ve lost so many days between January (moved into apartment) of 1995 until May of 1995 all the while I lived more life in those 5 months than many people. I wish I could say I lived it traveling and see the world, but I didn’t. I really can’t remember a lot of it. I do remember being dropped at my parents house with alcohol poisoning after spending an entire day in Mexico. My poor mother was probably beside herself since I looked (and probably was) near death. I did things during those four months that I wish I didn’t remember, things that haunt me at night. 

It all came to a head when I was wrapping up a weekend of entertaining drug dealers from Michigan. I felt betrayed by my best friend who was going through this journey with me - she was just as messed up as me - our brokenness kept us together. I had just had a bad trip on acid that a dear friend (a guy) had to come and nurse me out of. Station Wagon Guy (who was still around) was fed-up with me. He created (or laid out or whatever) a line of cocaine on the coffee table. I said I wasn’t really feeling it to which he said “do it or get out of here. You have no friends here. There is no love for you here.” He was right. There was no love - there never was. 

I stood up, left behind any of my belongings and walked (a good two miles) to my parents house. I walked in the door and said “I am ready to go home.” My mom knew exactly what I meant, didn’t ask any questions and the next day I was in a car headed to North Texas. My Meme, probably unbeknownst to her, was with me during detox and she showed me the grace I needed. That summer when I was 17 was when our bond was formed. She showed my Jesus, she was Jesus to me and was exactly what I needed to start my healing.

I wish I could go back in a say I saw God working here or there while I was experiencing this (before I went back to North Texas), but I didn’t. I had nothing to ground me during this time. I had no hope. I had no redeemer. I knew about Jesus, but had zero clue about being saved or how that related to sin. And grace was what my Meme said before holiday meals. I remember asking my parents when I was sixteen if i was going hell and they both just looked stunned. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but also knew nothing about forgiveness. 

That poor girl needed help, real help. I needed drug and alcohol counseling and probably some counseling for self abuse. I lost friends. My best friend, who I mentioned earlier, suffered a heart attack shortly after I left. She survived. People who were my friends are now in jail or are fried from their drug use or sadly escaped South Texas, but still saw an early death. It’s all so sad. There were so many of us - so many girls like me. So many that I wish I could just hug and say “you are so more than this.” 

As I was writing this today this song played on my Pandora channel. Let me tell you I cried and raised my hands up to Heaven. I have felt every one of these lyrics. 

You cry yourself to sleep
Cause the hurt is real and the pain cuts deep
All hope seems lost with heartache your closest friend
And everyone else long gone
You've had to face the music on your own
But there is a sweeter song that calls you home, saying

You're not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every tear
My love, I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life
All your life

Thank you for hanging with me through this - it was a long one. I am sure more pieces will become clear for me and I will get deeper into my writing about these three years. Man, three years - that’s it? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Her Faith Radiates Like a Convection Oven

Last night Shelby completed her Faith Statement Interview. This is part of the process she goes through to be confirmed. I was hoping to provide you with a link that would give you a concise explanation of what it means to be confirmed, but that does not seem to be an easy task. I will explain more in a later post. 

Tonight, Shelby had to read her faith statement in front of our Pastor, our Family Life Minister and an Elder. As you may know our Pastor is Shelby’s grandfather (grandad), so this added a level of nervousness. 

I took this video before her meeting. 

Reading though her statement one last time. 

This is Shelby’s faith statement:

Hi my name is Shelby and this is my Faith Statement. 

I believe that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. I believe that God has created this earth for our living bodies that he has created to live on this world that is full of sins but a the same time full of Christianity. 

I believe that Jesus Christ is the true God and true man, who came down to earth to share the gospel of the Lord (she typed lord). I also believe that Jesus was the son of the Virgin Mary. 

I believe that the Holy Spirit lives in me and I experience  him through my convections (oh yeah she typed and said it - see the video below). 

My baptism means to me that I have been accepted into God’s family and when Jesus said “Go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you alway to the very end in age.” (Matthew 29:19-20) These instructions are saying that Jesus has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. 

When I think of Holy Communion I think to the times I am kneeling at the communion rail and thinking about how Jesus’ death gave us forgiveness and how the next day he was on that cross and died because of our sins. 

A person who is preparing themselves to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ should think about their sins and how God forgave us for this sins that put him on that cross. 

My Mom, Dana, has a positive influence on my faith, ever since she has been married to my stepdad, Matt, she has just been more involved with her faith, and I know that may seem like she was a bad mom before she was married to Matt but she really wasn’t. She was a Godly person and we went to church but at some times we were not on the same path as God, it’s like we were on two separate paths. As she continues to write about her faith and how it impacted her life I see that I want to see God as she sees God. I want to talk to God every day and see what he has in store for me! 

I intended to grow my faith by getting involved with the church and share the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness with people who have not heard it before. 

Looking into the future 10, 20 or 50 years from now I see myself still going to church and going around to sharing the word of the Lord everywhere I go to people who come my way and need a better understanding of God and who he is and what he has done. 

I want to be confirmed because I have learned a lot about God these past 3 years which I would love to take all this knowledge that I know about him and share the impact that my relationship with him that had on my life. 

So a few run-ons, some typos, but a pretty perfect confession of her faith. She kind of sounds like me, huh? I guess she is hearing me when I speak. 

Afterwards, we did a follow-up video and you can tell that the stress was gone. Pay close attention to my crazy daughter’s face! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Ugly Word that Starts with H

I’ve been debating about this post for days. It keeps come back to me, so I think this issue needs  addressed (the issue not the person - keep reading). 

Last week after I posted about my first marriage my friend Emily got me out of the house to walk. God sent me such an amazing friend. She supports me through all this craziness, listens to my struggling, and helps me in my goals to become a healthier person. Anyway, we were making laps around the playground as our kids played when I got the notification. I am so glad that Emily was there at that moment even though I remember her saying, “I am just so confused.” It was hard for both of us to process and understand. 

You see last week (at that moment in the park) I got my first “You are a hypocrite” email. 

At first it affected me. 

Then it didn’t affect me. 

But now it still kind of is and I feel the subject of being a “Christian Hypocrite” should be addressed. 

You know what this reminds me of? There is a girl that I grew up with who shares her life very publicly, but also sells a product that she may over share a bit on on Facebook. She has a tendency to take anyone’s criticism of her and repost it for her 1,000+ followers to unleash hate on that person. Normally, unjustified hate that is spewed as insults on this person who made the mistake of criticizing (or questing the judgement) of this girl (or should I say woman).  I DO NOT WANT THAT happening here I plan to not share a single word of the email I received and I want you to fully understand that the writer has been hurt by my actions in the past combined with my current words. I believe there are other hurts that caused her to reach out to me that are not associated with me. No matter her reasoning I feel the word “Hypocrite” should be addressed before I continue sharing my story. 

***Now you may say, Dana why not just take all of this and send it back to her in an email. Well, faceboook has prohibited me from responding to the message probably due privacy restrictions. And, also, I feel that others may have the same questions so why not just address it now. 

The definition of hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform. So, if you are preaching “do not drink diet dr. pepper”, but you drink a twelve pack a day, that would be hypocrisy - you see? 

Oh man this word mixed with being a Christian really does hurt my heart. I can totally see how this can happen. From the outside Christians seem to have it all together (or people think that we that we think we have it all together - ya follow), but in reality I have yet to find a Christian who does not have some sort of sin in their life - not one. It’s not really possible because as the bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). 

By the time I get through telling my entire story you will see that I’ve broken all ten commandments. I’ve (unfortunately) lived enough life for about 3 or 4 people. I feel that while doing that I’ve picked up a bunch of knowledge. Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t go around saying “Oh I know everything about having a child outside of marriage”, but I have done it both ways and for me having a child in a loving, committed (by a commitment made with God as #1) far outweighs what it felt like to have a child outside of marriage. Again, I don’t go around just spewing advice, but I have been know it give advice when it is asked for. For the longest time I have given advice out of love and have shared my experiences along the way. I do everything in my power to not judge anyone - far be it for me to judge given my history. Now, there are sometimes when people understand the choices in my life and why I am giving advice the way I do. 

These are choices that I usually make because I have seen what sin has done in my life (not that I don’t still have sin in my life). When you compare my actions or how I live my life today you have to understand my past. You have to understand that I have been torn down and God has rebuilt me. When He does that you don’t come out the same on the other side. In many cases He changes just about everything about you. There is no way you can compare the words I type today to the person that I was 8 or 9 years ago. We are two different woman. 

Which seems like a perfect time to bring in a statement that I have heard multiple times. I have addressed it once before in my blog (five years ago), but it came up again in the email I received (yep…I am sharing one part of the email). 


Yep, I just shouted that because it drives me INSANE! I always already on this path with God before Matt came into my life. If anything Matt probably wishes there were some old me still in me, but I think he is pretty happy with his wife. 

Again, I think that this comes with me not fully sharing my “hell” before. If you knew what life was for me 8/9 years ago you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy, so why do you want me to go back to her? I was not physically healthy, I was not mentally healthy and was so far away from my faith it’s frightening. I almost lost my child, my home and my life during that period of time. I hurt my family and anyone who tried to get close to me. So, when you say I’ve changed I say “Oh hell yeah I have.” (not sure if that’s considered an inappropriate statement). 

I hope this makes sense or has helped you to understand where I am coming from. I try my best (with prayer) to not come into any situation with judgement. And if you feel the need to pray for me then I welcome all our prayers. 

I want to leave you with this, I am sure I’ve seen it around Facebook.