Category Archives: Parenthood

Hope for the birds in the ‘Doves Nest’

I never went to a rehab center, but it wasn’t because I shouldn’t have. It’s because no one knew there was a need. Not even when I needed it most. I saw the segment on this bible study I’ve been doing for a month, and I want you ladies to know, you’re always on my mind.  You’ve probably heard the reference to the Bible verse many times by now (Matthew 6:25-30), about how God loves everyone, and He provides what ever we need – He even protects and provides for the sparrow, such a tiny creature that seems insignificant and overlooked by people, but never by their Creator.  That was how I felt when I was doing drugs. Insignificant and overlooked by people, and I couldn’t trust God enough to see Him as my Creator back then.

As women, we’re raised to be the nurturing half of a family.  We’re expected to put our feelings last, and that to think of ourselves before anyone else is a sin.  That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when you’re raised in a home where addiction is the quick escape to your miseries.  I was drinking hard liquor by the time I was 14 and smoking dope by that age, and doing it daily by the time I was a junior in high school – and still performing great in all my classes, so no one had a clue.  I’m pretty shocked now, as I look back, being a mother now of three daughters, that even though I was also – at that tender age – dating multiple sexual partners and enjoying every minute of it, that no one thought that might be a silent scream for help as well. I shouldn’t be too shocked, after all, no one knew that I was being raped when I was in preschool by my uncle either. No one cared when I tried to kill myself at age 17, because for some reason the 32 pills I swallowed had no affect on my body.  I simply took about a 2 hour nap, and woke up with a headache I’ll never forget as long as I live. I swear I could hear my grandmother on Mom’s side, talking to me as I woke up, telling me that I was going to be alright and that she was watching over me, telling me she understood how I felt and that she had carried those same burdens when she was my age. She died when I was 11.

I just wanted to tell you all at the Dove’s Nest, that I’m praying for your recovery and your future, and for the past to be just that – a part of you that has passed, and left there. You shall overcome, because God is molding you into a Greater Being, taking the worst and creating cornerstones for a well rounded individual with a heart of gold, who can stand up against any evil knowing you are never without Jesus Christ.

I don’t know if any of you ladies are from the South (capitalized cause, it’s an attitude we have), but this song by Dolly Parton, recorded many years back when George Bush Sr was still President, for 20 years has given me so much hope.

Your friend in Tennessee, Carolyn.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Becoming a “foster parent”

In every situation, God speaks to us. That’s what I find, anyway.  It’s the littlest things, you know? Where grace can be easily found, if you are willing to just do what God puts in your heart.  Sometimes that takes a little courage. It may be especially scary when times are tough and finances, food, and everything you have is in such small amounts. The good news is, all you need is a big heart. God will provide all of our needs when we put our faith and trust in Him (Matthew 6:25-26).

5 days ago, we received some very sad news about some friends of ours who we had not seen in about 8 months. A married couple.  They were our neighbors when we lived in that campground, just ten feet from us. We shared meals together every day, spent time in each others homes every day, and our dogs became best friends, despite both of their breeds (Chihuahua and Jack Russell) making each territorial and dominant.  Our friends became very lost after we moved….they separated, and recently got back together, except during the course of their split, the woman had become a meth addict, even cooking it herself. Her husband took her back knowing that, and within just 3 days of her return, they were busted for making meth, right there in their tiny trailer home.

My husband and I were both shocked.  Everyone we knew from that campground was texting us or contacting us on Facebook to tell us the news. The sheriff, fire department, haz mat team had come, had taken the mans truck, tools, trailer, ripping out all their belongs, hosing down the couple, burning a great deal of things. It was very scary. I’m a little glad I wasn’t there to see it.  Once we got over the shock of the news, both my husband and I immediately thought “What about their dog?” What had happened to her?  Where was she? God was putting a thought in both our hearts: Help Shotzi.

I started asking around. It turns out that at the time of the bust, one of the neighbors there in the campground acted very quickly and grabbed the Jack Russell  mix while the house was being stripped and the couple was being arrested, so she wasn’t in the pound.  She couldn’t keep the dog because she can’t even afford to pay her rent and feed herself. I immediately drove the 45 minute trip to where we used to live and picked up Shotzi. I was worried about bills on the way. Worried about gas money, about the long wait til the next pay day when I could stock the fridge and pantry.  I was listening to K-LOVE, the radio station my car radio stays on 24/7. The female DJ was talking between songs about how, no matter what the situation is in your life right now, God is the Great Provider. I needed that reminder! I knew everything would some how be OK and that this was what God wanted us to do. All we had to do was answer the call, and trust in the process and give it to Him.

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When I first saw her, she immediately remembered me, even though we hadn’t seen her in 8 months! She greeted me with a thousand licks. She was visibly shaken. Her eyes echoed the loss and confusion of not knowing what was happening, why she lost her family. Unlike her normal self, she was docile and malaise. I knew it was from exposure to the meth fumes. It had been 3 days at that point.  During our ride home, I talked to her as if she could talk back to me. I told her how sad I was to hear about what had happened, and how I knew her family could find some peace knowing that she would be staying at our home for how ever long they couldn’t be with her, even if that meant years. I know Shotzi knew I was there to help her. She gratefully crawled in my lap as I drove home, wanting nothing more than to be as close as she could to something she knew was safe.

When I got us home to our little trailer, she recognized it immediately, running up the steps to our door. She saw Adam and instantly rushed to him, giving her whimpers and woofs and chirping barks, telling him everything that had happened in the last few days. Her expression said “Ohhhhh my God, you would not believe what all has happened! You don’t smell the same but I don’t care!”

Lick-lick-lick-lick-lick-lick-lick.

Michi, our chihuahua was thrilled to have his girlfriend back. He seemed to understand without any explanation, that she was going to be a part of our little family, for however long she needed to be.

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I bathed her really good as soon as we got her settled in, to get the meth fumes off of her. They seeped from her skin for a few hours more, but by morning, she was smelling like a Jack Russell, using the bathroom normally and eating and drinking water normally, bouncing up and down, excited to go for walks and play fetch.

The first morning, waking up with her, I caught the most beautiful moment on camera, as Shotzi and Michi both seemed to share a deep conversation with Adam, who was still waking up.

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I think I know what Shotzi was saying. She was saying “Thank you.” Michi was saying “Dad, get up so I can have your nice, warm spot.” And thats what Michi did, as soon as Adam sat up.

We pray for our friends, that they will somehow find the healing they need through all that has happened.  We know the good they are capable of, and that everyone gets lost, and everyone makes mistakes.  I hope they can find peace knowing Shotzi is safe.

Giving comfort when the miracle doesn’t come

My story is not anything powerful or life changing. I’m a Christian who does not go to church. I’m not religious. I started this bible study because I don’t fit in anywhere, but I do know I need fellowship, and I would love it if it was with other Christian women, even if they do look at me like I’m a freak. I was a stay at home homeschooling mother of 4 children, who taught sunday school at church and vacation bible school, until 2 years ago when my (now ex) husband threw me out of our home after 17 years of marriage.  Although I never lost my faith in God, I did feel a lot like Job. I never imagined anyone could hurt that much. God showed me different.

I’m a barista at a Starbucks kiosk inside of a major corporate grocery store. We’re open from 6 am to 9 pm everyday. Last night, at 9:20 pm, after me and the other closing employee finished closing up the Starbucks and as we were walking together to clock out and go home, we ran into an older woman who came in the grocery store with one sole intention – to get a Starbucks White Mocha Latte.

You could tell she had been crying. She was visibly WIPED…and when she saw that we were not only closed but getting ready to walk out, she started to sob, again.  I calmly asked her what kind of drink she wanted, and she went into detail and said her son wanted a White Mocha, 120 degrees, no whip.  She also told us that he was dying in the hospital right across the street.  I don’t know if she meant he was dying that night or dying slowly, but I didn’t care.  I looked at the other barista and looked at her, and knew God was asking me to go back, reopen the kiosk, reassemble the espresso machine and dirty up quite a few machine parts just to make this one drink.  The other barista (the wife of a pastor) didn’t give me any verbal exchange, she just walked out the door.  I told the woman, “I’ll do it.”

I went back, reassembled the espresso machine and white mocha pump and made her a Venti White Mocha, 120 degrees, no whip, and made her the Venti Dark roast coffee she asked for when we got there (having to grid fresh coffee for a pour over, since the pots were already washed and broken down).  She didn’t go into much detail, but she broke down several times in those 5 minutes. I held her as I walked her over to the cash register in the grocery check out aisle so she could pay, since our register was already closed for the night.

She kept asking me why I went out of my way to reopen and make the drinks, did I know what it was like to watch my child die?  I told her about my youngest child who lives with Type 1 Diabetes and how its almost killed her 7 times in her 12 years, but that no, I still had no idea what it was like. I had lost my four children in a custody battle, and in losing them, I grieved as if they had all died, because they were my entire life, but no I didn’t know what it was like…I didn’t have to know, all I knew was this mother was going to lose her precious child soon…probably a man who was the same age as my husband and myself.  And that his dying wish was for something I could actually give him, and in doing so, bring some comfort to hopefully him and his mother, who wanted him to be out of pain and healed of the cancer.

Re-closing and rewashing twice in one night, and leaving a little bit later than normal, is worth being able to give comfort to someone who’s heart is breaking,  especially when the miracle they want doesn’t come. #YesToGod

Friendships and technology

True friendship is priceless and can’t be measured, contained, defined, or bound by any earthly means. I’m aware of that. But God put something in my heart just now, that will bust me at the seams if I don’t write it out. I wanted to look at how friendships have changed as technology has changed over just a lifetime.

In the 70’s: Hanging out with a friend meant going out of your house and walking,or riding your bike, to your friends house or to your favorite “hang out” corner, and talking face to face.  I remember walking a mile or more and thinking it was no big deal. I remember my great-grandmother walking that distance and she thought it was no big deal! You could also call someone on the phone, if that person had a phone. Fights, backstabbing and lies were less common, because the person doing the lying/backstabbing had to deal with their victim face to face.

In the late 80’s: we had this groovy brand new thing called the “world wide web” or “bulletin board” that required you to do a wild hook up with some Radio Shack purchased phone adapter gadget that looked like it was swallowing your phone – and I mean the old fashioned kind of phone, with a “microphone speaker” and a “voice speaker”, then dialing 16 numbers to connect long distance (which resulted in AT&T sending your mother a bill for $1000 the next month) to a server, and waiting for about 30 minutes for the connection, that would happen at the amazing speed of about 300 baud.  Never heard of baud? There’s a reason. This was usually encompassed by nights of D&D, inventing new DOS programs in order to play TIC TAC TOE on a green screen, and typing the words IF and THEN until your keyboard died. The connection was with usually 1 friend at a time. You had the ability to be anonymous only if that person could not track down your physical address by using your phone number.
aimiconBetween the early and late 90’s,people used e-mail to contact others, or chat rooms at places like AOL (these chatrooms were as crowded as a baseball stadium and getting the “boot” was an everyday experience). Writing an email required more thought back in those days – to actually type out a “letter” and type out the email address, and send it. The dial-up experience was getting a little faster, it was 9600 baud by then if memory serves, and phone companies were getting with the program by allowing free long distance!!!!!

Somewhere between 2000 – Myspace: Keeping in touch with friends meant going to a forum (writing an email to a friend and saying “You should check out this forum, we can talk there, they have a quiet and private chatroom!”), typing in yourscreen name and password, and reading pages and pages, finding “the right one” to respond to with your thoughts. Friendships were capable of being many, but a lot of contact meant a lot of multi-tasking. Connection time was DSL, very fast and reliable. A few more bullies, but it was manageable. You could always open your own free forum for your friends to use to get away from hurtful people online.

Myspace: Our first taste of instant gratification, mass appearances of anonymous bullying online, and speaking to friends and relatives very easily.

Facebook-Like-ButtonAnd then came wi-fi, Facebook, and mobile uploading of photos/status updates: Staying in touch with a friend or relative is as easy as following them on your news feed – in essence they come to you, so speaking to them requires no effort. At the same time, if you want to be a blazing asshole and show the world how much you need to shut your mouth by not doing so – no effort is required, and you can even do it anonymously, thanks to Facebook allowing multiple accounts to the same IP address (using a different email to set up an alternate account).

And then came the government legally monitoring every thing we say and who we contact, day to day. It was bound to happen, but did you notice that it only happened when we made it easy?

All of the above is a reminder to me of just how precious true friendships really are, and how with great power comes great responsibility.

Thank you to all of my friends for being there, especially the ones who have made every effort to stay in touch – through us all growing up and moving, through our marriages, divorces, job changes, technology changing around us, and our ever-changing homefront.

Signs of Equality

8545_10151845914042468_2116655436_nI love the equal signs that have flooded Facebook today!  The message is warm, and ultimately respectful. I so want to see Congress grow a pair…and take action to allow equality in every aspect of life, and marriage is only part of that picture.  How sad it is, that we must rely on a government that was built on freedom from oppression, and developed with fierce diversity….to dictate to us… who we can marry, who we can legally kiss, hold, live a life with, parent with, cherish the golden years with, and die beside.

If you need a social comparison of how bizarre it is…to judge people by who they love…to understand it..

I wasn’t prejudiced in the 70’s growing up, when integrated schools were “new” and “being tried out experimentally in various school systems” in Alabama. I was raised to be open minded, to form bonds with people based on their personality, not by their skin color, not by what they wore, not by what they believed in, not by what political party they supported, or who they married…by my grandparents, who were all born in the 1910’s-1920’s – who must have been raised to be equally respectful of others by their parents and grandparents (born in the 1880’s-1910’s), despite societies norms which purposely divided people according to race in the time of my grandparents and parents, and according to sex in the times of my great-grandparents.

In this day and age, it’s almost ridiculous to think that white women were not treated equally, not given an equal chance as white men to have an education, or to vote, or to work, or to make an equal wage. It’s almost absurd to think that people were once separated in schools, or assigned to different classrooms, simply because their skin colors were not the same. I remember not being able to share a classroom with my neighborhood playmates in the first years of elementary. It’s painful, but it was real. I saw it.  Alabama was one of the last to integrate. It blows my mind personally, to think that if you had the unfortunate experience of being born a natural descendant…if you were of the 3rd or 4th, or 10th generation of a person who was kidnapped and sold off the docks of Africa in the 1700-1800’s, and you were born and raised in the USA, and you worked here, and raised your family… and you were even able to fight for the country in war and die with pride doing so, in other words, if you were “black”, you were still not allowed to cast a vote in my country until the 1960’s.  You couldn’t even use the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain.  That sounds so painful to read in black and white. The “you can’t be gay” rule is no less ridiculous, absurd…painful.

Please let today be a new beginning for equality in marriage across the USA. Many of my friends and some of my family have been waiting on this moment.

Some of them for a very long time.

It Happened To Me

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I’m not going to spill a sob story. I am going to say things that are hard to read, but what I’m really talking about between the lines, is resilience. Not victimization. Want someone to pity? Find another blog.  That being said, I do want to talk about it, get it out, and close the book on it.

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All my young life, I was a wild, spirited person, living in a quiet outer shell.  I was an intellectual child, wise beyond my years, who loved reading, who loved doing my older aunts high school algebra homework by age 7, and who loved writing. I started writing stories when I was only 10.  It was an escape. But, I had started the habit of escaping at a very young age. I was drawing with charcoal on concrete from as young as…. well, old enough to grasp my fingers around the lump of charred firewood.

From as far back as I can recall, I loved the thrill of a high. After being raped at age 14 by two boys from the high school I attended for just one year in Alabama, I moved to Virginia to live with my mother and, despite her being a chemical dependency nurse at a local mental hospital, I started using drugs like marijuana, and massive amounts of liquor to achieve the escape I longed for.  I became an EMT at a local rescue squad at age 15.  I wasn’t popular in high school. I wasn’t high maintenance, didn’t care about owning only one pair of jeans, and didn’t spend hours in front of a mirror getting ready for school. My priorities were schoolwork, and fulfilling my need to escape reality however I could on any given day. I went through boyfriends left and right between the ages of 15 and 18.  I had been married twice by age 21. I was intensely sexual, and secretly loved every moment of it. I didn’t know why I had always been different from other women my age, but I would find out when I was 22 years old and pregnant with my first child.

I think that the buried memories of my young childhood came during that pregnancy, because it was the first time since it happened,  that the part of my physical body that had been damaged so bad as a child, was once again being controlled by someone else, and like then, I was having constant abdominal pain.

The memory came in my 10th week of pregnancy. My cousin was digging in the closet and pulled out a ukelele that once belonged to my great-uncle Ray, who died when I was 7.  I had always remembered him fondly.  He was gentle and kind to me. He used to find great pleasure in feeding me candied orange slices. I was crazy about those things. He would entertain me by playing this old ukelele. He would sing and play, and I would dance in my little dress that my mother had hand stitched. I can still recall, looking down as I twirled around at his request, watching my little feet turn in my black dress shoes. That memory must have been of a holiday like Easter, because I hardly ever wore a dress.

My cousin playfully strummed the ukelele. Something stirred in the pit of my stomach, and my blood turned ice cold.  Every internal warning bell, every heightened sense of awareness crept through my body starting from that cold pit, until it reached out into every pore of my skin, and I started to sweat. In that moment my ears were ringing, and I was breathing like a stalked animal hiding under a rock, praying to not be seen. I was outside of my body, watching what happened next.

I didn’t say a word. I gave her no warning. I was in a strange haze. I simply grabbed the instrument out of my shocked cousins hands, and smashed it into pieces against the wall…and without any explanation, walked out of the house, crying so hard I could barely see the ground in front of me. I was shaking, feeling vulnerable and betrayed. All I knew was that it was something that I recognized, but I knew it was from a very dark place that had no name… and I knew I hadn’t felt since I was very young.

When I was outside, I wrapped my hands around my pregnant belly, as if by doing so, I could check on my baby.  The air felt different.  I was no longer innocent, and the sky somehow knew it.  I didn’t feel alone either.  I felt the love and support of my family, even before I knew why.  I immediately told my mother. She broke down in tears. She had known all along, hoping I would never remember.

Very quickly after that day, memories came. Little flashes here and there, triggered by different things.  Springtime brought memories. That Easter I was hospitalized for dehydration because I couldn’t stop vomiting. I didn’t have morning sickness. I had constant all day and all night sickness. The usual joys of preparing for motherhood were not there.  I would get sick just by going shopping, triggered by looking for a crib, buying baby clothes, a car seat.  Although the clear memory of being raped by my great-uncle was of when I was  4 years old, other ones, of just being touched inappropriately and feeling helpless, or of fallacio , were pre-verbal, before my first steps.

When I was 20 weeks along, I found out that I was carrying a girl.  I had known from the beginning, just because I felt very close to my unborn child. I had this undeniable connection, and I was becoming a tiger. I wanted to protect her even before she was born. I was scared to death of the world she was being born into. My only solace was that my abuser was dead, and he had been for a very long time.  I joined a child sex abuse survivors group when I was 30 weeks along.  I started seeing a psychiatrist regularly. I still wanted my memories to be made up, but you just couldn’t make up the things I was saying, and unfortunately they were being validated by surviving relatives who knew my great-uncle.

It turns out I was probably his last, in a long line of children including his own, who he violated. He was never arrested for it, even though he was caught several times and thrown out of where ever he was living at the time. He was always the first to volunteer to babysit. That was how he got me. My mother was in college to be a nurse at the time I was born. He babysat me from about age 6 weeks, when her maternity leave ended, until I was 4.  Uncle Ray was thrown out of my grandmothers house when she walked in on him and me.

It happened the day I was wearing the dress, and spinning around and around, looking at my shoes.  It’s no wonder I never saw that dress again. My mind blocks out the blood stains that I’m sure were there. I remember it was trimmed with red velvet stripes, had white lace under the skirt and on the sleeves, and had a bell sown into the hem, that I lived to jingle. I would spin until I got dizzy to hear it. I remember abdominal pain afterwards. Burning when I urinated, back to back unexplained urinary infections that concerned my pediatrician. I was an insomniac until I was about 7 years old, afraid of the dark and of what was around the corner.

Huh….7…..maybe on some level, at that tender age when I found out he was dead, I knew it was safe, even though I had already buried the memories of what he had done. He was my favorite uncle, when I was 7.  Knowing now, that he could’ve destroyed my tiny womb and my ability to have children, by violating me with his adult body when my body was so small, still to this day I want to kill him.  I’m 43, and that’s a waste of my energy.

With this cleansing breath, as I type this, I give that to God.

Abraham and Isaac

ImageNo matter what religion you practice or believe in, we all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. How Abraham hears Gods voice one day and what he hears is that God wants him to leave with his son Isaac, and in that process, sacrifice him.

Abraham was probably beside himself with shame and guilt for having cheated on his wife Sarah, but we’re not told that. We’re also not told that he was probably eaten up with anger at Sarah when she pridefully shunned Hagar and cast her out into the desert with Ismael, Abraham’s other son through that extra-marital affair. All we’re told is that one day, after years of marriage and probably surviving every problem imaginable together, without even giving Sarah a head’s up, Abraham takes off in the woods with their only child.

Abraham and Sarah had a dilemma on their hands.  The Bible only focuses on Abraham’s point of view, but it wasn’t just Abraham who was charged with raising Isaac, so for the sake of modern times, let’s include Sarah. Abraham’s dilemma was that, after they prayed for a child, watched his child be born, and raised him, he had to let go of the future of his child.  Sarah’s dilemma was that after praying for a child (having him only after divine assistance), giving birth to him, and raising him, her husband was taking him away, I’m sure without her consent,  to end his life.

You may look at the story of Abraham sacrificing his son and go that’s so not possible, only an insane person would do that.

People do that today all the time.

When you fall in love, have a child, and then divorce and you lose custody of your precious child (or you’re never married in the first place, and the mother just does what she wants and doesn’t include the father), it happens because we build a place to burn our child’s future – with all their anger, greed, jealousy, guilt, the mother and father build an alter just like the one Abraham did, and we set our child on it to burn. God doesn’t want it though, just like he didn’t want Abraham to burn Isaac, so he sent Abraham a ram (which was the proper sacrifice for the day and time period of the story). Now a days in 2013, the “ram” is simply not butting heads. It’s two parents, separated or together, not clashing horns. It’s speaking to each other, being humble, and working together for what is best for the child – even if the parents can’t stand being together.

When your ex wins custody, or in the case of an unwed mother, the ex simply takes the baby and doesn’t include the father that pain feels exactly like a living sacrifice, because the noncustodial parent has no control over their child’s future. They experience exactly what Sarah did when Abraham left and took their child – their child that they both prayed for, watched be born or gave birth to, they both raised – there is no greater pain. All you can do is pray for God to help keep your child safe, for God to soften the heart of the custodial parent, for God to build a bridge that pride, greed, fear, jealousy, and control destroyed. Abraham (and the unspoken other half Sarah) were both blessed because God gave him the ram so Isaac didn’t have to die – so his father and mother didn’t have to both stop building a future for Isaac.

Some of us aren’t that lucky. Sometimes parental pride ruins a child’s entire future because the parents can never seem to work together for the child. In modern times, the child sacrificed doesn’t burn on an alter, but they burn and their life is destroyed.  They lose sight of what’s right and what’s wrong, because they can’t depend on anyone. The voices they listen to, to lead them, becomes whatever is popular at that exact moment. “Popular” and “easy” becomes what is “right”.

Do I have to go into what happens, when that happens?  Bad choices that scar a person forever.  Yeah. That’s the burn that Isaac would’ve been destroyed by, if Abraham hadn’t been shown a ram just in time to save his son.

As parents in 2013, our ram is humility.  It’s doesn’t mean we have to live with the other parent when the relationship was toxic and unhealthy for everyone involved. It means putting down pride, which is a supernatural act of love. It means being able to communicate, focus on what’s best for the child involved, and work together as parents.

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