Blog Archives

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

Advertisements

Watching God Work

3 months ago, Adam survived a massive stroke that stripped him of his left side, of many memories, of the ability to open his left hand and play guitar, of the ability to remember the words and chords to the hundreds of songs he has played to eclectic crowds for almost the last 30 years. He’s spent the last 3 months relearning how to walk and talk, trying to grasp the concept of time and keep track of it. God has moved Mt. Vesuvius for Adam to heal mentally and physically as much as he already has.

Today, another miracle happened. Today Adam was baptized by Christ!  Not in a church, but in the campground where we reside here on Mother Earth. Because, that is where we are.  Adam wanted to be washed clean and become God’s servant, and he reached out in obedience.  Dian, our friend who is not an ordained pastor, but simply a brave, obedient and open minded servant of God, agreed to drive an hour to our doorstep, and give Adam God’s gift of salvation.

It was better than being in a church! I watched the partner God gave to me two years ago today, become the husband that God is making for me.  I watched a shell of a man that I have known and loved for 27 years become filled with the Holy Spirit, and sins washed away, curses removed, and a lifelong hunger filled.

I’ll never forget what Adam said as he repented his sins – “I wanna be washed clean, ” He begged, “Please let’s get some water.” He could barely sit still, he wanted it so bad.

I’ll never forget the words Dian spoke as she prayed over him before and after she used my grandmas old pot to pour the water over Adam’s head.   She asked that all his afflictions be taken away, addictions lifted, and he be healed, and if God sees fit for Adam to play the guitar again, that God use him however He see’s fit, to fill hearts with heavenly music and lead others to Christ. I felt stones being laid, like the beginning of a path.

IMG_20130512_145702

IMG_20130512_150034

IMG_20130512_150016
IMG_20130512_153118

It goes to show that you don’t have to be a member of a church to be used by God, to spread truth and give hope and strength.  You don’t have to be certified on paper. You just have to have a heart for God, and be brave enough to answer the call when you’re asked.  It was breath taking. And I know that in order for me to be the wife Adam needs in our future, that I need to woman-up and give Adam Godly discipleship.

 

Happy Easter To My Children

ImageLast year was the first post-divorce Easter. It used to be my favorite holiday because one of my children has a birthday right before it and one has one right after. It was much harder last year than today, although I still can’t bring myself to celebrate the rising of my Lord and Savior.  I’ve had two years now to adapt to parental alienation and to life – as if there is one – without my four children.

He may have won custody, and he may keep us from contacting each other, but he can never replace me with a new girlfriend or new family traditions.  I know that now. I guess that’s what I didn’t know last year, and since I can’t be with my children today or hear their voices, I decided to honor them by remembering our family traditions.

  • Waking up to squeals of delight as children found their Easter baskets at sunrise.
  • Homemade French toast and syrup for breakfast.
  • Dying boiled eggs and hiding them for the kids to find.
  • Making deviled eggs and tuna salad sandwiches from the “found” eggs.
  • Visiting family or calling them on the phone.
  • Blowing bubbles outside in the sunshine
  • Looking for new four-leaf clovers, and finding caterpillars and budding flowers
  • Watching old Bible story movies.

To Amanda, Kaitlyn, Austin, and Katerina:

Mommy loves you all. You keep on growing. Develop your own opinions. They have merit. You will always be my babies. Nothing your father can do will ever change my love for you. Enjoy today. We will see each other and speak to each other on the first Saturday of the month, like every month, when we will have Easter on April 6th, and celebrate two of your birthdays.

Her Final Gift

gransmafunny

Grandma, circa 1945

On a humid Alabama day in July of 2010, my 87 year old grandmother had a severe stroke.  She had been suffering for the last few months with lung cancer, having never smoked a day in her life. I remember thinking that her lung cancer was unfair, especially since she was already a 40 year survivor of breast cancer. I also remember praying that her end would be merciful. Her father had “stroked out” in the same manner she did, only he lived 2 years afterwards, and his long wait for freedom was agonizing. As it turned out, God was gracious enough to take my grandmother in 17 days.

 She didn’t know it, but during that time, she gave the family by her side a priceless treasure.  There was a unique family reunion in what was by then, her death room. My aunt and I took shifts, watching over her as she transitioned with one foot in this world and the other already in the next.  She would occasionally come to, and want to see or speak to certain members of the family. She had important things to say to all of us. The most special moments to me were when she called on family members who were already with her on the other side.

granspa

Me and Grandpa right before his sudden death

 The majority of my deceased family had passed on some 30 years before, before I was a teenager. It had been a long time since I had been in their company.  Some had passed on when I was an adult, but I didn’t get to know them the way she did. None of them got to know my own children, so it made the reunions that much more special.

Most of these ascended conversations would take place for a few minutes right before sunrise. I remember the air would somehow change right as the sun would crest outside the window, and on more than one occasion her talks wouldn’t be finished, and she would call out to that person, as if suddenly they were gone. I would smile through silent tears and say, “It’s OK, Grandma. He’ll be back.” She spoke to her husband, her brother, friends, in-laws, a nephew…the one person she didn’t seem to get to speak to for some reason, that she asked for repeatedly, was her own mother.

ggma

My great-grandparents

My father told me that as soon she gave her last breath, the front screen door opened and shut. My aunt tells me she had a look of peace. She was surrounded by love, in her own home. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to go…

I like to think that when her spirit walked out the front door, that her mother, who she so longed to be with,  was walking her out and taking her to meet Jesus, who she loved her whole life.

Messages in The Clouds

godmessage

I took this photo as Adam was driving down Highway 441 in Sevierville. The mountains on the horizon are the Smokey’s.  The sun was creeping down the sky, peeking out from behind a cloud that looked like an eagle with its wings outstretched, and so I grabbed my camera as fast as I could, to capture and keep it forever. I wrote the “message from God” on the photograph because that’s what I was feeling as I snapped that picture and gazed into the clouds.  It was an almost verbal  response that I felt in my heart, to an ominous feeling in my gut. We were about to get rain… a lot of it.

Just a few hours later, the rain started pouring down.  That was when the Little Pigeon River flooded and just about washed us away. It rose 4 feet in less than an hour.  I wrote about it in my other blog. It’s in the January archives of It’s Not What You Know, titled Roll, Back Water….  

It took me a month to emotionally recover from that ordeal.  Adam and I both had our share of nightmares of rain and being washed downstream, dreams of the cold water waist high, losing everything. In reality – by what I can only say was a true miracle – we lost nothing but our clothes and a few personal items.  Our very good friends and the Red Cross helped us dig our way out. The river was level with the lip of our front door, but didn’t come in the house.

I’ll never question why – because I know in my heart, that the whole situation was Being Taken Care Of, before the crisis, and after.

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.

My relationship with God

ImageI’m a Christian.  Yeah, shocker.  I was saved and baptized when I was 14 – ten years before I met and married the ex-husband that destroyed me.  He wasn’t my first ex-husband, but he sure was my last.  My two previous ex-husbands, who I shared life with for a very short time each, agreed that when we split up, neither of us would try to take from the other. We went our ways peacefully. I had no idea that divorce was any other way. Ex #3 taught me a big lesson after 17 years of marriage to him: Not every human being who appears to have the capacity for morals and family values really has what it takes when the chips are down, and when that someone doesn’t have those things inside of them, it’s easy to see that individual as “not a human being”.

When I was married to my third husband, what I think of as my first “real” marriage, I searched deeper into my spirituality – something much more real to me than Christianity preached into my soul from childhood.  I loved the relationship I came to have with God. Around my third year of marriage, I became a Sunday school teacher in the church we attended. It was a military church, far from home. My husband was stationed in Ft Bliss, Texas so we lived there at the time. Out in the desert it was easy to be comfortable in your own skin. No one seemed to judge you the way they did in the South (yes, it’s capitalized. If you’re from around there, you understand why). My husband wasn’t baptized, but he eventually came to accept my involvement in the church. He saw it as a good thing for his career.  I didn’t care why he accepted it. I was happy to be able to attend. I loved my relationship with God. It evolved into me becoming a home school teacher for my children, and then later on for children in the church. Then I dove even deeper and taught Vacation Bible School for three years.   I loved being a teacher. I started having pipe dreams about becoming a teacher.

When my husband was discharged due to a medical issue in 2004, we went home to Alabama and tried to continue life there. The children started public school, because his parents (who lived next door) were against me teaching their grandchildren.  That left a scar.  We found a a small country church nearby and started attending it. The feeling wasn’t the same, but the congregation was nice. The place and the people made you feel welcome.  For the next few years, that was the new normal.  My husband even gave me permission to go to college to become a teacher.  He knew the school superintendent. He was going to get me a job at the school our children attended.  Then, the divorce happened.

In 2011, I was told I had to leave. The house was in his name. Everything was just in his name. His parents had made sure of that from the day we married in 1995. My children all wanted to stay with him, even my oldest child from a previous relationship. I can only assume he bribed them all with money and freedoms that up until that moment, he never allowed anyone to have.  And he had money. His whole family did.  I left, assuming it would be temporary, that I would find a job and get a home and get my kids back.  I had grown up with divorced parents and saw my mother struggle to feed and clothe me. I knew how hard it was, but I never complained about it. I naturally thought my children would love me just as much as I loved my mother and would want to be with me, no matter how hard we had to struggle. That didn’t happen. They saw how I was struggling, and wanted to stay where they were. They also stayed with our church. My kids asked me to stop going, because it made them feel awkward. So, not only did I lose my family, my home, my job future, and my dignity, I also lost my church home.

I was back to just having a private relationship with God.  That was probably the best thing for me, because I spent a lot of time on my knees crying so much I couldn’t see.  I guess I went through every stage of grieving, as if my family had died, in a sense.  Except they weren’t dead. They just chose not to speak to me. My (now) ex-husband, being from an Islamic background, turned to his roots and became a tyrant, forcing my children to cut up my photographs, not speak to me on the phone or online, and any mail I sent them was opened, scanned and filed, and read through before being given to them.  He sent an email under an anonymous name to every school district in the state. It was a defamation of character. If I could prove it was him, I would  sue him for it, but like a coward, he did it anonymously.

Life has been Hell since the day he told me I had to leave.  I’ve survived freezing cold weather in a friends car. I’ve lived in some trashy places, in a tiny RV.  I’ve taken jobs I never imagined I would have to do in order to just eat.  I’ve seen people with addictions that I never knew existed, suffering worse than myself. I’ve survived the flash flood of a river where I had to swim for my life in the middle of the night, when the RV was almost washed away.  I’ve moved 250 miles from my family, thinking it was the best thing for me to do since my ex-husband ruined my career at home. I only get to see my children for 8 hours a month anyway.

It’s worth the drive to see their faces and hear their laughter, touch their hair, make them a meal at my father’s house, or just take them somewhere.  I never expected to be a divorced mother who pays child support.  I don’t know what God was thinking when He planned this.  Where’s the good in it?  In the big picture, not right now.  I don’t see any right in it. Since the divorce, my kids tell me he got baptized. Ironic for an Islamic man. He probably did it to wash away the sin of being married to me.

Lately I’ve been reminded of the Book of Job.  Job went through Hell on earth, losing everything. His family. His home. Eventually his health. He never lost his faith in God through it all. I’m a lot like Job. People think I’m crazy, because after everything, I’ve never lost faith that God loves me.  It’s never even crossed my mind. On the contrary, I think God always protects me, provides for me, and guides me.  But then, I don’t just read the Bible to find messages from God. I get them from nature, from music, from book passages. Those are some old habits from years ago, when I was first diving deeper into my spirituality – where I found that meaningful relationship that I couldn’t find as a child in church. It’s because God isn’t in a church building.  God is with you, where ever you go.  If you happen to gather and mingle in a building, then great. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean you’re abandoned.

Losing everything made me feel so afraid. Maybe you’ve lost everything too. Fear can make you feel abandoned, but you have to keep picking yourself up and look with better eyes than that. God’s bigger than all my fears. He’s even bigger than my ex-husbands pride. He’s bigger than my inability to find a job, or pay child support.  I’m gladly giving all that to the One who knew me before I was even in the womb.

%d bloggers like this: