Living in the Past.

Today, was the first day of a new life for me. It was the day I decided to get up off of the couch, and spring clean my home.

It’s been a year.

Exactly one year on the 18th that our boxer, Tyson, passed away. And I’m not too embarrassed to say that I’m now realizing that after his death, I went into depression. A deep dark void. I have been colorless and fronting as best I can for as long as I could.

Loss hurts so bad.

Whether the loss was something that was good for you or not, it hurts.

If it’s one thing that I learned through dealing with the recovery of my PTSD and divorce, it’s that pain…is universal. There is no measure or reason or rhyme to it…it just IS. We all share a pain of some sort, but it is all the same.

I cleaned our sliding glass doors for the first time today in a year. I bawled my eyes out so badly that I could barely see the glass…wiping the last scuff marks and slobbers from Tyson’s jowls though was something of a (literal) cleansing ritual.

It made me nearly pass out though in angst. The pain, the tears, and sweat and the toxins that were releasing from my body reminded me of my muscle memory. I am alive. And for that I am grateful.

Looking through old pictures of Tyson today, I forced myself to travel down the road of his ultimate deterioration and I realized…he stayed alive for me. So that I could live, he died. And it made so much sense to me from a biblical standpoint of ultimate sacrifice. Tyson was my companion for many years of my illness and is what bonded me to real life again after my divorce.

We would walk. And I trained the working dog how to work with pride and honor. I called him my “police dog.” Although I doubt that he would have ever harmed anyone he was vastly protective of our family and especially me. He knew my weaknesses as he could read my sickness before anyone else could. He could feel it….and together we healed.

As a previous massage therapist, I must say that I have come a long way…mentally, spiritually and physically but what I have been through has been way worse than any pit I could ever imagine myself in again. This past year I forgot that for some reason, I was in control of my own life and not someone else was….I was used to being dominated and controlled…asking permission to do things “I enjoyed.” Music. Reading. Walking. Cleaning…it was all shamed and condemned. But that was nearly a decade ago now. And now after I have finally recovered from so much, I realize that Tyson’s passing was him simply hanging on as long as he could for me. He was suffering. I didn’t know it at the time because I became so accustomed to him. He was such a part of my soul. I didn’t even see him anymore. When you self isolate and you have a therapy dog with you, you tend to bond with it in ways you wouldn’t otherwise and he was there through all the struggles and the ups and downs that I went through during my recovery.

I am still recovering. We are all recovering from something. That’s the thing. Pain…it’s universal. It’s up to us though to use each day as best as we can so that we don’t become STUCK in the past.

This has happened to me before and it’s a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Through getting better day by day, however, I have realized so much about my spiritual self. My physical side of things has taken a beating over the years with traumas and not enough work being done on me instead of worrying about everyone else.

I used to work in this restaurant in Dallas, called, “Good Eats.” I’ll never forget one of the fellow servers training me and telling me that I didn’t need to be trained because I was a “face girl.”

The term was used to mean that I put on a false front…and a great one.

No one would have ever guessed I was living in a true nightmare outside of work. But I was.

I was bruised and beaten and suffering. Each day though, I’d put on my “face” and surprise everyone with my “business” persona. Throughout the years the trauma took its toll and I suffered not only mentally and physically but my body began to change as I started to dwindle into uncertainty.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I was “born again.” Officially.

Maybe you have had a spiritual encounter or spiritual experience but I was saved. And I was saved for a reason. That’s why I look to make each day as best that I can. I do as much as I can right now and I have been blessed to be surrounded by folks who can understand simple anxiety and going through rough times…especially as a woman. Being a woman in Christ though, I know that whatever comes my way, whether I’m having a panic attack or not, to trudge through because I am not alone. Not anymore. God is with me and lives in me. He gave me light. And it’s a light that I want to share with the world.

And Amen to that!

Love and take good care.

Taking one day at a time. God bless you.

“I have learned silence from the talkative; tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers.”

–(Kahlil Gibran: Sand and Foam)

tyson

Executing Silence.

Very often times, “silence” is the key to good communication. But how can you create “action” in moments of silence?

I have been thinking about this statement lately, and wondering if perhaps practicing my mindfulness, or being in the present moment is something that I have integrated into my every day life…or if it is simply something I“talk” about doing.

It’s easy to make statements that flatter and “appear” to fulfill others for the given moment…to be happy and optimistic every day, but what about the days when you don’t feel so…cheery?

I was working yesterday and left my lunch at our training facility/center so I had to purchase a lunch at the local mall…at the food court.

Now by this time, the mall has pretty much been abandoned, with online sales soaring and putting local stores out of business, but I remember a time when malls were “loud.” When there was traffic and it was hard to find a parking spot. People came to school wearing the same shirts because everyone had the chance to shop at the same stores, etc. So, yesterday the food court…seemed dead. It was isolating and silent.

I was there with individuals that I work with and as they ate their packed lunches, I approached a steak vendor…one of the only food choices left besides the sugar coated pretzels, and waited.

In front of me was a lady that butted in front of me in the so called, “line” but I let her…she was obviously in a hurry, and I never am too aggressive when it comes to such things. As I patiently waited for her to order I couldn’t help but overhear her abrupt and demanding rudeness to the cashier, who in turn approached their communication with rough speech as well.

“And make sure they get it for me…quick!” she torted.

I was in awe of such an occurrence and felt very uncomfortable, but still I smiled, not that anyone was paying any mind to me or my face behind them but nevertheless, smiling made me feel better, as though somehow, it might diffuse the situation even just a little bit.

This woman was older, in her mid eighties I’d guess but you could tell that she took good care of herself. But by this I mean…as she rooted through her coin purse…that she was once “something.” A pearl. She was as sophisticated as she was mean and couldn’t get away with being nasty anymore. Time had aged her and her beauty. Her hair was a dyed reddish brown color and she had piercing blue eyes that watered. Her hands shook as she dug through her coin purse and attempted to give the man the “correct change.” But he wasn’t having it. Sighing and rolling his eyes, he didn’t want to hesitate any further in getting her through the line as quickly as possible just so he could probably wait on me with the same type of rudeness and check out counter hostility too.

When I saw that coin purse though my heart melted. She could have been MY grandma. She was probably someone’s somewhere but instead there she was alone when I was blessed to be surrounded by loving co-workers and individuals that I work with and for.

I couldn’t stand the “silence” anymore though of MY actions and reactively went up beside her, touched her arm and said:

“Would you mind if I bought your lunch today?”

“Why would you do that?” she said bluntly.

I didn’t hesitate but said that I believed, “that love made the world go round and I wanted to do this one thing for her to pay it forward.”

She was aghast and taken back.

So was the cashier.

She began to tell me a story about a woman who buys big bags of lollipops—200 at a time she said…and one day when she noticed the woman had run out, she came to the rescue with an extra bag.

It was part of this sharing that allowed me to pay the cashier and order our food. I told her it was nice to meet her, even though she wasn’t very warm and still probably stun gunned by a stranger wanting to do something “nice” for her for a change, so I went to go sit down in my seat and waited until my food was ready. I went up too soon however, and she got very very close to my face as she went to walk away. It appeared that her “bus” was due to arrive any minute and that is why she was so agitated to begin with…that she was merely about to miss her ride home. At home where she planned to eat alone she divulged.

“What’s your name anyway?” she asked me.

I told her my name was Jeanna. And she gave little mind to my response.

“Well my name is Norma Jean…just like Marilyn Monroe.”

At this I quivered. It was as though the Lord himself had blessed this union.

You know when you just get one of “those feelings?” Things that can’t merely be coincidence. But something much greater. It’s a feeling that I can’t put into words but I believe it is the Holy Spirit. I had asked God specifically yesterday to gear me with His presence and to build me up so that I could in turn help others, but this was such a rare and beautiful moment that I just had to share.

“My grandmother’s name IS Norma Jean. And my name is Jeanna and I’m just like her,” I said.

I gave her a hug as her now beautiful pearly blue eyes shone and she smiled again and grabbed my arm.

As I ate my steak salad with friends, I looked out and watched this woman catch her bus and prayed…that someday somewhere someone would be nice to me the way I was with someone who was truly alone, but making it the best that she knew how.

My blog today is by far…not perfect. But I have decided recently that too much goes by without me when I strive for perfection. When I shoot for mere “action” however, things seem to move along much better on their own. I am only human but I rely upon the Lord as much as possible through the days just to get through them and to add them into a collection of “good” days versus ones that could have been wasted on bad attitudes.

I pray this message finds you well and that you have a sense of community in your life. Whether that be a health coach, a family member or friends, I pray you are surrounded by love and that you share your love in return. Magical things happen when we love one another. Amen.

“Give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10

executing silence

Save This Moment.

I started back on my “program” yesterday. After gaining new employment and not being around the house anymore, our “habits” took somewhat of a back seat around here as to how we were “living.”

I haven’t blogged in some time. Mainly, because I have made excuses not too to the point of being numb to any form of acknowledgement or accountability. Simply put: I put it off…and for some time.

I am reading this book right now…well, as of last night when I couldn’t sleep…called, “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts” by Jennie Allen. I can’t tell you how mind engrossing it was…as I stayed up late, mainly talking to God and reflecting, I realized something about myself:

I have let myself go…I have spiraled.

I don’t really know when I let things begin to slide, but oh they have. Not only am I overweight on the scales again, I feel as though someone is constantly pounding on my chest and blinking for me instead of me doing it on my own. Strange. But as with what some may call “bad choices” also come “bad habits.” I haven’t been minding my own health and it has finally taken its toll.

I realized last night how much I missed my boxer. Tyson was nearly ten years old when he passed away last Easter and it was definitely his time. I can’t say though that I have taken it too well…not considering my “current” state of well being. One thing that I am learning through this book is the ability to not just “change” but to “transform.” It is “my choice” as she says….that I control my thoughts and must work to harness them with God’s help. After reflecting last night and starting my new diet or lifestyle adjustment yesterday, my body went bonkers. It isn’t used to such a straight lined detox but I remember now the early days of my adjustment from before. Before though, I wasn’t working and things seemed easier somehow. I had the days to myself and could shop or plan or eat or exercise at will. Now, I get up and it’s all I can do to find some spare moments in the mornings alone…just to be with God and it has worn me out. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

Here I am…again Lord….take me…and quick. I suppose it is only in our human nature to sometimes find ourselves spiraling…but the main point I take away from all of this is: Be Grateful. Be Loving, because YOU are Loved by a God so powerful that he can transform and renew your mind, your heart, your soul, your whole being. There is nothing that can stop the victory that has already occurred. You my friend, if you are in Christ, are in good hands and even if you stumble, or fall, he will never leave you, even when you are in your darkest days and nights. He is there. Just ask and He comes. Just like any relationship, it takes time…you must make time to spend each day with yourself and God.

And this morning even though I woke up at 5:00 am I somehow still found myself pacing in a mad rush to find “alone time” when my kid woke up early at 6:00. Our house is small. Too small and when my husband left for work it woke him up, and when my son gets woken up he does not go back to sleep, so up WE were…getting ready for the day two hours early. And somehow? I still managed to feel rushed (for some reason) when we were leaving to go out of the door to catch the bus at 8:00.

Some sprinkles.

My message today is about Love. And His love he has for you. In order to love we must first realize that we are loved and to what extent it is that we are cherished.

When we were rushing out of the door this morning I stopped and realized, wait…we are on time? Why are we rushing? I was trying to clean up breakfast while my son was hounding me about one thing after another and as I cleaned up those sprinkles, both red and pink, I realized, I was missing him and he was right in front of me. I wasn’t “loving” on him or cherishing him at that moment and it has become a routine that I have taught him very accidentally—To “rush.”

Time is something we can’t get back. And just like those sprinkles, memories and moments are gone in an instant. As I was wiping them up I started working on my inner mind and transformation habits and slowed down…and I began to become “part” of the moment instead of one being held hostage to it.

I counted the sprinkles in my hands as I wiped them up.

“One, Two, Three, Four, and Five!” I shouted!

My son suddenly cheered up and held out his hands.

When I went to transfer the sprinkles into his cupped palms, he grasped at all but a few.

“Two,” he said. “I’m sorry I spilled some. I only have two now,” he said. But he gave me a hug and I hugged him extremely hard and said that no matter how many sprinkles he ever had, I’d still love him just the same.

It made me think of how much time goes by that simple moments that we “give” to others are things that sometimes we don’t even give back to ourselves or the ones closest to us.

When I couldn’t sleep last night I cried for Tyson. That would have been one of our times together—late at night if I couldn’t sleep. One night we even played capture the flag, but anyway…I missed him but then I remembered that this book that I’m reading which teaches you basically how to redirect your thinking told me to be grateful. It’s an interrupter. So I thought of all of the things I was grateful for… And suddenly before I knew it I was blissfully listening to the sound of my husband breathing as I was awake simply being with him. Many people don’t have this type of love or companionship, and even though Tyson is gone, even if temporarily, I know that I have my best mate with me right now by my side. And for that—I am beyond blessed.

God has blessed my heart and soul and I pray that he touches you today too. Every day is a new day. One step at a time.

And Amen to that!

save this moment

Winging It.

Today is the first official day, of 2020.

You would think, because one’s vision is SO bright when they have 2020, that perhaps…maybe this year will treat us to new and unexpected things that we can see more clearly now than ever before.

You know those “quizzes” you can take on Facebook? I took one this morning entitled: “What is your Bible verse of 2020?” I thought the results were fitting based on my current situation, so I decided to share it with you…

It comes from Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is one of the most famous and popular verses one might see in Christian bookstores and other places that house uplifting quotes, etc. However, it was always one my mom used and for that reason I know it well.

I think it is important to share special messages such as this. It means more to each person than you could ever guess as its meaning changes from situation to person and thus, creates a magic hopefulness that awaits us all in diverse ways.

It has been a long time since I wrote. I have since taken a job working with special needs adults and it has been a big rewarding new journey but one that has taken up all of my free time that I used to have…to meddle. I think at some point it all caught up with me, as I have been sick more this season than ever before. This has not helped my job or future career in human services as you can’t “work” unless you are of good health. Thus, taking better care of myself and my health has become of top priority.

So, for this year instead of making the “old” routinely promises for the year up ahead, or “resolutions” if you will, I have decided to simply “Wing It.”

What do I mean by this? Simply put: I plan to rely on God’s power more than my own.

I can do all things through Him that strengthens me and He ultimately directs my path. It is simply up to me to stay steadfast and true to His word and to listen.

That is how I obtained this new job to begin with…by listening. And oh boy, was I looking for Him. I will never forget even to the exact point of where I was sitting when I saw the ad for the job placement and it had said “part time” and that the hours were from 8:15-2:45 M-F. What?! It was “too good” to be true and meant I could work full time and also be the mom that I have wanted to be while working. It gives me the leisure in the morning of getting my child on the bus and then likewise, picking him up from school at the end of the day…perfect. The extra income was of dire need as well so that was another answered prayer.

Living each day one day at a time is what I continue to plan to do this year…as I couldn’t have predicted such circumstances for myself or could have controlled my fate in any such way in which it transpired. It was simply, “meant to be” and after five full years of being a stay at home mom, I suddenly found myself, overnight, one that also worked outside of the home. It has been an adjustment. Things are much dirtier in our house, and dinner has not become routine in healthy ways yet, but you know what?

We are surviving, but getting ready to start thriving. And that my friends, is hope.

We are getting there and I have full faith that God will be with us to see us through. He promises a future and a hope, and for today, I see the light. Here’s to 2020. As always, may God bless you and keep you.

Amen.

Winging It

Investing.

Today is day 3 of Kindergarten and we almost missed the bus.

I kept telling my husband that we needed to be ten minutes before the allotted time, “just in case” and he always made fun of me. Well, today proves my point. The bus was nearly ten minutes early and my son was still putting his shoes on. “Hurry Up!” I yelled and helped him buckle them. “Run!” I said. I went running out to the bus before him, leaving the door hanging wide open and yelling at the bus driver my apologies. “It’s okay,” she hollered. My son stumbled behind me and up the stairs and onto the bus he went.

I felt awful afterwards having to rush him goodbye like that.

Point taken. Be ready…no matter what life brings you. Try your best to be on time, alive, awake, alert, whatever it takes. Especially if you’re responsible for someone other than yourself. Today was a wake up call for me as I was just easing into starting to feel somewhat comfortable with this new routine.

I have gained a pound so far this week. I know it has been due to unwanted stress of it being the first week of school and so forth, but it irks me that even though I’ve done everything else right on my new program, that a pound was found on the scale this morning.

Have you ever done everything you felt you could, whatever was in your power and felt somewhat defeated?

I have done this before and the mistake I always have made in the past is not turning it over to God. Sometimes we try to control TOO much, and it’s not our job. Instead of moaning and allowing this 1 lb. to defeat me though, instead I decided to look towards my “non scale victories” and this included not eating another one of those white donuts I was talking about the other day. I have abstained from all donut eating this week and I’m telling you, being here alone means I’m not even going to buy them ever again. My son can have peanut butter toast from now on. This helps me to avoid any unnecessary temptations by creating a stable, healthy environment and also teaches my son healthy habits at the same time.

I have so far, cleaned nearly every nook and cranny of my home since this 3 day hiatus started and now I’m wondering what my future holds. I’ve put myself on the back burner for so long that it does seem somewhat exciting now that I have some time all to myself again. I have been doing my Leslie Sansone walking tapes for 2 miles now for example, because I simply have the time to invest in myself. Investing in me is new to me. But I know that God has great plans for me. And it includes a new me. As long as I trust in Him, and not myself I will be just fine as new and exciting things await. I pray that you look to Him today too and that you have a great day. It is always a great day when you choose to make it one. Depend on God. And Amen to that!

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” Philippians 1:6

run!

Three White Donuts.

Today, I’ve come a long way. A long way from this morning, and a long way from my past.

Today was my son’s first day of Kindergarten.

We walked to the bus stop together, I helped him onto the bus, and then I cried the whole way home by myself.

I called my mom, my husband, and they both suggested that I calm down and realize what an accomplishment this was instead of drudgery. For five years now, I have been gearing us up for this moment, this plunge into the world, and today it finally happened. I would love to tell you it was successful but seeing as how my son is still not home yet, I cannot. The morning was a success, as I’m sure school is a hit as well (knowing my son). He was ready, and I knew this…I just couldn’t help but think it was me holding me back.

With spare time now on my hands I wondered what to do with myself. I had gotten into the habit of tearing the pages out of my favorite devotional last year and today’s was missing. So I went to the next one. The epiphany of the day was to use time wisely. Wisely, I thought…as I stared at the white raspberry filled donuts on the counter. There were three.

On a normal day from my past those three donuts would have been gone. I might have even went to get beer, or any other type of bad habit to sustain my feelings of anxiety, but not today. Today, I stood up for myself and said, “no.” I turned to my support group for help and they, and as always, were there with the support, and words of encouragement I needed to hear. Stop. Challenge. Choose. I had done it. Making the morning a success. I said “no.” And said “yes” to many other things. Healthier things like walking and getting outside of the house to name a few.

What I need most right now are new, better habits, better ways of living. I have all of the tools at my disposal now, but this time of year, I’ll admit, is hard for me. It’s the time of pumpkin spice and baking, of football and beers, of sweatshirts, and of Susie homemaking that I’m accustomed to…which also, I realize now, is part of a bigger scheme of bad habits I’ve picked up over the years. Baking loaves of homemade bread is fine, but not when you have no one to serve them to…donuts too, are nice on the countertops, but not when you are home alone all day having to look at them. You can only bake so many pies for example. So, today instead of eating, I decided to replace a bad habit and reward myself with a good one. I picked out a healthy recipe from my health coach that she had sent to me and I went to the store—by myself to shop. And it was glorious! I realized, for once, that I didn’t have to race due to someone else’s time constraints. I even found the pine nuts to finish off the recipe! Sweet perfection! I felt alive! I also got a lot of kudos from my online support group for being so brave and disciplined.

This might sound silly to you. Perhaps even irritate you. I’m sorry if it does. But I’ve lost nearly 25 lbs. since June 17th in utilizing this new way of life and new way of thinking and I’m telling you—it works for me. Living a healthy life is the gift I give to others and to my family and day by day we learn new habits that lead us into the direction we want to go. I thank God every day for changing my mindset and giving me the ability to now work out again and eat right. It has taken hard work but there isn’t anything I can’t do without Him. I’m forever grateful.

If you ever want more information about my transformation or the program I’m on please let me know. I’d love to share it with you. Until then, I’m off to shower up after doing a Leslie Sansone tape and await my husband and child to come back home to me—where they belong! And Amen to that!

“Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise, making the very most of the time.” Ephesians 5:15-16

three white donuts.

Seasons of Life.

I have officially lost over 24 lbs. on this new program I’m doing and I can’t tell you how good it feels. It has only been 10 weeks, but staying on course, day in and day out has proven to be successful. I was thinking this morning about how much more weight I want to lose and I decided that at least another 20 lbs. was necessary to get me to a healthy weight. I hadn’t realized it (at the time) but during my pregnancy I gained a total of 70 lbs. I had never been overweight before then and didn’t know (up until now) simply what to do about it all.

My old ways of living were simply not working and the more I suffered, it seemed the more and more I gained. It was an awful, vicious cycle, but the worst feeling was feeling out of control.

We should all be the lead in our own lives. We should all play the main part…but in my life, I felt like I was floating, literally amongst everyone else as the world passed me by. Day in and day out it all felt the same. I took the best care of my son that I could, but being unhealthy and overweight gives you many challenges throughout your days and it causes awful mood swings.

My devotional this morning was about moods. It basically said to rise to the occasion regardless of a bad mood or not, and to do things that you would do if you were simply feeling better. So, that’s what I did today. First I cancelled a doctor’s appointment though because my allergies have been killing me…it was just for a routine checkup but I didn’t “feel like” going so I called and rescheduled. This was all mind you BEFORE I read my devotional making me start the day off with allowing my mood to take over my mind instead of vice versa.

After I read my devotional my day started turning around, however. I worked out, got myself ready for the day and even cleaned out a shelf in our bathroom that has been hounding me for years. Do you have one of those shelves or drawers in your house? You know, the ones that things just somehow get thrown into. Back home, we used to call it “the junk drawer.” Well, this was a junk shelf full of unused products and odd eccentricities. I read a meme this morning on Instagram that said to not only “detoxify” your life but do detox cabinets and clean out cars…to clear away past items and make them new. So that gave me some inspiration this morning too. My husband will be delighted. But then he will want me to also do HIS shelf I’m quite sure of it. It would only be fair, as the products on HIS shelf, are well…also mine. Ha.

We went to Kindergarten orientation last Tuesday and it went really well. My five year old has a terrific teacher and he’s so excited to start school this Tuesday. He is all ready to go so there should be no reason why I’m so anxious, but let me tell you…I have been. I keep praying about it and trying to bide the time, but I’m wanting Tuesday to come, be good, and allow us to move on with a new schedule and life. I keep telling myself to get excited with my son, instead of anxious…just in case some of my unknown anxiety rubs off on him. So far, he is nothing but excited and not even a tad bit nervous so I need to cut it out. I’m trying my best.

I pray today the universe is good to you and that you allow change to come easily. I pray for the kids starting school and for their teachers and safety. I welcome fall and look forward to all that the upcoming season brings. Thank you God, for ever changing seasons. Help us to be thankful and glad. Amen.

“The Lord…will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)

seasons.

Dear Survivor,

I used to be someone who used to run away from things. My problems. Life. Everything. Until one part of my story became overloaded, and bogged down with too many memories and life experience that never got digested properly. It caused massive attacks and confusion and I’m happy to say, as of today, those hauntings are safely behind me.

I don’t know if I ever told you this, but my background, although shiny and glimmery on its surface, once used to be a personal hell full of turmoil and great grief.

I had married a narcissist and one that was cruel and very abusive. I was trapped in a marriage and too far away from close confidants; I’d gotten lost somewhere along the way. I was too far away from home…a safe place where people actually “knew” me. I was a stranger, literally, in my own life for years, and it took its toll all on me physically and emotionally but most importantly, spiritually.

I’ll never forget living in Texas and working at an ad agency and one of my bosses coming to my desk privately and saying: “If you are married to someone with manic depression, they are going to steal your soul.”

Years later I found myself nearly running for my life, my belongings stuffed into garbage bags and running out of that apartment in Ohio…the place where my ex had gotten a promotion and moved us to. It was close enough to Pa that I could run across the border. And with my family, that’s what we did. I was out. But only physically. I went through a very haunting divorce and many years full of very unhelpful therapy. It has taken me a long time to readjust to the real natural world. It has actually taken nearly a decade of recovery, healing, but finally, now today I am able to sleep at night and feel safe in my own home. I can use as much toilet paper for example, as I want and eat what I want….I always could, but now I believe “I’m allowed” to….Today, I am mentally free.

I remember too many things to ever count but more of which are horrific stories and nightmares that used to actually happen in my home on a daily basis. I remember crying every single day. And not the shedding of a small tear but mascara stained pillows and bloated eyes on a daily basis after a night full of fighting. I remember being locked into places I felt I would never get out of again…alive. And yet here I am. Today I’m able to cope with it all as though it never happened. But it did. And at one point I needed more help than what my family could give me so they had checked me into therapy. After years of not talking about my situation or the obstacles I was still facing I had locked them away…in my mind vault and that is where spiritually the most damage had been done. The therapy I received last summer was the very best thing anyone ever did for me. It was true love that my family surrounded me during that time, and got me the true help that I had to have. They didn’t have a choice by that point nearly though. I had become unresponsive and literally began shutting down as a human being. “If you are married to a person who abuses you, they will steal your soul” I would always hear that boss echoing in my head. I felt, at the time that she was right. What happened over the years of great physical and especially mental abuse had robbed me, and it was a seemingly dark hole that no one knew if I would ever make it back out of again. But what they didn’t know, was that in Texas is where I found Jesus.

My parents used to send me devotionals when I lived in those crummy apartments with him. I remember locking myself in the bathroom and for it to be “the routine” whenever he would start…but I would go to those devotionals. Something about them. What was IN them, saved my life. Each and every time. And as I continued to read, I started to highlight and write in them. By the end of it all they were no longer books but pieces of damped scrunched up pieces of paper…things I would cling to when he came busting in those bathrooms breaking the doors down. I had found Jesus. Those pieces of Him that saved my life. He saved me and continues to save my soul each and every day. I am “more safe now than ever” He tells me and I know after last summer’s last stand…I know that this is true. The devil hasn’t won. And he never will.

I looked at that marriage and years full of heartache and pain as a battle between good and evil as there has been no reasonable explanation for any of it otherwise. Evil did not prevail.

If it is anything that I learned though from my life as it is now, it’s that I must first learn to heal myself before I can heal others. And my service today, is to do just that.

I was always someone who wanted to help “the other party.” It got me into some trouble throughout my life and put me in very bad situations, ones in which I ended up hurt.

I have new boundaries now, but it is still hard to live as the empath that I am. I tend to suck up the energy from anything even around me, so I must watch what places I put myself in and what surroundings certain experiences could awaken. It is simply how it is. It is my life. And I’ve decided that memories, even the bad ones, are precious gifts. Little pieces of life experience that we should wear as our battle armor. If you are a survivor too, please know that you aren’t alone. Stay strong. Rely on the Lord. Each day His mercy is new. Good always wins in the end as long as you are properly aligned with it. Align yourself with the Lord. He is your true protector, and He wants the best for you.

May God bless this message. It is His will, not mine. I’m thankful to those who have taken the time and listened to it. Amen.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them.” Romans 12:6

Dear Survivor,

Car Cruises.

This morning reminds me of one of those mornings I used to have with Tyson.

The peacefulness that we would feel when the dew was fresh and the sun was just beginning to edge out the clouds of darkness. Tyson and I would sneak early mornings like this one to the park…or what they consider to be a park around here and we would walk.

It would be early enough that the sun wouldn’t blaze and he wouldn’t get sun burnt.

I get to see him today. Well, visit his grave. We are going to Rimersburg for a car cruise, and it is my father in law’s favorite day of the year.

We are going up early at 8 am. The cruise starts at 1.

“We have to be ready!” he will say. He has always been an early morning kind of guy who used to make a major commute to Pittsburgh back when he was still in the business. Now, he remodels homes mainly for himself as he owns two properties that are side by side…one is the original family home and the other one was once owned by a dear old friend. Now the dear old friend, now passed, can rest assured that his house is in tip top shop shape, as my father in law takes care of it like he does his cars—meticulously and perfectly with nothing but showroom excellence.

It got me thinking this morning about all of these old cars that will be on display. How they are all so fine tuned and polished, and how once they were at the hands of something probably pretty regular. Today, we give great heed to these remnants, to the originals, and to the memories that were our childhood, our adolescence…by walking through these cars, paying homage to them as though they were old friends. I know my father in law feels this way, or he wouldn’t treat them as he does. They each have a stall of their own in his massive garage, as though they were horses in a barn.

I used to think it was all about vanity. I won’t lie to you. But the older I get, the more I wake up early on the Rimersburg car cruise day, because it was my childhood, and cookie daze, (the town fair), was my tradition growing up. Seeing my father in law makes me proud and I proudly walk the streets back and forth with the family, because I am part of their family and it is what we “do.”

This morning the early rising sun reminded me that Tyson was gone. But it also has left me with feelings of joy. The circle of life, our lives and remnants are things of value. They are near and dear to our hearts. They elicit strong emotions and feelings and shouldn’t be taken for granted. For someday we will be talking about someone or something that is no longer with us, and without paying homage to it today we will have lost that blessing while it was still with us. Celebrate each day. Life is a party at party gatherings. Party On. And may God bless you today and always.

“I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings.” Ezekiel 34:26

car cruises.

Rest & Recovery.

Do you ever have days where you want to do something, but your body actually won’t let you?

Yesterday it finally hit me. I felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks. I needed a break. My body was tired and I needed sleep, so I allowed it to sleep in until 11 am! Then, after feeling guilty for allowing my body to have what it needed, instead of feeling good about things, I went on to try to do a million things in attempt to make up for lost time. Have you ever done this? Allowed your feelings to take control of your mindset? Instead of being rational about things, I acted on feelings, and it made a whirlwind of a day in fighting against what was to be and what I wanted it to be.

“Act now” my devotional from yesterday said. And I attempted to take it literally. I tried to do everything under the sun, including blogging, but nothing would allow me to get things done for some reason or close to being completed. My computer completely blanked on me and the blue little swirling icon wouldn’t even allow me to restart my computer properly. I was at a loss. What would I fill my day with if not for tons of meaningful tasks…and then it occurred to me. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. And maybe it wasn’t even that meaningful. Maybe sharing my good news meant taking a break from life for a while so I could recharge. I was then forced to have a day that though meaningful, wasn’t full completely with “stuff.” Or getting things, “done.” It was more about reflection.

Normally my days are full of mundane tasks. Do you ever feel this way? Like what you are doing isn’t important? It occurred to me yesterday, when I was actually taking a break from all of those “tasks” that they weren’t actually adding up to anything. They didn’t truly mean much other than something was completed. They didn’t include much feeling and didn’t work to uplift anyone else…they were empty. And what an awful feeling that was!

It occurred to me that because everything seemed like it was going “wrong” that maybe it was a red flag to slow down, reevaluate my habits, and to reevaluate what I wanted in my future instead of mindlessly repeating past mistakes and moving forward. That’s what would help my tomorrows and my future, by actually “living” in my present instead of rushing and racing around it, to embrace it instead. I decided to change my mindset. I forgave myself for needing time to rest and I put myself on a new track that included more down time with my son instead of routinely going about my day to day. We tend to become such creatures of habit sometimes, that life seems stuck at a standstill.

Maybe “act now” actually meant something more about relationships other than completing chores I thought.

Maybe giving proper priority to our relationships in life rather than meaningless tasks that can be checked off of a check sheet was the actual lesson to be learned. And maybe, just maybe spending more time with Jesus, was just what I needed. After changing my mindset, I began to feel more fulfilled, more loved, and more joyous.

I just went into our bedroom, which is where my son is resting and asked him if he wanted to go to the park. “No” he said. “I’m way too tired.” And for the first time, I decided to respect this response instead of pushing us forward into something that would have become more laborsome than fun. Instead I’m letting him rest, because he told me his needs and it is my responsibility as a parent to teach him that resting is not something to feel guilty for, but something that our bodies need to properly function. Sometimes resting and recharging is key to our long term success. Perhaps it is the perfect balance between resting and running that we need to win the race ahead. And Amen to that~!

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

Rest & Recovery.