‘Lead Me’

I first heard this song in 2010. I was in a marriage that left me broken and used. The song convicted me, because I wanted so much for my husband to be a godly partner and father, to be someone who I could freely love and worship God with. I prayed for this for 17 years. It didn’t happen. After years of threats, battering, and manipulation, that marriage finally fell apart in 2011. My worst fear came true and I lost my children, but  God knew what would happen, even when no one else did, and like the ever-watchful Guardian, He’s been there since the beginning.

Two years ago, after my failed marriage, when my world was completely turned upside down, God saved me when I was drowning in sorrow.  He reunited me with my childhood friend Adam.  Adam helped my soul heal.  He didn’t know it, but he was God’s instrument.

Instrument…. that has more than one meaning to Adam.  Adam is a lifetime musician.  Since he was old enough to hold an instrument, he’s played…whatever he can get his hands on. You leave him alone with it for ten minutes and he figures it out. Well, God has left me alone with him for two years  🙂  Over 24 months I’ve seen him grow from out of his own shell, and release emotional pain that has manifested physically.  I’ve watched him survive a stroke and rebuild himself slowly, and have been extremely blessed to watch as he accepted Christ and became a baptized believer, with the conviction of a knight.  My heart was renewed that day.

The Bible says in 1st Peter 3:1, Wife, be subject to your own husband, so that even if he does not obey the word, he may be won without a word by your conduct.  My grandmother told me that verse when I was in my mid-20′s. I was newly married at the time to my (now ex) husband, and I had asked her what to do, a little bit desperate, because my husband was not Christian.  We didn’t share the same beliefs about God.  Very clearly, the Bible gave instruction. I prayed every day during our marriage (which lasted from 1995-2011), for him to be baptized, for him to share time with me reading the Bible at home everyday.  He was jealous of my relationship with God. At first, he scoffed at me for seeking out a church home,and then belittled me when I taught Sunday school, and then he came to accept my doing this, but he never condoned it.

Deep down inside, I knew that my ex-husband and I would divorce someday, not knowing the how or the when or the why, so in faith I continued to serve my husband, and love him. Sometimes that required work. I had to force myself to love him. He was cold and insensitive, and constantly spewed ugliness out of his mouth, sometimes breaking me down, which made me feel worthless.  Sometimes we even fought physically, because I would constantly fail in my husband eyes.

Faith was my strength. In God and in the verses like that one in 1st Peter.  I leaned on God.  I lived in a constant state of prayer. I believed that God was watching and protecting me and my children, even as I was attacked by my spouse, as I lost various freedoms over the years due to his jealousy of my relationships with family and friends.  And when he threw me out in 2011, when he bribed my children to stay with him instead of going with me, I still prayed and leaned on God’s understanding – which is greater than my understanding.

During this time, I’ve been surviving…. and I wanted to do more than just survive, I wanted life.  I longed for the closeness that God, and no one else, gives me.  So I grieved the loss of my children. I grieved the loss of security and self, and let it go. That was a very hard transition.  During this time, God has been building me up to prepare me for discipleship.  I do this with a humble heart.

Even though Adam and I have been a couple now for 2 years, I feel as if we are at the beginning of something beautiful, because we are now both Christians who both love God, and we want to share that with others, in celebration for all that God has done, is doing, and will do. I feel like God rewarded me for my faith all those years, for putting my trust in Him, for giving the life that was out of my control over to Him.

It’s true…my children are still living with my ex-husband. My heart still aches for them. But my heart is healing. Adams heart is healing. What a difference it makes in your life, when you just let Jesus in! Watching Adam be baptized renewed my soul. Sharing bible time together as we both grow in Christ and allow ourselves to be molded, and praying together, is such a gift! It’s such a peaceful foundation to root and grow a relationship.

Thank you God, for everything. For convicting my heart back then, for protecting my children through all that has changed, and for convicting Adam to become a godly partner, molded by You, just for me. You are the Great Physician, and truly the Miracle Worker.

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The Other Side of My Cardboard

God has really worked on me today…this morning I woke up so unable to celebrate the Easter holiday, apathetic and still buried in sorrow from the loss of my children…

My heart is broken. That hasn’t changed. But, I have so many reasons to celebrate Easter. I know that Jesus is my Savior. I love God, but God loves me a lot more.

If I can add to this cardboard testimony….

cardboardlost

cardboardfound

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.

One Soul’s Evolution

When

The

Words

finally break through the walls of fear, and turn on the powers of Love

that a lifetime in guilt, lies, and shame have hidden from you, then the

silence

becomes

music.

You’re

free

to let

Faith

Hope

and

Love

infect

your

soul.

This was written for the Trifecta Week Sixty-Nine writing challenge.

(rules below)

INFECT
1: to contaminate with a disease-producing substance or agent (as bacteria)
2a : to communicate a pathogen or a disease to
b : of a pathogenic organism : to invade (an individual or organ) usually by penetration
c : of a computer virus : to become transmitted and copied to (as a computer)
3a : contaminate, corrupt <the inflated writing that infects such stories>  
b : to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support <trying to infect their salespeople with their enthusiasm>

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If you know your post does not meet the requirements of the challenge, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.
This week’s challenge is community-judged.
  • For the 12 hours following the close of the challenge, voting will be enabled on links.
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This week’s word is infect.

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.

The crazy world of Craigslist

The crazy world of Craigslist

Since my divorce I’ve not had the best luck when it comes to finding a job that suits me. Part of that is because my ex-husband slandered my name and ruined the career that I attended college for four years to get a bachelors degree and license for. But its also because I have no experience in doing anything. I was a stay at home mother for 17 years who occasionally worked at a fast food job to get away from the husband who made me feel worthless.

I’m not going to bash him.

Things being as they are, I’ve had to relearn how to do a lot of job skills, and scrape and dig in some strange places to find work and try to build my ‘resume’.

I’m from the 70’s and 80’s.  Back then, a resume was a joke. When I was a teenager in the 80’s, to get a job, you filled out a paper application, talked in person to a perspective employer, and shook hands. Now a days, you find a job online, pray its not a scam, fill out an application online, submit a resume, and then pray that someone will actually try to contact you. That doesn’t work for me. I’ve filled out 235 applications at various schools across three states (I’m still trying to be a teacher even though my ex ruined that for me. I believe God called me to teach so guess what, this southern girl isn’t giving up). In the mean time, I’ve also put in about 40 applications for various restaurant positions, factory jobs, receptionist jobs, and even responded to some whacked out modeling ads just to see if I can get anyone to answer my email.

I must be too ugly, old, and way to non-party animal-ish for the modeling ads to respond because I haven’t heard a peep – not even from the “foot modeling” ad.

But you have to do what you have to do in order to eat, and since my career is destroyed and I have no luck with work, I back owe on child support. Never mind the fact that I’ll be homeless and in the food pantry line soon, and I won’t be able to buy gas to go to work, all that matters is my child support is due.

Hey guys? You’ve been doing this for years – how do you do it?

Wait. Chances are you had a job for the duration of your marriage when it ended, so you had experience to put on your resume, and the last thing she wanted when you divorced was to make you lose your job, because after all she wanted your money. Someone give me one reason why I shouldn’t give up and die.

Right now. Because I know the reality of my predicament.

I would post my resume online, but all it shows is that I am a well educated, professionally inexperienced person who has a lot to offer any employer in the children’s education field. I am a writer, I can answer phones and run an office, even though I haven’t worked in one since that summer when I was 20 years old. I do have experience as a production technician, so I can work assembly – but I can’t work at lightning speed because my joints are swollen and reflexes are numbed by age.

I’ll just say this:

To the foot fetish ad (yeh, the whole world knows whats really going on there, so don’t be coy and advertise the need for a foot model whose face you don’t care about who agrees to being tickled for $50 an hour) – you missed out because I have beautiful feet. Size 11 women’s, bet you can’t handle that!

To the receptionist ad, I would’ve give you my total devotion and stayed for years,quite possibly until I reached an age when I couldn’t work anymore due to chronic illness. I have been answering phones and taking messages for three decades, emailing for 13 years, I’m an experienced SEO, and I can file and organize and restock a cabinet, I’ve been a MOTHER for half my life for crying out loud.

To the manufacturing ads who need an assembly tech to make 3 parts a minute:  Slow down bitches. You wonder why your employee turnaround is so high when your benefits are amazing and the pay you offer is great? That’s all I’m saying. The dollar you can make today will be there tomorrow, and you won’t lose a penny. I  believe in quality over quantity. You would’ve had a life long employee too if you weren’t so worried about my speed.

To the painting job that never even replied to me: I am the daughter of a house painter. I know how to operate, maintain and use a power sander, a spray painter, caulk, and sand by hand, and even clean the gunk from the windows of a house that lazy no good painters slop all over the sills because they come in before me to prime and don’t give a crap. I did it under the table for years, but you’ll never know how good I am because I’ve never worked at a recognized company.

To the writing gigs that never responded: I’m a published book author, not to mention more than one college professor asked for my permission to publish MY articles and student IEP specific curricula in THEIR portfolios.  It kind of makes me laugh to know that not even the gig wanting to pay me $1 a page hired me to write in their blog.  What a wonderful outlook on life you must have.

To the Hooters that didn’t want me because I am 43 years old and have a few grays and crows feet that I refuse to hide with make up and color. This Cougar has years of serving experience – hey, I even COOKED it before serving it, on time, every day, with a smile, when my husband got home from work.

To the schools who won’t give me a chance to fulfill a life long dream because of one slanderous letter given to you by my ex: I home schooled my children for years. It was the best time of my entire life. I may not have in-class experience,but I can teach you about diverse learning styles that you can’t learn about in Bloom’s Taxonomy.I would have taught my students to have a life long desire to learn, to investigate answers instead of taking what you tell them as gospel, and to work with their hands, because as I have discovered, earning a degree alone, will get them nowhere. I would’ve continued my education and gotten my Masters, or even my National Certification. BUT that will never happen now because you only hire “teachers with classroom experience”, and you say being an intern for a year was not enough.

And finally, to all the fake people making ads to scam, and the employers needing fake employees/robots/mindless sheep to “work” for them on Craigslist, my grandmother taught me to say one good thing about people like you.  Bless your pea pickin’ heart.

Happy job hunting folks! If you find an actual REAL place to find work, let me know! Leave a comment if you want to hire me too!