God created her, I carried her, now she is my happiness and my laughter.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Some Truths about Depression

Depression is an emotion that one can not simply explain. Unless you have also been or are depressed you could never understand what a depressed person is really feeling. If you ask a depressed person how they are feeling they will most likely not be honest with you. However, if they were to be honest, they might say something like, "I'm sad for no reason a lot. Happy things are happening all around me but I feel no joy. I'm thankful for what I have, but can't express it. I have no energy to do the simple things in life like making dinner or cleaning up the house and when I do attempt to do those things I feel anxious and overwhelmed and emotional."

Let's be honest. If you are not depressed or have never experienced true depression you probably read the above statement and think, "Wow. Why don't you just pull yourself together. It's not that difficult. How selfish you are to not rejoice in the happy times or be thankful for what you have. Stop being lazy and just get up and do what you need to do."

And this is why it's simply impossible to explain how you are really feeling as a depressed person. Depression IS a selfish emotion. This is true. But, it affects the mind on a much deeper level. The cure to depression is not any kind of drug and it's not a cure that lasts forever. The way to defeating depression to a continual forcing of one's self to do everything you don't want to do. And I say everything because it's not just that some things you enjoy doing and other things you don't and it's the things you don't that you have to force yourself to do. No, that is a normal person. A depressed person has to force themselves to do EVERYTHING. Even the things they would normally enjoy. And EVERYTHING is exactly what they don't want to do. A depressed person has desires to do certain things in life. These desires are always in the forefront of the mind. But, there's what often times feels as an outward source engulfing the person, making them feel mentally overwhelmed and emotionally taxed so that those simple desires like "I think I'd enjoy making dinner for the family." Is followed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety from the overwhelming sense of energy it would take to do that small task and you no longer feel you can handle it. The cure to this IS forcing yourself to do it. Upon completing the task, you will feel better until the next task arises and you have to go through the whole ordeal again. Often times it takes someone else who knows and understands your condition to force you to do it because it's extremely difficult to be motivated when depressed.

My name is Tiffany Anderson and I'm depressed.

I would say the thing that gets me through each and every day is definitely my belief in God. I trust that he has my best interest at heart, but I know that God works directly through my children. If I didn't have these two kids to take care of I would definitely be a lot worse off. I can only ashamedly admit that when ever I've reached what I felt was the end of my rope with depression and decided it wasn't worth going on in life, that I had no more energy, no more emotions to give, that no one wanted or needed me anyway; it wasn't long til I remembered my girls and how with out me they would be alone. I love them enough to keep me going, keep me working, keep me pursuing at school, keep me going to church. With out my girls I'm certain I would do none of this. I actually have to thank Jesus for my divorce because being a single mom is hard. It's very hard for me. I do not do it well and I continually feel overwhelmed. But, if I had a husband to lean on to take care of things and one that I trusted with the upbringing of my girls, I would most definitely fall deep into depression and never leave my house.

There are some things that normal people take for granted that depressed people deal with on a daily basis and while it seems like a small dog to anyone else, it's a really big struggle to a depressed person. Expressing emotion, for example. Every emotion I express is fake. Every single one. At any given moment, any smile performed, any laugh, any sympathy…..sorry, but all fake. I absolutely hate it when people ask me how I'm doing. It's the simplest of pleasantries and used more often by way of saying "Hello" than actually wondering how you are doing; but I hate it because I'm never doing well. I feel like crying all the time. I feel continually lonely, though I'm surrounded by others. I feel melancholy, though my life is full of blessings. Simple things that shouldn't bother me, do bother me and this is embarrassing to admit. I grow tired of lying to people telling them that "I'm ok." "I'm fine, thanks for asking." I'm not fine. I'm not ok. But, I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to cry and show my weakness.

David (who also struggles with depression) and I were talking about this the other day. He said something that really put it in perspective for me. He said some people who do not struggle with depression have no problem expressing their emotion because they are happy. To let their emotion loose causes no harm to anyone. But, for us, as depressed people to express an emotion, it might cause actual harm to ourselves or someone else. We have no other choice but to suppress what we are feeling as to not frighten anyone or so that we keep our deepest, scariest feelings to ourselves. My mom once found me curled up in a closet crying. It is scary. It felt normal, even comforting to me; but to my mom it was a horrible experience that she never wanted to see again. If I have to function in society I have to suppress so much emotion that sometimes the slightest thing can push me into a downward spiral. And people don't understand it. They think "wow, she's so sensitive. She's gone crazy. I have to walk on egg shells around her." But what they don't know is that for the last week I've been suppressing all my emotions, I've been faking the way I feel and overtime that becomes hard to bear. Overtime you just want to for once, not have to push all that aside.

There are many little things like this that depressed people deal with on a daily basis. I don't even feel comfortable going into other details and truths about depression. Because it's really extreme. It's scary and it's not fun to talk about. Some of you who may read this may know me as a person that doesn't express a lot of emotions. And now you know why.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Emma's First Steps

My personal prayer for my girls has always been that they will desire to have Jesus in their hearts on their own accord. With out the prompting of Sunday School teachers, family members, school instructors or peer pressure from friends, they would recognize through God's leading that they NEED Him. My Christian example, especially in the privacy of my own home, is not what it should be. There are many, many areas that I need to work on. But, I pray that some how my girls will see how I live my life, how other family members live their lives and compare it to how someone like their lost father lives his life. My prayer is that they will see a difference. A good difference. A difference from which they recognize the difference between having Jesus in your heart or not having him in your heart. And upon realizing this difference along with the Bible teaching that they have had, they will come to determine that they want Jesus in their hearts and that the Bible is true and faith in God's Word and complete trust in Jesus IS what they want. As a second generation Christian I believed in God and the Bible in the same way that I might have learned a family trade. It was always in my parent's life, I was always in church and it simply seemed like the thing I was supposed to do. I'm very thankful for this upbringing. Don't get me wrong. But, it wasn't until my adulthood that I was able to fully realize the affects of sin, what that meant for Jesus having to die on the cross for me, and now as a believer in Christ, how I am supposed to live my life. My prayer for my precious girls, is that they can by-pass the confusing third generation Christian doubts and with the Lord's leading and Grace move straight into understanding while also having a deep DESIRE to WANT Jesus in their lives.

Well, Emma mentioned on the way to church last Sunday that she had decided to trust in Jesus. To be honest, my heart did not jump with joy, at first, because we had talked about trusting in Jesus many times over the course of the last year. Emma often times would bring up Jesus simply for a conversation starter. But, as we continued on our journey to church I couldn't help but notice the difference in her tone of voice as she talked about Jesus this time. She seemed almost giddily happy. She started mentioning all the people she wanted to tell about her decision. I actually started to get nervous because, I thought, "Could this be it? Could she be getting saved right now?" But, I quickly decided not to label it. I never want her to feel confused about that moment in her life. I started to get excited with her and we went over again what Jesus did for us on the cross and how we can pray to Him any time when we are happy or sad, grumpy or disappointed or afraid. Later, after church, we got a Christmas tree and headed home. Emma was still talking about Jesus and how she was going to trust and believe in him the whole while. When we got home, I went around to open the garage door as our openers don't work. When I got back to the van to unload I opened the door to find Emma finishing a prayer. She told me she was telling Jesus how happy she was that she decided to trust in Him.  It was in that moment that I knew this was a real feeling for her. So, I made the next crucial step of posting it on facebook. I wanted the family to rejoice with her. However, at church again that night she wasted no time sharing her news with everyone else on her own.

I know that Emma does not fully understand sin or the consequence of sin, yet. But her desire to have Jesus in her life is now. She may not be one of those Christians who has a major turning point or an exact day of salvation. But, I truly believe her to have a change in her heart that only God can do in a person. I truly believe God to have answered my prayer in a time when I really needed to see Him working in my family's life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Surprise Van

Wow! I didn't think I would ever have time to sit down and write this post. It took a long Sunday afternoon at the zoo and Jacey refusing to sleep at a friend's house and needing to come home and go to bed; therefore missing evening service to even make me feel like I had some time to sit down and write.   (You can tell it's been a while because of the run-on sentence.) I dream of being a full time writer. I'm not off to a great start with that goal. However, I press on, making tiny steps towards the goal with these simple, little, delayed blogs.

It all started on a rainy, cloudy day……ok, you're right, that's ridiculous in Arizona. But, don't most stories sound better when you start that way? I really don't remember what the weather was or really even what day it was when mom first let it slip that she and dad were going to Indiana. I was sitting at the kitchen table. She was standing at the counter. Dad had been home for a while and mom blurted out, "I made the reservations today. Mom and Dad said they could pick us up in Indianapolis."

I looked up appalled by what I had just heard. "What?! You are going to see grandma and grandpa? Even when they are coming here in November?"

Mom put on her best poker face. (Which fooled me.) "Ya, we decided to just go there and enjoy some time just the two of us with them. Dad needed a green-fix." She paused; but then continued most likely due to the astounded look still on my face. "We didn't tell you cuz we didn't want you getting upset that you couldn't go."

It was the perfect lie. I truly would have been and was upset that I couldn't go. I have a special bond with my grandparents that my other siblings didn't get to make with them because I lived with them for a summer. It truly was the best and only memorable summer of my life. In that one summer, my grandma taught me so much about the kitchen, the garden and boys. And I got to see Grandpa's patience working with me up close and personal. He is such a wise man. I did not treat them well that summer. I was still in my rebellious stage, but I sure do love them so much more now having had that special time with them. Nothing excites me more than going and visiting either of my grandparents.

"Well, you know I couldn't go even if I wanted to." I concluded to mom and really that was the end of that conversation.

Now I'm not sure when the best time it is to slip in this important note so I'll just put it here: a few weeks prior to all this, I had called my grandpa and asked him his advice on what family car I should get. I told him I wanted an SUV type vehicle that would be easy to get the kids in and out of. He did not hesitate to tell me how much he liked his own van. It had been their second mini van and both had treated them well. It had many features that were great for families with kids. I hung up the phone that day feeling disappointed he didn't suggest the Avalanche or the Equinox. But, deep down inside I knew it was time to embrace my motherhood and become the soccer mom. I thought I would use my next tax return on a new vehicle. I knew I had to follow my grandpa's advice, too, or I would never hear the end of it.

I really didn't think about my parents going to Indiana again until I was at their house one Saturday morning and they received a surprise visit from the assistant pastor and his wife. Through small talk and lunch invites my mom was forced to bring up the fact that they were going to Indiana. The Howards had many friendly, casual questions on the topic including how they would travel. My dad piped in with out thinking and said, "We're flying there but driving back."

I honestly thought absolutely nothing strange about this. I did say, "You're driving?" But it didn't actually surprise me. My parents often times take road trips and enjoy them. I expected them to fly round trip but the comment didn't throw me. My mom, however, assumed I would be suspicious and followed my dad's comment with, "What do you mean we're driving?!"

My dad gave the perfect cover, really. He simply and casually said, in the way only my dad could, "Well, we don't HAVE to drive."

I might have thought about how strange the driving comment was if I had remembered that my mom already mentioned booking tickets so there should have been no reason for my dad to suggest driving. But, with the Howard's visit coming to a close and the dog barking in another room I honestly didn't think anything of it. The Howards left and I had no reason to bring the topic back up.

I was clearly oblivious or else just in my own world because even when I asked my mom when they were getting back from Indian and she said, "Oh, Friday or Saturday." I asked surprised, "Don't you know? Aren't you flying?" And she answered quickly, "Oh, ya, Saturday." I still didn't think anything was up. It was extremely out of character for my mom to not have all the details sorted out but my own life's business kept me preoccupied, I guess. After all, Mom had been known to be showing signs of losing it lately.

The time came for mom and dad to leave. They arranged a way to the airport. It did not seem strange that they did not arrange a way home. In the back of my mind I always assumed I would pick them up when they got home. Through out their time in Indiana my dad posted pictures of all that they were doing there. At one point he posted a picture of an eatery which he loved that was quite a distance from my grandparents. I do not recall if I made a comment on the picture, but I do remember thinking that it was awfully far out of their way to go to that diner. I suppose I didn't question it because my dad truly would drive miles for their pork….or roast….or steak….something he really likes there. Pulled pork sandwich?

On Saturday morning mom texted me to see what we were up to. I knew they were due home that day and I assumed she was wanting to make airport pick up arrangements. I told her we had just gotten done with gymnastics and asked when they were arriving and if they needed a ride. She never responded so I assumed they had to get on the plane. I figured they would be home that evening, what with the air time and all.

If nothing else that had happened could stir curiosity of a lie, the fact that mom stepped into my home while I was wiping rice off of Jacey's clothes about an hour later should have immediately told me that something was up. I didn't really stop what I was doing. I figured she came to surprise the kids with her arrival. She came in the house alone so I figured she must have dropped dad off at home and then wanted to see the kids so badly that she came all the way back into town. It's so silly thinking back on it. Then she said something about taking the kids out to see dad and I thought, "Does my house smell so awfully of cats that he can't even come in and say hello?" But, alas, I needed to dump the rice from Jacey's shirt in the driveway. I was on a rice cleansing mission as I walked out into the garage. I said hi to dad and was slightly taken aback by my sister, Liz and her husband Josh also being there. They were all standing oddly on the other side of David's car. Liz had her camera which was strange but then Liz was a photographer at heart and it wasn't that odd for her to have her camera.  As I stepped out into the driveway, walked past the new white van in my driveway, and went to the side to dump the rice I kept thinking, "Wow, everyone wanted to see mom and dad pretty bad. I didn't think they were gone long enough for such a grand reunion. Do I not love my parents as much as my other siblings?! Should I be more excited? And furthermore, why did they rent this big van to get home from the airport? It seems awfully inconvenient since now someone is going to have to take them back there to drop it off. Surely mom knows I could have picked them up even if we had been at gymnastics."

These are ALL the thoughts running through my head as I'm taking care of Jacey's rice situation. Then I turn around and I see Dad has his phone out in camera mode as well. That's when I knew. (THAT is when I knew. Not any of those other obvious times ha ha) I knew something was up and it had to do with me. Some type of surprise. "It must be the van. But, could it be? How did it get here? Had they decided while in Indiana that I was such a great daughter I deserved a van? Wait….they must have driven the van back from Indian. Yes, that was it. But why? They already got me a car and it was running fine."

All these thoughts happened in a matter of a half a second. And no sooner had I had them someone, I forget who was the first, finally spilled the beans and relieved me of my wonderings by telling me it was Grandma and Grandpa's van. I remembered their van being blue so I had not thought of that at all. I started to cry, feeling overwhelmed by generosity, curiosity and frankly deceit….no just kidding about that. I couldn't wait to hash out the details and laugh at how obvious it had been and it went completely over my head. Turns out Dad had saved pictures for the drive back and posted them to make us all think they were still in Indiana. I did manage to hold back the tears as it's always weird when one goes off bawling on camera. Really ruins the mood for everyone involved. Everyone (except David) started talking a mile a minute, joking, telling the story, wondering what was going through my head. And all this time Jacey is wondering around shirtless.

The van has truly been an unexpected blessing and a godsend. It wasn't hard at all embracing mother hood and playing the part of soccer mom. I found I was excited to drive it because it smelled of and held memories of my grandparents. Emma loves it. She has four seats to choose from.

The next day was Sunday and when we were about to leave I asked Emma, "Should we take the car or the new van?" She chose the van, of course.

Thank you God for blessing me when I least deserve it. Thank you grandma and grandpa for the wonderful, free and loving gift. Thank you Mom and Dad for being willing to drive it back.

And there's the final story!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Update since the Washington trip

It is two hours past Jacey's normal wake up time and she is still sleeping away. So I thought I would get on the computer to post an update as she is sure to get up and demand all my attention as soon as I sit down.

The girls have been back from Washington for a few weeks now, where they had been visiting their dad. The first week they were gone was really rough for me. I had big plans to clean and organize the house and yard,  visit friends and do things at the church and in the community. But, I couldn't get past my bed. I was so depressed. I felt completely drained of all my motivation and energy. After work and to keep my mind from thinking about all the horrible things that were happening with the kids in Washington, I desired only to lay in bed and watch movies.

But, in the second week they were gone, I started to go through a nesting trance, like when a mother is expecting a baby. I would come home from work and do the most random things as if I were preparing for their home coming. I bought craft supplies so we would have things to do when they got back. I cleaned and started organizing the house. I planned new sleeping arrangements for the girls which involve a bunk bed in my room and the girl's room turning into a play room. My sister pointed out what a great idea this was because late night talks about life and the world would really bond us. I thought back to when I was a kid sharing a bunk bed with my sisters. We would do the same thing, talking til late and looking out the window contemplating life. Ah, the memories of country life. I sure miss my childhood. So, I'm excited to share a room with the girls. I'll never forget the feeling I had after one of Jason's deployments. During said deployment, I had really started to desire to turn my life around. I was seeking to get my heart right with God. I still really struggled with depression and though I didn't recognize it at the time, my marriage was really struggling. Our future was on the edge of a cliff. We came back to Washington to our regular house and good yard. We had nice furniture and a great car. (My dream car, a camaro) But, I felt overwhelmed with "stuff". Stuff to clean, stuff to organize, stuff to fix, stuff to care about, stuff to maintain. Somehow I got it in my mind as Jason was dreaming about owning an RV one night that if we lived in one, our lives would be better. The small space appealed to me. I begged Jason to move us into an RV and he was more than happy to comply since he was currently in the mood for buying an RV. The feeling of comfort and peace that I had from moving into a small space, cozy and snug is the same one I have about putting bunk beds in the room. I'm pulling the family closer together. We'll be snug and warm in our little space in the room and the girls and I can really bond.

In the second week the girls were gone, I also learned to completely rely on Jesus as my friend, protector, Savior, provider and comforter. I had originally planned to go to China with a friend during the girls absence. That fell through. My Russian friend also went to China and I felt very alone. Though I had family and friends, my two friends in China were the ones who kept me active and going. They did things with me and encouraged me to be away from the house and being productive. Learning to stay home and be alone was a good thing. David was also going through some spiritual changes and I was really starting to fall in love with my alone time with Jesus. He put me in a place where He was literally the only one that I felt could comfort me. I grew to rely on him more than my friends in China. I grew to count on him for friendship and comfort more than my other local friends and family. Fact of life: everyone has their own agendas. But Jesus' agenda is always about being there for me. He was only a prayer away at any given time and even when I wasn't on my knees I talked to him like he was always right there with me. I told him my woes and knew he was listening and I shared with him my desires even though I knew He already knew them. My relationship with Jesus was really able to grow. By the time the girls got home, I had a real motivation for things to be different in our home. Honestly, I hate the burden of raising the family all by myself. I feel completely over whelmed ALL the time and at the end of every day I always failed at my goals and tasks of the day. But, if I learned anything while the girls were absent it was that Jesus never fails. He doesn't mind if I mess up either. He helps me get back up and reminds me what my goals are.

I often shy away from expressing too much emotion. So, the day the girls were supposed to arrive any smile on my face or excitement in my expressions were truly genuine. As I always do, I planned in my mind how our reunion would be. I expected Emma to run to me and for Jacey to fly into my arms as fast as she could with a huge smile on her face. And the enemy who took them from me would vanish never to take my girls from me again. So, I had mixed emotions when Jacey took a moment in confusion to determine why I was now standing in front of her. It was probably only half a second in real time, but the time it took her to look at me, smile and fly into my arms felt like a minute. Emma, of course, did run to me from a distance and it was nice to give her a long hug just her with out having to share a hug with Jacey. The enemy didn't vanish, either. Even as we walked out of the airport my baby looked around saying "Dada?" I was torn between being thankful she had bonded with her dad to being very angry that she was being fooled into thinking he was being a part of her life. Since at her young age she doesn't know future visits are in the works. It is not my place to decide what the girls think about their father, though. They are certainly allowed to love him and since they MUST go visit, they might as well have a good time and enjoy it. It is my own pains and selfishness that cause me such anger. I have prayed so fervently that God protect my girls from emotional pains that I know he will not deny them a peace and comfort in all this.

Jacey was tired from her travels and Emma was excited to be home. It was a good 24 hours before Jacey stopped whining about everything and Emma bombarded me with questions and comments for 48 hours straight. It was a very trying time when I had fantasized about such perfection. I soon realized that my kids hadn't changed that much, I had simply gotten used to two weeks of no responsibilities. I forced myself to get back in the groove of having the kids around and it has since been a real blessing. I wouldn't give them up for the world. Between their last visit and the dealings Jason and I had in court recently, Jason and I hadn't spoken directly to each other in weeks. When we finally did have a conversation, it was pleasant but he is still just as selfish as he ever was only caring about what is best for him and not so much about the girls. I'm fine with that, really. I happy to have the girls to myself in a safe place for now. Until Jason gets saved that will never change. I know that God will always have the girl's best interest at heart and I keep reminding myself that my own sins got me in this situation. I will charish every moment I have with the girls and I will not waste any day we have together. And the girls simply have been a joy since they have been back. There is a lot of work ahead of us on all fronts. But it's a learning experience and I think we are doing ok.

Since the girls have been back, I've been compared to Jason's girlfriend and Jason is always trying to incorporate his girl friend in his talks with the girls. I reminded Jason that until there is a ring on her finger there would be no reason for her to be a part of the girl's life. I had a ring on my finger and still he left after 5 years. The last thing the girls need is to be attached to someone else in their dad's life only to have that person leave or be left in another 5 years. I'm quite certain this will have absolutely no affect on how Jason conducts his relationship with his girlfriend around the girls; but I pray, again, that the girls own emotions will be spared. Trust, I must in Jesus, just trust. (I just made up that little diddy right now.) I would say that is the theme of my life right now. Trusting in Jesus has really made things easier in a time when I really really couldn't have done it with out him.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Motherly Instincts

God made mothers to nurture and protect their children. Especially in the animal kingdom, some animal mothers are simply incredible. One of the worst mistakes any other animal or human being can make is taking a baby from it's mother.

We are all too familiar with the angry mother grizzly who would go to great lengths to protect her cub, even attacking people (which is out of character for a bear) when she feels like her cub is threatened. I've seen a mother grizzly half the size of a male boar bear attack and defend her two cubs. She was brutally beaten by the boar but she refused to give up and finally, though she was weakened, the boar left and the cubs were safe. 

Wildebeest are also very protective of their young. When predators are near, the mothers push all the babies into a group and then they surround the babies. The rest of the herd surrounds the mothers. Sometimes they are doing this on the run.

A mother cheetah who lost her cub searched for days, though she had two other cubs that she had to leave alone in the "den." She would go to where the cub was last detected and she would mew for him to return. A family who would normally be continually on the move to avoid predators, stayed put out of love and devotion to the lost cub.

The list of mothers protecting their young goes on and on. It is a natural mother's instinct to want to protect your baby. God made it that way. The animal kingdom is a great place to see how God intended  things to be. It is only natural to react in strange and seemingly abnormal ways when you feel like your baby is in danger. Some might consider it over reacting, but a mother's instinct to protect is there and it is good.

Tonight is the eve of the day I have to give my baby away. But, the thing is, it's impossible for me to do this. My motherly instincts are kicked into high gear and I see danger signs flashing on the road ahead. My heart and mind is saying don't leave your baby with strangers. It is my job to watch over her. I think about someone taking her out of my arms, walking away from me with her in their arms and I can do NOTHING! In a world that God made to be one way, society has turned it into something else. A mother can't just protect her baby anymore. Now, if some random judge says so, you are forced to give up your child. I have no choice but to watch my baby, unknowing, innocent, and confused be taken from me for longer than she will understand. I can't kick, I can't scream, I can't tackle someone to the ground, I can't run away, I can't change the rules. I have to go against everything God put in me that is natural and I have to force myself so do something unnatural. It's such an impossible task that only God could help me through it. I'm thinking about tomorrow and how every item I pack in a suit case, every preparation I make for her travel I'm basically saying I'm ok with this. But I'm not. I'm not ok at all. I don't want to have any part in sending my baby away. I need a strength that I fear I will never have. It's God that makes tomorrow happen or it's no one. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Having brought in the New Year

It's never to early or too late to make changes. Last year at this time we had brought in the new year at Liz and Josh's house with board games, pigs in a blanket and an unexpected fireworks display from the porch. I was pregnant for Jacey and had no idea my marriage would soon fail.

In February Jason asked for a divorce and though it was a very trying time, it was my big opportunity to get back on track in my relationship with Jesus, start being faithful to a church, taking my family to church and having the opportunity to stay in a place I absolutely love, being near family. I stayed several months in prayer and Bible reading but as I had always feared, my devotional times became less and less the more comfortable I became in my situation.

By May I was hardly reading my Bible and never praying more than just a quick whisper through out the day. I was still enjoying church, though; and especially Sunday school.

I tried to get a summer job but over all God was taking care of all my needs. I had transportation, a place to live by July with David, people were volunteering to watch Jacey and Mom and Karen were pitching in to put Emma in school. God had supplied all my needs and wanted to leave me needing Him so I still didn't have a job by the time school started. Turned out to be a blessing as I was very busy. Juggling school and the kids was stressful. I constantly felt like I wasn't giving enough at school or at home. But, in my business and having absolutely no energy by the end of the day I found my devotions went even further to the way side.

By Thanksgiving and the coming winter break, I was faltering quite a bit. I knew reading my Bible would be helpful but when I opened it up, I felt like I could never find a good place to start reading. I began to fall back into the false sense of feeling that I couldn't come before the Throne of Grace because I wasn't being faithful in other things. Going to church was not yet a "chore" but I was definitely going to bed Saturday nights wishing I could just spend the next day at home relaxing and getting ready for the next week.

Finally, Christmas came and went and I was starting to get in that mood of change. The new year was approaching. God was really speaking to me through more financial trials. On new year's eve I finally said enough was enough. I had recently been looking over my sister's blog, http://domesticarmour.blogspot.com She had a series on prayer posted that was a 4 week long study. It dawned on me, I had a great devotional right at my finger tips and I decided not to  put off getting back on track any longer. I read the first two parts of the series. It was so fun, I didn't want to stop reading.  I opened my Bible to read the verses she posted. I took notes. I put reminder notes on my white board and spent several minutes in prayer that morning. I took Emma on my lap and told her what I had gotten out of my devotions. She decided she also wanted to spend some time in prayer and ran to her room to pray for her dad. It was so precious and I was feeling so encouraged.

My day yesterday went so well. I had much patience for the kids. We ran errands, were in good moods, had money to spend on things we needed, used some Christmas gift cards and then ate dinner at Arbys.

You know those good days with the Lord where you are just so happy to be alive, so happy to be a Christian that you'll randomly talk to strangers, make jokes with cashiers, say hello to passer-byers? Well, completely out of character for me I turned and asked a lady how old her baby was. I don't know why I did it. It must have been the Lord working through me. Because I know in my flesh, I do not like other people's kids and I certainly don't want to start a conversation with someone. She turned out to be quite the talker. Her husband was with her but even still she proceeded to tell me how she and her husband were on the verge of divorce since the baby had been born. She spoke of it heartily, would turn to her husband and laugh nervously. He refused to look me in the eye as I'm sure he was embarrassed. (Poor guys) Even more so out of character for me, I ended up giving the lady (Dawn was her name and her baby was Lily) my number and told her to contact me before the 15th when school started so we could get together. They are a military family, here in Tucson with no family or friends. My heart went out to her and for her situation. I felt like there was little advice I could give since I was standing there as a recent divorcee; but I prayed the Lord would guide my words and conversation to be encouraging. I told her that I could introduce her to some other ladies from my church. Secretly my hope was that someone who wasn't divorced could maybe get to know her and be a help to her. I know this meeting was of God. I was so happy to have been used by Him and I knew this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't have been in my devotions that morning.

I called my sister on the way home and asked her to pray for Dawn and we talked about how her blog had been such a blessing to me. It was a great conversation. I came home to David, ready and happy to go to church with me that night. We brought in the new year playing church volleyball, eating popcorn and talking about dreams, regrets, blessings and future. It was such a good day.

This new years day the devil thought he would try to mess things up by having the kids get up early and getting me distracted wanting to get my projects started. I ended up calling mom to create a P.O.D. (plan of the day). As she told me about her devotions that morning I remembered what a blessing I had yesterday and decided it really was important to start the day right. So, I have just finished doing another part in the prayer series and it has been another great start to my day.

Here's to trying harder this year to do what's right every day. I always love how Pastor puts it, "Make Jesus look good, today."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Rare and Surprisingly Disappointing Opportunity

Fantasy. Things we dream up, but never get to live in real life. Good, pleasant things. Girls, day dreaming about a future husband and what it will be like. Letting your mind run wild with images and ideas of a perfectly romantic evening with your loved one.

I remember being a kid and writing down the ideal perfect husband, how many kids I would have, what their names would be, how many animals we would have on the farm that was a given we would live on. Real life sure turned out different. M.A.S.H. was certainly NO indication of who I would really marry or what job, car or house I would have.

And though I married a man I never would have thought I would be attracted to, I had a child right away when I hadn't planned to, I was in the Navy instead of living on a farm; I actually WAS living a fantasy. In a way, I feel a little proud about that. I don't think many adults in the world could say they lived a fantasy.

I created a fantasy for my marriage and my family and for 5 years I was given the privilege to live through it. My husband loved me unconditionally and was the model husband causing jealousy amongst my other married family members and friends. He listened to me and came home from work wanting to be involved with the family. We were intimate every day and sometimes more than once a day. He always came running when I was crying. He carried my burdens and fought my battles. My husband was a good father. He was involved in my daughter's life, concerned about her up bringing, played with her, taught her how to do things on her own and taught her about life.

And, yes, for 5 years, I believed all of the above were true. But, the thing with fantasy is that it's all just a big lie. It's not real even if you get the opportunity to live it. Like a good dream it fades away when you open your eyes. And that's exactly what happened. I opened my eyes.

I like a TV series called Once Upon a Time. It's about Disney movie characters we all know and love (Cinderella, Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, ect. ) and they, through a curse by the Queen from Snow White, are sent to live out a "real" life in the "real" world. The curse was meant to take away their happiness and to show that the cartoon life they were living was just a fantasy. In the series, though, Snow White and the Prince have a child before the curse can take place. They send the child through a magic portal to the real world ahead of them. This is done so that she can save them from the curse when she is older.

It sounds a little funny, but I actually relate to this story. Jason and I had what seemed like a great marriage and a great family. But, because it was just a fantasy I had created in my mind, we ended up being put through a "curse" 5 years later where we were forced to come face to face with reality. My husband never loved me unconditionally. He loved me out of guilt. He behaved like the poster husband because of pride. He pretended to care about his children's upbringing because of a false sense of duty. When the lies and the living of a fake life became too much, I was finally given the opportunity to open my eyes and see that we weren't living in reality. I don't know what Jason's version of the "fantasy" we lived would be, but we both treated each other poorly, no matter how much good there seemed to be, because neither of us, in reality, wanted to be with each other. I often times searched else where for attention and fell into depression because there was a part of me deep down inside that knew my marriage wasn't right. I hate that we involved children in our fantasy, but in a way they are like the child sent ahead of time to save, at least me, from my own insanity.

Does the fantasy I lived come back to haunt me? Of course! Was it fun while it lasted? Sure. Do I painfully miss many parts of our fantasy? I used to! But, that's all it was. Five years of lies, back stabbing, and hypocrisy. I feel like "everybody's fool" when I look back on all the lies I was led to believe over the years and I could kick myself for not listening to that little voice in my head telling me something just wasn't right. No matter which way you look at it, no matter what things could have been different, Jason and I were never meant to be together because EVERYTHING about our relationship was a lie.

So, in conclusion, I keep reminding myself of these things. Every good memory I have is null and void because it wasn't real. The man I thought I fell in love with is really just some guy I made up in my head. The man I actually had is nothing like I would ever want in real life. And like wise, the woman Jason married was certainly not who he intended to love all his life.

I'm glad my fantasy is over. And the reality is that the girls and I are much better off. Reality is that I needed the girls in my life to keep me grounded. Reality is that we needed God in our lives, not some fake fantasy.