The Real Mom

I can still remember the conversation that we had almost five years ago. My oldest son had just turned eighteen and was preparing to start his career in the Army. We had just finished a three mile run together and were walking to cool down. I stopped him mid-stride and asked him if we could talk.

“I’m sorry,” I began, “if you thought I was too hard on you.”

He turned to me and said, “Mama, you don’t have to be sorry. I know you just wanted and still want what’s best for me.”

use this one heartWhen my kids were younger, I used to have this fear. I think at some point, all stepmothers have the same one. One day, one of the children that you love as your own will turn and look at you and shout, “You’re not my real mom!” Of course, you know it’s just out of anger and/or disappointment and they don’t really mean it. But, it doesn’t matter. The words prick at your heart like a thorny rose. And once said, they cannot be unheard and you cannot stop your heart from breaking.

 

It’s been nine and a half months since we’ve spoken. I tried to reach out to him, several times, but he will not respond. It hurts. You have no idea how much it hurts. I continue to pray for him, every day, I pray that he’s happy and healthy. He’s with his real mom now.  I hope she’s watching out for him… like I used to do.

 

 

 

 

Matthew 18:15

via Daily Prompt: Yellow

Fear causes us to do stupid things and make stupid mistakes. The definition of a coward is a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things. There are many synonyms for the word coward; yellow belly, chicken, lily liver, wimp, etc. No matter what you call it, fear is a part of human nature.

I believe one of my biggest fears is confrontation. However, as a Christian, confronting your brother or sister in Christ is something you’re told you must do. In Matthew 18:15, the bible says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

We all make mistakes, I know I’ve made my fair share; but I’m learning from the mistakes I’ve made. I have hurt people, with no intentions to do so. Fortunately, I have been able to save relationships with some because they did the right thing. They came to me and told me how they felt and explained what I did wrong. I was told what I did and I was able to ask for forgiveness. Thankfully, I was granted that forgiveness.

One of the worst mistakes you can make in a relationship is involving others in your disputes. Again, the bible says to confront your brother between you and him alone. If I do something to offend, hurt or upset you, what good does it do to tell someone else? How does that help our relationship? It doesn’t, it just allows someone else to influence your feelings on the situation. Of course, I understand why people do it. I’ve done it myself, just one of the many mistakes I’ve made. You tell someone else so that they can confirm that your feelings are justified. Nobody wants to be told that they are wrong or they shouldn’t feel a certain way. But again, involving others in something that should be between just you and the person that hurt you is a sure way of ruining your relationship.

Fear is just a part of being human, but fear of confrontation is something I’m learning to get over; especially in the area of saving relationships that are important to me. It’s never easy, but the reward is so much greater than the alternative.

search me: the runner

Retreat, run away; that’s always been my modus operandi! It seems to work for me, until it doesn’t.

Running away from problems seems to be what I do best. It usually works for a while. Sometimes the problems catch up with me and other times, they just disappear. I definitely like when the latter happens.

Everyone knows, by now, that I didn’t have the best childhood. I once told my father that I didn’t like the fact that he drank all the time. He walked to the refrigerator, took out a beer, popped the top, took a long swig, looked at me and said, “It helps me relax.” I honestly believe that is when I realized that sharing my opinions was useless. Due to the things going on at my house, I moved out and got my own apartment two months after my eighteenth birthday. I didn’t eliminate the problems at home, I just left them there and retreated to a place where I didn’t have to deal with them.

A few years later, I learned some personal information (maybe one day I’ll share) regarding my family. I brought it up to my mother one day when we were on the phone. She refused to acknowledge the issue and hung up on me. Because this information also involved her siblings, she confronted them and everything got blown up. For a couple of weeks, my phone rang non stop, people yelling and accusing others of things. This is the second event that made me realized that facing the problem and trying to solve it was pointless. About a month later, I moved to a new city. Yes, I left my hometown and moved away because I couldn’t handle all of the drama. I didn’t speak to my mother’s side of the family for about fifteen years. We have since reconciled, thanks to Facebook and unfortunately, my grandmother’s death. But the issues between myself and my immediate family are still not solved. Without involving my mother’s family this time, I once again brought up the problems from my childhood to my parents. And, once again, things did not go well. They do not want to face the issues or try to resolve them and I’m not sure that we could at this point. I have not spoken to them since.

My first marriage, that was something. My husband wanted to be married, but live like he was single. Separate bank accounts; his stuff, my stuff, etc. When I tried to explain how that made me feel, he didn’t care. Needless to say, I did finally run away from that situation too; I got divorced.

Looking back, I guess my M.O. wasn’t always to run. I did speak my mind and share my opinions. I guess I only ran when that didn’t work.

With a more recent situation, however, I did just cut ties and run. Maybe it’s because the relationship I had with this person was never a close one. I’d say we were more acquaintances that have mutual friends. But, when things got tough there too, I just removed myself from the situation without saying anything to the person. Maybe, I learned that confronting someone doesn’t always go my way. Maybe, it was because I didn’t want to create more conflict. I really don’t know why I didn’t say something. After all, the Bible says that if a brother sins against you, go and tell him. I guess that would have been the Christian way to handle it. Perhaps, I just thought it was beyond help by the time it had gotten to a certain point. Since this person is still in my life due to the mutual friends we share, I am sure we will eventually have to work it out. I believe it would be easier if I knew why this person did what they did. Aha! How am I supposed to know if I don’t go to them and ask? And if I explain to them that I feel what they did was wrong? What is the worse thing that could happen? Definitely something to think and pray about.

I guess maybe it’s time to stop running or ignoring the problems and start facing them.

#theChristianlifeisnteasy #prayforme #heregoesnothin

via Daily Prompt: Retreat

search me: feelings

Yesterday was Christmas. Honestly, I cannot remember a worse Christmas since my childhood. Now, I know that yesterday was not about me, but I was definitely in a mood. Sorry to say that I was extremely selfish. My husband had to work, so my two youngest and I went to church. We had a wonderful service. During the invitation, I asked my daughter to go to the alter and pray over me. She is an amazing young lady and I’m so honored to be her mom. She’s such a smart girl. She knows that I’ve been struggling with a myriad of things. She asked God to help me with those struggles.

I often think that I’d like to take my husband, kids and myself and put us in this little bubble where nobody from the outside can affect us. In reality, I know that we need to touch others. If others cannot affect us, we cannot affect them and God’s purpose for saving us is that we serve Him and love others. If we were in my bubble, there’s no way we could do that. Instead, we have to let others in and that means, I need to learn how to handle the way they affect me and the ones I love.

Back to yesterday, after service, we came home and my oldest son was here waiting. Now, he hasn’t contacted us with the exception of one phone call, since he left on Halloween and went to live with his mother. During that phone call, we made plans to have him spend Christmas Eve with us. I had planned our usual traditions and was really looking forward to it. When I texted him to make sure he was still coming, he told me he made other plans with his mother’s ex-boyfriend’s new wife’s parents. Trust me, I know how strange that sounds. He said that they were supposed to spend Christmas day together (at least that’s what he said when I asked him to spend the day with us, which is why we decided we’d take Christmas Eve). Apparently, they changed the plans and instead of telling them that he had already made plans with us, he cancelled our plans. We had already made plans for Christmas day, but when we came home from church, he was here. Of course, I was still angry that he missed our Christmas Eve festivities and was not very happy to see him. I actually expected an apology from him and instead, he told me that he didn’t think he did anything wrong. I’m not proud of my reaction to that, I told him to leave. If I would have been the bigger person and just accepted the fact that he was there now, we could have enjoy spending the day together. This is where feelings get involved. I was angry and hurt and he was not sorry, that is what caused me to make the decision to not do the right thing. And this is with my son, someone who I love dearly, with all my heart. Can you imagine what it would be like with someone who’s just an acquaintance?

God commands us to love everyone, right? That includes acquaintances, strangers, friends and family. If it was hard for me to be the bigger person and do the right thing with my son, how hard would it be if it were someone that was not that big a part of my life? Funny thing is, it wasn’t much different.

What do you do when someone you believed was a friend, starts talking about you behind your back? I’ll tell you what I did. I first spent time trying to figure out what I had done to this person to make them so angry. I mean, they must be angry to treat me the way they have been, right? Look, I’ve been mean to people before. A prime example is the story I just told you about my son. I was mean because of how I was feeling, not that it’s an excuse or anything. I just can’t recall a time where I’ve mistreated someone for no reason. So, there must be a reason that this person is treating me the way they are. Snide comments, cryptic Facebook posts and saying negative things to mutual friends are just a few of the things that they are doing. How do I know the posts are about me? Well, they are usually made as a result of something I have commented or posted and/or it coincides with something they had already said to mutual friends. I am not ‘holier than thou’ enough to think I’m that important to this person that they would focus so much energy on me, however, the abundance of times my name leaves their lips tells me differently. Fortunately, our mutual friends are concerned enough to give me advice on how to handle the situation; handle it the Christian way. I need to go to this person and see if we can work it out. I know that this is what I’m supposed to do, but it’s so hard when you’re this hurt, angry and confused.

Again, Christmas Day 2016 started badly and ended up worse. How should you feel when you give a gift to someone and they say they hate it and will never use it? This one, I was actually able to do the right thing. I was hurt and angry, yet I ignored it and managed to make the best out of the rest of the evening. The rest of doing the right thing, is to let this person know how much they hurt me and forgive them. Is it okay to forgive without letting the person know what they did? My husband says no, he says that you have to let them know, it’s important.

So why is it so hard for me to do the right thing? Am I any better than these three people who hurt me? Obviously not. According to God, there is no hierarchy to sin. Sin is sin, one is no greater or worse than another. Man is the one that puts different levels of severity on sin. Man is the one that has to deal with feelings of anger, hurt, fear and hatred. We are the ones that have to realize that it is not how others make you feel, but how you react to those feelings that is important.

Ironically, in the midst of writing this, I received a Facebook message from a true friend. This message shared the following story and it really hit home, especially Rule # 5, I don’t want to expect less from people. I want to believe that people are good, however, I do want to expect more of myself. I want to be a better person:

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself

Friends and readers, I am asking for your prayers. Please pray that God gives me the wisdom to know the right thing to do, that He gives me the guidance to do those right things and that He strengthens me to do those right things in all of these situations. I pray that God forgives me for taking my eyes off of Him on His day. Thank you in advance and I pray that you all had a very Merry Christmas!

via Daily Prompt: Moody

search me: are you embarrassed to worship?

What does worship mean to you? 

Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God. There are several different ways you can worship Him. One of my favorites is to worship through music. I absolutely love Sunday morning worship in my church. We have a wonderful band and they put their all into making this a great time for our church members.

I know, from experience, some people are afraid to get excited during worship. There are several people who worry abut things like, what will others think if I raise my hands? What will they think if I dance or clap? My question to those individuals is, what will God think if you don’t?

Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly how you feel. I used to worry about the same things. I didn’t want anyone to make fun of me for doing something out of the norm. How did I get over it? I started with closing my eyes. I think it’s so cute when toddlers close their eyes because they think if they can’t be seen, than you can’t see them. But, that’s what I would imagine. I would close my eyes and everyone else in the church would vanish. It would just be me, the music, the words of the songs and God. Eventually, it got to the point where I didn’t have to close my eyes to make that happen anymore.

Once I got over the fear of what others thought of me, worship became a much more personal and pleasurable experience. I sing out to God and put all of my thankfulness and love for Him into it. I raise my hands and reach out to Him, wanting to be as close to Him as possible. I raise my hands to let Him know that I am open and accepting to Him and whatever He asks of me. I dance so He can see how full of joy I am and how much I love to worship Him. When I focus on God, I no longer worry or wonder what others think. Everything is about Him, just as it should be.

My point is, when the Spirit moves you, do not be afraid to let it! And when you feel moved, do not be afraid to show it!

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. – Psalms 100:1-2

via Daily Prompt: Vanish

search me: faded memories

“Scars are just another kind of memory.” – M. L. Stedman

Technology is wonderful, I think most of us would agree. In 2009, I ran into an old friend that I went to high school with. She talked me into joining Facebook. “It’s a great way to catch up with friends,” she said. “All of our old friends are on there.” Since then, I’ve connected with a lot of freinds from my past. We reminisce about the way things were and things we did years ago. Weird thing is, I don’t remember half of the things they tell me about.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my cousins. This was back when we still had family gatherings, back when my grandmother was still alive. I remember some things, good and bad, about our time together. But even when they tell me stories now, I don’t remember half of those things either. I can even look at a picture and not recall the event in which it was taken. It just feels so strange!

I have heard about repressed memories. You know, those memories that are unconciously blocked because they’re associated with some sort of trauma or stress. I really don’t know if that’s what it is, all I know is I truly do not remember much about my childhood. The memories that I do have, well, there are some that are bad and some that are happy. And those memories, they are as vivid in my mind as if the events happened yesterday.

I may never know exactly why I don’t remember what I can’t and why I can remember what I do, but there has to be a reason for it. Maybe it is my way of protecting myself. I have heard it said that “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”

via Daily Prompt: Faded

search me: seeking acceptance

Does a person’s culture affect or influence the way they display affection or emotions? I know that sounds like a strange question, but I’m curious to know what you think.

Allow me to elaborate. There are some who say that men shouldn’t cry because it shows weakness. Why are men not allowed to show affection and emotion? Who came up with that standard of measuring manliness? Let’s look at this another way; I promise I have a point. I should probably just throw it out there…

When I was growing up, in my family, I spent a lot of time trying to gain acceptance from my father. I was an over achiever, perfectionist and… an emotional basketcase. It seemed like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. He never saw anything good in me. At least, if he did, he never told me about it. I can only remember him saying ‘I’m proud of you’ to me one time in my life. I was thirty two years old. My dad wasn’t affectionate either. I honestly think I blocked out a lot of memories, but I definitely remember a lot of awkward hugs as a kid. As an adult, I remember one-sided hugs. I would put my arms around him and he would just stand there. It sounds strange, I know, it felt worse than strange. Saying ‘I love you’ was even harder for him. I don’t remember hearing that much at all.

My mom was a completely different story. She was extremely affectionate and she wore her emotions on her sleeve. That has to be where I get it from. We were close, always.

My parents come from two different cultures. So, I often wonder, does that have anything to do with their differences regarding the affection or lack there of that they showed me. I tend to think it’s a possibility because I remember the way their parents were. Actually, I only remember my two grandmothers. My paternal grandmother had a hard time being affectionate and my maternal grandmother was the opposite. Are the traits of our parents’ cultures passed on to us? If so and we are raised by parents of different cultures, which traits are dominant? Why did I become an affectionate and emotional person like my mother instead of a cold and unemotional person like my father?

Here’s that honesty thing again… I pose these questions because I still struggle with the fact that I have never and probably will never be good enough for my father. Because this fact hurts so much, I have always distanced myself from him. I have only engaged in contact with him when absolutely necessary. You know, holidays, birthdays, etc. I have only spent time with him two or three times a year for as long as I can remember. A few months ago, we had a disagreement. Since then, I have completely cut off communication with him, along with some other members of my family. I try to pretend that I’m ok with it, but… I guess I’m not. I’m still angry and extremely hurt. And I’m wondering where to go from here…

I’ve discussed this situation with some of my closest friends. They’ve given me some pretty good advice and convinced me to follow it. My idea was to pretend like my dad didn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But what does this solve? I had decided to love him from afar. I’ve forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean I have to allow him to be a part of my life. Not that he’d even want to be, but…

My friends made some good points and that’s why I’ve decided to take their advice. I will reach out to my dad. I will show him love, the same love that my Father in Heaven shows me, even when I do not deserve it. However, I am not completely ready to let my guard down. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to open myself up to that kind of pain again, but he will know I love him. I just cannot allow him to be in my life just yet. It’s possible I may never be ready for that, but at least he will see that I do have love for him.

My dad is always in my prayers. I also pray that God changes my heart towards my dad. I pray that He helps me get over the hurt and pain so that, maybe one day, we can have a relationship again.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

via Daily Prompt: Culture

search me: a mother’s fear

One of my biggest fears, when it comes to my children, has always been that their past would catch up to them. I know it sounds stupid, how much of a past could they have. I guess I should clarify, when I say past, I mean their biological mom. I’ve always had this fear that her hold on them would be strong enough for her to pull them down to where she is. I used to think that if their father and I raised them up the right way, this wouldn’t be a possibility. I was wrong. Of course, now that it has happened, I can say that it’s not her fault. Our oldest son is now a man. He makes his own choices and will have to deal with the consequences of those choices. And I will have to learn to accept his decisions and the fact that I cannot fix everything for him.

He made the decision to go live with her. I guess it’s for the best. At least for our current household. His brother and sister do not think it’s a good idea for him to move back in. Their father and I completely understand where they are coming from. The house just wasn’t… peaceful once he moved back home. Does this mean it’s God’s plan that he is where he is? Sigh… how do I just walk away?

His brother, sister and I packed up his things this week. Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, he asked us to bring his stuff to his grandfather’s house. The first thing my other kids asked was ‘will she be there?’ They didn’t want to see their mother. We made an agreement that since she had to drive him there, she would not come outside of the house while we were there.

When we pulled up, he came out and I was a little shocked. He looked like a completely different person. We saw him before we even got out of the truck and his brother and sister were just as shocked by his appearance as I was. His hair was long and scraggly an he had a patchy beard. It looked like he hadn’t shaved in a month. The first thought I had was that he looked like a homeless person. Once we unloaded the truck and everything was stacked by the house, we stood outside and talked. I wanted to get an idea of how he’d been. I gave him a hug. Immediately, the first thing I noticed was a pungent odor. It could only be described as marijuana mixed with mildew. I say mildew because that’s what I think of when I imagine wet clothes that have been sitting for days. His brother and sister would later explain that he smelled like the trailer that he is living in. I’m sure I have shared the conditions of his current living space already. If you need a reminder, let me mention the rat infested oven and the fridge sitting on the front porch. I guess I should be thankful because when I asked my son how he was doing, his response was, “I have a place to sleep, a roof over my head and food to eat, what more do I need?” All I could think was ‘Is this all you want out of life?’ A dirty place to live and sleep and fast food and pizza every night.

I found out several things that day. Things I didn’t know about my son’s time in the army. I didn’t realize that there was a lot of alcohol and illegal drugs and girls. I was shocked to discover that he did pretty much the opposite of everything we taught him.

I really feel like he is settling for what he has so that he can be with his mom. Like I’ve said before, I completely understand that want and need. She is, after all, his biological mother. They have about ten years of catching up to do. I believe he would settle for just about anything to maintain that relationship, no matter how unhealthy it is. I just really want more for him, but I cannot make him want more for himself.

I’ll continue to pray for him and her. I have to remember that God has a plan for everyone. If this is His plan, I will trust that something good will come out of it. In the meantime, I will try my best to not worry. I have to let go and let God.