Family


Empathy is a good thing. Empathy is necessary. There’s not enough of empathy in this world. The fighting in the world would probably cease to exist if everyone had empathy. Right?

Well, I have a problem controlling my empathy. Yes, this is a bad problem.

I’ve never known empathy to ever be a problem. As a matter of fact, the world has too much apathy and indignation and self-righteousness. Not enough people care. There’s not enough grace and love and valuing of human life.

Empathy comes very easy to me and I know that that is a miracle in and of itself. In middle and high school, I used to just rage and fight, as I was living from a central force of anger. Now, I find it a little too easy to cry when others are sad and I feel physical joy for others when there is great news. Love and compassion seem effortless as I am drawn to those that are broken-hearted and hurting. I ache for suffering and want desperately to change it and change the way it stomps out humanity. I know that all of the love and joy and empathy that I have is from God and that if left to my own depravity, I would choose to be self-involved and not care about the suffering of people, especially strangers. This empathy-prone nature sounds like such a good thing but I’ve recently learned that I have a problem guarding it.

Like anything meant for good, empathy can also be used as a tool to bring about discord. I had no idea this was happening in my own life until this week.

I’ve done a LOT of soul searching and reforming and relinquishing (to God) in the past few years. This has been the longest and deepest stretch of emotional and spiritual growth that has ever taken place in my life. This change has been painful and rough but it’s been necessary and breath-taking and glorious. For some reason, though, I couldn’t shake the fact that there was still some very deep-rooted issues going on in my life and I was struggling to find the cause. There are countless times that I will walk away from a conversation and feel like the worst person in the world. Feeling as though I just let someone gossip my ear off and talk trash about someone and I never took the high road or shined any light into the conversation. There are times when I’ll walk away from the conversation angry and upset at the person being spoken about even though they never caused me any harm. There has also been times where I’d also share my own negative feelings about (and insecurities with) people so that the conversation isn’t awkward and heavily-sided and uncomfortable. It never fails that as soon as I walk away, I feel horrible. It doesn’t happen with every conversation and I don’t feel this empathy kicking into overdrive every single time someone mentions negativity toward or about another. However, for the times that I would find myself in this situation, I’d feel like a heartless hypocrite. In my core, I know that’s a lie because I don’t know another earthly being that is more in love with humanity than I am. I have forgiven people for trauma they’ve brought on me and resumed friendships (time and time again) despite the fact that they spread gossip and lies about me. I don’t just love the loveable, I love the unloveable as well.

This isn’t a pat-myself-on-the-back blog entry. I’m admitting the fact that I’m not feeling 100% loving and full of grace all of the time and trying to figure out why it seems to tie so closely to when I’m around others. I know that the love I have can’t come from anywhere other than God. I also know that the anger I feel toward someone, after a chat with someone else, is something that I am doing wrong and something that I need to change. This is all to explain that I’ve had some fierce battles going on and I’m learning their point of entry.

Feeling the same anger and hurt that other people feel, without ever having been hurt by the person being talked about, is showing me that I’ve let my empathy get out of control. Now that I know where this dichotomy of feeling loving but not responding so loving (even though I felt that my empathizing was loving) is coming from, I know where to bring about damage control.

With God’s help, I now know that I have to start working on guarding my empathy and using it ONLY for good.

There’s been a stirring in me for quite some time. A restlessness unable to be transcribed. A rerooting of sorts. A split-second glimpse of part of the finished puzzle comprised of pieces of my life, finally fitting together after years of rolling them around in my hands.

I’ve become unsettled and it is good.

Attending the We Event for iEmpathize a few weeks ago, a dam burst within me… I know I have this immense empathy for people. I know I have a deep-rooted passion. I know I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I know that I want my past to stand for something good, for God, and not as it was intended by man. I know that without a college degree I am significantly limited with my ability to have a “legitimate” voice.

I also know that my motivations have always been wrong. I’ve wanted to change the world and that proposed change was unknowingly limited or viewed from a skewed perspective. I have always led from a place of pain. Focusing and leading others from the pain of my past, instead of from the endless strength of God. I told God where I’d be used and how I would be able to do so. I told God what difference I would make and in what way the people’s lives would change. I was ignorant and clueless. Living off of remnants of my disillusioned upbringing and trying to share that same disillusionment with others.

In the past year, combined with my continued focus on my past and dealing with it, I also read a significant book, Generous Justice. It kind of washed clean the mud and grit that had been distorting my view in the way I interact and view humanity as a whole. This entire process took me far beyond seeing that, when suffering and broken, human beings had a cap on their value and that it was up to me to help get them through this temporary struggle of life so that they could just eat or just get water or just ______. Just to keep them alive… Then I’d move on to others.

What happens after they receive that next meal or that clean water or those shoes or that jacket? What then? What if the cap, that we put on these lives, was infinite? What if the limits of their existence and worth went far beyond the temporary comforts that I (we) may bring? What if I took part (by God’s grace and help) in helping them truly live and love and find joy and beauty in every day and then empowering them to share that all with everyone around them?

Here’s where I stand in my unsettlement: I want to take people from being a victim (which places the power in the perpetrator) and from being just a survivor (which places the power, and keeps it, within the person that was harmed) to being a warrior of love and empowerment. I feel God steering me to lead women out of the pain of their past (and present) into DOING for good. For God.

Jase and I were talking through all of this and he had a great realization. In cases of sexual abuse, the fallout is usually to clam up / brush it under the rug / detach OR the result is to crumble / completely shred the life that was given you. But I want to know where the freaking warriors are. I want to find the women that can link arms with me and become a front-line toward helping those in need and giving them hope that they can rise up and succeed and make a difference in this world. I want to stand on the shit from my past and make it a strong foundation for doing good in Jesus’ name.

I am also tired of being on this island. With all of the women I’ve know in my life (and keeping the stat of *1 out of every 3 or 4 have been sexually abuse* at the forefront) I’ve only known a few to have been sexually abused. Or only a few have ever shared that with me. That is ridiculous to me.. that this kind of travesty can be so drenched in silence. In this silence, we give so much power and authority to those that have abused and they can continue doing so, while we stand idly / apathetically on the side lines.

So, here I am, ready to be a warrior. To fight. To stop listening to the enemy in his quest to smother me and grind me to a pulp. To stand up against the lies that I am nothing, that I am worthless and to start believing and focusing on God’s Truth. I want to make a difference. I want to serve and to lead and to learn and grow and water and shine. I want to stop hiding in fear and I want to share this light. Part of this recent unsettling is that I want to (finally) learn spanish, fluently, and that I want to (finally) take a mechanic class. I “see” myself opening an auto repair shop. For women, by women. I want to overcome my fear of other countries and lead women toward changing lives around them. I want to start by making a big change in the immediate “world” around me.

More than just a cry for mercy, this title is also an update on the latest happenings in my life and the lives of my family. And boy is it a DOOZY!

It seems the roller coaster of life just keep on rolling, keeps on spinning and sending us on death-defying loops and surges. Life has been absolutely insane lately. Oddly, I’ve never felt more confident that God is who He says He is and will do all that He promised in carrying us through the mud and manure.

Since Kindergarten, Malakai has had issues in the social environments at school. Since infancy, he’s had issues with textures. Since the age of two, he’s had a very particular way of organizing and obsessing about things. Like, organizing every vehicle in his room to line up perfectly on his bed and freaking out if they became misaligned or arranging every single kitchen utensil into a perfectly straight arch on the kitchen floor. Since starting school, he’s had issues with noise and light sensitivities and with interacting with peers and teachers. He has a lot of triggers in what sets him off into “shutdown mode” or “meltdowns” and it’s been a decade of hit and miss with figuring out where his freak-out meltdowns come from and how to calm him down. We knew there was something going on with him, but we had no idea what it was. On a referral from his school counselor (thinking he may have OCD and impulse control issues), Malakai started seeing a Community Reach counselor at the end of 2010 who quickly diagnosed him with a disorder that we had never heard of. I researched and found similarities in the symptoms to Malakai but since it didn’t line up perfectly, we wrote it off thinking the counselor pulled this out of his hat. Needless to say, we knew something was going on with him and fifth grade became a very transitional year as social interactions and classroom time were becoming increasingly difficult. Because of these issues as well as the fact that we had an extremely long list of problems with his fifth grade teacher and with the way he was treating Malakai, we pulled Malakai out of school. He had six weeks of fifth grade left but we couldn’t allow him to continue in the negative environment he was being forced into. For the first time in his life, he was saying that he wouldn’t finish assignments and was acting as if he didn’t care that he wanted to quit everything. His teacher would belittle him and single him out from the other students and showed us many, many signs of acting as if he could *save* Malakai from the issues Malakai had displayed at school. After emailing this teacher, numerous times, and meeting with him and the staff at the school, we were told there was no place for Malakai to go to finish out the year if we took him from his fifth grade class. So, we removed him from the school. Thankfully, I love researching and although I spent hours researching homeschool and education laws/rules online, I found it was actually quite an easy process (after remembering that the school and district aren’t in control of our children… WE are) to file an intent to homeschool. It also happened to work out perfectly that we pulled him the Friday before Spring Break so he already had a week off school in the works. During Spring Break, we went down the the local school supply store and stocked up on planners and workbooks and got to work figuring out a schedule that would be cohesive to Malakai’s learning style. There were some ruts in the road and some push-back but, overall, it was a pretty easy and smooth process and Malakai was relieved to be away from the poisonous environment that had begun to suffocate him.

In the spring of this year, before taking him out of school, due to the increased problems between Malakai and school and even in the classrooms he took part in at church, we started the lengthy and frustrating process of finding a psychologist that would be able to provide a Psychological Evaluation for him. We needed someone to go through the entire scope of testing and tell us what they felt was going on because we were at a loss, which put us at a loss as to how we could best help him in all areas of his life. Malakai began needing to check into the buddy-system at our church, at the beginning of this year, so he could consistently have someone with him to provide support as well as accountability. The lady that directs that part of our church taught high school special ed for over 30 years and said she was interested in what this Psych Eval would discover, because she had her own thoughts on what was going on with Malakai.

On August 5th, we received the Psych Eval results and it agreed with what the Community Reach counselor and our retired special ed teacher / friend assumed: Malakai has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Just writing that out made my head feel like it’s gonna explode. Not out of fear or any negative thought of what that means but because I truly have no idea what that means. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks, researching and scanning every medical and blog site that I’ve found. I’ve researched locals groups and organizations that care for children with Asperger’s. I spent at least 2 hours of every day, sometimes much more, reading about as much as I can about this diagnosis and it’s showed me two things. One, I absolutely believe Malakai has Asperger’s. I’m a total skeptic and I don’t jump on anything labeled a Bandwagon. If a physician is giving me a diagnosis, I’ll research that sucker until either it or I am blue in the face. Thankfully, I’ve got memories and pictures that reassure me that my child has been dealing with something for quite some time and it’s not just some random dx that a doc wants to pull from their ass. The second thing thing I’ve learned, in all of my 3 weeks of straight research is this, I still don’t know what the hell this all means. I’m overwhelmed with information and somehow unable to figure out which way is up so that I can catch my breath. I realized, this week, that it’s like I’ve got a million puzzle pieces and I have no idea how they all fit together. Maybe I’ve got the corners and edges all lined up and figured out but the middle part that houses the DNA of the puzzle is a confusing and frustrating wonder. Although, I made sure to send off an email to his former 5th grade teacher, and the staff at Malakai’s elementary school, to share with them the fact that I hope they never again generalize or try and shove any other student into their pre-formed box. **Side note** Prior to this diagnosis, I shared with Malakai’s fifth grade teacher that we felt there was something going on, deeply, with Malakai and that we were pursuing a psych eval to see about the possibility of an Asperger diagnosis. His teacher responded with, “Hm. I don’t think so… he is EXTREMELY smart. I don’t see anything wrong with him.” Sounds like the educator needs to get educated…**End side note** This diagnosis also opened up the floodgates of grace so we’ve able to see that most meltdowns happen as a result of us not planning properly for his triggers. Even still, I’ve got the world at my fingertips and I’m frozen in not knowing how to proceed or what steps to start taking in regard to groups and professional help.

Oh yeah, life.

Along with all of that hodgepodge, I’ve got my life and the lives of my husband and my girls balancing up in the air.

For me, once we got the results, I was relieved to finally have an answer. A solidified, results-based, insightful answer. An answer that didn’t have to do with, “He’s just rebellious.” “He just needs more discipline.” “He needs to stop watching Harry Potter.” “Surround your house with prayers.” Dear God… as if our trial and error circus wasn’t enough. So, I was relieved, AND overwhelmed, but mostly relieved and I jumped into research / MamaBear mode. This has been sort of world-flipping though, as I feel I’ve not had any alone time for three straight weeks. I permanently quit my part-time job (I had stepped down several weeks earlier due to personal stuff going on between my mom, which is my boss, and my dad and our family but I was hopeful in returning at some point). Due to quitting permanently, I had to pull Cali from her preschool since we couldn’t afford her school AND a second car without a second job. I also wanted to be sure I wasn’t stretching myself thin in worrying about three different schools and a job and household and this thing called Asperger’s. In the midst of all of this, I’m still trying to maintain my sanity. I’m working hard to complete a book that I’ve been reading for a year, Wounded Heart, and work on all that that entails. Which is working on some DEEP, DEEP wounded stuff. So, I’m overwhelmed with everything that being a person on a road to recovery / a mom / wife entails. I’m also wishing that I had a really good core group of dependable friends right about now.

Jase has also been going through some stuff. Our overwhelmed hearts are best explained, by Jase, here.

The girls are still flittering and floating about. It takes even more intentional effort to make sure these girls don’t fall by the wayside but I think we are are pulling it off. Cali loves being at home with me so it wasn’t very painful to remove her from school. She actually requested it since there was always a bribe (of a Starbucks pink cake pop) to go to school every day. She loved it but it was an effort to get there. Zoë is back in school and LOVING it. She thrives in a school environment so she’s at ease now that school is back in session.

Speaking of school, Malakai had the worst first week of school that I’ve ever heard about. The prep-meeting that I had, back in May, with his new school director and counselor (as well as the elementary counselor) basically did nothing. The explanation of what did and did not work as well as speaking about the behavior plan and his triggers did nothing to help them prepare for his arrival. Because… they planned nothing. I basically threw him to the wolves on his first week of sixth grade. He was instantly targeted and outcasted and the staff were much too overwhelmed in their new, busy magnet school, that they couldn’t wear enough hats to provide the safe environment that Malakai needed. Knowing all I knew from the research I did, in May, we pulled him from public school again. For the last time. Currently enrollment forms have been sent and we’re waiting on word of approval for a free public online schooling option for Malakai. Creating our own schedule, in the comfort of a loving home environment seems to be the best path. At least for right now.

So, here we are. Researching-gone-mad and stuck in the ethernets of possibilities. Thankfully, we know who we’re hanging on to during this crazy ride and we’re trusting to come out a little tattered but also a LOT stronger and wiser.

Besides my life path change in 1996, 2010 was the most defining year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year, things that I never would have believed were true. I learned that I’m judgmental. I learned that I am codependent. I learned that I cared more about trying to control the way people view me, rather than how I was treating my husband and my children. I learned that I cared much more deeply about the opinions of strangers and acquaintances than I did those that truly love me. I painfully learned that there are people that will judge me and dislike me, no matter how much I try to win their praise and adoration. I learned that I don’t need anyone’s praise or adoration. I learned that volunteering, at least at this point in time, in the children’s ministry and youth ministry caused me to be much too distant from my own flesh and blood. I’ve learned that what I do, does not define who I am. I learned that there are lots of people that I considered a friend that actively try to avoid / ignore me, rather than speak truth into my life. I’ve learned that I’m ok without their friendship, without their approval, without their false smile. I’ve learned that I’ve lived most of my life envying the accomplishments of many people. I learned that I froze in that envy, preventing me from pursuing my own dreams and changing my life for the better. I’ve learned that I can find value in my life without feeling like people “need” me. I’ve learned to (finally / really) start taking care of my mental and physical well-being and to keep it consistent.

I’m learning to be more like the moon. Reflecting the sun, rather than trying to be the sun.

It’s a long and difficult road, but I’m also learning how to keep my heart and mind clean because I want it to make a difference in the lives of those that I care about the most.

“First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

Confidence is a tricky thing. If you have too much, you’re arrogant and annoying and if you don’t have enough, you’re self-deprecating and annoying. The line in-between is thin and tough to find but I think I’m beginning to recognize it. I’ve wanted to swing as far away from arrogance, as possible, but it has left me constantly beating myself up and never being “good enough.” My *lip service* has always been that I’m good, just as I am, and people should be happy with that. I should be happy with that. But my counter-actions and feelings were a LOT stronger than those words. In everything I do; as a mom, a wife, a friend, a mentor, a daughter, a sister, and a singer, it’s never been good enough for me. Conversations could have improved, time spent with a teenager or my children or my husband could have been increased, singing a certain part could have been different and better, my house could look nicer. I was never happy with my end results. The more self-deprecating I was, the more withdrawn I became and the more off-key (vocally/emotionally/spiritually) I was. In everything I did and with everything I was, I was discontent and it’s a very depressing state of mind.

In the last several weeks, though, I’ve realized that this state of mind existed because I was placing my worth on my own unrealistic expectations. By doing that, I wasn’t allowing God to just *be* in/with/through me.

It’s a tough path to stay on but I’ve got a bounce back in my step and my shoulders are settling back a little more firmly and my head is lifting a lot higher. I’m feeling a new and strange sense of confidence that I’ve never had before and it’s exhilarating. I’m learning to tell the difference between confidence and arrogance and it’s such a freeing place to be. I’m learning how to give everything my all and then give it over to God and not dwell on it. No matter the outcome.

I’m not naive but I have a feeling that the episodes of beating myself up will slowly disappear, because I’ve already seen and felt a difference in the last few weeks.

So, there it is, I’m a change in progress and I’m gonna try and stop being so pathetic. 🙂

Written on 5/10/2010:

Jase, the kids and I had a perfect day yesterday, for Mother’s Day. We left our house around 1030am, to go on an extended walk, and returned 6 hours later! There were so many laughs and admirations for nature (and for each other) as we ventured to the park and enjoyed snacks, ate lunch at a nauseatingly-hot fast food establishment, and laughed/got freaked out by different animal parts/sea creatures in an asian market before stumbling on some delicious candy. We got the kids to try new things with mocha coconut Boba Tea (a favorite of mine and Jase’s) and found LOTS of books to borrow from the library. The two mile walk back home was rewarded with a strawberry shortcake dinner and reading two chapters of our new library book, The Secret Garden. Really it was a perfect day. The kids would complain every now and then as they got tired or overwhelmed with carrying their stack of books back home, from the library but I might just claim yesterday as my favorite Mother’s Day ever. The weather was even great. Sunny and cooled off by a gracious breeze. The day was so beautiful.

So why am I stuck in a rut again today? Why have I been feeling like this for months? I don’t want to put away that last load of clothes or clear the piles of paper off of the kitchen counter. I don’t want to vacuum up the floor or clean the toilets. I wonder about what I’m doing in life and where I’m spending my time and whether or not the things that consume my mind and my time are worth it.  Jase and I watched a movie last night. The movie was a live-taping of a comedian and really funny, I was even cry-laughing at some points, but I almost threw up when the sexual jokes started. I hate that I’m affected, negatively, by that. I hate that it affects the way I feel about myself, my body, and my trust in Jase. I hate that I can’t just laugh those things off or at least overlook them, unaffected.

Life, at the moment, is beautiful and tragic. It’s exhilarating, yet, in stasis.

I feel like I’m constantly switching from joyful and satisfied with life, to depressed and feeling as if my life has no purpose, no meaning. I feel worthless and unable to do anything right. At the moment, I question the time I spend mentoring teenagers and with one of the things that seems to sustain me: singing. I wonder if the passion and love I have for people means anything, does anything, helps at all. I’m having severe issues with trusting people and their words of affirmation and love. I’m severely dissatisfied with my health and my physical shape.

People have really been affecting me, negatively, lately. I sang, at church, a couple of weekends ago and I’m having a hard time letting go of some looks and smirks that seemed to be directed at me.

I’ve been doubting a lot of things lately… the love people have for me, the positive qualities I thought I once had, the difference that I make…

I’m fighting. Fighting back hard.

Days like yesterday continue to sustain me. However, these ruts/attacks, though few and far-between, are tough.

Jase and I, and the kids, were rear-ended on Sunday. Besides the pain I’m now in, the thing that sucks the most is the fact that we were in the process of communicating with a broker to trade in our van and jeep for one vehicle with a lower monthly payment. After looking at a car lot on Saturday, selecting a couple of vehicles that could work for our family and communicating with this broker, we were finally on the right path of getting our finances in order.

That is, until Mr. Chevy Impala decided to not see us stopped at a yield for a highway on-ramp and slammed into the back of us. My first thought was the trauma of this night as I desperately scanned the back seats to make sure my children were ok. Then I was concerned since the man was now in Jase’s face, while Jase was still in the driver’s seat, and the guy had his hands on Jase’s shoulders, apologizing profusely. I was afraid of what this stranger was capable of doing and that chemicals could possibly be in his system. After asking the guy, several times, to back off, the guy retreated and Jase went out to handle the info swap. I got on the phone and called 911. Paramedics, police cars and a fire truck showed up. From terror to confusion to excitement to fear again, the children experienced a range of emotions. When I started feeling the numbness/painless-burning in my neck, I got scared. Not only did we now have to handle the strain of insurance companies and claims and getting our van fixed. I knew that in a couple of days, I was going to be painfully messed up. Did I mention that we don’t have medical insurance? Yeah…

My last blog entry had me looking forward to helping out with the Downtown Rescue Mission again. Well, fear got in the way of that and I never went back. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

I was preparing to help my friend that night and, on a whim, I decided to reread the story of my childhood/teenage years, my testimony. I wrote it out, years ago, but some sort of curiosity took over and I read it, just hours before I was supposed to leave. That was a major mistake and it sent me into a downward spiral. Reading about being in numerous, frightening positions and being taken advantage of many times, made me feel stupid for preparing to put myself in a situation where, once again, I’d be in a room where the men to women ratio and the drug-free to on-drugs ratio was desperately uneven. Reading about those bad times and feeling like they had all happened yesterday, caused me to completely freeze up. I tried to fight off the fear but it only intensified. I tried to rationalize and it only retaliated, stronger and more convincing.

I was terrified and it enflamed me. I was crushed. I felt defeated. I felt like I was taking two steps backward from the healing and recovery that I felt I had just gone through.

Two weeks prior, I felt on top of the world with conquering a fear and feeling like I would never look back or take a step back and here I was, trembling with the possibility that I was about to make the stupidest decision to go help people. This fear got my mind racing at the endless possibility of having anxiety take over, preventing me from doing just about everything. Where would it stop? What would trigger this fear? How many situations will I put myself in, in the future, and then realize that I feel vulnerable and trapped and want out? It was in this moment of sheer terror that I was grateful (and pissed off that I was grateful) that I never went to Afghanistan. I can’t imagine having this fear and anxiety overtake me as I’m halfway across the world from everything that makes me feel safe.

This situation also got me learning much more about myself. I’m learning that I have boundaries. I can’t stand knowing that I have them but this has to be some sort of positive step in realizing this about myself. It’s caused me to figure out what frightened me about going back to the Rescue Mission and what situations, in the future, might cause this fear to rise.

I feel as though there’s a fine line with knowing too much about people and not knowing enough. I know that people can be cruel and that sometimes a certain type of person is more prone to cruelty than others. Obviously I can’t see their heart, so I discriminate toward the people that remind me of those that have harmed me. The lack of knowledge about people can easily be replaced by fear while having knowledge about people can instill fear as well. How do I combat this? It seems like a neverending cycle… At various points in my life this fear will cause me to freeze and hide, tremble and cower. What I’m learning is that the antonym of my fear is faith and hope. I can have all the love in the world but, in fear, that love is worthless. Without faith and hope, I would continually sit in my house and ponder the end of everything good.

While learning the boundaries of my emotional well-being, I’m also discovering what it takes to push past those boundaries. I’m learning what I’m prepared to conquer and what may still take time to overcome. There may be things in my life that I will never be able to do because fear is gripping so tight. There may be things I never would have dreamed to prevail over and I may effortlessly triumph. For now, I’m grateful to be learning more about what I can and can’t handle and I’m grateful to learn more about what faith in God actually means.

I’ve been treading water, keeping my head above drowning, for my entire life. Specifically, desperately, in the last year. I’m just now realizing that I’ve done nothing to bring me closer to shore, to where I want to be. I’ve completely worn myself out, staying in the same place. In faith, in action, I must press on. Beyond the boundary.

Christmas is upon us and I’m finding myself less than thrilled to get lost in the commercialism of it all. I’m actually disgusted by it. Every dumb commercial and poster begging for someone to “Buy NOW!” is starting to really get under my skin. A couple of weeks ago I started feeling like I didn’t want to take part in any sort of traditional holiday this year, to sort of rebel from the stupidity of it all.

It’s very strange what detachment disorder realization does to the brain.

Yes, I’m blaming my current state of X-maspathy on the healing I’ve been doing this year. It seems like in the midst of letting some things go, I’ve released everything I was clinging onto, traditions included, and now I’m bringing the important things back into my life. Slowly and methodically. Throughout the course of my life, it’s like I’ve been holding hundreds of balloons, attached to string. Some balloons have been released completely and some couldn’t escape the canopy mass. Realizing I had issues with detaching and attaching emotions, this year, I feel like I’ve completely let go of every string and now I’m frantically grasping at the “balloons” that are significant to me. Inadvertently, I’ve been writing things off in my life and it’s very uncomfortable and strange to search for what is missing and what I still want to keep.

I understand the significance of Christmas and in celebrating the birthday of Jesus. I am just confused on the lame decorations and reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing. I want to make sure I’m not on auto-pilot as a result of “what I’ve always known.” Maybe this change is also occurring because we don’t have money to buy anything to go under the tree. However, I think that if we did, I still wouldn’t want any of it. Maybe it’s because of my heightened need to help people more than consume *things*. All I know is that, compared to millions of people around the world, we are blessed. In their eyes, not American eyes, we are rich. Adding abundantly to that wealth while they suffer around us, sickens me.

We ended up buying a tree and put up the decorations. The tree was $17 and it is perfect. I LOVED going to the tree farm and looking for the saddest, most pathetic tree while families all around us scoped and measured and felt-up their “perfect” tree. I want to instill traditions in the life of our family, but I saw us heading down a slippery slope several weeks ago and I want to make sure we don’t get lost in the cut-throat consumerism of it all.

I’ve mentally stripped away the blind tradition and I’m replacing it with knowledgeable, meaningful values. Because we are trimming the fat that is Christmas tradition, we are able to help others around us as well. That feels good, pure and right, like we’re living the meaning of Christmas. 🙂

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!

I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genious, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplex and perfect God’s creativity graces us with it’s presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

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