Parenting


I didn’t plan on writing today, but then I read this powerful article. Here is an excerpt:

Evil seeks to use men’s addictions to power and shame to continue to exploit women’s bodies and silence their voices. Evil loves to use harm only to perpetuate more harm. And I think that our greatest weapon against such evil is to help men tell their stories with courage and boldness, with grace and truth, but mostly with strength and tenderness.

We must bless what has been cursed. A story well told is always a story that honors the desire to be seen, known, and loved.

How can I stay silent after reading something that resonates so deeply within me?? I’ve witnessed that evil on arrogant display within nearly every single man I love and cherish. I am desperate to help all people share their stories. It’s only in the Light that the ominous shadows are shown in their powerless state.

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

– John 1:5

For weeks, months, years, I’ve been captivated by this verse:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I am doubly struck. On one hand, I am personally empowered to reach out to others and share the comfort I have received from Christ and others. On the other hand, I am reminded that comfort cannot be obtained or shared, without first experiencing the healing power of comfort, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

The article above is a gateway into experiencing that healing power. The first step is to name the problem, name the source. Call it out for what it is, and then share it as a light for those wandering aimlessly through the dark. Bless the curse.

Sometimes my titles take flight and land before the content has a chance to conceptualize. This entry is one such example. I heard a song by Wild Rivers and learned a new word today: fallow.

fallow

nounusually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

– Alexander Pope

There is hope. Light always shines in the darkness. When I say I believe in God, that I follow Jesus, it means there is a Well of abundance — an overflow — of grace and mercy from which I glean. From this Well, there is also forgiveness that the world will never understand as well as kindness and joy that causes others to scoff and share about in gossip hell or to look on me with pathetic / patronizing eyes, as if I’ve been afflicted with The Naiveté.

Three months / ten appointments later, the marital counselor’s therapy is truly taking shape into something beautiful and powerful. I’ve been given glimpses into a marriage and life that Disney could never dream, one that I would never have been able to fathom over a decade ago.

Still, there is struggle. Sometimes it’s ten steps back after three steps forward. Confusion and anger, hot-blooded and cursing, as the selfishness, pride and conditional love bursts forth. Yet… there is perseverance. Endurance. Hope. Love.

Amongst the truth, hope can fly. Amongst the grace, love endures.

To God be the Glory.

**Letter I wrote after an ultimatum of *start getting help or the kids and I have to physically and permanently separate from you.*

My Dearest Jase,

I love you but I can not help you right now. I’m sorry for the silence and the distance, but our lives have brought us to a point (with kids and work and ministry and schedules) where I can no longer carry you on my back. For years, I’ve gone through the constant ups and downs of your conditional emotional state and have tried to help you through your periods (years) of mediocrity and loneliness and lack of fulfillment and lack of passion / joy, by carrying you on my back. This life journey is a freaking mountain, Jase, and I can no longer carry you and our three children and try and work myself up the mountain side as well. By trying to do so, I’m less of a wife and less of a mom and less of a human being because that load is much too massive of a burden for anyone to carry.

It’s taken 15 years, but I think I’ve finally come to understand that you suffer from some serious form of co-dependency and depression. When your job, your wife, your children, your friends and your family lack the sufficient (in your eyes) responses to make you feel loved and valuable and create self-worth and a worthy self-image, your entire being cracks. You no longer have hope or passion or joy. Look back over the 15 years we’ve been together. Think about family vacations, birthdays, dates between us, activities with the kids, contacting your family and your friends… I can only count a handful of times that you planned to date me, only a couple of times that you took charge of two of our kids’ birthdays. Just in the last year alone: our family photoshoot, the video montage you made for the kids before you left to Afghanistan, our several campings trips… even the camping trip you went on with Malakai and the photo album you made… all my idea. I know you were planning that river trip with my dad but that was already planned out by my dad and when that crumbled, you resigned to just wanting to stay in our backyard…

You said it yourself – on Friday night – you are on the verge of cracking and you will feel joy and you’ll feel as if the crack-healing will begin, once you get star29 up and running. You mentioned nothing of God. Nothing of passion and joy and love. You stated you still believe in God but that you’re not at a place where you’re seeking him right now. For the last two days (when I’ve been home) you are completely checked out and laying on the couch. For the last hour, you’ve been in our backyard, just sitting on a chair… hopefully finding hope and drive and ambition again… through God. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see you in this position and want to have such hope for you and to cheer you on but I’ve seen this from you, nearly every year and I’m emotionally spent on this roller-coaster.

With Youth Specialties and Star29 and WAY-Fm and 5Q Communications and Wall Street on Demand and now with Survey Gizmo, you’ve gone through this “robot” phase where life seems bleak and black and white and I’m struggling to get you on my back and ride my wave with me just so that I can possibly force you to have joy. And it may seem like you have joy but it’s temporal and wears off as soon as the activities and my efforts stop. When I pull back, our relationship is NOTHING. There is no pursuit, no perceived effort of any care or concern. Currently, we’ve barely said anything to each other since Friday night (it’s Monday night). The most tragic part is I feel I’m married to Jesus but the truth is, you consistently blame-shift, flee when faced with wrongs you have committed and sink further into your hole. That’s not even mentioning the times you’ve thrown me under the bus while venting to your friends about how you hate being under my microscope or that I’m digging into your phone or that I’ve got issues… is that why you’ve never opened up to me? I’ve poured out my heart to you with the things that I’ve struggled with and how I desperately need accountability, how I need to know you care enough about me to ask me about these struggles. And I get nothing. Absolutely nothing. As if you don’t give a shit. Is it because, like you’ve told me, you feel it’s more loving and trusting to keep distance instead of holding each other accountable? Is it because if you question my actions, then I actually have a right to question things you’ve struggled with and then the Jesus-facade you’ve created in this marriage will crumble? Oh, to know and love the man behind the curtain…

Like I said on Friday night, if you can’t trust me with your deepest and darkest parts of your life then how in the world can I trust you with mine? Also, how in the world can I fully love a person that I don’t fully know? Your reply is that you don’t even know who you are and that’s a scary kind of person to have as a husband! Your reply to our 9 year old daughter’s excited hello (as she welcomed you home from work tonight) and eagerness in asking “How was work?” should never have been “same ole crap.” Your response to our 12 year old son’s excitement over helping with the Sister Carmen food drive over the weekend should have never been constant nagging about what he shouldn’t be doing or frustration (as you kept grumbling about it to me) over the numerous cookies he had been eating. Your response to my pulling back and putting up a barrier lately should not be further silence and distance from you. But, at least with that one, I’m hoping it means you’re turning to God and seeking help and direction…

So, now my protective barrier is up. Not only for me, but for our children as well because this sort of thing (your distance, silence and robot-zone) happens yearly. Only this time, I can’t glue any of this back together. I’ve now realized that I’ve been hurting you to carry you on my back. Despite your desire not to, you’ve placed way too many things in place of God as Ruler, Authority, Passion-Giver and Love of your life. Your jobs, your co-workers, your bosses, your children, me…

I said it Friday night and I’ll say it again: when I had my lowest-life-moment back in 2009, I knew I wasn’t what I needed to be as wife and mom. I sought help and started seeing a counselor. There’s nothing you could have ever done to have helped me through that phase in my life, just as I’m unable to help you through this low-dry period now. If you love your wife and children, you’d actually do something to get help and get better – rather than constantly complain that you don’t know how to act or that you’re ready to crack and then be forever short-tempered when dealing with all of us. I know you saw a counselor before but a counselor that gives advice on how to deal with a wife and children, when he hasn’t even taken the time to get to know his patient – through and through – is working from a fictional foundation. You’ve spent many years writing off some of your serious issues as being my fault or your son’s fault or the fault of your upbringing. It’s time to grow up and start owning up to responsibility.

If you’d rather not get help, then that’s your choice because I can’t force you to get it. But please know that I will do everything in my power to protect these kids from a man saying he’s about to crack, saying he doesn’t know who he is and from a man that seems like he’s got such a short fuse. Unpredictability is a scary thing in fragile and sinful human beings that have no hope, no joy, no passion and no gripping strength in our God. I don’t know what that means, other than continuing to live together as if we’re separated. I’ll be cordial but I won’t be at rest around you as long as you are unstable (saying you don’t know who you are and saying you’re about to crack). I refuse to let your depression suck the hope, joy and passion out of me and our children. I love you but I can’t help you. I hope and pray that you find the strength, endurance, faith, joy and passion that you are seeking.

Love,
jen

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.

My prayer is that this will help at least one person and that person may not be you… so look away, hide me, delete me, or ignore me if this makes you feel uncomfortable.

I was raised in San Diego. My family (immediate and generational) had some very strong convictions with the Baptist and Evangelical demonations denominations. I am a christian and this is a story about how I’m trying to live my life the exact opposite of my christian upbringing.

As a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend that follows Jesus, I have committed my life to these promises. I will share words like sex and drugs to my children and I will teach them to love Rock and Roll. I refuse to brush problems under the rug and I refuse to let time run its course over heart-wrenching trauma; making the wounds deeper and bandaid-covered gashes infected and seemingly irreparable. I won’t allow secrets to fester in the darkness. I will demand honesty and not be hypocritical with honoring that honesty. I will encourage myself and my children to dance, especially when the beat makes people think we’re going to hell. I will foster, and deeply grow, relationships with people. Not because of what I will gain or “what heaven will gain” but because I love all people as they were made in the image of Christ. I will show love and grace just as I’ve been shown grace and love. I will allow people to choose whatever path they desire and not write them off as a lost cause for choosing the “incorrect” path. I will NEVER shoot the wounded or maim the broken, nor will I spread their stories in the sharing of “prayer requests.” I will forever help people out of their shitty pits of manure, whether they placed themselves there or not. I will never give up in trying to find ways in helping the broken and the needy, even when I’m not enough to fix it all, because *fixing it all* is not my job anyway. I will give people grace, no matter how many chances I’ve given them in the past. I refuse to place myself on any higher ground or pedestal in my living and thinking, especially when it comes to my thoughts on God, Jesus and my relationship in and through that. I will never condemn or chastise. I will never hold a picket sign in condemnation of another soul or against a person’s actions. Unless it’s found in the bible, I will never claim I know how or what God is feeling or deciding. In everything and in all of who I am, I will mirror the Jesus I admire and follow. I will graciously love and help, heal and fight for, walk and share meals with the lost, the broken, the needy, widows and orphans, the abused, the down-trodden, people on the fringe, outcasts and the “losers.” Because when it comes down to it, we’re all in the same boat anyway. And if I can forgive a molesting uncle and rapists because of the forgiveness given to me, then there HAS to be hope for me and everyone else…

Published on: Sep 2, 2011

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. 🙂

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