Friday, May 25, 2012

The Hole, A story of healing

Names have been changed to protect those who were never protected Claira was a small baby, weighing only six pounds when she was born. She was born into a world most would never be caught dead in. As the nurse went to lay Claira into her mother's arms, the mother pushed her away. She hated this child. The child reminded her of the father who had finally beat Claira out of her. Claira's time in the hospital was spent with various nurses caring for her. Not one time did the mother hold her newborn baby. Not one time did she respond to Claira's cries. When Claira arrived home from the hospital she did not find a warm nursery to welcome her. She found a filthy room full of animal feces and dirty clothes. Claira searched desperately for the voice she had come to know over the past nine months. She was terrified. As each hour passed Claira became enraged, and literally afraid for her life. Yet no one came. One by one her most basic needs surfaced and were ignored. Because no one answered little Claira's cries for help and comfort, she began to comfort herself. This was the beginning of her digging a hole so very deep into herself that no one could ever find her heart. This was to be the beginning of Claira becoming a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Reactive Attachment Disorder occurs when a child fails to develop a bond with those around them due to a variety of trauma, most often abuse. Because their most basic needs were unmet, they do not believe adults are capable of caring for them. Children like Claira do not believe that they need anyone. In fact, they are quite hostile to anyone who attempts to care for them. They believe that they must be in control in order to survive. The disorder is marked by an inability to form normal relationships with others and impairment in social development, marked by sociopathic behaviors during childhood. As the battle waged on outside, her parents pummeling one another at every turn, Claira grasped her shovel tightly. She was certain that she had made the safe choice by beginning to dig. In her world, adults were not safe. Her hole became her refuge. Each time some new pain occurred, she dug a little deeper. She began to believe that if she ever came out of this hole she would die. The final blow came when Claira was about eighteen months old. Her mother left her father, leaving little Claira with him. This defenseless child had been left alone with a man whom the mother had gotten a restraining order against. During the next three years there were many times when Claira's needs were not met. When she cried for food, her father would kick her across the room. When she was scared at night, no one came to help her. She was often locked in a room for days, where she was forced to urinate on herself and eat the paint off the walls. She began to welcome the smell of urine, and it comforted her. She knew as long as things smelled like that, her father would not want to touch her. After a while she began to convince herself she was not really hungry, scared, or alone. She became the queen of her universe. She controlled everything. It was quite easy for her to believe because no one ever attempted to broach her hiding place. She no longer needed anyone or anything. In fact, she could no longer see those outside of her hole, and she could barely hear them. It was then that the lying began. Her lies helped her digging, and fueled the fury that beckoned her to dig further. They screamed at her to get away from the pain that her body was feeling. After some time, she could hardly tell what was real or what a fantasy. Her hole was complete. Nothing hurt her, nothing controlled her, and nothing could ever come close. In her heart, she was finally safe. Claira soon gained the attention of the Department of Children's Services after multiple reports by neighbors. It did not take much more than seeing Claira's squalid environment to get her taken away and placed in the foster care system. She sat many hours in an office while a caseworker called family after family seeing who could take in a "four year old little girl, an adorable child with brown hair and eyes". Finally, someone was found.On the first night she was sent to an older couple with no children. They made her a nice dinner and became very angry when Claira would not eat. They became irate when she peed in "their bed" and messed up "their toilet". Claira felt quite pleased because she had shown the adults around her that she did not need them, that they were insignificant to her. She had the hole, and it was her only need. This couple spent a couple of days screaming into her hole, demanding that she come out and appreciate all that they were sacrificing for her, yet Claira rested. When she was not resting she was busy sending out a barrage of missiles at anyone who dared come near. She hit and kicked, spit on them, peed on the floors, and killed their guinea pig. If they gave her a red crayon she would scream for a blue one. If they bought her a new shirt she ripped it to shreds. The family was deeply hurt by Claira's missiles; they finally gave up the fight to coax her out of her hole. After a few days Claira was sent to another family and then another, each yelling from above and being totally frustrated at her lack of concern for all the hard work they were doing to save her. Each one eventually threw up their hands and walked away. One day Claira went to a new home. The family had cared for many children like her so they did not become frustrated when Claira sent the usual missiles from her hole. Rather than run they walked closer to her. Each attempt to push them away was met with loving eyes and soft touch. Claira was confused and frustrated, her missiles became more dangerous, yet the family stepped closer. They were so close at this point that she could hear them clearly. She could hear the mom telling her softly that this was a safe house and that she no longer had to be afraid. Claira shut her ears to this. There were no safe houses. There were no safe adults in her world. Many months went by as Claira continued her futile assault on this family. She could hear strange noises from above but could not make out what they were. What Claira did not know was that outside her world something wonderful was happening. Each time she tested this family, they passed. Each time she tried to prove that they could not meet her needs, they did. As each need was met, a piece of a ladder was built. It was not long before the parents deemed the ladder big enough to reach down into Claira's hole. They carefully and methodically lowered the ladder and then themselves. For the first time they could actually see Claira. She was not the big and scary monster launching missiles that the other families had been so scared of. She was not an all-powerful ruler. She was a very small, sad little girl. The parents picked Claira up and held her close. They looked into her beautiful brown eyes and told her how much she was loved. They told her how very pleased they was that she was a part of their family. Then, as a family, they ascended the ladder up out of the hole. A small monument was built for the hole that had for a time saved Claira's life. Though she no longer needed it, it had been her resting place during a time when her world was chaotic. But for now, she will rest in the arms of the parents who helped her feel safe enough to climb out of her hole.

Flashlight Holders

What is a flashlight holder you might ask? In this most difficult time in my life, when all seemed dark, and scary, and overwhelming, when I could not see God, He sent people with flashlights to help me find my way home. He knew I had been in the dark so long that the sunshine would only scare me away. He knew that I was so lost that I had given up. He knew there would be no magical transformation, that the road would be long and painful. He knew I would trip and stumble. And I have. But over and over again, there each of you have been, arms extended, flashlights in hand. In your kindness, I, for the first time in my life, have been able to see God's love for me. I have been overwhelmed at the grace you have shown me. From a delicious meal, a hand to hold, late night phone calls when I have been afraid, to refusing to let me sit still for too long and constant reminders that I am not my circumstance, You have each been a living breathing example of God's love for me. I have tried and tried to write this so many times, and I know I'm not doing it justice. It is really too much for words. I love you. I would not be here without you, really.

You know you are Jessica when

You drive to the store at 8 pm for ridiculously priced goat cheese to eat with fig preserves and crackers. After hours of the kids driving you nuts you turn all the clocks ahead one hour so you can put them to bed. Shhhh... You spend as much on pet food as you do human food. You write sad stories, but are always hopeful. You have sizes 3-12 in your closet, and they all fit you from time to time, and sometimes within the same two week period. You avoid humans like the plague, but when they make their way in, you never ever let them go. There are people, who have saved your life, but you are unable to give them credit. You hate Idaho, and have turned all Idaho wear into bird toys.
You are slow to anger, fast to hurt, easy to break, impossible to destroy. Loves Ingrid Michaelson You panic at 3 am every single morning with your heart pounding and you can't breathe, and the world is overwhelmingly painful...and then you cry yourself awake So um yeah, you hate sleeping and most often only do it during the day. And so people sometimes accuse you of being lazy. And that's ok, because they don't know your nights. You love, but cannot currently have beer, GOOD BEER, high quality, perfectly brewed, 8 dollars a glass beer! You sleep with a pile of kids, cats, and dogs and love every second of it. You eat fig and goat cheese pizza. You are always cold in your toes, but hot everywhere else so you wear extra socks and no jacket. Will Ferrell can ALWAYS make you laugh. You can quote Elf and Stepbrothers like it ain't nobody's business. Anna Nalick always makes you cry. Cheese is your favorite Eminem is your favorite lyricist but you can't hardly share him because he is foul mouthed between excellent lyrics. You love your Northridge Community Church family and hope that you see in my bluntness, God's grace that they show to me every single day!!!!! I hope you don't hold it against them. I am definitly the absolute example of "she did _______________________ and she's a Christian...the answer, "yes I did, and yes I am". You have children of the heart, and children who made your hiney bigger. And you love them all the same. Regardless of where you carried them ;0)

Why you should ALWAYS check your phone before having it worked on!

I struggled a lot with whether or not to tell this story, but is is so freaking hilarious that I decided I would.

My phone went haywire on me today and I had to take it to the Sprint store to be worked on. I actually ended up making three trips before they decided it needed a hard reset. I left it with them for a couple of hours. I requested they save my pictures and contact info because I had just made a couple of bird videos and didn't want to lose them. Two hours and lots of stressing about stupid things on my part, I head back to the store.
SO I pick up the phone and head home. As I'm scrolling thru my phone, little kids around mind you, as in on the couch with me within eye shot....I go to my photo gallery to watch the last Harley video. It says I have 133 pictures and the beginning picture is of that lovely rainbow we had the other day....Ummmmm I didn't take pictures of the rainbow....so I open the folder. And what do I find????

Vagina. Lots and lots of pictures, 132 in fact, of some womans business in photo after photo. Different poses, same vagina. (I giggle everytime I say that) YES I'm Serious! So I freak, shoo kids away, and try to delete them. The only way I can figure out how is to do each one individually, and I swear I have no interest in looking at 132 pictures of up close vagina. Dear Lord bless the gynecologist I have no idea how they do it!

 I load up the kids and head back to Sprint. I go into the store and up to the counter. The sales clerk, who just saw me about an hour earlier, says,"Hey honey is your phone still not working?"
I said "Oh yes it working fine."
"Well good, can I help you with something?" she asks.
I hold up the phone, picture number two on the screen, and say," Um I think someone has lost their vagina"
She stammers and says "what?"
I said "well I dropped the phone off and just went to my picture album, and it's full of some woman's vagina"
The woman seriously looks at me and says, "Are you sure this isn't your vagina?"
"Nope," I reply, "I think I'd recognize it."  
"And it isn't anyone you knows vagina?"
I can hardly answer that one I'm laughing so hard I'm crying.
"Nope, no mam, I do not recognize this vagina, though I doubt I will ever forget it!" I dropped the phone off, there were some parrot videos and pictures on there, that's it. These aren't mine. I was trying to delete them at home but cant figure out how to do it other than one at a time and I don't want to look at each picture. I imagine someone is gonna be very disappointed later when the go hunting for goodness and find a parrot" Geez! Only me......

Why Abby says we need Jesus

Isaiah asked Jesus to come into his heart Sunday. I talked to him afterward making sure he understood why we did that as Christ followers. Abby says "We ask Jesus to be our savior and forgive us of our sins so we don't have to kill any guinea pigs" I said what? And she says "well you said before Jesus they sacrificed important animals to pay for sins and in my world that would be guinea pigs"

An Anchor

I once went sailing, ignorant of boats, but enticed by the beauty of the ocean. My boat was small, inadequate, but it will do. I started my journey with nothing, no one I knew had ever gone sailing, I had no idea what I would need. Too far from my starting point, and far away from home, I realized my inadequacy. I was going to die here. Survival mode took over. I found by offering small parts of myself, I could catch a fish or two, and though they made me sick, they kept me alive. Piece by piece I disappeared, my boat lighter but headed nowhere. In the midst of the tossing and turning, some people passed me by. They gave me a package, saying it contained everything I needed, but I sat it aside. I had survived this far depending on me, why risk anything different? It was not long before the calm water that was easily navigated by my inadequacy became rough. As the boat began to fill with water, I jumped off, certain I would have a better chance in the water than on a sinking boat. Out of nowhere, someone very kind came to my rescue, but I screamed and kicked and reached for anything but their hand. Sharks surrounded and my energy waned. In the distance I could see the boat, what I thought was sinking was still floating strong. I swam furiously toward it, and scratched, and clawed my way aboard. Inside, I found the package I'd been given so long before. The map, a repair kit for the holes, but most of all, an anchor. I busied myself repairing the holes, thankful as each one stopped pouring water. The map showed me where to go, but as I turned the wheel, I saw the person who tried to save me was still in the water. I'd hurt them so badly they couldn't swim out. I turned my boat toward them. As I approached, they panicked, remembering the pain I had caused. They would not let me help them. I cannot leave them there. They are in the water because they tried to save me. I did the only thing I knew to do. I dropped anchor. I said to them, I will not leave you here to drown, I promise. I know I hurt you, I know you are afraid, but I was drowning and didn't know you were there to help. I'll stay right here, reaching and showing you I'm not the same terrfied person who almost drowned you. I found the map, and the boat is fixed, its not pretty, but it will get us us home."

Kayaking

A few years ago, I went kayaking with some friends. I was nervous and excited. Towards the end of our trip, we hit some turbulent water and my kayak threw me right in. To say I panicked was an understatement! I had gotten ahead of the experienced kayakers. I remember screaming my head off, flailing about, certain I was going to drown.. And then I heard someone say, "Jess, you have a life vest on, calm down, it's ok." It took a minute to sink in, but I squeezed that life vest tightly. Within a couple of moments, I had gone from drowning, to standing on a rock. The walk to shore terrified me, it was slippery and the water fast, but, I knew I had my life vest, and I knew I wasn't alone. Only a few weeks later I was back on that river. Of course I was scared, but my accident, my falling out of that kayak, despite its bumps and bruises, and the water that stung my lungs, WAS NOT WORTH the chance of even one moment of being on that water. It wasn't worth missing the sun dance on the waves, or the icy water pulling my wandering brain into focus. It was worth the risk. The best things always are! If you are being tossed around in the water, even if you chose to dive in head first, remember your life vest. Look and listen for those experienced to help guide you to shore. But most of all, don't give up on the beauty of the water, there are so many more adventures waiting

Random Strangers

Yesterday while the kids and I were at Food City, a man came up to us. We were in the car, but not quite settled. He proceeded to ask for money. He said his girlfriend and baby were at the gas station, that they had ran out of gas, could we please help. I will tell you that as a family, we help. If we have it to give, we give. We do not ask why, we do not decide whether or not someone is "worthy" of helping. I don't carry cash usually but I offered to go to the gas station and put gas in the car. He was thankful, and told me where they were. Car full of groceries and grumpy tired kids in tow, we headed to the gas station. The kids chatted about it "our family likes to help people" and "if we didn't have gas we would want someone to help us" were some of the comments. We arrived at the gas station and there was no car. No girlfriend, no baby, no nothing. There are two similar gas stations so we actually drove to the other one, just in case. Nope. No one. Isaiah's response, which has many times regretfully been my own was loudly exclaiming "well what a waste of time for a liar". I pulled over to talk to the kids. I didn't want to brush it off or pretend this moment didn't matter a lot. I asked them, "why did we come here" "To help that guy but he lied" "Yes, but why did we do that?" "Because God says help people" "And did we come to help?" "Yes" "Then we have not wasted our time" Funny someone wise said almost the very same thing to me recently. We are kind and loving because God calls us to be kind and loving. Kindness is not weakness, nor is it ever a waste of time if you look at it that way.

Monsters

Aside from fairy tales and movies, the world tells us that monsters don't exist.

They tell us that God is bigger.

They tell us that they are imaginary nothings.

I wish that I lived in a world were monsters didn't exist, but they do. In each of our lives, we will from time to time encounter monsters.
Some big,
some little,
some familiar,
some you can't quite put your finger on,
and others,
That at times,
Seem to overtake you.
Some even come in the daytime.
Some leave quickly.
Others hang around, ever present and menacing.
Regardless of whether they stay or go,
they leave reminders behind,
a thought,
a scar,
a something that sometimes you can't even put into words.

Someone who knows me told me monsters didn't exist. They deemed me crazy, attention seeking, and emotional for talking about what the monsters did.

Someone who cared about me threatened to whip the monsters ass so I had nothing to worry about, forgetting about those inside wounds that stay after monsters leave.

Someone who loved me saw that I was afraid. Someone who loved me listened to my story. Someone who loved me sat up with me all night until the sunshine came and I wasn't afraid of monsters anymore.

He can move mountains, even when you don't know what the mountain really is

Feb. 13 came. My husband was granted his divorce. In the past few days I have realized something I could not see before. I was blinded by my hope for a reprieve, and deceived about what my "mountain" was. I thought that divorce was my mountain. It wasn't. More importantly though, without a divorce, people would have always been able to credit Brad for being merciful, or me for talking my way out of divorce. A human being, not God would have gotten glory. Over and over again, Brad and others said "oh wait till divorce, then she'll fall apart" or "this faith in God is only an attempt to save her marriage" or "she's just using God to keep her husband". I prayed dilligently for God to show people my heart and what He was doing. I cried and fussed, and even yelled and screamed at Him when they didnt. Over and over I said, "God this is so important, please open their eyes". You know what I know now? I needed my eyes opened. My marriage was not as important as my trust in God. It was not as important as my willingness to walk off the boat into the water, storm raging. Truth be told, my fears were made all the worse by the realization that I created the situation to drown. I deserved to drown. Trust was my mountain. Was I terrified? Yes. Did I beg and plead for mercy and intervention? Absolutely. And the tears, my goodness, I feel my cheeks may forever be streaked with them. But, I did not drown. He did not let me go. He did not leave. He was faithful. I was never alone. When I couldn't see Him, when I panicked, He sent each of you, at one point or another, to remind me. I will be forever grateful for that. In the end, on Feb. 13th, there was no rescue for my marriage. There was not a magical moment. There was no last minute miracle of a changed heart. He went in, he signed, he left. Done. By wordly standards I "lost". Oh, but I wish I could find some way to convey what I have gained. Miracle after miracle has occurred over the past few months, the biggest one, at 9 am on Feb. 13th. The miracle I have found, is that in that moment, when He said no, when everything I had hoped and prayed for, pleaded and begged for, was signed away as if it meant nothing, God was still God. He still loved me. He was still here. That lesson alone is worth every single tear.

Because I'm awesome!

Oh heavens, my son got chopsticks at lunch today. He came into the living room, grabs something out of the drawer, and starts to leave. I say "um Ozzy hand me the pencil sharpener" He says "how'd you know I had a pencil sharpener?" I said, "because you are Isaiah, and it's not chop sticks its some sort of ninja weapon and I know you'd try and sharpen them!" Mom skills!

I...Love...The...Way

I literally picked a quote at random. A touch screen and closed eyes led me to this quote:

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. Og Mandino

I then deleted most of the words on the quote, leaving only a few, in the same order as the original."I love the way" is all that I left. It was all you could see on my wall as a title before chosing whether or not to read further. It was a tiny glimpse, and an innacurate one, of what I am writing about. Some cheeseball country song is what comes to mind as I read those four words together that way. There is no telling all the different thoughts that came to the minds of those who saw that post. The words, taken out of context, can be used to create many things. If you google them, there are thousands upon thousands of results, but only a few that are the actual quote by Og Mandino.

This is one of many of the problems with social media. We see tiny glimpses of someone's life. We can take those pieces and parts and make them into anything, especially when we have decided beforehand what is and is not truth. What a very dangerous thing to do. I say, if you are gonna look, look all the way through.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Place

For longer than I would like to. admit, I have been on a journey. A journey through the very depths of brokenness, through valleys so low I could not see above them, through places so desperately painful that death, it seemed, would be a relief.
In those moments, there would always be something beckoning me onward. "Don't lay down sweetheart, not here, not yet" I would cry out in anger, "please just let me stop, please just let me lay down, I am so exhausted, I don't want to feel this way anymore".
Over and over again though, I never seemed to get to a place that I could stop. So kicking and screaming, I moved forward, sometimes alone, and sometimes carried by people who loved me.
I did not travel gracefully. I did not travel without complaint. But I kept going.
And now it seems, I have arrived to a new place. My mind and body exhausted, my heart overwhelmed, I am here.
And this place, it is a place I had become too afraid to dream of. There is a beautiful light I can see in the distance and a joy that is slowly sweeping away the darkness.
Dreams live here. Hope is not a question but the natural result of having seen how far I have come already.
I love this place.
As the light shines brighter I am finding the most handsome and exquisite gifts, always there, I much to blind to see before.
I may just sit here awhile and let the sun rise. 

You Want Her Whole

You want her whole. Trust me. For when she finds her muchness; when she gathers all the pieces of herself, all the pieces you have broke...