Run Away

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from 23 years ago posted on Facebook that she was thinking of running away and starting over. She just needed a change of scenery and to be able to breathe again. Life had gotten overwhelming and she just didn’t want to deal with it. She spoke straight to me.

People who know me know that I do a fair bit of running. Whether it be ignoring things that (sometimes) shouldn’t be ignored, cutting off people with no warning/explanation, or the real act of leaving/moving. It’s a bit of a theme in my life, I think. Most of the time, “running” doesn’t help. I may have cut that person off, or I may be ignoring a problem, but the person and problem remain on my mind. The situations remain what they are and remain in my heart and mind because they haven’t been faced or handled.

On occasion, though, running away really does help. I’ll give an example:

I moved from South Georgia to run away from something. I was running away from a toxic 3 year relationship that I don’t think would have ever ended had I not moved. We were stuck in a cycle. We would be the model couple for a few weeks, and then one of us would lose ourselves and we would be each other’s worst enemy. We would try to get our relationship in line with God’s desire for us, but then our desire for each other would become greater than our desire to follow Him. Back to square one we’d be. The true downfall and nuclear bomb that ended all we had was the late 1st trimester loss of our child. After that loss, I just KNEW that it was because I wasn’t following God’s will for me. I started getting involved in a church down there. He tried, but chose to remain living as we had been before. So during this down time, I decided to move.

I definitely didn’t go about this move the right way. I won’t get into all of that on this post, but my actions with it didn’t follow God’s desire for my life, either. However, once I got my feet or more stable ground, I became active in church here helping lead youth. Turns out, my running away from something bad also helped me run TOWARD something good. A real, life-changing, roller-coaster of a relationship with Christ.

Even now, I’m in a completely different situation than I was then, but I still find myself trying to run from God’s plan. I can’t explain it and I don’t know why I do it. Maybe it’s the “I can do it myself” attitude I’ve ALWAYS had. It’s a constant tug-of-war between the old life and this new life I’ve created. A “tug-of-war” between what I think is best and what God knows is best. Through it all, though, I’ve learned that running from most problems just leads to others, and if I don’t continually remind myself to stop running from the problems and run toward God, then I will remain in a self-destructive cycle that’s neither good for me or The Kid. It’s a tough pill to swallow- not running anymore and allowing God to take control. It’s a process that, if you’re like me, will take years and years and years and years. But I have faith and trust in His Word that it will all be for His glory, and therefore, totally worth it.

Father, Today I come to you to ask you to do what I know you will- Chase me. When I try to run, chase me. When I act like Jonah and try to take over, send a storm, send a worm to humble me and remind me Who is in control. Remind me that when I am facing something hard, that You face it with me. And when You are facing a mountain with me, there is nothing that is too much and no that there is no need for me to run. Remind me that Your plan and path for my life may seem like they are leading me away from my desires, but when I am truly and faithfully following You, Your desires become mine. AMEN

Why Do You Go to Church?

church_near_junction_city_kansas

John Vachon 1942 or 1943 Church near Junction City, Kansas

I’ve noticed recently that a good number of people at the church I attend have been pretty much mentally absent while being physically present at our services.  I don’t mean in the way that they are just preoccupied with something, I mean that they seem to just be there.  They play on their phone or sit in the service for a few minutes and then go talk to someone out in the entryway about things completely unrelated while still “Checking-In” to church on Facebook (or any other social media).  Naturally, this has caused me to begin to focus on the question “Why do people go to church?”  It seems like an easy, light question. . . . but it isn’t.  At least it isn’t in MY mind because I want to know the REAL “why” and not just the basic off-the-cuff answer.

So, if you guys who are reading this don’t mind, leave a comment and let me know your “why” and feel free to direct others to visit and share their answers as well.  Any and all answers are welcome and there will be no judgement.  I’m ready to get this conversation rolling!  (My “why” will be posted in a few days on another post I’m working on.)

 

Untitled (as of right now)

Every parent has to have conversations with their children that are inevitable. I am sure a few popped into your mind when you read that. I bet they included the ones about whether Santa, The Tooth Fairy, and/or The Easter Bunny are real. I’m almost 100% positive that “where do babies come from” also flew into your brain. But what about those conversations that not everyone has to have? Those that only single parents (or those of adopted children) have to have with their children. Those conversations about where they came from- not the mechanics of where, but the “who” of where. Those conversations where you sit on your bed with an 8-year-old boy who is crying because he “[wants] a dad.” What about those conversations? For a bit, it is enough for him to be told by others, “Your mom is just so awesome that you don’t need a dad.” For a while, that honestly works and he will be happy about the fact that his mom is so awesome she can be a dad, too. He will actually respond with this when asked where his dad is. “I don’t have a dad because my mama is so great I don’t need one.” For a while, that answer is enough.553656_3557747458609_1191736414_n

But then it won’t be.

At some point, a few years after the initial realization that most children have 2 parents, this answer won’t be enough. He won’t believe, anymore, that his mom is Super Woman and that she’s so awesome that no dad is needed- because one IS needed. We live in The South, so at some point he is going to be called “son” by someone who is male and isn’t his dad. This used to not be paid attention when he was younger, but now it rings as loud as bells in Notre Dame Cathedral. He notices that other dads come and coach this or that sport. He notices that other dads are present during Life Group get-togethers on Sundays. Even when we think he isn’t listening, he hears people, out of love, tell his mom, “He REALLY needs some male influence. You know, guy time.” There’s nothing that can be said in response except “Yeah. I know.” Sometimes, “I know, but I can’t do anything about that.”

12813917_10205925874882242_898793769237251960_n

What do you tell an 8-year-old boy who is upset because someone was joking with him and meant absolutely zero harm said, “I’m your daddy now”? What do you say to an 8-year-old boy who has never been able to call anyone by that name? You can tell him it’s ok that he doesn’t have one because there are so many wonderful men who care about him and love him so much. You can say that, but it’s not going to make it any easier- it isn’t the same. It shouldn’t be. It wasn’t designed that way. We weren’t created to have children and raise them singularly. We were created to live as families. Man + woman + children = family. Dad + mom + children = family. He knows he has a mom so where is his dad? “Why don’t I have a dad?” “I don’t know, baby. I can’t answer that question for you right now.” How do you tell an 8
-year-old that, for some reason, the man who would be his dad truly doesn’t care for or love him? You don’t. You never say that. You stall until you think he’s mature enough to understand an explanation for a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. But how do you know that he will be able to handle being told something that could alter his feelings of self-worth for the rest of his life? I don’t know. I am hoping I can avoid being honest about that forever, but I know I won’t be able to. At some point, I will have to tell him that his “dad” chose a life without him not once, but thrice.

Until that day comes, though, I will continue to be Super Woman. I will continue to force myself to sometimes live uncomfortably and to go without things in order to make sure that I can be there for his school performances, parties, or sports practices and games. I will continue to only work jobs that will either allow
me to work only when he is in school or that will allow me to have him with me. I will continue to do this because he is already missing out on so much, and I refuse to give up time with him just to make myself more comfortable- to be able to travel, shop, go out to eat, go to movies, etc. I will continue to wear the same unfashionable clothes for oh-so-many months or years in order to save to be able to do little extra things for him. I will take 6 years to finish a 4 year degree. I will continue to take him to church multiple times a week and to Life Group- even if I will end up stretched for gas, water, or phone money as a result. I will do all of this to make sure that he knows that I see his worth even though someone else didn’t. I will do all of this to make sure that he knows Who he ultimately belongs to, to make sure he is surrounded by people who will help instill this truth in his heart, and to make sure that he knows that though his earthly father failed him, his Heavenly Father never will.

180406_1608817136569_3057653_n

What Do We Really Deserve

I am in a few groups on Facebook dedicated to finding people. More specifically, they are dedicated to the search by adoptees (people who have been adopted) to find their biological families. We (adoptees) are able to talk with others who have lived experiences similar to ours. Trust me when I say that there are more scenarios than you could ever imagine- but the great thing is that there is at least one other person who has experienced things in the exact same way as you.

When I first began actively searching and using these groups, I mostly read posts on the pages. I wanted to see what these people were all about. I wanted to see what they were capable of doing. Were these pages a scam or could the people actually help me? There were posts by people looking for old high school friends, a parent who was known but had become absent, and people asking for help with different types of record searches. The ones I focused on, and that were the most numerous were the ones made by adoptees.

Many of them focused on the search- “My name is ____. I was born in ____. I know “this,” “this,” and “this” about my birth parents.” Those were the majority of posts. However, there were also some from adoptees “ranting” questions like “why.” That “why” can cover sooo many different things. The “why” that stuck out the most were ones that read similar to this:

Why does my biological mother/father/aunt/uncle/sister/brother not want anything to do with me? Why do they keep saying that they do not wish for contact? I deserve to know why they did what they did. I deserve an explanation. I deserve to know where I came from and why they didn’t want me. They have NO RIGHT to keep this from me. They’re being selfish.

The author of those types of posts and those commenting really shocked me with how venomous and resentful they were. They harbored so much hatred and contempt for people they only shared DNA with. It blew my mind. I realized that I might actually be in the minority in my way of thinking. Here is a shortened version of my story.

I found out I was adopted while at our church in Corinth, Mississippi when I was about 5.. I think.. The age range would be from 4-6 years old, so 5 sounds good. I found out. I asked Mama and Deddy about it. I don’t remember their answer, but apparently it was enough for me at the time. There has never been a time that I got angry about it. “Man! The lady who gave birth to me needs to just come clean about it. She needs to just tell everyone what went on and that she gave me up. I deserve to know why she made that decision. She’s such a selfish person! I can’t believe she didn’t want me,” never entered my mind. I’ve never felt anger, resentment, entitled. Never have I EVER felt that way. Even once I found out that I have a younger brother who was kept and not put up for adoption, I never felt that way.

One of my very best friends once told me that I amaze him with my self-awareness and the fact that I can so clearly remove my “self” view from a situation to see the bigger picture. I guess I have always been an empathetic person. I always felt and knew that there had to be a reason and a situation that I may never understand that lead to my adoption. The thought that people just put their children up for adoption because they can never occurred to me, but it seems that it had to the people in some of those groups. People who grew up in kind, loving, and supportive (financially and emotionally) homes harbored A LOT of hatred and I don’t understand why.

Yes, these women gave birth to us. Yes, we were raised by people who are not biologically related to us (in many cases.) No, we don’t know our biological history and biological familial backgrounds. No, we don’t know our medical history. No, we don’t DESERVE to know. We have a WANT and DESIRE to know, but knowing or not knowing is not going to have a bearing on whether we survive or not. These people have every right to refuse communication with us. We are strangers to them and they to us.

The actions of our First Mothers wasn’t personal toward us, but the result of a specific situation. These women, for whatever reason, created us, carried us, gave birth to us, and then gave us the best gift they felt they could give us: a hopefully loving home with parents who would give us the world. They gave us life and opportunity. They did not abort us and throw us away as trash. I imagine one of the hardest things someone can do is give a child up, regardless of the situation. Every day, asking similar questions to those of the adoptee: What is she/he doing right now? Is he/she alive? Successful? What if my child was placed in a home that turned out to be detrimental to them? His/her hurt would be my fault, but had I not made that decision it would have been worse.

I absolutely hate the fact that so many people feel hurt by their adoptions. Many of us, including myself at times, struggle with a feeling of abandonment that we can’t explain. The feeling just comes up out of nowhere surprising us because we can’t remember a situation where we were actually abandoned. It really breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that adoption even has to exist, but oh boy! am I glad that it does. I am so glad that there are people who look past “we’re blood” and see “even though not by DNA, you ARE mine.” I am so thankful that there are people who can love, without restrictions and love with everything they have, children who might not know love otherwise. I know that each situation is different, but I just wish that people would err on the side of empathy and kindness rather than that of blame, venom, and accusations. That’s all.

Marriage, What Happened?

I have been sitting on this for awhile. When I see people posting on Facebook or hear them talk about how the constitution of marriage has been ruined by “the gays,” I get really irritated. Most of these people say that since it isn’t biblical, it destroys the meaning of it. Some even go so far to say that it destroys the meaning of all marriage, gay or straight. In my not-so-humble opinion, those people are WRONG. Homosexuality and the allowance of gays to marry has NOT destroyed marriage.

*insert gasps, shrieks, and women fainting*

I’m sure many of you reading will disagree with me. Some of you may even be mad after that statement. My guess is that 50% or more of you fall into one of those categories. Keep reading anyway.My parents have been married for 43 years (I think). They’ve no previous marriages, nor have they “stepped out” of their marriage with another man or woman. Both sides of grandparents only had one marriage and remained married until their deaths. (I have one living grandparent remaining.) That’s not to say that all of these marriages were sunshine and rainbows all the time, because they weren’t. I’m sure they all had their disagreements throughout the years, but their commitments to each other lasted regardless.

As someone who has never been married and has never even been close to getting married, I still very much believe in marriage and its being a lifelong covenant between two people. While I agree with the fact that homosexuality is not biblical and goes against the religion of our country’s founding fathers, I don’t agree with it being the downfall of the constitution of marriage. What I see as the downfall of marriage, in broad terms, is the lack of respect people have for one another. Somewhere along the way, (I partly blame the growth of technology and the slow burning persecution of Christians) we have lost the understanding of the importance of commitment to and relationships with other people.

I’m only going to say a bit on 2 points today. While the following things can be covered by the umbrella of “disrespect,” I think we need to be a bit more specific. I have seen and heard of so many marriages being ruined because of someone being unfaithful. I’m sure many of these started out innocent enough. You all know what I mean. “Oh, we are just friends.” “They’re just a co-worker.” That type of thing. I know A LOT of people who think that flirting is innocent. In some cases, it is. Example: I know a number of people who have the type of personality where they “flirt” with everyone even if they’re not purposefully flirting. But at a certain point, it becomes destructive. And what about those who are unfaithful and haven’t told their significant other? Who think because they don’t talk to the person they cheated with anymore that it doesn’t matter. Who carry on and on about how they and their spouse have always been faithful and had each other’s back, yet not even 2 months after the wedding, they were in another man’s bed. (Yes. Someone I once counted as a friend did that, and to this day, I can’t understand it.) Someone please tell the audience how this is a healthy relationship. How is it healthy to begin a marriage upon this?

Many think it’s ok to complain about what you see as your spouse’s shortcomings to someone else of the opposite sex. (I know that some friendships really are just that, but many times, there’s an underlying motive for the friendship.) “He just doesn’t do anything special for me anymore.” “She doesn’t even wear make-up when we go out and never tries to look good.” Or anything else of this nature.. It opens the door for someone to step in and try to fill whatever “gap” there may be. One complains about a spouse. The other becomes the shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, one thing leads to another and BAM. Bonnie and Clyde becomes Bonnie and Clyde and Pete from accounting, only Clyde has no idea that Pete even exists. The only person you should be talking about this with other than your spouse (or maybe a counselor/therapist) is God.

Lastly, what is WITH people getting married, separating a few months later, not even trying to reconcile, and then GETTING ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE BEFORE A DIVORCE IS EVEN IN THE WORKS?! And to those who are ok with being in a relationship with a married person, (whether they are separated from their spouse or not) YOU HAVE ISSUES. I’m sorry. This makes me angry. I have this exact thing more than once this past year and it just baffles me. How do you forget so soon that covenant that you made with your spouse and God. Did you just think it was words and nothing more? These fly-by-night one season “marriages” are what is ruining marriage. They are showing the younger generations that your words and promises to other people (and God) mean nothing.

(Originally posted on my old blog on January 3, 2017)

Way to go, Me

A few weeks ago we were headed to school.  While we were discussing something that The Kid’s class was doing, I told him, “Don’t be scared to ask for help, okay?”  Immediately I thought to MYSELF, “Derp.  Way to go, me.  Giving him advice that I don’t even take.  Good grief.”  Seriously.  That’s exactly what I thought.  I’m not paraphrasing.  Haha!

I’ve been told by Mama and Deddy that my first sentence was “I [can] do it myself.”  If you know me, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t shock you in the least bit.  I detest asking for help.  I would much rather dig myself into a hole trying to figure something out on my own than ask someone to help me.  The past 7 years or so, I have spent so much time trying to control every single aspect of my life.  I’ve lost sleep and I’ve driven myself to the very brink of literal and certifiable craziness multiple times.  I am a master of over-thinking.  My picture is next to “anxiety” in the dictionary.  I like to make things more difficult than they actually are.  It’s a real talent, it is.  Usually by the time I’ve asked for help, I’ve spent a lot of time freaking out internally and running through every possible outcome.  I do this even on things that should be fun like picking out clothes, creating a piece of art, learning to play or sing a new song, or making brownies (or whatever.)

Does this remind you of someone (yourself) or of a situation?  I’m thinking it does….

How often do you try and figure things out on your own without talking to God about it?  How often do you wait until the last minute or until things seem unbearable to ask for His help?  I’ve gotten better in my communication with God.  Most nights I fall asleep before I finish praying and I spend a lot of the day talking to God in my head, but I have found that I STILL try to figure things out on my own.  The years since I moved back to Madison have been rife with evidence that I do not have to do things on my own.  The past year has been even more than those before.  Progressively, things have been organized without me even having to take the first step, but for some reason I can’t grasp the fact that it just isn’t possible for me to figure things out peacefully on my own, nor can I understand that I’m not strong/powerful enough to.  I have noticed recently, though, that the desire to be so tyrannical has weakened.  I have wasted a lot of time worrying, “when is the next time I will work?” “How am I supposed to pay for ‘this’ or ‘that’?”  (Sometimes the things are stupid things, but those are for another blog another day.)

Here’s an example of things working out without me even really beginning to worry about it.  (When I say “really worry,” I mean I haven’t entered “Freak-Out Mode.”  Yet.  Actually, I never got even the slightest bit close to “FOM” in this situation.)   I have to drive to school an hour away twice a week next semester.  I had been wondering what I could do to make a bit extra so I wouldn’t be so crunched for gas money.  All of the sudden and when I was least expecting it, God.  Proving Himself to me yet again.  Some members of my life-group at church always seem to need me to house sit or watch their kids at the exact moments I am running low on funds.  They go above and beyond to help me and I never expect it or see it coming.

Philippeans 4:6-7

It’s funny (but not funny at all) how many times we can read something in the Bible, but still not do what it says.  The same can be said for how many times we have to live and relive things before we FINALLY understand.  It’s human nature, I guess, to want to do things alone without asking some “man in the sky” for help or waiting for his answers.  But the thing is, God isn’t just some “man in the sky” or “fairy tale.”  He is our Creator.  Provider- Jehovah Jireh.  Counselor.  Shepherd- Jehovah Raah.  Teacher.  Lord God Almighty- El Shaddai.  Comfort.  Father.  He is everlasting- El Olam.  He is the most high God- El Elyon.  Elohim.  Yahweh.  Adonai.  He is the Lord of Peace- Jehovah Shalom.  The list goes on and on.

The point is that in everything we do and everywhere we go, He is there.  All we have to do is ask and listen.  He wants us to ask.  He wants to help us.  It would be a cruel god who creates a being and leaves it to its own devices.  I am so thankful that the One True God has not done this.  As many times as we fail Him, He continues to show us He’s still here- watching out for us, waiting for us to ask for His help, and for us to just follow Him.

1 Chronicles 16:11





Washed in the Blood

I feel confident in saying that most of you who are reading my blog posts know I was raised Methodist. If you didn’t know before, you do now! When I was born, my parents were members of a Presbyterian church, and then later switched to Methodist. (They’re pretty close to the same thing.) So.. both of these denominations have the tradition of sprinkling babies when they’re a few months old. In these churches, this is considered as your baptism. Occasionally older people are also sprinkled, but I honestly could count on 1 hand the number of people over…. about 2 years old.. that I witnessed being baptized in the Methodist Churches I have attended.

Another thing about these churches– eh.. I don’t want to bunch all Methodist churches together and say they’re all the same– So let’s say “another thing about the Methodist churches I have attended…” Another thing about the Methodist churches I have attended is that they don’t really talk about salvation. Well…. they didn’t when I was growing up. I’m sure they have adjusted a bit “with the times.” I don’t remember anyone ever talking to us about being saved. It seemed like it was mostly, “well you’ve been going to church your whole life and have known Christ your whole life, so you’re going to heaven.” There was no focus on the defining moment. There was really no rejoicing or even mention of people being brought to Christ.

So obviously, I was one of the babies who was sprinkled. We have pictures of me in a gown being held by the minister at the Presbyterian church in Vicksburg, Ms surrounded by my parents and grandparents. Assuming the words of a baptismal ceremony at a Presbyterian church are similar to that of the Methodist church, my parents were asked if they believed that Christ was God’s son, and then they and the congregation said something like, “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that ‘this child’ surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in a way that leads to Life Eternal.”

SIDE NOTE: I can’t believe I remember that! That and the communion liturgy are engraved in my brain, apparently. 

To me, that is more of a parental/congregational profession of faith and is more like a dedication than a baptism since babies cannot declare their belief as Jesus Christ being the son of God. I haven’t always felt that way.. I had The Kid “baptized” when he was a few months old. Small ceremony with just Mama, Deddy, and Cinda Walker and her son Peyton (I worked for her and babysat Peyton. They are special people to us.) Vaughn Stafford, my youth minister from 9th grade, is the one who baptized him.. Before I began really reading and understanding on my own, I felt that sprinkling was the right thing to do and thought that it was weird that others waited until they were older to be baptized. I really had no clue that baptism had anything to do with salvation. I thought, “Ok. People in the Bible were baptized when they were older, but that was just because they weren’t raised knowing Jesus.” Or “I was already baptized, so now that I’m saved, I don’t need to worry about getting baptized again.” I’m not saying that I was wrong, I’m now saying that I don’t believe in that process anymore. I do think that baby/child dedications are wonderful and in some cases help with accountability.

To give some back-story, I asked the Lord into my heart in 7th grade at a See You at the Pole rally. Like I said before, I didn’t really know it was such a big deal because I had always known that God was with me. To be honest, I don’t really think I realized that the way I lived should have been changed. Goodness knows I have made my share of mistakes and have done my share of sinning. My point is that I have felt like something was missing or wasn’t right. My thoughts here recently are that I feel that way because haven’t been baptized of my own accord.

For the past few weeks I have been praying about it. I had asked God to show me what I should do. Yesterday morning in church, I got the sign. I was able to witness another girl who was raised in a church that “sprinkled” get baptized. She felt the same way I have been feeling and decided to take the step. I worried that people would say that it was weird or pointless. You only need to “get saved” once, so why would you need to be baptized more than once? Right? Nah. Because of her, I was able to see that I am not the only one who felt/feels this way and it gave me the push to make the decision to take the next step in my salvation and be baptized. Matt, one of our preachers, told me to find a Sunday that my parents would be able to come (since Deddy is a music minister and works on Sundays) and that Deddy could assist in the baptism if I and he would like. We haven’t picked a day, yet, but I’m sure we will have one soon!

(Originally posted on my old blog on August 8, 2016)