November 3 2014

Relationship Roller Coaster

I was beaten up by love and by the world by the time my relationship with the older man ended. I was really done with love and wanted to be alone – just me and my sons. I didn’t want to think about trying to secure a father figure for them, nor to have someone to love me and accept me. I was just done because love hurts and I couldn’t trust anyone. I had been in countless relationships it seemed, I had fought for true love and lost. Again. And had been thoroughly beat up, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.relationship

Love had other plans for me apparently. I had been working in an office of a construction business for over a year, and always was very friendly with everyone. Especially the guys, because hey flirting always made a girl feel like she was worth something. One guy in particular never flirted with me, but I had heard he liked me. I was never interested before and I wasn’t interested the day he walked in and wanted to strike up a conversation with me shortly after my relationship ended. But I was always friendly and enjoyed talking to him. I found out we had a lot in common. We were both been cheated on by our spouses and were divorced with two boys.  He was nice. But not my type.

Eventually he asked if he could buy some beers and bring them over. I was not one to turn down alcohol however, so I said sure. I was trying to be nice, but I hoped  I was not giving him the wrong idea. When he finally did come over later that night, he did have beer for me, but he had already been drinking. As a matter of fact he was very drunk. We spent about an hour talking, and he talked mostly about his ex-wife. Needless to say he did not make the best impression on me.

He was not going to be swayed though. He persisted in pursuing me. I just liked to talk to him. I felt comfortable opening up to him, because I felt he understood me. When I was having a problem he was the first person I called to talk to. He was a good friend, but I didn’t have feelings for him otherwise. I just wasn’t attracted to him like that. He took me and my boys out to dinner and bought us gifts often. Soon we were going out just the two of use, to a movie or to dinner. Sometimes we would get real snugly on the couch together, but it never went further than that. I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I couldn’t be in another relationship.

I guess I didn’t realize that we were in a relationship. For me, we were taking it slowly. We did not even have our first kiss until we had being seeing each other for 3 months. That was a very big deal to me. He was never pushy with those things. Emotionally he wanted more than I had. I was scarred from my previous relationship and I felt like I could come undone at any moment. He was willing to wait for me though, like I was the most beautifully wrapped gift under the Christmas tree that had to be opened last of all.

Four months into things I found out the house I was renting was going to be sold and I was going to have to move. I was getting a steal  on rent, and for a single mom, I couldn’t really afford much more. I was out looking for a new place day after day on my lunch break, but there was nothing in my price range in a decent neighborhood. My new guy suggested we move in together. He was willing to jump ship on his lease so we could rent a house together. I was vehemently opposed to such an idea, but after about a month of looking, I gave in. Before I knew it, my two sons and I, and his oldest son, were all living together.

If my life was a roller coaster, then this would be one of those times where you have just gone slowly uphill and are now looking at a steep drop in front of you. The ride is about to plunge down at a hundred miles an hour any second now and you aren’t sure what lies ahead on the track. I was not ready for it. But much like the rest of my life, I was already on the ride and going faster than I knew how to keep up with, so I just kept hanging on.

I came to regret the decision to move in together because it was very difficult for the kids to adjust to it. It was a rushed move, and I didn’t want to be in a deep relationship. We ended up fighting often over the kids, because we had been raising our kids so differently. And we were both so wounded from our past broken hearts and betrayals. I never truly had time to move on from the previous relationship and heal, and I was hurting him by pushing him away. I didn’t want too, but I was just to afraid to get closer.

We lived together for 7 months before it dawned on me that I was in love with him too. We went away for the weekend for my birthday. There were no distractions in the room and not much to do outside of it, so we spent a lot of time just talking and getting closer. And it stuck me then, what I had been missing all this time. A man right in front of me who loved me and treated me like his queen. Never in my life had I experienced that and I didn’t even know what to do with it. There was just one problem. He was tired of me pushing away, and as soon as I started moving closer, he started backing off. Our relationship was headed towards disaster quickly and I didn’t know if there was any way to save it.

Funny thing about the plans we have for ourselves and what actually happens in our lives. No matter how we think we might direct our paths and control our lives, that is just not the case. You see we already have a purpose that is far greater than anything we could conceive of for ourselves. And we can plan in our hearts all we want, but our steps have already been directed. So we can fight it, or we can go with it.

You have been appointed for victory in this life and right now in this very moment you are being prepared. No matter how bad it seems right now, or how bad it has been, all that is going to be worked together for your good, and used to move you closer to your purpose. In this life you have two choices – you can run and run, searching for the meaning of life and desperately trying to accomplish something that makes you feel whole and important all the while wishing for love to take you away from it all – or you can just stop. Stop running, stop searching, stop trying to find that thing that will make you feel whole, and stop wishing that love would find you.

Because all that running and searching and waiting and trying is all a lie. Everything you need, everything you could ever need, is already right there, waiting patiently for you, waiting patiently for that moment when you decide to stop. The world is full of distractions that steal you away from truth. And it can be overwhelming, and confusing. But I implore you in this moment to just stop. Be still and listen. He is there, on the other side of the door, knocking. And if you listen carefully, you will hear Him. Are you going to open the door? Because when you do, all your questions are going to be answered. Do not be afraid or discouraged, but instead seek with all of your heart.

 

 

 

 

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November 4 2014

Hope is Confidence

All my life I felt walked on, alone and unimportant. So when I finally met someone who thought I was important and amazing even, it just didn’t register. A year into our tumultuous relationship things were going south and we were on the verge of breaking up. We were fighting over our kids, his ex was always trying to interfere with our lives, and we had baggage the size of Texas blocking the way of moving forward. I was on the verge of loosing hope, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I still had some fight in me, because I still had that little place inside me that said I could have love and happiness in my life. So I fought, and we came out stronger and better as a couple. As a matter of fact, we decided to buy a house together in get married. Yes in that order.

hopeAnd so we did. We got ourselves into a bit of a mess with the house situation, getting a mortgage that was far greater than we could afford. It put a lot of pressure on us, but we tried to be positive. We were getting married and we were going to be a real family. Unfortunately the stress of our financial burden only increased when I had to quit my job. I was pregnant just months after the wedding – yay!, but I was awfully sick and couldn’t do much. The whole pregnancy continued with me being very sick and often bed ridden. My husband was a hero and took on everything in the house, cooking, cleaning, the kids, and his job. But things were very stressful and we began to bicker again over money.

It was about a month after our first son together was born that we realized we could not continue to keep our house. It was make house payments or eat and pay bills. The housing market was crashing and our house was now worth half what we paid for it. We decided to walk away and moved into a nearby rental, so the kids could go to the same school. It was devastating. The home we had made together, the home our son was born in, was now gone. I didn’t know where we were going to go from there. The rental we had been a dump, our credit was ruined, and it was all just depressing.

In less than a year we would have both of his sons living with us and our financial burden grew while our rental shrank. We moved again into a bigger rental, but then the economy took a huge dump and my husband’s job went with it. (He worked construction). We loved each other deeply, but we couldn’t seem to heal all the past hurts we brought into the relationship. I still had a hard time trusting him, and he had a hard time opening up. There were many times I just wanted to give up and walk away, and I told him so. I didn’t want to hurt him, it’s just that I had no hope.

Soon I was pregnant again. I was very happy about it because I wanted a big family, but again I was having a difficult time. I had bad morning sickness and I gained a large amount of weight. I was just generally miserable and it made it difficult to take care of my duties around the house. My husband didn’t mind though, because he just wanted to take care of me. We had another beautiful home birth,and yes another son!

Unfortunately things had been getting worse day by day, because my step sons did not want to live with us at all. They wanted to live with their mom, but we both felt that was not the best decision for them. Eventually we gave in against our better judgement because their determination to leave our home was tearing our marriage apart. I never thought being a step mom would be so hard. I loved his boys, but they never wanted to accept me as any kind of mom.

That was about the worst year ever. We had our car repo’d, we lost his kids to another state where their mom lived, then we lost our rental house. When it rains, it pours, right? And through all this there was just no hope. There was no rainbow over the clouds, no silver lining, nothing. It is hard to find happiness when you have no hope. It is difficult to lift your head out of despair, when you have no hope. There is no bigger picture to see that things can get better. It’s just bad, all the time, except when you have distractions to make you temporarily forget. And we did.

I wish so much I would have had hope during that time in my life. I really think a perspective like that would have helped me get through some dark times. Because with hope comes faith, and with faith comes love, and with love comes peace and joy. But there was nothing for me to take root in, nothing grounding me in my life. There was no place of strength to draw upon for hope or faith. It was just like I was out there floating with no anchor to bring me back down to earth. Just this constant sense of fear and anxiety, of what will happen, how will we survive, how will we take care of our children? All the moving and financial worries and the changes were so much to bear on our own. And then we would look around in the world and it was all so bad. What is the point of this life anyway? We toil away every day only to suffer and then what? We die.

Hope is not just wishful thinking, it is confident expectation in what we cannot see. It is trust that you will be taken care of, it is faith that you will come through the trials of life and still find blessings, and it is patience in waiting even when you cannot see the bigger picture in your life. There is only one source of hope in this world. Only one way that you can have the strength to endure the pain this world so easily doles out. Only one way to muster up the faith that will take you through every daunting day that wants to knock you flat on your face. And that hope is in Jesus Christ. Without Him life can seem bleak and meaningless. I discovered hope as I began to know Him. I had never know hope before, but now my hope is never diminished.

 

 

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November 5 2014

Spiritual Hunger

During the last few months in our rental home, before we couldn’t pay the rent anymore and had to move, I remember feeling the stirrings of my spirit within me. I hadn’t had time to “do” anything spiritual or to nurture my spiritual self. And I was beginning to really feel it. I missed that connection I felt with the earth and the universe. That bigger picture of being a part of the universe and everything in it, and it all being connected by the power of love. I just had this emptiness in me – not the normal depression emptiness, but an emptiness in my spirit. I was hungry for more, but I didn’t know how to get filled.

I began looking around for witches covens that might have children in it. I wanted to be a part of a community of like minded people. I wanted to get back into my pagan roots and teach my children about it. Witches are a little bit out there though, and there were some things I didn’t want to expose my kids to. Like, naked adults out in the moonlight. But, that’s just me.spiritual path

One of our neighbors had a son not the same age as my second son. They were great friends and the family was Christian. I tried not to hold it against them, which was easy because they didn’t talk about it much. The husband had a brother that came over often and he was much more outspoken about his faith. He talked about his God in a way that sparked something inside me. He would talk about having problems with people and praying for them and praying for blessings for them, and then the problems with them would just disappear. I was fascinated at the thought of being able to resolve problems with people, and in such a positive way. It seemed I was always having problems with people in my life, and they would often get out of my control.

I started to ponder going to a Christian church. The brother gave me a Bible and I thought about reading it. I had never really even cracked the spine of a Bible before, except a Mormon Bible my grandma gave me as a youth. All I knew is the Bible represented a lot of things I considered to be completely false. I can’t even remember now if I read that Bible or not, but we did try out a service at the brothers church one Sunday. At first I liked it, but then things just went wrong for me. I ended up leaving very angry because I was stuck in this little room with all the other mothers with small children and couldn’t hear the sermon. I felt resentful about it and started a fight with my husband. The whole place just made me uncomfortable. Needless to say we never went back. I was done with all that nonsense.

Except I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to go to church. Just not a Christian church. I wanted a spiritual life again, and I wanted it desperately! Then I heard about the Unitarian Universalist church. There was one a half hour away from our house and I asked my husband about trying it out. He was pretty reluctant, but still open to trying it. It had grow up going to church, but never really found God. I think he wanted to know more about God and what life was really about though, and that was why he was open to trying this out.

The UU Church was very different than the Mormon church I had been to as a child. It was very free and people were dressed casually, and their were flags from all the different religions all over the main meeting room. It was just a feeling of being open to everyone and every religion, not judging or saying there is only one way. I really liked that. The pastor had long hair and gave the aura of an ex hippie. I felt like I could fit in. But it was just so far and it was hard for me to separate from my baby to leave him in child care. We tried going on and off for a few months, but the distance was far and it just ended up not being worth all the work.

I didn’t forget about it though. When we moved out of our rental we had to move in with my parents for awhile. Our lives were upside down once again, but this time moving back in with my parents didn’t depress me. I had a husband I loved and a family that was solid. I was actually somewhat happy. As happy as I could have been anyway. We found another rental very close to my parents, and that neighborhood was very close to the UU Church we had attended before. So I asked my husband about going back and he said sure. He had liked it too.

So we tried going regularly and it was nice for a short time. The older kids got to go to class while we sat through the sermon. We felt like we were getting some food for our spirits and it was uplifting; refreshing. Then summer came and they stopped doing sermons and just had speakers on different non spiritual topics every week. I felt that black hole inside me just aching once again, and realized it wasn’t ever really being filled at this place. My husband agreed, and it was easy to stop going because the kids didn’t even like it.

I still wanted a community and a spiritual place to connect with others. I kept searching and finally found the Unity church. Their motto is “many paths, one god”. It sounded nice and it was not too far from our home. My husband agreed to try this one out as well. I think inside he was searching for more too, but he is not a super vocal type of man. This church was held in a community college auditorium. It was even more different than my experiences with church than the UU church. They had a band and they played a mix of spiritual sounding songs and just regular songs you might hear on the radio. People were flowing with love and smiling and wanted to shake your hand. It really weirded me out, because I was not used to people wanting to be so friendly towards me. On the contrary, my experiences with people were always quite negative.

This church taught about all religions as well. They would even talk about Jesus in the Sunday school classes. I wasn’t totally against it, but I was interested to know who this Jesus fellow was. In my house the name of Jesus was a swear word, and I used it a lot. We went every week and enjoyed it, again for a short time. I just started feeling very negatively about it and even dreaded Sundays and having to try to get up early and race over there. So again we decided to stop going.

Could I ever find what I was looking for? Could I fill this deep need inside me to connect with a community and feed my soul? Why was it so hard! I was grieving inside for the loss of a life so spirit filled and yearning so desperately for something more. I knew there was more out there – I had already experienced it. Why was it that it just had to go away now that I had kids? It just didn’t make any sense.

The road I was traveling was like an overgrown path where the way is starting to become hard to see. It was covered with weeds and rocks, but you just know at one time it was smooth and beautiful to walk along. Now it was difficult to tread and you weren’t quite sure where it was going to wind up. I was lost and confused and really didn’t even know where I was going anymore.

Have you ever had that feeling before? That longing inside of you, like your spirit is just so hungry to be fed? But you don’t even know why you feel that way, or how to fill it? You are not alone, friend. Thousands of people all over the world are just like you, seeking and longing, but so lost and confused. It is a dark place to be in; feeling so empty in a dry and parched land. We were meant to be fed with the bread of life and nourished with the living water. To never hunger again, but to receive an endless supply of food for our spirit that would fatten us up. Food that would help us to grow healthy and strong and defeat depression, anxiety, fear, shame.

We were made for this deep connection to be filled. We are not made to live on just bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of Jesus. And He gives this gift free of charge. If you are thirsty, come. If you are hungry, come. He is inviting you to come nearer, to dine with him and be satisfied. All you have to do is ask.

 

 

 

 

 

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November 6 2014

Home Is Where The Heart Is

After trying the Unitarian church and the Unity church, I was at a loss as to where I could go next to feed my spiritual needs. In the meantime my second son had made a friend in our new neighborhood who happen to be Christian. The boy invited my two oldest sons to go to his church youth group with him one week. I thought it would be a good way for them to make some new friends, so I said yes. I was a bit apprehensive, because I didn’t want them catching any lies from the church. When they came home I asked them what they talked about and then made sure to set them straight on the truth so they would understand that the Christians were completely misled.home

I of course, knew the truth, and I felt secure in letting my boys continue to go to the youth group because they knew the Christians were wrong. One evening my second son came home with a Bible and was reading it. I wasn’t really sure what to think about that. It made me very uncomfortable. I opened it up to the first page and started to read it. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” What!? I read a little more, skimmed a little and put it down. That would just not do. Of course that was a huge lie. Evolution is how the earth came to be – everybody knows that. Silly Christians.

I immediately mocked the words in the Bible so that my son could see that it was just that ridiculous. And because we were homeschooling I started a science course on evolution, just to make sure they got all the facts straight. That way no matter what they would know right from wrong.

That same year my husband and I decided to try to buy another house. It had been three years since we lost our other home and we longed to have stability in our lives. We had moved year after year and it was so exhausting. Our credit was shot though, after losing a house, a car and not being able to pay our bills on time. So we took the next nine months diligently cleaning up our credit trying to get it just high enough to qualify for a FHA loan. Somehow we were able to get our credit to where it needed to be and the loan officer we were working with told us we were golden and to go out and start looking for a house.

We were on top of the world. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we were going to bounce back from our horrible failures of the past few years. Owning a home was like a miracle and we started looking for houses immediately. We looked at several homes, but none were quite right. Some were to small, some needed too much work, some weren’t on a quiet street. Until we found the one. It was the perfect size, it needed no work, and it was in a quiet neighborhood in a good part of town. We loved it! We let our realtor know we wanted it and got excited to have a real home for our family.

That is until our lender told us that, by the way, our credit was not where it needed to be to get this FHA loan we wanted. Huh?! Shocker to us – we didn’t even understand what was going on! But it was fine, she said, because she was we could just talk to the man selling the house and ask him to wait one more month. In one more month our credit would have more time to bounce back after paying off our debts and having bad credit removed. I never in a million years thought that anyone in their right mind would just hold a house for someone for a month. I certainly would not of. I knew we were going to lose this home and my mind went reeling. Where all my dreams about to die?

I felt like I had been wandering my whole life. I had literally moved every year to year and a half for over ten years. I was bone weary from life and didn’t know how much more beating up I could take. Home is a special place where you know you have security, comfort, family. It is full of love and life and tradition. It was so important for us to give this to our children. To not make them feel like nomads anyone, but to put down roots. My heart was breaking at the thought.

How I wish I would have something more to ground me during this bleak time in my life. Some hope or faith to keep me going from day-to-day, to know that things were going to be OK, that we were going to be taken care of. Instead I was a horrible mess and I let everyone know it. If only I had something to hold on to in a world that was constantly tossing me this way and that. But I didn’t. I had nothing and I felt completely alone. I had no control over my life and nothing to even look forward too.

That is why I am so thankful today for Jesus. So many times I have had problems and now I have my Rock. He comforts me and gives me strength in times of need. I never worry if we have money problems, because I know my God is taking care of me. I no longer live in quicksand, but have anchored myself to solid ground. And because of this I have hope, and I have faith. I don’t let worry and fear swallow me whole, but instead I turn them over to the One that saves and let him help me battle these things. And I have to say, it makes life so much better. So much easier to handle. Security, comfort, family. Home.

 

 

 

November 7 2014

House Hurdles

Here we were, in the middle of a sticky situation. We had worked for almost a year to get our credit to where it needed to be to get a loan and had now found the house of our dreams. One problem – our lender was now telling us we could not get the loan, but with some tricks she knew of she could get our credit to jump the few points it needed to get the loan. Of course we had no idea what we were doing and were just plain confused. What about the house we were about to buy?? The lender tells us don’t worry, we can just have him wait a month while we work on our credit. A month? Are you kidding me?

Somehow the seller went for it and waited for us and took the house off the market. And he did the same thing the next month, and the next month, and the next month. Yes, that’s right, four months this man waited for our credit to raise the few points it needed to, with our realtors assurance that all would be fine. He needed to sell the house because he was moving out of the country. houseWell our credit did not raise to where it needed to go. And we had to go for a loan that was not as good, which was very stressful. As a matter of fact those four months were more stressful than anything I could think of. I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I had no idea if we were going to get the house, and in the meantime my husbands oldest son moved back in with us. We were living in a tiny three bedroom, one bathroom house with 7 people. And our next door neighbor hated us with a passion.

My mind was spinning out of control, my stress level made everything in my life beyond comprehension, and I started to feel depression that made me want to end it all, again. In the end we did get a loan for the house, but it made our mortgage much higher than we wanted. We were living in constant fear and anxiety. We told the lender when we wanted to give our notice to move from our rental, and she said ok. But when the date approached to move, she told us we could not. The paperwork for the loan was not done and she didn’t know when it would be, but soon.

Just when I thought things could not get worse, we were about to be homeless. We tried over and over again to contact the owner of our rental to ask for an extension. He refused to talk to us and through the rental agency he let us know he had already sold the house and we needed to get out. Now. It was all so much more than I could bear. I was freaking out and screaming at the lender on the phone, because now we were getting kicked out of our home.

Yet somehow we got another week to stay in the house. And even then when the papers weren’t ready, we were able to move into our new home. We signed the papers two days after we moved in. The nightmare wasn’t over yet though. We had spent all the money we had moving in and then found out there was another fee that needed to be paid. We didn’t have the money, but our realtor came to the rescue and paid it! And that first night we moved in we found out that we had no lights. Not unless the stove was on. Someone had tried to steal something off our circuit breaker, and so the power would not work right. Another added cost to buy the stolen part and we didn’t have the money. And our realtor gave us the money to buy the part.

It was all like some sort of miracle that got us into the house and rescued us over and over again. It was almost like there was a guardian angel watching over us. Not that I thought about it like that at the time. I was so overwhelmed by all the whirlwind of events that I could barely make it through the day. So when the dust finally settled I was just thankful that we had the house and things were quieting down. I didn’t think about why things happened the way they did and how amazing the situation really was. Of course with hind sight I can clearly see the hand of God hovering over this whole mess, and guiding us right to where He wanted us to be. And now that He had us where He wanted, it was time to put things into action.

What a wild ride my life had been so far! But that was nothing – It was about to get really wild!

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