My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Weird. Sometimes I can post from the office and sometimes I can't. No news, really. I'm missing reading blogs... missing my facebook account... but hoping tomorrow I can find a power cord so i will be back online. I could still wring austin's neck for breaking it... I also had to confiscate his BB gun as he was shooting while I was at work on Monday although he had been given strict orders not to shoot the gun in our neighborhood as we are too close to other houses. I am SOOOO ready for him to go back to school! this morning I made him get up at 7am and finish his chores before I left for work. Every single day I come home to a big mess and spend my first hour home in a fit of rage trying to get him to do what he needs to do - you know, horrible things like putting his own dirty dishes in the dishwasher... yesterday I had a nasty migraine and made a grocery run on my way home and came home to a frat house. I wanted to cry.

I love how everyone has struggled with the concept of fearing God, just like I have. I'll say more on it when I can make an entry from the uninterrupted privacy of my own laptop. In the meantime... thank you for all your love and support during 2008. I have been blessed with some amazing friends here online and in real life and each has played a special role in my life. God is good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

taking an unintentional cyber-vacation

Just a quick note to let you guys know that I am having "computer difficulties" and will not be online in the next couple of days. Austin managed to break my power cord for my laptop so I can't charge it... and after he broke it he continued to watch a movie until the power drained completely.

Here in Hooterville they don't have fancy things like computer parts so my new cord had to be ordered... and should be here by Tuesday of next week. I'm gonna drive down to civilization on New Year's Day and see if I can't locate one so I don't have to go that long without my usual visits to cyberspace... but if you don't hear from me, don't worry. All is calm, all is bright.

I had to get the back window in my car repaired today - it has been off the track for awhile and slipping and yesterday it slipped all the way down into the door. Because I'm in this great little community... the repair shop fixed it for free! I was so thrilled! I definitely couldn't afford big car repair dollars right now! Just another example of how awesome God is. God is definitely sustaining us right now, in a magnificent way. I'm going to spend some of my cyber vacation doing some deep studying on that whole "fear God" concept.

Please keep my friend Jen in your prayers tomorrow as she is having surgery on her knee!

Re: Stubby - I got a picture of him from a good angle. I promise you, he is one ugly kitty! He's got a saggy belly and missing fur... he's a sight!

Leave me lots of comments... I can't always post in my blog but I can read it.
love and hugs!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fearing God

Yesterday I started trying to wrap my mind around the concept of fearing God. We want God to be an accessory... our last resort... in the periphery of our lives...
Most of us believe in God... or "some higher power"... who is benevolent and charitable and who can grant us that which we desire.
Many of us believe that you have to have some sort of relationship with God to insure that we go to Heaven when we die... although we all probably have some variation of understanding as to what establishes that relationship. For some faiths, you're born into it.... for others, you're raised in it... and some others believe that you have to seek a relationship with him. Still others believe that you achieve immortality by the things you do here on earth.
Many of us seek that eternal assurance or earthly assistance but we mainly do it because we need God, not because we fear God.
I don't know what made me start thinking about fearing God... but the thought formed in my mind during church and sort of lingered. I spent a lot of the day napping and resting and nesting. My back is bothering me and I knew that I wouldn't have free time for a few days (although I love that there's a holiday in the middle of the week! Woohoo!) so I took advantage of a quiet Sunday afternoon. But as I nested... the thought stayed in my mind, "Do I FEAR God?"

I googled the words, "Fear the Lord" and found a sermon on the subject. I actually found several things on the subject. I looked the word "fear" up in the concordance of my bible and thought about several of the verses there. Lots of stuff in Deuteronomy.... that's a book that's all about the nation of Israel and them learning the Law and it's really dogmatic. Truly, at that point in biblical history, people had a fear of the Lord... if you realize all that they had to do to have a promise of eternal life, you realize they lived in fear. (and I suspect in a constant state of discouragement because NOBODY could keep the Law, which is why we needed a Savior... but that's a different topic.). There are verses in Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, Job, Psalms... and then we get to Proverbs - the book of wisdom - and it's chock full of verses about the fear of the Lord... here are a few thoughts for you:

Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him. Psalm 33:8
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7
Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 34:9
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. Psalm 128:1
The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7
To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. Proverbs 10:27

There are more.... but I'm running out of time this morning... here's the point: we have made God, the creator of the universe, the one who holds the planets in place, the one who controls every breath we take... we have turned Him into a warm, fuzzy, cuddly creature who we can entertain at our leisure. We ignore Him, we ignore His commands, until such time as we need him.

I have this problem with Austin. He won't do his chores until he faces a consequence for not doing them. I can talk until I'm blue in the face. I can yell, scream, beg, cry... nothing works. But when I take the remote control away from him, he becomes very obedient. The problem? He doesn't fear me. He loves me. He appreciates me on some levels. He wouldn't want to live without me. He doesn't WANT me to be angry. He just wants me to be in my "mommy box"... provide for him and not expect anything in return. That's how we view God. And by we, I mean me... and maybe you, I don't know. Maybe you see yourself in this.

What has happened in Christianity since the feel-good sixties - is a turning from the hellfire and brimstone preaching that taught people to fear God.... to respect who He is. We have tried to make God politically correct. We have tried to appease man and not offend anyone by speaking what God really says. We complete our Sunday morning obligatory church service (or not) and we do our little cursory bible study and prayer every day (or not) but we don't fear Him. We don't worry that we are not obedient. We don't worry about the fact that He is displeased with our actions. We don't worry that when we claim to be a Christian and then act like the devil, that we are preventing people from approaching Him - because they don't want to be near us or like us.

My goal for 2009 is to respect God... to acknowledge God.... to appreciate who God really is... I want to fear God.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a growth on my leg

Stubby is stuck to me as usual. He scratched Austin pretty bad last night... which took some skill because he's declawed on his front leg and missing one back leg so he had to take that ONE leg with claws and kung fu kick Austin right in the jugular... left a nasty scratch. Stubby was angry because Austin was trying to take him out of my room...

After that ... I just said, "whatever. leave him in here." Beast. He's pretty durn territorial.

Sunday morning

I'm up early. I woke up at 4am and decided to watch a movie on TCM, "Teacher's Pet" starring Doris Day and Clark Gable. It was a sweet love story... a nice, feel good movie. I love old movies!
At some point over the past day I have done something to my back. I've got this pulled muscle or something... I don't know... every time I move I have a stabbing pain. I know it's not a kidney infection or it would hurt whether or not I move.
I'll still be going to church. My brother is preaching this morning and he's rather brief... plus... he ended up preaching on a Sunday when they're not having Children's Church so he's going to be extra brief! Angie is leading the music so Sarabeth will be sitting with Aunt Heather. I love having her with me in church. On Christmas Eve she cuddled up to me... makes me feel so loved! We have some of our usual church staff members who are taking a much needed and well-deserved vacation so it's the Jim and Angie show today.
And then they leave on vacation on Tuesday. Angie's parents have taken each of their granddaughters to Disney World for their fourth birthday. It's Jamie's turn! Yesterday we sat and named all the "Princesses" she wants to meet.... i had to dig deep, you know I'm a boy mommy!
I had such thought provoking and passionate responses to my first post yesterday. I appreciate every one of you... although I suspect the anonymous post was someone a bit closer to the situation who doesn't have the courage to address me directly... that's ok.
Anna really touched my heart... she talked about being a "her"... and how "he" ended up not being quite the Prince Charming he set himself up to be. First, Anna, I'm sorry for your disappointment. I know all too well how that can happen. We want people to be who they represent themselves to be and sometimes they just aren't. I spent some very painful months trying to force someone back into the package they first presented to me... and the greatest heartache for me was realizing how much of that was smoke and mirrors and how little of it was truth.
But Anna, I want you to know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is not a single person reading my blog who hasn't done something, at some point, to cause pain to another person. Maybe in a different way but none of us are blameless.
I've struggled so much with forgiveness, true forgiveness. I want to move on. I want to wiggle my nose like Samantha, blink my eyes like Jeannie, click my heels together like Dorothy and this to all be done. I want to have already worked through all the emotion but I am not there yet. It's hard enough to feel it... I'm not going to apologize for what I feel... or for being honest about it... but I understand on an intellectual level how important it is to move on... to forgive.
Because the foundation of my faith includes belief in forgiveness for sin... as a means of accessing Heaven... I can't be one-sided. I have to believe that the same Jesus that hung on the cross to save me from my sin, hung on the cross for every single unfaithful spouse... for everyone who ever lied... for every woman who sought to attract a man who belonged to someone else... for every moment of deception and unkindness and intentional harm that has ever been committed... those sins were paid for at the same time my sins were atoned. My sins killed Jesus too...
Unfortunately, just like in my life, even though there is forgiveness for sins, we still sometimes have to live through the consequences for sin. Sometimes the people who live through the consequences are not the ones who commit the sin... I don't want to wear the victim label for the rest of my life. I want, just like with the cardboard testimonies, for my one side to say, "rejected and unloved" and then the other side to say, "joyful and victorious life".
I am enough. I know this. I don't require a man to complete me, thank God! I know that there is a happily ever after for me and I accept that my happily ever after may not include a Prince Charming. I know that God may use me in a completely different way. I believe that in some ways He is already using me and I know that my honesty and vulnerability here - and in my real life - opens doors with people who have also felt some of the things I'm feeling. Not that I'm any example of how to live! But I know that sometimes just knowing that you're not alone is helpful.
It's raining outside. It will be a curly day! I've soaked pinto beans overnight and they are going into the crockpot for after church.... complete with cornbread... and then it's back to the nest for a restful Sunday afternoon.
This is "Guilt Week". It's the week we're bombarded with ads about stopping smoking and losing weight and all the other things that people resolve to do on New Year's. I'm pretty good about keeping resolutions... and I'm making some big ones this year. I'll be working on a post describing my intentions later.
Hope you have a beautiful Sunday! Go to church!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

pictures from Christmas morning

I didn't take as many pictures as usual on Christmas morning but we did get a few... Austin slept on a mattress on the floor of the living room so he and his big brother could hang out together. Ryan slept on the couch.
My goofy Austin made this little thing for me that says, "I love u mom". It was pretty durn sweet!

One of my presents was a picture of my Jamie-gurl! How sweet is she?
Ryan checks out his stuff...
I got the Jon and Kate plus 8 book... and read the entire thing on Christmas Day

The early morning caught up with Austin... he napped in the car....

Jamie's 4th Birthday "I'm getting four now!"

Four years ago on Monday our precious Amanda James was born. One of my first blog entries EVER was about Jamie's birth! When asked how old she will be on her birthday she said, "I'm getting four now!" She also announced to anyone who would listen that "I'm the birthday girl!".

Jamie has been the absolute delight of my heart from the very beginning. One my first full day in the mountains I babysat Jamie. We played outdoors and planned her birthday party - to be a butterfly birthday. And today we had our butterfly birthday party!

Austin bought a bb gun with his walmart gift certificate. He and "Gramps" (my sister in law's father) spent some quality time shooting milk jugs in the front yard before the birthday party guests arrived.

Sarabeth's butterfly matched her outfit. I'm not terribly artistic... I doodle more than anything. I would have done better drawing with a sharpie marker on their faces... but I still thought all these little girls with butterflies on their faces was precious!

How amazing is the butterfly cake?

I painted Cody's face Gator colors! He's a huge Florida State fan... he was totally oblivious of what colors I was using until I was completely done!

Ryan and Cody with their butterflies. You know my boys are great cousins when they'll suffer face painting at 22 and 18!

View of Jim and Angie's front yard from the top porch.

Miss Thang with her cake! I didn't get any birthday candle pictures because I was busy painting faces and didn't have my camera outside with me.

Jamie's little friend Leah seems reluctant to give up the gift!

Jamie and Emily.

This little guy is just a joy! He's the one whose parents are huge Georgia Bulldog fans. Whenever I say "Go Gators" he says, "we don't talk like that at our house!". It's precious!

Aww. My sweet girls!

Jamie has had a bit much birthday party. Here she's deep in thought with her thumb.

Bailey and Austin crash on the skateboard.

because of you / you are what you eat

I spent last night searching for a blog background and finally decided I wanted something fresh, open, uncluttered... I wanted to be able to display my pictures easily... and that's why I have the plain background. The theory is that I will decorate it with my words and pictures!

It's funny how life goes on even from my nest. I'm resting... not moping... just enjoying a morning where I don't have to rush around and do anything. Even though I had two days off last week - they were action packed. Sunday mornings are busy. I needed a day where I could be lazy... and I'm having a blast chilling out, talking on the phone, emailing, watching tv (Little House on the Prairie and Scott Baio is 46 and pregnant and country music videos).

I'm also reading this fabulous book that my brother and his girlfriend gave me for Christmas. Likely, it was chosen by Candice and financed by Bryan, which is fine... she knew exactly what I needed and I am really inspired by reading it! The book is "You Are What You Eat" and it's essentially about a healthy diet - including one of my favorite topics - healing foods. I am a big believer in healing with foods and herbs rather than medicine. I believe in it - but haven't been living that way for the past few years.

You know... what happened with me in that respect... I'm very interested in nutrition and if you read my early weight loss blogs, you will remember how I used herbal/natural remedies to finally heal from a bad case of cellulitis that antibiodics would not heal. I had hoped that in moving to Jacksonville I would be able to finally work on furthering my education and getting some type of degree relating to that passion and interest I had in nutrition. That got shot down because I was told that I would never make enough money by doing that.

When I look back and do an autopsy on what went wrong in Jacksonville... I can pinpoint different things like that which eroded my sense of self and my sense of wonder and hope and expectation. I withered on the vine. It started with not having internet (although we certainly could afford it) and being cut off from my global community right at the exact moment in time that I was losing my usual ties to my local community. And what internet contact I did have... I had to censor myself and not discuss things as they really were... I had to lose that sense of honesty and frankness that is just who I am...

It was a loss of my spirituality... because I wanted so badly to share that part of my life with a husband who mocked and made fun of my faith... and yet who wouldn't really welcome me in his faith. He would go to church on Sunday mornings, never letting me know he was going. I didn't completely understand his church but I was open to learning, just to be able to understand him better, just to have SOMETHING that we did as a couple. Eventually he told me he didn't WANT me to try to participate in his religion because he knew I didn't believe it and would be doing it just for him. Well... I think marriage is a basic process of doing things for one another... and I think you have to seek spiritual intimacy above any other kind of intimacy... your spirit is the only immortal part of you...

Looking back, I also realize that was part of his inability to achieve emotional intimacy. He couldn't let me into his life... whether it was knowing about his spirituality, what was going on at work, letting me know what was in his bank account, letting me know what debts he had or what medical conditions he was worried about... one of the biggest fights we ever had was because I went to his doctor. I had to find a doctor in Jacksonville and I figured as choosy as he was, he would have found a good one. I wanted a good doctor. Heaven knows I needed one over the past year! He was furious about it... felt it was a huge invasion of his privacy for the same person who was privvy to his deepest darkest medical secrets to also know me - his wife... and I imagine he still resents it. I was in the dark and excluded from so much of his life. The irony of it is that she seems to have found that intimacy with him. That may be the part that hurts the most... not any physical intimacy they may have... but that he opened a part of his heart to a stranger that he would not allow his wife to enter.

While I was in Jacksonville, there was a loss of my natural curiousity. I'm a person who is constantly evolving and reinventing myself. I was told that I run ideas up the flagpole to see if they fly... so what if I do? I am a girl with big ideas and big dreams. I'm sometimes a little weak on the follow through... but I am always having realizations and epiphanies. That's who I am! I am a wide eyed "golly gee whiz" kind of person who is amazed at the simplest things - a sunset, flowers, laughter of children - I was teased about not being able to stick to things... and discouraged from pursuing new things... I was told, "Act like you've been here before"... and received no support or encouragement to continue to evolve. I really wanted to go to college and for the first time in my life it felt remotely possible... but when I was told that I couldn't go... and the door slammed on another aspect of my community. I wanted to take belly dancing classes. I was flatly forbidden. So many things... so many times I tried to find SOMETHING to pull myself out of the pit I was sinking into... only to be denied.

I did find a church that I really liked at one point. I was excited about belonging there, building community... I was excited about taking Bobby because I knew it would help him with the boredom he felt when he would spend time with us and it would be a continuity of the the foundation of faith his mother was giving him. But I wasn't allowed to take him to "that place". When I tried to talk about what happened at church... I got a response of a grimace and a groan. I wanted to share my heart, you see... and he didn't want to be there. I think on so many levels he was embarassed by my simplicity.

Simplicity, though, is a special ability to find joy in the common activities of daily life. It's being awed by a sunrise... it's appreciating little things... One of the best gifts he ever got me (besides the laptop!) was a collection of Seuss characters. He bought Horton for me and I was so thrilled about it that he went back and bought me the rest of the characters. It was such a beautiful gesture... and that's really all I wanted... to be thought of, considered, a part of his day, a part of his heart. I didn't need big diamonds or trips or nights in expensive hotels or meals in fancy restaurants. The best meals we ever shared were the breakfasts he would make... omelets... time at the table as a family... We lost that simplicity.

Marriage should be about compromise... but both marriage partners should compromise. It should never be just one person giving up who they are and the basic tenets of their faith and character. Especially if the other marriage partner is incapable of replacing what is lost. When you make someone your everything, it's a huge responsibility on them. These things that slipped away from me... they took me away too. I would look in the mirror and not even recognize myself. I was just a shell of who I used to be. Part of the painful process for me now is finding me again, deprogramming myself... being reminded that it's ok to be a "golly gee whiz" girl... being reminded that who I am is infinitely ok.

I didn't start this post with the idea of talking about the failure of my marriage and the reasons (beyond the obvious) that I think it failed... but ultimately I think the only way I can find my way back is to figure out how I got there... to that dark place... in the first place! I spent a full year in complete isolation... completely regressing from all the positive dietary and fitness changes I had made in my life over the past four years. My blog started as a weight loss tool... and it will be again... So much of weight loss is emotional - especially if you're an emotional eater! I have to figure out which things I am avoiding because of the emotional damage that happened... the areas of my life that I shut down to try to assimilate in a world that didn't accept who I really am... and part of that was my interest in nutrition.

*I hope it didn't seem like i went all the way around the world to make that point... sometimes it's just a matter of me talking it out for my own understanding!*

You Are What You Eat is a great refresher for me of the place I had grown to in early 2006... and now... three years later... I'm excited to be finding my way back! I'm excited to reintroduce myself to those foods and that lifestyle that I had not been able to maintain. It's really hard to live healthy when you don't really want to live. I'm working to find joy in the things that brought me joy before... I'm determined to heal without pills, without numbing myself with comfort foods, without sleeping away the pain. I'm ready to rejoin the world.

Ironically... the song playing on tv right now is Because Of You...

I will not make the same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break the way you did,You fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh everyday of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid
I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry in the middle of the night
For the same damn thing
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I try my hardest just to forget everything
Because of you
I don't know how to let anyone else in
Because of you
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty
Because of you
I am afraid
Because of you
Because of you

There was a time that I desperately wanted to talk to her to warn her... to encourage her to hold on to herSELF. To not change what kind of person she is, what kind of mother she is... to continue to be the person she was on day one. It may seem like making those sacrifices will build a relationship but ultimately, it just keeps you from having enough left to participate in a relationship. Misty never stopped looking for love. She was married when I met Michael and during the brief time he and I were together - two and a half years - she lived with at least four different guys, including Sean, who she had baby Brennen with. Our last conversation before she died was about how alone she felt with Michael... I think she spent the rest of her life trying to never feel alone like that again. I almost died searching for that love. I don't know how long it will take me to recover, to heal the hurts from losing mySELF in that way. As angry as I am sometimes at her for the role she played in the end of my marriage... I hurt for her... I hurt to think that she may someday feel what I have felt. I hurt for what she will lose in the process.

This post may get me "in trouble" but I needed to say it. Detox. Junk out. Making room for good stuff.

Love and hugs! Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 26, 2008

recovering from Christmas

My last post was pretty pitiful. I thought about deleting it... but it's real. I can't possibly make you understand how high the mountaintops are if I never tell you how low the valleys are. Sometimes it's just raw. Sometimes it just sucks.

Today has been ok. I had a nasty dream last night and woke up sort of disoriented by that. I went in to work and it was just me and Gus... so it was busy but not unpleasant. He's a nice guy - single dad with five kids - he's been through the ringer himself and has met a really sweet girl who is great with his kids. He's finding that hope that life goes on.

I haven't lost that hope. I'm feeling like I have enough baggage for a jumbo jet full of passengers but I also think that baggage will serve to protect me. I think it is helpful to be wary. I think caution is not a bad thing. So when my friend called last night... I didn't answer the phone. The "why" doesn't matter. I don't have the luxury of making excuses or extending understanding to any man. This is a zero tolerance environment now. It's just easier to be alone than to be disappointed.

The good news is that payday actually comes earlier than I thought it did so I'm stretching a little less than I thought I'd have to. I had some real sweet people in my life who made me feel a lot less alone today and that's a great confirmation of how good God really is. Thanks, y'all for the comments, emails, phone calls... it helps.

The truth is that I'm just going through the process. Much of my life is filled with joy. I wouldn't want to go back... I just want walking away to not be such a painful process for me. Rejection just sucks and for me, it comes from several different angles. Things are not what they should be sometimes. The idealistic view I have created just sometimes doesn't pan out.

Tomorrow Austin and I will go to Walmart so he can use his gift card. Jamie's 4th birthday party is in the afternoon and I'm excited about sharing in that merriment. I'm looking forward to the next two days off... I need the time to recover! My brother is preaching on Sunday morning and I'm looking forward to that. The senior pastor usually preaches - this is the first time Jim has preached since I've been up here.

It will be ok... Stubby the 3legged wondercat is glued to my side.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

echoes and voices

This is supposed to be my celebration of a fabulous Christmas post. It just wasn't. It was ok. It was not painful. There was no unpleasantness. It was just empty in many ways. It's not that I'm greedy... but single moms don't get much for Christmas. It's not that the people in my life aren't generous and thoughtful. It's just a different stage of life for me. When you don't have a significant other, you don't get much for Christmas. My kids haven't quite gotten to the stage of obligatory gift giving. It's not about gifts... it's about feeling like I'm permanently entrenched in the sorority of the have-nots that makes it a little disappointing. There are a lot of great people in my life. I just don't exchange gifts with most of them.

I realize that I'm struggling with the sin of jealousy. I'm jealous of women who have long term committed marriage partners. My husband didn't so much as text me today. I sent him a text... all he had to do was respond... I guess he has to twist the knife a bit deeper, drive the point home... he won't file for divorce but he won't do anything even remotely resembling acting like a husband.

My children's father didn't call today. Austin called him over and over again. We had planned for Austin to go stay with his father for a week to ten days. Austin was packed... we had logistics worked out... and his dad couldn't so much as answer the phone to talk to his child. Austin, bless his heart, kept making excuses for him. "His phone hasn 't been working, maybe he isn't getting our calls". "It's Christmas Day - he knows you're planning to come over, he should be the one to call YOU". He's the parent. Why should my 14 year old son spend his Christmas day desperately trying to contact his father?

And for me... after not getting child support, I was hoping that at least he'd take Austin for a bit, saving me money on food. I don't have enough money left to get us to my next pay day. I'm slipping further and further behind on things. I don't know how to catch up. I can't work more. I'm not selling. Apparently Austin's dad is going into deep hiding mode... and it's going to require court action to get him to pay. I am ready to do that... but of course, that means more money and more time off work.

And my date today. Well. It just didn't work out. I had prayed that if I wasn't ready, if this wasn't meant for this time of my life, if I wasn't meant for this relationship, that it would't work out. Barry and I texted back and forth all morning... andthen when it came time to meet up - no contact from him. Between Austin's disappointment and my suspicion that Barry was going to stand me up... I decided to head back to the mountains. Barry finally sent me a text, "won't be able to make it" more than two hours after we were supposed to meet. I'm not ready to date yet. I thought I was... but I'm not stable enough to weather these kind of disappointments. I haven't recovered from the last insensitive male force in my life. I can't risk contact with another.

Austin is struggling... I feel bad for him... he was so looking forward to seeing his dad. If it's at all possible, I'll have him head down with mom and dad after Jamie's birthday party on Saturday.

That's next up in my "Best Aunt Ever" series... Jamie's Butterfly Birthday party. My Jamie-doll will be 4 on monday! Her birthday party is Saturday. Jamie and I came up with the idea of the butterfly party not long after I got to the mountains. I was babysitting her - actually - it was the first time I had been alone since my suicide attempt and I was scared to death. I knew, however, that if any one person on the face of this earth had the power to keep me from hurting myself it was Jamie. We talked... we sang... we danced... we played on the playground and watched yellow jackets buzzing through the clover. We saw a butterfly... it was a precious moment in time for me... finding the will to live in the love I had for that beautiful, animated little girl.

Angie called and I really struggled to keep from having a meltdown. There is the question, "Did you have a good Christmas?". Well. No. I really didn't. That big magnifying glass hit and I was reminded of just how alone I am and it just sucks. But it seemed unfair to hit her with my sadness when she was having such a great day. The girls are spending the night with their Grammy and Gramps (Angie's parents). Angie works so hard to make me feel included, loved... she is the one who would know if something happened to me.... the one who keeps me from being the "smell coming out of a quiet apartment"...

There were lots of nice things over the past two days... Christmas Eve service... hanging with the family yesterday... going to my aunt's house today... spending time with Bryan and Candice... having Ryan around... I got the Jon and Kate Plus 8 book and read it this afternoon. Candice got me a book "You Are What You Eat" and it's about adopting a healthy nutritional routine. I'm anxious to learn this and give my diet an upgrade. I'm ready to get back in shape.

I'm ready for a cleansing... a detox... a fresh start... New Year is going to be a welcome sight.

Time for bed... love and hugs, y'all....

seasons of life

Pop and Ryan nap

Sarabeth, Marquee, Cody and Austin
My Three Sons! Ryan, Cody and Austin

Jamie and Sarabeth pose with their new Barbies

There was a time when my kids had to be given a "no getting up before (blank) a.m." order for Christmas morning. We have now evolved to the stage of me being awake long before the kids and trying to stay quiet so they can sleep in and therefore be more pleasant throughout the day. I also had to make sure that I didn't wake up as early since I will have a long day... and a long drive back home around the time I'm usually sleeping or at least nesting.

I've done the single mom Christmas before. The hardest part for me is Christmas morning... not having anything under the tree to open. This year I collected all my gifts at the family Christmas and saved them for this morning so while the boys are opening their gifts, I have something to open. I'm a big believer in opening on Christmas morning. Last year we didn't exchange our gifts until Michael's family Christmas party a few days after Christmas. That was... just wrong... but I was trying to be open to establishing new traditions with my new husband. C'est la vie.

Ryan spent the night with us so I have my oldest and youngest sleeping peacefully in the next room. They had some good bonding time last night. Cody spent the evening hanging out with Marquee's family. You're going to have some of that as your kids get older... it's just a season of life. It really doesn't bother me. I have two out of three...

Last night we went to the Christmas Eve service at church. Sarabeth sat beside me and I just enjoyed her so much... she's able to read and so we shared a hymnal together and she sang every word of every song in her sweet little six year old voice. Her mom played the bells so we listened to hear the bells... during the sermom both Sarabeth and Jamie got restless. Angie had Jamie at the other end of the row. Sarabeth got a bit out of hand at one point and received a finger pointing from her father which snapped her back into line. I also broke out the sharpie markers and drew holly leaves on both of us. Ryan spent most of the church service TEXTING.... I gave him the same finger pointing but it's lost it's magic. Instead I punched him after the service... "DUDE! You don't TEXT in church!".

We had the Lord's Supper and Sarabeth had several questions about what it all means and why she couldn't participate. In our faith we consider that only believers in Christ should share in the rememberance of his death, burial and resurrection by taking communion. Sarabeth asked, "when will I be old enough?" and I said, "Soon, honey... maybe even by next Christmas". Then she asked, "what do I have to do?" and so... there in the middle of a Christmas Eve service... I shared with the most precious child in my life... how important it will be for her to one day ask Jesus to come into her heart and to be baptized... and how after that, she will be able to take part in the things we do to symbolize that faith we have. Her little friend Jonathan was baptized last night. She said, "Does Jonathan get to do it?" "Yes. Jonathan gets to". At that point she had to scrutinize the audience to see if she could witness Jonathan actually taking the Lord's Supper. Sarabeth wanted to hold the bread... hold the juice... smell them... and she asked, "Is it REALLY blood?". "No... some people believe it becomes blood... we believe that it just reminds us of the blood of Jesus". She had a lot of questions... which is why she needs an Aunt Heather with whom she is comfortable enough with to ask anything. I hope she'll always ask me... and trust my answers. We have always had a special relationship but I know that seeing me every week, having me as part of her life all the time really has brought us closer.

Then we lit candles and sang Silent Night. Sarabeth got to hold her own candle. I watched her like a hawk (I'm nervous around fire) and then Jamie held her own little candle and there was this beautiful, peaceful moment where Jamie was standing - staring at the candle - singing Silent Night - and I don't know if I've ever seen her look more precious. It really brought a tear to my eye!

Afterwards Ryan, Austin and I found a pizza buffet place that was open for dinner. I've always tried to have a special meal with my boys every Christmas Eve - we haven't for the past two years - so it was nice to return to that tradition. Then afterwards Ryan wanted to find a place to buy beer..... we live in a mostly dry county... and it was 8pm on Christmas Eve... not much was open... and since I don't drink... I had no idea where I could find a place to buy beer. We decided that I would go home and start watching It's A Wonderful Life while my boys went on a beer run. A bit different from leaving out milk and cookies for Santa... but this is what happens... our children grow and our lives change. It's not a bad thing...

Life is different for me now... and Christmas is a bit different from how it's been over the past two years. Different isn't always bad. I have more peace... more comfort... more joy... I'm blessed... I have survived the most difficult year of my life and here it is... Christmas. Life does go on!

May you all feel a special touch from the baby in the manger... may you feel a spirit of hope... the peace that passes all understanding... may you feel joy... and may you know that you are loved. God is good. The more things change, despite what season in life, God is good.
love and hugs!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

When my babies were babies... I used to wake them up on Christmas Eve morning singing the song, "Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Claus Lane... Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer pulling on the reigns... bells are ringing children singing all is merry and bright... so hang your stocking and say your prayers cause Santa Claus comes tonight!" I just loved that it ended with "Santa Claus comes tonight!"

When Ryan was two we taught him the passage in the bible of the angels announcement to the shepherds... "Fear not.. for behold we bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people... for unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord..." He was a great little party trick for a few years there, reciting this long passage of scripture in his little baby voice.

Christmas Eve has always seemed more holy to me than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve has traditionally been about church and family and anticipation. Since my kids have always opened their gifts on Christmas morning, Christmas Eve was more about the holiday itself and less about the materialistic things. A news report this morning talked about what a "dismal season this has been for retailers". I'm sorry for retailers but I am glad that this year has been less about wasting money on things... and I hope this means that the focus will be more on what matters - faith, family, tradition - because I know it has meant that for me.

This morning I woke up to the local news. There was a story about a 4 year old child who shot himself while his parents were Christmas shopping. They named the street that this happened on and that caught my attention - it was the street where we lived when Austin was in kindergarten - the last year that I was married to the kids' dad. I started watching the news footage and realized... this was our house! The little boy is still alive at a hospital in Atlanta. The gun was in his dad's backpack in a closet. My boys' dad had a bunch of guns when we were married. I made him keep them in the attic. I was always worried that the boys would get hurt.

I'm going to wrap the last few presents... cook up another batch of sausage balls... make a quick run to the drug store to pick up some prescriptions that I called in on Monday and a few last minute things... then it will be over to Sarabeth and Jamie's house for lots of love, food, family and PICTURES! I'm sure I'll be back later to share!

Have a beautiful Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

i can't believe i ate the whole thing...

I'm off work for the next two days! woohoo!

Today at work we brought food... I ate ALL DAY LONG! We all did. I love my office... my co-workers are so much fun... and good cooks! We had deviled eggs, ham, cream cheese squares, cheese and crackers, sausage balls, cheese dip and tortilla chips... we seriously had too much food!

My BooBoo... my oldest son... is on a plane RIGHT NOW on his way to Atlanta from PA. He'll be home for Christmas! God is good!

The jaw pain / ear pain from clenching my teeth is more a behavioral modification than a pill thing, which is good... I'm ready to detox from all the crap I've had to take over the past year or so. Xanax is the devil!

I heard from another Blast from my past today. They're coming out of the wood work... it's flattering but more than I can really process right now. And my Pocket Mexican... the client with a crush on me... called today with this very sweet rehearsed speech. His english is not great so I know he worked hard to say the right thing. It's sweet but... yeah... I'm not interested.

On top of all the munchies we had today, Duane gave us these big food baskets - you know, the ones with the different nuts and chocolates and cheese and crackers and summer sausage and all that. I love those! I used to love going into the Swiss Colony store at the mall and sampling... I think Austin was more excited than me...

The kids' dad has decided he wants Austin to stay with him for the week after Christmas. I'm... semi-okay with it. Austin is bored to death at our house alone all day and bored Austin = trouble making Austin. Dad's girlfriend works for the school system so she's home all day during Christmas break. Austin has a tendency to not shower and get a bit out of sorts while he's with his dad. His dad just doesn't quite get that Austin requires a bit more supervision than the older kids. I have to reprogram him when I get him back. But... Austin loves being with his dad and they spend so little time together. I try to make it happen whenever it's possible... whether his dad is being cooperative in other ways or not. Austin being with his dad saves me money... at least in food... although it will mean a four hour round trip dropping off and picking up... but I'm going down on Christmas day... so it's just one extra trip and that may give me time to visit with a special guy...

Anyways... I tried to call to make arrangements and I'm not getting a return call. Go figure. I guess he's busy NOT taking care of his mother.

I hope that I will some time reach a point of being as disconnected from Michael as I am from my first husband. I still care what Michael is doing. It all still bothers me... especially thinking of him and that girl... thinking about not being able to share Christmas with my soon to be ex-in-laws.... with the kids' dad... I am SOOOOO OVER him... I haven't given him a second thought in years... and I certainly never missed his family. I never had even a fleeting flash of jealousy... I'm relieved that he has someone in his life to keep him in line.

Changing the subject... I just love Paula Deen. I'm watching her Christmas special... she is just the epitome of some of my favorite southern women. I woke up at 2am this morning and Steel Magnolias was on... I want you to know that I stayed awake and watched the whole thing! And then I realized Fiddler on the Roof was on and watched that until the end! I had enough time to nap for a half hour before time to get up for work. I'm not sleepy... I think I'm on a carb high from today!

I guess that's about all the news I have from the nest today... hope you all have a fabulous evening! Love and hugs!


This is on my ex-husband's stepfather... John... Oma England is the second wife of my kids' great grandfather (who is deceased).

Police Catch Three Robbers Who Injured 90-Year-Old Woman
Oct 24, 2008 09:22 AM EDT

Video Gallery

Police Catch Three Robbers Who Injured 90-Year-Old Woman0:31

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Three men were behind bars Friday morning after being accused of a home invasion in Clarksville that sent an elderly woman to the hospital.
Police were called to check on the welfare of a woman on Talton Circle. When officers arrived, they found 90-year-old Oma England with multiple injuries. Officers also found several things missing from her home.
Police later arrested Rodney Keith Glover, Colin Derek Savage and with John David Privette. All three are charged with aggravated burglary.
The three suspects were behind bars Friday morning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

just another manic monday!

I'm still enamoured with Max on TMZ... the guy with the long blond hair.

I finally made my sausage balls... it's our big family tradition... this is our figgy pudding... and they're awesome but they're a gooey mess to make. Austin took pictures of me elbow deep in dough... I'm too lazy to post them tonight.

Today I went to see an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. His diagnosis is that my ear pain is really more jaw pain due to clenching my teeth. Heaven knows I've had a lot of teeth clenching moments in the past year! There is no more infection in either ear, which is good news... the dr said it sounded to him that the strain of infection that I had in my ear was related to the kidney infection and that the strong antibiodics would have done more harm than good.

I was thinking while I was at the doctor's... how much would I love to have back either the time spent in doctor's offices this past year... or the time spent mourning what didn't deserve my emotion to start with... that time is lost but I won't be losing time in 2009!

Onward and upward... forward... face to the light... no looking back, right Mark?

The renovation of the office took a big step forward over the weekend... they have now taken out the fireplace and left a big ole hole... eventually the hole will be a new wall, separating Ginger and Kevin's offices from mine... but right now it's just a big plastic covered hole in the floor. And dust EVERYWHERE! Duane is on vacation but he checked in to see how things were going... I said, "um... we're knee deep in dust". You know I'm bad about exaggeration. I sent him a cellphone picture so he could see for himself. The cleaning guy is coming tonight.

Big hole in the floor = big spiders in the office. I'm not one to be delicate and girly much - ok, not TOOOOO much. Gus thought it was hilarious today when he scooted a spider over into my work station and I ended up practically going through the window behind me. Glad to bring joy... in whatever form...

There is some uber craziness going on with my first husband's family right now. I haven't talked much about them because... well... it's just long ago and far away for me. The children's other grandmother has never been what you would call stable. Her husband has had some questionable ... shall we say... business practices... today I talked to my kids' dad and he said that his stepfather is in jail... he was arrested for dealing drugs and for... Jerry Springer moment ahead... masterminding the kidnapping and near murder of my former mother in law's 90 year old stepmother. It's insane... made for tv drama! They roughed the old gal up pretty bad... it's so sad. I've never really kept my kids from their other grandma but she hasn't been terribly involved in their lives. I send her cards and notes and school pictures and such... and the older boys have visited her in the past year... but this guy she's married to is bad news, always has been, so I haven't exactly been gung ho on having the kids at her house. I didn't let them go to her wedding ten years ago.

Of course, my kids' dad has to turn every time the wind blows into an excuse not to pay child support. He's over $25,000 in arrears now... and today he said he didn't know when he'd be able to pay again. He didn't pay a thing for the whole time I was in Jacksonville... started paying a portion of what he's supposed to pay when I moved up here... and now he's giving himself another vacation and I'm just done. When he takes a break from paying he never tries to catch back up. I'm just going to file with Child Support Recovery. I'm done asking him to do what he needs to do. I'm suing for back child support... he should be done in three years... he's gonna mess around and end up paying for the next ten to try to catch up. Idiot. He said, "well, with all this going on with my mom, I don't know when I'm going to be able to pay". Seriously. His mom has had some sort of breakdown in relation to what's going on with her husband but my kids' dad has not even so much as talked to her! It hasn't cost him a dime or a moment of lost work!

Not getting child support is making an already tight budget... well, frustrating. Today I cancelled Cody and Austin's life insurance policies... and for someone who believes as strongly in life insurance as I do, that was tough. It's going to save me about $50 a month, though... that will pay the water bill. I have some life insurance for them as a rider on my policy, but not much. I really need to sell some stuff and make some commission. Soon. I had been promised some money from Jacksonville that never showed up... and to be honest, I told him I didn't want his money... but... well, I'm concerned. I can't take a second job. I can barely work the hours I'm supposed to work on the first job. And I'm not complaining... God has been good to me. He's met all my needs so far. I may pay things a bit late but we've kept the lights on and the car payment made so far... but I worry...

Anyways... Christmas is almost here! I am glad to be here, regardless of the struggle... glad to know that I have survived what just might end up going down in my history as the worst year ever of my life... which means that there's nowhere to go but up! Time to enjoy a bit of tv... love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

a bit more Sunday

Sarabeth dances to Go tell it on the mountain at the end of the service!

Singing sweetly with the choir
In this photo if you look closely you will notice Sarabeth is watching her daddy sing!

Getting cheesy on stage!

My brother and his wife Angie before church.

So... it's been a good Sunday. I spent my morning studying Ecclesiastes - more on that in a bit, maybe - I got to see my sweet Sarabeth sing in the morning worship service...

I've had another fabulous, quiet afternoon... had a phone call from my special friend... while he was shopping, ironically... because he's been lifting weights for twenty some-odd years (and has an uh-mazing body, by the way!), he has a hard time buying clothes off the rack. My tales of my Old Navy purchases yesterday inspired him, though, and he was trying to find some jeans and khakis while we were talking. I was trying to talk him through the process - he's not much of a shopper - and the difference between the straight cut, relaxed fit, etc - the different washes of jeans - he needed a bit of guidance from a more experienced shopper (me!). It was a very ordinary conversation but because I no longer take ordinary things for granted, it was fun for me.

At any rate... I have the promise of a movie date on Christmas Day and I intend to hold him to that! I want to see Marley and Me. I'm not sure that it's entirely appropriate for me to "date" and I'm not even sure you'd call it a date... I think it's more like old friends hanging out together, right? I also know that the only one who could legitimately object to me dating anyone, is certainly not concerned and I suspect would be relieved to have me move on in this way. We have (Barry and me) been conflicted on how to have a friendship at a distance (as he lives two hours away)... when we neither one feel it's appropriate for him to stay overnight here... I volunteered to let him stay here and I'd spend the night at my brother's house... it's weird. I know that the common thought is "who cares?" and "what does it matter?" and I can only tell you that it is my conviction that it is best to not even give the appearance of evil. I would not stand up in Sunday School and announce that Barry had spent the night, regardless of how innocent it was... and therefore it needs to not happen. He and I both agree on this... and it is fabulous to be like minded in this way.

I guess that's all too much information but I've always really blogged my heart and this is the reality of what's going on in my heart right now. I'm comforted by our renewed friendship and encouraged that we are talking with future sight about things that will affect us down the road. It's not getting the cart ahead of the horse... there were roadblocks three years ago, there are roadblocks today. I have an enormously different perspective, of course, and I'm grateful for that. My faith is important to me, it's fundamental to me... and I don't want to be duplicitous. I'm not living in a cave... and I'm glad to be able to find hope in future relationships... and comfort in old friendships for the time being.

The winds are gusting and howling outside... my wreath has been knocking against the front door all day. I've been nesting in the big comfy recliner in my living room since Austin is still with Devin (and therefore not setting up camp in the living room - which is his nest!). God bless my cousin Kevin and his wife for keeping Austin all weekend! I know it has been a great time for Austin and Devin and a welcome break for me! I actually managed to get my house clean since he hasn't been around to make messes! I have a big pot of potato soup bubbling on the stove and a fresh baked blackberry cobbler for dessert. The house smells amazing and it's warm and cozy from the cooking and the laundry.

a really great Sunday

All it takes sometimes to get my blood pumping is a phone call that says, "make sure you bring your camera!"... and that's what happened this morning. My sister in law Angie called to let me know that Sarabeth was getting to sing with the "big kids" in the Children's Choir this morning. Sarabeth is in kindergarten, not old enough yet for Children's choir. So it was a mad dash to get her decked out in her Christmas dress (made by Mawmaw) and have Aunt Heather in position to snap a few precious photos. My brother was singing and helping to lead the service. Angie was playing the drums and also speaking so once Sarabeth was finished singing, she needed some supervision. I was, OF COURSE, happy to help! This is the great part of living here... being able to share in these special moments.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took.

Angie gave a really sweet talk on Mary's song from Luke 1 and how important the role of mothers is in the life of children. She talked about how she feels like she needs to put her children first, above her career (she has a doctorate and is a college professor, so she has invested quite a bit of time in establishing her career!) It was really sweet and touching... and at about that time Sarabeth decided she wanted to sit with her mother. On stage. Um. No sweetie... you can't sit with mommy right now... Sarabeth started dissolving into tears and I thought, "oh great... Angie has just given this beautiful inspirational talk on putting her children first and she's gonna have her kid melt down on the second row of the church wanting her mother!" I pulled out all the stops... we drew smiley faces on her hands with sharpie markers... I let her wear my rings... I let her stand up and dance to the music as the choir sang...

We made it through the remainder of the service without disruption, I'm proud to say.

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deep thoughts for Sunday

Actual things I have said in the past 24 hours:

"stop eating the Christmas tree"
"if you want to lick your butt you are going to have to do it somewhere other than my bed"
"normal cats don't pull out their own fur"
"stop making that slurping sound"
"my oatmeal is just for me"
"quit hiding your candy cane under the wii pad"

If you haven't guessed... these are my conversations with Stubby the 3legged Wondercat. He has been ADHD since Austin has been at his cousin's house. He has played with the same candy cane since yesterday. There may be a choking hazard involved, I don't know. He just keeps taking his candy cane and hiding it in different places and then "recapturing" it all over again.

Last night my friend Amy came over for coffee and a chat... Stubby tried to win her sympathy by doing his gimpy 3legged "pity me I'm a wounded kitty" walk. I threw something to the other end of the room and he took off after it like an Olympic sprinter. I totally outted him for being a faker! He also showed his jealous nature by trying to wedge in between us as we sat on the couch... by trying to get in between her and her cellphone as she texted... by trying to sit on my keyboard of my laptop as I showed her pictures... I mean, he's really a brat!

Amy and I had a great time. She's not internet savvy so I showed her how to use Facebook and Myspace. She doesn't have internet at home and with two little ones and a full time job she doesn't really have much TIME to use the internet.... but when she's ready, she at least knows what's out there. She's in this really bad, contentuous marriage... she can't stand her husband and has wanted a divorce for about two years... he's a hot headed Guatamalen and every time she thinks she's starting to sort things out, he insists on coming back. It's a really unstable situation. She wants a clean break... I told her that rarely happens in divorce... usually there's some dramatic scene. She worries about how it will affect her kids... (thank God there are some marriage partners out there who actually consider how their decisions affect their children!) but I think having kids live in the midst of fighting and living with two people who don't love each other is also not healthy.

In my great big "the world would be a better place" wish catalog - I wish for marriages that never end. I wish for people who don't make commitments they aren't willing and able to live with for life. I wish for happily ever after. I wish that mommies and daddies stay in love forever so as to always preserve a normal, happy family unit in which children can spend their childhoods. I believe this is the cure for about 50% of the social decay in our world.

In my "reality check" of life experience that I've gained over the past 40 years... I've learned that sometimes people change. I've learned that people don't always understand the weight of the decision to marry... to have a child with someone... I've also learned that when one marriage partner starts to pull away it sometimes creates an avalanche of negativity... it can be an ugly thing to witness, an even uglier thing to live through.

I've seen Amy through the joyful births of both of her children. I've known her through much happier times. I witnessed as the cracks began in her relationship and I've seen her frustration, fear and disappointment along the way. My advice has been to either commit 100% to her marriage and find a way to make it work... or to go on with her life, knowing that it will be a difficult road. Single parenting is tough. Being single is tough. The challenges are overwhelming and you can't truly understand that until you're in the middle of it.

I was up late with Amy... talking and giggling and catching up. She posed the question that many in my life have... "what drove you to that point?"... People who know me... who have known me for awhile... know that I am not the kind of person who ends up choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I usually describe things in generalities, "I was unhappy. I saw no way out. I saw my dreams slipping away". But when I have time and when someone who I know really cares about me asks for details... I give them the gory details... the situations that made me unhappy. The reason I felt I had no way out. Those are exhausting conversations that take me back to that time and place. They make me mad all over again. They also make me remember how amazing my journey home has been.

I always hope that when I share my story that it gives people hope and encouragement. I always want it to be from the perspective of... I made it through a tough time, you can survive your tough time too... I don't see my story as a guidebook on "how to handle a breakup" ... but I do think it's a good guidebook on how to have the humility to accept help from people who love you... a reminder that there is always a way out... that you can always find your way back...

Amy talked to Barry while I was going through all of this... he was concerned, heartbroken for me... she said, "You need to call her" ... he said, "We have to wait until she's ready to talk to me". I wasn't ready at first. I knew he still had feelings and I knew I still had feelings for him but I also knew that I needed to sort out my feelings for Michael first. Honestly, the first time I talked to Barry I told him that I still loved Michael but knew that I could never live with him again. I told him I wasn't healed yet. I'm not in the place of white hot bitterness that I was for awhile. Mostly now I just feel sad that we couldn't figure out a way to save our marriage... but I accept that this is a better life for me and I believe that I am on the way to much better things that would have never happened if I had stayed in that place. The hurt now is mostly new hurt at new things that have been said since I left... distortions of our relationship. There are times that I feel like he not only wants to rob me of a future with him but also wants to rewrite the history of who we were. That's frustrating... and there's nothing I can do about it. He's a salesman, he's persuasive... but I pray that saying holds true, "Live your life in such a way that if someone says something bad about you, people won't believe it".

Barry's been that way with me. I've been honest with him... I've told him the gory details of the insanity I was living in (which was not entirely of my own making). I've shared with him the accusations against me. I've shared with him the character flaws that were selected as reasons I was unloveable. He has laughed at them. He has said, "You don't really believe that stuff, do you?". He has said, "How could you let someone get that deep into your head?". Amy said the same thing last night... "that's not the Heather I've always known".

I guess the tricky thing about breakups is keeping the other person's distortion of the situation from becoming your reality. When I struggle now... it's because of his words in my head... his accusations... it's the fear that I deserved what happened to me. It's a lack of trust that creeps into every relationship... if someone who loved me enough to marry me could think these things... could walk away from me... who else that I've trusted will walk away as well?

I am not an advocate of healing from one relationship by beginning another. I think you have to fix what's broken in you, get over the hurt and bitterness and disappointment first... so that you don't fix those adjusted expections or fears on someone new. However, I will tell you that having someone in my life that has known me and loved me for a long time has been a precious gift. He is a great source of truth and healing for me. If I'm having a moment of loneliness... if I'm feeling abandoned... he steps in... he reminds me that I'm not alone. He reminds me of who I am and what my potential is... he reminds me that he continued to love me even after I fell in love with someone else and moved away. He didn't exactly pine away for me... not in a sad way... he just waited patiently for another relationship with someone he felt the same way about... and it just had not happened.

Wow. Deep thoughts for a Sunday. See what happens when I stay up late being all in touch with my feelings?

The weather is turning cold today. We're expecting temperatures in the teens tonight. That's super cold for me! Austin will be back home after church. We've been invited to lunch with Amy's grandmother and we might go... I've also been invited to spend Christmas Day with Amy's family. I'm planning to go down to my parents to spend time with them but I haven't heard of any concrete plans yet... where we're going or what we're doing... Barry and I want to see a movie on Christmas day... which would be a perfect NORMAL comfortable thing for me to do...

I need to start the glam routine for church... running late as usual! Have a beautiful Sunday... I'll be back later! *hugs*

Saturday, December 20, 2008

my less than perfect Christmas

It's weird how life takes us back across bridges we've already crossed... how you end up in the same places you've been before, both geographically and emotionally and spiritually. I've always loved to measure my life by remembering what my life was like the last time I was at a place.

Early on that place of measurement was Blood Mountain... up here in the North Georgia mountains, at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. I had gone there as a teenager... then gone there when I was dating my kids' dad... then gone there again when we were newlyweds... and gone again with our kids... I have a series of pictures taken at the exact same spot.

Holidays give us a good measuring stick... as we pull out the same ornaments and make the same recipes and hear the same songs and honor the same traditions. Maybe that's part of what makes Christmas so special... it's a time of year that we look back to Christmases past and think about who we are and how we are in comparison to the last.

Today I had some shopping to do. Not much because I don't have much money. I was determined to not go into debt or skip paying a bill to be able to buy presents. My gift to the people in my life is me being happy and healthy and not having to ask for handouts! But my kids... I had to get some things for my kids who are no longer children. I told them the gig was up... they know the whole Santa story and they know mommy is broke... but I had to get them SOMETHING... so today I set out toward civilization to find somewhere to part with my hard earned money.

Oddly enough I ended up at the very place that Michael and I had shopped last Christmas Eve... a Kohl's store right off Georgia 400 which is more than an hour from where I live now... we bought Austin a Christmas tie... and he later entertained Sarabeth and Jamie with it. We had dinner at a Longhorn's steakhouse there. Christmas Eve was not a bad day... out of the whole Christmas holiday last year, Christmas Eve was the best. We went to church with Jim and Angie and had dinner with them. Lots of pleasant memories from that day. Some unpleasant memories too.

It was at this same exit that I stopped one day with Bobby while looking for a house when Michael and I first moved in together. It was blistering hot outside. I had been driving around looking at houses and trying to determine how far I could stand to commute. Bobby was six... we were listening to the radio and singing along together... we stopped for gas just as the song "Golddigger" by Kanye West came on the radio. Bobby and I sang it at the top of our lungs! I decided this exit was way too far north for me... and Michael found us the place in Woodstock about a month and a half later. It's bittersweet now... I had such great times with Michael's kids... and I had so much hope and excitement about the future. It's hard to look back and realize how disappointing it all turned out to be.

Last year Christmas Day was difficult for many reasons... one was that we spent a good part of the day in the car traveling from Atlanta to Jacksonville. Our traveling time was mostly argument time and it was stressful... upsetting. The trip up had been rather unpleasant too for several reasons. It was a generally unhappy Christmas for me.

Christmas has a way of being a magnifying glass. Anything that's good in our life seems infinitely more wonderous. Anything that's lacking seems much more obvious. It's a great polarizer. The "haves" celebrate one way and the "have nots" have a different experience. Lonely people feel lonelier. People in love feel more in love. Broken relationships seem further apart.

I'm glad to be alive this Christmas. I'm acutely aware that last year was Bobby's mom Misty's last Christmas... the year before was her mother's last Christmas. We can't really count on next year, nor can we take for granted that anyone we love who is here this year will also be here the next. I pray for Misty's dad. I know this Christmas has to be particularly tough for him. I think about Misty's brand new baby, Brennan... Baby's First Christmas... without mommy around to take pictures and take him to see Santa for the first time... I wonder if Bobby, Melissa and Brennan will get to have a family picture with Santa or if the three siblings will even have the opportunity to be together for Christmas... this or any other Christmas. How well will they know each other? I'm glad to be alive... glad that my children have the opportunity to be together and be with me.

I wish there was more time to spend with my special someone. I wish that time and distance wasn't between us. I wish we hadn't lost three years. I wish that I had more money to spend and more energy to do things and... I guess we never stop wanting that Martha Stewart perfect Christmas. For me the ideal Christmas is always the one portrayed in the Southern Living magazine... fabulous meals, fabulously decorated home, fabulously and immacuately dressed Stepford family members.

Stubby the 3legged cat just stole a candy cane off of my bed. That's the kind of imperfect Christmas I have! Ridiculous... low budget... a bit lonely... the antithesis of Martha Stewart or Southern Living or Good Housekeeping. Just me... a 3 legged cat... and the blessing of life... and hope for future Christmases...

When I measured myself today... at that same shopping center... a year later... I laughed out loud! It's still surreal to me that I have this life, in this place, in a happier, more stable environment and wonderful community... an hour further north than the area that seemed way too far north for me two and a half years ago! It's amazing that by accepting rejection, I found happiness. It's humbling to realize that all that I thought I had last year was temporary and the things I never knew I had are permanent. It's empowering to realize how strong I feel, just by admitting how weak I am.

I love to shop. I hate crowds. It's a rainy, miserable day here in North Georgia. It seemed to me that it was "daddy shopping with the kids" day. I can't tell you how many overwhelmed fathers I saw! One poor guy had a toddler who kept running away from him while he tried to pick out an outfit for his wife. "You might want to put him in a shopping cart... it would be easier to keep up with him...". Eh. What do I know? I'm only the mother of three, right?

At any rate... I had a great time shopping. I found AMAZING deals at Old Navy and remembered my $3 shirt dream.... yes, I found my $3 shirts! I even found a few things for me... khakis for $2.49, a skirt for $1.99... I remembered to buy stocking stuffers- something I typically forget. I even bought scotch tape - and I ALWAYS forget that! I had a REAL grocery shopping trip in a REAL grocery store - not just our little country Ingles. I even found some chili chocolate... if you haven't tried it, you should... it's an awesome flavor combination! I felt great today... no pain... I came home and sorted through all my purchases. I have a bunch to wrap, but I'm in no hurry. Austin is spending another night with his cousin and I'm enjoying another night of solitude. I'm hoping for company tonight but I'm thinking it may not happen. My friend Amy is up here visiting her nanny and wants us to spend some time together, so I may have a dinner date with her. I had a great phone call from a good friend... one who knows what I'm going through... I went to Starbucks and got a venti iced green tea... I did some housework... it's just been a good day.

I think it's because I'm an optimist that I always hope for the picture perfect holiday... to squeeze in time to see the Nutcracker and bake banana nut bread and to have a freezer full of sausage balls ready to give out and/or bake... to make homemade special gifts for everyone in my life... to decorate like I want to... to have that Norman Rockwell Christmas... but I'm appreciative of what I have. I am blessed. I am happy. I am content with my less than perfect Christmas... while trusting and believing and hoping for better ones to come.

Friday, December 19, 2008

thankful thursday leftovers

Yes, I am alone on a Friday night and I'm very excited! Austin is truly no trouble... he is actually very sweet to me... but I haven't been alone in a long time.

1. I'm thankful for quiet nights alone

I'm posting some more of the pictures of Jamie from last night because - in my opinion - she's just too cute for words!

2. I'm thankful for my Jamie doll...

Today was a long and stressful day at work... but I made it! I'm off two days, work two days, am off two days, work one day and then am off two days... lots of R&R in my future!

3. I'm thankful for work and I'm thankful for paid holidays!

Last week my doctor gave me a referral to an ear nose and throat specialist. It should not have been possible for me to get an ear infection (which... I haven't mentioned... has now invaded the other ear and that one is hurting just like the first one did!) while I was on super mega antibiodics... which means there could be a bigger problem... I was a little worried about seeing the specialist because they couldn't get me scheduled until after the first of the year... the problem with that is that my deductible starts over on January 1st... and my deductible is over a thousand dollars... which means that I would have to pay for the entire specialist visit out of pocket... which means that I would probably just not be able to go... back to the world of no medical care because I can't afford it. I asked that they call me if there are any cancellations... and today they called! I have an appointment for Monday! This is also good because - as I mentioned - the other ear is now hurting which means that I would have ended up at the doctors office on Monday anyways... and this way I get to see a specialist... but it doesn't cost me anything out of pocket!

4. I'm thankful for health insurance, deductibles that are met, doctors who have cancellations... and I'm thankful that just maybe this doctor can get to the bottom of why I'm getting sick and staying sick...

It's been 13 weeks today... I'm thankful to be alive.

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