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Joy

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A strangely difficult, beautiful conversation came up recently.  From it came, what is happiness, what is joy?

Once upon a time, shortly after Melody told me she’d been molested… a frien-emy (I did not set myself out as this, but they constantly only ever had negative things to say to me and never edified with me, so, I can’t call them my friend really) told me for someone who talked about joy all the time, I sure wasn’t very happy.

I chuckled to myself because I knew the me that once thought JOY meant “super happy cheerfulness!” But in that valley, I knew that joy is completely separate from happiness. They can mingle together sometimes, but they are not by any means intertwined.
Joy can radiate from those that are broken, hurting, and very unhappy.
Like peace that surpasses understanding, joy is a choice to be made about our view of life and our level of faith in God. It can connect, deeply, with emotions, but it almost isn’t one in and of itself.

During the conversation about negative people, happiness, joy, struggles… someone shared this beautiful song from YouTube. I listened and wept. It was the epitomy of my life from the time Melody told me she was molested, until the day the verdict was read at the criminal trial. I could FEEL this song and it immediately brought me back to the most unhappy, joyous time of my life. It made me yearn for that joy once again.

This is the song, Joy, along with the story behind it (that I found after the first hearing).

This triggered memories of the time from Melody telling me of her assaults, all the way through the hellish three years after the trial, in which I stopped choosing joy and chose bitterness, brokenness, and anger instead.

And tonight, I realized something completely new. Something I’ve known this whole time, but not put together in my puzzle of that time.
While I was grieving my child’s molestation, my husband’s clear abandonment, everything… I never felt abandoned by God. I never felt as though He didn’t care. I knew His Truth, and that gave me joy unspeakable.
Toward the end, before the trial, He placed Daryl in our lives. I had never felt so loved by a man, romantically. I still haven’t, praise God, truly.

When I railed against God and the world in the hours after the verdict was read at the trial, I lay scared, angry, and weeping on Daryl’s couch, and uttered words I will always regret. Basically, “I hate Him. I hate that He could allow us to go through this hell, allow her to be abused by him, and then have the world act as though we went through nothing. He hates us and I hate Him for letting her go through this for nothing.”
I saw deep sadness spread across Daryl’s face. His eyes read pain. I knew it hurt him to hear me say this.
After actual hours of crying and railing, I looked at Daryl and told him that I loved him, but I could feel something shifting in me and I knew I was going to be angry for a long time, maybe forever, and I didn’t know what my faith life was going to come to. I told him that right then was the opportunity to break off our engagement if he wanted to, and I wouldn’t blame him one bit.

He looked me in the eyes and told me he loved me, and he wanted to love me like God loves me. Even when I push away, He wanted to be there to love me, and Daryl wanted to love me like that. I tasted Grace in that moment, even as I was spitting at God.

For almost three years, I struggled with God. After a few weeks, I turned my face to Him, but I resisted Him and I distrusted Love, even though I knew I was wrong for doing so. For three long years, Daryl loved me as a bitter, negative, scared, broken-spirited person. I was so very different than the woman he met and fell in love with.

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How can I not look back on that as a gift from God? In the midst of feeling abandoned by Him, in the midst of my sorrow with Him, in the midst of my fear of His will for my life… He ensured a daily surrounding and caressing of my soul with His love for me in the grace, mercy, and patience of my husband. And I’ve known this all this time… yet… never placed it into the pattern of my life: as one of a thousand generous gifts of God to a wounded, bitter, broken daughter.

How can I not want to chase after His Joy when I come to see all of this?

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Who I Am

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In February of 2010, after I became a single mom, I wrote this. It’s a pretty keen example of my Type 4 nature…  comment here if you can detect the key passages to detecting my Type 4!

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting the last several days. Digging deep into who I am, what I truly desire for life, whom I have sinned against, how, and examining if it is habitual. You’re probably going to see a lot more transparency here in the coming months (I already know of a few people who are cringing at that. Considering how many people have come to me because of my openness, have asked for prayer, advice, godly wisdom… which I fearfully pray God will grant me for their sake… there’s nothing in me that regrets the level of transparency I have shown. There are things that will be/must be veiled, and I am okay with that, too.)

Searching into a troubled past as a little girl who witnessed some terrifying things, a teenager who struggled to find her place, ran away from home, and married for the first time to someone who manipulated and wrecked her spirit, and a young woman who has also been through a fair amount of turmoil. Some of it was put upon me by others, and much of it self-inflicted.

Before I ran from home as a teenager, I was already strong-willed and determined. I remember my parents telling others pretty much that I would stand toe to toe with the burliest, nastiest trucker and put him in his place if he was out of it. So, I’ve always had determination… just not always for myself. I think I could boldly tell other’s what God had for us as humans because I cared so much for them. Myself, different matter.

I came out of my first marriage 19 years old, abandoned by my husband, who sought to divorce me for a car breaking down among other ridiculous things. When the annulment was finalized, I made up my mind to never let a man walk over me like that again. I determined to find out and know who I was, to find out what God’s Word says about life issues, to stand up for what I believed in, and never back down from that.

I’ve always known who I am from the age of 19, forward. Every year when I have a birthday, I laugh a little bit when I think of the 30+ year old women I’ve heard say, “I never knew who I was until I was in my 30’s.”

Even as I changed, grew, fell short, struggled, succeeded – I recognized that process, knew where I was at and who I was at that point, and was willing to change if God wanted me to.

The description of me, at the top of my blog says:

A giver of gifts and time. Lover of music, especially big band, swing and jazz. Rescued widow. A dancer in the rain. A tea drinker. Compassionate friend. An internet junkie. Sudoku player. A mother to one beautiful girl. A scrapbooker. Hostess & party-planner. A woman who stands up for what she believes in. Fan of off-beat comedy.

All of it can be changed or blown away (and some of it has been altered, in life and in the reflective description here) with the exception of one thing: Daughter of the King!

God does not define me by what kind of wife I have been. Nor the type of mother I am to Melody. How frequently or well I play Sudoku. How many gifts I make, or how much physical time I devote to others. He doesn’t care if I listen to swing and big band or country and rap.

He sees me as His child.

Surely He is delighted in me when I have done right, when I have obeyed His Word. But He loves me and defines me solely as His daughter, regardless of my life and all that’s contained within it.

I could get into the very true issue of faith being evidenced by works, but right now, I simply need to remember these words from my Father, the Words He gave to Jesus:

“You are the child that I love, in You I am well pleased.”

~ Mark 1:11 ~

There are two notes from this, that are serious to me (perhaps not to you, reader). First, there is now much I regret sharing during that time period. Not because any of what I shared was wrong, but because my open heart was used against Melody and I at the criminal trial against Doctor Horrible, my words twisted, taken out of context, and abused. I have a lot of struggle with regret and remorse over this.

Second, after watching DYT videos, it doesn’t make me laugh anymore to think of a woman not knowing herself until she’s in her 30s! It wasn’t really a laugh, as in making fun of them… it was more astonishment, because I almost didn’t believe it, and it sounded impossible to me. I almost thought they were joking with me or something. Now, I feel sad, because not knowing who you are is genuinely heartbreaking for a woman (and probably for men, too), and it leads to so much frustration and wasted years of trying to be what you think others want you to be. Not funny. Something to be seeking to alleviate for others!

Dream of love

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Stairway of Dreams by Josephine Wall

In 2009, three months after Melody told me what Captain Hammer and Dr Horrible had been doing to her, I wrote a post about mourning. An excerpt was:

“I walked down a rose garden path to meet my new husband just about 7 1/2 years ago, filled with hopes and dreams, planning to spend my life with him, entrusting my (and his) future generations in his hands.
If you’ve read any of my posts on marriage before all of this happened, you know that I have firmly believed there’s almost no reason to get a divorce for a Christian (even citing Exodus for not divorcing due to domestic abuse – God says that domestic abuse and divorce are both wretched and one does not justify the other). I have always believed, however, that there are times, and sometimes long times, that separation is necessary… such as adultery, domestic abuse or substance abuse.
I did not at all imagine, walking down that garden pathway, that there would ever be the one door in life that would open up to allow divorce. Yet here I stand at that doorway.
Once I walk through that doorway, I can’t go back. It’s a door that will close, and forever. I am scared. I am terrified that the man I loved, trusted and obeyed (well, for the most part) during our 7 1/2 years together has become a monster in my eyes.

And yet, deep, deep down… I love him. Not just who I remember him being, or who I wanted him to become again, but that man right now.
It leaves me so confused. I literally am repulsed by him and am drawn to him in one breath. I dream of him at night and long for those dreams to be my reality… when I wake up, I find that it’s life that has become my nightmare. I would rather stay awake for all eternity and remember that this is real, than to dream those dreams again. All they are is an illusion of what I thought we could have.”

That post came to mind as Melody and Leela were watching Adventure Time, and an actually very beautiful song was played, called Dream of Love.

I did not dwell on that old post for long, as seeing the little old lady elephant in her kitchen made me think of my grandparents and how my grandfather must have missed my grandmother that way after she passed away… and tears began streaming down my face. To be loved by and to love someone the way my grandparents did – I finally experience this with Daryl – it is beautiful to be broken together this way. Daryl is my best friend… to be parted from him at any point in my life will feel too soon. I felt so grateful that I saw this love, broken together, from my grandparents and my parents.

I felt overwhelmingly thankful that I have had 5 beautiful years now with Daryl, to be able to hear that song on a silly cartoon and be moved by it… because I have been loved so well by a good man and he has accepted my love in return. In late 2009, I could not fathom my life beyond sheer survival, much less to imagine life with a man seeking after the Lord, who loves me so well. I want to savor every moment I have with him, with our family. They are gone in the blink of an eye.

God is good.

Joyfully Claiming Beautiful Chaos

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Blogging has always been an outlet for me, in the days I used to be the wife of a drug addict, and a mother to a beautiful only-child. I used it like a journal that I hoped could bless someone in some way.
Then I became a single mama. A single, Christ-following, homeschooling, home-business running, student midwife, secondary victim mama.
What I thought was the worst point in our lives, worsened. The secondary victim aspect of my life slammed me in the face in a huge way: a criminal trial against one of the men that abused my child, their biological father; the guilty was found not guilty. His lawyer used my words of honesty and willingness to be a better person, and twisted them against me. His friend drove by a place I would frequent, just to let me know they knew where we could be accessed. His parent’s church leaders wrote on my blog about how I should be ashamed to speak out against a convicted child abuser and child murderer – as though it was impossible for him to have abused my child too.
I chose to shut my blog down, for fear that the monster who escaped justice, would try to twist my honesty again, try to take my child from me, and abuse them over and again.
For quite some time, I felt trapped. Felt stifled to speak the truth, to be who I am (a work in progress, as everyone should be willing to be), to share, learn, and grow with others.
I started blogging again, after my husband adopted our daughter, because I didn’t want to hide in the shadows any longer. My family did nothing wrong and I will not act as though we did. Abusers are the only ones who should be ashamed.
Beautiful Chaos works for my life for so many reasons. Having a richer, fuller life is absolutely chaotic at times, but it offers a beauty and hope that I am constantly grateful for.
I hope that some part of my journey will bless you, and you will bless another in some way because of it.

Names

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04570da2.png.757x975_q85Hi there. I haven’t actually introduced myself yet. My family loves, learns, and grows together as a little collective of nerdlings. So to honor that, I am using names that reflect our favorite nerdy-goodness shows and our favorite characters in them.

 

 

I’m going with River – from Firefly.

My hubby is Daryl – from Walking Dead.

Our first child is Melody – from Doctor Who.

Our second child is Leela – from Futurama.

Our third is Stryder – from Lord of the Rings.

Our fourth is Princess Bubblegum – from Adventure Time (form., Zoe)

I’m sure to find new names for any other progeny we are blessed with!
Please feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. I’d love to meet you, too.

Related: Joyfully Claiming Beautiful Chaos