Goal 2: Spiritual growth

As I mentioned recently, a few months ago we left our church and started attending a new church. I noticed my ruby ring was stolen the morning I left to go to church right before Christmas. The following Sunday we sang a song stating that God was the God of miracles. I thought in my head, yeah I believe in God, but I don’t believe in miracles anymore. I was seeing more tragedy around me than restoration. Even in my own life recently, a precious gift from my mother was stolen.

We didn’t know who took the ring, we just knew that it was missing. We allowed my son’s friend back into our lives after I got a lock box for the remaining precious gems. We didn’t think it was the friend that took the ring. We honestly thought it was another boy whose mother told me that her son stole from her. This second boy was in our house over the time that the ring went missing along with the first.

We took the first boy back into our house. We told him that we trusted him. But through our misguided trust, I started treating him like he belonged here again. I cooked for him and did his laundry. It was through this act of trust that I discovered my stolen ring in his pocket when I was doing his laundry. A miracle occurred. I never thought I would get my ring back and I never thought I would catch the person who did it.

After talking to my son about the betrayal of his friend, I sent a message to the other boy’s mother telling her that the ring had been found. I couldn’t imagine the agony of thinking that my child victimized another parent, a friend.

A miracle happened, but I no longer believed in miracles. I didn’t trust God. Instead I put my trust in someone that intended to hurt me. How bizarre is that!?

I was betrayed by someone I considered to be a best friend many years ago too. But hey, so was Jesus. Right? I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. If I didn’t trust the boy, I never would’ve gotten my ring back. I learned a lot in the process.

I am a pretty good person. I live with few regrets. I’ve been hurt more than I have hurt others. I’ve even read the Bible from cover to cover, but I’ve never truly trusted God before. I wanted to do things my way. I wanted to be in control.

Then yesterday a big miracle occurred. A most precious gem was stolen, a child by the name of Jayme Closs. She is a 13 year old girl in our state of Wisconsin that was kidnapped after her parents were brutally murdered. She was missing for almost 3 months without a trace. Just gone. Yesterday she was found. ALIVE!! What a miracle!

I no longer believed in miracles, but I do now.

Now I have to wonder…What more can God do??

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Aren’t miracles precious and beautiful? Are you looking for a miracle in your life??

Lost, but found

A miracle happened today.

The year of 2018 was probably the biggest year of change in my life. I’m going to spend the next couple of days talking about change, future goals, what have you with the introduction of the new year.

But as of today, a miracle happened.

One change that happened in 2018 was that my son’s best friend, the boy with the face tattoo, got kicked out of his house. In June we bought a bigger house and pretty much right after that, the boy moved in. We talked about having him live here full-time as a foster child. Paul and I were talking with him about getting his face tattoo removed, helping him finish high school and get a job, and working with him on getting his license. We were making him meals and doing his laundry.

There were signs that were unsettling, but we ignored them. After my ruby ring was stolen, we were convinced it wasn’t him. I bought a lock box for my valuables and within a week the boy was living with us again. We told Alex we trusted the boy. Alex’s relief over this was visible. He was Alex’s best friend since the early grade school years. We just didn’t believe he would steal from us since we have been doing everything we can to help him through a hard time.

This morning I found my lost ruby ring. It was a miracle since I never expected to see it again! But I found it in the pants pocket of the boy with the face tattoo when I was doing his laundry. I felt a great elation and sadness. My ring has been returned to me, but my son’s best friend stole the ring. He will never be allowed in our house again. I haven’t told my son yet and this is really going to be hard on him.

Why did we ignore the early warning signs?

This past year we also left our church which we have been members of for 10 years. There were signs over the last several months that it was no longer the right place for us. It took something big to finally get us to leave. Now we found a new church that is a better fit for us.

I think that most people know when something is over. I think we knew, but we didn’t do anything. We tolerated instead of taking action. Why does it take something big to move us from something we know?

For me personally, there has been so much change in the last year that I have been trying to avoid change. I have been clinging to everything that I have known and watching as it slips away. But sometimes change is for the better. I have to trust that God has a better plan for my life. I have to learn how to let go. I need to know when it is time to let go (before something valuable is stolen). There is also a price for not accepting change. I didn’t really realize that until now.

To be honest, I feel a tremendous amount of relief. I have the tendency to be overly responsible and want to fix things. Having the boy here was a big burden for me. I wanted to save him. I wanted to take the bird with the broken wing into my nest. I wanted to do something even his own mother was unwilling to do. Now it is over.

I got my ring back and that truly is a miracle!

 

 

My psych eval (25 years later) part 8

At times Alissa had the appearance of as if she might cry at any moment. She said that she cannot remember many things and cannot remember portions of her childhood. She may pull back in therapy and treatment when things are going well, discontinuing experiences that might have proven gratifying. She may defeat her chances to experience events that can promote growth and change. It is cautioned that therapists should not set their goals too high or press changes too fast as Alissa cannot tolerate demands well.

Sometimes I wonder what you would see in me if you met me. I bear my heart and soul, but you can never look into my eyes. What would you see if passing by?

I find it very troubling that as a teen I said I could not remember portions of my childhood. What still lurks beneath the surface? I find the thought terrifying.

You know what the funny thing is? I am a blatantly honest person, yet I am the biggest liar. I’ve been lying to myself for years. I have been working lately on being honest with myself even if the truth hurts. When traumatic events happened, I told myself that those things didn’t happen.

I locked my feelings behind a door in my mind. Many years later, the door unexpectedly opened and I experienced the feelings many times worse than it may have been. I just couldn’t handle the truth when it happened. I could barely handle the memory of it. I have many such demons behind many such doors. I am afraid.

Telling myself the truth has been causing me to have a lot of anxiety. What is real? What is not real? What if something that I thought was not real is really real? What do I do about it given the new information? I have been lying to myself for so long that it is hard to tell what the truth is.

Reading this psych eval has really opened my eyes. In many ways I have progressed greatly in 25 years and in other areas I have only crawled a few baby steps.

My brother Luke said that emotional development is stunted at the age that the trauma starts. I laughed about this. My first childhood memories and most of my childhood memories in general are very traumatic.

Am I an emotional infant?? Maybe I am. I am still stuck in the trust vs. mistrust stage of development. I can’t talk to friends about this because I don’t trust them. If they get too close, I push them away. But what is to be lost by trusting a few trustworthy people? I don’t understand myself sometimes.

A few of my family members have sought counseling and have reached out to me to do likewise. But I am stubborn and proud. Remember that Alissa does not tolerate demands well. Ha! It’s true, I don’t.

I went to a counselor a couple years as a teenager. She always talked about the feelings chart. I remember that because I didn’t have any feelings at the time. I don’t know why I stopped going. She said that I had the second worst childhood of anyone she has ever seen. I remember that too. I really liked her and hope she never felt like I left because of her.

I was always comfortable growing and changing at my own pace. I don’t want a diagnosis or to be made to feel like something is wrong with me because of the experiences I went through. But maybe if I went to a counselor I could grow and become a better person faster. I don’t know. I will think about it.

 

My psych eval (25 years later) part 4

Her OCD predisposes her to ruminate and obsess about anything.

I really had a hard time coping with the things that were happening in my life. At the time of the great isolation (the years my brothers and I were homeschooled due to Matt’s violent behavior at school), I reached to God for solace. I believe this faith and hope¬† prevented me from ending my life. I prayed that God would heal my brother and fix my family.

I was unusually devout as a teen. But then something horrible happened. After awhile every time I prayed, horrible images would pop into my mind. My prayers contained more obscenities than my brother Matt’s spew of Tourette’s. I felt horrible guilt over this and for awhile stopped praying altogether.

Then I became angry at God. Why did you do this to my brother? Why did you do this to my family? Why did you do this to my mother, the most devout person I knew?? How could you give us so much more than we could handle? Are you even there to hear my prayers? I was miserable and the flicker of hope grew very dim.

It took awhile to get through this rough patch. I decided to start praying again despite the unwanted thoughts and images that popped into my mind while doing so. Eventually it went away. Although I think I always had some degree of faith, I can’t say that I have a lot of trust in God or anyone. I realize that one of my biggest flaws is being distrustful.

I am probably a horrible example of what it means to be Christian. But maybe this happens to everyone sometimes? Kind of like the impulse to punch someone for no apparent reason? I thought I was the only one that felt this way. I thought I was crazy to have those thoughts. I tended to ruminate about it instead of just letting it go.

Now I think that it’s crazy if you act on the thoughts instead of just having them. A lot of times Matt acted on those thoughts. I was afraid that someday maybe I would be like Matt too and not be able to control those impulses. But so far that hasn’t happened in my life.

I think that God did hear my prayers for a healthy family. He just didn’t answer them until later in my life.

 

Moral dilemma 2

I had another moral dilemma recently…Oh believe me, the topics are only going to get progressively worse..

Recently my daughter Arabella celebrated her golden 15th birthday by having a sleepover with some friends.

I’m going to give the disclaimer right now that my kids are I are very open and honest with communication which oftentimes means that I hear a lot of things that I don’t want to hear.

Last year, my daughter wanted me to contact her friend’s mother whom I am a good friend with because her daughter was sharing with my daughter that she was very depressed. This is right around the time that her daughter came out of the closet with her close friends. It was a really hard time for her. Arabella was really worried about her.

I called her friend’s mother and told her that Arabella was worried about how depressed her daughter was. I left it at that. As of right now, I am really the only adult besides my husband and adult daughter that knows about her daughter’s orientation. It really isn’t my place to tell her parents.

But here was the moral dilemma…Arabella’s friend was in a relationship with another girl that was invited to the sleepover. I told Arabella flat out that I did not want anyone in a relationship sleeping together in my house. But remember, I was not supposed to be privy to the information.

Arabella told me that the weekend previous to her party that her two friends in a relationship were having a sleepover together at her friend’s house. Again, I felt that it was not my place to tell their parents.

Arabella told her friends that I knew about their relationship and that I did not want them sleeping together at her party. They were afraid that I would contact their parents.

It is very difficult sometimes to be a carrier of knowledge, the keeper of secrets. Sometimes I would rather be oblivious to what today’s teens are dealing with. Some days I would rather bury my head in the sand…everything is fine and dandy in la la land..

But I also want to be the adult that understands, cares, and listens. I will not break that trust unless, like previously mentioned, I feel like someone could be in danger.

Everything ended up turning out fine in the end. One of the girl’s in the relationship could not attend the sleepover, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Tonight I am hosting a sleepover at our new house for my son’s 18th birthday. What could possibly go wrong??

 

 

Who I was..who I am..

Is distrust bad? Why does it have such a negative connotation?

When I was about 12, I went on a trip to South Dakota with my Aunt Grace, mom, dad, and one of my brothers. Aunt Grace wanted to go there for a church conference. Although she didn’t have hotel reservations, she had my dad as a driver. We loaded all 5 of us into her little 2 door Cutlass and we were on our way.

There wasn’t a hotel room to be found in the city of the conference. But I don’t think it mattered as Grace only stayed long enough to pick up her registration bag from what I remember.

I saw an ad for an indoor water park. I begged my Aunt Grace to allow us to go. I’d never been to a water park before. Aunt Grace said ‘yes’. So once again we loaded up the car and my dad drove 2 hours to get to the water park. I could barely contain my excitement as I grabbed my swimming suit and ran indoors. We took a tour of the water park. I saw kids climbing on ropes, going down slides, and swimming in the water. I couldn’t wait to get in the water.

After the tour, Aunt Grace said that it was time to go. Wait! What??

There was restaurant across the street from the water park that she wanted to go to. I refused to eat. I wanted to go to the water park!¬† I begged my mom to convince Aunt Grace, but she refused. Aunt Grace is paying for the trip so we will do what she wants. I was angry, frustrated, and started to cry. Aunt Grace yelled at me for being an ungrateful child. She wouldn’t stop so I told her to shut up which to her was like screaming obscenities. She never liked me after that day..

I don’t look back on this in anger. I really don’t think that Aunt Grace even intended to be cruel. In her mind, I think she believed that she was gracious enough to take me to the water park.

I learned a few valuable lessons on that day..

First, never trust anything that anybody says. Second, don’t trust anyone until they prove to be trustworthy. Third, don’t get too excited about things that might never happen.

If I trust you, it is the highest honor I could give you.

Do you think that distrust is a negative quality to have?

I would argue that someone needs to question, doubt, test, discern, and protect oneself and others from blindly trusting. I am that person.

My childhood was difficult…and my adult years have been easy in comparison. There is a part of me that feels if I let go of my past, then I will give up my grit and toughness that came from it which makes me who I am. I am afraid of that..I am afraid of losing who I was..who I am..

 

Inoculation

Today I got inoculated. I like the word inoculation, it sounds so much better than shots, immunizations, or vaccinations. I just don’t like the action.

Since Paul and I are going to Thailand in a few months, we decided to book an appointment with the travel nurse. I only ended up getting 2 shots, Hepatitis A and the flu shot. What happens if you have to sit next to someone for 20 hours on a plane that has the flu? A ruined vacation..

We got a prescription for typhoid pills that we can’t take with alcohol…so no drinking for 10 days. I’m already going to use that as an excuse to not attend a party that I really don’t want to go to.

The Wisconsin immunization registry pretty much pulled up a blank on us. It registered our Tetanus shots from 2012, that’s all.

We both had chicken pox. My mom said I got it really bad in 4th grade. I had chicken pox in my mouth. My eyes swelled shut. I still have a few scars. I think that Paul even had a small pox shot.

I don’t think I had my last MMR shot. There was that couple years that I didn’t attend school. I vaguely remember needing to have a booster and telling my mom I didn’t want it, so I didn’t get it. That is how I remember it, but I’ll admit my memory of my high school years is a bit hazy now.

My mom suspected that the MMR shot caused my brother’s autism back then. Of course, that is not saying much. She questioned every little thing she did and didn’t do back then.

I have always been on the fence about shots myself. This is the first time I’ve ever had a flu shot. I don’t like taking medicine. I wanted a totally natural childbirth. To tell you the truth though, if it was as natural as I wanted it to be, I probably would’ve died. I hate taking medicine unless it is absolutely necessary.

The whole vaccination autism scare came out in full force when my oldest child was born. What was I to do? What if it did cause my brother’s autism?? What information do I trust?? Do I trust the huge pharmaceutical companies?? Do I trust the doctors that are supposedly getting big kickbacks from the drug companies for pushing vaccinations??

What do I do when it affects my family??

To tell you the truth, I really don’t have an opinion whether or not vaccinations cause autism. It didn’t even matter to me. What mattered was that if there was even an iota of a chance, I felt that it would be prudent to be cautious. My children received all of their necessary vaccinations, but on my timeline.

Some people looked down on me for the decision I made.

Did I know that I was hurting my children??

Did you know what it was like living day to day with a violently autistic brother?? Did you see how this tormented our family?? No, because I never bothered to tell you…

It was the late 90’s and early 2000’s…we didn’t know. We still don’t know. I didn’t want anything happening to my children. I didn’t want them to get autism. I didn’t want them to get measles.

I think that I made the best decision with the information I had available to me. I am still hesitant to trust other people when they try to tell me what is best for my children.

All these thoughts whirled through my head as I was nervously waiting to be inoculated…

 

Weathering life’s storms

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Sometimes I feel like God is smiling down at me for weathering life’s storms. A ray of light sneaks through the clouds and dries the falling tears.

I can’t let the storms rock my boat…

I need the wind at my back to guide me in a different direction, to open my eyes to new perceptions instead of fighting the circumstances that surround me.

But first I need to leave the safety of the harbor and trust His navigation. I won’t get anywhere tied up in false security and empty comforts.

I am afraid that I will never have enough faith to walk on water, but I can’t let that stop me from taking the first step..