Purposely Pursue Love

I heard Joyce Meyer say once,

“Love is not a feeling but a decision we make on how we choose to treat other people.”

This seems to fit right in with my current theme on intentionality. In this fallen world we struggle with our own selfish, fleshly wants and desires. But when we believe in Jesus and receive His Holy Spirit we become free from sin. That doesn’t mean we will never sin, though! It just means we are no longer a slave to it. We can intentionally make the choice not to sin. Sin always begins in our mind first. The choice we make on whether or not to entertain this thought dictates the outcome of sinful action or taking the thought captive right then and there. Sometimes, though, I think my mouth works faster than my thought process! (I’m sure that really isn’t true but merely an excuse.) Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of intentionality and it doesn’t just pertain to sin. When I read what it says on love in 1 Corinthians 13…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….

I can’t help but feel I need to be intentionally purposeful in all my actions until it one day becomes effortless, (if that’s even possible). I mean, the goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus but that most certainly does not happen over night! (Although…after reading ‘Tortured for Christ’ it would appear that many NEW believers showed astounding acts of love to their torturers which, in turn, led them to Christ.) Anyways, I’m sure I will be striving toward this goal until the day I die. BUT, the more I practice the more my heart will change by the grace of God, which is a gift. Yes. God’s grace is gift.

Galatians 5: 22-24 speaks of the fruits of the Spirit…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

And that’s what God will judge us (as believers) on…the fruit we produce throughout our walk with Him. I’m concerned over this fact because for many years I wasn’t producing anything but selfish thorns and weeds, in my opinion. Now that I’m more aware of what’s important in God’s eyes I want to please Him. Thank God for His patience and mercy because I fear my growth has been agonizingly slow! And sometimes I take many steps backwards rather than forward.

In my marriage I am especially guilty of being ‘irritable and resentful.’ Self-control seems to elude me at times as well as gentleness and kindness. I’m sure there are more desirable fruits I lack but it would take too long to list them here, I’M SURE. I think about the state of my marriage and if this is a test.

  • What if my staying in it is necessary to grow into the faithful Jesus follower I’m meant to be?

  • What if this marriage is meant to test my faith? Perhaps this is a general rule for all marriages.

  • What if all of this isn’t even about me but about showing the love of Christ to Rick? If I leave…if I give up does that mean I failed the test?

  • Am I meant to strive through these circumstances until I learn how to lean entirely on God to the point of overcoming this battle I find myself in?

  • If I can’t show love to my own husband then what does that say about me?

I’m not sure I can say I’m trying my best to intentionally show him love because I do believe I decided in my heart that I didn’t want to try anymore. How do I stay in something I believe my heart walked out on a long time ago? Only God can fix my hardened heart. Only God can heal the pain I’ve allowed to solidify around my heart like a fortress of protection, of self-preservation.

I really don’t know what the answer is.

All I know is that I’m supposed to pursue love as it says in 1 Corinthians 14:1. We are to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts God wants to give us BUT without love they are worthless! The first and most important piece to becoming and receiving all God has for us is choosing love over all else. Love, with a Godly wisdom, should always come first in all we do. I say this only because God’s Word says so. “Pursue love.” It doesn’t say seek all the gifts and then love. Love is indeed an action and not just a feeling. I actually think it’s more an action than it ever was a feeling. Just look at how Jesus suffered for us. Do you think he was feeling all lovey dovey on that cross?!?! NO! He had to prepare Himself for what He was about to do for all mankind. He even asked His Heavenly Father…

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Now that’s what I call an intentional act of love! So I will intentionally try to show love to others in whatever form required for that particular circumstance. I know I’m far from perfect. And I’m guilty of knowing what I should do when the Holy Spirit softly nudges me only to choose to look the other way out of fear, doubt, or just plain laziness. I’m sure I will fall many, many more times which saddens me. But as long as I continue to get back up and sincerely repent AND keep trying, I am sure the Lord will bless my diligence however He sees fit. His grace is sufficient.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.…

 

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Intentionality

Don’t know how to begin this. I suppose it was back in March when I came across private Facebook messages between Rick and this girl named Brittany. Messages like, “Can I borrow some money? I need shoes for a wedding” or “Wanna get something to eat together later?” and him saying OK. I had no idea who this person was and I was immediately upset by what I was reading. I chose not to say anything and instead continued to check his messages. He wasn’t aware at the time that I was seeing any of this. I then heard his phone go off one night and glanced at it to see that it was HER. I could only see part of the message which read something like, “So I’m sitting at McDonald’s all by myself…” Again, I didn’t say anything. I wanted to see if he would respond to her text. I went back into the bedroom when I saw that he was in there because I knew he was on his phone. When I walked in he pretended to adjust the bed covers as though he were stalling, waiting for me to leave so he could check his phone again. It was clear that he didn’t want me to see him texting. I later asked who he was talking to and he said some guy who wanted him to play pool. Pretty sure that was BS. But maybe that guy did call as well. I really don’t know. All I do know is that he never mentioned HER. But I still chose to keep it to myself and keep an eye on things. But after a few weeks of continually seeing them talking through messenger and seeing that she was texting him ALL THE TIME, and seeing pics of her on Facebook at our land, I finally confronted him. I asked what the deal was with him and this girl, Brittany. He played dumb which pissed me off even more. He was laughing like it was no big deal. Said he had mentioned her to me before. Maybe he had A LONG TIME AGO in passing, but I had no idea how involved their friendship had become. I thought she was just some girl he knew from the Rod and that was it. I also demanded the password to his phone that night of the confrontation to which he has, still to this day, never given me. So, here’s the deal…

She is a drug addict. She has no home. Her family is of no help. She has no ID, no job, and her boyfriend is now in jail. So Rick has taken it upon himself to be her “go-to” whenever she needs a ride, food, and whatever else. She texts him just about everyday…”come get me,” I’m going to kill myself” “where are you” type of stuff. She talks to him more than I do.

I felt betrayed by him. He was keeping this from me which didn’t make it look very good. I know nothing is going on between them but I feel this relationship he’s developed with a 25 (now 26) year old girl is inappropriate, seeing that he is a 55 year old married man. It’s especially inappropriate when you keep it from your wife!

He wants to help her…to save her. Now he’s been bringing her to our house to sleep. The first time he brought her home was because she was acting incoherent at our land. Who knows what she was on (he has found needles in her car). She had no place to go and he wouldn’t let her drive. I was furious, to say the least, considering how I had JUST found out about her. I have no room upstairs (where we live) and I never let anyone up there anyway because I stopped caring about keeping it nice a long time ago. So, since the tenants had moved out, I was able to make a makeshift bed for her downstairs. I found a small feather-type bed I had forgotten about in the closet. I was fuming the whole time I was trying to scrounge up blankets and a pillow for her. I was angry at him, not her, but I still had to struggle with the idea of showing her kindness regardless. I want to be Christ-like and felt awful at how far from that I actually was. Anyways, if I hadn’t helped he would have given her disgusting blankets covered in cat hair for a pillow with nothing soft to lay on. So, even though I was pissed I still cared that she be comfortable…I guess I’m not ALL bad. It took a while for me to calm down enough to say hi to her and offer her a banana. I was able to show her kindness in the end. Some of my cats came down with me which helped break the ice. But I had to be extremely intentional about doing the right thing in that situation because a heart of compassion was not coming to me naturally…I struggle with that fact every time he brings her around or talks to her or goes to rescue her from somewhere.

Problem is, this has become a regular thing. She has now stayed here at least ten times and he’s actually on his way to get her again…RIGHT NOW. He left almost four hours ago and still isn’t home. He jumps every time she needs a ride. He has driven to Portsmouth the last three days in a row for this girl and that’s where he went again tonight. Portsmouth is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. You see, her mom just had a stroke and they transferred her to Portsmouth Hospital. They think she might have brain cancer or a blood clot or something. He drove Brittany there (ON JULY 10th, OUR 14th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY) and I tagged along so I could still go out for dinner. He took her there because apparently her family sucks and won’t give her rides or let her stay with them. No idea why.

The weekend before, she texted him that she was going to kill herself. He called her and she said she had taken a bunch of pills in a sleepy voice before the phone disconnected. He asked me what he should do. I told him “You call 911! That’s what you do when someone says that!” Tough shit if she wasn’t serious. So he called 911 and was frantically trying to give them directions on how to get to this place he had dropped her off at the day before. I guess it was her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house. This ordeal lasted from ten at night until three in the morning (I missed church the next day because I was too tired). She had been texting him all night but he didn’t see any of them until about ten o’clock. The ambulance picked her up and brought her to Concord Hospital where they did nothing for her, but I really don’t know what happened. She probably bullshitted her way out of it. And who do you think went to pick her up the next day? You guessed it. Rick. He brought her back to our house where she slept for hours and hours.

I’m tired of this situation. He’s all about Brittany. He talks about her all the time and seems fully invested in always being there for her. And how much of an asshole am I? I’m torn between being furious with him for this relationship he has with her and wanting to show the love of Christ because she has no one and now her mother is sick. I just want it to be someone other than my husband that she relies on. We already have enough problems in this marriage. This is just making it worse. And now she’s going to be downstairs again which makes it difficult and awkward for me to go down there tomorrow to work on the place. I need to be down there sanding the woodwork and getting it ready for paint.

Do I sound like a complete and utter ogre for being at all angry that my husband has taken this broken girl under his wing? Do I sound selfish and disgusting for how I feel or is there any validation to this struggle I find myself in? If this is a test from God on how to treat others I suppose I’m failing, but this whole thing is uncomfortable and awkward and I’m doing the best I can considering the elements to this entire situation.

I’m trying to better myself by working at this new summer job and working on the house and trying to go to the gym (which I’ve only managed to go to once because I’m so tired from getting up at 6:30…something my body just isn’t used to). I need to get into a schedule but her presence makes it hard for me to do what I need to do for myself. This whole thing is messed up. If I show how pissed I am every time he jumps through hoops for her I’m the bad guy because he says,”What am I supposed to do? Just let her sleep on the street?” Of course I don’t want that for her but she’s got my husband all worked up when she threatens suicide and he’s willing to “rescue” her at all hours of the day or night when he needs to be sleeping because he has to go to work the next day. But none of that seems to matter to him. I also feel she’s being manipulative with the threats of suicide. Even her family says nonchalantly that “She always says that.”

And how much money has he spent on her in gas, food and whatever else? He’s taken her to drug clinics, hospitals and boyfriend’s grandmother’s houses. He’s picked her up whenever she says “come get me” like she’s his girlfriend. I feel like she has become priority in his life and I’m not OK with it.  I was hoping that trip to the hospital would have been the answer. I thought they would keep her because she tried to “kill herself” but that went no where.  We told her about a rehab just for women that is free (they never turn anyone away) where she wouldn’t have to worry about where she was going to sleep or what she was going to eat. It’s a great program run by genuine, loving people who really care. She’s not interested. If she doesn’t want to do anything to improve her life why are we enabling her to live a life without direction…or should I say, why is HE allowing her to stay here without any kind of a plan to improve her situation?

At this point I just want a separation. I don’t want to be in this marriage anymore. I feel like I’ve lost myself…like my soul has died. I want to be me. I want to be happy and free to be who God has always intended me to be. But I can’t. Not in this marriage. We bring the worst out in each other…not the best. I don’t like who I’ve become. I have no joy. We don’t enjoy each other and I’m tired of being angry all the time. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of being in a marriage without affection. I do feel that I’m in a loveless marriage. I can’t live this way anymore. But as of right now, I have no other options. I still ask the Lord to change my heart and to let His will be done and not mine. I ask the Lord to guide me and direct me. I will continue to wait on the Lord and hope that my diligence pays off.

P.S.

I think the mom is going to be OK, well, as OK as one can be after a stroke. It’s a shame no one noticed until about a week later, though. Sad. Pretty sure it was just a stroke and nothing more than that…no tumors or blood clots. She will need assisted living now or at least help at home. Maybe Brittany will be able to stay with her mom now that this has happened. I hope.

UPDATE

9:30ish pm… 7/13/2018…

She’s back. Rick was at the Rod & Gun club (like he always is on a Friday night) when he left there to go get her and bring her back here. Guess she wanted him to drive her to Hopkinton (boyfriend’s grandmother’s house) but he said no because he didn’t feel like it. But I think we all know he’ll be taking her there tomorrow. Anyways, her brother apparently won’t let her stay at the trailer with her mom. He lives there too and is constantly kicking her out even though it’s her mother’s trailer. And her mom never stands up for her. So now she’s downstairs taking a shower. So, once again, Rick drops what he’s doing to go get her.  And then he went back to the Rod.

…7/15…

Surprisingly, he has not taken her to Hopkinton..yet.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

So there’s something I need to talk about but I just don’t have the time right now to focus on what I need to say and how I want to say it. But if I don’t get the words out of me soon I may blow up.

UPDATE (7/11/18)

Was able to confide in a friend today. Vented a bit, received some validation and got some much needed prayer. Feeling a little better (for now). Still intend on writing it all out when I have the time.

Still In It

I’m still in it.

Still praying for God to change my heart…to soften it.

Still praying for God to show me what I can’t see, or maybe don’t want to see about myself.

Still trying to put my focus on Jesus when I catch myself focusing on all that is wrong.

Hoping the Lord gives me a hope that things will get better or at least how to cope if things never do.

Trying to take care of myself again by accepting a part-time summer job offer (far from exciting but it’ll do me some good).

Trying to eat better but finding it rather difficult given my addiction to chocolate cream pie and mozzarella sticks. I did just finish two back to back cleanses, though. A six day colon cleanse followed by a five day liver cleanse. Was surprised to see so many liver stones come out of me! Still need to exercise but haven’t quite made it to the gym yet…it’s on the agenda…BABY STEPS.

Don’t know what my future looks like but I can’t worry about it…just gonna take little baby steps so as not to get overwhelmed with life. Letting Jesus carry me (or doing my best to learn HOW to let Jesus carry me). Can’t help but feel I’m failing this test called marriage and all I can seem to see is how far I fall short from being Christ-like.

ANYWAYS…I read this article a year ago…

‘the one thing guaranteed to end all marriages’

I still find it to be a good read, although my type of hardened heart doesn’t match her description. But that doesn’t mean none of what she writes is relevant. I actually thought it was one of the better articles on marriage that I have seen so I’m sharing it here.

http://www.megmariewallace.com/the-one-thing-guaranteed-to-end-all-marriages/

On another note…

I’m tired of talking about my problems on here. Not sure how I feel about the amount of personal stuff I’ve shared. Granted, I have held back out of respect to my husband but I sometimes wonder if I held back enough? Have I sinned by sharing our personal issues in a public way? He never reads anything I write anyway nor has he ever asked about what I write. It’s just the principle of the matter.

His lack of interest is a bit disheartening. I thought maybe he’d become curious and look for himself only to discover just how deep my pain goes, but it has never happened. Maybe that’s why I share what I do…I subconsciously hope he’ll see it.

Anything that I have shared on here was in an attempt to somehow release my pain. It was also in the hope that maybe someone was out there who could relate and benefit from knowing they’re not alone. As far as holding back what I share, a couple unpublished drafts come to my mind which reveal truths I’m not willing to expose on a blog. I’m not out to hurt anyone which is why I recently switched my latest entry to private because it came across as shaming certain people whom I know. I don’t want to be that kind of a person, so I’ll keep that one private and consider it part of my diary. But I also realize very few people read this blog and I’ve never expected to have a large following anyway. Just questioning whether or not I should continue.

Response To A Mentor

I hope you know how much I love you..how much I treasure you.

To answer your question as far as whether you do to me what you were doing to Melody… YES. You expect me to respond in a certain way…in YOUR way. YES. There is something going on in me that you are not able to see. But don’t feel too bad, most people don’t understand my daily struggles. What’s hard for me isn’t for most.

I know you love me and are just trying to help but you can come off a bit pushy and forceful at times. I can’t be pushed into doing something I’m not ready to do. While I agree with some of what you suggested, I do not agree with all of what you said. Perhaps separation is the right move but until you had spoken those words out loud it hadn’t even been a possible consideration for me. Up until then I just thought I had to hang in there because I made a vow. I need time to digest this and time to talk to God about it. And I am most certainly not about to move onto someone’s couch for six months (one of your suggestions) with no other place to go and no money or job. I’m not in a position where I can just leave and at one time, while sitting in your kitchen, you told me that because of that fact I should wait on the Lord until He makes a way. Now it seems you want me to live on someone’s couch for six months regardless of the fact that I have nothing. Besides, I did that once before and it was the worst time of my life. At the age of 22 I was homeless and jobless, living on someone’s couch for six months. It was HELL. I’m not about to do that to myself at the age of 42. You don’t understand what that would do to me…not to mention the fact that I would have to be away from my beloved cats who love me right back. That is NOT the answer or viable option in my case.

When I told Sarah where I was currently at she simply responded, “Well, at some point you may be ready for the next step. Little by little.” That’s all I needed to hear. That’s how I feel God is dealing with me in this…little by little. I gave you the same update and you said it would be up to me and what do I want…it felt like you were simplifying my situation, as though what I need to do is simple, but it’s not.

It feels like you are not taking certain factors into consideration. You have to realize how I ended up with Rick in the first place…You have to understand the struggles I’ve had since middle school with fear and social anxiety and depression that has, on many an occasion, crippled me from being able to do for myself what most other people never have issues with. Bottom line, Rick has been supporting me for fifteen years now. Familiarity can become a comfort. He’s provided me with an environment where I don’t have to have any responsibilities and of course I let him and lost myself in the process due to so much time hiding away…safe in my bubble. My mother used to take care of everything I was too afraid to do for myself, and then she dropped me without any preparation for the real world. Rick has since taken over that role. He is my enabler. I am WELL aware of that fact. I am extremely self aware of all my faults and shortcomings and failures and I am not looking for advice on “what I should do.”

I need deliverance and I already told this to Dick in class. And so far it hasn’t happened overnight. I’ve been stuck in a rut and it’s hard to crawl out, especially when it has been going on for years. I lack self-confidence and I lost ambition and drive a long time ago. I feel pretty low but I know God is still working on me… slowly. Last week Putty used this game, pick-up-sticks, as an example of how God removes our strongholds one stick at a time until He gets deep down underneath to the main root of the problem. That’s how I feel He’s dealing with me. Unfortunately I have slidden backwards after some progress due to the loss of hope and the feeling that I had nothing to look forward to anymore.

I’ve said to Rick what I needed to say. He’s well aware of how I feel and it no longer feels like a heavy secret I’m carrying around. At least that burden has lifted. God knows my issues and what I need and what I can and can’t emotionally and mentally handle at this time. I’m trusting Him to guide me through this.

Eye Of The Storm

So it’s back to “business as usual” as though nothing ever happened. It’s as though we never had any volatile conversations. Whatever. I need a break anyway. Friday is his birthday and we’re going to a comedy show in Boston. I bought the tickets in December and there were soooo many times I wondered if we would even make it, considering the state of our marriage. But we are definitely going which is good because we never go anywhere and the tickets are non-refundable AND I’ve been looking forward to finally laughing. Jo Koy cracks me up…I’ll be sure to have my inhaler on standby.

As of today he seems to be in a good mood and he thinks he may have made some good connections as far as getting into the “new place.” We’ll see. I stopped listening years ago.

But if we DID actually get into the place, finally moving into a new, bigger space that we don’t have to share with anyone else would be nice. A new environment is desperately needed for my sanity. Still don’t know if that would help our relationship but it would help the overall mood…for a while anyway. A new space would be uplifting in many respects, but it’s not going to magically fix the main issues.

I’m not going to stress about it anymore. I’m just going to trust God and let things unfold in His timing, not mine. I do believe anything is possible with God and I’m just going to rest in the eye of this storm. And when the wind starts to pick up again perhaps I’ll be better at fixing my eyes on Jesus instead of focusing on the chaos.

UPDATE 4/24/2018

So it turns out our tenants downstairs are moving out next month. They bought a house. So I can finally move back downstairs which means I’ll finally have a decent kitchen, a bath tub and my laundry room back…no more having to go to the laundromat. But we still have to rent out the upstairs (where we currently reside) in order to help pay for the mortgage. I was hoping we would have the entire house back to ourselves in order to have some space from each other, but that’s just not possible.

I’m So Tired

I tried handwriting (journal style) but am finding it hard to read back, so I’m typing out what I wrote on April 2, 2018. So the last three post entries are sort of out of order…

April 2, 2018

Dear Lord,

What do you want of me? What kind of marriage are You OK with me having? What do You want for me, for us, for my life? I’m so confused and hurt and sad and I don’t want to live this way anymore…but I’m so used to and conditioned to living this way that I don’t know how else to be. I’m so lost. I don’t know who I am or what I want. I don’t know how to stand on my own. I need Your help. Please help me. I love You, Lord. I want to be dependent on You, Lord, like You told me so long ago. Please help me and show me how to do that. You know what I need in exactly the way I need it. Please help. I feel so lost.

—-Trying to remember everything that came out on Friday (Good Friday)…….it started with me asking him why I was even included in a deal he made with someone because I don’t airbrush anymore. It was making me angry because I still don’t feel up to it. His reaction made me react. I became a hysterical, sobbing mess as I paced from room to room. Even hyperventilated a bit. 

I told him things like…

This was all said in a crazy, hysterical, panicky way. I felt almost outside of myself. His response was disappointing. Yes. He held me a bit at the end as I sobbed. It was nice but I knew he wouldn’t do it again so I didn’t want to like it too much. I have to have an emotional breakdown in order to be held by him.

He threw out different options such as…

  • Maybe he’ll just let Fonzie (we owe him $50,000 from a loan he gave us a loooong time ago) take the place (our land)
  • Maybe he’ll go to the Vineyard where his cousin has a turn-key garage he could run (that made me sob harder at the thought of him leaving me)
  • He said he clearly aggravates me and maybe I just need to be alone for a while (that was more aimed at me living downstairs and having my own space where I could paint)

 

Then he left for the Rod as usual…

I honestly don’t know where that leaves us. We haven’t talked about anything since. And on Easter he went to the Rod again while I sat at home and cried all night BECAUSE I didn’t think he’d actually go there on EASTER. That really hurt my feelings deeply. I don’t think he wants to be in this marriage anymore. I’m a burden…someone he just supports.

 

What The Hell Happens Now?

(April 1, 2018… 1 pm) It’s Easter Sunday and I’m home alone. Didn’t want to go to Todd’s. Can’t deal with family right now. Everything I’ve been avoiding saying to Rick all came out in a hysterical display on Good Friday. Didn’t want it to come out the way it did but I guess that’s the only way it could.  Afterwards he actually held me for a bit as I sobbed. It felt so nice to have him hold me but I was afraid to give in to it because I knew he wouldn’t hug me again after that. It takes a complete melt down to get him to respond to me that way. Hugs don’t exist in his world.

I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I’m afraid my marriage is going to end. I don’t know how he feels about me anymore. I love him or I wouldn’t feel so sad right now, but I don’t know how to continue on. I don’t think the things that I need changed will ever actually change. I’m sad and scared about my future.

(7:47 pm) Wow. He actually went to the Rod and Gun Club on Easter. Thought maybe he’d actually stay home since it was Easter and I had cried about how he’s always over there, but I was wrong. He did make a pork roast and some squash before he left, though. How long do I wait for him to get back or should I just eat alone? I guess this marriage really is all it will ever be. I guess it really is over and it hurts my heart.

He Doesn’t Love Me Anymore

Just trying to figure out when it was that he stopped loving me. And I’m not blaming him…well, not entirely. I’m sure I play a part. But his lack of affection and communication has left me hardened. Too many years of this inability to give me what I need emotionally has left me unable to push through it anymore. I can no longer live this way. So what do I do now?

I discovered a few weeks ago that he’s been keeping things from me for who knows how long? I finally asked him about it the other night. He admitted to some stuff but it took a lot of prodding and it never felt like he was being completely honest. I have a feeling there’s more but I can’t prove it. I used to trust him wholeheartedly. My heart feels betrayed. I thought he was the most honest and trustworthy man on the planet. Now that’s gone. If I can’t trust him I feel as though I can’t trust anyone. If he of all people can become someone I never knew then that is true for the rest of humanity.

So when did he stop loving me? Was it when he went from spending a couple nights a week at the Rod to three or four? Or was it when he started going just about every night of the week? He says to me yesterday that he’s invited me to go with him a few times but I never do, as if that would have fixed everything. He knows I hate it there. Just the thought of the anxiety caused by walking into a dark, smokey room full of people I don’t know is enough to keep me home. He knows I hate bars and smoke and drinking and drama. He loves all of that. Those people have become his family and I’ve become something that he supports financially. Our home isn’t a home. It’s just a dwelling where we eat and sleep. It’s filthy now but it wasn’t always so. As the years went on the frustration and continuous disappointment grew and all hope of the future we had dreamed of together eventually faded and died.

We had fun in the beginning. We used to ride our motorcycles together. We went to the Vineyard and, after moving up here, we had the same friends we hung out with. But that fell apart. The friends moved away and he started going to the Rod and Gun Club. Lots of things happened in between. I eventually found a church I love. I’ve been going there for four years now. They are my family and support. So as you can see my husband and I have separate interests and separate lives.

I feel like it’s over.  Yesterday on the phone (a continued discussion from the night before) when I said I was screwed because I have nothing…no money, no job, no place to go, he said (right after asking me if I wanted a separation), “I’ll always make sure you’re taken care of.” That tells me he doesn’t want to try anymore. He said to me that he’s not good enough for me. That was a ridiculous statement. That’s something you say when you want to make yourself feel better. That’s something you say when you don’t have the courage to admit the truth. He said a lot of other things that were equally insulting. I feel lost. I feel sad and panicked. I have nothing to show for my almost forty-three years on this planet. I wasted my life. I gave up and I don’t know how I will ever make it at this point. I’m afraid.

I thought we’d be in the new house by now but the capped foundation still sits there and inside sits stuff that will never fill this pipe dream of a home.

HPIM0355.JPG

Foundation was poured on my birthday of 2006.

In 2008 I received my inheritance of $44,000, most of which went into putting up this atrocity of a garage. It was so massive that people often thought it was the house. The garage serves its purpose for him but the upstairs has been unfinished since the garage went up…no walls…no wiring…it just sits there.

 

I stopped listening a long time ago when he would say we’d be in the upstairs of the garage by summer. It gets old after ten years of hearing something that never comes to fruition. So much for my dream art studio. I thought we were going to live our dream but instead it all went to shit. I even buried my beloved cat, Whiskers, under one of the trees on that land. He was so special to me. He lived nineteen years and I wanted him buried where I knew I would be living for the rest of my life. So his decayed body lies there, all alone, waiting for me to look out over his final resting place from my balcony some day that will never come. Breaks my heart.

Whatever joy I used to have has been long gone. I’m used to this miserable world I’ve grown accustom to. I know it’s slowly killing me but I’m used to it. Sound insane? I’ve become paralyzed to any sort of action which requires putting myself out there in the world. I’m safe in my bubble, at home with my cats. But it’s not satisfying…just comfortable. I need to change it but I don’t know where or how to start. Maybe going to the gym could be a start I suppose. Start taking care of my body and maybe I’ll start to feel more confident which would help me take other steps. I guess that’s where I should start. Sounds easy enough…so why isn’t it?

Oh Lord God…Heavenly Father….I need YOU. Please help me. My eyes hurt from crying.

Motives

We have a huge drug problem in my town and a lot of people are down and out. It’s not unusual to see some of these people hanging outside of stores hoping for hand outs. Last week I was walking into Walgreens and passed this guy on the way in. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. He was standing up against the brick wall in his winter gear with a backpack.

After entering the store I found myself thinking about how I should give him five dollars. Not sure why. I’m not rich myself and usually don’t have any cash on me. But on this day I knew I had two five dollar bills. This stranger hadn’t spoken to me or asked me for anything but I felt like maybe the Holy Spirit was suggesting the idea. I imagined this scenario of me telling him how (as I’m handing him the money) I felt like the Lord wanted me to give him this five dollars. Well, upon leaving the store I looked down as I passed him and avoided eye contact. After all, he’s a strange guy and men in general (especially strangers) make me nervous. But as I was walking away I heard him ask me, “Do you have 50 cents?”

“50 cents?” I repeated. Who the hell asks for so little? It’s probably a ploy in hopes of receiving more. But it doesn’t really matter if his motives were sneaky. Only matters what mine were and I wanted to be obedient to God, so I pulled out the five and said “This is for you.”

“Oh, thank you!” he said as he immediately walked away. I wanted to say more to him but he was off and running like a race horse out of the gate. I wanted to say the words I had imagined in my head just moments earlier but there didn’t seem to be any time. Those four measly words were all I managed to squeeze out of my mouth. I felt like I had, once again, missed another opportunity to share the gospel. I’m just not good at this stuff! A street evangelist I am not.

Hope the Lord blesses me for my obedience anyway. My heart was right. Maybe it wasn’t even about him but about my willingness to step out in faith? Who knows? Well, God knows. And He can work with anything. Maybe my actions meant something to this guy that I’ll never know about here on Earth…

Either that or he went to buy heroin.

Sigh.

Desperate Enough

“Because I don’t want you to be dependent on anyone but Me.”

That is what I heard God say to me in my most desperate and sincere state. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was about 25 years of age, kneeling on my living room floor as I hysterically cried out to God,

“WHY?!?!”

You know, I often hear it said that we should never ask God why. They say that’s the wrong question and that He won’t answer you, but He sure did when I asked the so-called taboo. And His voice wasn’t some thunderous, audible sound that pierced the heavenlies. It was my own familiar voice inside my head.

“So how do you know it was God?” you may be asking.

Because His answer was instant and most unexpected. Because I knew it wasn’t me saying it. Because the peace I felt was immediate. Because I knew that I knew that I knew. My tears ceased and I felt a calm. My Heavenly Father had just spoken to me in my time of need…out of desperation. That was enough to relax my body and soul. And I wasn’t asking Him in expectation of an answer. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would or could receive one. But when I heard those words,

“Because I don’t want you to be dependent on anyone but Me,”

I knew without a doubt that I would be OK…that God would take care of all my needs. And why wouldn’t I? There’s no assurance like the one that comes from a direct response from God Almighty! And what a God thing to say, right?!?! His response made me realize that I had been putting all of my hopes and needs in everyone else BUT Him. And you know what happened after that night? My needs were met the very next day.

Those were the first and only words I ever heard my Heavenly Father speak to me. I know He speaks to me in other ways but I’ve never experienced His response in such a direct manner since I was a broken heap on my living room floor, devastated and lost and panicked about what was to become of me. I think He responded to me then in such a personal way BECAUSE I was just desperate enough. I think my level of desperation and sincerity broke through a realm I can’t see or feel. I don’t know how else to explain it. I would love to hear Him again like I did that night. I’m pretty sure I’m hindering His ability to move in my life due to bitterness, anger, and resentment. I heard it said once that there are laws that govern the way the power of God flows and I believe this to be so true. I think many times we can block ourselves from receiving all that God has for us due to our own stubbornness.

CAN God do anything? Sure He can! (Except in making a square circle or a one-ended stick…we’re talking about logic right now so work with me.) After all, our God is full of mercy and grace and He deals with each one of us uniquely because we are all different. But, for me, I know I need to let go of certain attitudes despite my current environment. UGH! Why does it have to be so damn hard?!?! Oh how I want to tap into that direct line I managed to unintentionally hack almost twenty years ago. I want to feel that assurance and calm because my Creator plainly and directly just spoke to me. (Oh, God, please have mercy on me for I am trying. I may keep falling but I keep getting back up to try again. And sometimes I may stay down for a little too long out of stubbornness but I always get up again…eventually.)

So, if there is a “secret” to hearing God, that might be it…You have to be desperate enough…raw and sincere enough in your pursuit. The scriptures do say to seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Maybe that’s the key. We have to yield to Him but more often than not we try to figure out how to fix things ourselves instead of relying on Him, the One Who knows all and sees all.

Guard Your Heart

Apparently I posted this about 5 years ago on Facebook. Funny how I seem to be experiencing the very thing Derek Prince spoke of here. My heart needs a good cleaning. Thankful for the Lord’s grace and patience. Sanctification is truly a process.

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV

There is one area of your personality that is more important than any other and that is your heart. The state of your heart will determine the course of your life. You are advised and admonished by God to guard your heart more than all else. It’s the most important thing that’s committed to your keeping, the condition of your own heart.

I remember many years ago in a country in East Africa, when I was serving as a principal at a college for training teachers, on the wall on the dormitory of my students, one of them had written that Scripture up in her own particular language. And I read it in that language and translated it literally, and it has stayed with me ever since. It says, “Guard your heart with all your strength, for all the things there are in life come out of it.”

Everything in your life ultimately proceeds out of your heart. The condition of your heart is going to determine the condition of your life. Guard it with all your strength. Don’t let any evil in; don’t make room for unbelief, for bitterness, for fear, for anxiety, because if there are bitter things in your heart, then there will be bitterness in your life. But if your heart is pure and clean, if your heart is filled with faith and love and with truth and with righteousness, then the course of your life will be a course of success.

So, remember that. Guard your heart with all your strength for all the things there are in life come out of it.

—Derek Prince

Fit of Rage

It’s been a long time since I had a fit of rage, that is until around 6:40 pm on March 5, right before Rick left for darts. Couldn’t stand the irritability and anger between us anymore. We just don’t communicate well. Apparently I thought it a good idea to scream really loud as I stood in the kitchen. Was trying to let out the frustration but when that didn’t work I punched at the door of the refrigerator a couple times. Hurt my hand pretty bad, too. After that I screamed at him that I was sick of our relationship. Finally told him to just go already. We never spoke about what happened…not even when he got back home. Although, I did mention last night during another flip out and chucking of the remote across the room that I get so frustrated with him that I end up physically hurting myself, whether it be punching refrigerator doors or splitting door panels with my head (yes, that happened once)…but he once again had no response. And he’ll never bring it up, either. Why would he?

It’ll be two weeks tomorrow that I attacked the fridge and my hand still hurts a lot. It’s painful washing dishes, scooping litter boxes, washing my hair, getting dressed…you get the idea. And the anger is still very present. I’m having trouble “pushing through it” this time. I’m so over what’s become normal in this marriage. I don’t want it anymore. The thing is, if we separate, I have absolutely no way of supporting myself. I am completely dependent on him. Have been since I met him…pretty much. I keep thinking of that movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’ when they’re talking about being institutionalized. That’s kind of how I’ve always felt in life. This crippling fear comes over me when I think of having to go out in the real world and interact with people and “sell” myself to a potential client or employer (I have done it but it never gets easier). I can’t even deal with the phone…serious phone anxiety. I still think I could be something but being with Rick enables me to stay at home and hide from the world. I’m slowly dying inside by living this way. And it doesn’t help that I just don’t even care about anything anymore. I have no drive to strive. It’s pathetic.

It wasn’t like this for the first few years of our marriage. We were working on building our business, Phantom Phenders. Rick got me painting jobs for custom airbrushing. I painted motorcycles (a few cars and a boat, too) and sometimes he built custom motorcycles. We promoted ourselves and we did things together. But it’s all since fallen apart and I’ve given up trying. I don’t have the energy to explain it all today. I’ve written about it in the past…go fish if you want to.

I don’t feel like writing anymore…Just want to watch a movie on this sunny afternoon as I sit on this futon in my pajamas. My sixth (but not least) cat, Ruby, is keeping me company.

 

Come Pick Me Up, Lord.

I feel like I’m standing at a crossroads of dead ends waiting for God to show up with a helicopter.

Messed Up Today

Even though I did what I could to make it right, I’m still pissed at myself for the way I chose to react. I was at the church doing my usual cleaning of the bathrooms when I saw some kids playing around my car in the parking lot. Not sure how old they were. The older boy was probably about fifteen is my guess. The younger boy looked about ten years old and the girl could have been about thirteen. I just KNEW they were going to do something to my car. They had been poking around it mischievously in between bouts of running and chasing each other. I went back to my sweeping and when I returned to the window I observed this girl pouring juice all over the back of my car. The juice bottle was about 2 liters in size (like Ocean Spray or something) and I watched as she proceeded to dump it out onto the rear roof of my car.

I gasped, dropped the broom and IMMEDIATELY ran down the stairs for the front door only to turn back real quick to make sure I had my keys…otherwise I’d lock myself out of the church since I was the only person there. My response time was fast because I’m sure I had already made up my mind beforehand that if I saw them doing anything to my car I would be on them like flies on poop…too bad I didn’t think through HOW that confrontation should go.

They sort of froze when they saw me.

“What are you doing?!?!” I yelled.

…deer in headlights…

“I just saw you pour juice all over my car!”

“Sorry,” she said.

But I wasn’t having it. She needed to be held accountable for her actions and by golly I was going to make sure she was! She needs to learn to have respect for other people’s property! …Sheesh… This reaction probably goes back to my youth, I just know it. I mean, it was only juice for crying out loud. But it wasn’t even the juice that bothered me. It was the fact that she thought it a good idea to dump it on my car.

“Why would you do that?!?!”

“Did you think it would be funny?!?!”

“What the fuck?!!?”

AND THERE IT WAS.

The f-bomb just kind of sort of flew out of my mouth.

INSTANT REGRET

Swearing in front of your church, Mindy?!?! Really? Is that how Jesus would handle it? Mmmm, me don’t thinks sooo.

She just kept saying sorry as she stood frozen in place.

“Are you gonna clean it for me?” I asked.

She said she would and asked if I had paper towels. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that response. I think I figured they’d be jerks about it, but they weren’t. NOT AT ALL. I didn’t answer her question right away. I was trying to figure out how to fix the damage from MY initial reaction. I knew it was wrong and I couldn’t let it go. God was watching.

I ended up asking if they lived around here and she said no. I think I was thinking that if she lived close by she could get cleaning supplies or something…which is dumb because I knew I had paper towels! I don’t know, my heart was pounding and I don’t tend to think so well on the spot and in the heat of a moment.

“Listen, I’m sorry I just yelled at you. It was wrong for me to react that way. I’m really sorry I yelled and swore at you. I really shouldn’t have reacted that way. I’m just shocked over what you did. I don’t understand why you would do that.”

She just kept saying in a soft voice, “Sorry.”

Then she approached the car ready to wipe off the juice with the sleeve of her sweatshirt!

“No. Don’t do that. I’ll get you some paper towels. Will you wait while I go get them?”

“Yes,” she said.

I came back out with the paper towels and some Windex. I told her I accepted and appreciated the apology and I also appreciated her willingness to clean it up.

“We all do stupid things sometimes (note to self),” I said in desperation to make her feel better (was trying to make MYSELF feel better, too). She was embarrassed that she had been caught and she never said much but “sorry” during the entire encounter. It was a little awkward because I didn’t know what else I could say besides apologizing over and over again for my reaction. The older kid said we got off on the wrong foot and proceeded to tell me his name as he stretched out his hand.

“The name’s Jonathan,” he said with a smile.

“Mindy,” I said as I shook his hand. I think I tried to give him a hug. I can’t remember but I think he hugged back…but she didn’t. Inside my head I was telling myself not to do it…that she didn’t want to be touched, but it was too late. I had already stretched my arms out real wide and had gone in for the kill. She stood there, stiff as a board, as I patted her arm in an incredibly awkward, hug-denied-moment sort of way.  Can’t say I blame her. It was too forward and presumptuous of me but I was trying to make peace the only way I knew how. She eventually told me her name from out of the corner of her mouth, all while looking down at the pavement.

“My name’s Lilly.”

“Lilly?” I asked. “That’s a pretty name.” Pretty girl, too. Amazing eyes.

I didn’t know how to interact with them after that. I really wanted to learn something about them but I just didn’t know how.

As they were walking away I cornily said, “Jesus loves you.”

Jonathan kind of laughed at that, but not in a rude way. Whatever. I just wanted to get the name of Jesus in there somehow. After all, I am a Christian standing right in front of my church. I felt awful that I hadn’t represented well AT ALL. Yeah, I know I apologized but the damage was done.

After I went back inside I let myself have it. Looking in the mirror all I saw was a miserable old woman who yells at kids for a living staring back at me. I thought this underlying hostility towards kids had disappeared with the birth of my nieces and nephew, but apparently it was just laying dormant.

Through disappointed tears I told God how sorry I was and played in my head all the different scenarios of how I COULD have reacted. I could have stopped and given myself a minute to decide the best way to handle it before rushing out the door. I could have even used humor instead of fury. OK, maybe it wasn’t “fury” but it was obvious that I was angry. I mean, I wasn’t red-faced and breathing fire so I suppose my behavior could have been a lot worse. And at least I corrected myself almost immediately. (That’s what I keep telling myself.) But yeah, I messed up today.

Oh well. Can’t change it. Damn, though. Really disappointed in myself.

No do-overs for Mindy. No time machine. Just another lesson learned.

The Universe Gets Way Too Much Credit

‘The Universe Gets Way Too Much Credit’ 2/25/2018

This may sting a little, but the universe doesn’t care about you or your life. I see it so often; people speaking of the universe as though it has the power to determine what happens in their lives. It’s like it’s the new, politically correct religion. So many people love to idolize the universe, but the universe has no control over what will or will not come to you. It plays no role in life’s “coincidences.” It has no feelings. It has no thought process. Why?

BECAUSE IT CAN’T.

Oh yes, the universe is quite magnificent! Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe its magnitude or beauty or mystery. But I know of something far more incredible…of SOMEONE far more worthy of our awe and reverence and attention…

The Creator OF the universe!

The universe and everything in it are merely evidence of its Creator. Its intricate design and order all point to a Designer, not to mention the vast intricacies of our own human bodies! I mean, there are some 42 million protein molecules in a simple cell. That’s just one microscopic cell!! Funny that it’s called a simple cell. Doesn’t sound so simple to me!! Go ahead and try to explain how such complexities could “just happen by chance”… go on…I’ll wait…

If a top ten most cited scientist and synthetic chemist in the world can’t explain how such complexities could “just happen by chance” I’m pretty sure none of us can, either.

God has given us plenty of evidence for His existence…

…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  -Romans 1:19-20

The world and everything in it is fleeting, but where we go after our life on this earth ends is eternal. Do you know where you are going? I promise you that the universe has absolutely nothing to do with your final destination…YOU do. YOU make the choice and are given every opportunity to say yes to the One True God because He cares for you. Reincarnation is a lie and you don’t become non-existent like so many atheists like to tell themselves.

And while you are still breathing on this third rock from the sun, the universe can’t love you or fill that void in your heart that you so desperately try to remedy with anything and everything BUT the One who made you; Who knew you before you were even in your mother’s womb…

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

-Psalm 139

He knows you and loves you and has been chasing after you, if only you would notice. We have an all-loving Creator who wants each and every one of us to know Him personally. We also have an enemy who would love nothing more than to keep you lost in deception, forever SEPARATED from God, continuously tricking you into believing in false signs because he hates you. Satan can only counterfeit what God Almighty has created. He is referred to as ‘the father of lies’…

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  -2 Corinthians 11:14

Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. -John 8:42-44

That spiritual veil that blinds you from The Truth can be removed if only you would be willing to let Him in…to BELIEVE. We have to give Him permission to work in our lives. The Lord is a gentleman and will never force His way into your life. He can’t anyway. That would go against His character and God cannot contradict Himself. He is love and He gave us free will…you have to let him in. Jesus Himself says…

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.  -Revelation 3:20

So, if you want to keep on thanking the universe every time something goes your way go right ahead, but it can’t hear you. I would much rather thank the One who MADE it…and us.

12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.  -Matthew 18

I Need Something To Look Forward To

I don’t want to admit it. Jesus healed me after all…right? I don’t want to say that I’m depressed again, but I choose to sleep for as long as I can manage. Didn’t get out of my bed all day yesterday and slept for most of it. Told my husband I didn’t feel well because of a head ache. I did have one earlier but it’s probably because I slept too long.

There’s things I want to do for myself but I just haven’t been able to get the ball rolling. Like going to the gym…cleaning my disgusting house…

I have no drive. I don’t want to be this way.

I can still talk to people when I’m out so I know I’m not in a bad way. I know what it’s like to be down so deep that I can’t open my mouth to speak or even get dressed…although getting dressed is starting to become a challenge again. I’m not in the pit and I don’t plan to fall back into it. I’m aware of my patterns and I know I need to take charge and do something before it gets out of hand. I’m thankful for my church. It gives me a reason to get out of the house. But other than that I have no purpose…no job…no responsibilities other than taking care of my cats.

I hate the way my life is going. Sure, I could fix SOME things…like working out to lose that extra twenty pounds I loathe…or start cleaning my crammed living space one room at a time (so I don’t overwhelm myself). But I just haven’t taken those steps yet and now spring is just around the corner, then summer which requires fewer clothes which brings more misery because I hate my body.

I hate that I’m even saying any of this. It’s so negative and I don’t want to be THAT person. I know these struggles are due to my life’s current circumstances. I don’t need medication, just a motivational kick in the ass. A kick-start.

Come Holy Spirit…please kick me in the ass.

Shameful, Utter Honesty…God Knows It All Anyway

Dear Lord,

Can we talk? I need to discuss with You how wretched I truly am. I know You know what I’m referring to. You were there after all. You saw him fall backwards, too. You watched me run towards him, yelling his name as he fell into the hamper. You were there as he lay confused, not knowing what had just happened. In that moment I didn’t know what to do…what to think. “Was he having a stroke? A seizure?” He looked so old and helpless and frail to me at that very moment. For a second I thought he pissed himself but it turned out to be spilled milk which was now all over the front of his underwear and all over the now drenched, filthy carpet. He just sat there within the bedroom doorway as I tried to assess what was happening and, as usual, I couldn’t get much feedback from him which, in turn, made me frustrated. I just wanted to know what was going on with him but he wasn’t able to tell me. He just wanted me to give him a minute. His face was so cold and clammy and ashen. “Do I need to call an ambulance?”  I then looked around at my cluttered and dirty dwelling and began to think of what sort of apology I would give to the medics as they tried to maneuver through our mess. What would they think of me, of us, when they saw how dirty I had let my place become? But that’s not even the worst of it. In the midst of all this I did think to pray over him but chose not to. It did occur to me to seek God first and pray but I wasn’t sure of how to word it or if it would even make a difference or if it was even necessary. That is the worst. I chose not to pray. Shameful.

He had passed out a couple of times but I only witnessed the second episode. As I sat on the couch watching TV I  heard some commotion coming from the kitchen but didn’t think much of it. I figured he had just dropped something or that a bunch of stuff fell out of the fridge. That’s not unheard of for us and has become an accustomed noise (typically followed up with cursing) in this crammed living space we call home, so I didn’t get up to check. I didn’t even call out a simple “You okay?” Then a couple minutes later I thought I heard him shut the bathroom door quite abruptly? Maybe? I decided to get up and check only to find him standing in the doorway of the bedroom. From across the room I asked if he was okay and as he was telling me that he had just fallen he proceeded to fall again. “RICKY!!!” I yelled as I ran towards him. “What’s wrong?!?”

A LOT of thoughts were going through my head at exactly the same time. I don’t think I felt emotion…only concern for what plan of action needed to be taken as I simultaneously processed internal questions such as, “Was he going to die?!?!” and “Is this really happening right now? …What would happen to me if he dies? … What would I do?” Angry, accusatory thoughts took over as I recalled the fact that he overworks himself EVERY SINGLE DAY never to get ahead and if he would just take better care of himself he wouldn’t be sitting on this disgusting carpet in a half naked daze right now…”I need him to be strong for me. How am I going to be strong for him?!?!” I’m completely dependent on this man and I would lose everything if he suddenly left this world, including my six beloved cats which he also adores” (well, he has his three favorites). The semi-subconscious thoughts continued…. “I can’t believe this is my life’s situation. It was never supposed to be this way. I’m mad at myself and I’m mad at him and I shouldn’t be feeling resentment as my husband sits helpless on the floor. I’m a wretch.”

My perturbation increased the longer Rick sat. I started to worry about how much money it was going to cost to go to the hospital with no insurance. We JUST finalized the bankruptcy and are FINALLY debt free. So much for that. “Should I go?” he asked. “Well, how do you feel?” He thought he was okay but we both felt it probably wasn’t a good idea to risk not getting checked out. So I gave him clean underwear to put on and we both got dressed at 2 am this morning and set out for yet another ER visit, braving the cold February air.

I tried to help Rick tell the doctor what had happened and filled in any gaps he had missed, like mentioning his MS just in case it was needed information. They hooked him up to machines and gave him an IV. Doc wanted to do an EKG, a chest x-ray, and a CT scan. I cringed at the thought of the size of THAT bill. When they had all left the room I reminded Rick of how he mentioned in the car not wanting all sorts of tests. After relaying to a nurse the fact that we have no health insurance the CT was put on hold and by the end of the stay it was determined that it wasn’t needed after all. He was going to be okay. His blood pressure was really low and labs showed his kidneys weren’t up to par which was most likely due to dehydration. Both issues were resolved with an IV of fluids.

There were a couple of moments when I felt tears trying to surface but I fought them off. I wasn’t interested in showing weakness. I wanted to hold on to the anger I had been feeling for days. I fumed as I sat in a chair across from the foot of his bed. I know it must have shown on my face and I was sure to express it at one point. “I’m mad at you. You scared me,” I said. The anger could not be hidden. Anger due to the fact that our marriage is far from what I had hoped it would be. Anger due to the fact that I have had to numb myself to the emotional needs that are never met…for fourteen years. Anger due to the fact that He has been at the Rod and Gun Club every night this week and was in fact there this night, binge smoking and drinking beer which has become a normalcy in our life. Anger due to the fact that I’ve become someone I never wanted to be and I can’t blame it all on him. Anger due to the fact that I feel stuck and helpless and hopeless. Anger due to the fact that this has become my life and the only thing that has changed, despite Rick’s repeated promises that change is just around the corner, are my weight gain and age which is slowly creeping up on my forty-two year old face. Anger due to the fact that he doesn’t even have a clue of how upset I have been or how much I struggle on a daily basis no matter how many times I try to tell him. Then again, maybe he does know. He just doesn’t talk.

I could go on but what’s the point? I’m not going anywhere. I do love him and I made a covenant with him and You. I just wish I could have some hope back that things will improve. I just wish that I could be the wife I know You want me to be, Lord. I fall so short. I wish this felt like a marriage instead of an arrangement. Despite the tension that seems to regularly occur between us, we are friends and know each other rather well…but don’t friends even hug once in a while? I hate that this is where we are and I don’t want this to be the extent of all it will ever be on this earth; I want the more abundant life You speak of. But, yes, I’m glad he is okay. Thank You, Jesus, that Rick is okay.

Please Lord Jesus, help me persevere and get through the trial, refined and triumphant.

 

UPDATE (2/20/2018) 

After reading this back to myself today I came to the realization that I have to forgive my husband. It seems obvious to me now after reading all the resentments I have towards him…not sure why I couldn’t see it before. I guess when we hold on to anger it’s hard to see anything else. So now I have to learn how to forgive in the midst of the pain. I understand that I may not “feel” like I have forgiven him but speaking the words out loud carry a lot of weight with my Heavenly Father. The willingness and the action of speaking out the words are important first steps. And I’m sure forgiveness towards Rick may be something I have to practice on a regular basis as I persevere, but I’m convinced the feelings of freedom will be sure to follow in my intentionality.

Heavenly Father, I forgive my husband, Rick, for all that he can’t give me. I forgive him for all the things he does that anger me. I don’t want this anger anymore. Please forgive me for holding onto this anger, these resentments, and bitterness. I give it all up to you. Please release me from these strongholds in my life and set me free. Help me to keep a pure heart. Please set Rick free from his strongholds as well. I lift him up to You and ask that You do an amazing work in him and I thank You for him. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Hmmmm…

I actually do feel a bit of a release after doing this. Like a burden I’ve been carrying is no longer there…Who knows what happens in the spiritual realm when we forgive!

 

UPDATE (3/18/2018)

Still angry. Still sleeping as long as I can. Skipped church service two weeks in a row so people wouldn’t have to see how miserable I am feeling. This forgiveness thing is a struggle…or maybe the forgiveness and the anger have nothing to do with each other? The frustration is real.

 

Time To Go On A Fast…A Facebook Fast.

Rhetorical question…

Why is it so easy for certain people to brazenly comment on tragic events they know absolutely nothing about (other than what the news has portrayed) and be incredibly crass with their lack of sensitivity and concern for those in pain who will most likely see their ignorant comments?

Facebook seems to be a breeding ground for self-righteous basement dwellers with nothing better to do than troll for heartless sport.

Whatever…I’ll pray for them…with gritted teeth.

Help me, Jesus…HELP. ME.

I’m praying for my friends as they try to process what has happened. I’m sorry this mess has to be plastered all over the news which in turn invites all the creeps to make ignorant, cruel judgments on social media. I’m so very sorry.

 

Glitter Is Evil

You can’t say you love me and then give me a card coated in glitter. It’s rude and insensitive and quite frankly, I take it as an act of aggression…a declaration of war.

I mean, EVERYONE knows that glitter is the herpes of arts and crafts.

I don’t just speak for me but for all the contaminated fingers,  beards,  eyebrows, and faces everywhere. Stop the infestation!

Ban it I say…

            BAN IT ALL!!!

(I don’t REALLY take offense to glittery cards…it’s a joke…but, yeah, not a fan of glitter)

 

Response To A Stranger On Facebook

You ARE the evidence. You exist. And there is only ONE YOU. That in itself is pretty amazing.

You speak of “happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom”…Where do these things come from? Science cannot explain these things. Science is a great thing but the interpretation of science by humans is what can be flawed and biased.

The universe and everything in it has a clear and intricate DESIGN and order. A design cannot exist without a designer. Something cannot come from nothing. The fact that you exist is a miracle in itself. That’s right, YOU are a miracle. You are amazing and significant and special. Stop asking for proof and evidence from people and start asking God to reveal Himself to you. If you are truly sincere in your request He will answer you.

May the Lord bless you as I surely know He loves you.

 

STRANGER’S RESPONSE TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED:

Y’all back up off the Koolaid . . . try to be objective (you’ll probably need to look that up) if that is even possible . . . I’ll check back later – see if anyone has “seen the light” . . . No pun intended. . .

 

Clearly it doesn’t matter what is said to this person. Some great thoughts were shared and books containing some strong Christian apologetics recommended. There was only one comment I thought to be harsh and not helpful…

“God said, I AM. He didn’t ask your opinion. Nor does he need it.”

Other than that people were genuinely trying to help this person “see the light“. But this individual doesn’t WANT to believe. It’s not a head issue…it’s a heart issue. Funny, we’re studying Romans right now and this falls right in line with the willful suppression of God’s truth spoken of in the first chapter. It’s a spiritual blindness only God can remove. And I’m sure there’s been some hurt along the way. God knows his wounds. I prayed for him and put it in God’s glorious hands.

Seek Him First…Always

I wrote this on June 26, 2016 and saved it as a draft. Ashamed to admit I still struggle with this although I don’t cry, “Why me?” But I’m sure many people do.

The following is a good reminder to fix my eyes on Jesus and give Him praise. I keep catching myself focusing on all that is wrong and lacking in my current circumstances…but at least I catch myself so I suppose you could call that progress…

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” How many of us have fallen into the trap of crying out, “Why me?” instead of doing what Jesus told us to do? How many of us TRULY seek God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30)? Have we ever stopped to think about what that means? Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves what that entails? We all want our lives to go a certain way and we expect God to answer our prayers and to give us what we want, yet never stopping to first seek God and give Him what He DESERVES because He is worthy. He’s not a genie in a bottle, He is the Creator of the universe…

Still True

I wrote this on October 22, 2016 and saved it as a draft. It’s still true today, sadly…

I’m in a place where I can’t move forward without God intervening. I’ve been stuck in that place for a VERY long time. It feels like my purpose and gifts have been put on a back burner. I don’t look forward to anything anymore. I’ve stopped caring about a lot of things. Every so often it weighs on me more so than other days. Then I get through it and I seem to be OK with the way things are until it once again becomes almost unbearable. It’s a pattern that needs to end.

I know there’s something I need to learn yet I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m pretty sure a revelation from the Holy Spirit is needed. I hope it comes soon. I really do want to move forward.

This Is My Life

I first wrote this on March 14, 2017 and saved it as a draft (I edited a bit and added a couple lines today). Despite what I wrote in the first line, I actually did try talking to my husband again because I was in a bad way (once again). The conversation (if you can call it that) started because of a comment he made about my brother’s marriage ending. It was on the lines of, “If you’re unhappy then you should get divorced.” I proceeded to say that I wasn’t happy (it just came flying out of my mouth) but that feelings are fleeting and happiness comes and goes. I said a lot of things that night and I wish I could remember it all (I should have written about it right then) I mentioned how he doesn’t hug and how I guess that’s just the way he is and it won’t change because he’s just not wired that way. I told him how I’ve trained myself to not even want hugs from him anymore (his eyebrows may have gone up for a brief second at that)…I  mentioned a lot of things that had been weighing on me. He just sat there in silence for all of it. At the end he hugged me as I cried, but he didn’t say anything. Then he went to bed. That was a couple months ago…it’s as though I never said anything at all.

Too bad I’m way past the point of telling my husband how much I need hugs. After more than a decade of complaining about how he doesn’t hug…well, I finally gave up. He wins… Now I don’t even want hugs from him anymore. I’ve allowed that part of me to die…or did I? Did I allow it or have I just become numb to that desire? Too many times I would try to get a hug only to feel rejected. I would physically take his arms and place them around me…even then he wouldn’t squeeze. No feeling or sincerity behind it. Robots hug with more feeling. Who wants that?!?! No wonder I’m so damn miserable. And no wonder we no longer have sex. I just can’t make love to a robot (although I hear that’s a thing now…ew).

It’s great that he’s such a hard worker and provides me with all the essentials but I don’t feel loved the way I need to feel loved. This is my life.

Feeling Pathetic

How sad. I wrote this (including the title) on March 5, 2017 and saved it as a draft. Been sitting here on my ass thinking about how I really need to start going to the gym. I have a membership but don’t use it. Been asking myself why I don’t think I’m important enough to take care of myself, then I read this. Nothing has changed. Same thoughts, same struggles. This inward battle has been going on for years and I really want to overcome it. But wanting and doing are two very different things…

I’ve talked a pretty good talk on this here blog when it comes to what I should be doing and what attitude I should have. But actually walking the walk is another story.

So much for self discipline in the new year. Still not trying. Pretty much gave up on myself and I don’t know how to get back the drive. I just don’t see the point. I guess I don’t believe things will ever change so what am I trying for? I clearly don’t think I’m worth the effort. I’m so unhappy with my circumstances. I don’t see my marriage improving. It is what it is and he is who he is so there you have it. Game over. I can write on here all I want about how I just have to keep on keepin’ on and how God will provide me with all I need but, at the end of the day, I just don’t have it in me anymore. And for the record, this isn’t depression…I’m just unhappy. There’s a difference.

If I felt like I had purpose that would be something. My only current purpose in life at this point is cleaning the church bathrooms every Friday. How sad. Does anyone know if you dream while in a coma? Because if that’s true then I’d rather be in a coma for the remainder of my time on this planet.

It’s gonna have to be supernatural intervention at this point.

 

I just can’t allow this to be my truth anymore. Oh God, please help me.

Try Tellin’ That To A Judge

Image result for did deepak chopra really say It helps if you remember that everyone is doing their best

What a load of crap.

Deepak is making a lot of money spewing a whole lotta BS.

I came across this on Facebook and it annoyed the piss right out of me. Alright, maybe I didn’t wet my pants but COME ON!!!! Why don’t people think on things before posting? I mean, the more you mull over this statement in the ol’ noggin the less sense it makes. At least, that’s what happened for me. Every time I read it I’m reassured that this just. isn’t. true.

Sorry, but if this meme were true it most definitely WOULD NOT help, as it so falsely suggests. It would frighten the hell out of me to know that people can’t help themselves because of their level of consciousness?!?! I’d never leave the house…EVER!! And I would think this statement would piss off an awful lot of abuse victims. I was abused and my abuser knew exactly what he was doing. He was extremely “conscious” of his behavior, therefore I would say he was NOT doing his best. We all have free will and with that comes the freedom and ability to choose how we behave.

This blanket statement seems to excuse every bad behavior and removes all accountability. I would say that WE ARE ALL conscious of the fact that we can do better in life with intentionality and persistence. Therefore, if we’re conscious of this fact yet don’t try as hard as we could or should (which I, for one, am most certainly guilty of) we are then NOT doing our best. I’m so thankful I have Jesus to help me on my journey and to wipe my slate clean every time I mess up and need forgiveness. Repentance is a wonderful thing.

Maybe if he had worded it…

IT HELPS IF YOU REMEMBER THAT SOME OF US DON’T HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF TOOLS IN OUR TOOL BOX AND ARE JUST WORKING WITH WHAT WE HAVE.

That would’ve made sense. And maybe that’s what he was trying to imply…then again, maybe it’s not.

And then there are stupid people…can’t fix stupid. But that’s something else entirely. (just kidding, maybe 😉 )

 

Nana’s Legacy

I remember the first time I made spaghetti sauce in my Nana’s honor. I was in my early twenties, living in my first apartment. I was so excited when that familiar heavenly smell hit my nostrils. And the taste was right on! She never actually showed me how to make it but I tried to recall the ingredients I remembered seeing on my plate as a child….bits of carrot, red and green peppers, mushrooms, hamburg….and little bits of info I had picked up from watching her cook were pulled up from my memory. I tried picking her brain in her later years for comparison to see if I had done it right and it all seemed to match up. I’ve since personalized it with my own flair but the taste and smell is still there. I mean, one cannot duplicate another’s sauce exactly. It’s an art-form! (but I have to say, that very first batch was almost dead on)

For a time, if you were fortunate enough to have made the list, you would have received a special jar of ‘Mama Mindy’s Sauce’. I would make giant batches of it at Christmas and jar it as gifts. I made my own labels with instructions on how it should be properly consumed (very important).  I made sure to slap a picture of Nana’s face on the top of every lid. I even got to show her a jar when she was in the nursing home. She seemed a bit confused by it and wanted to know where I got it. I don’t think she fully understood what it was but she looked delighted!

Sometimes I would bring a crock-pot-full of the sauce to my brother’s house on Christmas Eve and we would all eat and enjoy. That’s why this sauce was so important to me…it seemed to bring a warm memory I’ve always treasured. Nana’s sauce was always enjoyed by all of us TOGETHER, with her.

Friends and family alike cherish and share the same memories of meals at Nana and Nono’s house. Theresa’s love language involved food and there’s no doubt that everyone who knew her would agree. By the way, you’ve never had a hot ham and cheese sandwich until you’ve had one of hers…preferably while sitting by the pool on a warm summer day…but I digress…  I can still see us all seated at that long rectangular table (I later learned that this table was nothing more than a sheet of plywood on cinder blocks) feasting on her savory Italian spaghetti sauce. Before we sat down to eat, Nana would pull a huge block of pecorino romano cheese from the fridge meant for me and Todd. My brother and I always had cheese grating duty. Important to note: This particular type of cheese is a VITAL ingredient and condiment to the successful making and eating of this sauce. It’s just not the same without it.

At this makeshift table with the plastic protective covering sat ME at the head of the table, of all places!  My grandfather, Nono, always sat to my right and my dad to my left.  I also had my very own place-mat with my name on it along with kid-sized silverware which I thought was great. What I didn’t think so great was when Nana would make me wear a bib. But once again I digress….Nana would run around like a chicken with its head cut off waiting on everyone else. When Nono required Nana’s attention he would whistle or snap his fingers and she would come running EVERY TIME. Old-school Italian ways I guess… By the time she finally did sit down to eat we were almost finished!

My grandmother passed away two years ago today (Dec. 7, 2015) and I feel I must say, I regret the way I initially responded to reading  her obituary. When I first read it I immediately took offense and was sure to let my brother know about my disapproval (in a text, of course). I know those words were intended to lift Nana up with a bit of humor, but when I read the part that said, “…many have tried to replicate (her spaghetti sauce) over the years without success!” I was immediately offended. That’s right…I MADE MY NANA’S OBIT ABOUT ME. Sick, I know. And what may be even worse is that I complained about it on Facebook (cue in the long, drawn out GASP). I wish I had sat on my feelings and worked it out in my head instead of immediately reacting based on a self-centered emotion. I mean, how silly can one be?!?

Because I’m a thinker and wanted to understand why I got so upset, after some reflection I came to the conclusion that I had been taking pride in this sauce for close to 18 years.  So when I read in the obituary that people had tried to make her sauce but no one had ever come close, I felt as though all my efforts to carry on Nana’s legacy through her sauce had been discredited…or maybe even unnoticed.  And that’s what I had been trying to do, carry on her legacy. So much time and energy put into honoring my Nana knocked down with a few measly words. Of course that’s not what really happened… my pride got in the way and I chose to feel offended when it wasn’t even about me. But I do need to add that I hadn’t only taken offence, I was genuinely hurt. Was it wrong to feel the way I did? No. We initially feel what we feel for whatever the reason. Our feelings aren’t what’s wrong, it’s the way we choose to react based upon our feelings that becomes the infraction.

It may seem odd that I’m even mentioning this two years after the fact, but I had started writing this a while ago only to save it as a draft to later be forgotten. It’s not that I’ve been stewing over this because I haven’t (OK, maybe I did at first). The anniversary of her passing brought it back up for me and I guess it’s just not something I’m proud of. I like to get stuff out of me by writing it down and then hitting the ‘publish’ tab. It helps me put things to rest and it’s sort of an online journal for me as well.  And to be brutally honest, I care too much about what my brother thinks of me and do hope he sees this someday to know I’m not as self-centered as he probably thinks I am. But what’s most important is that I’m forgiven by the One Who matters most, so there’s that.

Making this sauce is my way of making sure the world knows about the mark Nana left and how cherished she will always be. It’s been a long while since I’ve made it….long time since I’ve made anything for that matter. Maybe it’s time.

How I Do Milk Kefir

I like to keep my kefir in the cabinet while it’s fermenting.

I leave the lid very loose and just let it do it’s thing for about 24 hours. Some people use a cotton cloth with a rubber band as a cover  but I found that what I’m doing works fine, too. I guess the idea is to let them “breathe”. There are special lids available and maybe when I have some moolah I’ll invest in some. This lady has lots of stuff (and info) here.

24 to 48 hours is all it typically takes depending on how warm your house is and how many grains you have (the warmer the house the faster the ferment). Mine multiply like crazy and I’m running out of ideas on what to do with them! Can’t throw them out because I know they’re alive and I just can’t bring myself to murder them. They have become my friends.

Can’t feed ’em to my dogs because I don’t have any…but that is what many people do. I have 6 cats but when I try to cut up the grains and hide them in their wet food they manage to pick all around them. Finicky little bastards they are!

I’m assuming the grains are full of probiotics and good for you and I’ve never gotten sick from eating them. I’ve ground them up in my blender with a smoothie but I don’t like the slimy consistency. GAG. Some call it “creamy”…I call it nasty. But that’s just me. I’ve taken small chunks and swigged them down with some milk. Milk is best. If you use water they’ll stick in your throat. You don’t want that…trust me.  Swallowing them is challenging but it’s better than cold-heartedly tossing them. I guess some people like to chew ’em right up but they’re so sour and the texture skeeves me out. But yeah, some people like the weirdest things.

Of course, the best thing to do with extra grains is to give them away…I don’t know of many people who want them (only one friend so far). But I suppose you could let people know on the Facebook Marketplace if you don’t mind dealing with strangers..which I kind of do.

So here are the steps I use when making my kefir using milk kefir grains…

Step 1… When kefir is done fermenting, strain.

You’ll know when it’s ready because the sides of the jar will look dimply. If it has fermented too long it will separate into whey and curds..this is fine. Some have dubbed the whey as ‘liquid gold’ and it can be used to culture vegetables…just one of many benefits. Strain it out into a container. I like to use a plastic strainer and a large square piece of Tupperware. I’ve heard metal will kill the grains but if it is stainless steel it should be fine. I use plastic just to be on the safe side.

Ready for straining.

 

The liquid pictured here is just the whey from over fermenting. It’s actually considered a superfood which contains many healing properties.

 

Step 2…Place grains back in the jar and pour milk directly over them.

I prefer to use raw milk but any dairy milk will work. I don’t wash the jar, either. That’s precious bacteria on the insides of that jar! Some people say to wash the jar before placing grains back in and I used to do that until I learned it wasn’t necessary and actually boosts the strength of your kefir. I may wash it after some time if it seems to be getting funky, but it’s not very often. Oh, and NEVER rinse your grains with water! They need that wonderful, slimy bacteria!! And they WILL be slimy…long, stringy, wonderful slime!

Pouring the grains back into the jar…Look at that sweet action shot!

 

After new milk is added, loosely place lid on top and place back in cupboard for another round of fermenting.

Step 3…I do a second ferment.

Pour strained kefir into jars and add any kind of fruit you want. The sugar in the fruit provides food for the good bacteria and second fermenting will not only increase the amount of nutrients and vitamins, but it will make it taste better. Screw the lids on nice and tight and leave on counter for 1-4 hours or half a day. I leave mine out overnight. Then I put them in the fridge until I’m ready to prepare it the way I like.

I like to use bananas for my second ferment. I will break them up into pieces and put them in Tupperware for freezing. That way I always have them on hand and they don’t go bad from over-ripening on my counter.

 

Make sure those lids are screwed on tight! When they’ve ‘second-fermented’ long enough put in fridge until ready.

 

Step 4…Making it yummy!

When I’m ready to mix it the way I want, I go grab a jar from the fridge (I have a separate, much smaller fridge I use just for storing my kefir) The longer it sits the more likely it will separate. Just give it a good shake and then be prepared for a popping sound when you twist off the top! There’s natural carbonation in there! I love when it’s good and fizzy. I pour it into my blender and add frozen berries, a bit of organic maple syrup, and cinnamon. You can add any kind of fruit you want. This is just how I prefer it. Then I pour back in jars and keep in the fridge. Whenever I want a cup of kefir I have it already made and ready to pour!

This is what it looks like when it separates.

 

Yum! Remember to keep those caps on tight. It will keep fermenting in the fridge, just at a much slower rate…but sometimes they can erupt if left too long (hence the tight lids)!

 

Sometimes I have too much kefir already made. When that happens I just keep the jar of grains in the fridge until I’m ready to strain them. Just make sure you have done the fermenting time in room temperature FIRST before placing in the fridge. That goes for second ferments, too.

 

 

Lesson Learned

Motorcycle safety tip of the day:

Always check your tires.

Apparently I’ve been riding around on a bald tire but didn’t notice due to my rear fender hiding most of it. From the side it looked deceivingly fine.

So glad I always pray a prayer of protection before setting off on my rides!

Rick still seems a bit dumbfounded…he noticed my tire was flat yesterday after I stated I was planning on a ride for today. Upon closer inspection he could see the tire had been worn all the way down to the canvas! These tires weren’t brand new but they were supposed to be decent. Rick was surprised at how worn out it was but there’s no reason it should have been flat. I said there is a reason….God! If my tire hadn’t been flat I would have taken it out as usual which could have turned out to be a fatal decision. Rick said I could have died. I said God is always protecting me.

But, yeah…I will definitely be more careful from now on. God’s protection doesn’t give me license to be foolish! Lesson learned.

IMG_1285

YIKES!

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