Sunday, January 24, 2016


The past few days, I've noticed many instances where music, scripture, or dialogue points to fatherhood.

As you can expect, that's a touchy subject around here.

This morning, at church, we were singing "Good Good Father." I love this song, and was singing my heart out in praise until the first word "father" and all of the father-centered things flooded forward. My children are currently fatherless.

Scriptures rushed through my mind.

There are so many scriptures that tell me that although my kids are without their earthly father, they are NOT truly fatherless.  I may feel a bit like a widow at times (due to the unique nature of abandonment), but He's got me covered.

Yes, these scriptures are beautiful and comforting.

Practically, I hate to admit, but they don't always feel like comfort. Considering the young age of all of my children especially, who often talk about their dad being missing, trying to relate to them that God/Jesus is with them always even though they can't see him doesn't make a lot of sense, because their dad isn't with them in the same way, even though they also can't see him. 

It gets so confusing trying to explain and model these concepts. I tell my children Jesus is always around and that He is also in our hearts. I tell them their biological dad is in their hearts, but he isn't with us in omnipresence like God. To an adult, it doesn't make rational sense. To a child, even less so.

I struggle with applying these principles in my own life, let alone my kids. 

How do I get through to them they aren't fatherless when they have a Heavenly Father who provides?  Their idea of a father is skewed, which I have begun to realize is affecting my five year-olds view of Father God. He makes comments like Jesus cracks his heart, or he makes Jesus' heart cracked. He talks about Jesus disappearing. I try to speak the truth in the matter, but he just wants to argue about it.

God the father can't physically be seen to their little eyes, he's not actually rocking them to sleep or drying their tears. He's not there picking them up from daycare like other dads. He's a different kind of father than any of us understand.

It's a frustrating and overwhelming subject, this God the father to the fatherless. 

I am open to advice.

I took the boys to see "the Good Dinosaur" today. Cute movie. The dad dies, the kid loses his family. My boys both had feelings.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Harnessed in

It would be amazing if I could just jump right off this emotional rollercoaster I seemed strapped into.

I am terrified of rollercoasters. I've never ridden one, not in a carnival ride sense anyway.

There's something that makes me want to curl into a ball on the ground seeing images of people hanging upside down hundreds of feet in the air... And enjoying it, nonetheless. I feel like I would be latched onto the person next to me with a Hercules grip as soon as the ride started.  Yes, indeed, I am that sort of ninny.

That said... I seem to be firmly seated on a never ending emotional rollercoaster. I try to believe it will end, the motor will stop at some point or some gears will fail... though ideally I would like it to end peacefully on even ground where I am not at the pinnacle of its height or at the edge of a drop off.

I do not remember buying a ticket. I don't remember any sign qualifying my seat by reaching a certain height requirement. I certainly don't remember willingly taking a front row seat and waving at my family and friends as I said "oh yeah, I got this!"

And somehow... In a dazed stupor or love-blinded moment of ecstasy, here I am.

This rollercoaster accelerates at top speeds, and then suddenly slows like a bogged down crawl through molasses. It's exhausting. 

I haven't figured out the control panel yet. I am not sure who is steering it. It seems like it must be me, because I feel like if I was letting God be the conductor, it would look more like a railroad track through southwestern Minnesota than a rickety, loopy amusement park ride.  

I sit here, going from a moment of joy to a moment of sadness, and I find myself in a struggle to regain control of the ride. Then, I realize the power struggle, and I call out to God to take over. Sometimes, I cry harder, other times, I relax in my seat finally. And then it's a nice, steady chug forward.

You know, until the music changes and a lullaby plays "God bless mommy and matchbox cars. God bless dad and thanks for the stars." and it reminds me that my children's dad chose to disappear completely, and I'm alone, and the whir starts and the wind howls through my hair as the tears start streaming again.

Then, I think about the joy in my boys' laughter as I tell them tomorrow, someone is going to take the two of them somewhere super special and exciting just because he loves them so very much, and how overwhelmed with gratitude and love I am knowing that there's someone out there who desires to do these things just because he wants to. Of course, because this track is as such, it leads to realizing how infuriating and depressing it is that their own father can't be bothered to have contact with them, let alone do something special with them.  I pray to God to ease that heartache for all of us, again, and I find the beauty in the extended family He has provided.

So, I go back to my new, self-proclaimed current athem, and it sings, 

Among other lyrics, and I realize I've been trying to masque my presence on this rollercoaster for the past few days, mainly because I didn't want to burden anyone by asking for company, and because this nagging liar in the background keeps telling me I am a ridiculous, crazy burden that people are tired of accompanying anyway.   But, my athem told me I should show what I am made of, and right now, I am harnessed in and distressed.  

But, I am hopeful. And I haven't given up. I guess I will ride it out.

Did I mention my distaste for rollercoaster yet?

The other night, I finally felt like I understood this:

The love, the all encompassing, intense, unconditional love that I had for my future ex-husband was real, even if the person I thought he was turned out to be unrealistic. 

On my end, it was real, and that's why it still hurts, and why instead of beating myself up over the lasting heartache, I should accept that the heartache is true and deep and correlates to the love I had for him for 14 years. That's almost half my lifetime.

I think that's possibly the moment I wandered onto this ride. I allowed myself to embrace both the love and the loss, fresh, unrestrained, for what it is. 

I hope this ride is done soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Missing firsts

Lately, I have been noticing he's been on my mind frequently again. Sometimes it's missing him, other times it's not.

I have been praying it away, but it hasn't been working. 

It wasn't until moments ago that I realized why he's been on my mind so much again.

It's all the firsts. Norah's first time using a drinking fountain all by herself. Collin's first underwear. Spencer starting kindergarten this fall.  Those are just a few things... 

There have been so many things changing and so many first things happening.

And he misses every one of them, as he has for many months now.

I think about the consistency in my kids lives and the firsts he did see. Mostly, it boils down to their first breaths.  He saw a few first milestones, like smiles or rolling over, but really, he's missed out on a lot.

And then he would disappear, slowly at first, and then completely.

He missed so many of Norah's firsts- her first words, her first steps, he would find out of some of them later, but now... He knows nothing unless he reads it here.

He hasn't heard her say "I love you," or ask for a hug. He hasn't heard her say "daddy," or her brothers names. He hasn't seen her jump or use silverware. He hasn't seen her color or play babies.   

Where I am, I see mostly the lasts. I see the last time he told them he would love them and see them soon, wearing his stupid mustard Schwan's shirt with cut off sleeves. Promising he would call Spencer the next day. I see their last hugs. I see their last birthdays and Christmases and meals together. So many lasts we never knew would be the last.

I don't know what the future holds for my babies. I pray it includes him somehow. But I have to prepare myself for the plaguing heartache of three lives full of more missed firsts. First missing teeth, days of school, homework, dates, broken hearts, and so forth. 

It's overwhelming to think that way. But I'm struggling with it, praying for grace, and the strength to fight back tears for decades.

Friday, January 15, 2016

am then, was now

I feel this surge inside of me tonight. I lay awake in bed, unable to sleep for whatever reason, and out of thin air, I am compelled to write poetry. 

It takes me back to my little haven at home back in junior high and high school, when I would reach to my dresser in the dark, feeling for my notebook and my pen. And there, in the absence of light, I would write out my words. Poetry would flow from my fingertips until my mind was calm and my body was finally exhausted enough to sleep. 

In the morning, I would read my words. Surprisingly, more often than not they were legible and I would then venture downstairs to type them out and put them on my "secret" poetry website only a few knew about.

It was common. It was familiar. It was me.

And then, as tides change, so did my life. I went to college, made new friends, fell in love, and molded slowly into a young woman who resembled the former in many ways. But through the years, as is often the case with age, the resemblances faded.  Not necessarily the physical ones, though some, but the characteristics that make up the personality.

As I find to be the case in many areas lately, I didn't see it then.

I see it now.

Now, as I lay in bed, over a decade later, in my dark room. No longer a pen beside me, as I have now given life to three beautiful, albeit mischievous babies who like to write on things that aren't paper, but I find my phone.

I open my notepad.

And like an old familiar tune, my fingers fly and the poetry trickles forward.

This time, I see it form as I go, the screen illuminating my words as they never used to. And I create what I believe to be the second poem I have crafted in at least 8 years.

Immediately, because if the technology in front of me, I read it over. I critique it in my mind as "not great," but decide to throw caution to the wind and publish it anyway.

I turn off the screen.  

My mind still circles as a carrousel.

And here I am again- fingers flying.

In those few minutes between poetry and prose, my mind wanders through the years. I see myself now, a single mother of three, playing over conversations I've had with a few friends recently. They've told me the visions they have for my future. I recall a book I was loaned talking about hearing God's calling on our lives and accepting the call, knowing that after trials and tribulations we are purified in character so we can best be used by Him. For a few moments, I dare to imagine the visions they had as reality. I become anxious.

Then, I wonder... What are my visions for myself now?

I used to have visions for my future. My past lead into the future, which is now my present, and the present is nothing like I had envisioned.

I wonder, have I lost myself somewhere? Have I lost the ability to have a life goal? A long term plan?

Then, I realize all the things I used to do. I wrote poetry, I was a photographer, I did graphic design for fun, I hand-bound books and journals, I wrote stories, I cooked, I baked, I sang, I played guitar and clarinet, I sewed, I painted, I drew, I played games, I traveled, I went and had fun visits with friends.

There was a period where I nearly lost all of these things. My camera was gone, my guitar, my words, my supplies. I had lost so much and in losing so much, lost much of my release and my vision.

But, in the dark, I see now so clearly many of them are sneaking back into my life.

Do I still love them? Many I do.
Do I desire them? Many I do.

Not all. Many. 

I can see myself then, and I see myself now. I compare and contrast and I wonder who I am now. I know I am not just a mom, though many days it feels that way. I like to believe I am still a great friend. I still have my sense of humor and creativity. But I don't have my direction yet, and that produces a slight sense of confusion, apprehension, and makes it hard to find ambition.

I, frankly, do not quite know who I am now, what I am about now, and what I should plan for now.

I've been holding onto what I had envisioned for so long. I had been holding onto hope for what didn't happen for so long. I have been in mere survival mode for too long.

 I have found myself at this intersection, unsure of where to proceed. Perhaps, I should breathe, pray, and wait. I should see what unfolds instead of hastily jumping forward.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

For I am but a Candle

I was ignited.
My passion 
a vivid flame
flickering against
the stagnant
mistake gray existence
of the world around me.

infiltrated my spirit,
stifling and clenching
it's writhing hands 
around my core,
siphoning my will
and hope to shine.

the weight
of the darkness 
forced itself upon 
my shoulders
crushing my airway,
restricting all oxygen
and the flame began
wither away.

I submitted 
my soul fire
to hold onto existence
and familiar arms,
the ones that bonded
my mind and heart
to welcomed deceit.

I was extinguished.

gale winds of change forced the familiar 
away, leaving me exposed
and susceptible.

I breathed in
New Life
and found the
strength to hope once more.

my source 
has been renewed
and my flame 
burns bright
growing and reaching
to eradicate the darkness
that once nearly
swallowed my world.

I burn.

So Far

A year ago, I left work, and moved into the (then brand new) homeless shelter in town, followed by moving to another homeless shelter where I rented one of their transitional housing apartments.

It was petrifying.

A year ago, I was still hiding my marriage crumbling, my husband's abandonment and other things from the world.

It was exhausting.

A year ago, I was still weighing my decisions on how they would affect my husband and his feelings about the kids and I, and I was still soliciting his opinion even though he rarely was helpful.

It was frustrating.

A year ago, I was still being manipulated, controlled, lied to, and emotionally abused.

It was brain washing me.

A year ago, I was the only one of us fighting for our marriage and our family. 

It was overwhelming.

A year ago, I was still covering up for him, cleaning up his messes, and enabling his poor choices for fear that he would dessert us and in hope that he would finally change.

It was embarassing.

Now, I sit on the couch and I look how far I've come. The children and I have had our own home for over 5 months. I no longer rely on his unreliable assistance for paying rent or bills (or anything at the moment, but that's another story). We have our own address and can have visitors whenever we want (so please come visit). My marriage is publicly on the road to and end, and I no longer feel alone. The weight has been lightened after letting people in. I no longer wait around for input from someone who does not have his children's best interest in mind. I make the decisions, with the help of God or a few trusted friends.

I have asked God to break the chain from the abandonment, lies, control, and abuse. I am free. I can see clearly.

And now, I am fighting for my children and I. I have put us first. I have put my babies first. I still wish I could have had a restored marriage, but I cling to God and his plan for me through this. I pray for my (future) former husband in that he is personally restored. 

And now, I have let down the wall, and let the world see what really happened, for hope that he would be accountable, fearing that it would haunt me publicly, however, or that he would make me out to be crazy. Instead, I see his real character shine through, and I know I am not to blame or to be embarrassed. It is him, not me.

Look how far I've come. 

Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Breathe. Overcome.

Overcome, overcame, overcomer... this is a trio of words that two friends consistently call me, or refer to as my words.  I hear them say this, I feel where they're coming from, but I don't always see it or feel it as truth.  

Here's a little story of the last 18 hours or so, and how I went from feeling defeated and overwhelmed to realizing that I really am an overcomer.  I apologize in advance if at the end it really was hard to follow or see the point.  But, I just need to type.
I never really chose these words as "mine" but they keep coming back again and again.  Now, yes, I have a relationship with God, but as many, I often have times hearing what he's trying to say to me.

I wrote recently about doorways, and how I'm closing one door from the manipulative marriage I was in, and moving forward to whatever is beyond the next door.   I have been through fires and trials, and somehow, I'm still able, most days, to laugh, smile, and relish in the many joys that God bestows upon me.  

Some days, though, I still falter.  I grapple with negative thoughts, fears, and worries.

This past week was a week filled with the grappling.  I've stayed up late mulling over the what-ifs and fearing what may or may not come in the future.  It's been EXHAUSTING.  I had a beautiful reprieve yesterday when I was able to spend a few hours with some long-time friends, allowing my children to play with theirs, and to voice some of these issues and talk through them without children in ear shot.

But for some reason, when I left their house last night and my children fell asleep in the van, they came flooding back, more intense than before.  Fears like... "if I were to die on a weekend, how long would it be before someone was wondering where I was, and how long would my children remain scared, hungry, tired, and alone."   

Now, this fear has plagued me since I first had a baby, and my husband worked overnights.  It would fall into the background from time to time, but it's always been there.  

When I finally returned home, the children were all still asleep, and I had a text from one of my friends who speaks "overcome" to me.  She was asking how I was, and my fingers flew across the keypad on my phone as I emptied my heart to her again.

I had been only half-clinging to God throughout the week, and more clinging to myself, my mind, my strength, my fears.  I knew it even if I couldn't say it.  But, then God reached out and grabbed me, and brought me back to Him.

She called, I didn't answer the first time, but she called again, and I laid down my pride and I answered.  She talked with me, let me cry, and prayed with me.  When she was done, a song I cling to that comes to me often at the perfect time, started on the van radio.  It was the first song I think I heard the entire drive home.  

"Lord, I need you.  Every hour I need you.  My one defense- my righteousness..."  It hit me, as it always does, like he was calling out to me to call out to Him.

She suggested I listen to one specific song when I got home.  I never got to it, unfortunately, because the three children all woke up very upset, and I went through and extensive bedtime routine before getting them to sleep.  At that point, I opened my Bible, which I have admittedly neglected this week, and began reading where I left off.

I laughed to myself as I realized God was showing me what just happened in the van, (as it has many times before) and how it's been His plan for me all along to have that sort of thing happen when I need it most.  As my friend says frequently, I'm not meant to go at it alone, after all.  It happens when I start feeling like I'm crumbling, I find a friend or two that build me up.   I sat there, amazed, though I shouldn't have been, I'm sure, by the verse.  I prayed then that I could be that person for someone else who may need it.  I still pray that.  I've always prayed that, actually.

I digress.  I then began apologizing to God for not trusting Him through the week and worrying so much about things I can't control, that He has under control, and things I can't begin to work on yet while I'm still before the next door in my journey.  I felt a sense of relief, and started sobbing. 

God often speaks to me through music, and right before my friend text me to check on me, I started humming a melody.  It took me only a few moments before I realized what song I was singing.  It's an old favorite called "Breathe on Me" by Jennifer Knapp.

The key lyrics that came to my mind were:

No temptation seize a man that he can't overcome.
Who am I to be fallen?
Crack your back on a slab of wood
come freedom, nail it down, I come crawling
I come crawling.

Come trickle down and save the world
two hands that I can't see
come breathe, come breathe, come breathe on me.
Split rib water, blood and bone,
come now, come Calvary.
Come breathe, come breathe on me.

Testimony come now quickly, whisper in my ear
Peace at last not far away, 
empty sheet, a borrowed grave
Come freedom come.

Exhausted, I fell asleep on the couch.

This morning, when I woke up to Norah in my bed, stealing my covers, I realized she had slept better last night, than she had in weeks.  She only woke up once (yes, she still sleeps like a newborn).   I went to church, excited as I am every Sunday for that last 8 or so months.

Two songs brought me to tears.  The first was the song that my friend suggested I listen to last night but never did, "Great Are you Lord," by All Sons and Daughters.

She even quoted it to me last night, "It's Your breath in my lungs."  Another breath related word.  Breathe is another message I find myself getting often because I really forget to breathe in the right air sometimes.  

The second song, talked was "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel Music.

You unravel me with a melody,
you surround me with a song
of deliverance from my enemies
til all my fears are gone.

I'm no longer a slave to fear,
I am a child of God.

As I mentioned, I have been dwelling on fears.  Last night, when we prayed, we prayed that be broken.  And here it was, again.  That, and the first line... that's totally me.  I already mentioned that also, God speaks to me through song quite often.  I find he speaks to me through song, through a few close friends especially, and through the Bible readings when I get over myself and my need to do other things with my time and sit down and read it.  I'm working on it.

Today, the message was about overcoming offenses.  I immediately flashed back to a book, "The Bait of Satan" that I had borrowed from my friend and read a few months ago. When I read that book, I felt such a release.  I forgave and moved on from offenses I had been holding onto at the time.  It was such a blessing.

I had said to my friend last night that I wasn't sure what else was burdening me, and we prayed I would see it so I could release it.

Well, there it was.  As soon as I saw the title of the sermon I knew.  I had latched on to new offenses since then, and I needed to overcome them.  A fresh freedom is what I needed.

So, I listened, reflected on the book and the message.  And when the pastor prayed, I released again.  I still need to work, I will admit, because some offenses run deeply. But, I truthfully don't want to hold onto them.  So, I'm working and praying on it in the days ahead.

He mentioned this verse:

This verse, for a few months, has been the screen lock on my phone.  "I have overcome the world."  I see it daily.  Today, I realized I have been seeing it, but I haven't been really reading it.

After church, my other friend said to me again, something along the lines of "how'd you like that?  It was your word again."

It was. 

I sit here, this afternoon, my children with their aunt and uncle a few hours so I can clear some of the clutter from our apartment, and I feel much lighter, not totally.  I still need to figure out what else is burdening my heart and work through it.  But, I'm sitting here with clearer mind, again, seeing my words.

Overcome.  Breathe.

I can do both.  I have done both.  God's done the overcoming for me and He's the air I breathe. 

And my weary heart is going to be okay.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


One year ago, next week, I took my children to stay at a homeless shelter with me.

I go back and forth, sometimes I feel proud that it happened, and others very much ashamed.

But the fact of the matter is- it happened.

One year ago, one evening after a long, exhausting day of work, my future ex-husband randomly let the kids and I keep the van (he had possession of it and was always our chauffeur) overnight. Feeling the cramping and stress we were placing on the friend we were staying with, and realizing that although I had just started a new job, I wouldn't be able to secure a place to live and afford it before her lease was up, I made a big decision that night.

After I got the kids all a super quick supper of poptarts, yogurt, and juice, I quickly collected items I thought we might need, not really knowing at all what to expect, put them in bags, and when the kids were finished, I dressed them and explained that we were going to go somewhere else to sleep that night and have s slumber party.

I was on auto pilot as soon as the decision was made, really. I had heard that the shelter was filling super fast and there was no guarantee beyond that night that there would be a family room available for the four of us. I realized it was now or never. I had to swallow my pride and my fear knowing that there was no looking back (in my mind) if I wanted to be self-sufficient. The director there I had talked to earlier in the week had said if we came there, they could point me in directions of people to help me during the allotted month we could stay.

So, terrified of the unknown, broken in spirit and trying my damnedest to put on an excited face for my babies, we went.

I graduated with a bachelors degree in social work. I never imagined that I would ever live at a shelter and need the programs I had once worked to provide others. But, when my marriage crumbled and my husband honestly didn't care what happened to us, that's where I landed. Carrying two of my three babies in the frigid cold across the parking lot to what were supposed to be welcoming doors. However, they seemed stale and terrifying.

The shelter was packed with single men and women who looked at me, holding a toddler and an infant, my preschooler hugging his stuffed animal beside me, and just stared. I assumed they wondered how the hell we ended up there, much like I wondered, and much like they likely wondered of themselves.

The staff was welcoming and friendly to the kids and I, moreso than many other people checking in. My children were brave and friendly. And after some paperwork and rifling through our things, we were escorted to a room with two beds and a pack and play. There was a chair, desk, dresser, and bathroom. The ceilings were huge. It was empty and overwhelming and the kids voices echoed so loudly.

We weren't allowed to bring much into the room. They sterilized our clothes f stuffed animals, and we were allowed to keep a couple toys, books, hygiene items, diapers, wipes, and baby formula and bottles.  

It wasn't until the middle of the night, after the kids were sleeping (though they woke crying frequently), that my auto pilot turned off and I smothered my sobs into a pillow.

I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like my friend would take it as a sign I was ungrateful that she let us stay a while, or that we hated her. But really, I felt it best for us all, even though I also felt it the worst choice I had made in a while. She needed her space and I needed a push into help or it could have been worse come April. But I had the van that night, a surprise for sure, and we went. 

My husband, who couldn't have cared less up until this point, was mad. He didn't want to have to come and get us super early when everyone had to leave at 6:45am every day, weekends included. 

God saved us. He worked miracles, and we were given a chance to rent a transitional housing apartment that fit into my measly budget. And living there, I was able to work hard, budget and save, and find a real apartment for us. It's hard to get by on just my paycheck, paying all the rent and bills and providing what we need, and there's admittedly a constant fear I suppress in my mind that if the kids or I are sick that I won't make enough and we will be homeless again. 

But, for the first time in my marriage, rent has been on time every month, we haven't had water or electricity shut off because I trusted too deeply in someone, I loved blindly and with every fiber of my being, who betrayed us. Looking back I feel like a naive, ignorant, love struck moron.  And it's all so cumbersome and liberating all at the same time.

I can't believe this is my story. I still feel the raw emotions when I flashback to the night we checked into the shelter.

It's not okay that it happened, but it's totally okay that it happened. I grapple with both sides still.