Mean Girls

            My freshman year of high school became its own war zone, not so much within my home but inside my head. The events of this year and the one that followed produced demons in my soul that I would spend the next 20 years running from. If I had stopped and allowed myself to examine those demons before I got married at 18, I wouldn’t have prolonged and compounded the agony I allowed myself to endure. But as they say (whoever THEY are) “Child…you can’t do what you can’t do.”

            I was watching an episode of THE CHOSEN about a month ago when God showed me something sort of strange within its story line. I didn’t realize that many of the “demons” that plagued the women of the Bible were caused by sexual abuse. In those days, and in many church settings still, sexual abuse is something that nobody wants to talk about. In my personal life, not only was sexual abuse not mentioned, but neither was sex. It wasn’t a subject that my Mom felt comfortable discussing and Dad and I had deteriorated too far for me to be able to approach the subject with him. We were barely speaking. I was angry at him for leaving me there to deal with Mom and her fits of rage or her absence, but from what I’d learned in Church being angry was wrong, asking questions was wrong, and implying that your parents were anything less than perfect was seen as a sign of disrespect. Within the events that had occurred in my life up until this point, I had already learned by the age of 12 that if I wanted answers to any questions, I was going to have to find them without the help of a Church or my parents.

            Another tactic that Satan uses to destroy us from the inside out is isolation. My mom didn’t want people in our business because she was never home, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it. My grandma knew what was going on, but Grandma was exhausted and in a mess of her own. She was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer around this time, and while I don’t remember exactly the time frame, her cancer progressed very quickly. If I’d have known she didn’t have much time left I wouldn’t have asked her to deal with my growing pile of problems.

            School started like every other year. I was hopeful that this year would be different, and I would be accepted by people. Because of Mom’s gift of contacts and a perm and the new clothes I had received, I was a little more confident that THIS YEAR I wouldn’t be as much of an outsider. I was very book smart, but when it came to street smarts or understanding the way other kids my age interacted with each other I was very immature. I learned my way around the giant building and was adjusting, but about a month in, I knew this year would be no different than the ones before it in “Public” school. I was dead wrong. This year would be totally different.

            My old friends from middle school, the socially awkward outcasts were not a fan of my new look. My coke bottle glasses had been replaced with contacts and my super long hair looked amazing with the curls the perm had given it. I still didn’t really know what to do with my clothes, but I had a funky, boho dork vibe going on. I wore what I liked and not what was “in” to everyone else. I had never been introduced to Nike or any of that stuff so if it was comfortable, it fit, and I liked the look I wore it. I tried making my own clothes, but as much of a crafter as I turned out to be making clothing is not a skill I have.  Anyway, my old friends began to distance themselves from me when they saw the attention I was getting from different people. I’m not sure if it was the way I looked or my little bit of newfound confidence, but it hurt me. I talked to Mom a little bit about it one day when she asked me to help her shop for a new dress. She told me that girls are petty and jealous, and they do things to hurt other people all the time. I’m not sure now if she was talking about her friends or mine.

            Mom and I had a very strange relationship during this time. She alternated from being my closest friend to the person I hated the most on the planet. She would be super nice and we were like girlfriends picking out outfits to wear and the nights that she was home I would follow her around while she was getting ready to go out talking about boys or clothes or girl problems. The days she was stressed or tired or whatever, she would spend that time screaming at us about the condition of the house or fighting or whatever else kids do that annoys their parents. Living with Mom was like living on a roller coaster…except somewhere in the back of everyone’s minds everybody knew that the roller coaster could fly off the tracks and kill all of us at any moment. I didn’t realize what was going on then, either because I was too young, too naïve, or too involved in my own unresolved pain. Whatever the case, I didn’t know why Mom had to keep going to the hospital and staying there. I found out later Mom kept putting herself in in- patient clinics. Whatever demons were chasing Mom were catching her. She’d be better for awhile and then the stress of her life and the pain in her heart would be too much for her to keep a grip on and she’d crash again. I was frustrated with never knowing what was going on, with never being able to help her, and not knowing why on the nights she was home I could hear her crying in her bedroom. When I would ask her about why she was crying she would say “I’m just tired Jackie. Life gets hard sometimes.” I tried to help her and take care of the other kids, but the longer this went on the more frustrated I became with my inability to show her that someone did love her and her inability to see that someone did. I got tired of having to defend her and I got even more tired of taking on responsibility that didn’t belong to me.

            I was allowed to go to youth group at St. Vincent’s a lot during this time, mostly because it was free and Mom knew, on some level, that I needed a break too. When prayer time came, I always prayed for God to fix my Mom. I was terrified something would happen to her and we’d have nobody. Since she was gone a lot, I started going through her files in her room trying to find answers as to why Mom fell apart so often. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I found plenty of demons hidden away in her closet or her drawers that I not only didn’t understand but couldn’t tell anyone about because I would get in trouble for going through her stuff. I found a letter from some place, Perfect Moms, or something like that, listing all of the things that made my Mom a bad person. I didn’t know where it came from or who wrote it, but it listed a lot of things that people in the Church of Theology had seen her do wrong. This petrified me and, on some level, I felt a sense of relief because that meant that other people had seen those things too. What confused and horrified me is that at the end of the letter it said that someone was coming to take us away from her. It listed names of people that I believed to be friends of my Mom’s and I couldn’t understand why this letter was so nasty and hateful if these people were supposed to be her friends. It also made me understand why she was so strict about what we told people outside of our house. That didn’t help my dilemma any.

            I don’t know if she knew I was going through her stuff or not, but soon after I found the letter, she started locking her bedroom door when she left the house. She began to stay gone for even longer after this, even though now I’m almost positive the two events had nothing to do with each other. I had no idea what was going on and even though I was old enough to understand some things that were far beyond my age, I still had no clue about others.

            Mom dated and I still hated any man she brought home to meet us. They didn’t seem to think much of us either and I just wanted them to go away. This is where I believed my “face problems” began to make an appearance. Mom kept telling me not to be rude. So, I didn’t say the awful things that ran through my head, they just showed up on my face.  Some of my favorite times with my brothers and sisters were right after Mom and What’s His Name left after meeting us. We would come up with a nickname for the new guy and sit around and make fun of him. They made it ridiculously easy. Alex had a great sense of humor and Joyce would laugh and snort every time that Alex would come up with something else to make fun of them about. We had a great time together and I learned to rely on these times with my brothers and sisters. Lisa, the youngest, would always tell on us for the things we did, so we excluded her a lot. I wasn’t the best big sister in the world to them at this point. I hit them a lot when they got on my nerves or threw things at them when they didn’t do what I told them to do. Mom would get so angry when she got home, and their chores weren’t done. I felt like Nick, the second oldest,  wouldn’t do them on purpose just because he knew that I would get grounded or get in trouble for not “making” them do the things Mom had left them to do, so I was twice as mean to him as I was anyone else.

            Something strange began happening at school. Other kids had started to notice how smart I was and began asking me to help them with their work. At first it was just an answer or two, but soon kids were coming up and asking me to do their whole assignments. I was doing so much work for other people, one of my friends, Kelly, told me to start charging them. So, I did. One boy, Jason, had me doing his entire course load of work and didn’t care how much it cost. His girlfriend on the other hand did. She was annoyed with how much time he was spending bringing me his work and when she found out that he had come to my house a few times to drop off work, she assumed that something else was going on. It wasn’t. I had no interest in him, he couldn’t even do his own homework. Anyway, she and a group of her friends met me at my locker one day and told me that if I didn’t stay away from her boyfriend, she was going to beat me up. I’d been beat up before, so I just looked at her and said, “Girl, what your boyfriend does is your problem. Leave me alone.” Unfortunately, as I walked away, I tripped over my own foot and dropped all my books on the floor. They found that hysterical and proceeded to make my life a living hell from that point on. They left death threats on my answering machine. They threw things at me in the hallways and got other kids to do the same. I was miserable.

            The death threats on the answering machine got so bad by the end of the year, my Mom finally went to go talk to the administrators at the school. She even took the answering machine tape with her and the administrators told her that until they touched me there was nothing they could do. Mom was livid. When she came home, I asked her what I was supposed to do if they jumped me. Mom told me not to fight back so I didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to just stand there and let 4 or 5 girls that were bigger than I was beat the tar out of me and not defend myself. The conversation escalated and soon we were screaming at each other. All of the sudden, out of frustration, Mom slapped me across the face and yelled, “Jackie VIOLENCE IS NEVER THE ANSWER!!” I stopped and looked at her with my hand on my face, trying to make sense of the irony of her statement accompanied by her slapping me. For some reason, it struck me as the funniest thing I had ever heard, and I started to laugh. Mom just blinked and then the realization hit her as well and she started to laugh with me. I understood her premise, but what I don’t think Mom knew was that she was sentencing me to social death if I followed her advice.

            My friend Kelly and I decided that we would take things into our own hands when the next death threat came. She got dropped off at my house before school and we were going to walk together so that if I did get jumped it wouldn’t be one on five. What I didn’t know was that Kelly had called her friends for backup. Eight people showed up to walk me across the street to school. They were the baddest of the bad in our high school. Their leader didn’t come, but his cronies did. I was caught in between feeling thankful and being absolutely terrified at what was about to go down. I didn’t know anybody cared. What I failed to understand is that nobody really did care, they just liked to fight. Most of them were gang affiliated and race wars were prevalent due to the Rodney King beating. None of them were actually in my district, but my school took the kids from the Boys’ School or Wood Youth Center and they were bused in from whichever program they were housed in. The girl that was threatening me lived in the same addition and also walked to school. There we came, my group on one side, hers on the other. I was ecstatic when I saw her face as she realized exactly who was on my side. I knew that my “friends” were scaring her and I loved that I could walk to school with them. I felt strong. I felt strong until we crossed the street.

            Working in the school system now, I realize there is no way administration wouldn’t have seen us coming. We were all pulled into the office as soon as we stepped on school property. We were searched for weapons and drugs and then pulled into different rooms in the office to talk about why we were in such a big group and what was going on. Of course, the girlfriend was scared because all my “gangster” friends had shown up and she tried to say that I was threatening her. I was already mad at the people in the school for telling my mom there was nothing they could do, so I reminded them that Mom had told them there was a problem and they had done nothing. I was suspended pending investigation for “suspected gang activity” (we weren’t allowed to be in groups bigger than 5) because I started the whole thing by cheating. It was close enough to the end of the year that Mom didn’t make me go back or go talk to any of the administrators. She’d had enough of “public” school and honestly, I had just about all that I could stand as well. The summer would prove to be just as much of a problem as the school year and neither of us were all that prepared for what happened next.

A Word is Just a Word, Right?

I left off my last post, LOST, with Matthew 13:19 because I wanted to point out something particularly important here before I get into the next chapters of my life. It is imperative that I explain why this verse is so profound.

“When anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”

Why is this so profound? I asked my stepmom, Marcia, a couple of months ago what she thought was the most important thing my Dad wanted us to learn growing up. Her response was “Your dad wanted you guys to be God-fearing.” At first, when she said it, I snorted and thought, “Well, we definitely learned that.” But God poked at me to look at the meaning of God-fearing. I thought that God-fearing meant you were afraid of what God would do to you if you didn’t obey him and his twelve billion rules. As God often does, he opened my eyes to the true meaning of the words I found that God-fearing meant that we should be afraid to do life without God. Was it my Dad’s fault that Pastor and my teacher and the divorce had taught me fear? No. I didn’t understand that wording and in the events of my life, Satan would use that confusion to drive a wedge deeper and deeper between not only me and my family, but me and God. I don’t have to blame my parents because their intentions were honest and true in the beginning. The execution of those plans did not go the way they wanted. I’m not the only one of my siblings who left the Church.

            My parents left Catholicism because it didn’t offer them truth. I’m not dogging the Catholic church here because I believe that one of the places that I found acceptance was within the hearts of those who held Catholic teachings to be true. If I’ve learned nothing from my time within the school system and working with other people’s children who feel just as lost as I have been, it’s that people don’t understand things in the same way. I can say one sentence to five different people and all five will come away with a different understanding based on their own feelings and interpretations and life experiences. I can’t tell you how many student support calls from teachers I have gotten where the first thing the teacher says when I walk through the door is “I’ve told him 15 times to quit doing that and he just won’t listen!” Well, yeah because that kid is not hearing in a language he understands. Kids speak in different languages as well. They don’t always just walk up and say, “Hey! I feel like crap today because my parents are fighting, and I’m scared they don’t love me anymore.” What they usually say is some version of “Get away from me! I don’t need any help from you!” or they just give you the finger or a lovely stream of curse words and maybe a kick to a desk or a classmate for emphasis. We read people and situations through our own lenses and our previous experiences (or in some cases, lack of experiences) do have impact on how we see ourselves being treated by other people.

            I felt like I wasn’t loved by my parents for a very long time. It was never because they said, “Hey, Jackie, sorry we know we had you and all but this just really isn’t working out. We don’t love you so you can hang out in the family but that’s all we got for you alright?” Nobody said anything like that to me, but SATAN is a liar and I believed a narrative that wasn’t true. I can’t go back and ask Pastor why he felt the need to humiliate me in front of his whole school because he died awhile back, but even if I had been able to ask I doubt he would remember. You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but that’s a terrible thing to do to a kid. He should have known better. He was a man of God for crying out loud!” And I would agree with you. I used that as my narrative for a long time. It was the only thing that made sense. It was the only thing that made sense until I grew up and hurt people with my own actions when I thought I was doing the right thing that I began to see that good people hurt people too. He might have just been a jerk, but that is not my judgement to make.

            My parents gave me a solid foundation of God but love never came across as part of that. I’m sure if they had known what it would do to me as a person, they would have done things differently. We can’t go back in time and change the choices that we make that hurt the people we love the most, as much as I wish we could. I genuinely believe that the saying, “God never gives us more than we can handle” is the truth. In November of last year, I had had enough. I was done. I had nothing left. But God used the Pandemic to show me I could have stopped my brokenness at any time I wanted. All I had to do was tell him “God, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t walk around acting like I’m fine when I am dead on the inside. I don’t know what I need, but it is not this.” As soon as I was ready to look at my pain OUTSIDE of my anger at the world, God took my misery. All I had to do was admit that I had it and that I needed him to take it because I couldn’t carry it anymore. He’d have taken it earlier, but I refused to ask.  Does my past still hurt? Of course. Some parts of it always will. Some of my pain is as engrained in me as the color of my eyes. The difference now is that every single thing I went through was necessary for me to experience, to be hurt by, and to live through in order to be good at what he called me to do. I made the choices that took me down roads he never intended for me to go, but that doesn’t mean he left me there alone. I spent most of my life yelling at God like one of my students and telling him “Get away from me! I don’t need your help!”

In the book, Wholeness, Pastor Roberts talks about the different areas that crack our view of the world. This can be from abuse, or an unexpected loss, really any number of things can distort the way we see the world around us.

He says, “The problem with having a marred world view (not whole) is that you miss the beauty if you don’t process these things. This is compounded by fear, fear keeps you disabled, you are scared to try new and different things. Even if something is good you won’t see it because you expect negative outcomes. No longer drawn to good things, you attract bad because you only know how to look for negatives.)

Let’s face facts here. None of us have escaped some sort of pain in this world. If my story doesn’t make sense to you and you don’t understand it then I am happy for you. Honestly. I’m glad you have never been at a point you felt you were nothing but pain and boiling rage. Does that mean you can’t relate to anything I’m saying? No. When something hurts your feelings it cracks who you are. You may not see it but it shows up in the choices you make, the people you surround yourself with, and the way you view yourself that nobody else can see. If you don’t learn to rewrite your narrative to see the highest possible thought about another person you really are only doing yourself the same disservice that I did.

“Wholeness brings healthy perspectives. Unprocessed pain will always be ill processed pain.” Roberts says. “In order to heal, reimagine motives from other angles.” I can’t tell you how deeply I hope that if you are reading my story because you feel like you are dead on the inside that you listen to me when I say this. Refusing to forgive someone who hurt you does damage to YOU and not to them. I used to get frustrated with this line of thinking because I didn’t know how to forgive. When I rewrote my narrative it made more sense and I could begin to offer forgiveness not only to the people in my life who hurt me, but to myself for taking on a pain I didn’t ask for.

            If this is you and you need more information than I was able to put here please feel free to contact me on either of my Facebook pages or through my personal number or email if you have it. I may not have the answers you need and I am in no way a counselor or someone who is equipped to handle your life, but I have connections to some seriously AMAZING human beings that can help you find your answers.

Lost

After the School of a Million Spankings we were homeschooled for awhile, which I’m sure didn’t really do much for Mom’s workload or her piece of mind. Homeschooling is hard work, even when you aren’t trying to teach a kid who has no ability to retain math concepts. My younger brother, Alex, would start the joke some years later that I thought 2+2 equaled yellow. After homeschooling we went to another Christian school, but then when my parents divorced we left that school too. We went to another Christian school, but one day Mom told me that we would start going to public school. I had heard people talk about “public” school and I didn’t trust the tone they used. It was the same tone people used to describe food they thought was disgusting. I didn’t look forward to it.

I remember Mom taking me to enroll and get a tour of the school. The School of a Million Spankings had been a big building, because it was our church, but the school itself was only comprised of about 60 students. The other schools were small as well, although bigger than the first one. None of them were anywhere close to “Public” school. There were kids everywhere. I had never seen so many kids in one place. It wouldn’t take me long to find out that wasn’t a good thing.

Middle school during grades 7 and 8 was miserable for me. I was very small and still younger than the other kids in my grade. My eyesight had deteriorated quite a bit from all the reading I had done and Mom bought all of our clothes from garage sales or they were hand me downs from other relatives. Nothing ever fit me quite right because I was skinny and had long legs. I had no idea how to do my hair and I didn’t wear makeup or jewelry yet. I was made fun of constantly. It didn’t help anything that I knew most of the answers to the curriculum the other kids were learning.

My eighth grade year I took a history class with Mr. Montgomery. He saw how mean the other kids were to me and tried to help me fit in a little better. He listened to me. Every day after school I went to his classroom until it was time to walk my brothers and sisters home from the elementary school across the street. Once he even rearranged the seating chart so that I could sit next to the boy he knew I had a crush on. Even though Mr. Montgomery was very nice to me and he listened to me talk about things that bothered me, there were still 7 other classes in the day. I kept to myself as much as possible, but managed to make a few other friends that were as socially awkward and outcast as I was. I settled into a lonely, but manageable routine at school. Home was a different ball of wax.

Mom put herself through college and was working for GE in some sort of coop program. As with most kids of split families I took on more responsibility around the house. There wasn’t enough time for Mom to do all the things that she was required to do and I realize now that this was the first time I would ever watch my Mom break and not know what was happening. My parents fought any time they were on the same block. It became their war and they used any weapon they could in this time to hurt each other.

One day when Dad came to pick us up for his weekend, Mom made me take out a spreadsheet of how much he owed in child support to give to him. My feet felt like lead. I didn’t want to give it to him and I wished with everything I had that I could just throw it away, but I was scared of her reaction when I got back. Dad had a temper, that I would later inherit, and I didn’t want to spend the weekend with him in a bad mood.

Again, my time line gets a little fuzzy and I don’t remember why things happened or some of the order of the occurrences, but the fighting was so bad and money was so tight on both sides Dad would sometimes have to ride his bike over to see us for a few minutes. When we did go to his house (which was a trailer that was older than I was) Dad mostly ate rice and peanut butter toast. We did silly things when Dad was in a good mood. One time he taught us how to “parachute” off the front porch like paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne. He told us Garbanzo Bean stories, which I was shocked to learn were actually stories about him and his brothers and sisters growing up, just with characters that had goofy names. Dad could also do voices and so when he was being silly his accents became some of my very favorite memories from childhood.

Between work and school my Mom wasn’t home a lot and we found ways to amuse ourselves along with her never ending list of “busy” work as my brother would later refer to it. The house was never clean and things were always broken. Mom has started going to a singles group before we left the house my parents built so she went and played volleyball and did activities with other singles. She dated off and on and all the guys she dated were weirdos to me. (I have no idea if they were or not, but I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to get to know any of them anyway.) It became something of a game to me to see what kind of rude things I could say to them to let them know I was not a fan of their presence. Mom became known as Karen 5 Kids to her singles group, and she made comments sometimes about how guys had trouble looking past her “baggage”.

The fighting between my parents got worse and worse. One Friday Mom told us to hurry up and get some things done before Dad came to pick us up but I ran to the door every time I heard a car drive down our street. Mom yelled, “Stop looking out the window! We have a doorbell!” and made me go clean the bathroom since it didn’t have any windows. My anger towards her and her constant barrage of chores was at a breaking point and as soon as Dad rang the doorbell I ran and got my stuff and didn’t say goodbye to her. I got in the front seat of Dad’s work van and slammed the door. He side-eyed me and asked what was up. I told him what Mom said and he looked at the road and said straight faced, “Well that’s ridiculous. It’s kind of hard to see out of a doorbell.” My mood changed immediately as I laughed at his joke. I went home on Sunday and told Mom…my Dad was funny. She did not find the amusement in the story like I had and I got yelled at. I didn’t care though. It was still funny and I have probably told that story a thousand times since. I loved those kinds of times with Dad.

The fighting between Mom and Dad got so bad, my Dad took a job in Pennsylvania. I have no idea how long he was gone and to be honest I didn’t care. Weekends with Dad weren’t really that exciting but I did get to just be a kid for awhile. At Mom’s I always had to help somebody with something. There is only 6 years difference between me and my youngest sister. The more stressed Mom got the less she stayed at home. I was watching my brothers and sisters all the time. I made them dinner and helped them with their homework and we all had chores of dishes and laundry and other assorted tasks that need done to keep a house running. I put them in bed most nights after Mom went back out from school to go hang with her friends. Sometimes I would hear her come home with people and sometimes she didn’t come home until it was time for her to get ready for work. After Dad moved, she came home less and less. It was as if both of them had broken each other so badly they forgot about us.

I’m going to be as transparent as I can be here. Middle school and the first two years of high school were the worst times in my life. My parents couldn’t find a way to forgive each other or themselves and they both broke in that pain. I wouldn’t say their divorce was that hard on us, but their constant fighting afterwards tore us to shreds. I found some solace with a few friends and my youth group when I was allowed to go, but life was a crap shoot for my brothers and sisters and I. I resented my Mom and Dad for being broken and I was angry at both of them for having kids they didn’t want anymore.

I began to act out to see if anyone would notice. I started smoking at 11. Nobody noticed. Mom took me to get a perm and contacts before my freshman year of high school to try to help me fit in a little better. I got some new clothes that actually fit when we were adopted by some people from Catholic Charities as a Christmas family. It worked. Nobody remembered me as the dorky little girl from middle school. Boys started to pay attention to me. Not any good kind of boys mind you…I might as well have put a neon sign above my head that told them I had no clue what kinds of things people were capable of. My new friends came to find out pretty quickly that there were never any adults at my house and so they started asking if we could “party” there. I didn’t let them but I did let a couple of them come over and hang out when I was reasonably confident that my brother, Nick, or my sister, Lisa, wouldn’t tell on me. While I resented having to take care of my brothers and sisters all the time, and I was super mean to them in my resentment, looking back I would have been a lot worse off if I hadn’t had them to worry about. I didn’t understand boys or ulterior motives and I knew nothing about sex. The boys did though and they tried to get me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with. Truth be told I was terrified of sex….church had very much taken care of that. I knew it was how babies got here but beyond that I had no idea what it was and I wanted nothing to do with it.

My friends were kids just like me, the group that could hang out without adults because the adults in our lives had other things to do. I wasn’t a trouble maker outside my house, I just hung out with all the trouble kids. At some point Dad moved back to Fort Wayne and was not all that impressed by the changes he saw in me. I had gotten to the point in my teenage mind that I was just as grown up as my parents. After all, they had left me to take care of their kids…so I must be old enough for something. I resented him for implying that I didn’t know what I was doing, even though I had no idea what I was setting myself up for. My relationship with Dad became almost nonexistent. He even called the police on me once from inside Mom’s house. She was so mad when she found out that he had been in there when she wasn’t home nobody really bothered to talk to me about why Dad called the police in the first place. As usual, something I had done that screamed I needed attention turned into being about them and their hatred for one another.

I realize now that people can’t give you what they don’t have. My own divorce wasn’t the event that it took for me to see my parents for what they were instead of the evil, selfish people they turned into at this time. Pain and brokenness compounded over time can turn even the most loving of souls into despicable human beings. I know this now because I didn’t know how to deal with my pain and I wouldn’t be able to find God’s love for me for another 25 years. I became a dead on the inside, but still functioning on the outside shell of a human. I was so strong though that I had more years of torment and agony at the hands of people who were being choked to death by their own pain before I finally broke.

I’m going to end this chapter with a verse from Matthew.

Matthew 13:19 (the parable of the sower)”When anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”

The foundation of my life was full of cracks and generational curses, but the worst part of the years that followed were the things I would do to myself. I gave up before I grew up. In my search to find any sort of love that I could feel, I set myself on fire over and over again and blamed others for giving me the matches. It would take years before I realized they held the matches but nobody made me take them. I willingly destroyed myself and almost took my own kids down with me.

Mean Old I.S.S. Lady

My work in schools began on what I thought was accident. A few years after my divorce, my kids and I lost our house to a fire and we were homeless for a few months. During that time people came out of the woodwork to surround my kids with love and any assistance they could give us. My boyfriend at the time let us stay with him, but it was clear that living together was not something that our relationship could handle. We did the best we could, found a new house to rent and the next February I got a call from the kids’ school asking if I’d be interested in working in the kitchen. I jumped at the chance. I had just graduated early from college with honors and was looking for opportunities to make our lives better.

The cafeteria job only lasted about 4 months, but in that time I gained a base of kids that would come and talk to me during lunch about whatever problems they were having. They’d sneak into the cooler to tell me their friends needed to talk to me while I was putting food away. Some of them ended up living at my house for whatever reason they couldn’t stay at home. I became THAT lady. Many kids came to me for advice or a shoulder to cry on when life got to heavy. After the school closed due to charter issues I was offered a job with my landlord’s insurance agency. I have never hated a job more in my life. He was a condescending, chauvinistic man who constantly treated me like my brain had decomposed due to lack of use before working in his office. I applied everywhere I could think of to get away from him and one day I found a school that had a bunch of positions open. I had the degree needed so I applied. I knew nothing about the school, its demographics, or the area it was in.

I was offered the job and by my third day I was convinced that I had made a giant error, but was too embarrassed to quit. A kid pulled the fire alarm on my first day there and the second day a kid brought razor blades to school. I was cussed out by a second grader my third day and the fourth day a group of boys threw ketchup in my hair. What I did not know is that all of these kids and hundreds more of them would become the reason I got up in the morning. Their behavior was atrocious and I loved every one of them. They were very angry, very loud, very stressed out little people that would sooner spit on you than accept help. They allowed my presence as long as I didn’t get in the way or try to correct them and I found soon that they would watch my face very closely to see what I thought of their antics. My right eyebrow is now permanently elevated quite high from that first year and I appreciate so much the gift those kids gave me. My experience with school was nothing like theirs but we still struggled with the same bullies and the same insecurities. They made comments like grown ups and some of their observations were cruel and when I offered no reaction to the insults they baited me with, our dynamic began to shift. They started to ask questions about me and my life I realized these kids were no different than I had been. They hated adults, they hated rules and they hated anyone who threatened their freedom to run around and destroy things around them. If I was going to make it here I had to conform to their way of doing things. This forced me to examine my own issues with school.

If you read the post Church Reject, you know already that I am a smart girl. I learned to read super early thanks to my Mom and due to my Dad’s work ethic I moved along a lot faster than I should have in my academic career. I was the best reader in my class and quickly moved ahead of kids older than I was. Except in math. Math concepts might as well have been written in Chinese or Braille and I wouldn’t have understood them any less. I hated math.

My teacher was a lady that went to our church and her daughter was one of my best friends. My friend had been adopted and she acted like she didn’t belong to anyone. She was what I would have called a free spirit until I got old enough to realize she was very different then the rest of us. She had some kind of demons in her that I won’t pretend to know about or understand. I don’t know what happened to her, but looking back now I see her adopted parents struggles with their abilities to parent and whatever else they had going on in their minds. My teacher’s insecurity began to show up in the way she handled her students and I became somewhat of a target for her. If you know me personally, you know I like to talk. We received demerits (nowadays, they would be the equivalent to getting your name on the board) and if you got three you went to the principal and got a spanking with the paddle.

One time I got a demerit for laughing at the word “Hulabaloo” on a demerit I was filling out for talking. (What adult decided that should be word that meant disruptive had clearly never been a child…who wouldn’t find that word hilarious?) It became a pattern that every single time I opened my mouth without my hand raised I was awarded with a demerit. I was sent to the principal so often to receive my spankings that at some point my parents decided that if I got a demerit and got sent to the principal’s office for spankings, I would receive ten spankings at home for each demerit. Again, I do not tell this to place blame on my parents. I had become somewhat of a “problem” child at school and in addition to my constant talking, I also had an unfortunate run in with matches during a church carry in and accidentally lit the dining room on fire. I was also labeled as a racist by my teacher when my friend came to school in a black Wonder Woman costume. I asked where she got it because I had never seen a Wonder Woman costume in anything but white and my teacher started lecturing me about hating people just because of the color of their skin in front of the whole class. I was not allowed to participate in the school trick or treat due to my “racism”. I will be forever grateful to my friend, Hope, for that day. Hope was the only black girl I knew and she got in trouble for talking all most as much as I did. After the school trick or treat was over she came back to me and gave me some of her candy. I apologized to her several times for my comment and as she munched away on a candy bar she waved me off and said, “Girl, you didn’t mean nothin bout black people. I know you wanted to be Wonder Woman too.” To this day, I associate Wonder Woman with my friend Hope. She was the first person to ever show me forgiveness.

Hope would lock eyes with me when I was sent to the principal’s office after that. We didn’t talk about it, but I knew she thought I was being treated unfairly by the look she gave me. Hope didn’t have to go to the principal’s office for talking. I received 187 demerits that year, each accompanied with a 3 swat spanking from the principal and his giant paddles with holes drilled in it to reduce wind resistance.

My spankings at home were given with a doll rod…which is a little like the long handle on a wooden spoon. The worst day was the day I had 10 demerits at school. I came home and was given 100 spankings with the doll rod. I would refuse to touch a doll rod or have them in my house as an adult. They represented the most physical, raw pain of my childhood. I was terrified of them.

Later, after my own kids were born I was having a conversation with my mom about it and she told me that she never agreed to that line of discipline. She said she felt she couldn’t argue with anyone because women were supposed to be submissive to their husbands and the husbands to the Church. She felt like I was being bullied by my teacher and when she would make remarks about my treatment she was admonished for not being submissive enough. In my road to forgiveness, God pointed out to me that Mom had tried to stick up for me and received condemnation for that. I think that was when her attitude towards me and to God began to change. I don’t know how my Dad felt about this because once in my twenties I asked him about the day with ten demerits and he said he didn’t remember it happening.

I was smart but I learned quickly that being smart didn’t matter. Only following the rules did. I couldn’t’ do that very well and so I spent most of my time in trouble. We didn’t have In School Suspension back then, but if we’d had, I’d have been it’s only frequent flyer. I read a quote in college that said “Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger.” I became Wonder Woman for my kids because I needed a superhero that would have protected me from having no safe place between school and home. I became Wonder Woman so that I would never forget my friend Hope and what she gave me that day. So, Hope….if you are out there somewhere, Thank you. I owe you my Wonder Woman.

Church Reject

As far back as I can remember my family and I went to church. The first church I attended was a small church of Theology. As elementary students, my brother and I also attended the school that was run by the church so most of my friends attended church and school with me. There were some kids who didn’t go to our church, but for the most part we stayed around the same group of people outside of my extended family members. We didn’t see family that often. I would come to realize later that we were the “weirdos” of both Catholic families.

I am not sure why my parents left Catholicism and risked rejection, which they found, from their parents and siblings, but here is where my story begins. As you read through the events of my life, please take a moment to consider how scary it must have been for them to realize that the knowledge they grew up having was false and held no answers for the questions they had on who and what God actually was. In no way, shape, or form do I hold any animosity towards my parents for the things that happened to me in the Christian church, nor do I blame them for the attitude with which I saw God. My parents built a very solid foundation of rules with which to raise my brothers and sisters and I, and it took courage for them to give me this.

Our Pastor was a very large, booming voiced man that handed out Tootsie Rolls to the children after his insanely long sermons. I have no actual idea if his sermons were really that long, but I was young and half the time I had no idea what they were about. The first part of every Sunday morning the kids were sent to Sunday School (which was most often led by one of my school teachers) and the adults went to Bible Study. In between there was a few minutes to chat or use the bathroom and then we filed into the sanctuary to listen to Pastor preach about fire and brimstone and yell from the pulpit about how bad people were and how much we sinned. He was very intimidating and opinionated.

One Sunday, I believe I was between 5 and 7 at the time, we were in the sanctuary and I had to go to the bathroom. We were not allowed to play with toys or do any activity that might distract the congregation from paying attention. My Mom had given me what I still consider to be the best gift of my life at the age of 3. She taught me to read. I could follow along with Pastor and copy the notes he scribbled in Greek or Hebrew in between his bouts of banging and yelling. This particular Sunday, as we sat in a pew with some of the other members of the church, I got the wiggles from having to go to the bathroom. I remember Mom leaning over and asking what was wrong in a whisper. I told her that I had to go and she said that Pastor was almost done and I could hold it. I held it as long as I could and then to my dismay I just couldn’t hold it any more and watched in horror as a thin stream of urine made its way down the pew. Everyone in our row had to scoot to the edge in order to avoid it and I felt about 3 inches tall. Mom and Dad’s look of horror and embarrassment matched my own. It seemed ions before service was over and those poor people could get away from the smell. I was told I was way to old to be having accidents and I rode home in the same dress soaked in urine.

The next Sunday my Aunt Deana (not really my Aunt but a friend of the family) asked me several times if I had to use the bathroom before Pastor started his sermon, and I went determined not to have last Sunday repeat itself. Only to my absolute humiliation, it did. This time my parents did not look embarrassed, they looked angry. The entire row scooted up again and I could feel their annoyance along with anyone around us. I wish that I could tell you that was the last time. It wasn’t. It happened several more times. To this day I can’t sit in a church service without having to use the bathroom. Every time I peed in the pew I was disciplined. I don’t remember if I got spankings for that or not, because mostly what I remember is being mortified that my body couldn’t seem to get itself together enough to not pee on people in church.

Because we attended school within the church one Friday we were at our weekly assembly and Pastor was giving a sermon. I had to go to the bathroom and was allowed to go at school without being afraid of interrupting anyone. My teacher gave me permission and I got up to go out the backdoor of the sanctuary and Pastor noticed from his seat at the pulpit. He stopped the sermon and I don’t remember his exact words but he pointed out to the entire school assembly that I had an issue with interrupting his teachings because of my “problems going to the bathroom” on myself. I slunk out the door and later my teacher found me crying in the stall on the floor.

At this point, I start to remember my Mom having problems with some of the things that went on there. With the exception of Ranger Gary Horton coming and telling us stories about his time served in the Army, I don’t remember much else from the time in church. Most of my horror stories were from school that I won’t get into now, but after Ranger Gary Horton came one of the last times I remember, my Dad enlisted in the Army.

I’m not sure about the events between my parents at this point, but my Mom became increasingly distant. Dad left for boot camp and we spent the next four years being raised by a single mother. I can only speculate that with a small art business to run and 2, 3, then 4, and 5 small kids Mom was overwhelmed and tired. She also helped out at school and was the Art teacher for awhile. I remember being completely surprised one day in class when she tried to teach us how to draw animals and drew a horse. I had no idea my mom could draw. I’d never seen her do anything but clean, work, and read.

Anyway, when my Dad’s enlistment time was over, Mom and I were in our kitchen doing dishes, and she informed me that she and Dad were divorcing. It made no difference to me as I had no idea what that was. When I asked her she said, “It’s when people who were married aren’t married anymore.” I thought that just meant they weren’t married. It never occurred to me that my Dad wouldn’t be living with us anymore. A few days before I turned 10 Dad moved out.

I continued to go to church with Dad on the weekends we spent with him. I don’t know why but he changed churches and began attending a church led by Pastor’s son. I’ll call him Pastor Jr. He acted nothing like his father and his sermons were softer and more accepting although I still don’t remember anything about love being spoken. My mom found a church as well and we went to church with her on the Sundays we were not with my Dad.

I remember her excitement one day when she pulled me to the side and told me that she had asked for a sponsor for me to go to church camp. I was around 11 by then and I was just as excited as she was. I had never been to church camp or anywhere else other than a few overnight stays with my adopted grandparents and a couple of sleepover birthday parties with my girls from school/church. Camp was two weeks long and I had never been away from home that long.

The first few days of camp was fun. It didn’t take me long to realize I was not like the other kids there. I don’t know if I was weird or they were just being mean kids, but before the first week was even up I was being made fun of by the girls in my bunkhouse. One morning I pulled my clothes out from the drawer under my bunk and something smelled weird. I smelled all my clothes and they smelled the same. They all smelled like feces. There was no washer or dryer at the camp, and even if there had been there was no way I was going to ask one of the counselors for help. I was self conscious and under the impression that everyone knew about my bathroom issues from before. I don’t know where that came from in my mind, other than that I realize now how much of a liar the devil is. I walked around for 3 days smelling like…well you know, and the kids would point and laugh and hold their noses when they were around me. A few days before camp ended one of the girls in my bunkhouse started to feel bad for the actions of her friends and pulled me to the side as we were walking to the mess hall for breakfast. She told me that her friends had collected animal droppings from around camp and at the horse stables and put it in my drawer after I’d fallen asleep. I asked why and she said that the head girl didn’t like me and thought I was a dork. I didn’t know what a dork was but I was sure I wasn’t one. We got to the mess hall and I couldn’t sit inside. My stomach was in knots and all I wanted was for my Mom to come and get me so I could go home. I remember she asked how it was on the ride home and all I could do was cry. I don’t remember telling her about what the girls had done to me, but we left that church shortly after that.

I attended Vacation Bible School at a church my “grandparents” went to for a week when I was about 8 or 9. I remember watching the Pastor there once with one of his daughters. She was crying. I don’t remember why, but the way he looked at her, the way he put his hand on her shoulder in comfort, the sympathy for her hurt on his face….I remember not being able to move as his compassion for HIS child punched me in the stomach. I had not felt that from my Dad or my Mom from either of the things that had been put on me from our “church” people. I began to pretend that this man was my Dad. After Vacation Bible School week ended I only got to go to that church when my “adopted” grandparents kept us for the weekend.

I continued to go to various churches throughout my life. I went with my aunt who was around the same age as me to a Catholic youth group and the couple who ran it were some of the most accepting people I had ever met. They seemed to be aware that the kids that came to them had stories to tell….things that were grown up and terrible, and they gave us a voice. I was still one of the only kids that attended that was from a broken home. I was still an outcast and I knew it, the other kids knew it, and if the leaders knew it they acted like they didn’t. I loved them.

My time line gets a little fuzzy here because my age doesn’t correlate with the grade I was in. Because I had learned to read so early and because the school I went to was an individually paced school I had completed grades 4, 5, and 6 in the same year. I was 9 when I entered the 6th grade. I was 12 or 13 when I began my freshman year of high school.

My kid’s dad, Ed, and I were married by the Pastor of the Movie Theater Church 21 days after I turned 18. My mom and my stepdad were having problems by the time I got married and Dad and I had a very rocky relationship throughout my teenage years due to his fighting with Mom, leaving, my attitude, and her anger. Part of the deal for the pastor to marry us was that we had to attend marriage counseling. We went, we lied, we didn’t really talk about anything that was important. Later when we began to have marriage troubles ourselves, the pastor, who had also counseled my mom and stepdad, put it on the line that I was probably the reason we were having so many issues as newlyweds and young parents. He said that my mom refused to admit any of her wrong doings in her marriage and she had demons that she refused to overcome. I had no idea what he meant, but his point was clear. Whatever was going on in my marriage was my fault.

We stopped going to that church and for a few years we attended the church ran by the Pastor that had shown so much love to his daughter so many years before. By that time I was a shell of a person, battling demons of my own in a marriage to an alcoholic husband who refused to grow up and be of much support. He wasn’t evil…just hurt and he took his brokenness out on me. Hurt people hurt people as they say. I tried to get into God’s word but it was empty and hopeless to me. Eventually, I grew irritated with the pastor’s wife…and I knew it was because she kept asking me “What’s really going on?” when I didn’t show up to events. I couldn’t tell her and I’m pretty sure she knew that something was destroying me but she didn’t know what. Her inquiry felt like attacks and I wasn’t ready to be attacked by any more of these church people.

Right after my oldest daughter was born I stopped attending church. I just didn’t care anymore. I was sick of trying to be good enough for a God that taught people to behave so horribly to children, teenagers, and grown ups. I was tired of never being good enough for that God and his friends. I had never done anything to him…and I didn’t ask to be born. I absolutely could not understand why God allowed me to be born an orphan with parents.

Pandemic

Everybody knows this year has been hard. That’s not a revelation of epic proportions. Personally, my pandemic started in early November. By the time we got to the lockdown I was tired and struggling to even crawl to the “almost there” line of spring break. My career, if you know me personally, is the second most important thing in the world to me…not because the pay is great, not because it offers a lot of prestige (unless of course middle school and elementary age students thinking you are cool is the prestige one is after…in my case it is not…haha), but because I am genuinely in the job I am supposed to be in and I know that. I love my students. I understand them. They struggle, they overcome, and then some force outside their control brings them crashing down again. I felt that life. I was made to do this job.

By the end of November, I had already taken on so much grief from my kids I felt like the world was exploding and I was powerless to do anything but try to keep us afloat. I found myself at a church I went to when I was nine…literally out of nowhere just driving off stress one day I ended up in the parking lot. I was drowning myself, but my “lovelies” as they’ve been named, I couldn’t let them see that. I had to find something to keep us going. They needed me to find something to give them. I know now that God drove my car to this church because inside it’s walls was a pastor that was the only person who had ever really been able to show me that God was love. He said to me, “Sometimes we just need Jesus with skin.” I didn’t think he was right at the time, but I would soon come to find out that not only did I need a Jesus with skin, I needed Jesus and everything he gave me in the coming months. The pastor and I talked for awhile and he invited me to come to service and I gave some excuse about working too much and he prayed with me and I left.

The pandemic and lockdown isolated a lot of people and for some that was a worse fate than coming down with the virus. For me, that isolation forced me to face the huge weight of my anger and the question that I kept forcing down deep on the inside of me. That anger and the question, “Why?” made me feel like I was going to explode at any moment.

My youngest son, Denver, woke up one day about a week and a half in to being on the stay at home order. I was in the dining room painting old vegetable cans to turn into lanterns. He asked how long it had been since I talked to my school kids. I said, “I don’t know maybe two days.” and I shrugged when I asked him why. He said, “Mom, you are painting garbage.” It made me laugh, as Denver has the ability to do so often, but what he didn’t realize is that I had nothing left to give my school kids. I was empty and lonely and way too heavy to take on any more of their pain. Later that night, I was surfing Facebook and watching yet another binge session of Grey’s Anatomy and a book showed up in my timeline. It was the book Wholeness by Toure’ Roberts. I have no idea what the ad said now, but just reading the intro to the book, I knew I had to buy it. Somehow, I felt that there might be an answer in that book for me….some way to get rid of all the anger and misery that I had chained to me and couldn’t shake.

And it began. Within the first twenty minutes of listening I knew that Pastor Roberts had written that book specifically to me. I still wasn’t ready to talk to God about anything yet, but somehow reading the Pastor’s words didn’t seem like God talking. The first thing I read was about the biggest lies we tell ourselves…and the most dangerous was “I thought I was whole already.” I knew I wasn’t whole, but I wasn’t ready to admit how broken I really was. In the pages of that book, the truth came out and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I was tired of being the kid that was hated by my mother and the kid that my dad had left so many years ago. I was tired of being the embodiment of abandoned dreams and I was sick of being blamed for things that weren’t my fault. I was so tired of being angry but I didn’t know how to change.

The third chapter of Wholeness might as well have been accompanied by a marching band and a street carnival with how loud it’s words spoke to me. I started trying to journal all of my thoughts and feelings and the answers to the questions that literally SHOUTED at me from the pages. (I am not a paid endorser for the book Wholeness or the Pastor who wrote it, but I tell everyone I know about it because of the gift it gave me and so if any of my words are speaking to your soul right now I encourage you to PLEASE check it out. What do you have to lose?)

I heard Pastor Roberts loud and clear when the audibles book said, “Anger is where we live when we can’t acknowledge the hurt. Anger is the perfect refuge from our hurt because it gives us the power over the narrative.” At the very end of that chapter the author poses the question that changed my life.

“Have I been honest with myself and others about my hurt?”

I had no idea what to write. I sat there, stunned, as I realized that I had no idea what I was hurt about more. Page after page of hurt poured out until my hand was cramping so bad I had to try to write left handed. I just kept listing what I knew. And the more I wrote, the more there was to write.

“We are not okay when we pretend that hurt doesn’t hurt. Hurt always needs to be addressed and recognized (acknowledged). When we fail to acknowledge our hurt we compound the pain it causes.”

Well. Great. I had been ignoring my pain so long I didn’t even remember half the things I was mad at and as I filled notebook after notebook with my thoughts and finally, with no other option available, I came face to face with my anger and told it to get out of the way so that I could look at my pain. It was not a fun time. I did not enjoy it. But, I wouldn’t give back that confrontation for anything in the world.

I will start at the beginning of what I remember even though that isn’t where my beginning was. I will get out of order occassionally, but my church beginning was the broken foundation I started my life on. Examining that foundation has been the best thing to ever happen to me.

(Wholeness: Winning in Life from the Inside Out by Toure’ Roberts)

Just Wild: Nobody’s Child

I fell in love with the quote, “Not fragile like a flower, Fragile like a BOMB” a few months ago and it has become the catalyst for a change in my life that is SO huge God has called me to tell my story. Through his Word and his leading me I have found peace, wholeness, and most importantly purpose. I am excited to share these findings with you because I no longer have to hide who I am in fear, shame, or guilt. Let me tell you, the weight that I had been carrying around my whole life was insanely heavy and it was crushing me. I felt unloved, unwanted, used up and empty on the inside. If you have felt this way, then you understand the despair that comes with facing your future in this isolated mindset.

I grew up in a church and asked Jesus to be my Savior very early in my life. My parents were young and had left Catholicism to find their own answers. We landed in a church of theology….a word that still gives me shivers when I hear it because to me, theology would come to mean a list of rules that I could not stop breaking or even attempt to understand. It was a cold and lonely, unloving place. Through my church experiences and my parents infancy in Christianity, I learned that not only was God not excited to have a Wild Child in me, but he wasn’t accessible to anyone who wasn’t already clean when they came into the church. I was different then everyone else there…and I didn’t know why. I listened to the stories about God in Sunday School but I figured he must have been a very important man that only attended the adult section of my church. I never felt God inside of me no matter what I prayed or how good I tried to be. I remember thinking, “I’ll feel like a Christian when I’m older. I’ll feel good enough when I’m older. God will love me when I’m older.” Older came and I felt no presence of God, no love and eventually I truly believed that I had only been put on this Earth to serve as a stepping stone for someone else’s greatness, not good enough to be great on my own.

My road included all different types of abuse, like so many of God’s children today. The abuse I was subjected to led me to a pit of hopelessness and brokenness that froze me in time. I didn’t realize how frozen I’d become until I started working in a public school. I was a perpetual middle schooler no matter how old I got. I was angry and always feeling like everyone else had access to some secret to happiness that I would never find. Three years ago, I was so broken that I destroyed someone else’s life that I had never met, never even laid eyes on. The guilt was too much and I was convinced that I didn’t deserve love from anyone, let alone a God who had never shown himself to me in a way that I could feel. I was ugly and worthless and beaten down.

In my work with my students, I found my road back to God. This blog will contain stories from the road that God gave me to travel and the peace he brought to me through several very unexpected sources. I tell my students that I will never ask them to do something that I myself will not do. In keeping that promise, God has given me new life. He has shown me that He gave me this life for a reason…nobody could live it the way I do. God CHOSE me to live it because he knew I was his WILD CHILD. Nothing tame could have ever taken down the monsters that abuse created in me.

I invite you to come with me as I open up about spiritual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and just in case those didn’t come with enough demons, I got to add sexual abuse to my dirty laundry list as well. This has been one incredible path to travel and all I can say is HANG ON. God is not finished with me yet….so if you know me personally, and you’ve seen my WILD SIDE, you know how much work God would have to do in order to mold me into a person that was WILD enough to make it, but pliable and compliant enough for him to shine through me.

If you have a WILD side, I encourage you to keep an open mind. You may not know what you need right now…and that is okay. I started this journey with a semi trailer of baggage and a heart as broken as they come. I had no idea what to pray and the thought that God didn’t love me enough to hear my prayers even if I had exactly the right words. I watched an episode of Star and I have adopted what I like to call my Queen Latifah prayer. I invite you to pray the lyrics to her song “One Day”. God knows your heart and your fears and through him you WILL find life. Link is posted below.

Love in Christ,

Jackie