Posted in family, Letters, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Word, Writing

For my Daughters and Nieces

Dolls,

You are lovely. You are beautiful, captivating, intelligent, lovely, and kind.

As a Mom and an Aunt I feel I’ve done you an injustice by living in an unhealthy way physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have not correctly modeled “healthy” for you. Please forgive me. I plan to rectify all that over the next days and weeks.

I have not lived as if I’m a daughter of God. I’ve lived as if my worth, security, and confidence depend on the approval or disapproval of a man, of other women, or of society. Thank God He brought all this to my attention. I’ve just been so entirely wrong for so entirely long.

This stops today.

Here’s what I now fully understand: I am not the product of nor do I bow at the bidding of my own faults, the faults of others, or anyone but God. And neither do you.

1 Corinthians 3:16‭-‬17 (CSB) says this:

“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are.”

Ladies, you are God’s holy temple, his dwelling place: mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Psalms 84:1‭-‬4 (CSB) says this:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Armies. I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young — near your altars, Lord of Armies, my King and my God. How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually. Selah”

Ladies, I reside in His house. YOU reside in His house. We are lovely. How happy are we who reside in God’s house. Future generations dwell in you.

What a joy and a privilege!

Katie: you are wonderful, beautiful, generous with kindness, and full of patience. This next generation needs a teacher like you. Walk in strength, wisdom, confidence, and security.

Stephanie: you are full of light, life, and creativity. We need your gift of worship to draw us to God. Walk in love, creativity, confidence, and security.

Madi: you are lovely, witty, curious, and highly intelligent. This generation needs your steadfast devotion to God. Walk in wisdom, godliness, confidence, and security.

Bree: you are beautiful, nurturing, fun-loving, and a pure delight. Your children will rise and call you blessed. Your husband is delighted with you for good reason. Walk in love, laughter, confidence, and security.

Lauren: you are the sparkle in your Daddy’s eye. You are a joy to all you encounter. The world needs your smile. Walk in love, laughter, confidence, and security.

To my future step-daughter (whom I have never met): you are a light in a dark world, a delight to your father, and a joy I have yet to behold. Your generation needs your light. Walk in boldness, grace, confidence and security.

To my goddaughters, my future granddaughters, and all my future greats: you are lovely, pure, intelligent, and kind. The world needs your love. Walk in wisdom, faith, confidence, and security.
I love you ladies. All of you. I applaud you and so enjoy watching you become women who love God.

Our battle isn’t against Dr. Pepper, carbs, comparison, or insecurity, but against evil itself.

Let’s remember to put on the armor of God daily. Walk like you’re walking next to Jesus. Remember you have angels assigned to you.

Write this on your mirror in dry-erase marker (I know y’all do this): I am a child of the Lord of Armies and today I will walk in confidence and security.

Remember I love you. Always.

Love,

Momma, Mommy, Aunt Melissa, M&M, and whatever all you grand-darlins will call me one of these years

Posted in waiting

Wait Lifting #1 – Learning to Wait

Lately I’ve been working through the delicate art of waiting gracefully. Instead of just struggling through it myself, I’ve decided to share this journey here, with you.

My hope is that at the end of this blog series we will both find ourselves with some of the weight, AND the wait lifted.

As I was driving home today, my mind flashed back some 15 years to the first of many times I sat and waited at the food stamp office. I took a number, sat there with my 3- and 7-year-old daughters, and waited to be seen. It was two years after I unexpectedly lost my husband to divorce, and consequently my home, my vehicle, my job, and my savings. And now there I sat – at a place I never imagined I would ever be.

Dora the Explorer was blasting over the TV. I recall she was going on a berry hunt and Swiper was definitely swiping. The low ceiling sagged at one corner, so we moved just in case it gave way. An old woman slept in the corner while her 3-year-old granddaughter sat at her feet eating an endless amount of goldfish crackers.

We sat (mostly figeted) for over an hour before we were called up to the little window where I was told to fill out several more forms and then wait until I was called back up to turn them in. When they called my number an hour and a half later, we were in the restroom. I waited another half hour before I went up to the window and found out my number had been crossed off earlier as a no-show. Tears formed in my eyes. I didn’t want to be there; no one ever wants to be there. The lady told me I could either wait until she could fit me back in, or I could come back the next day. And so we waited.

A month later we got our food stamp and medicaid cards. I always budgeted that money. We had many nights of store brand mac & cheese with dented cans of green beans, and many mornings of store brand coffee out of the clearance bins. If I was lucky, they’d have vanilla coffee on clearance. My fave!

It was during that season of lack that I learned how to “make due” in hard times. I am glad for that season now. We don’t need fancy fixins. The girls still remember that day and so many like it. The girls got so used to it that they knew just what toys to bring while we sat and waited.

During that season I started back to school, so I’d do my homework while we waited for hours. During that season I learned to look around that waiting room and make sure to give the other moms a helping hand with their kids on bathroom breaks. I learned to ask someone to listen for my number and to tell other moms that I’d listen for theirs.

Most of all I learned compassion. I loved listening to other people’s stories and I loved giving them hope by encouraging them not to give up.

If you’re ever tempted to look at my life now after graduate school and think – she’s got it all together, please know that I remember what it’s like to spend hours in a welfare line.

If you’re in a place of waiting now and you can’t stand where you are, please look around. Other people need your story. Other people need your encouragement, even if it’s only a smile. Please remember: A smile is a full sentence. A hug is a full conversation. Other people waiting need your help. And the more we help each other, the more we’ll find our wait – lifting.

Click here for the next blog in this series.

Posted in addiction, Cancer, Friends, Life Lessons

Addiction and the Single Parent

If you’ve come here under the guise of an incognito web search on addiction and single moms or single dads or single parents, it’s okay. You’re welcome here. In fact, I was thinking about you when I was sitting at the coffee shop starting this blog.

I didn’t come into this single parent world 16 years ago quietly. When my husband of 8 years left me (for his pregnant girlfriend, now wife) I cried for a month. Seriously – a month. I wandered around muttering things like – “divorced? me? how did this even happen?”

Looking for Love In All the Wrong MySpaces

And then I quietly began the first addiction – the internet and online dating. I was looking for love in all the wrong MySpaces. (Now if you didn’t laugh…)

Back in the early days of social media, of Yahoo 360 and Multiply (aka: pre-WordPress meets pre-Facebook) and way too many chat rooms, I began writing out my feelings. I couldn’t sleep at all that first month, so I was online – a lot. It wasn’t long before men began to charm me and to sweet talk me with words that sounded scrumptious to my starving soul. It wasn’t long after that until I began meeting them. This may sound innocent or non-addiction-sounding. Let me clarify:

I once chatted online for 24 hours straight. My heart was so empty that any contact would suffice.

A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

That summer I was sexually assaulted – twice – by men I didn’t have any business meeting online. The first time was the day I was going to file for divorce. He seemed like a great Christian businessman and father.
I’ve never really discussed the particulars of what happened next with anyone. The next time was at a party you can read about in a previous blog.

I’m not suggesting the internet is only populated with creepy people, on the contrary, I have some amazing friends (men and women) I’ve met online.
But please hear my heart:
Just because we’re divorced, widowed, or are single parents for whatever reason, we are not that desperate. We do not need to fill the void in our hearts with anyone. Period. Whether they treat us well or not, we have kids that need us to be safe. We have kids who need our time and attention. And when we start trying to fill the void in our lives with anyone instead of asking God to come fill that void for us, then we are destined for more heartache.
My best advice here, if I may: fill your heart with good, trustworthy off-line friends. Find yourself in the Psalms or a good book. Get a hobby.
Be full; otherwise, even what is bitter will begin to taste sweet.

Friends in Low Places

When I realized that filling my life with men I met online had completely wrecked my life (literally – texting and driving on the way to meet someone caused me to total my car), I turned to something else to fill the void. I turned to alcohol. Please don’t stop reading yet, I’m not condemning a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail with friends once a month.

I was already in the middle of this addiction before I knew it had begun. When the kids would go to their Dad’s every other weekend, I would go to my old high-school boyfriend’s apartment on those Friday nights for a glass of wine, his amazing lasagna, and to watch boxing. I still absolutely love boxing. But adding wine to the sauce led to sipping while making dinner, with a glass after, then three. And one night, when I was sitting at the band girlfriends’ table at the club while the guys rocked out on stage, I found myself surrounded by 4 empty glasses and a bunch of extremely offended women. I still have no clue what I said, but it was offensive.
Binge drinking had completely taken over these weekends.
I had only wanted to relax, unwind, and forget my kids weren’t there with me that weekend. But it had totally taken over.

What stopped me? Well, I had my son.
My son doesn’t go back and forth to another parent. He is all mine. I had to be home. I stopped drinking so much for the best reason. My son is amazing.

Again, from my heart here: instead of filling your life with meaningless, or dangerous fillers, fill your life with great things. Intentionally lose the reasons you need to go where your addiction runs rampant. If it’s alcohol, try a craft night with friends instead. If it’s drugs, flush them and lose your contact’s number. Find an AA or NA or CR meeting and work on the things that are out of control in your life.

Celebrate Recovery helped me with all of the issues I’ve faced in my life. But I had to take the first step. If you’re local and need to find a meeting or need someone to go with, just ask me. I’ll rearrange my life to walk into that first or fifteenth meeting with you. If you’re not local, ask a friend or just be brave and walk into a meeting. You’ll find you aren’t alone.
Remember: if I can, you can.

“Stressed” Spelled Backwards is “Desserts”

My last addiction was food. I think I grew up with a buttermilk biscuit in one hand and a piece of home-fried chicken in the other. And my bottle was probably full of homemade gravy. By the way, I make the absolute best cream gravy. But I digress.

All my life I have been an emotional stress-eater, but food addiction actually started providing a mask for me. I decided I didn’t want to be seen anymore, because being seen = being hurt. So I just ate what I wanted to eat. And I didn’t really care what other people thought, because I didn’t care either.

Here’s the thing, though – I found myself in 2015 topped out at 352 pounds. I realized I needed to stop when I went to see The ICE in Grapevine, TX and I couldn’t walk even halfway across the hotel without stopping to rest. My heart, my joints, my lungs hurt. My life literally hung in the balance. I had gastric sleeve surgery in April 2015 – just before my 40th birthday. I lost 93 pounds. But since I hadn’t sorted out the real reason I had gotten so heavy in the first place, my weight slowly crept back up. I regained 50 pounds. Through counseling for past sexual abuse, I finally figured out what the issue was for me. It may be different for you, but I highly recommend getting a professional and a really good friend who will keep you accountable.

In October 2017 I started having major female issues which led to my having a hysterectomy in May 2018. My doctor said that the extra fat I was carrying was causing me to have estrogen overload, which had caused Endometrial Cancer. My addiction could have cost me my life. The surgery was long and costly. Ultimately, they got all the Cancer. As I recovered, I realized just how much my emotional starvation had consumed my life. As a result, I’ve been working on that, and have lost 51 pounds since my hysterectomy.

Left – January 2015. Right – January 2018.

If you were sitting across from me right now and were struggling with food addiction, I would say this to you: “I see you, and you are stunningly beautiful.” And then I would say, “let’s walk through this together.”

The Next Step Forward

I’m asking you today to do one thing. Just one. I want you to identify that thing you are using to fill a void in your life. I want you to take the next step forward toward healing in that area.

I handle life with prayer. Before I hit “Publish” I prayed that if you needed to read these words, that you would somehow find this post. If you’re reading these words and have been looking for a “sign” or an “answer” – consider that you’ve found it. You got this. You are brave, bold, and beautiful (or handsome). You may stumble through this next step, but I’m telling you, you have what it takes to step over this obstacle, away from this addiction, and step through to a better life.

Now go! That applause is from me.