Something to call your own.

7 03 2014


A Time for Everything

 ECC 3:3

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

We often times forget that we as mothers need something to call our own. For the past few months, I have fought having something of my own. Even though I felt Heavenly Father calling me  to get up early and start working out and spend some time with Him I ignored it.  I struggled last year with moving my family into homeschooling. My hubby deployed and from day one it was a battle. Not only with my children, which I expected, but with all the other outside influences that come when my hubby deploys.  Here I was following Heavenly Father’s call to witness to my own children and I was miserable. Not because of that act of homeschooling, but all  the  outside stuff  that worked into our every day lives and kept me from being the best teacher I could be in our school. Never mind a calling to run and spend time with Him.

This past weekend I had the pleasure and honor of participating in the Disney 10K Princess Run. I went with a group of beautiful God-filled women. In addition to that, we spent our family vacation at Disney. This was the 2nd time we went as a family.   Amazing does not quite cover the feelings and emotions associated with this run and our trip. Almost 9,000  men and women participated in this event. Eight thousand participants were women!  Sit and ponder that amount of people!

I honestly did not want to do it. I tried getting into shape, but it was a daily struggle. After a deployment you also have an adjustment period when your spouse comes home. My hubby was amazed at how much our family structure changed with homeschooling. We were closer. We were not watching TV and we were a reading family.  Couple that with my hubby reaffirming his relationship with Heavenly Father and we were two very different people when he arrived home. We are still adjusting and at times we are not doing it well.  But we have Heavenly Father guiding us; this has been our saving grace.

Ever had a time in your life when the act of getting out of bed was a gift?  That was how the last year went; lawsuits, loss of friendships, homeschooling, deployment, the end of my volunteering, the end of my schooling, and a host of other really big issues.. I was exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually. If there was a problem, I ran into it during my husband’s absence. I was pushed to my limits. I did not know then, I was that strong of a person. But  I needed to be humbled.

Fast forward: a week before the run.

I could not get into regular running. I was only up to 4 miles at a time and spinning 3 times a week. I was freaking out. But the Running Princesses came in strong. They prayed for me. They even supported me during the run! They surrounded me with His love and theirs. So off I was to Disney with my family.

Fast forward :the morning of the run.

The fireworks went off and we started. I was in the last group. The very last group of 9000 people! For the first few minutes it took a lot to navigate the crowd. I eventually stepped off the pavement and just ran on the grass. I had to, if I ever wanted to pass anyone.  I closed  my eyes right as I  started. Silently, I asked for His wings to carry me. Up to this point, I had only trained for 6 weeks. Every time I tried to get further than 4 miles, I felt mentally defeated. Physically, I felt every year of my 43 years when I trained.  I never started running at my weight. I always waited until I was under 200 lbs.

I purchased a new iPod for the run and even created a playlist the night before. But that did not matter. I was not meant to listen to any music this time. I lost my ear buds  in the crowd.  Talk about a bummer! Initially, I was a bit upset by this. But as I took one step in front of the other, I realized I needed to be in the moment. I needed the mindfulness of what I was attempting to accomplish right then and there.  I felt every breath in my chest, and heard the rocks crunch under my feet. The people around me just disappeared.  I was alone in my head. Something that had not happened for 18 months! Immediately I felt a surge of energy . His wings lifted me up. I felt like I was the frog in a game of Frogger and my Heavenly Father was moving me! The energy was invigorating. Just run. Just keep running. Don’t look back and keep focused on the goal at hand–to finish! Finish I did. I cried like a baby. I had an asthma attack. Something that  has not happened in 5 years!

After the run, I started thinking about the whole experience.  We live in a fallen world. It is the property of Heavenly Father; perverted in some ways by the other side. So many people do not have a relationship with Heavenly Father. They do not know the good news at all. My heart weeps at this thought. Some symbolism started to appear in relation to my run.  The cement course, which was hard, tough and grueling, reminded me so much of our lives without Heavenly Father. I never did it well when I was without Him. Ever. Don’t get me wrong, we have some humdinger of moments with Him on our journey too, but cement road is toughest surface and the worst surface to run on. Runners prefer to avoid it.  Life is so much harder without Heavenly Father too.  We just can’t do it as well as He would.   We try to and usually fail miserably. I looked for a softer surface ; just like I chose to walk my journey on this earth with Heavenly Father. I needed to save my feet from blisters. I all ready had two. So I ran on the grass. The grass , which is a softer surface compared to that of cement, symbolized my journey with Heavenly Father. Sure I had to avoid the potholes. There were quite a few just like He promised we would shave some challenging times. I mean seriously how many of His disciples died for their beliefs?  But the surface gave some leeway as I ran. Just like He guides us when we allow Him too.

Steeping off the cement path, symbolized running with Heavenly Father. When we are called to walk with Him, we often face trials without support from this earthly realm.  I still had to navigate; I still had to choose which path to move forward.  But I was not alone. He was with me. There were even  times He took over. Towards the end of the run, I could only think about the focus on my pain. My body hurt and I was exhausted. He led my feet one stride at a  time.  Like in life, sometimes you just can’t avoid tougher surfaces.  Some times we have to muddle through it.  We have things we must navigate whether they are good or bad.

Galatians 6:9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The run in its entirety symbolized a mental and physical challenge. It was the culmination of a year and half worth of struggles for myself and my family.  I was not about to give up. After all, I had Heavenly Fathers back! But so often in the crux of great strife we forget about balance. We forget about honoring Him and also honoring ourselves. Our bodies our temples. They are the only bodies we have in this life. We should take care of them.   I love being a mother. I love being a teacher, but what I missed most of all is doing something that is just for myself.

So often we forget that we have desires and hopes too. It is easy to get caught up and even lost in motherhood. It is a consuming job. Whether you work or stay at home, you need to learn to balance the many hats stored in your closet. I was not balancing my needs very well. I was not balancing my time with Heavenly Father either.  This run exemplified the importance of my needs in the equation of success for my family and my walk with Heavenly Father. How are you balancing your needs? How you honoring His Glory in your walk?



Beautiful relationships….

5 01 2014

It has been a long battle. I fought it with my mother; fought her unwillingness to reach out and touch me when it mattered the most. Then  I fought it within my own heart. The willingness to serve my daughter in a manner in which I was not served by my very own mother.  Today was the day, the day I  broke free from my anxiety. Today was the day my heart soared for the beautiful possibilities that lay  ahead  for both my daughter and I.  We have the potential to soar and be closer than I ever was with my own mother.  We have the opportunity through homeschooling to accomplish a level of closeness and intimacy that I could only pine for with my own mother for many many years. For the past year, I have agonized and prayed over when to home school my daughter. Why? Because I learned slowly that homeschooling a child, let alone three is not for the faint hearted. When you home school, you never have a moment alone and your life is not your own anymore. When you home school you change every aspect of how you run your family. This can be so overwhelming for anyone, but add another layer of not understanding how to be a loving, caring mother and good intentions will not be enough to get anyone through the challenges of homeschooling.  I never had an example of what that should look like; how to be loving, caring and unselfish.  We learn by our examples. I never experienced it. I had a deficit going into motherhood. I knew what I experienced as a child was pretty messed up.  I desired to be better. I knew I never really understood or enjoyed my moms company. I  never really spent any quality time with her either. Quality time for her was in front of the TV or playing by myself. The real meaning of motherhood was lost on me.

Grace, forgiveness and hope are the new parameters of  my mother and I’s relationship. Forgiveness for all “those transgressions” I encountered while under the care of her and my step father. Grace to see her for child of Heavenly Father  and accept her for where she is at spiritually as well as emotionally; a hurt being from a long list of painful ugly relationships. Hope that even if she does not think she is worthy of His love, she is and will know it someday. Hope that she  too will feel the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father through the relationships of her loved ones and friends.

Beautiful possibilities...

Beautiful possibilities…

This past holiday season I observed two sweet and long time friends loose their mothers. Ironically, they were both stricken with breast cancer. Their tenacity and drive to outlive their diagnosis did not go unnoticed.  They lived life large and in a manner that glorified Heavenly Father. Their love also knew no bounds.

Rene moved mountains to care for her mother. Lisa drove miles to ensure care was received. Healing occurred for both women. Time seemed to move slowly and death was at bay. But time only alludes us of deaths presence.  When Reetha and Sarah did move on, each of their daughters took an immense amount of comfort in knowing that their mothers walked with Heavenly Father once their bodies gave out. Each of my friends knew that they would see their mothers when their time was oncoming.  My friend Heather, in all her graciousness, provided  a wonderful example of how the hope of daughter could actually save a mother. Heather came into my life with a bang and a blessing months before these beautiful women passed. She shared her story with me and it moved me………

Forgiveness heals. Forgiveness gets rid of the spiritual cancer in the victims heart.

I have not talked to my mother for two and half years.  I had to walk away because of the toxicity her and I created in our relationship. It is unhealthy to say the least. Until I could forgive her and move on, it was truly hopeless. But with Him, all things are possibly. With him the mountains crumbled and I learned to forgive.

What struck my heart so boldly the other day was how much I ached for my mothers salvation. After hearing both Lisa and Rene talk about their mothers salvations I hurt for my mother. How much I felt a desire to share my fears with her of her salvation, or lack thereof. If I were a betting woman, I would bet that she still does not know our Heavenly Father at all. My step father ruined her. He trampled on her heart, the little bit that was left after a life of pain from growing up in  foster home after foster home was gone. Being the child of a madam in a whore house did nothing to help her self esteem either. Having a drunk for a father was another important relationship that shaped all successive relationships from then on in her life.

I never really looked at my mother. I never saw her for the hurt being she had become.

Then I forgave her.

I see her now. I see her in my daughter; my beautiful baby girl within whom I have been given beautiful possibilities to forge a strong relationship based on a  foundation of love.

I am not my mother.  I am a child of the one true King. I am daughter of Lord God Jehovah,  who has been given me an opportunity to love a little girl in a manner worthy of a child of Jesus. I am given the opportunity to reach out and love a child in a manner that I was never loved. How my heart soars! How my Heart celebrates in this joy!

I never thought I was capable of loving her so much. I never knew loving her would redefine my character. I never knew loving her and my sons would save me!  I never knew that loving her would finally show  my heart that there is hope for my mother and I.

Oh how my heart fills with joy in the possibilities of both of these relationships! How freeing it is to know that I am not like her! How awesome it is that I may not know how to be a loving parent, but my Heavenly Father has imbued within my heart the tools necessary to do so. I just need to walk with Him on this journey. I just need to take a chance and reach for her hand.

When I see my daughter,  I do not see a little me anymore. I see a smaller version of my mother waiting for me to love her wholly and without reservation.

Lisa and Rene, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart grieves on a level I can’t adequately describe in words for the two of you. I am so grateful you were able to experience the true love between a mother and daughter. You honored your mothers and modeled how to love your mother in a manner I have never witnessed. I shed my fear, because of your leadership. I shed my fear because of all four women.

Thank you!

Sarah and Reatha your presence is sorely missed. Thank you for loving your daughters completely and without reservation. You gave me the example I sorely needed.

I will see you when it is my time.


Life with pets….

5 01 2014

Our family was driving in the car the other day, when we all pondered what life would be like without our animals. Besides 3 crazy children, we also have 6 furry four-legged babies.  They are Tahoe 7, Jimmy Buffet 5, Roscoe 5, Daisy Mae 14, Laci 8, and Chelsea 1.  All the boys are Bassett Hounds  and all the girl are cats.  Here is a fresh look at what we encounter often…

1. No longer the proud owners of a Kirby vacuum, we would enjoy the cost of a cheaper model without going into debt for the one that would withstand all the years of hair.

2. The game of “Search for the Hair roller,” would be non-existent. Who has hair?

3. There would be enough seating in our living room on movie night, it will never look like this….



4. The side of our house would no longer be called,”Death Valley” since Laci would no longer leave behind evidence of  her recent fresh kills!

5.  Nightly midnight play sessions with Chelsea someones poor  feet would no longer be a main concern for myself, Jeff and our son Shane; we could sleep with the door open and  sleep un-interrupted.

6. Chelsea’s daily game of “chase Daisy Mae” would decrease our chiropractic bill, dramatically.

7.  No more wondering if the weather stripping that you re-placed around your doors will survive the cats. If we had no cats, they would not be stuck outside or in the garage and leave evidence of their extreme prejudice.

8. Our house would no longer be known as the “House with the Howling Hounds”.

9.  A daily 6am wake up call would be a thing of the past. No longer concerned about bathroom leaks, we could actually sleep in!

10. The people at Mill Creek will no longer recognize us and know our eating habits.

11. The garbage men would no longer be afraid to empty our garbage.

12. The wolf pack picnic table  in our backyard would no longer be a pack gathering spot.

13. Stuffed animals could breath a sigh of relief. Jimmy would no longer be around to eat them or , legos, shoes, and anything else left in his line of fire.

14. The Christmas tree would cease to be a trapeze for Chelsea, and it would no longer loose needles since she would not be there to sleep in it.

15. The floor beneath our kitchen table would have layers of old food from 3 messy children.

16. Our house food bill would go down, as the dogs would not be there to counter serf daily!

17. Lastly, rainy days would not make mom crazy. Paw prints would not be everywhere….

So if you get a hankering for a hound or a feline there will be moments of tension I guarantee it,  but the unconditional love that accompanies them is priceless!



Spiritual Warriors……

2 09 2011

Spiritual Warriors…

They are all around us. They are embedded in our society. They glow with Heavenly Fathers light. They are passionate in what they do and it radiates from their soul.  Their jobs are very different.  Each has their own gift but their goals are one in the same. They exemplify the good in man in order for us to witness a living God.   Yes, witness a living God.

He is all around us as is the other side. With today’s advances in technology and fast-paced living, we need to take the time to witness His beauty when we come across it. We need to take the time to thank Heavenly Father for those with spiritual gifts that create more joy and happiness not only for us but for our world. We need to be grateful for their willingness to share and spread their passion; their love.

My daughter Darbylynne and  I were in Earthfare today. We meandered around the store. It is not easy taking a two -year old shopping; more so with one that desires to push the cart around,”All by herself!”. Navigating can be a nightmare if one does not focus. But I digress, we placed the various items we needed in her cart. I decided to try lunch there since it was noon. She was pointing out all the food in the deli window, while attempting to try to taste it with her tongue! As we waited in line to pay for our food,  I heard her sweet voice say,” Mommy, Look!”. I followed her finger to the sweet notes that lifted the air up in the cafe.  A young man was playing a violin.  He was quite a distance from us and he was not very loud either. I was surprised she noticed it from so far away.  So I looked at her and said,” Lets eat lunch and listen to the violin  okay?” Her eyes grew big with a smile. We proceeded to sit next to him and listen while we ate.

Through the entire lunch, I watched this young man play with all his heart. He sat in the midst of some flowers and samples of cookies.  Many people glossed right over him. The two ladies beside us enjoying their lunch did not stop to even acknowledge him.  To his right he had a little stereo. He sat on a folded chair and his violin case, which had a purple plush lining, laid open for tips. He wasn’t playing alone.  With every other song, he touched the button of the stereo and a piano would accompany him.  Not once did he open his eyes. Not once did he loose focus of the task at hand. He was playing his instrument for all to hear with all his heart and all his breathe. When one of his strings went out of tune, he ever so gently and quietly tuned it and  proceed onto the next song. What impressed me the most, was the way his body swayed to the melody. He moved with the gracefulness and ease. The violin and him were never two separate systems. They were one. Every note he played came from his heart. You could feel it as the bow stroked the strings. You see it on his form. You could hear it in the music.

For some time, we ate and listened.  I enjoyed watching my daughter dance in her chair while eating. Every so often while I hummed, she would stop and give me a great big hug. Several songs later, my satiated two year old she cheered and clapped when the musician ended his current song.  I saw him break his dance.  He looked over at her and smiled one of the warmest smiles, I have yet to see on another person in a very long time. He was sincerely grateful for the response from Darby. Her eyes locked on to him and she said,”More, please!” He quickly obliged and continued to dance.

This moment of joy was incredible inspiration.  This young mans love for music was deeply conveyed  in every aspect of  his movements. Every note heard by myself and my daughter filled us with light. How Heavenly Father can inspire us to be our best and share that joy and happiness with others is heart rendering to say the least!

This young man shared his love of music with others. This young man was inspired by some good somewhere and it permeated every aspect of his body while he played.  This is what a spiritual warrior does! They share their gift with others. They do so with the intent to bring joy in our  world, when  at times it can be filled with much despair and grief. His were not completely altruistic as he was there to make some cash. But how many people stop to notice such beauty when it occupies the very space they are in? Not many. Right after my daughter cheered on this young man, several people stopped to see her excitement. Realizing what she was so exuberance about,  some people did place some tips in the case.  Sadly though, not until they noticed Darby.

I spent most of the day pondering this experience. This was not the first person I came across this week with a spiritual gift. My massage therapist  happens to be the other. He is blessed to a be a conduit of healing. Mind you, I have been massaged quite a bit over my lifetime, but this young man is different. He utilizes his knowledge of the body and its systems as well as a bit of intuition to understand where to proceed on a client. I knew when I met him that he was different. The difference became evident when he asked to do some energy work on my neck. He said, ” I get the impression you are burdened and you need this on your neck.” With that, I opened myself up and allowed some healing. I am not a big fan of Reiki. I was taught to be selective with whom and how I share my Light energy.   After a momentary Light check, he seemed to be on the up and up. So I opened myself up to this healing.  What an amazing experience!  His gift of touch coupled with his knowledge of the Creator were able to heal a body worn out from helping others. Sometimes healers need healing. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves enough to allow others to help us too.

These experiences promoted some really thought provoking questions:  Do I give thanks  for those who are passionate with their gifts? Do I praise Heavenly Father  enough for providing inspiration to such individuals? Do I spend more time worrying about what I need to do instead of enjoying the moment? Do I treasure the moments that stand still? Did I even notice any of  them?  Lastly, do I utilize my spiritual gifts to their full potential? More importantly though, do you?

In His arms,


Honoring thy mother and father…….

12 08 2011

For those of you that do not know, this is one of the 10 commandments.  On the surface, it would appear like a very simple act of love. We all have a mother and a father. Some of us have fond memories of our parents reading to us, praying with us, teaching us our roles in our family and loving us with all their heart. We have memories of fun times traveling and happy times of hugs and kisses.  We all love our parents to some degree.  What do you do though when the two people that raised you, abused you physically and emotionally?  How do you Honor them?  What does honoring them look like? Are there limits to honoring them, loving them and respecting them?

My children and I spent the last 4 weeks with my mother.  Drama aside, we had some very good times. At what cost though? I knew it would be a difficult trip. This is why I had a migraine on the day we were leaving. 18 years of therapy, forgiveness and the strength of Him were all the tools I needed to succeed. Unfortunately it has taken the last 4 weeks to get to a point of how to honor my feelings for my mother and father while honoring their role in my children’s lives.

My fathers role is very simple. He has no part of my children’s lives.  He refuses to talk to me, since I turned him into the high school counselor back in 1987 for child abuse.   Yes, I turned his ass in. Couple this with my turning him into the IRS. He is still very angry. He claimed me as an exemption when he gave no support at all. I could not get into college unless I had proven I was not his dependent.  $10,000  and 2 years later my mother finally forgave me and we were “friends”  again for some time.  It was to end rather quickly though when I found out the man I had been calling father was really my step father. I went to the social security administration to get a copy of my birth certificate. It was there I learn that I was adopted. So the man, who abused me for many years, was not my real father. I headed into therapy.  I had too, as I married and divorced a man that was just like my step father. His influence needed to stop.  There is no doubt in my mind that John M. Neff will never have a role in my children’s  lives. But what about my mother?

For the next few years, my conversations with my her were stressful to say the least. Whenever we did talk , I was always so angry with her. I never understood why, until recently.  I spent many years in therapy dealing with the physical and emotional abuse from John. The first year, I cried every visit for 52 weeks. After realizing how much of that relationship with him was not my fault,  I moved onto to my mother. I realized how much her silence during the abuse hurt emotionally and physically. I realized how betrayed I felt for her taking 5 years to tell him to stop.  Reliving all those emotions caused some really bad migraines. Reliving all those emotions  was devastating.  My relationships with all my friends were so unhealthy too.  I had no idea how to allow someone near my true heart. I had no idea how to have a healthy discussion. I had no idea how to even have a healthy relationship with a man. I took everything so personal. I walked every day in my body as a victim. Therapy helped rewire all the lessons learned in that home.   I needed to learn how to function as a healthy adult. If I was to have children, they needed the best of me.  None of that was easy. I had to learn to forgive my mother and father for what they did. But I never  did forgot.

The trip with my mother was so stressful.  I had  grown so much from that hurt little girl. Each year we went home to visit, I could see how damaged she was and how this affected my personality and our relationship.   She does not like to ruminate over the past. She refuses to acknowledge how her  own childhood affects her as a adult. She refuses to acknowledge how she was victim in the house as well.

She was the product of 9 children. Her mother was a Madame in their home town until she was run out. My grandpa left my mom, my aunt and my grandma with nothing. My grandma went to work.  Before going to a permanent foster home, my mother raised  my aunt and a half brother, who was black.  The straw on the proverbial back of the town was drawn when my grandma became pregnant again with another baby. This man had 4 other children. My grandmother gave both my uncles up for adoption. A mixed family adopted one boy and the  father of my uncle raised him as his own with his current family.  When grandma Celeste was finally run out, she fled to NY. Eventually sh married a Hispanic man, feel in love and gave him 5 children.

All this information was given to me upon the death of my Aunt Vicki. I met my real family for the first time 5 years ago. I never saw such a collage of people in one room, black, white and Hispanic; so many people paying their respects to my aunt. My Aunt Vicki was a strong woman. She kept in touch with everyone.  She valued family since she never really had a great one. I was overwhelmed to say the least. The tears flowed and emotions were high that day. I was finally home.

Given my mothers history, you would think I would be more understanding of her inability to have healthy relationships. Unfortunately, I answer to a higher power. I will be held accountable by Heavenly Father if I abuse my children or subject them to unhealthy relationships. People are not perfect, but my children do not need to see her and I disrespect each other.  I worked really hard to become the mom I am today. I have made some mistakes along the way as well. I am certain I will make more in the future.  But I will never allow my children to see me as angry as I was with her again. The constant lack of support. Her inability to discern my needs from my children needs. Being  told I am selfish due to  children’s  needs conflicting with hers.  Having them hear the hurtful things we both said to each other. I will not do that again.

My last conversation with her was not pleasant. I asked her to take some ownership in our relationship and get into therapy. I asked her to do this for us, so we could have a healthier relationship.  Her reply, “I don’t have to prove anything to you Michele. This is a power struggle and I will not do this with you.”  The tears have not stopped for the last three weeks. I can’t make her do anything. But, I am not going to continue and toxic unhealthy relationship with her. I am deeply hurt. I told her we would not be visiting anymore and she was not welcome to come here. I love her but I can’t make her do the right thing.

She called me the other day, I answered and asked her not to call me anymore.  I told her, she was welcome to call Jeff and talk to the kids on the phone with him, but I did not want to talk to her anymore. She hung up. It hurt to say that.  It felt good to find my voice, though.  It felt good to finally acknowledge the victim inside me . She will always walk with me, but she is not in control anymore. She is much stronger, more loving and much more respectful of her family and friends.  She desires a healthy life and lots of love.  She deserves happiness, and a good man to share her life with.   She seizes the day and lives in the moment. Her past does not dictate her future.  I wish this for my mother. I wish my mom had the strength to  choose this path as well. I wish she loved me enough to take this step. More importantly, I wished she loved herself enough to try.  This is what honoring myself and honoring my mother and father looks like to me…