Happy Merry Bah Humbug

Let’s get right to the point…

I hate the Fall holiday season.  I hate Thanksgiving, I hate Christmas (gasp yeah I know…but I so totally do).  I can hear what you’re saying…”Oh no you don’t hate the holiday, you hate the stress of all the cooking.  You hate the chaos of shopping, you hate…” NO I FREAKING HATE Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My oldest child is 18…in her entire lifetime I can remember two Christmases that I was excited about.  I can’t remember a Thanksgiving that I looked forward to.  No, not a single one.  I try every year to fake it and sometimes I’m way better at it than others.  This year I sucked royally at faking it.

I spent the majority of Thanksgiving Eve in tears and held more back Thanksgiving Day…till it came time to say goodbye to my fiancé and then I just kinda lost it.  OK OK…no I TOTALLY lost it.  I cried and cried and cried.

The worst part is…there was nothing genuinely terrible about the holiday this year.  In fact, I honestly don’t remember anything terrible ever happening to me at this time of year to make me hate this time of the year as badly as I do.

This year was so incredibly different from previous ones.  First, all 4 of my kids were together for the first time in 6 years…I love this picture:

Something else that’s different is I also got to spend this day with the love of my life.  Additionally my baby sister and miracle-baby nephew (though at 7 he’s not really a baby anymore) hosted.  The day should have been perfect.  What should be and what is though isn’t always the same.

After careful consideration, I have decided that something awful must have happened to me when I was little.  Something so horrible it’s buried deep in my psyche and refusing to show itself in a way that would allow me to process through it and heal from it.  Instead it presents as this horrible feeling of despair and dread and fear and heartache and extreme sorrow.

If humans could do it, I’d totally choose to hibernate on November 24th and not come out till January sometime.  I despise the Fall holiday season that much.

I can’t help but wonder if not remembering what happened causes so much angst, how horrendous must this “thing” have been.  Maybe I don’t really want to know or remember…

Hopefully this will be the last year that I am caught up in all off of this angst.  Despite this dread that looms over me every year, I do know there are still things to be thankful for.  I am grateful that all of my children and I were together, I’m grateful I got to share the day with my man and my sister and my nephew.  I’m thankful for all the tender mercies the Lord continues to offer, despite how I struggle at this time of year.

This morning, a neighbor handed me this…

I am thankful…

for the taxes I pay because it means that I am employed

for the mess to clean after a party because it means that I have been surrounded by friends

for the clothes that fit a little to snug because it means I have enough to eat

for my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine

for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home

for all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech

for the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking and have the luxury of transportation

for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm

for the lady behind me in church that sings off-key because it means I can hear

for the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear

for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because I have been capable of working hard

for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive

I think this about sums it up…despite the dread that looms over me, I still have a lot to be thankful for.  Hopefully the new memories I’m making will soon replace the repressed bad memories and I can move from hating this time of year to loving enjoying tolerating it at least.

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Winds of Change

As a parent, I’m entitled to not only personal revelation, but any revelation I want or need to help me with those I’m a steward over.  In short, as the head of the household I’m entitled to personal revelation for my family.  Likewise, as the head of the Ward family, the Bishop is entitled to revelation for the ward.

The Friday before I was due to move to Cougar, I received the most interesting voice mail.  It went on about how Bishop Heath (my new Bishop) had instructed this person to get us in a closer park, to do it immediately, and to do whatever it took to get us there.  When I called back, the High Priest Group Leader informed me what he already had paperwork for me and could come get me so I could see the place and fill out the paperwork and twenty minutes later I was on my way.  The new park has laundry facilities on-site, is 5 miles from the highway/town, there are members within walking distance and it even comes with a pool.  This guy and his wife even took me to the Cougar park to get my deposit back and everything.

As we’re driving up to Cougar he assures me that the new ward will love on me extra good and I proudly boast what big shoes they have to fill because my beloved 7th Ward is affectionately nick named 7th Heaven.  He insists they are up to the challenge and he was right.

Since arriving in my new spot, I’ve been loved on very good.  I’ve met so many people I can’t remember everyone (and I’m good with names and faces) and we’ve been very warmly received.  We’ve attended church here almost a month now (well Miss Ella and I have anyway) and as difficult as it is for me to ask, each time we have a need and I’m willing to humble myself enough to ask, that need is always met.

Our place within the new RV park is prime real estate let me tell you.  We only have neighbors on one side and we have the biggest yard (or pretty close to it) in the entire place.  Oh and let’s not forget this view…

Gorgeous isn’t it?  Go ahead be jealous…

Camp life is physically a lot harder than apartment/city living is.  Having to dispose of the dirt you’ve acquired after digging out a fire pit is no joke.  Building fires daily is also tougher than flipping the switch on the gas fireplace we had in our apartment.  Additional chores include things like stacking wood, dumping gray and black water, doing dishes without using a sink, cooking over a fire pit with no grill, shaking out rugs and sweeping several times a day, and countless other things.  We also have to do chores two or three times a day if we’d like to keep our spot looking spiffy.  Then there’s going to the bathroom to shower and do hair and makeup…talk about a workout sometimes (uphill carrying all your stuff).  Despite being physically harder, we lead a much simpler life and I have now heard every one of my kids say that this new way of living is not as bad as they thought it would be and they actually do like the simplicity of it.

We’ve survived our first major rain storm (though we do need to get our trailer tarped before the next major rains come), we’ve been able to endure the epic heat wave we’ve had lately in relative ease given we have a pool and AC in the trailer, we’ve met great people in and out of our Ward alike, we’ve started to put the most important things first finally, and ultimately, I think we’ve realized we can endure way more than we ever thought we could.  Except if it’s mosquitoes…I’m not enduring those little suckers well at all.

While this particular circumstance is not how I’d prefer to live if it were up to me, it has been a learning experience already.  I’ve learned that when a trial comes our way (and they will keep coming trust me), we can make it an obstacle or an opportunity by how we respond to it.  I choose to allow this opportunity to make me better not bitter.

Full Surrender

If you and I are Facebook friends, then you know things are incredibly difficult for me right now.  I wasn’t going to come out with what it is that has me rattled to the core, but writing has always been cathartic for me and with the challenges that lie ahead, I need all the relief I can get.

I am about to embark on yet another forced adventure and have cried gallons of tears over it; rivers maybe even.  The details as to the how and why aren’t really that important.  It’s the what that has me rather troubled. This new adventure is as scary as it is frustrating and as sad as it is hard. I feel ill-equipped even if I am uniquely qualified for it.

Since June 15th I’ve been on the phone, online, packing, or crying.  I’ve not been able to focus on much of anything and sleep has been in short supply as my mind is consumed with good and bad thoughts.  Satan would have me believe that I’m a terrible mother and my kids deserve more.  He’d have me believe that this current circumstance was totally preventable and all my fault.  He’d have me believe that I’m a failure and suggest I respond by doing some outrageous things.  It’s so painful a recent Facebook status of mine read “In addition to crying enough tears over the last few days to end any water shortage a small country might be facing, I’ve also talked so much I’m hoarse and apparently sound like my son on the phone. I’m pretty sure I’ve also been rejected more times in the last 72 hours than I ever have in the previous 40 years and some-odd days leading up to the last 72 hours COMBINED. Never again will I say it can’t get any worse or this is the hardest it’s ever been because it just gets worse and harder when I do. I feel like I’m facing insurmountable odds and though as my good friend Hanna reminded me, I will adapt because I don’t have any other choice, all I really want to do is be 4 again play play dough and dress up with my Mom. Yes I know that God is mindful of me; yes I am reading my scriptures; yes I am saying my prayers. Yes I am going to church (speaking of that any locals that can give us a ride tomorrow that’d be awesome) BUT…if one more person says to just keep the faith or reminds me that He has a plan I might have to punch them in the throat…HARD. Will everything be OK eventually…of course it always is. That’s not the problem…the problem is it’s not OK right now and I really REALLY need it to be.”

I have been a member of the Vancouver 7th Ward since my arrival in Vancouver 4 years ago.  I have developed some relationships with people in this ward that I cherish.  I am confident they know who they are so I don’t need to name them all here.  In short, 7th Ward is where it’s at.  Without a doubt, the most incredible ward I’ve ever been in.  Up until four years ago my fave ward was Springboro, but the relationships and love I’ve received in the last four years in Vancouver 7th make all other wards pale in comparison.  This is truly a ward family…and I am a big part of it.  Sunday July 13th will be our last Sunday in the ward; typing that brings tears to my eyes and as hard as leaving this ward is, it’s not the hardest part.

This isn’t even the sweetest part of our current location though.  My sister and bestest best friend forever and ever and always lives 10 minutes up the street.  I see a lot of her, we have a standing weekly date night, her 17-year-old son said it’s weird that we’re so close because he feels like he has two moms only instead of us being lesbian (though we do believe we’ve been mistaken for such before) we’re sisters.  I love her boys like my own son and she has backed me up to the ends of the earth and beyond with my own kids countless times.  Moving out of 7th Ward also means I’m moving away from her.  I can’t even begin to explain how painful it is to know that I will soon be a lot further than just 10 minutes down the street from her.

Then there’s my adoptive parents…I’ve blogged about how important they are to me several times and I’m moving even further away from them as well.  This means, just as we were getting used to the fun of holidays together we’re going to be too far away to enjoy any more.  This breaks my heart.  I am insanely in love with my baby nephew who we all actually call Baby.  I adore his mom, I’m crazy about my niece and well I just love my adopted family a ton and I know they love me also.  Sad to just get my parents back in my life only to move away from them yet again.

Finally in all of this there is the love of my life.  He and I just got back together the end of May and now, just 6 or 8 weeks later I’m moving away from him too.  He lives 20 minutes away and I typically only see him once a week right now and it’s not nearly enough time with him.  What will I do when I’m only able to see him once a month?  I think this, combined with everything else might be the death of me.  I cry and cry and cry.  My heart is so heavy; I am so pained.

See it’s not just that we’re moving…it’s that for the next few months we will be living in a 27′ Wanderer Gliderite trailer in an RV park in Cougar, WA.  To some this might sound like paradise.  Keep in mind that I am a city girl.  I even love traffic and smog (yeah I know crazy).  Consider also that there will be 4 of us living in that space, and our neighbors will be inches away.  These things alone are enough to make the situation difficult but then, for good measure, let’s just throw in the fact that the population of our new home is one hundred fifty according to the 2010 census.  Seriously?  That’s fewer people than just the apartment complex I now live in has.  Oh yeah and let us not forget that this place is 40 miles one way from the nearest real town and I don’t have a car, a bike, a scooter, or anything other than two good feet and one really bad back to get around on.  If all that isn’t bad enough, there’s the bugs and wildlife that I’d rather not live near let alone with, campfire cooking, shared showers (or insane propane costs for hot showers in the trailer), and the fact that there’s no cell coverage at the camp itself.  Just because I can camp doesn’t mean I want to, enjoy it, or am even looking forward to it.  Earlier I said I was uniquely qualified right?  I can cook in foil on coals of a fire and make it taste good, just as easy as I can cook on a regular stove.  I can build fires that burn so hot with no non-natural ingredients that they have to be put out twice, I can pitch a tent, I can clean a fish, and lots of other outdoorsy kinds of things.  Knowing how and wanting to do them are not the same though.

Heartache and sorrow have prevailed as I’ve thought about where and how I’ll be living this time next month.  I’ve cried to my sister, my mom, my home teachers, my visiting teachers, my friends, my boyfriend, and even my kids.  My kids are really excited.  Each of them have a different reason they think this is all going to be OK.  I have yet to be convinced…until about an hour ago.

Sunday afternoon my sister drove me up to the campground to put down a deposit on my spot and though I tried to play it off like it was gonna be great, inside I was miserable.  On the drive up there though I happened to hear Building 429’s song We Won’t Be Shaken.  My sister and I were chatting away like we always do when we’re in the car and so I only kinda, sorta, not really paid attention to the lyrics.  You know how when you’re really tired but you have to do something critical and dangerous like oh drive you pay more attention?  Well that’s where I was at and so I got a chance to really hear and internalize the lyrics to this song…I couldn’t believe what peace washed over me when I heard these lyrics:

…This mountain rises higher
The way seems so unclear
But I know that You go with me so I will never fear
I will trust in You

Whatever will come our way
Through fire or pouring rain
Oh we won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken…

You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
Cause You are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s Your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than You and You alone
I will not be moved…

This has now become my family’s theme song.  It’s often very interesting to me how God works.  At various points through this process, each of my children have come to me individually and said that maybe the reason we were going through this was basically to do what this song says…set our minds on Him and nothing less.

I’m sure it’s only me and mine, but we are that family in the movie RV.  Hopefully we’ll have the same experience after our RV adventure minus the septic scene and a few others.  At the beginning of this movie Robyn Williams, who’s character’s name I don’t remember,  mentions how plugged in everyone is.  They text each other from other rooms in the house and spend pretty much zero time together.  That’s my family presently.  We’ve gotten away from the basics.  We’ve stopped doing things together in more than one aspect of our lives.  On any given day of the week, you’ll find me plugged into the computer doing homework, editing photos, playing Words with Friends or otherwise computer driven, my 15-year-old on her phone doing much of the same things, my son swallowed up by Xbox and my youngest daughter busy reading or listening to music.  Each of us in the same household, but quite literally off in our own worlds.  We’ve been too distracted by other things and people to even do some of the most important things that need doing to safeguard our family from the winds of hell that seek to destroy us.  Things like Family Home Evening, family scripture study, family prayer, regular church attendance, personal prayer and scripture study.  As a result, Satan has had a firm hold on my family for a long time.

When crying with my middle daughter recently about this move and explaining how frustrated I was at all the rejection I’ve gotten and how of all the places in the world I wanted to be right now, Cougar, WA was not even close to “it” she, in all the wisdom that is this young woman, said maybe the reason we’re being stuck in Cougar is because God wants us to come back to Him and He knows to do that we need to be somewhere free of distraction.  See…told you that young woman is wise beyond her 15 years for sure.

I still don’t know the purpose in this scene, but I do think my daughter is right.  It’s remote enough that the number one rule is always take a buddy.  The distractions are pretty much going to be gone entirely.  The camp does offer internet but I’m not sure there will be enough umph in the trailer to even run my computer which will make finishing school very difficult.  Then, as I listened to this Building 429 song a while ago, there was that line or two that just kind of kidney punched me.  “So I’ll stand in full surrender, it’s Your way and not my own” and then later as the chorus plays again we hear “whatever tomorrow brings, together we’ll rise and sing” and through this whole process those who’ve had the details all along I’ve said this same thing to.  At the end of the day, even with all the misgivings I have about this adventure two things remain constant.  We are together and the gospel is still true.

I know that my Heavenly Father loves me; I know that my children know this same thing.  I know that just as He has provided for us in our time of need right here in Vancouver, He will continue to do the same in Cougar.  His love is constant and unchanging even when the world around us is not.  Where there is chaos, He provides peace.  Where there is fear and doubt, He offers blessed assurance.  I have learned, even when I struggle to look in the right direction, that whether I feel overwhelmed by chaos and fearful or at peace and full of blessed assurance largely depends on where I look and what I focus on.  These next few months of “camping” (albeit doing so in relative style) will undoubtedly be rough, but there are also tender mercies to be found and blessings already present.

This has happened in July not January.  It’s plenty warm enough to camp indefinitely.  It happened after reconciliation with my adopted family because the trailer we are using belongs to my adopted cousin who is letting me use it at no charge.  It’s happening at just about the same time my kids get back from/head off to Girls Camp and Scout Camp so camp skills will be fresh in their minds.  We are fortunate enough to be in a ward when we move and not just a branch, people we love have agreed to come visit so we won’t be alone, space was available immediately with no difficult getting in, several of our close friends are avid campers and they have helped us to prepare, our beloved 7th Ward has plenty of trucks and trailers so a u-haul isn’t necessary, we’re getting a huge storage unit half off for three months, our pad is all-inclusive and we don’t have to risk that scene in RV where they have to dump the waste, the campground owner is very kind, there are members in Cougar, the place is undeniably beautiful, there’s lake access both to the East and West of us within walking distance (so the kids can cool off on these hot summer days that are upon us), we will soon be lean and mean with all the walking we’ll have to do (we have to walk a half mile round trip just to have cell phone coverage), the buddy system allows any two of us to get closer at countless points through the day, the absence of distractions requires us to put first/most important things first, we’ll have great stories to tell kids and grand kids down the road, though there isn’t cell coverage at camp, there is Internet so I can finish school if the connection is adequate and arguably the most important of all the immediate blessings is that we will be together and we will not be living on the streets.

My kids are phenomenal and I don’t just say that because they are mine.  Ask anyone who’s met them and they will tell you that though not perfect, these kids are indeed amazing.  They could have reacted very differently when learning how we’d be living for the next few months.  Here’s what happened though…my youngest daughter excitedly proclaimed “FINALLY you’re taking us camping, I love camping” and my son said “just imagine all the bugs I can catch and throw on Jazmyne” (typical little brother for you), and Jazmyne just keeps assuring me that it’s not a big deal and we’re gonna be just fine.  Already I’m seeing some positive changes in these children as we prepare for camp life too.

We are all thinking about what we can do to pass the time as a family,  Jazmyne was “caught” in her scriptures voluntarily for the first time in months at church on Sunday and she volunteered to read a few chapters last night while we were reading Moroni to help Miss Gabryella finish up her Personal Progress.  Mason excitedly pulled out his Duty to God book and informed us he was anxious to get started on it.  Additionally, he has volunteered to do all the manly camp things like chop wood, hunt, fish (and clean/gut his kill) and when saying our family prayer last night he asked God to bless him with the ability to bless his family during this experience.  In short, our hearts are already returning to God.  We have a long ways to go still, but I believe we’re moving in the right direction both literally and figuratively.

Though this will be an adjustment for sure and may often prove difficult, the despair and gloom I feel around this change is dissipating quickly.  “Whatever will come our way, through fire or pouring rain, oh we won’t be shaken.  No we won’t be shaken.  Whatever tomorrow brings, together we’ll rise and sing that we won’t be shaken.  No we won’t be shaken…we will trust in You and we will not be shaken.”

One Moment In Time

And no, not as in that glorious song by Whitney Houston…

You ever have those moments in time when, despite your best efforts to control yourself, you’re consumed by emotion and by emotion I mean uncontrollable emotions that hit you in the gut totally unexpected and leave you reeling for days or weeks or months.  No just me?!?!  I figured.

June 11th was such a day for me.  It should have been totally amazing celebrating a milestone in the life of someone I love.  The problem though is that someone loves someone I disdain.  Last time we were in this scenario much to my dismay, this person I totally detest actually touched me.  I vowed that if he touched me again I’d go to jail.  Apparently he was warned and he didn’t touch me or even speak to me but in the moment or two before the end of the night, I saw him.  Seeing him is almost always an excruciating experience.  This time was no different.

The moment I saw him I immediately began to be anxious.  My fight or flight stimulus had been triggered and I just wanted out and away from the situation.  Unfortunately, a few moments later I caught a glimpse of him again and what happened later that night still has my head spinning a bit nearly a week later.

It has been nearly 30 years since the last time I was sexually abused or raped by this man and yet, that night I sat in my craft space afraid to sleep knowing I’d have flashbacks and nightmares of the situation all over again.  How can something that happened what feels like a lifetime ago to a totally different person still continue to cause such negative emotions now all these years later?  I have no idea, but it did.  When sleep finally did come, it was short and full of experiences that I can’t forget no matter how hard I try.  One of the worst nights I’ve had in a very long time.  After four hours of sleep that was riddled with some of the most painful memories I have, I finally couldn’t take it anymore and woke up and got the day started.  Unfortunately the heartache continued throughout the next day.

Try as I might to stay distracted and busy, I couldn’t keep my mind off the events of my childhood that resulted in things like at least 14 different foster homes, attending 6 different high schools, and countless years lost with my siblings.  I’ve cried so many tears over the abuse I suffered at this man’s hands you’d think I’d be all cried out but alas, every now and again a there’s a moment or two in time that leaves me in tears all over again.  This time it was a whole different experience though…

I cried at the memories themselves, but mostly I felt this overwhelming sense of unworthiness.  Abuse kind of does that to you sometimes…

Here I am 26 years post abuse and seeing that man for just the second or two I did in the moment or two I did had me in tears questioning what I have done to deserve all the goodness I have in my life.  I grew up feeling so worthless and unloved and unvalued that, as I went about that Thursday day I found myself filled with doubts.  I found myself wondering what it is about me that is deserving the devotion and admiration of my children, the heart and soul of the only man I’ve ever loved with all that I am, the love and affection of the friends that I have in my life and the support of all the chosen family that now surrounds me.

I found myself questioning why my adoptive parents would even WANT to adopt someone so violated and often still so cracked and broken as I am.  I found myself questioning all that is good in my life and wondering if this horrible man had never been introduced to me, how different would my life have been. Would have been better?  Would it have been worse?  For a moment or two I even found myself questioning my worth to my Heavenly Father if something so bad could have happened to me so many times.  It’s not like this man I speak of was the first or only to take advantage of me.  In fact, with few exceptions, every man I’ve ever known from before I was born has hurt me or taken advantage of me from before birth well into adulthood.  Aside from worthy active priesthood holders from church, I can count how many men haven’t abused me on one hand.

Usually I’m really good at seeing the bright side of things.  That Wednesday and Thursday evening though it was pretty tough to see anything other than all the countless times I was used and abused to bring him pleasure. I’ve forgiven him; I’ve accepted it as part of my history; I’ve been in therapy for years to heal.  Why then, does seeing a glimpse of him bring back so much unpleasantness?  Oh how I wish forgiven meant forgotten.  Since it doesn’t however, I suspect there will continue to be moments in time such as this.

The last time I had to share a once in a lifetime event with this man it was four years ago, hopefully it will be many more years before I have to do it again and if not, prayerfully the love of my life will be at my side to support me through it by reminding me that he loves me and I am worth it.  Funny how one man (or several in my case) can take away all the worth you have ever felt and then another can, in an instant, give it all back to you and then some.

Change is good

Welcome to my new blog.  I’ve got so many going on right now, I can’t keep track of any of them and haven’t blogged in ages.  With the exception of my photography blog, here you will find ALL things about Living Faithfule.  I’m crafty, I’m creative, I’m learning to eat and live healthier, I’m frugal, and I love to DIY.  Who knows what you’ll find when you visit…some of all that maybe all of all that.  Regardless, welcome to my world.

Long time no hear

It’s been some time since I’ve shared any of my crafty goodies.  Sincerest apologies.  Life has gotten the best of me for quite some time now and I haven’t spent much time playing with paper.  I have however, made some significant changes recently that should allow me to start making (and sharing) more things with you front this point on though!  Stay tuned!

I got nothing…

I’m looking for a greeting and a catch phrase. So when I do videos I can say “hey (insert something here) welcome to another Faithfule Creations video” not guys, not gang, not stampers, not….but I NEED something.  Right now I got nothing…I think I just say hello and welcome to another Faithfule Creations video…can you say BORING!!!! Also, I’d love to have a great catch phrase to end my blog posts and videos with. You know how Megan Elizabeth AboveRubies says “enjoy the moments” and I think Kristal Andrew says “from my hands to yours” or something like that….Please tell me your suggestions and if I use yours, you’ll receive a free custom watermark in whatever file format you need!!