Time Goes On

I had every intention of staying on track for the last five days of November for the Thankfulness Challenge… every intention. But on Thanksgiving I started to feel the holiday blues set in. You see, for the past thirty-nine years I have hated this time of year. It usually starts the beginning of November and lasts until the middle of January; however with the event of my mother’s death at the end of January thirteen years ago, the dread of this time of year has stretched out to the beginning of March.

The Christmas I was eleven I experienced a trauma that changed me. And since I had worked through this trauma through Prolonged Exposure a year and a half ago I thought it was going to finally be behind me or at least not affect me as bad. A new kind of grief is being felt this year in light of the recovered memories this past February. And it has nothing to do with the person who caused that initial trauma. I realize that there were actually two traumas that Christmas; the Cousin… and then how Blob, Bully Girl and my family treated me as I responded in behavior to the trauma that I couldn’t speak about.

A new anger has crept in along with a different kind of dread about this holiday. Just more to process I guess. Most importantly, it is making me revisit some of the earlier processing and tools I learned in therapy. The war is ever present with the enemy trying to use the old messages to capture me into bondage once again, and Jesus is fighting the battle for me; doesn’t mean that I’m not feeling the effects of it though.

So this past weekend, after running errands on Saturday, when I said I would write another post about that day’s Thankfulness Challenge, I arrived home with an aching hole in my heart of loneliness and grief. I had spent the whole day alone. This is the part about being single that sucks sometimes. I haven’t been feeling the Thankfulness that matches the blessings I’ve been given. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything as the tendency to hibernate was trying to overtake me.

Will I ever be free of this? Will I ever be able to enjoy this time of year without such deep pain and trying to stop time until the spring arrives? It’s futile I know! I cannot stop time and I cannot change what happened. I can only change the here and now and how I respond. And how I want to respond is by crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head.

If there is one thing I have learned from trauma and my mother’s death it is that time goes on and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

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Thankfulness Challenge Blitz: Part 2

Since I started the Thankfulness Challenge I have gotten sick, taken two weeks off of work, returned to work though still not up to par and celebrated Thanksgiving with friends.  The family by blood that I continue to be in relationship with were going to come to stay with me, but in light of me being ill and some things that are out of their control; like a car breaking down, closing on a new house, and needing to buy a new car on a fixed income, we decided that we would forgo this Thanksgiving together. This time of year has been hard for me most of my life due to trauma I experienced at the age of eleven, but the past two years of this journey I have been experiencing healing. I FEEL the sadness, want to avoid and hibernate, and yet I am choosing to live in the grace I’ve been given.

So being true to my word, though late as I usually am, I want to complete this challenge by getting caught up.

Day 14: Something New

I’m thankful for my new house. It is the first home I have bought and I did it all on my own. This is a big deal because I never had the confidence or the discipline to be a good steward with my finances as I was consistently taking care of irresponsible people and neglecting to take care of myself. I have not felt safe for most of my life, living out of boxes has been my norm, and yet I am finding great comfort here and making a place of my own. I am thankful for the way God orchestrated the events that lead to this home being mine. And I can’t wait to share with some little ones!

Day 15: Experience

I am thankful for the experience of going to Woman Camp. Twice a year my church holds camps for men, couples and women. It is an awesome time to unplug from the daily grind and spend time in nature with other sisters in Christ, to be still and hear His voice, and to fellowship with other women. It’s not that I don’t have this at home or in my community, it is the experience of the larger community of women from all walks of life with different and yet similar stories of brokenness, in need of Jesus.

Day 16: Recipe

Orange Fluff. My mom use to make this dessert that we never really knew the name of it, but after she died my best friend from high school, her family and my son started calling it Orange Fluff. It’s cottage cheese, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, manderine oranges and orange Jello powder. When having a pot luck, this is what I’m usually asked to make it. I’m thankful for how easy it is, that everyone loves it and that I think about my mom when I make it… and as we share it, those who knew my mom usually bring memories of her into the conversation.

Day 17: Store

I am thankful for the stores I shop at. I have quite an array of stores I frequent monthly depending on my needs. I think I’m most thankful for Aldi. They have changed in the past five years since I moved to the area in which I now live. The quality of food has greatly improved and they now carry Gluten Free products. Plus you can’t beat the prices. I have to start watching my spending habits since hopefully be spring I will be fostering-adopting some little ones.

Day 18: Quote

I am thankful for the quote my therapist spoke to me in one of our first sessions. “My hope for you is that one day instead of your story being the yuck of your life, your story will be to tell of Him.” I have clung to those words. I had always believed that there has to be more to life than what it had been. And now I believe that there IS more to life and I am seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I am thankful that my story is becoming a story that tells of HIM.

Day 19: Clothing

I have issues with liking my body. I have been rejected because of the size and the way I look so it is natural for me to try and cover it with baggy clothes to hide it; hoping no one will want it or want me to let them in. It has been a covering of protection both my weight and the clothes I use to conceal what I despise. Two years ago I took medication to lose weight and was successful; however when off the medication I gained half the weight back. Granted I have been dealing with some heavy, painful and heart wrenching stuff since then, I still hate it that I’ve gained the weight. I feel like a failure. I’m learning that this is not my identity though. And that I am more than what I weigh or what my body looks like. I’m struggling with the feelings and the impulse to stuff my emotions by eating. And it’s not really the number on the scale. It is about how I feel. And I felt comfortable in that lighter body. I have always joked about my shoes being my favorite clothing because they are a small size that never changes and I always look great. I recently found some LulaRoe outfits that I feel comfortable in and think look great. Still I’m aware of how I actually feel at a deeper level. I’m thankful that God is showing me that it doesn’t matter what I wear, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Day 20: Keepsake

I am thankful for the keepsake of my hope chest my mother started for me when I was a teenager. It is mostly Princess House Crystal dishes. It is what I used last year when I started the tradition of hosting Christmas Eve for some of my single friends. I’m thankful that even in the midst of our dysfunctional family, mom thought out and planned for my future. She never said whether this was for when I get married or just what exactly, but it was quite a bit of money she spent on just me. I have waited for marriage for years to use the stuff and last year I decided, no more waiting! Time to start living!

Day 21: Disappointment/Fear

Though my first inclination is to say that I have been greatly disappointed in this life, I can not negate the fact that I have greatly blessed. Two years ago I was full of fear. I was afraid of Bully Girl. I was afraid of Blob. I was like a child afraid of getting in trouble. I was afraid of speaking, feeling and trusting. I was afraid of failing and succeeding. I was afraid of going back and of moving forward. I was afraid of the reality of the past and the future so I lived in a false reality. I was afraid what my abusers said about me was true. I was afraid that this was all there was to life, but had hope there was more. I was afraid to live and to breathe. This is what Complex Trauma is like. So now, a little more than two years into this journey, I can say WAS to those fears… for the most part. I do continue to experience them, but they no longer control me. I am still disappointed. Disappointed at what life has dealt me, taken from me, and stolen from me. There is no restitution for any of that. And yet I believe God will somehow redeem the wasted years. And for that I am so thankful!

Day 22: Book

Oh my!! I am a Bibliophile! I love books! I love big books! I usually read about three to four books at a time; however lately I have been focusing on only two at a time because of the weightiness of the content. I think I am most thankful for my Bible. I believe it is God’s love letter to me. He speaks truths to me and about me that are replacing the negative words and lies the enemy used through my abusers to deceive me all these years. People say there is no instruction book for life or for raising kids and I think that is so false! I am thankful that the Bible is our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Day 23: Feeling

To be honest y’all, I’m thankful for each and every feeling that I have! For most of my life I had experienced some love and hate, but mostly fear and numbness. When I entered counseling, I could not tell you what I was feeling.  My counselor said she knew three things about me when I started seeing her. I hated Bully Girl, I was deathly afraid of Blob and I missed my Person. She had me start to use the Feeling Wheel by Gloria Wilcox. She even found an app for Apple users that prompts and helps you identify your feelings, recording whom you are with and in what situation your are in at that time. I had to write in a note book the definitions of each feeling in order to determine what I was feeling. Now I am able for the most part to identify how I am feeling without reading the definitions. Despite how hard the pain of trauma recovery is, I am so thankful that I can now feel and identify those feelings.

Day 24: Photo

This has been a touchy subject. I love photos just about as much as I love music, writing, books and being active. Bully Girl moved into the family home. And though I was told  I could have the pictures; because I was the only one interested and I was doing the family genealogy; she took it upon herself to say that I could not have them. She proceeded to go through all of our parent’s pictures and divvy out what she thought each of us should get. As usual, she was in control and Blob let her do what she wanted. So I ended up with a box of pictures that were of me, some of my niece and nephews, but seventy-five percent of the pictures were of our parent’s friend’s kid’s weddings. Junk. When asked about the other pictures and albums by Blob, she asked him to make sure I didn’t get them. So this has been something I have had to process through and though it still sends pains of anger and sadness up my spine, I am okay with not having them. I am thankful for the handful that I do have because honestly, they are pictures of the happier times we experienced.

 

Ahhh… I’m caught up! Though done in a blitz fashion, I have not taken these topics lightly. I am just really thankful for this journey and what God is doing in my life. Day 25 coming up later today! Daylight is burning and I have stuff to get done! So thankful for Saturdays!!

Thankful There Is More

For a majority of my life, I have dreaded the holidays. Staring as an eleven year old, I wished I was a forest animal that could hibernate from the beginning of November to Ground Hog’s Day. When my mother died almost thirteen years ago, I have tried to fulfill that wish by shutting down, isolating, avoiding and numbing. But two years ago when I started counseling, my therapist encouraged me to make new traditions and to live in the grace I’ve been given. I have been rather numb to my emotions, unable to identify them and sit in them, until this year. Today I am filled with the same dread, the painful memories of those dysfunctional family gatherings, missing the family I had always hoped for and have yet to experience, missing my mom so much my heart feels twisted inside out, and yet at the same time I am filled with such thankfulness, joy and hope.

I belong to a couple of groups on Face Book for sexual abuse and complex trauma survivors. I’m not an active member of the groups, but sometimes the Spirit leads me to share my story and respond to others. Not too long ago someone posted the question: “Do we and can we ever be healed from this?” In answering the question, I really began to see that great healing has already taken place in my life even though I continue to have residual effects from the traumas. I continue to isolate.  I continue to have flashbacks both visual and emotional. I continue to dissociate. I continue to avoid some things because of the trauma I endured. I continue to have nightmares and bad dreams. I continue to have a sense of worry, feeling like the other shoe is going to drop. I continue to struggle with the false identity and the negative self talk created from my abusers. I also continue to struggle with eating issues, trust issues and fear issues. But in the grand scheme of things, it is nowhere close to what I was like two years ago. I may experience these things, BUT they do not control me like they use to. The fear of Blob and Bully Girl do not send me into a tailspin at the mere thought of engaging with them. In fact, I miss them at times. Well, honestly, I miss the hope of what our relationship could have been like.

So in answering this person’s question in the Face Book  group, I stated all these things and then it hit me: Maybe healing is something we have to determine for ourselves; what does healing look like to each of us and how do we define it. I told my therapist about the post and my response in our last session before this Thanksgiving holiday and she asked the question back to me: “So what does being healed look like for you? How do you define healing for your life?” I’m not one to always think quickly and process as I talk out loud so I asked for this to be a home work assignment. And for the past week, I have journaled about, prayed, thought, pondered, processed, hypothesized and reflected on this past year and what I believe healing is and then I applied it to my life.

The definition of HEAL is to be sound and healthy again. Heal means to make whole and well. To heal is to ease or relieve emotional distress. It is to set right and repair and to recover from an illness or injury whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual in nature. To heal means restoration and deliverance from affliction. I read that healing is giving someone who is hurting a voice.

I can definitely say that healing has been taking place in my life based on these definitions. Over the past couple of months I have felt the momentum of having a voice and though still unsure and afraid, I have been embracing it by speaking up more about my experiences, my thoughts and my feelings even though fear wants to cripple me and shut me down.

And then I read this: “Recovery is the primary goal for people who have experienced trauma, their families, and their care providers. Recovery does not necessarily mean complete freedom from post-traumatic affects. Recovery is an individual experience and will be and look different for everyone. In general recovery is the ability to live in the present without being overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings of the past.” Mary Jo Bolton, MMFT.

I am now able to live in life majority of the time without being overwhelmed from the past.  I am able to generally move forward with my life in a health way, making healthy decisions, having healthy relationships (albeit not with most of my family of origin), and I am able to have hope for a future. For the longest time I said to my therapist that what drove me to change the patterns of unhealthy and dysfunction in me, my relationships and my life is that I always believed there has to be more to life than this. Several months ago she asked me “What is your deeply rooted reason for living? What is the reason you go on living; to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?” I used that same old line and she called me on the carpet about it. She said she wouldn’t accept that as an answer anymore. After a week of reflection, prayer and thought I came back and told her “It isn’t that there has to be more to life than this, it is that there IS more to life than this, I know it now and I want it.”

I am thankful that I am seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I am thankful that I am beginning to live in the grace I’ve been given. I am thankful that He has removed and protected me from the lifelong hurt and abuse of specific people. I am thankful He is mending the brokenness as much as can be mended this side of heaven. I am thankful He is creating a new family for me in relationships that are safe, deep, honest and authentic. I am thankful for the pain of grief that reminds me that life should have not been that way, He did not intend my life to be that way, and yet He will use it for His glory. Every day I cry and grieve.  Every day I am reminded by something of what the brave little girl and the woman I am today has endured. And I am so thankful that every day I am also reminded that this is not the end of my story!

I can’t not say that I’m not healed from the complex trauma. And yet I’m not ready to say I am. But I’m open to discussing and processing the possibilities of it.

 

Thankfulness Challenge Blitz: Part 1

Last time I wrote, I was trying to keep up with the Thankfulness Challenge, but had taken ill. I ended up having two weeks off work. It’s been five years since I’ve been that sick! At least this time it was three weeks and not two months! Still, the Lord used this time to work on me and teach me to be still and just know that He is God. I haven’t been taking good care of myself and have been stressed; this time gave me the rest I’ve been desperately needing. So without further ado, I’m just going to jump in with my list to get caught up.

Day 9: Blog/Website

I actually have a few that have ministered to me over the past year, but my new favorite is:

 Hope is Hard. 7 Voices. 1 Thread.  ( https://hopeishard.com/ )

Seven women from who differ in their history, their writing styles, and where and how they live, but with one thing all in common: their love for the Jesus. Living between the already and the not yet is hard, and having hope these days seems scarce sometimes. But they have become such an encouragement to me as I continue to cling to the hope that is Jesus that one day His promises will come true. Somedays it’s all I can do to keep holding on because hope is hard.

Day 10: Time of Day

Okay, I can’t believe I’m going to say this and for anyone who knows, they won’t believe I’m saying this! Morning is my favorite time of the day. For so long I dreaded the day. I dreaded getting up, facing the day; I hated living. And yet I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to have the pain anymore. I didn’t want to walk on eggshells, not knowing when I would be contacted by Bully Girl or Blob, not knowing when I would be triggered or have a flashback. And oh the pain! The mental, emotional and sometimes physical pain that comes with Complex Trauma is excruciating. And yet, I have found that in getting up early, reading my devotionals, spending time in worship and praise, along with my cup of coffee and my journal, I am purging the pain and leaning on the One who can and is healing me. The house is quiet and peaceful, and not just because I live alone right now, but because I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit preparing me for the day. I think part of the reason it has become my favorite time of the day is because I know soon enough, I will not be living alone. I will be fostering to adopt and morning time may be the ONLY time I get some peace and quiet!

Day 11: Tradition

It’s been almost thirteen years since my mom passed away. Though unhealthy at best, she was still my person the day she went home to be with Jesus. And since that day, my world has not been the same. I think I am finally learning to live in a world in which she does not exist. Holidays have always been hard for me, especially Christmas because of a trauma I endured on Christmas Eve/morning when I was eleven years old. It is a secret I kept for a long time and never processed until last year. I have spent my life being sad and trying to avoid Christmas, even more so since my Person died. So looking back, the tradition I am most thankful for is the making of my mom’s stuffing. Early in the morning on Thanksgiving and Christmas mom would get up and start to make the turkey dinner. She made her stuffing by scratch. Laying the bread out or toasting it the night before to make bread crumbs and then mixing all the ingredients together in the morning. Stuffing the turkey and having a baked dish on the side. I was her taste tester. More salt, more sage, more poultry seasoning I would tell her. Her stuffing was my breakfast on those two holidays for over thirty-five years. So when my nephew and his wife decided to host Thanksgiving about five years after she was gone, his wife asked if I would stay the night and help out with making the meal. And of course I was elated! We didn’t measure a thing. We just threw it all together and I tasted and added along the way. Later at supper, my other nephew and my niece were excited and asking about the stuffing, wondering if my nephew’s wife had used their grandmother’s recipe. She exclaimed “No recipe, only your Aunt’s palate!” Over the past two years of counseling, my therapist has encouraged me to start making my own traditions. So last year I began one. I invited a couple of my single girl friends over and hosted Christmas eve… serving mom’s stuffing. That is the plan this year too, but next year will be a different story. I’m so thankful I will finally have little ones in my home to pass on this tradition to.

Day 12: Gadget

Okay, some might find this odd. At first I was going to write about how I’m a techno geek and I love all things techie, but then I realized that there is more to gadgets than being fueled by electricity and wifi. My favorite gadget is my back scratcher. It is telescoping, has a clip like a pen and fits nicely in my purse. I actually have three that are stored in different places in my house for easy retrieval when I can’t quite contort my body for that unreachable spot in the middle of my back. It is very handy and probably a lot safer for when I’m driving and can’t reach the itch. I use to try and use my umbrella or ice scraper; which never worked anyway so then I would have to wiggle in my seat trying to rub my back on my seat. I am thankful that it saves me from swerving all over the road and near misses with mailboxes.

Day 13: Something Old

This one I didn’t even need to think about before knowing I was thankful for it. When I was six, I was given a Raggedy Ann doll that is two and a half feet tall for my birthday. I loved that doll! She had button eyes and a button nose and on her chest is a heart that says “I love you” in it. She was my safety during the abuse and neglect. As the stories go, there was one time her arm fell off everyone thought I was hurt because I was so upset when it came off and they hadn’t seen it yet. And when my dog had chewed up her face trying to get those buttons off, my mother came running from the other room because I was “screaming bloody murder”.  Raggedy was taken from me and one day she appeared on my bed after school with a face life. Instead of buttons, her eyes, nose and mouth were had sewn. I don’t remember when I had set her aside and how she ended up in a bin, but God brought her to me again when I needed her most.

Raggedy

Last year I decided to finally close out my storage in the area I grew up and bring everything to the town where I currently live. Last year was particularly hard. Shoot, I’ll be honest. The past two years have been the hardest in my life I think. I had already completed Prolonged Exposure (PE) for Cousin and was going through PE for Bully Girl. One day, I decided to bring in some bins from the garage to go through. As one of the bins was opened, a scent of the past wafted upward and immediately I was triggered. It smelled EXACTLY like the home I grew up in. Inside was my Person’s sweater and white plastic bag. I lifted the sweater, hugged it, smelled it and the tears began to flow. The bag had something in it that looked rather familiar, but I was quite sure. As I opened the bag, I saw it was Raggedy; looking rather ragged and smelling like the sweater. It was as if I had just seen my best friend for the first time in forty-five years. I was transported in time emotionally and felt like a little girl again as I lifted her out of the bag and held her tightly to my chest. Over the next several months, Raggedy became a sense of security again as I worked through complex trauma and processed PE. She has been a big part of my healing over the past year. Now she sits on my dresser and is a reminder of the little girl that still lives inside me, but had gotten lost over the years. I am thankful for what and who she represents; “Grace upon grace for brave little girl and the woman she is today”.

Gotta go run some errands, but I’ll be back later to finish catching up!!

Combined Thankfulness

Day 7: Scent and Day 8: Restaurant

Yesterday the challenge was to post what scent I am thankful for. Usually people look at me like I have three heads when they find out what my favorite scents are; snow, new books, dry erase markers, the Menard’s Store. But I have some rather normal ones too I think; baby things, coffee, lilac and something yummy being baked or cooked.

As I write this I’m sitting here in the jammies I’ve been in all day because I’m home sick from work this week. I think I’ve probably sneezed about fifty-five times just since noon. As you can probably guess my reason for sick leave this week, my smeller is on the fritz, my throat is sore and my nose is stopped up. I said “maybe” in a voice text a little bit ago and it typed out “baby”.  Totally changed the meaning of what I was talking about!

Anyway, since I’m under the weather, I decided to combine day 7 and day 8 because they are connected to each other and to a vital part of my childhood. You see, my mom worked in restaurants for a great share of my life. I hated it when I was in Kindergarten that she worked second shift and I was left home with the other big people. I went to school the second half of the day and I knew that when I got home she would not be there. I’d cry and hold on to the light post, refusing to get on the bus. Knowing she would get home late, I went to bed when told to, but didn’t always go to sleep. I’d lay there awake, waiting to see the car lights flash in the window and for her to come through the door. I remember her picking me up and holding me as she sat in her rocker recliner. She smelled like restaurant. It’s hard to describe the scent exactly.

Have you ever known someone who works on cars, who at the end of the day smell like cars, tires and grease? I have… or is it just me..

Well, mom smelled like… hamburgers with pickles and onions, French fries with ketchup, bacon, cooking grease, smoke, spaghetti sauce, pies and cookies, and coffee… with lilac and a splash of her perfume and hair spray.

Sounds kind of gross when I write it out! But when I close my eyes and remember her, this is what I smell.

A couple of months after starting counseling I happened to open some bins that I brought back from my storage. As I opened one of the bins, the smell triggered me into a flashback of childhood. It was her sweater. I clutched it to my chest and sobbed. It still smelled exactly like her!

She’s not here anymore, but oh how I wish sometimes she was! Though our relationship was dysfunctional til the day she died, my life started and hers ended with her being my person. And though the in between was filled with unhealthy family dynamics, my favorite memories were visiting mom at work and going out to eat with her.

Going out to eat was something that became almost a daily things the older I got. One meal of the day was sure to be had at or gotten from a restaurant. Most of them were little country restaurants like the one mom worked in. It wasn’t until college that I had eaten real Chinese food. And not until my late twenties that I had my first Middle Eastern food. Today there are many restaurants that I frequent with friends, but still I could not choose a favorite. It’s the experience of it all, kinda like when I was a kid. Just the gathering of people you love, having a great meal with great conversation.

So today I am thankful for the togetherness brought by great food and gathering at restaurants with great friends.

Thankful For The Many Miles

Day 6: Pair of shoes

Today’s challenge is about a pair of shoes. Next to diamonds, shoes are a girl’s best friend. At least to me they are. Of course, I’ve never been given a diamond… still waiting for that one. But shoes are the only article of clothing I wear that never changes sizes with the seasons,is always small compared to most women I know and I look great in whatever I wear in this size.

I have struggled my whole life with body image and weight issues. When I’d tell Bully Girl that I liked something she was wearing she would comment with, “I’m sure they have it in an extra-large or a 2X for you”. I’ve been cheated on because someone else was thinner and prettier. I’ve been told that “Boys don’t like fat girls”. So I got a little drastic a few years back. Two months before starting counseling, I went to see a weight loss doctor who ended up in jail, but that’s a different story for another day. So I went to see another doctor who was legit. Both of these doctors had me taking Adipex and Qsymia medication to lose weight, and it worked! Problem was that it curbed my appetite so much that instead of just losing the weight I became the exact opposite of what I had always been, an emotional binge eater. Instead, I was only eating about five hundred to eight hundred calories a day. I was starving myself. In total I lost forty pounds in eight months. For the first three months I didn’t work out, but as the weight started to melt off I increased my cardio and weight training workouts. I began walking several miles a day, even jogging. Jokingly I tell people I’m not a runner, I’m a “wogger”.

So as the new year of 2016 approached I decided that I was going to do something different for the last six months in my forties. I set the goal of doing fifty 5ks by my 50th birthday in July. I started on New Year’s Day in thirty-two degree sunny, but windy weather with my first race. Suffice it to say I only completed twenty-six of the fifty 5ks by my birthday. But I also completed a virtual marathon during that spring. Two months after my birthday I completed the Air Force Half Marathon in 3 hrs and 54 mins. And these shoes are the ones I wore for each and every training and race.

favorite shoes

I’m thankful for these shoes being a constant with me through the beginning steps of this journey. They have seen me through the pain of pushing my body beyond my perceivable limits as well as through the incomprehensible anguish and heartbreak of realizing and coming to terms with the reality of my childhood and the resulting complex trauma I’m living with today. These shoes not only saw me through the races and training, but I wore them as I pounded the pavement in anger, as I processed the Prolonged Exposure sessions in counseling, and as I cried out to God for understanding, healing and comfort.

I am thankful for these shoes that have carried me many hard and painful yet healing miles in this journey.  Although I have a new pair of running shoes, I still wear these everyday.  So these old girls aren’t being retired just yet.

Thankful for my favorite place

Day 5: Place

Today I am thankful for my favorite place: the swing next to the pier on Tybee Island, Georgia. Last time I visited her was Memorial Day weekend 2015 and Oh, how I have longed to get back to her!

my tybee swing

It was three months after that my life began to unravel with events that would lead to the journey I am currently on. I had been to Tybee before and I loved it! I first learned about Tybee Island in a book series by Terri Blackstock called Cape Refuge. It is a Christian mystery series. There’s even a map of the island in the back of the book! I fell in love with Tybee though I had never been there. And when I found that swing during my first visit in 2010, my love was confirmed. I love the ocean. I love to swing. I love to talk to God. I love to sit in THIS swing next to the ocean and talk to God. I start by just swinging and watching the motion of the ocean. I look at the people on the beach wondering who they are, where they’ve been and if they know Jesus. I marvel at the miracle of each person hand crafted by a Creator so big, so marvelous, and so holy, I can’t even wrap my head around it. And then to look at the never ending tide before me and think that He created it. And then think to myself …This is how long and wide and deep is His love for me?! WOW! MIND. BLOWN.

This particular trip I decided to play some music. I believe it is one of the ways God speaks to me. It’s a game we play. I pray, invite the Holy Spirit to make His presence known. I ask God to speak to me and then I start my playlist, put it in shuffle mode and wait to see just what song He will play for me. Already in the middle of a song, I let it play to its end and waited for the next song. These are the next songs lyrics I heard:

Take a look at the mountains

Stretching a mile high

Take a look at the ocean

Far as your eye can see

And think of Me

 

Take a look at the desert

Do you feel like a grain of sand?

I’m with you wherever

Where you go is where I am

 

And I’m always thinking of you

Take a look around you

I’m spelling it out one by one

 

I love you more than the sun

And the stars that I taught how to shine

You are Mine and you shine for Me too

I love you yesterday and today

And tomorrow, I’ll say it again and again

I love you more

“More” by Matthew West was the song God played for me. I knew it well and yet with the ocean spread before me and sand beneath my feet, having just driven through mountains the day before to get to my favorite place, I heard it with fresh ears as I felt the grace of God’s protection for the hard and painful journey that had just begun.

 

What place are you thankful for?