Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Try to grasp that we are the only reminder some people ever get that God lives, forgives, loves, and remains in control...

Pocahontas was a student of mine several years ago. I was only 21 when I met her. This beautiful woman of God has been through so much. I have to be honest, when you are reading about her story it's hard to think that God is All Purposeful. However, when you read her victory you cannot deny that God IS! You will see that God was right there with Pocahontas all along. I need to warn you, it's not an easy story to read. You will think "Did this really happen?" "Is she exaggerating?" But let me tell you that it happened. I have known Pocahontas for 6 years thing she is NOT is an exaggerator. In fact, she's a minimalist, so keep that in mind while you're reading as well. I'm not sure where you are in your life right now, but hopefully this story will remind you that God is with you. Her story ALWAYS reminds me that I can make the choice to fight. Below are the exact words written from this precious child of God.

I stand here today as a testimony of the Lord’s grace, compassion, trust, forgiveness, and love. I pray that He uses His testimony, He has so graciously entrusted me with, to open the eyes and ears of the broken hearted in need of His love. This is my Father’s story…

I was born premature and addicted to the drugs my mom ingested during her pregnancy with me. Both of my parents are heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol. They divorced when I was five. Custody was given to my father because my mother was seen as an unfit mother in the eyes of the court. At that time she was deep in her anorexia and bulimia, which increased the effects of her drug use. A problem so noticeable the court overlooked my father’s drug use and awarded custody to my father. After the divorce, my father began to fall deeper into his addiction while my sister and I watched. Our consequences for his actions came mostly in poor hygiene, lack of food and bad living conditions. I don’t remember much about living with my father, it’s the years I spent living with my mother, after my father lost custody, that hold most of my bone chilling memories.

Two innocent children had been thrown into a lifestyle of drugs and sex, a darkened place were the Lord was nowhere to be found. My mother had not been apart of my life for about a year and I was excited to finally get a chance to spend time with my mom and receive the love, safety, and acceptance I so desperately longed for. But the only safety I would be able to find in my new home was in the comfort of my closet, away from the physical and verbal abuse I received from my mother and the physical, verbal and sexual abuse I would receive from the many men she would bring home.

I feared my mother with all my heart. The drugs had taken away my mommy and I was hurt. I watched my mom, who I loved so much, slowly kill herself by shooting up. Paying the bills and paying for her habit became all to much for her to handle, so my mother soon became a prostitute and allowed my sister and I to witness everything that came with that kind of territory. At the age of six I was being taken to strip clubs, bars, drug deals, crack houses, allowed to sleep in the same room and/or bed as my mom and her clients, left alone in the middle of the night, and left for days at a time alone with my sister. I never knew what to expect, what would walk through the front door next. I became a mother to my sister; feeding her food which I had to steel from the grocery store across the street and making sure she was dressed and showered for daycare the following day.

Psalms 68:5, “He is a Father to the fatherless”. The men that my mother attracted were far from the loving and caring father I wanted and needed in my life. I was sexually and physically abused by the men my mother had around. It happened from the age of six, until I was in the third grade. I knew what these men were doing to me was wrong, so I started counting. My childhood diary became a slue of tally marks covering many pages for each time I was sexually abused. I began counting at the age of seven, when my mom found a steady boyfriend, who didn't mind her profession. His name was ----- and I would become his sex slave for the next two years. While other kids where outside playing with friends I was inside performing sexual acts for ----- and his friends whenever and wherever they wanted. ----- taught me that it was my fault and if I hadn’t been such a bad girl, they wouldn’t have to do this to me and if I had taken better care of my mom and my sister, he and his friends wouldn’t have to be this way. These men fed me the lies of the enemy that I deserved the sexual abuse that was happening to me in my own home.

Isaiah 35:4, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, He will come to save you”.
After three long years living with my mother finally CPS (Child Protective Services) was contacted by one of my elementary teachers. I was soon taken out of the custody of my mother and sent to foster homes. While in foster care I experienced more sexual abuse by men but it would be the first time I was sexually abuse by a women. I was bounced around between five different homes, only to be placed with an uncle, aunt, and two cousins in Georgia. I thought I had finally found a place were I could trust the people around me and not live in fear. The enemy proved me wrong, I was then molested by my cousin, he was fifteen at the time.

John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by the name you gave me”. All my life I had felt anything, but safe and protected by God. I felt as though He had forgotten me, He didn’t hear my cries for help, and He didn’t care. I was nothing to my mother, my father, or these men and I was nothing to the Lord. After four months of staying with my family in Georgia my sister and I went to live with my grandmother, finally some safety and security in my life. I started the fourth grade and for the first time I didn’t have to worry about where breakfast was going to come from, how I was going to get my sister and I to school and if I was going to have to steal school supplies to get through the year. No, I didn’t have to worry about any of the things I use to worry about, I had a new problem.

In the fourth grade I acquired a new problem, a problem with my eating habits. I wasn’t sure what was going on with me or my body, but all I knew was that I just didn’t feel like eating. By the time I got into high school I found myself in the darkened haze of anorexia and bulimia with no way out. By the time I finally sought help from one of the counselors at the school I was 5’6” and weighed ninety five pounds, I was taking 267 diet pills a day, limiting myself to one thousand calories a week and purging up to 36 times a day. In addition to not eating I was also cutting on a regular basis. Soon after seeking help from the school counselor I was admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where I fought my eating disorder in the hospital off and on for the next year. After that year in and out of the hospital it was obvious that I needed more than just a feeding tube in my nose and going to counseling once a week, I needed to go to a residential treatment facility.

My stay at the treatment center in ------ was all but short lived. I went only to commit for six weeks and ended up staying two weeks less than a year. I accomplished much more there in one year than I ever did trying to help myself all those years in my eating disorder. I was safely able to deal with the nightmares of my past and the hold the enemy had on my life. I worked mostly on my sexual abuse and resentment I held against the men and women that abused me.

Now my life is pretty simple. I decided to stay in -------, I work as a receptionist for a private counseling practice and I’m going to school full time to become a nurse. And as hard as it may seem I am so thankful to God for giving me the life that I have. I am no longer resentful towards the people and my family in my life that hurt me. I use to ask God why he would allow all these bad things to happen to me…I now know that He didn’t allow any of this to happen to me. He was with me the whole time crying along beside of me because His little girl was being hurt.

I am a stronger person because of everything I have been through in my life and for that I am truly grateful.

So, I would love to hear your thoughts as you read this story. My mind is blank and my eyes are wide. It's almost hard for me to picture such a life because mine was so opposite. And there are parts I can relate too. When I met Pocahontas she was just a body. No personality, no life in her eyes, and a walking skeleton. I decided this year to start sharing Pocahontas's story to my small groups at the high school that I work at. I'm always very protective of my students and their stories and MY story as well. But God is teaching me that this is hindering me. And Pocahontas taught me that it is not our story anyways, it is God's story. We need to share our stories to glorify Christ. Pocahontas has more courage than I ever will have. She shares her story at the drop of a hat. She has come back to RHS and shared her story in front of 100's of girls.

As I was sharing her story to my groups right before Christmas break I was blown away by God's grace. That first of all, God would choose me to befriend this beautiful girl. It was my first year working out of college. I had NO idea what I was doing, though I tried to act like I knew, which in return just made things worst. Ha! I invited a speaker to come speak at RHS about eating disorders. This speaker's testimony gave Pocahontas the courage to go speak to a counselor for help. She walked into a counselor's office, shared part of her story and the counselor said, "I have no idea how to help you." Ha! That is not funny but it is. Can you imagine getting the courage to speak and getting that response. This is not a slam to that is a praise! She was honest and walked her across the hall to my office! She was so wise in seeking out help for this girl. Unfortunately, I didn't know much more than this counselor other than the fact that I was going to love her and ask God to give me wisdom to help her. So over the next few months I got to know this precious girl. She never talked, it was like pulling teeth to get a sound out of her. And when she did speak I had to lean over to hear her voice. Immediately I called Vanderbilt hospital to get her an appointment and was disheartened when I learned her appointment would not be until several months. Knowing what I know now I would have done my best to get her help sooner, but like I said, I had no idea what I was doing so I was committing to keep an eye on her until her appointment.

We had a schedule set up. I met her once to twice a week checking on her multiple times as well. I was walking her to her classes because she would purge in between. She came into my office one day trembling. I remember telling her to give me her diet pills (which I didn't know she was on diet pills it just occurred to me when she was trembling), my moth dropped as she pulled out bottle after bottle after bottle to total up to 9 bottles! Each of them saying, "Take only under a physician's care and to be used for extreme obesity only". Ugh! Dear Lord, how is this girl alive. I asked her to make a time line for me of her life. As I unfolded the many papers that were taped together I remember saying, "Lord, why?!" I was angry and I am still angry because Pocahontas is NOT the only one with a story. I remember the day of her Vanderbilt appointment I was not at school for some reason. I was sick because I was so fearful that she would not attend her appointment. But I was amazed when I found out the next day she had been hospitalized. Pocahontas drove to the hospital on her own and sat there by herself as the doctor examined her and said, "I don't know how you are alive." Can you imagine? My heart breaks. I visited Pocahontas continually through out the next few weeks. Her recovery continues and as you read we entered her into a treatment facility.

I still have a relationship with Pocahontas. We chat frequently through e-mail and texting. I got to see her this past summer and she was absolutely beautiful! She is brilliant, has come to life, full of energy, and never stops talking OR laughing! It's hard to remember the lifeless thing that was brought into my office so long ago. She is living life with a passion for Christ that I pray I can have just an ounce of. She is a daily reminder that we always need to be willing to be a part of Christ's plan. And it makes me thankful and sad. I'm so glad that I was willing that day I met her. Because what would have happened if I wasn't? God would have still taken care of her. I'm just so thankful because of the impact she has had on me. It makes me sad because how many students have walked into my office and I haven't been willing to take the extra step with them. Because I was tired, or worried about me, or thinking, "I'll check on them later, someone else will help them." It makes me sick to my stomache. It's a good reminder that since I'm starting work back on Monday and dreading it that it's not about ME! It's about God, it's about His Kingdom. Gosh, I can get so selfish at times it drives me crazy. Now here's the real thing that gets me thinking for those of you who are actually still reading. I mentioned to Pocahontas that I was sharing her story to others and this was her response...

It makes me so happy to hear that your sharing my story!!!!!! Even now some days I wake up and I can't even believe I'm alive. Its only by the grace of God that I am alive and I know without a doubt that I shouldn't be. If my story only changes one life it was well worth going through everything I have been through!!!!! God is so amazing!!

I cannot believe this! I want to say, "Really?" You would go through the fear, shame, neglect, abuse, self-harm, and everthing else? All for one person? And as I said that too myself I was brought to my knees. Hello?! Our God went through much much much more and yes, really, He did die on the cross for ONE person. Me and you. Humbling isn't it? And hard to believe...but I want to thank Pocahontas for being that one person that reminds me that God lives, forgives, loves, and remains in control.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Surgery ='s Success!

My baby taking care of me.

Hooray! Surgery is over with! I arrived at Vanderbilt this morning at 5:30. My surgery started around 7:30 and ended at 9:40. The outcome was better than expected! The amnuersal bone cyst that they thought was inside my hip bone was actually a type of tumor. And let me shout to the heavens for you that this tumor was BENIGN! Some of you might be thinking, "why is a tumor better than a cyst"? Well, this particular tumor will NOT come back as opposed to the cyst that had a 30% chance of coming back, which could mean more surgeries. No thank you. The tumor was larger than they thought. When removed my surgeon could stick her entire finger in it. Gross! They got to fill the hole with donor bone graph. This is a blessing because I will heal faster and it will make things much less complicated when Ryan and I decide to start a family. All the doctors and the nurses have been wonderful except for "nurse Hatchet" and I only had to put up with her for a few hours. I'm not in too much pain, just a little sore, but overall feeling really well. Praise the Lord. Mom says "praise the pain pills". Ha! She's so funny. Ryan is doing well too and of course has been wonderful. He tried to sneak into the pre-op room and got busted. There goes his career in crime. :) I'm sorry to disappoint some of you, but I didn't do anything crazy being on the drugs. However, I did ask someone to sing for me? Not sure where that came from. Some friends that came to visit kept laughing at me and I'm not really sure why, because I was making total sense in my head! Some other great news is that I get to go home in the morning! Yippee! I can't wait to get to my home, my own bed, and my Christmas tree. Ryan took off work until Friday and his mom will be there to help as well.
For all of you who have been keeping up with my blog/facebook I really appreciate it. I have saved all of your encouraging e-mails, prayers, and verses. I have read them numerous times throughout the day pre and post surgery. You all have blessed both Ryan and I so much. If there's anything we can ever do for you please let us know. I would love to return the favor. It's been humbling to be prayed for by people I barely know, close friends, prayer groups, and prayer groups of people I don't even know! One favor I can return...I pray that you all have people in your lives that love you as you all have loved me and my family. Please continue to pray that I will have a restful/painless night. And pray for Ryan as he gets to sleep in a plastic chair or me since it squeaks really loud every time he moves. Ha! He's so darn cute.

Umm yeah...I did NOT eat the hospital food!!! A shout out to my good friend Les who brought me food AND a beautiful bouquet of flowers! Oh and Ingrid who brought me some chocolate!

But guess who did...

One of my sweet friends who came and visited me. She brought me lots of reading material as you can see.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Birthday and Surgery Celebration!

Well, tomorrow morning I head into Vanderbilt hospital at 5:30 A.M. God is already blessing me. Today I learned that they changed my stay from 3 days to just 2 days! Hooray! Ryan's mom got into town tonight and my mom will be flying into town on Thursday. It's been a great few days leading up to this stinky surgery. Ryan surprised me on my birthday with a pampering day from a really nice spa. I got a pedicure, manicure, AND a massage. It was wonderful. I teared up, I was so happy. They served me lunch, gave me a plush robe, slippers, and a neck warmer. I loved the neck warmer so much I bought one for myself. :) A birthday present to myself. God is blessing me even more with the fact that I have been in such good spirits. I am not fearing, I am not anxious, I'm just in "go mode" and praising God all the way. This morning I had a wonderful time with the Lord. My bible study lesson was about how God can reverse any negative element in His child's life and turn it into a positive. A coincidence? I think not! God is so good, this was just another affirmation that He is going to take care of me. I prayed this morning that God's glory will shine through this situation. Please join me in prayer. I am praying for the hospital staff, I am praying for a quick recovery, and I can't wait to see God's victory through this.
So tomorrow at 7:00 A.M. it is. The surgery will last 2 hours as long as everything goes well. If they find that my cysts is not a cysts than they will sew me back up (gross) and re-evaluate. Also, please help me pray that I will respond well to the pain medication and that I will not fear! Fear is not from the Lord.
Look how cute my hubby is...
This is right before we left for dinner on my birthday. Ryan took me to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. We both ate until we felt sick!

My manicure! Isn't it beautiful!!

Ryan woke me up and served me breakfast.

I only had 1! Please, I could barely even finish it!

And me enjoying one of my most wonderful birthdays!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Cardiologist Appointment

Well it was another long day at Vanderbilt hospital, but not as long as my appointment last week so that's good! I had to see a cardiologist today for two reasons. 1: My chest pain and 2: To get cleared for surgery NEXT Tuesday. Ryan and I loved my doctor. She was so genuine and spent over 45 minutes with us! She ran several tests, a stress test, an ultra sound of my heart, and some blood work. The tests consisted of running in my feet (I didn't know I was going to be taking a stress test), being hooked up to many many wire things, cold gel on my chest, and 5 hours...I passed! However, they did find something very minimal. I have some fluid around my heart. It's not all around my heart (which is good) it's just around a section of my heart. It's also flowing very nicely and that's better than it being stagnant. I have to go back in a year to keep an eye on it. So, my heart doctor is leaning towards my chest pain being caused by a skeletal or muscular issue. I'm waiting to tackle all of this until after my surgery and after I have recovered. I would like to visit no more doctors until next Tuesday when I go into the hospital. I can only pray that my pain will subside a little.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Wise Beyond My Years?!

I have recently realized that I have many of the same characteristics of a stereotypical Grandmother. I'm pretty sure I could sleep anytime anywhere. I would go to bed at 8:00 most nights if my husband would let me. I love taking naps. I love sewing...quilts especially. I'm going to buy a pair of glasses this weekend. I would rather curly up on the couch with a blanket and read than go out on a night on the town. I am having surgery on my hip! And on Wednesday I have an appointment with a cardiologist!!

Which leads me into an update on my surgery. It's been an emotional roller coaster for me. Everyday is a good day! It's just that there are moments in those days where I get scared and the "what if's" creep into my mind. But I choose to speak truth to those negative thoughts. It's only human to think those things at times. And I need to confess that I'm having a hard time feeling thankful. People say, "Oh it's so great that they found this"! "What a blessing they caught it now". My initial reaction is, "I guess"? I don't feel thankful that I have to have this surgery. And I must confess that I have been dealing with anger. I'm not angry at God. I'm just frustrated and scared at times. I get discouraged, especially with the chest pain. But as I said before, I know that God has a plan for my life and I'm excited to see where this situation takes place in His will! Praise the Lord my pain is not worst than it is. Praise the Lord that the doctors are not worried about cancer! Praise the Lord I have my faith. And praise the Lord I have my husband, my family, and all of you!

In the meantime before next Tuesday, I'm keeping myself very busy! Last week I reupholstered a chair. I had never done that before. I found this chair at a flea market with a few of my girlfriends for $22! I couldn't find anyone to reupholster for less than $200. Which is really not that bad, but when you are on the Dave Ramsey plan, that's a lot of money. So I went out and bought a staple gun and became trigger happy. :) It's looks awesome! I'll post pics soon. Now I'm finishing up a quilt that I am making for my Grandmother. I want to get it done before my surgery. I'm fitting these 2 big projects in between grad school, dinners, cleaning, and seeing a few friends.

Please keep me in your prayers for Wednesday as we go for another lengthy visit at Vanderbilt hospital this Wednesday. I'm not worried that there is anything wrong with my heart. My oncologist is just taking precaution before I have surgery, which I appreciate. However, this doctor supposedly helps young women that deal with chest pain so I am a little hopeful and nervous all at the same time.

Something to look forward to this weekend is my birthday! I will be turning 28! Ryan has something planned for me, but he won't tell me! I hate surprises! I will keep you guys updated!

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