I Used to Have a Hole in my Heart

We all search for something, something that completes us, gives us meaning, happiness or contentment. We sense this “hole” in our life, in our hearts. We have this lingering sensation that we have something missing. Some of us search our whole lives and never find it. Some of us search for a while, think we have found it, center our lives around it only to have it fail us. Others of us find, grasp it, believe it, let it grow us and end up happier for it. What is “it”? Money? Fame? Family? House? Stuff?
For myself and many like me, we finally found the piece that fits that hole in our hearts. It wasn’t always this way, most of us don’t discover the hole until we are much older. Throughout most of our lives we survive on instinct, not ever aware that we are trying to fill a hole at all. But once we realize what we are doing, we are usually to the point of being able to admit that everything we have used up until that point — has not worked.

It starts with knowing what your identity is. Who we think we are is how we try to fill the hole. Who are you? In your core, at the center of your being, what are you? When all is stripped away, what remains?

I am adopted. I used to place my identity in this, in a negative way. I was fatherless and had no family to belong too.

I placed my identity in my parents, and when they “failed” me, my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity in my grades and education. When others were smarter or made it farther in school, again my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity in my weight and looks. When those fluctuated and radically changed with age and childbirth, my identity was once again shattered.
I placed my identity in my childhood and the abuse I suffered. I became a victim and my identity warped my sense of self to the point that I was shattered.
I placed my identity in a man and when he abused me to the point of nearly taking my life, my identity was shattered. If he cared so little about me, how much was I worth? What was my purpose?
I placed my identity in another man, and when he left me after we got pregnant, again my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity into friendship after friendship, and one by one they failed me or left me, and again my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity in my family. I pushed unspoken unrealistic expectations on my sister and brother-in-law. When they inevitably failed to meet these expectations, again my identity was shattered. I expected things of my husband’s family that was illogical and against their nature and when they failed to live up to these expectations, my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity into my relationship with my husband. When he disappointed me, again my identity was broken.
I placed my identity into my role of wife, and when I screwed up over and over, my identity was shattered.
I placed my identity into my role of mother, and when I screwed that up over and over, my identity was shattered.

It wasn’t until I stopped placing my identity into the things of this world that I started to be satisfied. The hole in my heart could not be filled with people, children, relationships, money, education, or anything else this world has to offer me. Time and time again, either others or myself would continue to let me down because we are human and completely fallible. To fill my heart with these things would leave me empty and broken over and over again.

Only when I filled the hole in my heart with the love of Jesus, did I ever become content. Only in Him did I stop searching for something to complete me, to satisfy me.
It was only once I fully truly grasped my need for a Savior and allowed Him to become my everything, did anything else make any sense.

I am a Daughter of the King and nothing else matters. It truly doesn’t. And before you dismiss it, before you chuck my ideas out the window as “religious garbage” let me walk you through the “how”.

In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even if my parents are taken from me, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even if someone else has better grades, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when my body size changes, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when I am ridiculed by others, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when my significant others fail me, berate me, lie to me, cheat on me, beat me, steal from me, destroy my things and my life, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when family isn’t what I want them to be, even if I have no family, if they are all taken from me, HE still remains in me.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when I am a “bad” wife, even when I berate my husband, disrespect him, or treat him wrongly, HE still remains.
In Jesus, with His power in my heart, I am who HE wants me to be. So even when my children misbehave, or are taken from me, HE still remains.

His forgiveness remains in me.
His grace remains in me.
His love remains in me.
His acceptance remains in me.
His plan for my life remains in me.
His will for my life remains in me.
His joy still remains in me.
His peace still remains in me.

Nothing in this world has satisfied me the way God has. Nothing has remained even when everything else has left me empty or let me down.

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Unfinished Business

So I said I was going to be posting my testimony at “regular” intervals right?  You all saw how well that went right?

It’s been a problem my whole life, there are very few large projects that I have ever finished.

I have written 13 chapters to what my husband says could be a really good book.  It’s actually the same book I have been trying to write since high school.  There have been a LOT of adaptations and character changes and such, but still, it’s the same project.  I’ve started it 3 separate times.  This last time, I even had it all loaded on some website where people could read it while you were writing it and I got some great feedback.  You would think that would motivate me, but it didn’t.

I even thought about trying to get my poetry published.  At the time I thought it was decent, but I was between the ages of 14 and 19, so you can figure how good that actually was.  I have over 100 poems, I started working up illustrations to go with them.  I had a table of contents half written up.  I could even go over to the drawer right now and pull them all out.  But that’s probably not going to happen either.

I also wrote a pretty cool short story.  I had created my own greek mythology.  For those that don’t know, a lot of greek myths, gods and demigods were once people who were cursed/blessed with one thing or another.  Like the one of the lady who boasted about being the best spinner/weaver and challenged a goddess.  Well she lost, and got turned into a spider and that’s why spiders “spin” webs.  Well, I had made up my own love story about the beauty of sunsets and destruction of storms.  It’s around here somewhere.

I dabbled in art for a while when I was in high school and part of college.  I’m not too bad.  I have a folder full of drawings and a few paintings.  But as usual, I didn’t even finish the college semester of art I was taking.  The canvases I hadn’t used yet got wet and started to mold in storage so I had to throw them out.  I couldn’t even tell you where I put my art bag full of paints and brushes that my mom bought me.

I really got into quilting about 4 years ago, and started stock piling fabric.  I got quite a bit of help from the older ladies in the quilting guild I was in, they even gave me one of their old sewing machines to replace the dinosaur I was using.  I have started 10, and only finished 3. I have the fabric available to me to make at least 5 more on top of the 7 half-finished ones.  I still enjoy it, I just don’t feel like it.

I have 3/4ths of an associate degree in…….something.

I have two 55 gallon barrels outside in my backyard half full of roof run-off because I was going to make rain barrels.

I have a half-finished fire pit made out of recycled concrete chunks I found and hauled away.

My daughters crib was half-sanded and then half-painted and then — I just gave up, put it together and put her in it.  She’ll never know.

I have done a garden two years in a row.  I will get the ground worked up and plant the seeds.  I do really well at weeding every other day and watering.  I watch ’em real close for a month or two.  I prune them, fertilize them, pick off the bugs, try to keep up on the weeds.  But in the end, the weeds win, those that can survive the drought will still be around in October, and I might manage to get a tomato or two.  My first year, I had 31 different plants!!  What was I thinking!!  I did not harvest a single thing.  I just let it grow and then, I let it die, and then I let it decompose.  I am so bad at not finishing things, I barely decided to drag in the soaker hoses two months ago.  I hadn’t been in the garden in 2 years!

Why am I telling you all of this?  Why did you waste your time reading all this nonsense?  To be honest with you…….

I don’t know.

What Drama Isn’t

Drama is a word I have heard thrown around a lot recently.  It makes me wonder if most of us even know what it really means.  I am hearing it so much, every time someone says it I hear, “Inconceivable!” echo in my mind.  Promptly followed by, “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Being a victim of an abuser of the word myself, I thought I would help educate the ladies of today.

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘drama’ as the follows: 1) a play in prose or verse, esp. one recounting a serious story. 2) dramatic art of a particular kind or period. 3) a succession of events with dramatic progression or emotional content typical of a play.

Merriam-Webster.com puts it this way: a state, situation or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces.

Merriam-Webster.com also gives the definition of a drama queen:  1) a person (especially a woman) who acts as though things are much worse than they really are. 2) a person given to often excessively emotional performances or reactions.

Now that we know the technical definition of these two words, lets begin to apply them to our lives and see how things unfold.

At work: you are an honest, hard-working individual that takes pride in their job and you work for a person who is not exactly nice all the time.  They may make comments that are inappropriate, rude, hurtful, contradictory or inflammatory.  You say nothing, eventually cannot take it anymore and quit without ever saying a word.  The life that unfolds for you now that you do not have a job is not — drama.  It is — consequences of your actions.

If at work you do choose to say something to your boss, but nothing changes, and it probably won’t.  You have bills to pay, a family to support and it is a really good job.  If you choose to quit with no notice and no other job to go to, the series of events that follows — not drama. It Is — consequences of your actions.

If at work someone keeps using your coffee mug that very clearly has your name embossed on it when you leave it in the rack to dry — not drama.  But I would be inclined to call them a — drama queen. Because they clearly want to make everything all about them.  Do not feed into this, take your cup back to your desk to dry.  Very simple really.

Writing a mean, passive aggressive note about the rudeness of said person repeatedly using your coffee cup and posting in on the company fridge, or sending out a mass email about said occurrence — drama & drama queen.

In friendships:  two vastly different people forge a relationship amidst this crazy wheel we call life.  Life hands each individual its ups and downs and each individual creates deeper ups and downs depending on their reaction and choices to the original ups and downs.  The sucky life you have because of your sucky decisions is not — drama.  It is — consequences of your actions.

Someone says something that ruffles your feathers and you stay silent — not drama.

  Someone says something that ruffles your feathers, you say something, they apologize try really hard and then two weeks later they do it again — not drama.  If you think that it is drama then you would qualify as a — drama queen. 

Sometimes life happens and people forget that a certain speech pattern they have might hurt your feelings.  If a person feels so inclined they may try to be careful of the things they say when around you, but they will not be perfect and they will slip up — not drama.

A person may also decide that how you interpret their choice of words is not their responsibility (which is very healthy) and so they may very politely and lovingly hear you out, acknowledge your feelings, express their own, reassure you that it is not personal, and then go about their lives — not drama.  Again, if you get your panties in a knot over this you would be classified as a — drama queen.

You are rude, hurtful, unrealistic, immature, snide, etc. to someone and they stand up for themselves — not drama. 

A disagreement between two parties arises — not drama.

A disagreement between two parties arises and you proceed to engage them in a name calling, curse word riddled, mud-slinging battle — not drama.

Engaging other parties in name calling, curse word riddled, mud-slinging battles continuously over silly, normal, every day issues — drama. 

A disagreement between two parties arises and you know you are angry and hurt and frustrated and you say to the other, “Hey, I am really hurt and angry and I kinda don’t want to be around you right now, so if you could just leave me alone for a few days (or a week) to give me some time to process, I would really appreciate it.” — not drama.

A disagreement between two parties arises and you stomp off and proceed to give the other a childish disrespectful bout of ‘the silent treatment’ — drama & drama queen.

Silent treatment involves you still attempting to communicate with the person you are trying to not talk to so thus ensues the high school scene of:  tell Bobby to tell Sharon to tell Chris to tell you…. — drama & drama queen.

Other person refuses to participate in crazy silent treatment ‘pass the message’ behavior and have a normal adult conversation with you — not drama.

Now lets just say, things have been volatile between two people and they have gone back and forth between arguing and not arguing and we are now at the stage of not talking to one another unless absolutely necessary because one or the other asked it to be that way.  One person attempts to simply relay a few important pieces of information, one things leads to another and both are now screaming at one another.  They stomp away from one another.  One comes back and genuinely apologizes for their behavior and walks away.  Is this drama?   NO!  This is life, this happens all time, it is called being human.

Throwing this incident back in the other persons face when it is convenient so that you can label them as abusive — drama & drama queen.

Now that that’s settled, I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing that I helped even just a few women untwist their Fruit of the Looms and live a more mature life.

Every once in a while we all wear the crown, and that’s okay.  As long as you let it get dusty between uses.

I am the face of Chronic Pain.

How do you explain the concept of chronic pain without sounding like a crazed individual?

You don’t. You will sound crazy no matter how hard you try, so stop trying.

Those with chronic pain and fatigue will wake up every morning feeling like you do on the worst day of the worst case of the flu you have ever had. That’s on a good day. And no we have no idea why or how to make it stop.

Isn’t that the craziest question you’ve ever heard? How do you make it go away? Um…If I could make it go away believe me — I WOULD!

When you pass me in the grocery store you see a healthy, slightly overweight 30 something with two kids. I look happy, I have a smile on my face and a cart full of groceries. You continue on your way without a second glance. If you could see me the way I feel, you would see someone completely different.
You would see a 80 something lady, stooped over her cart, eyes watery with tears of pain, shuffling her feet at a limping crawl.

If was smart that day, I would have been in an electric cart and be damned the stares and rude comments from those who dare judge me.

Yes, I am sure you’ve already told me three times about the ladies night in two weeks, but with the pain and the fatigue and the brain fog, I am lucky if I remember where my own feet are. So cut a girl some slack and don’t say: “Don’t you remember?” If I remembered, would I be asking about it?

And don’t think we don’t see the eye roll and head shake as you walk away in disgust thinking we are complete scatter-brains. We see it, and it hurts. Chronic pain suffers want to be normal, there was a time when we could recount entire conversations for you — from two years ago. Yes I have tried making a list. Guess what? I don’t remember where I put it! I have five daily alarms set on my phone for something as simple as taking medication. If my children were enrolled in school, I would have to have an alarm set to remind me to pick them up from school. Does this mean I do not love my children? NO! It means there are quite a few days where the only thing I can think of is a bed and a heating pad, much less plan 4 hours ahead to picking up kids from school and wrestling them through 2 hours of homework.

I am not saying that Chronic Pain sufferers need pity. I am not saying we are excused from behavioral norms. I am not saying that we need special treatment or allowances for inappropriate behavior. Life must still go on, and things must still be taken care of whether we like it or not.

What I am saying is this: step outside your bubble for 5 minutes the next time you see someone NOT putting their buggie in the shopping cart corral in the parking lot. Even I am guilty of this one. I see someone not putting it back and I immediately think, “lazy”. Which is SO unfair, because I know there are SO many times I do not have it in me to walk those 30 steps to the corral and back to the car, I feel as though I am going to collapse in a puddle of tears if I take just one more step.
I still remember the one time a gentleman made my day in the parking lot. I was standing at the back of the van, I had just shut the lid and was looking at the corral across the way. I was practically laying on the cart to keep from falling down. He walked by me, looked at me, came back to me and said, “I’ll take that for you miss.” I don’t know why he did, but I was insanely grateful to him for it. I cried as soon as I got into the vehicle, it was a huge burden off of my shoulders, and it was such a simple thing.

Next time you go somewhere, don’t hunt for the closest spot you can find in the parking lot, park a little further away if you are capable of walking the distance. You will probably never ever meet a person who benefited from that closer spot being open, but that isn’t the point. I may not qualify for a handicapped placard, but that one spot closer to the door would have been very helpful to me, or the 7 month pregnant mom, or the new mom with the 6 month old, or the other mom with 3 small children. Or the other Chronic Pain sufferer who had no choice but to go to the store today because they had already put it off for a week and there wasn’t any food left in the house for her family.

Don’t use the handicapped stall in the bathroom. Yes, I know it is big and comfy and oh so nice to not have to straddle the toilet to shut the door. But it is not designed for able-bodied individuals. It is meant for those in wheelchairs, walkers or others that need assistance when using the facilities. Some days, I absolutely must have that bar next to the toilet to get my knees up under me. And for the love of Pete do NOT people the stink eye when they come out of that stall and they do not APPEAR to you to be disabled. Remember….step outside the bubble.

It is time to raise the awareness level of the clueless around us. Those that suffer from Chronic Pain need to stop being silent. Do not be ashamed! Speak out, speak up and be heard!

Part 6: Should we be pushing Maths and English?

Part 6: Should we be pushing Maths and English?.

Thought it was interesting that I stumbled upon THIS today of all days, after struggling with my daughter to do 3 very simple, very beneath her level math pages as a refresher. I want to “unschool” the way I want to unschool, but I know that sometimes I am simply NOT providing them the richest environment to do it in, especially when I am in the middle of attempting to get our house ready to sell and move to another state. She has some interesting thoughts on our math and English obsession in public schools.

Exploring “Nature vs. Nurture”

As an adopted child, the age-old scientific argument of nature versus nurture has always fascinated me on a deep level. Seeing that I do not contain any matching DNA to my mother and father, there are some things in life that I simply never got to experience. I never had anyone think that my mother was my older sister because we looked identical. Even if I wasn’t an only child, I would not have had any mistaken identities with my siblings due to similarities. I did not get to look through photo albums of my parents and say, “Oh my gosh, I look just like you did when you were…..” There wasn’t the opportunity to ask, “Did you do that weird whatever when you were a kid too?” I don’t think people realize how these connections make up a person’s life and sense of belonging, most take them for granted or are even annoyed by them. It wasn’t until I had my own children was I able to enjoy looking at pictures of my daughter and say “Awwww! She looks exactly like me!”

But it goes beyond physical looks. Obviously our DNA makes the blueprint for our features. The color and texture of our hair, shape of our eyes, whether or not the tip of our nose points up or down, the shape of the swirls inside our ears. The list goes on almost without end as to the what our DNA is in control of. How much stomach acid I produce compared to you, the shape of my big toe, the weird way the little pinky one slides to the side, the hair on my knuckles, whether or not I snore, the size of my teeth, the size fork I prefer to eat with, the side of the bed I have to sleep on, whether or not I can stand things between my toes, whether or not I like the feeling of silk……

The argument in nature vs. nurture is: how much of our DNA is responsible for WHO we are and how much is of the life we lived as a child responsible for WHO we are? How do we know where one of those begins and the other ends? Since I am adopted I have no “nature” to compare and contrast with, I only have “nurture”. At most, my nature would be what ever I have that my parents lack or what I lack that my parents have. One could assume that since neither of my parents can even draw a decent stick figure, that my artistic ability must be a nature, because they could not nurture what they do not have themselves. However, one could also argue that had my mother not been extremely creative and crafty, my ability to draw and create would not have blossomed, it would instead have laid dormant. One could also assume that my ability to understand mechanics better than your average female could very well have been nurture given that my father has been a grease monkey since he was 12, so I naturally picked up on this ability throughout the years. However, there are many a child whose parent excels in something and despite constant interaction and contact with said subject, the child themselves never acquires an aptitude for it.

Delving into the quirky in our home I bring to you my proof that science will never discover which is more important, because they are both equally and inexplicably intertwined and combined to the point that you cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. My two children have shown me that DNA combinations are infinite (duh) and at the same time finite. Sometimes you can pinpoint exact what DNA has done.

Now I know given what the internet is these days that anyone reading this has seen those adorable pictures of sleeping infants next to their sleeping parent and both are in identical positions. So it stands to reason that the kid got it from somewhere right? We all know that the 3 month old that cannot even sit itself up did not climb out of his crib in the middle of the night crawl into mommy and daddy’s room, observe how they were sleeping, crawled back into their own crib and proceeded to duplicate said pose. So, it stands to reason that the position we prefer to sleep in is programmed into our DNA. Knowing this, it would stand to reason that SO much more about our sleeping habits are not our choice in the slightest.

For example, my husband and I are such polar opposites in sleeping habits that the two of us CANNOT share a blanket/comforter. We simply cannot do it, never have and never will. My entire life I have hated blankets, I cannot stand them, do not like them Sam I am. If for some reason I am under a blanket before falling asleep, I guarantee you it will be on the floor by the time I wake up. And heaven forbid it should get anywhere near my face and neck, especially if it is a heavy blanket. I absolutely cannot stand a blanket above my shoulders, I swear I will suffocate to death. And I have this weird thing with my pillow that I know is weird, because I have only ever hear of one other person my entire life that does this too. I must have the “cold side up”.

My husband on the other hand has this thing I call the ‘blanket of death’ that his brother bought for him. I swear his brother went to Canada and found the biggest effing bear and the biggest effing moose he could find, shoot them and made this blanket with their fur. It is HEAVY as hell and he will sleep under it no matter the season. Does not matter if it is 110 outside or 20. He will burrow under this thing and sweat to death, he must have the weight of it on him or he cannot sleep. It is all I can do to put up with it next to me in bed. And he has to have another smaller blanket waded up lengthwise behind him to “prop” himself on as he sleeps, he cannot sleep flat on his back.

I now present Exhibit A: my son. My darling, affectionate, silly son. From day one my son HAD to be swaddled, the tighter the better. He would scream his foul little head off that blanket came loose even the tiniest bit. And you guessed it, he had to be propped up on some sort of pillow or stuffed animal, he would not sleep flat on his back. Even now, at 7 he has this heavy blanket he has to have all year-long. Grandma made it for him out of his daddy’s old jeans and some fleece. For a little kid, this blanket is pretty heavy. He has to have it all year-long, and the fuzzy side has to be touching him. And his bed is pushed up against the wall with an army of stuffies at his back while he sleeps, propping him up.

That being said, I present Exhibit B: my daughter. My adorable, lovely, weird daughter. From the time we brought her home, she made it very clear that she wanted nothing to do with that thing called a blanket that we kept trying to cover her up with. As soon as she was able, those little feet went to kicking and that blanket was sailing across the crib. She will go to sleep with a light blanket on, and wake up with it halfway across the room. If I can manage to convince her sleep with one, she usually has to have her feet sticking out of the bottom and her arms tucked outside over the top.
And then when she was almost four she completely sealed her fate forever as “my daughter” when she informed daddy that she had to flip her pillow over before she could go to sleep. He asked her why and she told him with a perfectly straight face, “Because I have to have the cold side up.”

Now these are obviously not things that we teach our children. So if our DNA is responsible for not only the color of our eyes, but the acceptable heaviness of a blanket and the proper temperature of a pillowcase; how much more is it in control of? Where does the nature end and the nurture begin?