I have been through numerous trials in my life. First, I have a bizarre neurological condition called Sensory Processing Disorder that creates challenges for me every day. Secondly, I’ve survived sexual abuse and a decade of drug addiction. So, how did I finally find true peace? In this video I share exactly how my anger and hopelessness was replaced with abundant joy, contentment and purpose. If you know anybody who is hurting or can relate to my story, please feel free to share this with them.
I had an unusual and exciting time last night. While opening a closet to get some paper towels, an ugly black rat suddenly jumped at me from out of nowhere. As if a flying rodent wasn’t enough to totally freak me out, it also ran right across my BARE feet, then scampered off SOMEWHERE into my house. Eeeeeewwww!
Once I finally stopped flailing my arms around violently and screaming with panic, I vacuumed and mopped my entire house, then took a steaming hot shower. It was a fruitless attempt to get rid of the feeling that the disgusting little creature had left with me. I guess I’m a little OCD, but I was pretty creeped out.
Meanwhile, my dog sat by quietly watching the drama unfold without so much as a whimper in my defense. I’m convinced that he and the rat are cohorts with some grand scheme to steal food from my pantry.
As a result of the random rodent attack, I became vigilant in preparing for an ongoing battle with the nasty critter. First, I researched “exterminating rats” on my computer for almost an hour and developed a plan. Then, I set four old-school mousetraps around my house. Opening closet doors was no longer a mindless act, but done with focus…and a broom-in-hand expecting a fight. Last, but not least, with great confidence and determination I declared out loud to the tiny hidden monster, “This war is ON!”
As I began searching my house this morning, in hopes to find my nemesis helplessly stranded in one of my traps, I began thinking about spiritual warfare.
As a ten-year-old kid, I was an avid collector. My bedroom closet was full of things I had found, which included animal skulls, empty bottles, various insects pinned to a Styrofoam board, and every Star Wars trading card they ever made. I was proud of my collections and added to them whenever I got the chance. I knew my playthings were different from other girls my age who had closets full of dolls and stuffed animals, but having tea parties wasn’t in my realm of interest…being a scientist or pioneer was.
One rainy day when I was trapped inside, I found that my trading cards were great for building massive card houses. I spent hours meticulously stacking each one up to build a paper empire. The thick rough edges made the cards much better building blocks for strong, sturdy structures than the slick Bicycle playing cards I had tried previously. My fortress was as high as I could reach while standing on my toes and it covered the span of the floor in my playroom. I even set up action figures like GI Joe, the Bionic Woman, and the Lone Ranger around the perimeter to guard it from enemies…like my little brother.
I grew up during the seventies, which means there weren’t video games, hundreds of television stations, or even cell phones to play with as a kid. I had to use my imagination for entertainment. My parents allowed me to play outside all day as long as I came home for dinner, so every minute was full of adventure as I explored the world around me.
If nobody else was around to play with, I enjoyed watching the ants march in the dirt. Their ability to move large breadcrumbs and work as a group carrying them into anthills was truly fascinating. I desperately wished it was possible to shrink down and experience the world from their vantage point. I was curious if they feared me as a giant and even wondered if they thought I was God. I talked to them with gentle words of affirmation and encouraged their hard work, hoping their tiny wiggling antennae wouldn’t interpret me as a threat so they wouldn’t attempt to hide.
I have faced numerous adversaries in my life. They include childhood bullies and even truly evil people who assaulted me in various ways, including sexual abuse, rape, stalking and harassment. As a result, I spent many years feeling like the world was out to get me. I didn’t trust anybody. I constantly looked over my shoulder for the next bad guy and always assumed the worst. I was overcome by fear…even paralyzed at times to go anywhere new.
However, after receiving counseling, participating in support groups, and diving into the Bible, I eventually learned how to turn my negative experiences into positive life lessons. I surrendered my life, burdens and fears over to God, and He led me on an amazing journey of recovery and healing, and even turned my experiences around for good. Now I’m not paranoid anymore, but I’m prepared. I’m not crippled with fear, but I’m wise. He restored my confidence in myself and other people. He has even used me to encourage others who are hurting, which has been a truly awesome blessing. Take THAT all you evil monsters!!!
I drew this picture as I was thinking about all this. It’s a self-portrait of me as Little Red Riding Hood, but not the naive little girl who nonchalantly wanders into dangerous places. It’s the girl who is aware and ready, and brave enough to venture into the unknown, despite her emotions.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
One of my favorite Christmas songs has always been “Little Drummer Boy”. Partly because I love drums and percussion, but more so because of the boy’s amazing courage to bring all he had to the newborn King. As I listened to the song again this year, I was so moved by the story that I want to share what it means to me.
Here are five important things I believe we can learn from the little drummer boy:
I love the weeks preceding Christmas when the night skies are flickering with multi-colored lights and the house smells of logs burning in the fireplace. I even enjoy the crisp cold bite in the air when I walk outside. I just wish there was a thick blanket of snow on the ground so I could go sledding, but that rarely happens in the South.
There’s something truly magical in the air as the world anticipates the Christmas holiday. However, for some kids, it can be a time of hurt and disappointment, or even confusion.
When I was 7 years old, that Christmas magic was suddenly ripped out of my life when another kid told me the truth about Santa. I felt abandoned, angry and foolish for believing such an elaborate lie. All my hope and trust was vanquished the moment my eyes were opened to the harsh reality that I had been conned…by my own parents. And as a natural consequence, I doubted everything else they tried to teach me…like who God is. For many years I struggled to know who I could trust to keep me informed of the truths in life, and to help me navigate the tumultuous world of uncertainty that surrounded me.
So, here are four ways I believe we can help avoid doubt and confusion for our kids and keep the Christmas magic alive:
Most of us have probably done some pretty crazy things to draw the attention of someone we love. My little brother used to spend every dime of his hard-earned lawn mowing money each week on the girl next door. He lavished her with ridiculous amounts of candy and stuffed animals, just in hopes that she would talk to him. I truly believe that falling in love makes us temporarily insane, because I’ve done some pretty crazy things myself.
One time, when I was about fourteen years old, I was invited to a lake party where a boy I really liked was going to be. I asked my best friend to come too, so she could provide moral support since I was nervous about seeing my crush. But before we left, I decided to take her for a quick thrill ride on my motorcycle first.
As usual, I showed off by kicking up dust and rocks as I gunned the engine and went as fast as I could up a hill. It was a lot of fun. But when we descended the steep path to head back home for the party, I suddenly lost control of the bike as we rounded a sharp turn. It had rained the night before so the mud and gravel were more slippery than usual and we suddenly found ourselves body surfing on the rocky ground alongside the motorcycle. Our bumpy slide finally ended when we fell into a ditch surrounded by boulders and trees on the other side. But then the heavy motorcycle fell right on top of me and I became pinned inside the trench.
Growing up I had hundreds of acres of woods to explore behind my house. Blazing new trails while pretending I was a pioneer was one of my favorite things to do. I often saw snakes, had ticks embedded in my head, and got covered in chigger bites or poison ivy, but I didn’t care. I was happiest being in the trees where nobody could find me.
Contrary to my mother’s dreams, I wasn’t the girly-girl she had hoped for when I was born. My mother enjoyed getting dressed up, fixing her hair, and looking pretty with a lot of accessories. Therefore, she assumed I would be her little doll to primp around with. I even had bows adorned upon my head with scotch tape before my hair was long enough to gather into bands. However, I fought like a banshee whenever she tried to wrestle me into a dress.
My mother couldn’t relate to my enjoyment of motorcycles, treehouses and playing in the dirt, so she signed me up for more graceful activities…in hopes that they would train me to be more lady-like. I even suffered through five treacherous years of ballet lessons. I pleaded with her to let me take Karate instead, but she thought the key to becoming a woman was in the point, plié and pirouette.
By the time I reached my teenage years, nothing had succeeded in turning my desires from mud to make-up so I was enrolled in Charm School, which was taught by a former Miss America. The class was full of girls who were eager to learn about becoming a true southern belle. And then there was me…wearing a baseball cap and a scowl on my face. For several months Miss America gave her best shot at teaching me how to smile, bat my eyes, and sit up properly in a chair. I even learned how to model on a catwalk, but I despised every minute. During one of our fashion shows, instead of wearing a fancy gown like the others, I wore my favorite torn-up jeans and mocked their prissy hip-swinging walk while I made Vanna White hand gestures towards my converse high tops.
Growing up I was often made fun of for being a rambunctious kid that couldn’t sit still or obey very well. I even overheard my second grade teacher complaining to others about how difficult I was. And whenever I felt intimidated or hurt, I felt provoked to fight, rather than flight. But my response always created even more trouble for me.
When I was in sixth grade, there were two older boys who often waited by my bus stop for me and my little brother to get home from school. They were a lot bigger than us, and as mean as rabid pit bulls. They rode their bikes in circles around us and called us names while we walked home every day. It didn’t bother me to be called names because I could hurl flaming insults right back with the best of them. But when they started getting physical a vicious fire rumbled inside of me that spawned an evil spirit of revenge in me, so I devised a plan to retaliate.
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