Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Change Is In The Air

It has been quite some time since my last post and with good reason. Things have been busy to say the least. The kids have been "adjusting" to the new living schedule between their dad and myself (and I do use the word adjusting loosely), I have begun a new relationship that has been quite surprising in so many ways, and I have been procrastinatingly preparing (that just makes me giggle - what about you?) to make a move from a three bedroom home to a three bedroom apartment. There was also a month where my ex-husband was sent off to Texas for work. That was quite eye-opening in a couple ways.

So, where do I begin? Well... with the kids of course! I'm sure you are curious to know why I use the word "adjusting" loosely. As you know, I have three children; the oldest a son, and two younger daughters. The girls have done fairly well. Their grades are holding steady, and their attitudes about where one would expect. Certainly not out of the ordinary. My son, however, has shown at least one very interesting response. When their dad first had his little indiscretion and left us when my son was 5, the boy started wetting the bed after at least a year of completed potty training and no accidents. It took quite some time to get it in control, and ultimately required medication when he was 9 or 10. Within 6 to 8 months, the bedwetting had ceased. We had a measurable amount of time without the problem occurring, to the point that I had lost track of the time as I assumed it would never return. However, when the kids began the 50/50 schedule between their dad and myself, the bedwetting began again... and with a vengeance. He was wetting at least every night, and often twice a night. By mid February I put him back on the medication, and he continued wetting even through that on more nights than not. One could easily dismiss that as simply being because of the abrupt change in schedule, and even I was somewhat tempted to do so despite my maternal instinct telling me different. But, then, when my ex-husband was gone for that month, by the end of 2 to 3 weeks, the bedwetting had again stopped. To add to the curiosity of it all, when my ex returned and had the children for 5 consecutive nights and took them to school at the beginning of that week, and my son actually wet himself TWICE in school. The following week they were with me. My son wet the bed every night except one.During the month my ex was gone, we also received my son's report card. He had failing grades in all but 2 subjects. That was a major changes occurring only since the new living situation. There are many possible explanations for this, I am sure. However, it is seeming less and less that it reflects well on the arrangement that I was everything but forced into by the local courts. The school has clearly been aware of all of these things and have not said a word or asked a single question. In fact, the school counselor has neglected to even return my calls. I would think that any educator would find this to be concerning at the least. It is not remotely normal in any sense that my son would wet himself in school. It has never happened. At least not since his first year of preschool. Not to mention, I highly doubt that is normal for any of the students in his school, much less those in his 4th grade class.

Time and time again, my children and I have been let down by the system; from the suspected molestation of my youngest to the concern of my children's overall well-being, despite proven abuse by my ex of me and concerning allegations and responses by the three of them.

People... I am at a loss in many ways. However, there is an upside soon to be shared by me to you. What I will tell you now, is that God always comes through. I can see where He may be working through all of this. He may wait to the very last second, but He is sure to show up. I am learning patience a new and profound way. I have a feeling that the faith I will have when His plan plays out in all of these things may very well be unshakable!

Dear God,

Change is in the air. I can feel it. Could the shadow be finally lifting? Could it be that you are making right some of my mistakes? Your goodness is inconceivable. Your ways are beyond our understanding. You, who is willing and wanting to give immeasurable more than we could ask or imagine. For the first time in a long while I am willing to accept the hope of the future you have for me.

Yours Truly,
Just Korie

Luke 1:78-80

New Living Translation (NLT)
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,[a]
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Stay tuned for the good news, people. There is plenty to share. I will be back as soon as I can. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Love Unfixable


Love. What is love to you? For me, love is a way of being. I have been through different stages of growth in the area of love throughout my life, for sure, but it has always been the primary state in which I function. It is one of the initial qualities that attracts people to me, and seems to be one of the things that sometimes pushes them away. My mother has tried to advise me time and again to keep my love more selective; to kind of hide it away and not give it out except to those who earn it. Those seem like very sage words, and I often find myself wishing I could do that when the consequence of not is painful. But… I just can’t seem to do it.

I deeply appreciate 1Corinthians 13 as much because of what it does not say as I do for what it does say. It does not say that love is a feeling or an emotion. It doesn’t imply that it is a chemical response. No. God speaks about love as an action. A commitment. Now, I don’t claim to walk in perfect step with it, but it is just how I seem to be wired, to love. I definitely have my bad days. I get irritated when some dude cuts me off when I’m driving, and don’t get me started about my neighbors. There will always be circumstances and people that make loving very challenging to say the least. But, what’s on my heart today are the risks involved in loving.

There is this huge risk of being hurt when we love, by betrayal, rejection, lack of reciprocity, etc. What gets me most is the rejection. I am so sensitive to the idea that there is something inherently and unresolvably wrong with me. In fact, I was recently mashed up by some guy who decided to ultimately reject me, despite how awesome a woman he claims I am, because his gut tells him that someday I am certain to cheat on him in the near or distant future.  For over a week I suffered over it with tears and feelings of confusion. Truly! For the life of me I couldn’t make sense of how I could supposedly be so wonderful and simultaneously so unwanted, inadequate, and unworthy of the risk I was so willing to take with him. And, why was I unable to shake it? I know myself. I know I am not a cheater. That really should be good enough. His loss, right? I prayed and prayed and listened to worship music and meditated, etc. It was crazy how I was sinking emotionally. Mind you, this wasn’t the only thing going on at the time. It was also the holidays and I was swiftly approaching major changes in my life as my divorce was just being finalized. I cried out and begged God to show up. "PLEASE, God! PLEASE! Change something. Give me hope. Undo this. Show up, Lord! Be my daddy! Protect me! Don't you love me? PLEASE LOVE ME!" Then, I would think about all the things I had done to get me where I was, not just in that relationship but in every aspect of my life. I had emotionally, and even spiritually, reached a tipping point. It was then that I got an instant message from a friend.

[Friend] wassup?
[Me]: hmmmmmm
       I think something is really wrong
       I'm in trouble sweetpea
[Friend]: in trouble??
[Me]: emotional, spiritual, physical
       it's not something I'm fighting very well on my own
       You would be very disappointed I'm sure
       I am afraid of how you'll see me... but that just can't matter right now
       It will probably change your view of me forever
       and probably our relationship
       I'm in big trouble
[Friend]: okay what do i have to do with anything?
[Me]: idk
       maybe it's just the trouble talking
       who knows
[Friend]: :)
       whats the trouble?
[Me]: I am depressed

Take a few moments and read again the few lines I included from the IM conversation my friend and I had. What do you notice? First of all, let me tell you how grateful I was that at THAT moment my friend opted to message me! I believe God was actually SHOWING UP. But look. Do you see it? I was in desperate need of help, of love, of encouragement, but I was so concerned about how my weakness would appear to my friend. Of course my friend responded with compassion. He called me and we talked about God's grace. This was a concept I thought I was well on my way to grasping. I thought I had let go of thinking God was watching me like a hawk and tossing me out of relationship with Him every time I slipped. But as we talked, I realized the internal dialogue that was occurring without my even noticing. In the instance of the brief romance, as I relived the last several days, I recalled feeling that perhaps God had caused that relationship to fail, or somehow willed it, because I had allowed it to take my eyes off of Him. After all, before I met that guy I was listening to sermons on my laptop almost daily. I was regularly commenting on spiritual things on my Facebook page and was steeping myself in scripture. After I met him, those things were replaced with phone calls with him and the like. How could God possibly bless me - especially me who struggles with keeping my heart and mind God focused - by allowing me to have a relationship. It only seemed to make sense that He would take away anything that kept Him from His rightful place. That is why I now had to share custody of my kids with a man so abusive, right? Because even my children were sources of distraction for me. Grace is unmerited favor. It is something that God is accused of giving freely and with such abandon as to send His only son just so that it could be offered fully to a fallen world. As much as I thought I understood it, I now realize how much I still struggle to allow myself to receive it.

I may not hide per se, but I still wear shame. The idea that I am unfixable is a lie. I've put my finger on it. So... now what? God, I can't do this. I need you.

Yours Truly,
Just Korie

Dear God, Can't I Just Go Back To Egypt?

I remember thinking on the day of my divorce that I was finally free! What a RELIEF! Well, not to sound like an ungrateful wretch, but I have swiftly exited idealism mode and have entered the great land of realism while shaking in my Payless boots. Divorce is an utter life change, at least for me. Not only does it mean completely redefining myself from wife and mother to something all together new, it also means a huge change in standard of living. In an article by Amelia Hill entitled "Men Become Richer After Divorce" the author reports that male incomes rise by a third after a split, while women are worse off and can struggle for years. Um... WHAT?! In my case, this is especially true because of the ultimate "agreement" made from years of bullying and the court's inability to see the truth under the facade. That, however, is another topic for another time.

So here is my situation. Prior to my divorce I was a stay-at-home-mom with no job and was able to live in a small 3 bedroom home with 2 dogs, one cat, and 3 children. Now I am a single working mother and will likely barely be able to maintain in a low income 1 bedroom apartment. After 2 years or so of searching for a job, I finally landed an assistant teacher position in a daycare run by a woman in my church. The hours are part-time and based on how many children are attending the center on any given day. Because I have no formal experience or training, my wage is set at minimum. This, coupled with the agreement made in the divorce, has cut my income nearly by half.

Knowing I would soon have to move, I set out to find a place to live. It was then that the fear of the reality hit me like a brick. I looked at my income and what I can reasonably afford to spend on rent and it is at least $200 less than some of the lowest priced multiple bedroom apartments and houses in the area. And, let me tell you, the area I live in is far from posh. Ideally I could move in with a family member in order to rebuild myself, but in this case that would mean leaving my kids behind because my family lives beyond what the courts would automatically permit me to move. I was facing my first full week without my children, and I started to sink deeper and deeper into thoughts over the pressure, the self-doubt, the trapped feeling, utter loneliness, and overwhelming fear and hopelessness. I had spent about 12 years with a man who had convinced me I was a worthless moron (his words minus certain expletives), and now I was really feeling that no matter what I did I would never be able to escape the bondage that relationship had caused. I would never again know the potential of success. In fact, I envisioned a vortex of failure where even my children would ultimately choose to leave me completely for their father because of all of the things he could give them that I would never be able to match. All of a sudden I found myself wishing I could turn back the clock and go back to the days of abuse. Surely even that would be better than what lie ahead.

As hopeless as I struggle with feeling at times, I know that I only have to 2 real options (death not being one of them). 1. I can just lay down and accept defeat and be a victim of my circumstance or 2. I can be willing to do whatever it takes to change my circumstance. So, I started to think. What are the quickest ways to make a change in my financial situation? Is there a way to do that without a degree? My mother and brother are both quite successful in the IT industry. My mother has a BS in some completely unrelated field and my brother doesn't have a degree at all. Granted, they've been working many years in the IT field, but it still seems like a viable direction. One my mother has been trying to convince me to follow for as long as I can remember. In order to do this, though, I would need to sacrifice what I really want to do (psychology/counseling). At least for now. I would also need to get some sort of education and experience, be it by obtaining an entry level job at a helpdesk or by getting certified in certain areas of IT. Both would be ideal, however the number of available jobs in my area is significantly low in regards to this field. So, I kept thinking, while letting that idea percolate.

I began to look to my peers for suggestions. One of my closest friends lives in Trinidad. He loves the United States. He says it is the best place in the world to be an entrepreneur. I've always thought he had a very idealistic view of us, but he says there is no other place where a person can lose everything and start over as easily as one can here. Luckily, I have another very entrepreneurial minded friend who lives a couple blocks from me. She and I decided to have coffee at her house and look into the best small businesses as recorded in a small business magazine she had recently picked up. There were 250 listed and some of the starting costs were outrageous for someone like me. But, some of them seemed not only in my price range, but also like things I might actually be able to do. I was beginning to see potential ways out. My box was expanding and hope was beginning to be reborn.

The bible says:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This can often be a concept difficult for me to trust in because the situation can sometimes look very bleak. In fact, it often does. But, I know I love God. I know what this scripture says. And I choose to have faith that God is working in this, that He is directing my path according to His purpose. And, not only is His purpose for His glory, but it is also for my good.