Family, Uncategorized

I’ve wanted to tell it since it’s happened, but for fear of being too transparent to too many people, I haven’t.

Granted, I’ve already opened up quite a bit on this blog and tolerated your judgmental sneers and jabs so far– But what makes this post most different than any other is that it provides the explanation of why I went krazy in the first place.

So let’s go back to 2003. It was my senior year at William and Mary, and I planned to graduate in December, a semester early. I had been blessed with a great internship at Anheuser-Busch, and though it wasn’t the line of work for me, I didn’t mind the $14 per hour pay. So during summer 2003, I worked, took a few classes, and did a little partying… something I was neeeever good at.

Did I mention I’d also hit rock bottom? I had gone through a nasty break-up and my parents had finally parted ways. Emotionally I was a wreck and ripe for predatory picking. Classes started and within two weeks I discovered that I was *ahem* with child. I made two great choices at that time… to keep my baby and to leave that hot mess of a sperm donor alone.

(I’m leaving out some details here, so if you know the full story hush your mouth. It’s not time for all of it to come out yet. If you don’t know, then just grin, nod, and carry on.)

In an effort to keep the sharing of dirty laundry to a minimum, let’s just say I later found myself in another precarious position. I was in a court… between mom and dad… defending one… never intending to hurt the other… desiring only to tell the truth and watch them part amicably. It didn’t go so well.

And just like that the already shaky relationship I had with my father came to a screeching halt.

By October I had made peace with my pregnancy, and even though I spent most of my time bent over the toilet, I had new sense of purpose. I felt like I was working hard for a reason. A new relationship was growing despite the loss of another.

Don’t get me wrong… I was upset, but relieved at the same time. I know people think we’re supposed to feel a certain way about things, but you feel how you feel. And I felt relieved.

My father was a terrorist of sorts. You just never knew when he was genuinely agreeable or when he was about to take your head of with a fit of rage. I had suffered tremendous emotional trauma, neglect, rejection, and abandonment at his hands… so I gave myself closure and let him leave. He didn’t know I was pregnant. I didn’t dare tell him that because in that case, I would’ve been afraid for my life. Seriously. My daddy was crazy. The real crazy… not the kind I spell with a k.

Now imagine the scene in the movie with the violin serenade and changing scenes… Marrying. Teaching. Birthing of second child. Earning MBA. Divorcing. Moving into mom’s house. Suffering in mom’s house. Moving out of mom’s house. Moving into my own place. You get it… Life happened.

While life was happening I did my best to hold on to my faith, but truthfully, faith held on to me. And one night, three months ago, I felt strangely impressed to pray for my parents and my siblings, particularly my father. Let me tell you… I WENT INNN!!! (“Going in” is church vernacular for seeking God’s face fervently…) I didn’t know what God was doing, but I prayed as He directed.

Shortly thereafter my brother graduated from Campbell University. My mom and I attended the ceremony and off in the distance I saw my father. I didn’t let my mom know it, but I missed him. Really I just missed having a father. But I said a quiet prayer. He saw me as he was leaving and greeted me. First time in 8 years.

When mom and I made it back to the car she handed me an envelope. Inside was my brother’s graduation invitation. Pointless, right? Well I opened it anyway…

Go grab a tissue right now… No? Suit yourself. I’m not liable if the forthcoming tears short-circuit your electronic device.

…and inside was a letter from my father telling me that he missed me. He left me his phone number and email. I slid my glasses over my eyes, pretended to nap, and cried as discreetly as I could.

It took me some time to contact him, but on Christmas Eve of 2011, I sat down and talked to my father for the first time in 8 years. And for the first time, he met my children. And for the first time, they exchanged hugs, kisses, and Christmas presents. And for the first time since my divorce, I felt secure.

He told me he was proud of me. That I was still the smartest person he knew. That I made the right choice in my former marriage. That my kids were strong, healthy and smart because of what I’d put into them. That he knew I was doing great things in my school and in the world for education. He’d been asking about me and following my accomplishments all along.

He was proud of me. He was sorry that he left me and offered reasons why… But when it comes down to it, those reasons never really matter. I assured him that I was glad to have him back.

We don’t talk often, but things are fine. I know how to reach him, and I know he loves me. Only months before I thought he was still angry and had forgotten all about me. I thought my children would never see their six-foot three-inch giant of a grandfather. And since we met again he’s sent me gifts for both my birthday and Valentine’s Day…

*pardon me while I wipe my face*

I know some churchy person is out there thinking, “Well you believe in God, and you know He’s a father to the fatherless.” And this is true… He was and still is Father to me. But in His fatherly wisdom, He knew I needed my daddy back.

So the deeper, more relevant truth remains. God loves us soooo much that He causes us to desire the right things in the right time so He can reconcile and provide in order to propel us into the next level.

I saaiiiddd…

God loves us SOOO much that He CAUSES us to desire the RIGHT things in the RIGHT time so He can RECONCILE and PROVIDE in order to PROPEL us into the next level.

Don’t believe me? Ok… Psalm 37:4. Read and digest for yourself. I’ll blog on that another day.

So what secret desires has God placed in you? Maybe you need someone to come back into your life. Maybe you need to be freed from others. Whatever it is, I pray the hearing of my story has increased your willingness to believe that God is ABLE and WILLING to do what you never thought was possible!

Your less krazy, much happier cybersister,

 

Alana

 

Family, Uncategorized

Parenting Blog #1: The Paradox of Parenting
After taking some time to think about the CHAOS I’ve endured at work the past month,  I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to the parents… Yep, ALL THE PARENTS! This is for the good ones who delight in their children and over-invest themselves at times and the bad ones who just leave the child-rearing to the television until all hell breaks loose and everyone else is to blame…
I’m a young parent, and perhaps you’ve done this longer and better than I have… but, as you probably guessed, I will speak on it anyway. One thing is certain. Parents aren’t teaching respect, kindness, and honesty to their children nor do they observe it in their own lives… and half of teaching is being the example.
If you noticed, I titled this “Parenting Blog #1” which means there will be more to follow… but for now here are a few guidelines I try to observe when raising my own children and when nurturing my students:
  1. Kids come first, but only some of the time. You do realize that one day they’re going to get up and leave you, right? That’s what they’re supposed to do! So you can’t pour ALL of yourself into them. Of course small children need much more attention, but even they can learn to sit still and talk to God quietly for a few minutes so you can have a few moments of peace. (SB: Yes, God really comes first. And if you’re married, your hubby should be second… yep, he comes before the kiddos even if he acts like one of them. After all, you picked him.)
  2. You know your child best. You carried them, you watched them grow, and over time you were able to identify their gifts and challenges. Play to their strengths and teach them how to overcome their challenges. Perfection is NOT the objective, but excellence is key. My daughter loves to use lots of different colors in her artwork, and while I’d never discourage that, I do want her to stay inside the lines. Am I limiting her creativity? Not at all… I’m teaching her that she can be creative within the boundaries that she’s given. We’re not going to create mess and call it a masterpiece.
  3. You don’t know your child half as much as you think you do. If you’ve ever said “Oh, my child would NEVER do that” chances are your child DID do it and KNEW you wouldn’t believe it. As children grow, they become masterful at manipulation and deceit, but we have to make it hard for them to succeed. You can pour all of your self into them, and they could still disappoint. If someone tells you something unpleasant about your child, consider the source and the possibility before becoming defensive.
  4. Right is right. If your child is right in an ugly situation, defend them.
  5. Wrong is wrong. If your child is wrong in an ugly situation, defend them, then discipline them. The “hell-naw-you’re-not-about-to-embarrass-me-like-that” speech is always a good one.
  6. Divide and conquer. Most situations aren’t black and white. Usually there’s a mixture of feelings, perceptions, and miscommunications involved, BUT it’s our job to help our children sort it all out. Children don’t have all the skills they need to make the right decision every time, but they need to learn them. Start with respect and kindness because they are always RIGHT. 
  7. Life is not a Disney movie. It is my firm belief that Disney screws us all up and makes us think we can do and be anything we want. While that sounds nice and gives us warm fuzzies, I don’t want a doctor who can’t do basic math… and let’s face it, not all of us are good at math. While I enjoy Finding Nemo and Tinkerbell as much as the next mommy (*sarcasm here*), I need to steer my kids in the direction where they are gifted. Most children have many interests, but are only good at a handful of things. Wherever you find their talents and giftings is where your child will be most confident, and confidence brings success.
  8. The other parent can do the job, too. Moms can be so critical of dads. I know I am at times… but when I disagree with something my childrens’ father has done, I talk bad about him to God, then he and I discuss it. (…nasty IM ensuing…) In many ways neither one of us is right or wrong. Just a few days ago, he called to tell me that the five-year old had to write sentences for talking in class. I could hear her sobbing in the background because I had warned her that she would be punished if it happened again. Since it was his weekend, I thanked him for calling and asked him to tell her that I wasn’t mad. Then I told him I felt it would be best that he handle the situation since she was with him. What a big step for me! Normally, I’d threaten to tighten up her behind when she came back home two days later… but what good would that really do? I would forget, she wouldn’t, and then I’d be a pushover. (Note: It’s better to be the bad guy than a pushover.)
  9. Your child is you. You ever look at your kids and wonder if you were as goofy, silly, and obnoxious as they are? The answer is YES! Go ask your parents! My son, at seven, has the same exact fears I had at seven. Briana gets in trouble for talking just like her dad did. It’s undeniable, so be understanding. Consider what your parents did to raise you, and apply it if it worked. Dismiss it if it didn’t.
  10. Be creative, patient, and affectionate in your child-rearing. What more is there to say?
My one little blog won’t change every parents’ approach to raising kids, but I hope that you will at least, being the perfect parent that you are, pass this on to someone else who is less gifted than you. (I will be soooo ticked if someone sends this to me.)
After all, those of us who are a little touched, i.e. krazy, need a little help from time to time.
Your cybersister,
Alana
Being Saved, Family, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

The DoorMat People
So in yesterday’s post I didn’t really tell you THAT much about myself, but I’m not sure if today’s the right time. I mean, really… it’s only the second date. How much do you need to know? I’d much rather let you inside my krazy thoughts than to give you facts and let you stereotype me accurately. But for interest’s sake, you should know that I come across as unexciting and snobby, when inside my head I’m really having a party. If you could peek into my brain, my thoughts would probably make you blush or tick you off… thus, I try to remain quiet. But now that I’m blogging, BEWARE!

I was going to write this deep, philosophical narrative about the moments of uncertainty in our lives, but that will wait for a day when I have much more time to think. Instead, I’m going to tell a story… a nutty story… a story that will make NO sense to at least 70% of my readers… so 7 out of all of you 10 that actually cared enough to click the Facebook link won’t get it. Read it anyway! You may be able to help someone else… 🙂

Three years ago almost to the date, I was extremely worn out from full-time grad school, full-time teaching, extra responsibilities at work, full-time mommying of a two and three-year old, and full-time failing at taking care of myself. My husband at the time was away on business, and I was beyond exhausted. I let my tiredness slip into anger, and before long I was in a full-fledged fit of rage.

I was ticked at everybody. The kids were being… well, kids. I was mad at their dad for being wherever he was for a month. I was just mad! The dang laundry wouldn’t fold itself. I had been let down by friends and family, and the only thing I could think to do was to get away from everyone and everything. Spring Break was just a few days away so I booked a trip to Atlanta. (I had a ball while I was there, but that’s not the point.)

Through my continuous fussing, crying and pouting, I packed my bags and made arrangements for the little ones to stay with their grandmother. 

I started to blame God (silly woman that I am) for my feeling like a doormat. I felt totally unloved and unappreciated because of disappointment and hurt. People just kept letting me down, and the most recent wound made the last one hurt all the more. I blamed myself… I just couldn’t do anything right.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was to blame. I had made poor decisions on how people shared in my life. Too many were too close and demanded too much but provided nothing good for me. But they were wrong as well. There’s no doubt about that.

In a weak attempt to release my anger, I fired my cell phone across the bedroom. An “unmentionable” person had let me down for the last time. That same day I loaded up the little people to find to the closest Sprint store.  What if that “unmentionable” person decided to call me back? I should be available, right? (Put your judgmental finger away… you’ve got some “unmentionables” too.)

The entire 15 minutes of the drive I cried. I sobbed and snotted… snotted and sobbed… until a sweet, tiny, squeaky voice behind me asked “Mommy, why are you crying?”

That threw me deeper into frustration. I wanted to reply “I don’t know why I’m crying!” like the women on the postpartum depression commercials do, but that would’ve been ridiculous.

“Mommy’s tired.”

Yep. That was the truth. I was beyond tired. You’ve been tired too, or maybe you haven’t experienced deep-seated disappointment on top of exhaustion and anger. Perhaps you’ve been the cause of it. If any of us think hard enough, we will find ourselves having played both roles.

So I get to stoplight on Staples Mill near the 7-11… I forget the name of the road there, but I’ll never forget that moment. To my left side I noticed a big white van. On the van was printed an ad that said “Doormat People. You can walk on us.”

My first thought… “I should get a job there. That’s something I actually can do!” My second thought was to my Maker: “Et tu, Brute?”

My third thought was a boisterous laugh, and it came out me so fast and so hard that it shattered the disappointment that I felt moments before. Was God going to walk all over me too? Of course not! But He was teaching me that if I tolerated foolishness, He would tolerate it for me. How could He deliver me out of something that I welcomed and permitted for myself?

What people fail to realize about God is that even though He is sovereign, He isn’t pushy. So in His infinite wisdom, He whipped my backside for blaming Him for my faults and for allowing others to abuse my kindness by arranging a few moments in time where He seemed to step His all-powerful, holy foot across my pitiful face. Then, I was able to ask Him for help, repent for foolishness, and laugh at myself…

Shortly after the giggling began I heard, “Mommy, why are you laughing now?”

Since that day, I’ve searched several times for the Doormat People… once just now. I can’t find them!  Maybe they went out of business because they let their customers get away with not paying their bills? I don’t know… I just can’t find them!

Creepy, right?

Just the same, I’ll hold on to the lesson. If we lay ourselves down at the mercy of those who have no interest in our well-being, we will always lose. No one can save you from yourself, but you… with help from the Maker of course, but the decision is still yours. Even though friends and family love us, the best will most likely dance around the ugliness of your face under other people’s feet, and the worst will exploit it.

Lesson learned.

And as soon as I find out what happened to the Doormat People, I’ll be one day closer to sanity. Until then I’m still coming out of krazy…

Signed,

Alana

 

Photo by Gregg O’Connell
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