Thursday, June 14, 2018

Our Story. We Found Our Voice.

Each of us has a story.  Whether we tell it or not depends.  I've never fully shared ours, only allowed others to view us in snippets & peeks.  These past several years have been hard for me to type about.  The pain runs deep.  We're trying to learn to live again after experiencing shaking trauma.  What's worse is watching the one you love trying everything within themselves, & with God's help, to heal & recover when the perpetrators meander along as if nothing has happened.  You wonder if they're haunted by their own deeds or if they even care.  Whether they do or not, the memories remain intact here.  We must learn to live again.  Maybe sharing, in hopes to help someone else, would help us continue on this rocky road of recovery.

I met my husband at a football game my freshman year of high school.  His looks immediately threw me for a loop.  Over the next several months, we began to spend more time together with friends & share hunting trips with cousins.  Inevitably, we fell in love.  I also grew to love his family as my own.  I adored their work ethic & clean way of living.  I never saw anyone drink or smoke or wrestle with addiction.  I never even heard them cuss.  All I saw were smiles & how they enjoyed the very same outdoor activities that I did.  It was like living the dream.  

*Fast forward a few years into our marriage to include many babies.*

What I failed to see was a shady past lurking behind in the shadows.  My dear husband's smiles & laughter hid his pain until it couldn't anymore.  I began to question MANY red flags that arose.  I even tried writing them letters & talked to them in hopes of reasoning.  Reluctantly, he began to open up over time.  Things weren't as perfect as they'd wanted it to seem.  I'd learn little by little as he began to share.  We separated ourselves financially from them after realizing that they were stealing money from us & had been in very large sums for at least 5 years.  Thankfully, he somehow found his voice to speak out & call them out on it.  We were almost fully repaid.  How had I lived all of these years embracing with no idea that the one I had fallen for had lived his entire childhood reeked with cultish control, neglect, witnessing other children have sex on repeated occasions, child slave labor, emotional abuse, lack of education, some physical abuse, & daunting thoughts of suicide.  I wish I could honestly say that knowledge paved a path straight into healing.  The truth is, we had no idea how to begin to cope ourselves, must less effectively parent our little tribe as we deal with this turmoil.  Our lives as we knew it disappeared & was replaced with so much pain & hurt from the very ones who were supposed to love us unconditionally.

To make matters worse, as we withdrew from everyone & everything in our attempts to heal, they picked us apart to others every chance they got.  Many lies were told.  More than that, their hateful words rang in our ears, "We've watched your ministry go down for years!...He's a liar out of the pits of hell!..."  Hello common sense- young children with happy childhoods normally don't spend their thoughts contemplating suicide nor attempting it.  Tragic memories don't just make themselves up.  Others were involved that could vouch if they were only willing to face those demons as well.  Lastly, bank statements most definitely don't lie.  They will forever live to tell their obvious piece of the tale whether anyone wishes them away or not.  Rather they have chosen to block out the bad or not, those memories remain.  They know the truths of their choices in their hearts, minds, & souls.    

We now own a small library of books on everything ranging from complex workbooks on PTSD to simple forgiveness.  Originally, I was mad at God, but through it all, He has proven to be our refuge.  I also have a real live life coach I adore from Atlanta.  She has inspired me & kept me encouraged when I didn't think I could put another foot in front of the other.  She has helped me to see Jesus in the painful circumstances.  I cannot sing her praises enough.  It's as if God disguised himself as her just for me. O, how He loves us so!

The obvious questions:

So, have we gotten it all figured out?  Not even close!  

Are we even beginning to heal?  Sure.  Some days are easier than others.  

Are they invited to partake in our lives?  No.  Why?  It's just too tragic still.  They hardly ever even try unless they see us in public with the audience of their own friends.  Then they seem to try to smother us in their fake hugs.  When they do open their mouths, it is usually pointing more fingers & causing more pain.  That is not acceptable, & we cannot allow that.  They never reach out to say they love us, miss us, or how sorry they are.  That's difficult.  Forgiving someone that shows no remorse is complex, not cut & dry.  We did reach out to them once during a family emergency.  That slapped us right in the face.  

Do we forgive?  We make our very best efforts.  God knows our hearts.  We do not wish revenge or harm.  We pray they find peace with God, themselves, & us before it's too late.  Final breaths would seem more pressing without knowing you had done everything in your power to love.  

Do we wish for complete reconciliation?  Not sure that will ever be possible. We cannot ignore the facts & act like these events didn't take place.  They could never be trusted with our precious children again under any circumstances.

What else do we do to cope?  TRAVEL.  When we travel, everything else seems to stay behind.  We create new, fun memories with our children.  We focus on our own family of 7 & enjoy each other immensely.  We focus on our business.  It's booming by the way.  I'm so thankful for him making a great living doing something he absolutely loves.  IMO, he has always worked so hard & deserves how his dreams are coming true.

Has anything good come out of all of this?  Besides being self sufficient & enjoying loads of traveling, the way we view the world has changed.  We realize that countless others are fighting battles that we cannot see.  Many have faced situations that are so MUCH worse than ours.  We are truly more grateful for our health, 5 happy children, & ordinary, every day things in life.  We are no longer focused on having it all as most Americans are.  For example, the kind of vehicle we drive & home we live in hold no esteem in comparison to how we can be a blessing to others.  We believe in reaching out to the hurting.  It's hard to focus on your own trauma when you are focused on helping another live through theirs.  We cannot change the world, but we cannot let that stop us from what we can do.  We can change the world of at least 1 person at a time.

Anything else?  Listening has become a quality we embrace.  We don't always have any answers.  We cannot change the tides, but we can listen in confidence.  Witnessing another trust you to bear their heart has no adequate words.  We've seen circumstances change through prayer without any other action.  Our faith has not only been questioned but also built stronger.  I personally believe in my core that good things will always come home again.  I believe in sunshine after the rain.  We've kept close friends & even made new ones that we can depend on.  That's the love I desire for us to soak up & scatter.  May we be the light of Jesus someone sees.

Why on earth would we share such personal, traumatic experiences?  Victims should never be shamed into quietly, hiding the truth no matter who the offenders were.  For most, silence begins to eat at your soul from the inside out.  It can cause more loneliness, fear, self loathing, confusion, anxiety, sadness, & depression.  Sharing can promote a path to deeper healing & may even encourage another along the way.

Does he approve of me sharing?  His story has become our story.  We have finally found our voice.  I would never, ever consider sharing without his approval.  He read every word way before anyone else's eyes have.  We both agree that we don't need anyone's approval or disapproval in our choosing to do so.  We are not looking for sympathy either.  Please join us in praying for our journey as we continue on ahead.  

If you or someone you love has or is experiencing trauma, please reach out to someone for help.  You are not alone.  According to statistics, 60% of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances during childhood.  Also, if someone you know is struggling, reach out to them.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 15-24 & over 120 people take their own life daily.  You matter.  Everyone matters.  Love always.  Find your voice.  Share your story.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rough Waters

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     For the month of May, I have been challenged by #HereIsMyHomeschool @intentionalhomeschooling to share on Instagram each weekday.  I've made my Instagram public for this month only to share these posts with fellow homeschoolers that are following the hashtag.  Hop on over to @padgettlaurie to peek into our lives a little deeper.  Today covers bad days, so I thought I'd share here as well since bad days befall us all.

     In this chaos of life, bad days are woefully inevitable.  Eventually storms come along.  Some pass so briefly without notice as they make only small waves or ripples.  Others throw you overboard into a sea of hopelessness, fear, & anxiety.  I know I have experienced this.  Behind my posts full of smiles & fun adventures, lie real life heartache.

     With love comes great risk.  The pouring out of your soul in love, even natural love, does not guarantee smooth sailing.  As you nearly drown in a sea of broken trust & abandoned love, you realize that hate isn't even possible.  Walking hand in hand with someone through trauma is life altering.  You cling to one another & reach together for a life line.  The storm is consuming...

     Eventually, the storm fades into the background as the sun shines again.  You somehow have become a survivor.  Hope floods around you.  You reach out in praise & pick up the broken pieces.  You are amazed as you look to see His hand of protection & provision.

     The storm has gifted you great wisdom.  The breaking begins to sprout new growth.  Great love flows again in a much more freeing capacity.  Compassion multiplies for the unloved & "different" around you.  Your eyes are open to their hurt.  You are now equipped to reach out.  Someone becomes inspired by your story of betrayal & survival.  They see you thrive much greater than ever before.

     Love ALWAYS wins.  Give love again & again & again.  It waters the soul to rise.  The storm cannot consume love's ever present light of God.  Your love light always shines brighter in the midst of darkness.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: 
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee..."  Isaiah 43:2

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

SPRING



   
     Spring is such an amazing time of year!  With it comes the reminder & opportunity to begin again.  March brings 2 birthdays here.  Marianna is now 12, & Clay turned 7.  We've taken advantage of the beautiful weather before the hot south GA summer sets in to stay at the cabin & also to tent camp with our local homeschool group.


     This past Saturday we took the plunge & dared a day trip to the beach.  It was perfect at nearly 80 degrees!  I'm so glad we live so close to the ocean!


I hope you are all enjoying spring
& had a happy Easter as well!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Updated Us

     Really, it has been almost 5 months since I've blogged?  That's a new slacking record for me!  Lol  What've we been up to?  Oh, you know it's just been hunting season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Vacation to Mexico, Valentines, etc.  

  Kaley's Trip to Colorado with Papa & Cousins

 Dream of hers checked right off!

Raegan's 1st Deer


CHRISTmas Traditions

Christmas with the Walkers

Our Vacation of A Lifetime





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I love doing life with these!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Brand NEW Season

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     September brought with it a new season.  As Labor Day ends, our homeschooling begins.  Our oldest & youngest celebrate milestone birthdays & remind us that our time here is quickly fleeting. Between their special days, fall is officially in full swing.  The leaves begin to change & temperatures drop into the bearable range here in south GA.  Bow hunting season opens up in our area.  My crew has been preparing for hunting season for weeks now~scouting, feeding game, hanging stands, checking cameras, etc.  Customers begin to trickle in before the flood of gun season mid October.  I get itchy to get outside again, clean up flower beds, plant fall flowers, pull out the pumpkins, & even clean out rooms & closets.  I love organization.  I've been watching documentaries & youtube videos on minimalism.  Although I'm far from being a minimalist, I love the idea of keeping things that only bring joy & are useful.  For me, beautiful decor fits into that joyful category. ;)  I will definitely be focusing on getting rid of excess clothing & other things that I do not absolutely LOVE or that fails to serve a regular, functional purpose.
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Less CAN = MORE
Less stuff = Less time cleaning & MORE TIME
Less clutter = Less stress & MORE JOY
Less buying = Less junk & MORE MONEY

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     Any thoughts, tips, suggestions???  They are always WELCOME!

BIRTHDAY SPOTLIGHTS
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     & just like that, our Kaley Mariah turned 15!  It fell during hurricane Irma.  We partied & shopped the best we could on her actual day.  More presents & permits the next!  I could say a million things about her.  She loves Jesus.  She's beautiful, intelligent, & kind.  We've been blessed with 15 years of amazing memories & are looking forward to many more!
& meanwhile in south GA, this is how we rang in the 1st day of fall right at 90 degrees!
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     Our baby is surely growing up on us!  Graham Jack turned 5!  He's our quiet little boy until you get him off by himself.  He definitely believes in exercising his 5th amendment right.  He gets into stuff just like the rest of the crew but when interrogated he says, "Let's not talk about that, ok?"  Here lately he has turned accident prone.  Fall has lived up to its season name for this little kiddo.  He's recently had lots of stitches in 2 different directions (sister's golf club to the eye brow by accident), a terrible looking black eye (collision with brother at the end of a water slide at a friend's birthday party), & even a 2nd degree burn (decided he would "help" & retrieves & spills HOT grits).  He's all healed up now, & we are praying for NO MORE injuries!  We enjoyed celebrating with special family & friends for daysss.  We partied on Jekyll Island at Driftwood Beach & ate at Tortuga Jacks, played at Rigby's in Warner Robins riding go carts & playing laser tag, shopped Toys R Us, met "Uncle" Andrew in Macon for Bass Pro & Wild Wings, & completed the celebration with presents & cake.  May his 5th year be filled with much learning, laughter, & LOVE!
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Embrace this new season!
Change can be beautiful!

Even the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dear EVERY Mother

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     This is a must for me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. No matter what is going on in life, how hectic & chaotic the day has been, or how late it is, I fill our bathtub up & either read or listen to my favorite playlist. On a bad day, I will find myself here earlier than usual, maybe even midday. It's a game changer for me. As the day washes away, I think of things I'm genuinely thankful for or what makes me truly happy. Sometimes I thumb through my list of gratitudes. I smile as I reflect on all of the wonderful memories penned down on paper. I'm amazed at how much I would forget & how quickly they add up in such a short time by simply jotting them down in a journal. The basket of books are my current reads. One was a gift from one of my dearest friends, several are recommendations from others I know & love. 📚 Each child's baby picture is in view on an adjacent shelf. This is my go to place each day. Dear mamas~I know you work hard too, so be sure to take care of you! Some mamas run, I soak.😂 Some arise to see the sunrise while I'm more of a night owl as our tribe peacefully sleeps. The point is, find whatever you love that works for you, & STOP to make the time. You matter.  You are loved. 💗 #lifeisshort #maketime

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our Raegan Amily's 8th

     We had a BLAST celebrating our Raegan Amily's 8th birthday this past weekend!  She is our living reminder that miracles still happen & happiness abounds!  She's our little survivor of brain surgery as a baby & more recently a severe, life threatening seizure.  Nothing ever ruffles this girl's feathers.  She's as carefree as can be & lives fearlessly!  She loves big & we love her even larger!
     There are definitely perks to living close to Jekyll & St Simons Islands!  We love staying at the Days Inn on the beach.  TBH, usually Days Inn is NOT our choice for a hotel.  However, this one has just completed a huge remodel & everything is new.  So for $109 per night through their golf package online, you can get a new, beautiful room with 2 beds, a galley kitchen, huge bathroom complete with dressing table, a den with a pull out couch, 2 large closets, desk, table with 4 leather chairs, beach front patio, & a safe for valuables.  This beach front property sports free breakfast, 1 Olympic sized pool, another large pool, a 1 ft kiddie pool, a hot tub, a volleyball court, a fire pit & the most luscious grass ever!  We always enjoy eating outside at Tortuga Jacks & also visiting the neighboring island for shops & dining as well.  Because of the celebration, we planned this trip to include Summer Waves water park.  We ran into friends there & had another amazing adventure!