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Monday, October 31, 2011

a letter to me at 23

I got this idea from a news fan page. THE TODAY show asked recently- "If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say?"

Here's my letter:

Dear Deneen,

I am writing this letter to you from the future.

I know at 23 you've already experienced more than most 50 year olds have, but even though you feel "grown up, you're not.  There is so much more for you out there to experience and if you stay in God's will it still won't be "easy" but it WILL be less painful than your "own" route.

The "man" you think you love is really a boy and by the time he is 50 - he will STILL be a "boy". He never really DOES grow up. The last thing he wants is to be saddled down by a wife and 2 kids. Let him go the first time he says - "I don't think I want to be married anymore".
At 23- you're already married with 2 kids and I know you think God wants you to STAY married no matter what.
But the God I have come to know loves you more than you can ever imagine and He would NEVER want you to stay in a marriage that you aren't loved in. After all , you're Hid daughter, would YOU want YOUR daughter to be treated as you are being treated?!

You deserve to be married to someone that wants to be a co-parent with you, someone who doesn't brag about "never having changed a single diaper" after 2 kids. Someone that puts you and your children and GOD first in his life.

When he tells you he doesn't want to be with you, believe him and let him go.
People generally don't make cruel things like this up and if he has been honest enough with you to say it - then YOU be honest enough to yourself and BELIEVE it. 
Don't believe him when he tells you you're unattractive, have ugly legs and are big enough to be a line backer. He is insecure and feels un-masculine in his own tiny body and you are fine the way you are!

Once you're free of that man- don't fall for the first one that treats you nice and tells you you ARE gorgeous.
Go to school- find a way to support yourself and your children so you don't wind up dependent on anyone but God.

Whatever you do, don't date for at LEAST 5 years after your divorce. When you do begin dating, date men that treat your children&  you with respect and most of all,date only men that LOVE GOD and put Him FIRST!

Don't be afraid to be a single mom -  because truthfully in the marriage you're in right now you ARE a single mom anyway! Better to be a single mom living alone than a single mom living WITH the father that couldn't care less.

I want you to learn from the past decisions your own mom has made. See where she could have made better ones and then LEARN form that. Don't say, "I have the right to make my own mistakes".

That is just stupid.

23 is young! SOOOO young!

There is so much you can accomplish if you just trust God AND your own GUT!

You KNOW what I am saying is true- you've already thought everything I am telling you and you can do this with God by your side!

You and your kids will be FINE! In fact, you'll be FANTASTIC!!!

BY the way- when you're ready to move - call a cute company named:

"TWO SMALL MEN WITH BIG HEARTS"

(I've heard the owner is a really nice man)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bittersweet memories

This started as a posting on facebook- after my daughter read it she told me I should blog. So I am.

Last week was a bit of a rough week for me in many ways. It was in fact a time to stop and reflect on things in my life that I have experienced. Things done by me that could have been better- things that were completely out of my control that I COULD be bitter about (and HAVE been bitter about in the past) and things that just plain WERE.

Ten years ago when my husband walked into my life, or actually, I literally walked into HIS, my life was in what APPEARED to be shambles. But God in His mighty wisdom and power can turn a tattered and torn life into one that is unrecognizable to the outside world. It's sad to me that the "outside" world doesn't always have the benefit of SEENG the changes that have taken place on the inside. They can and sometimes DO still judge you by who you WERE and not who you are. In my personal experience it's family that has the most difficult time accepting changes in you. (or in this case ME )

This is not to say I am not guilty of the EXACT same sin. I know that I am.

Sometimes someone I know from long ago will say to me , " So, How is Niki? " (My half-sister)

I usually , without fail, reply, "Oh you know, Niki's Niki!". And there is usually a chuckle by the asker.

In fact, I haven't TRULY known my sister for many years, and therefore I am making judgements against her without the fairness of having even SEEN or spoken to her in many years. Even though I don't have any contact with my half sister or my half brother (I haven't any "full" siblings) I want the very best for them and their families, and if it meant sacrificing something of my own, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I am making a judgment on the sister I knew a long time ago. She may be sorry for her past behaviour and regret many decisions SHE has made. Just like me. Then again, she may not, but that's not my business, it's hers.

So, now, on that note I will turn back to me and tell you this.

I am NOT WHO I WAS 10-15 or 20 years ago. THANK GOD! ( actually , I am not even who i was ONE year ago!)

It saddens me to say that although I consider myself "wiser" by the worldly standards, I had become more of a jaded person than I wanted to be. I have learned to "expect the worst" from people and if they step up and "do good", then it's a "bonus".

This is NOT who I am at the core of my being, but it's who has TRIED to live at the surface for far too long.

The reason I know this isn't who I "am", is no matter how many times I was burnt I never once stopped wanting to do for others, make others comfortable, give to others and basically put others first. It can be a very strange and odd existence being me- always expecting the worst from others but still wanting to do more and more for them. A people pleaser? Maybe, yes, but I feel that pleasing others is far better than being selfish and bitter. Also, no matter what, you can never go wrong making someone else smile.

My husband has taught me many things- not the least of which is to expect the BEST because everyone is NOT out to hurt you.

My husband is the epitome of unconditional love. He is the personification of God's love towards me. He is the living on earth example of what a "Father" truly is and he has exhibited this through his words and actions with my own children who are not even "his".

He finds joy when he is told Stacie "looks just like him".

He is sad when my son is sad.

He wants the BEST for my 2 children as though his seed assisted in creating them.

THAT and that alone is enough to show the character of the man I call my best friend and husband.

He is a gift from My Heavenly Father and there literally is not one single day i don't give thanks with a grateful heart, for what the Lord has done for me.

If I shared the entire story of my life and why I had to come expect less than stellar behaviour from people, men especially, it would shock and surprise most of you that do not know me all that well. Those of you who do "know", trust me, you only know a fraction of what I feel comfortable sharing.

Recently (this weekend) , I heard from a "long lost " family member who wanted to drop by and give me something. Turns out that "something" was 2 one hour long DVD's of old 8 mm films of various family members, including me, from the 50, 60's,70,s and 80's. This particular family member and his wife have been known to gossip about me and truly make up lies abut me, but I STILL love them so much and have longed to be a part of their family, not in blood only. So, I jumped at the opportunity to have a visit. THEN it hit me- WHY DID I ALLOW THIS?! WHAT ON EARTH WILL I SAY TO THESE PEOPLE?! THEY HAVE NEVER THOUGHT WELL OF ME, THEY ASSUME I AM THE SAME SCREWED UP 13 YEAR OLD I WAS BACK THEN. WHAT HAVE I DONE??!

A quick phone call to my daughter and son-in-law and they changed their plans to come and be there with me when the visit took place. My husband- who is not a fan of sitting and making small talk with people he barely knows- committed to sitting and making small talk with people he barely knows! My son, who has NO memory of these people even promised to make an appearance! It hit me this weekend- I HAVE the family I have always wanted- it's just smaller than I had dreamt it would be.

After the hour long visit- Stacie sat down with me to watch the DVD's.

The short clips and glimpses into our lives showed a very different reality from I had grown up believing was MY reality.It was weird. Good weird and even bad weird, but I am grateful for the chance to see the me I never knew.

I was able to see me at ages 1,2,3,4 and 5. Then again as a 17 year old bride and then a 20 year old mommy.

What it did NOT show was the darkness that had tried so very hard to overshadow every good memory , for as long as I can remember.

What it DID show, was a little girl, surrounded by extended family who loved her. It showed me my mother as an 18 year old mommy. A 19 year old mommy and a 20 year old mommy with my 3 year birthday cake and expecting the sister I previously spoke of in this note. It showed me that I truly DO come from beautiful stock. And I don't just mean physically, (my mom was HOT!) but also I saw a glimpse, in the 3 year old birthday clip, of a mommy that REALLY loved me. I can honestly say, and this will not shock my mom as I have told her this in the past, I never felt loved by my mom.

Through the small clips, in the DVDs I have now, I have been shown how wrong I was. My mom did the BEST she could given HER age, life experiences and lack of Godly influences in her life at that time.( My mom was a tom-boy growing up and probably would have done better having all boys, but she didn't and that's her reality! She had no clue what to do with a little girl - who was a GIRL! =) )

I had the benefit of knowing Jesus very very young and I believe that even at the WORST of times, my knowledge that SOMEONE was always watching out for me gave me some sort of comfort during very difficult and lonely times.It was my "fear" of God that didn't allow me to try drugs or even cigarettes, be promiscuous ,party like all my friends,or even get drunk .

I was by all accounts a "goody goody", back in the day. But INSIDE? Inside I felt "bad", I always had the sneaking suspicion that "if you knew me, REALLY knew me, you wouldn't like me". And for some, maybe that would have been true! I mean no one can TRULY be liked by EVERYONE.

And that's just got to be OK.

I would have to say the last 10 years have been the most poignant, joy filled and memorable. to date. But we are a woven blanket of our ENTIRE history, whether we REMEMBER everything or we don't.

This note has been more of a ramble than I intended, but I needed an outlet and I felt compelled to just type.

I am always a work in progress, just like you.

I am reminded of a poster I had on my fridge when my children were small:

"Please be patient, God's not finished with me yet".

(And I'll be patient with you!)

Finally, I love you Evan, more than any written word can say, you are a TRUE man of God.

Deneen