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He Equips

When I was in high school I was part of a group that was selected by my peers. I really didn’t know anything about the group or the position I was supposed to fill but it was exciting to be voted in. I really was not completely sure what my role was. I kind of went with the flow and helped here and there. I went to the activities and participated but I was never what I would call ‘a leader’.

After school one day a teacher that worked with the group pulled me aside. One of my friends was with me so she tagged along. I plopped up on a desk and she stood by the door. Immediately the teacher started scolding me… asking me what had I done for the group? She was upset and condemning. I was in such shock at her approach I just started to cry. I really wasn’t sure what I should be doing in the first place and now I was being scolded for it. Immediately my friend came to my defense. She told the teacher she shouldn’t talk to me that way and instead she could instruct me rather than scolding me. She also said the group was lucky to have me (not sure how true that was) but we walked out of the classroom that day and I never spoke to the teacher again or went to another group meeting. I felt attacked and I was hurt. So my reaction was to quit. To run away from facing the issues. 

As I look back I think of how God has called us. How at times it is easy to get overwhelmed at what that is. We have this life, maybe a position (location, place, stance) and you know you are supposed to do something with it. You know God has called you but you find yourself getting caught up in what it is EXACTLY you are supposed to be doing. Ever feel that way?

Well 2 Timothy 1:9 says:
Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

Sometimes things happen where there is simply an opportunity to share God’s word or to just encourage someone and I realize my purpose is not necessarily a title or a role I should play, but simply to love and uplift others. To hug a friend or message another mom and simply say, “God has equiped you to get through this.”

Now the enemy is tricky… he wants to pull us aside and make us feel isolated. He wants to corner us and make us question, “what good am I doing?” Then he brings his lies in to occupy our mind. He wants us to believe we are useless and that we have no purpose. He will remind you of past failures and maybe even convince you that the small things you do are insignificant and do not matter. He wants to try to make you believe you are not worthy or able to help anyone.  But these thoughts are LIES. Lies to trip you up and distract you. He want to bring worry and fear and try and make you feel  inadequate. His goal is to make you walk away, throw in the towel and quit.                                       

Everytime I want to quite God reminds me HE is the reason I do what I do. He is the reason we should show love and share our story with the world. Not because we have life figured out and everything all together but because we are willing… And that is all He needs. God does not ask you for something you do not already possess. He equips you! 

2 Corinthians 8:12 – For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

God will always provide you with the exact tools you need. Trust Him.

Hebrews 13:21 – May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. 

My father’s mental illness made him think I was dead

I remember getting the call that my father had been rushed to the VA hospital in Phoenix. He had been in and out of the hospital a lot lately and each time seemed worse than the last. I remember it being late  – by the time I pulled into the hospital parking lot it was dark.

I was nervous as a walked through the corridor to the psychiatric unit and asked to see my dad. My parents had divorced when I was 20, so as the oldest child the responsibility of my father had landed on me. This was not my first time dealing with this situation, but it was the first time I felt its weight. I had a sick feeling as I was directed into a large room with chairs and a phone on a small side table. I could tell it was a lounge and visitation area for patients and their families, but other than my father who was sitting next to the phone, it was empty that night.

As I walked in he grabbed me. This was really unusual – my father never hugged or shown affection towards me. I thought he was going to hug me until he started feeling around my stomach and waistline.

He asked, “Where are the bullet holes?”

Of course I was confused and asked what he meant. He continued to feel around for gunshot wounds. I had to take a step back.

At the time I was young and did not have an understanding of the extent of my father’s mental illness.  I proclaimed, “Dad! How can I be dead if I am standing right here?” My father was confused. He told me about a shootout with the police where I had gotten caught in the crossfire. He saw them take me away in a body bag. It did not make sense to him that I could be standing before him. 

The blow hit me in that moment. It was as if someone had punched me in the gut, hard, knocking the wind out of me.

I could not imagine living my life seeing such awful things and believing they were real. I had to stop and consider that losing his children must be one of my father’s greatest fears for it to haunt him so heavily.

My father has a hard time being convinced something did or did not occur. You can spend all your time telling him the voices are not real or that no one is conspiring against him, but you will likely never be able to persuade him. To him, they are real. 

There have been other times like this one. Once he thought my siblings and I were all four killed in a car accident. He said he received a call saying all four of us had died.  At the time my brother was stationed in Afghanistan and the rest of us all lived in different places. There was no possible way we would be in the same car together. Schizophrenia does not operate in logic. It causes the mind to believe what it wants and there is no convincing otherwise. My father didn’t fully believe we were all OK until he spoke with us and saw us for himself. Today he will tell you that all of his children are alive and well.

My father still has hallucinations and moments of paranoia but taking his medication correctly plays a huge part in keeping them to a minimum. 

I often find myself afraid for my dad. That someday his illness will take him to a level of madness that he will not be able to return from. I don’t want him living his life continually experiencing a fear that we can only imagine. At least for now he still has great moments of reality.

I know he desires for his mind to be free.  I see it every time he tells me God has cured him, and he doesn’t need his medication anymore. And I want to believe it. I want to believe with all my heart that he is better and that his mind is no longer haunted by such horrific thoughts. I also know there is no magic pill or cure that will suddenly make him better. I know it every time I get a call telling me my father has been admitted to the hospital again.

We will never understand why this disease has chosen him, but I know he would never wish it on another soul. He is to kindhearted for that.  Yet this is a lifetime for him. A lifetime of experiences many cannot understand. All I can do is hope and pray that his episodes are few. That he no longer sees me being carried away in a body bag. That I no longer have to tell my dear, fragile father, “I am not dead, I am standing right here. I wish I could help you.”

 

 

I feel helpless

Sometimes the anger fills me up. Sometimes I get frustrated at my dad and then I am angry at myself for feeling angry. It can be a never ending cycle.  

My father has a mental illness. At this point my dad who is 59 years old seems to have the understanding of a teenager. It is such a hard thing to explain. I don’t know if this is caused from him taking so much medication over the years for his schizophrenic episodes or if it is part of the progression of his mental illness.

He seems to keep getting himself into trouble. He calls me and he is upset over the next thing he has gotten caught up in and I feel helpless.

I feel helpless that he won’t listen to me and nothing I say changes his actions.

I feel helpless that I reach out to those I think are there to help him and there isn’t much that can be done.

I feel helpless that I am always concerned for my dad’s safety and wellbeing but there is nothing I can do about it.

I feel helpless and how I feel really doesn’t matter.

My father has lived with my family in the past but moves around a lot because of his paranoia. Right now he is back living with my grandmother – his mother. She is elderly and she gets extremely upset at him. They constantly argue because she wants to help him make good decisions and he seems to defy everything she says.

There are a lot of people over the years that have taken advantage of my father. One female had him returning stolen items to Wal-Mart and getting the cash in return. He also purchased her a car and took out several payday loans for her. He was sending her money while she was in jail and supported her and her family when she got out. She continued to tell my dad she would marry him while she was seen with other men.

Another woman mistreated my dad so badly that she would pull his hair and force him to do drugs (my father had never done drugs or alcohol). She did horrible things to him as he gave her money every week and drove her anywhere she wanted to go. She ALSO made promises of marriage to my father.

This last female also has a mental disability and is younger than I am.  I am talking over 20 years younger than my father. My dad was married to her at one point but he feared for his life so they divorced after a little boy was conceived. This boy is now 10 years old and is also mentally disabled. This female blames my father saying his genes were bad. There have been constant fights as my dad has gone back and forth. She dangles the carrot (so to speak) in a constant effort to get money from him. The sad part is I have a brother I barely know and more children are involved.

I have come to the conclusion that my dad is lonely and I cannot control what my dad does. I talk to him and try and reason with him but that doesn’t seem to work. So, right now I just love him and I pray. I pray that he will make smarter decisions and that he will just be happy. I just want him to be happy because I know, really, that is what he is truly searching for.

And I pray that I can let go and stop being angry at my dad, at these women, and at myself and just be the supportive daughter that my dad needs me to be.

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

 

My Story

When I first decided to start a blog I was so anxious to share my story. To tell you my history and how I became the person I am today. This has been a struggle because there are people I have reconciled with that could be hurt badly if I “spill the bean” so to speak. So my heart says to protect them which makes for a not so interesting or juicy blog.
I had also decided to share my story as a mental health advocate because I strongly believe in standing and supporting families that have loved one that are dealing with mental health issues.
I have also had my own struggles with addiction, personality disorder and anorexia/bulimia (which is a physical issue with a huge mental aspect). However, I was somewhat reject by the mental healthy advocacy community on Facebook because I wasn’t promoting advocacy to the level that was expected.  I found myself discouraged because I have a dad with a mental illness that I have spent the last 25 years supporting and if that doesn’t make me a true advocate nothing will.
So I have decided that I will share aspects of my own life, daily events, and struggles I face. This may include things from my past and my advocacy for mental health.
Basically I will share with you what God leads me to share because the point of this blog isn’t just me or what cause I support… It is YOU.
It is giving glory to God and showing you how I have made it only by His grace! It is reaching out to you so that you will have a desire to reach out to Him.
I am here for you, to pray for you, to counsel with you. Never hesitate to reach out to me and don’t ever give up because there is always hope for your life! There is hope for your future! You are a warrior! Be blessed.
xoxo – Cindy

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I have been hiding

Today was a hectic morning getting the family ready for church.  It usually is. And like every Sunday nothing goes as I expect it. First I am pressing my dress and the iron has some black stuff that transfers to my dress. (I am certain the iron wasn’t dirty the last time I used it which mean my teenage son likely burned an article of his clothing in an attempt to iron). I get a wet cloth and I am able to scrub the black spot with success while mumbling under my breath.
I get dressed, throw some makeup on and fix my hair. It seems I am always running behind so I grab the baby and start gathering my things just in time to head out the door when I see another spot of makeup or something (who knows) right in the middle of the front of my dress. Grrr…. I am complaining out loud now, “how does this always happen” as I grab a cloth to scrub the spot. It won’t budge. I am beyond frustrated and if I don’t hurry we will be late for church. I decide forget it and I leave the spot as my husband assures me that I am the only one who sees it.  I proceed to tell him that other women will notice. That where men don’t care women do.

We get to church and I do what I always do. I try to look put together and proper as I carefully glance around at how others look. Then suddenly it occurred to me that I had been hiding.

Let me explain.  You see for years I have prayed and asked God to call me, to use me. To let my testimony reach others but everytime I seem to gain ground I find myself going backward again. Why? Because I have been so caught up in the perfection of things. Hiding behind the perfectly put together outfit, hiding behind the just right makeup and hair, and hiding behind my cute shoes.
At my last job they called me a fashionista and I had pride in looking my best but was so insecure I would dismiss any compliment I might receive.  It was so much work and pressure as I daily gave into my desire to impress. Continually seeking approval.

God showed me something today and He was completely clear….

How can He use me when I am so obsessed and occupied with my appearance?

I obsess over my hair, my clothes, whether I have gained a few pounds or I think I look like I have. You see I have been hiding myself. I have been hiding my insecurities behind the presentation of myself. Hoping to portray this really put together person when in reality I am obsessing to the point of distress.  You see God sees our hearts and who we really are on the inside. We can look perfect on the outside and be ugly on the inside. I rather get ugly for Jesus by crying and preaching and sharing how he changed my life then stand looking perfect and being completely dead inside and so caught up on how I look, say, or present myself.  I am tired of satan and the attack of insecurity I have battled my entire life!!  I am tired of the constant fight. God says I am His and it doesn’t matter if my outfits are perfect. I am no longer hiding!!  I have hid for long enough!!

I choose to no longer be bound and caught up in perfectionism!!  I will no longer believe that in order to be accepted I have to meet a certain criteria or standard. God loves me regardless! He loves you regardless!  In Luke 10:40-42 Martha was stressed over making everything perfect while Mary sat peacefully at Jesus feet.

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I don’t want to miss out on what God has for me because I am so worried about what people will think or say. Insecurity is an attack of the enemy. He wants us to be insecure and question how we measure up compared to others and uncertain on where we stand.
We must look to God to complete us and not for man’s approval. You do not have to earn God’s love. God already loves us fully and completely and there is no need to prove ourselves to Him.

It’s Not About YOU – (When Children Make Bad Decisions)

I have always been open and honest with my teenage boys when it comes to discussing alcohol, sex, drugs, and well, most anything. I have even discussed times when I have fallen short in hope that they would make better decisions in their lives than I had. But even though I always pray that God will give me wisdom and insight to be a good parent, my boys have not always made the best choices.

I recently discovered something about one of my sons that lead me into panic. I cried, man did I cry. I was hurt. I knew I taught him better. I was always a good example in this area but yet… my son’s actions did not reflect any of those things. I wanted to have a fit, sit him down and ask “how can you do this to ME?”

My son at the time was away for a few days and I had decided that the day he returned I was taking him and giving him a good talking to. He would have to see things my way and change his actions.

That night before I would see him, I prayed. I prayed about how to handle the situation.

My prayer was simple “Lord, what should I do? I do not know what to do!” I am glad I prayed. God showed me I was taking my son’s actions WAY to personal. I was hurt and offended… Wasn’t I a good enough parent to prevent this? Where did I fail?

Then I realized something. My son’s actions had nothing to do with me. YES, his actions were against anything I would want for my son. NO, I did not condone his behavior but it was not about ME. He wasn’t intentionally doing something to hurt me. He had made a decision… It was about him and what he decided and not about me at all.

I think one of the most painful things to do is watch our children make bad choices.

We will do everything in our power to prevent our children from making the wrong choices. Especially when we know that it may be something that can affect them later in life. As a parent it is our responsibility to guide our children, to teach them and to take control of situations that can harm our children. In my case, my son is an adult so I cannot control his actions but I can still talk to him about the consequences of making bad choices and most of all… I can give loving advice and pray for him.

praying

As parents we want to jump in and control a situation and when we don’t have control we get upset, we panic and we want our way.  I wanted my son to see it my way.  He did not. I had to step back, give him motherly advice and then leave it in God’s hands.  I can get angry and try and force him to do things the way I want which may drive a wedge between us, or I can make sure he knows where I stand, continue to pray and show him love.

I am a firm believer that more can happen, more lives are changed, more hearts are open to listen and receive if we give love rather than hate.

Right now all I can do is take it one step at a time knowing that I am teaching and leading my children the best I can and pray, and then pray some more. The rest is between them and God.

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