Category Archives: Giving Life to the Music

Life that gives meaning to the music.

Jesus Always Cares–The Story Behind the Song

Jesus Always Cares—The Story Behind the Song

When we’re young, people ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It seems so easy. “I want to be a nurse, or a doctor, a policeman or fireman” are common responses. Along with “I want to be Spiderman, or Superman,” or in my daughter’s case when she graduated from preschool said, “I want to be Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. I especially loved her response. She deeply desired to feel loved, cherished and adored. We all do. For me, from the age of 9 I knew music was in me and somehow I always knew music would never leave me. Some kids grow up and do exactly what they’ve always dreamed of doing. Some don’t. Some are still searching. Little did we know the twists and turns on the journey to adulthood do not always leave us high on the mountaintop. Sometimes the slips and falls forge a crevice so deep it makes the valley of defeat seem uncomplicated.

From the time I was very young, I always had my heart set on accomplishing great things, and no one told me I couldn’t achieve them. My parents, aunts, uncles, and even my grandparents always encouraged us to shoot for the stars. “You can do anything if you set your mind to it” was commonly spoken to us. We were strategically disciplined and doing less than our best was unacceptable with consequences that were swift and sure. Yet, something deep inside me kept nagging at me and made me feel as if I was not up to par.

The separation was hard. It was especially difficult because I was made to prove my case for divorce. There was a time when I was young, as the teacher asked our class questions I always raised my hand first in class, so excited I knew the correct answer. Something happened to me from the time I married until the time I divorced. I went from a person who was positive and could see the best in everyone to a person who was so broken I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t remember who I was before I married. I couldn’t remember the last time I cried—it had been at least two years. I wasn’t able to feel that emotion. I was surviving. Literally. I’m sure now I was held up by God’s own hand and not of my own. I know this, because there was no more strength within me.

Although I was very aware of the darkness we were living in, I found it very difficult to describe with clarity what it was like living with a man who literally sucked the life out of me. We know our spouses, don’t we. We know things about them no one else knows. That’s true for any marriage. I was not the type of person who aired my dirty laundry for the whole world to see. I was very accomplished in keeping “dark little secrets.” However, my survival would require me to disclose those things once hidden in darkness and the light was calling them into accountability once and for all. I knew God was with me and for all those who once called me “friend” this divorce would clearly draw the lines of truth, lies and the measure of a person’s heart. Those who once appreciated me, were now vehemently against me. What changed? I couldn’t grasp this complexity and wondered for a long time. I was still the same person. The shift came when truth had its say and truth was a voice to be reckoned with. I understood little at that time of the vastness of God’s sovereignty and how not one moment in time escapes his grasp.

Even so, I protected him, and in essence, I protected his family too. There were things that happened during our marriage that were so despicable and vile. I could, in advance, feel the weight of souls who would never be able to come to terms with that reality. So, I said nothing. Only the two of us, God and my attorney know that truth. But we know it. Besides, I didn’t want to destroy him. I just wanted out. I wanted peace.

I was so nervous. I prayed and fasted that God would show himself faithful in this on my behalf. Indeed, God was there and his glory shown brightly in the courtroom that day. After only 2-1/2 hours, I was granted a full divorce based on his ill-conduct and awarded full custody of our daughter. Surreal. Numb. Break. Silence. Reserved. There is a supernatural break with divorce and the rippling effects can last generations to come if we do not allow God to make us whole. The aftereffects of the divorce were harder to some degree than living amidst the silence of suffering. Now, it was out in the open and there were many new schemes, plots, plans and devices connived and schemed against us with a sundry of opinions being openly discussed with the “he said, she said” scenario abounding, which only served to provide even more word weapons and ammunition that was thrust against us. But God…

Now that the divorce was final, we had to settle the property. God had indeed blessed us with many things—enough furnishings to fill two households. We bought the property from his uncle. We had the house placed on concrete piers we had poured so it set on a firm foundation, and we had cinderblocks under-skirting the house. Unless a person knew, anyone who looked at our home could not tell it was a doublewide manufactured home. Here in lies the quandary. The house was in my name. The dirt was in our name. I considered leaving the house, but I was told I could not require him to refinance the house and put it into his name. I was told I should fight for it, especially having a child. But, again, the dirt had been in his family for years. I looked at every angle, but I knew from the beginning, I wasn’t even going to try to take the land. My life here was over and God was more than able to give me a clean, fresh start. So, I decided I would move the house, and the above ground pool and the deck that surrounded the pool. No sweat. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Yes. My faith was strong.

I was given exactly one month, only 30 days, to move all that which was mine off the property and was warned I had better not destroy the property in the process of doing so. If I was not able to accomplish this almost impossible task, I would lose the house and everything left on the property. Now, I must interject here. I thought I was being extraordinarily gracious by not even trying to maintain ownership of the land. And I was. To a fault. Lesson #infinity, not all hearts come to terms to grace and release as quickly as others. It became just another vivid display of his controlling, arrogant nature abounding in the light of day, for all to see. And what made him smirk with elation even more so, it was legal. He was drunk with pride. Even so, I was determined I would not be defeated!

I called in every friend I had to help. The task was enormous but not impossible. First, we had to release the house to be moved. With two sledge hammers, a dear friend of mine and I began busting up the cinderblocks at the base of the house. We pounded away and to my surprise, this wall was crumbling faster than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, after about two hours, I felt like it was me being beaten with the sledge hammer, and not the cinderblocks. What was I thinking?? Had the longings of my soul for freedom taken me completely out of my right mind? Did my desire to walk undefeated outweigh my sense of common sense and drive me into the land of stupidity?? Perhaps, all of the above. Oh my. I was so tired I could hardly walk. My legs felt like they were carrying the weight of an elephant. I’m so glad my friend was a strong man. With my endless apologies, even though it took him the better part of the day, he was able to complete the job without my help. Now…the rest of the story.

I woke up the next morning and I declared with distinct certainty I had found every muscle in my body—even every strand of muscle tissue that was hidden from touch or imaging capabilities. I was sure I would never recover. Jesus! It was all I could say. I was down for four days. And…the clock was ticking.

I devised a precise day-by-day, step-by-step plan to remove all that was mine—on time. I lined up the helpers and secured the transport truck that would move the house. Now that the cinderblocks were loosed, we began work dismantling the deck around the swimming pool—an 18’ x 36’ above ground pool, with decking along three sides of the pool. The first attack on my hands came when I found out just how heavy a sand filter is after it slipped off its base while I was trying to remove it from the pool. I was forthright in my assertion that my hands were to bring God glory. In retrospect, I guess all of this might sound like an oxymoronic statement considering all the work my hands were actually doing. But, I was determined. After all, I was always taught a little hard work never hurt anyone. Yep! Uh huh!!

Things were clicking along and finally everything was falling into place. There were 12’ 4 x 4’s along the outside of the pool on three sides. I had them placed there so we could eventually put a cover on it to block some of the sun. Being of Irish decent, my fair skin beamed brightly after a few minutes in the sun. I enlisted the help of my mother and my sister to take down the 12’ beams. There is truth in the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn,” and I’m talking about scorn against those “darn posts” as my mother called them (sparing the expletives.) With the brute force of three healthy women and unparalleled determination for victory, we rocked those beams back and forth until, one by one, those beams came down. It was an added blessing that the ground had softened from rain. (Whew.) At this point, dismantling the pool, in fact, was a snap, comparatively speaking. Well….sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

Finally, we were down to the last week. A couple from my church who had become very good friends of mine, brought their dump truck and we proceeded to pick up all the busted pieces of cinderblock to clear the way for the house to be moved. While I was picking up the pieces of cinderblock, the Lord spoke to me. He reminded me of the day I was swinging that sledge hammer and how exhausted and sore I became after doing so. Then he showed me the scattered debris of all the pieces (big, small and splinters) of cinderblock laying all over the ground and the painstaking work it was to pick them all up. His words to me were profound. “With great destructive force, your life isn’t the same. Wouldn’t it be easier to let me pick up the broken pieces of your life and put everything back together for you rather than you trying to do it yourself?” I knew God was right. As I looked at all the broken pieces of cinderblock laying around, I knew my life had been broken into a million pieces. I knew I would never be the same. Furthermore, I was at a loss of how to start the process of recovery.

This all happened in the month of October. It was the rainy season for us and we were down to the last five days before the 30-day deadline. The rain poured for three days. I pleaded with my attorney to appeal on my behalf for more time, as there was so much rain, the transport truck said they wouldn’t move the house until the rain stopped and the ground dried out some for fear of getting stuck in the front of the property.

I was betwixed and between. I had come too far to quit now. I was so exhausted I could hardly think straight. Had I worked so hard and accomplished so much just to lose everything now? Everything was ready and in place on my new property with a solid foundation in place to receive my house. Surely this was not happening! But God…

God led me to the book of Joshua. I felt as if I had been like Joshua, charged with leading me and my daughter out of captivity and into the promised land. We were facing our Jericho. In the downpour of rain, I took anointed oil and walked the perimeter of the land and prayed that the rain would stop and that the ground would not soak up so much water the house could not be moved. I did this seven times as instructed by the Holy Spirit. To my utter astonishment, the rain started easing up and by nightfall, it had stopped raining! I saw the glory of God shine through the dark rain clouds that commanded submission to its creator. I felt his strength rise up within me that could conquer any obstacle. I called the transport truck company and to my relief, they said they would send a man the next day to look at the property and let me know if he thought they would be able to move the house. Yes. God did it. They determined the ground was hard enough they would come the next day and move the house. Amazing. God of Infinite Power and Glory!

The house was moved with two days to spare. We made it to the promised land. We were free at last. And at the same time…we had only just begun. Never before in my life had I seen and realized just how personal, caring and powerful God really is. God’s glory broke through the clouds and his radiance commanded the forces of nature to bow to his authority. A real miracle. He tells us we are engraved on the palm of his hand and oh, how he rescues us out of every pit! I’ve been asked many times, how can a God who is so loving, allow so many bad things to happen to people? I can honestly say, I cannot with completeness answer that question. I do know, God is love. God does not want bad things to happen to us. God does not cause bad things happen to people. God gives us a will and freedom to choose, and as long as there is evil in this world, sadly, bad things will happen to people. Most assuredly, God will always be there for you to pick up those pieces and make your life whole once again, if you will let him.

The lesson God taught me that day with the broken pieces of cinderblock built the foundation of the song Picking Up The Pieces, with the rest of the song being written based on my son’s struggles.

One of the greatest lessons I learned was through the process of moving my house. In retrospect, and hindsight always being 20/20, I should have walked away from everything and let God deal with the aftermath of the destructive ploys against us in the way God does best. Had I allowed God to move me and my daughter into a life completely new and sever any attachment to the past, no matter how hard the labor to obtain what we acquired, our journey would have taken a much different direction. Even so, I proved to myself the strength and determination I once knew about myself was still there. It was a monstrous undertaking, but God being God, we have become more than conquerors through Christ and have grown to walk in his wisdom as he has taught us to do. Why? Because that’s what God wants for us. And, because that’s what I purposed in my heart to do. Overcome. Release. Grow. Abound in my calling and walking in my destiny whole in Jesus Christ. All in all, I always knew God would see us through. I always knew that what I couldn’t achieve, God could and would do for me. I never look to a person for what I hope to achieve. God is my source. I am blessed he chooses to use someone like me. God asks, “Who will go for me?” I say, “I will go. Send me.”

There is an old saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Our life is only half complete when we try to do things on our own. When we strive to achieve our future on our terms and not through the guidance and strength of God, it is as Ecclesiastes says, vanity. It’s all vanity. God told me not too many years ago, “I am moved with compassion for my people.” No matter what the journey we travel and the pitfalls along the way, Jesus Always Cares.

One Day My Love–The Rest of the Story

Life is precious. Life is a joy unspeakable. The waiting. The expectation. The unknowns. The hopes and dreams and visions of wondering who this beautiful gift will become when they get older. Will it be a boy? I’m sure he will be the star quarterback of the football team. Will it be a girl? I’m sure she will be full of sugar and spice and everything nice—as well get out of my way ‘cause here I come!

Then you feel the first movement. Now, you know the life in you is growing strong. You hear their heartbeat. Now you can almost hear them cry with their first breath of life. The anticipation is mixed with pure joy and angst of the unknown. But sometimes, our dreams must take a back seat to the realities that life is at best unexplainable, at worst very fragile, but always with purpose.
There can be few things said that have not already been said about the injustices in this world. Those who plan and purpose to make someone’s life miserable solely because they can—just because you call them out and refuse to be a pawn in their game any longer.

That was once again the case in my daughter’s life. She finally did it. She finally stood up to him. She finally said, “No More” to his selfish determinations to have everything his way. She finally left him. She cared for herself and her two children and God then blessed her with a man who stepped in and loved them all. Finally. We could breathe. They married and were expecting their first child together. Their joy was being made complete. This was May of 2013.

She left him in January 2012. Before the end of that year, my oldest grandson came home from a weekend visit in pull-ups only, no clothes, with a 2” wide, 6” long purple bruise across his lower back, that was hidden by the pull-up. “With my 3-year-old grandson’s testimony, a phone call was made. An investigation ensued. “He” was arrested. “He” was put under supervised visitation. “He” was not happy. What happened next was not a surprise to anyone.

Accidents happen, they say. There is always an explanation. In my daughter’s case, this was indeed an accident that garnered the force of the wicked to come against her. My youngest grandson was a klutz when he was young. Anyone who knew him and spent any time around him knew it. One day, he went to see his dad on supervised visitation and had a defined speckled pattern of something in his back. A phone call was made, which then ensued with an investigation.

I asked a lot of questions. I couldn’t get settled. Something was very wrong. I’ll be one of the first to call out abuse when I see it, but something was not right about this. I walked into the boy’s room and found toys all over the floor. I saw a huge toy wrestler’s belt laying on the top of some toys. It had dozens of raised points on the medallion of this toy champion wrestler’s belt. To my great joy, I saw that the pattern of this toy matched the pattern of the picture of what was on my grandson’s back. When I was called by the investigator, I told her about this toy. I asked her if I could bring it to her so she could see it, noting I was sure my grandson simply lost his footing and fell on it. My grandson was two years old. I’d seen him lose his footing walking across an uncluttered floor and lose his footing and simply fall to the ground. She determined she didn’t need to see it. That bothered me, but I trusted the investigation would prove this was just an accident.

I was wrong. I was so very wrong. The investigation was determined to be valid. I was livid. I was not speechless. I was beyond livid. What kind of investigator does not look at all the facts—all the possibilities of what could have happened?? I insisted the toy was taken to my daughter’s attorney, who agreed with me she was sure my grandson had simply fallen on the toy. The daughter went through the torture of realizing she had been accused of child abuse. This is the woman who finally stood up to this “person” and said, “No More.” Yes, there are a lot of stories of women who abuse their children, but I knew my daughter was not one of them. My grown children had to go through the gamut of interrogations that ensued, including taking a lie detector test. Except my daughter, because she was pregnant. The stress of it all was almost unbearable.

“He” was relentless. “He” reported her dozens of times during the two years after she left him. “He” was sure he had “done it to her this time.” To make it all the more difficult for my daughter, she still had to take the boys to see him every week for supervised visitation.

Then it happened. I got a phone call on Saturday, August 3, 2013. My daughter could hardly speak. She lost little Addison Marie. She knew she had not felt her move in the past week but she didn’t pay much attention to it. The doctor confirmed Addison was gone. She just stopped growing. She was no longer alive. My heart almost couldn’t take it. How? Why? Anger burned within me. I knew why this happened. Surely the God of all grace, mercy and love would not allow this to go unpunished!

I immediately went to be with my daughter and took care of the boys while my daughter and her husband went to the hospital to have the D&C. My grief was mixed with anger. I watched the now young woman who I had raised, loved and nurtured, go through the loss of her own child. So very hard. My soul was vexed. How could someone be so cold and hard-hearted?

Eventually, there was a hearing on the alleged abuse charges. My daughter and her husband were completely exonerated. Even so, the stress and heartbreak proved to be too much for this young couple and so as with the loss of their child, their marriage ended as well. I arrived at another level of realization of the injustices that can occur.

What I have to hold on to is what the Lord continues to remind me, “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” I’ve learned though, keep on talking. Keep on trying until someone listens. The should’ve, could’ve and would’ve of me knowing the truth about the toy almost ate me alive. People are human. People make mistakes. We all process through our own thoughts and experiences. Yes…I know. But why didn’t I just charge into the investigator’s office and demand to speak to her supervisor and insist they look at this toy and the probability, at least possibility he fell on the toy that caused the marks on his back?? It took a long time for me to get over this. But I hold on to the hope of knowing God is able to work all of this out and that God will heal us all from this whole ordeal and the loss of Addison and bring justice on our behalf. Recompense. That’s what I want.

I’m learning God’s grace is so much greater. His love is vast and incomprehensible. His forgiveness is freeing. Mercy is everlasting. Yes. Amen.

Each time I saw the boys, my youngest grandson wanted to dance with me. He would stand on my feet as I waltzed through the room to the tune of “Somewhere My Love” (music written by Maurice Jarre). He loved it. After Addison died, I penned my heart to the tune of that song. May the God of all comfort, grace, and mercy give us strength to walk through the grief and heartache of this life.

Picking Up The Pieces –The Story Behind the Song

Picking Up the Pieces—The Story Behind the Song.

There are no guarantees in life. There are surprises tucked within the curve of every turn. He was such a good baby. He hardly ever cried, except of course when he was hungry or cold. He set his own time clock and he held firmly to it as a baby. He was a night owl from early on. I knew something was very different about him, although I wasn’t too concerned. Every child develops differently, and the doctors voiced no concern. He was so bright, so full of life, and he could communicate in every nonverbal way…and I understood him.

He was growing to be a normal male in every sense of the word, even down to the part where he got easily frustrated when he “couldn’t make things work” the way he wanted them to.  He brought so much joy, even to his sister who quickly saw herself as “second mama” and the only natural choice to be his “teacher.” He loved his sister and would stand at the door and cry every time she went outside to play with her friends if he wasn’t allowed to go with her. Every day set a new level of achievement in the learning curve. Even so, I thought it strange that even at 18 months old, he was still not verbal. He made sounds, grunts, sat down in the floor and cried out of frustration but he would not speak. At two and a half years old, he finally started repeating words and by the time he was three, it became apparent he had listened intently and was learning everything he was being taught, because once he finally started talking, it seemed he would never stop. But I didn’t mind. At least he was finally talking.

Although my heart’s desire was to work at home, I had to spend time working away from home in order to get experience. During this time, I had to depend on childcare. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but after my son being kicked out of two childcares for erroneous reasons, I had more on my plate to deal with trying to find childcare so I could continue working, rather than exhaust every idiosyncrasy to see what was “wrong” with my son. By God’s grace and divine provision, I found a woman who kept kids in her home, and she didn’t mind if my son was a little “busy” and tended to be “easily frustrated.” She felt sure she could work with him. And work with him well, she did. My son responded well to her too. He was growing, adjusting and showing signs of high intelligence. By the time my son was four, I was able to teach him how to use a computer and play simple computer games. He was able to identify colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet and even simple counting games on the computer.

He had a heart as big as the Atlantic. Compassion for others abounded in him, especially all of God’s creepy-crawly creation. God help us all if he saw anyone mistreat his favorite jumpers–frogs. “Stop! Don’t hurt God’s creation!” he would say. He was grossly misunderstood by most people, but I understood him. When the teachers at church couldn’t handle him, I would always say just under my breath, “One day, he’s gonna knock your socks off.” I knew God had great plans for him.

Finally, Kindergarten was here. I was so excited about how he was growing and learning. I was sure he had learned enough to be ready for this new beginning. My son would be in school all day and since his sister’s school was next door to his, she would walk him home and stay with him until I got home from work. Life was good. Everything was coming together for us, again. At least, I thought so.

It wouldn’t be long until my first meeting with the teacher. I had become used to getting calls about my daughter, but now I would get calls about my 5-year-old son. “He had a stick in his hand and was turning and turning and turning around in circles and he hit a little girl upside the head with the stick. She went home with a pump knot on her forehead. I assured the girl’s parents this would be handled and would not happen again.” To which I assured her it would not happen again. Although no one else endured injury as a result of my son’s inability to understand how what he was doing was affecting those around him, the phone calls and insistence that I take him to a doctor and have him put on medicine to make him sit still in class continued. There was only one problem. The doctor refused until all testing was done. This would take months. Finally, the summer before 1st grade, he received a diagnosis that would permit medication. Unfortunately, time would prove that the diagnosis of ADHD was incorrect.

Even with medication, 1st grade would prove to be too stimulating for my son to adhere to strict classroom rules and I was called by the alternative school officer. He quickly surmised my son’s current condition of disruptive behavior was due to my being a single parent, “I mean no offense,” he said. He simply went on to imply that my son was “the type” who needed the firm hand (of a dad) to disciple him. I was told that if my son’s disruptive behavior did not stop, my son would be sent to the school’s Alternative Learning Class. First grade. Six. Years. Old. Incredible.

We moved to a different town, changing to a new school. At the very same time, the Lord opened the doors for me to come home to work. Talk about perfect timing. Yes…look at God go! My son did well. He grew, learned and developed. He had his quirks, but don’t we all. It was when we moved back to my hometown to get my daughter into a safe environment after run-ins with the law due to drugs and alcohol that would prove more challenging than before.

He did okay until the fourth grade. He just couldn’t keep up with the homework assignments. I mean he literally could not keep up with keeping them organized in a folder. He also couldn’t cope with changing classes. It was more than he could handle. Talking with the school was of no help. In my plea for help and trying to explain my son to them, they saw me as “making excuses” once again. We changed schools again, this time to a small, private school. There were only five in his class. Perfect. My son was flourishing. Then God….

When I moved back to my hometown, God told me it would only be for a few years and then he would move me forward into the “plans” he has for me. After a few years, the time came for me and my son to move…again. By this time, my daughter had graduated high school and was starting a life of her own with her husband and new baby. So, at the appointed time, I packed up me and my son, and we moved onward…forward…another new beginning. This time, it would be to a new state where we knew no one. Absolutely no one. But I knew since I knew it was God, and God had more than once confirmed this move was directed by him, I knew God would provide for everything. I stood firm and confident in my faith in him.

New beginning. That’s an understatement. My son left a school of total population of about 40 to a school of total population of about 1500. I was concerned about culture shock. But not him. He was so excited! He had calculated all the new friends and new adventures he would encounter at a school this size. It started out great too. His grades stayed high. As and Bs. His teachers were elated. He was essentially ahead of the class as far as the information being taught at the time on that grade level. Then things changed. My son became more withdrawn. He wasn’t completing all of his assignments and his grades started dropping. Something was very wrong. I took him to the doctor. They tried different medications but the situation was not improving. They tried raising the dose, but it was clear my son was spiraling into depressive/anxiety episodes at a rate faster than anyone could manage. The fact my son was becoming a teenager only served to complicate matters.

I knew socially, he didn’t easily fit in. He just couldn’t seem to connect with and understand basic social cues and his insistence of voicing his opinion of expertise was not always well received by others, but he was learning to take his differences in stride. His growth and development was progressing each year, but he was always about two years younger than his age group emotionally. At the same time, he was always about two years ahead of them intellectually. It was most definitely hard to find balance. Even as a child, my son never met a stranger, but after most of the kids in the neighborhood met him, they began to run the other way when they saw him coming.

My son sought out help among kids at school. Suddenly, I didn’t recognize the names of the people he referred to as friends. A meeting with a teacher would expose his demeanor in class had changed drastically when he started involving himself with kids who did not have his best interest at heart. He desperately wanted friends and he didn’t care who it was. When I began redirecting him, his aggression became more directed at me. He adamantly defended his new friends, of whom he had no understanding. I tried to fit the pieces together.

He finally got old enough to fulfill his life-long ambition of playing football. I thought this would be the answer for his woes. He worked and worked and was allowed on the team. He was even made one of the captains because the coach said he “had heart.” Even as hard as he tried, he simply couldn’t get the hang of the plays and there were, of course, plenty of negative backlash from diehard fans who could not resist the opportunity to voice their grievances. This only served to drive my son into further despair. He found another outlet that he enjoyed. And this he was really good at! Acting. That boy could play a drunk better than anyone I’ve ever seen on TV. And, I’m not saying that just because I’m his biggest fan. He is really gifted. He could easily displace himself into whatever character he chose. His foreign accents were quite realistic as well. I was beaming and more than encouraging. I was even trying to get him involved in community theater. However, time would prove the joy he received through this would be short-lived.

All the years of being laughed at, mocked, beat up, (which started when he was 6 years old when his head was pounded against a brick wall) and ostracized finally took its toll. When my son was 13 he started cutting himself. The doctors tried different medications but none seemed to work. I tried to talk to my son but every time he felt cornered, he became more aggressive. All my efforts to help my son were failing. When my son turned 14, he tried to hang himself. Later, he told me this wasn’t the first time he tried to commit suicide. Thank God, his attempts failed. By God’s amazing grace, my son tried one last time to reach out. He texted a friend who immediately told a teacher, who then immediately called me. She gave me intervention information and after a phone call, two women were knocking on my door to talk to my son. That fast. They were able to convince my son there was hope, that people really do care and there was help available for him. He agreed to go. After immediate stabilization, my son was admitted to long-term hospitalization.

With the many trials, tribulations, ups and downs we’ve been through, I would have never imagined that just 15 years earlier I would be facing this—and oh my! This was hard. Especially, with no family close by to support us. I know we’re never alone. God is always walking with us—through it all! But this…wow. Working at home can keep a person isolated. We attended church each week and made a few friends there, and I know they were praying for us, his pastors certainly reached out to him, but I didn’t have any friends I could “hang out with.” But God…

I had volunteered with the mobile medical unit at our church a couple of months earlier. During that time, I met a woman who was going to school to become a psychologist. She told me about her son, whom she found she had to be his advocate because of the unique nature of his disability. She also told me of a therapist who was her “God send” and had been so helpful to her and her son. I listened intently and didn’t think much more about it. Until my son’s hospitalization that is. The Lord told me to “call her,” which I did. I asked for her therapist’s information. After one meeting with this woman and her non-stop series of questions, we both knew what was going on with my son. My son was born autistic.

I spoke with my son’s hospital therapist and he immediately responded with, I agree, there is something deeper going on here. I began to write memories of his behavior from the time he was born. Memories started flooding my mind almost faster than I could write them down. Pages and pages of memories. After a few weeks of in-hospital treatment where my son could be observed on a daily basis in every conceivable irritating, frustrating circumstance of his stay there, his therapist confirmed what I deep inside knew all along. He told me he was convinced my son had Asperger’s disorder. My son’s psychiatrist confirmed this diagnosis and my son was finally properly diagnosed. My son did not have “the worst case of ADHD I’ve ever seen” after all. He was autistic. Why was he not diagnosed properly before now? Half the battle is knowing the right questions to ask, and I certainly didn’t. But God…

At our next family session, my son’s therapist and I met and informed Aaron of the newly discovered diagnosis. We went to great lengths to explain to my son what Asperger’s disorder is and what exactly it looks like. I wish I could have bottled my son’s expression of relief. “Now it makes sense. All this time I thought I was a —-.” No. My son was by no means a loser. Yes, he was different, but I had always been able to see the greatness inside of him.

I wish I could say the road to recovery was that simple, but it was not. My son underwent a few more years of therapy and two more in-patient stays due to major depression and anxiety. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. God is so concerned about every detail of our lives. Especially when our hurt is so dark we can hardly breathe. By his unique and divine intervention, God hand-picked the therapists, caregivers and friends who loved my son right where he was, even when my son showed every sign of being unlovable. They helped my son obtain the courage to step out of his fear, out of feeling abandoned and out of his loneliness to embrace the beauty of the uniqueness God made in him. Through this, my son stepped out in faith to allow God to love him too. Once my son made that enormous step, his life has never been the same.

My son will tell you, his relationship with God is unique. It doesn’t look the same as anyone else’s. But, that’s how it’s supposed to be, because that’s how God is. He meets us where we are—in the beauty of our uniqueness, in the beauty of who he has created us to be. God will do that with you too. He will do that with all who are willing to give him a chance.

I look back on my life and at many points in my life, my life could have ended, as it could have for each of my children. But God…. The Lord showed me once how much easier it is when we cease striving and allow God to pick up the broken pieces of our lives. I look back at the brokenness of my son and look at him now and can see God’s handiwork each step of the way. God truly hears the cries of our spirits, and it is God who is able to pick up the broken pieces of our lives and make us whole. Today, my son actually smiles. He knows God loves him just the way he is. He knows it is God who has picked up the broken pieces of his life and is working his plan in and through my son.

I started writing this song in the year of 1996. I could only get as far as the chorus and was not able to finish it. After my divorce, I was awarded the house but not the property. We lived in a modular home so it could be moved. There was one problem. We had underpinned the house with cinderblock and the house could not be moved until the cinderblock was removed. So me and a friend of mine got up early one morning with our sledgehammers and proceeded to tear down the wall. After about an hour I was spent. I do not remember a time in my life I experienced such complete exhaustion. I was so sore I could hardly move for the next four days. Literally. I found every muscle in my body and they were screaming “you’ve gone too far this time!” What was I thinking?? But, my determination paid off. Through that experience, the Lord spoke to me. A few days later other friends came and helped me pick up all of the broken pieces of cinderblock to dispose of them. As I was picking up those broken pieces of cinderblock, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Isn’t it easier picking up those broken pieces than it was to break them up? Let me pick up the broken pieces of your life. I can put the pieces back together and make you better than before.” God is faithful and has done just that for me and for my kids. The rest of this song was inspired by the events of my sons life.

Now, you know the rest of the story. Hold on to hope. New strength will come. See the dawn break with the rising sun. Your best days are soon to come. Reach for the hand of His perfect love.

Be Still My Child–Story behind the song


It seems there is a moment in everyone’s life they encounter “that defining moment.” That moment when we thought we were in tune with our lives and circumstances and understood at least enough to handle situations as they arose.  One might think…

At this point in my life, it was just me and my daughter, who was at that time five years old. We had just survived a very difficult separation and divorce from a man who, let’s just say, had a lot of issues of his own that desperately needed tending to. My daughter and I were learning how to live life day to day on our own, and I was determined we would live with peace in our home.  Peace.  Peace and quiet.  Peace and sense of well-being.  Peace in our little, miniscule piece of the world.  Peace, which neither of us had known for a very long time and we were on the journey of learning how to achieve it.

Then it happened. That one moment in time that changes everything. It changes time as we would always remember it.  It marks the realization of what I wondered for quite some time, and in retrospect, God was trying to reveal to me. That one moment that compounds my already over-burdened sense of failing as a mother to protect her child.

It didn’t start out bad. There was actually a moment in time I believe we really loved each other. At least for a moment in the beginning. After a period of time, I found myself searching for me. As a wife, finding myself nurturing and supporting my husband, I found more and more there was little time for me. He was committed to his views and desires and I learned quickly mine were not as important. If I disagreed, I was sure to be shown how I was wrong. If I chose not to comment, I was a pacifist. If I chose to accept the invitation to spend time with him on an outing with a friend, instead of staying home to clean house and do the laundry, then my moment of enjoyment quickly faded after being verbally thrashed for being lazy and not keeping our home tidy.  Never mind the fact he was unemployed half of our marriage and I was working more than full-time hours at the business (that I began as a manager before we were married and ultimately became sole owner) trying to make ends meet. And, if I my daughter acted up, it was because she wasn’t whipped enough. This, compounded with my daughter sitting on the side of her bed at bedtime asking me, “Why does daddy always hurt me?” And my feeble, inexcusable answer of “I don’t know.”  I understood he had issues and needed help, but he refused to do so, even at my pleading. You get the picture.

The day started good. It was a Sunday in the Spring, not long before Easter. The sun was shining and the weather was warming up, enough to keep the windows open.  The breeze flowed through the house and the air was crisp with life. It was beautiful. My daughter had been at her dad’s regularly scheduled weekend visit and I resolved I was going to finally shampoo my carpets before she got home. I almost made it too!

As always, when she came home, I met her at his vehicle to receive her and her things. When I went out to meet her, I saw her dad lifting her up with her feet on the arm rest of the open door, and he was talking very softly to her. I didn’t think a whole lot of it at the time, just that it was “different.” As I walked her to the house, she was unusually quiet and somber. I told her to go ahead and get into the bath while I finished up the carpets. She got out of the bath and I gave her a bag of candy that had been put up for her, while she waited for me to get her clothes. What I saw next would change our lives forever and would map out some of the most difficult months we had faced since the divorce—my daughter revealed how her dad had been inappropriate with her.

I was in shock. I acted like everything was okay, but I was certainly not okay. I called the ER and was advised to wait and take her to her pediatrician the next day, since I had already given her a bath.  After I put my daughter to bed, I sat down at my kitchen table and began crying out to God. I was grieved beyond description and felt an array of emotions beyond comprehension. I asked, “Where was I?  As hard as I tried to protect her, how could this have happened?” Then I turned my anger towards God and said, “And where were you?  You’re everywhere we are!  Why did you let this happen!!” I tossed the memories back and forth, trying to make sense of anything. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Finally, well after midnight, when everything was dark and everything was still and quiet, I heard the Lord speak.  All He said was, “Be still and know that I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

The next day, I did as I was advised and took my daughter to her pediatrician who confirmed my suspicion. We were sent to Children’s Hospital for my daughter to be completely evaluated. She even told the social worker the same thing she told me. It seemed time stood still. Phone calls were made and over the next weeks, and even months came the flood of phone calls of “You’re a liar.” “You have no right to involve us in something like this.” “It’s just a yeast infection.”

After meeting with my attorney and paying fees that wiped out all the money I had, we were able to get restricted supervision, within the parameters of his normal weekend visitations—even so, he was NEVER to be alone with her, he couldn’t spend the night in the same house with her, and the “supervisor” is supposed to monitor every conversation. And one more thing—we were all on gag order.  Hmmm—at least I know I won’t have to face not abiding to the law that required this. Yep.  At any rate, the entity that handles this through the courts were too short-handed to help us (or so I was told) and it was insisted that a family member is used. Turns out, the only family member willing and able was one of HIS family members.  No surprise there. “Why did she have to go at all,” I asked! There was no concrete evidence. The DNA was washed away in the bath. Or so I was told. Nevertheless, my faith was in God, not anyone else.

Next, came the barrage of “My daughter is a psych major. There’s no way he abused her. If he abused her, she wouldn’t want to be around him.” Oh my. Maybe a psych major but with no clinical experience. This is too often the case. I’ve found that kids have an incredible ability to “do” what they have to do in order to get through something. Kids naturally want to please. They naturally want to be loved and accepted as well. According to all the therapists my daughter saw, it is absolutely true that kids will often times protect their abusers, for various reasons. All of this played into his family’s unwillingness to accept that their “family” was capable to doing this. Then there was the confirmation that brought another mighty blow. He sought out a former employee of mine who interacted with us when we were married and said, “I know I had an affair on Katrina, but I didn’t do what she accused me of.” Wow. Like a ton of bricks fell on me. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

Not only did I have to hold myself together for my daughter, I had to process what I deep down inside knew was true as well. He was unfaithful in keeping his marital vows to me. I thought back to a time when my daughter was still in a high chair. My sister-in-law had just had her son and was having medical issues and needed help. I packed up me and my daughter to go help. I invited my husband, but he refused to go. When we came home, the house was spotless and the bed sheets were changed. My first thought was wow, he has had a change of heart.  He has finally realized I need help and has turned over a new leaf.  Good times were finally on their way. I quickly realized my romantic notions were, let’s just say—wrong, when I went into the back bathroom to find my daughter’s high chair sitting in the tub from when I was cleaning it—exactly the way I left it when I went to help my sister-in-law. I questioned him about it, he just shrugged his shoulder’s. In my gut, I knew. I knew our marriage bed was no longer ours. But I didn’t have the courage to ask. I lived in fear of him and I had learned how to walk on those eggshells without cutting my feet. What would happen to me if I confronted him?  Another day.  Anyway…now it was out. I was right after all, and he finally admitted it.

I was literally a woman who had to be re-made. All while caring for my daughter and running my business. The DHS investigator smugly admitted to me he didn’t think my ex did what he was accused of and said he would file the appropriate report saying as much. He added he would forward his report to the local law enforcement of the county where the supposed incident of occurrence happened and “see what they come up with.” (It happened in another county from where we lived.) We were supposed to be interviewed by the sheriff’s office of that county and the DHS worker was supposed to set this up. Months went by. Somehow, (what a surprise) our case got lost in the shuffle and by the time it was straightened out, we lost restricted supervised visitation.  That’s when my daughter stopped talking.  We did have that interview with law enforcement, but without my daughter’s testimony, even though it had been given to people in authority at Children’s Hospital, there was nothing law enforcement could do. Too much time had gone by and my daughter had been put through the ringer—without ever going to court.

My daughter progressively became more angry after every weekend she had to see her dad. And I became more frustrated with a system that did not work for us–my ability to trust was more than shattered by this time. Then everything came to a head. My daughter came home one Sunday evening so angry she was out of control, yelling, crying, throwing things. I had to physically restrain her. Once I finally got her settled enough to stand still, I made her stand in front of me and told her to tell me what was wrong. Crying very hard she said, “Daddy lied to me. Daddy didn’t rub with me a pencil because I didn’t feel it. Daddy lied to me.”  Five. Years. Old. There was nothing I could do. We went to counseling. I was asked to come into session with her one day. The counselor said my daughter wanted to ask me something.  My daughter looked at me with cold, dark brown eyes and said, “Why did you let him hurt me?” All I could say was, “I tried to stop him. I tried. I’m so sorry.” There’s something in a mother’s heart that breaks and never really mends when they know their efforts to protect their child was not enough to rescue them from the forces of nature around them. It’s indescribable and oftentimes unbearable. But God…

Through the many years and seasons that have come and gone since that time, I’ve learned to depend on God more than I ever thought I could. Through every season, every change and every new beginning, the Lord reminds me, “Be still and know I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.” During that season, that’s all I had to hold on to.  With everything and everyone who was against me, it was God, my family and the few who stood by me during that season that got us through it. My daughter weathered the storm and has had many storms to overcome as a result of the insecurities besetting her due to the abuse she was subjected to. But through the grace of God and the love we share in the bond of mother and daughter, I know we will overcome. I learned to trust that God will always work things out for our good, and so He does without fail. I also learned to pray for my ex. Even through it all, he is also God’s child. I leave the details to God to work out. I truly do want him set free for himself and for others.

Peace. Peace. Wonderful peace. I have peace now. Every day. I live in His peace knowing He will never leave me or forsake me. I have proven God to be faithful over and over and over again. From those very words God gave me that dark, weary night so long ago, came this song. I hope you feel God’s presence and hear His voice say to you, “Be still and know I am God. I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Hope you enjoy.

The Lord’s Lullaby–Story behind the song

I’ve grown to the point in my life, I realize everything we go through in this life is an opportunity to give up and say “I’m done” or choose life and say “I’ll take one more step.” This is the story behind the song The Lord’s Lullaby.

In November 2009, I witnessed one of the greatest possible experiences I believe I’ve ever encountered. I was invited to witness my oldest grandson’s birth. Well…I was allowed to be in the room, anyway. Too exciting for words. To hold a tiny person who was not from you but still a part of you was more to take in than I have the ability or words to express. I was filled with awe and wonder. When he was a few weeks old, I was holding him while I was in my mother’s kitchen and I heard this tune playing over and over in my head. I found myself singing it to him over and over as a lullaby, which was soothing to him, and me.

It would be about two years later I would embark on one of the most difficult seasons of my life. A season ordained in time for me to face my own need for full disclosure. It was time for me to face what I had done 20 years earlier. I didn’t realize how much a choice I made 20 years ago not only affected me, but everyone in my family as well.

The year was 1991, August. I was married. Not a good marriage either. I found myself surviving, not thriving. My daughter was two years old and life was difficult. I found out I was pregnant again, eight weeks pregnant. I reasoned within myself it was not fair to bring a child into a situation like we were in, so I had an abortion. In December of the same year, I found out I was six weeks pregnant. Our situation was not better, so I had another abortion.

In February of the next year, I found myself unable to cope and planned suicide. I cried out to God and said, “Just take me home, I can’t handle anything anymore.”  He showed me a picture of my daughter’s face in my mind and told me if I couldn’t find the strength to go on for myself, I’d better find it for her because she needed me. So I tightened up the bootstraps and went forward. I buried everything.

Five years later I was at church and the first words out of my pastor’s mouth was, “I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.”  I did not realize it was Sanctity of Life Sunday morning. I grabbed my Bible and my keys and said to myself, “When every head is bowed and every eye is closed, I’m outta hear. I can’t handle this.”  The Lord spoke to me and said “No, I want you to stay.  You need to hear this.” So I stayed. I can’t remember anything that was said. I never raised my head. I never stopped crying.

I then remembered each visit to the abortion clinic. I remembered seeing other women sitting in the waiting room.  I remembered being taken into a counseling room and a woman asked me, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” I remembered being on the table in the procedure room. I remembered seeing the doctor and the nurse.  I remembered hearing the sounds of the suction of the machine used to perform the abortion. I remembered the pain.

I left the church that morning as fast as I could. I got home and I cried for hours until I had no strength. I didn’t know I could cry so many tears. I couldn’t comprehend how I could have done such a thing, not only once, but twice. I said to God, “I should die for what I’ve done.” The Lord spoke to me, and He said “Just as I am here with you now, I was with you then and I still love you.” I knew by the end of the day that God had forgiven me. I promise to the Lord that if he ever blessed me to get pregnant again, I would never have another abortion–even if it meant me giving up my life for the sake of the child. And I meant it.

But it wouldn’t be until the summer of 2011 that I could forgive myself. By divine connections, I began volunteering at a pregnancy resource center who also sponsored an abortion recovery and healing program.  For several weeks, we went through layers and layers of reasons, ill-effects and processes of how to overcome knowing you are personally responsible for ending your own child’s life. Incomprehensible.

I went through memory after memory of that time in my life while I was married, of how I felt like I was dying inside and knowing my daughter was affected by my inability to give more of me. I thought of how much I loved her but struggled to show her more of the love I had for her. I realized for the first time that as my daughter got older and would tell me she felt I was smothering her and not allowing her to go to some places her friends could attend was deeply rooted in my fear of something bad happening to her–a form of PTSD, a very real after effect of having an abortion, which was complicated by our history of domestic abuse. I remembered if I saw a baby, I would smile but I did not want to be anywhere close to a baby, not realizing it was because of the loss I experienced but never grieved and an emptiness for which I never shed a tear.

Having the abortions caused depression and inability to trust others.  It affected my relationships and ability to get close to anyone.  Having the abortions caused me to doubt my ability to accomplish anything good, my ability to be a good mother to my daughter and moreover, I felt like I was a complete failure. Indeed, I never had a nightmare from giving birth, unlike the dozens of nightmares I had after having the abortions. I never spoke about having an abortion, even after that Sunday morning on Sanctity for Life. I couldn’t. I was sure I would be shunned as an outcast. It wasn’t that I didn’t have support at the church where I went. I was simply too broken to take a chance on being rejected by those who at the time were the only source of stability I had.

Through a series of divine appointments and TBN, the Lord, very patiently and lovingly took me by the hand and let me know he loved me and he would never let me go. It wouldn’t be until I saw a late night talk show on TBN who took phone calls on the topic of the night that I was finally able to briefly tell my abortion story–but only anonymously.

That summer of 2011 marked a new beginning in my life. My children now bear their rightful names and they were properly memorialized for the lives God gave them. And, I was able to put a voice to my grief in a poem, which continues to bring healing and strength to me. I not only faced my own brokenness and was able to finally place it in the hands of Jesus to heal me and restore my soul, I was able to tell my children, my mother, my brother and my sister there are two little ones they never met who they will one day meet when they get to heaven. I didn’t know how it would turn out. Would they get mad and disown me? Would they yell and scream? There was mixed emotions. But as my family has proven over and over, love endures all things.

Through the course of my ministry, I have encountered those who have had abortions and tell of the difficulties they too have endured as a result of making their choice to abort their pregnancies. I have met those who are determined we have a choice and I should just accept that fact and “get over it!” And of course, there are those who are complacent and indifferent. Complacent and indifferent I can never be. There are simply too many lives at stake.

I owe my life to Jesus Christ and the many people who have prayed for me and pray for those who have gone through abortions. Abortion is something we can stop. Not only does abortion end a human life, when a woman gets pregnant, her body and brain is forever imprinted with the physiological changes her body makes after conception. This cannot be denied and needs to be realized by all, before more damage is done to those left behind. Denial does not make this go away. Although having an abortion may seem to solve an immediate “problem,” the after effects will last for a lifetime.

I now have three beautiful grandchildren who I have the great delight in hearing them call me “granny.” “Children are a heritage from the Lord. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” 

Know that if you or someone you know has had an abortion, God loves you and wants you to come to him so he can heal you. Healing can be found through God’s forgiveness and love.

The poem I wrote for the memorial service of my two children in heaven became a song soon after. I remembered the tune that popped in my head when I held my infant grandson in my mother’s kitchen that evening in 2009. I placed it at the beginning and the end of the song, as it were, like a music box playing The Lord’s Lullaby.

 

 

Love Always, In My Heart–Story behind the song

There is a day in all our lives, after we’ve spent years being told what to do and when to do it, we want to live our lives that way WE want.  Sometimes, we grow into it gracefully.  Sometimes, it requires making a bold stand.  The latter was the case with my daughter–or so she thought.

The year was 2008.  My daughter was in her senior year of high school.  I was so proud of her. There was a time when she didn’t know if she would survive her struggles to make it this far. I never lost faith that she would indeed overcome the incredible odds set against her from years of abuse that led to self-abuse and a plethora of bad choices.

It was about 10:00 p.m. one cold night in early January, when came a knock on the door of my mother’s home (where we were living at the time and for whom I was caring for) by two deputy sheriff officers.  My first thought was of near panic to think what might be wrong and with whom. Those fears were quickly settled into sheer disbelief when it was announced that my daughter had brought her boyfriend, dad and dad’s girlfriend to collect her things.  She announced she was moving in with her dad.  With only four months left of high school before graduation.  Unbelievable.  On top of that, my mother was no less shaken by this impudent and downright rudely executed intrusion of her home.

As soon as I could finally collect myself, I asked my daughter.  “Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to move out?  Why did you have to do this?”  Her answer was simple and short.  “Because you wouldn’t have let me.”  My response, “You’re 18.  I couldn’t have stopped you.”

Needless to say, that was a long night.  The next few days were a blur.  All I could think about was why?  And why now?  She was going to a place she said she never really wanted to go.  Was he promising her something she didn’t think I would or could give her?  So many questioned plagued my mind and my breaking heart. It took a couple of weeks before I could finally process enough to simply accept the fact, my baby girl wasn’t a baby anymore.  She was old enough to make her own decisions, and our relationship would never be the same. I must admit, that realization is what hurt the most. It seemed the tears wouldn’t stop.

Then time stood still. It would soon be February 14th.  Valentine’s Day.  It was a day I always made special for my kids. A day I purposed in my heart to set apart and let them know they were loved, more deeply than I could possibly ever express, but I sure tried. And this year, my baby girl wasn’t with me to share it. I heart was aching deeply.  But God…

God always knows what we need and when we need him the most. I had so many concerns. I found myself wondering if I taught her enough, would she remember what she needed to get her through, or would she even care to remember those lessons, some of which came through many tears. Ugh. Even so, I knew that as much as I loved my daughter, God loved her more.

I had to stop and think about what love really means. I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and thought about each word. I realized that part of loving someone is being willing to let them go. I picked up my pen to write and the words began to flow. Before I knew it, I had written a poem. A long poem. The date was February 8, 2008. Reading through it made me see life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but love is the force that keeps us moving forward.

That poem became a song a few years later, one of which is my favorites.  Oh…and here’s the rest of the story.

It turns out, my daughter (who had her own thoughts and ideals of what moving out would be like) called me one afternoon, after being away for only six weeks. She realized she was not where she really wanted to be and asked if she could come home. Could she come home?  My answer?  Well, needless to say, we may not always see eye to eye, but I made a promise to myself that my home would always be a place my kids could come home to.  My daughter graduated high school from her mother’s alma mater 10 weeks later. I love my family.

I had the honor of performing Love Always at a suicide awareness event organized, sponsored and hosted by my cousin and featuring Kay Warren.  We need to talk about suicide more “out loud.”  Suicide is preventable. With each of us making just a little bit of effort, we can turn this around. Let us love one another…but that’s a blog for another day.

You can listen to Love Always here.  Let me know what you think.