In March, Josh was in Costa Rica for a vacation and to attend his dad’s destination wedding. While there, Josh and his grandma frequently shopped at a roadside vendor and made quick friends with the owner. One day, Josh was looking at necklaces with me in mind and when he didn’t see something he thought I would like, he asked the man if he had anything with turquoise. The man shook his head but told Josh that he would make one and to come back the next day. When Josh and his grandma returned, the man had crocheted a beautiful necklace with black string and turquoise beads at Josh’s request so Josh bought it and brought it home for me. I love this story and I like to tell people that my son had a necklace custom-made just for his mama. 🙂
When I was 4 or 5 years old years old my mom, my two younger brothers, and I moved in with my grandparents, two aunts and an uncle. We lived there until I was 13 when my mom married my step-dad. I like to think I lived a fairly unique childhood. I grew up in Christian homes but in an era of Christianity that was fraught with legalism. My particular family was not openly legalistic and seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the gospel so I wasn’t often made to feel like I was doing Christianity wrong. In 8th grade, I went from public school to a small private Christian school in the basement of the new church we attended in the new city that we moved to. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to go to the large public junior high. I was (and still am) so shy and so very scared of rejection and feeling alone and stupid. The small private school provided a family-type shelter. But the message of love, grace, and mercy was rather weak as we were rigidly made to follow an antiquated dress code and code of conduct.
I need to mention that not all authority behaved in this manner and I do have plenty of fond memories of my years and friends there but I went into adulthood without even a close understanding of who God is and who I am as His child. I am partly at fault, though, because I was more interested in boys and my friends than God. In my late teens and early twenties I made a series of bad decisions that ended in me pregnant with Josh and eventually married to his dad. When that marriage ended and my grandma, who helped raise me, died shortly after, my normal lean towards depression slowly grew into anger. I was so mad at God and alternately would rail at Him and cry for His help. Although I knew in my head that God loved me and had good plans for me, my heart just could not believe it. It just couldn’t.
God and I have been on a long journey to understanding what His love and grace and mercy means. I am learning to reject many of the beliefs that I was taught and ask God to show me who He really is and what He wants from me and for me. I have made Christianity complicated but it is so simple: love God and love others. Extend grace and mercy to all regardless of their age or race or religion or sexual orientation or however they may be different from me. It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I am no better or worse than anyone else and that my judgements are not welcome. If I am serious about my Christianity, then my purpose here on earth is to love like Jesus. It’s certainly not easy and I fail so many times but it’s that simple. Of course, there is a whole lot more to having a relationship with Jesus but if we strive to love like He does, then others might see His light and know that we are Christians because of how we love.
I didn’t set out to write a broad testimony today but it happened anyway. I’m just working through some thoughts and ideas and struggles I’ve had over the last few years. There really are so many more experiences and emotions that fill in the large gaps. I’ll keep redefining my faith as I continue to learn more about God and His love for us.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve been here. I have several posts in my draft folder and a ton of photos to go with them. The problem is that I am so unmotivated and lazy. Also, I am not a fan of iPhoto editing, the app that holds all my photos, nor am I crazy about the name of this blog or even WordPress. All the creative names I come up with, which take a lot of brain power because I don’t have a creative bone in my body, are all taken. Names that would better describe our family also describe many other families. I don’t want to be negative but I do want to be realistic and joyous is not realistic for our household. Of course we have many fun moments but joyous is misleading. Unfortunately. So I need to employ my smartypants husband to help me figure out a new editing program where I can organize things a little easier and maybe even start a whole new blog (if I have to). I want to make it my own and even get a custom header and background with photos of my kids and family decorating the side columns. That takes time and probably some money but this ol’ blog is my scrapbook of sorts and a way to jot down my memories so, until then, I’m gonna jump back on and resist the pressure to have perfectly outlined and worded and photographed posts and just do my own thing. After all, this is my blog and I can only be me.