USER

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People often wonder and ask where I stand on the topic of addiction. My past is full of addiction from my extended biological family all the way down to me. Because of my own experiences, I obviously have formed my own “opinion” on the issue, but I am never so naive as to believe that my opinions are the set standard, should be accepted by all, or reflect your circumstances. I form my own conclusions based on my experiences and my direct observations of addiction and its effect on my life and the lives of the addicts I have been exposed to. The following is my own conclusion, and I completely respect that your conclusion based upon your experiences or research might differ. It’s all perspective, life experience, personal convictions and personal truths if you ask me. I’m not a doctor, scientist, neurologist, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. I am also NOT an addict. My “opinion” is simply that….one opinion of one person based upon life experience. The following isn’t meant to influence, disregard, hurt, demean, argue or offend. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, I plead that you make the decision to seek help. Don’t ever lose hope!

 

I had just started 5th grade at a new school in a new state. I was pretty used to always being the “new kid” at this point because we never stayed anywhere for long. In fact, there was only one year, 3rd grade, when I started the year and finished the year in the same school. We moved a lot. I was in kindergarten the first time I can clearly remember watching Debbie and Jerry (my biological mother and her spouse) use drugs, and by first grade, I was going on most drug runs with them. By second grade, the runs were not only to buy drugs for themselves but this was the first year I remember them selling. It wasn’t a major transition, but life became a bit turbulent at this point. They were in a constant state of paranoia and I rarely remember a time when they weren’t on the outs with at least a few clients or dealers. This kept life interesting and kept us constantly relocating. They were always very forthcoming with me, and for this I am appreciative. I wasn’t confused or scared, as I imagine a child would be in these situations if they weren’t fully aware of what was happening. My parents showed me what drugs were, talked to me about different types of drugs and showed me all of the paraphernalia that accompanied them. They told me what drugs did, how different ones made you feel, and different standards among dealers. I knew about cheating the scale, cheating the buyer, and always knew the cardinal rule: keep the best cuts for yourself. D and J were proud of my vast knowledge on these things. I was always very observant and inquisitive, and I absorbed their information like a sponge. I always knew the real reason I was allowed to know so much. The 90s were the “D.A.R.E.” years, at least in every elementary I attended. There were speakers, police officers and assembly’s revolving around drug awareness and reporting. They were constantly encouraging us to “tell someone” if a parent, relative, or anyone you suspected was using drugs. As if D and J weren’t paranoid enough, now they had the school bombarding me with an anti-drug agenda, so it was time to implement their own conditioning. I loved them, they were my parents, and to be honest I was pretty darn afraid of what would happen to me if they were ever caught. For years and years, the police would frequent our home for domestic disturbances (literally every 2 weeks on the dot) and it became my job to run through the house and clean up all of the drugs and paraphernalia and hide it in my room. D and J were pretty confident that no officer would ever check there and they were correct. Even as a small child, I was their enabler.

Back to 5th grade. As I mentioned, it was a new school in a new town in a new state. I had made a friend, but other than my one friend life was pretty lonely. I was clearly an outcast, and struggled to find things in common with “kids” my age. I always felt as though I was quite a bit ahead of them life wise, and I clearly had street smarts that few, if any, of them had ever cultivated. I was just in a different place, physically and figuratively. I was becoming increasingly curious about drugs, and I was confident that using was my next step. I approached Debbie with my request first, and she couldn’t have been more proud. She was downright happy at the thought of us using together, but Jerry was a little bit of a harder sell. It didn’t take much (if anything) to convince him and before I knew it, we were all three sitting around the kitchen table of our 1 bedroom apartment over the Laundromat. My first hit was easy, I had been watching for so many years it just came naturally. D and J were proud of my ability to hold it down, and we all sat there around the kitchen table getting high. D and J were kind to me this day, there was no fighting, no arguing, no hitting….just family bonding in our own strange and twisted way. It’s literally one of the days that I remember feeling quite loved. I was 10 years old. By the time I left their home, I was regularly smoking crack cocaine and daily smoking marijuana. As I write this, even all these years and a whole lifetime later, it’s still somewhat painful and shocking. I never considered myself a child then, but looking at it now from the lens of an adult and a mother, it just sickens me.

When I was placed in my second foster placement (for the privacy of this person I will call them U) I was placed with a user. U would frequently use with D and J, and I knew U very very well. U and I had used when I was still living with D and J, and it just seemed natural that I would continue. U (an adult with a family and now a foster child) offered to let me use and I did. We would do drugs in the basement while U’s family would walk around above us upstairs. I had a good relationship with U and I know U cared for me very much…U wanted me to be safe and happy, but I don’t think that U could see that this situation wasn’t appropriate. I don’t harbor ill feelings, in fact quite the opposite, for U. U is someone I hold a special place in my heart for and I’m thankful for the attempt at providing me with stability and safety. It was me that finally understood the situation, and made the decision to change. I was 13. I knew that being with U would enable me to continue using and I knew that the vision of the future I wanted was NOT going to come with drugs in my life. Period. It’s taken me many years to consider myself a “victim” in any way, and although it’s easy to accept that I was a victim of physical abuse and assault, it’s really hard to consider myself a victim of the drug use. I chose to use the drugs….every.single.time. I was never forced, it was never imposed on me. I did it because I wanted to. I did it when I wanted to. I used as much as I wanted to. I had a choice, and I made decisions based on my wants and desires. I didn’t “need” to use, I wanted to and I liked being accepted in those circles and life was more tolerable high. What I saw being constantly surrounded with drugs and drug users was people putting themselves in an environment where they could obtain and entertain their addictions. The people I would see day in and day out were controlled by their addictions because they wanted to be controlled by them. They put their want for the high above anyone and anything else in life. Its harsh I suppose, but I saw people that WANTED to get high, be high and stay high.

Here is my conclusion: using drugs (in my experience) began with a choice. D and J and even U made the decision to use the first time, and many times after that. Did they become addicted? Yes. Could they (and they alone) have prevented that? Yes. Did they have a choice to walk away, seek help or change? Yes. Now I am no medical professional, so I don’t know how it all works, addiction and the brain and all. What I do know is that I decided to use drugs for years because I wanted to and I liked it. Every single time I used, I CHOSE to do it. I COULD have walked away, but when I was in the environment where it was available and I was exposed to it, I not only lacked the willpower to say no, I also craved it. If I wanted to stay “clean” then I had to KEEP MYSELF CLEAN by keeping my life clean. I didn’t put myself in situations where “it” would be available to me. I removed myself from any and all environments where drugs or drug users were, including my home with D and J, my foster placement with U, and many other circumstances in High school, college and adulthood. I have the CHOICE to be present in an environment like that, or I have the CHOICE to build the clean life I currently have. I didn’t/don’t befriend people that use drugs because I CHOSE/CHOOSE not to. I know how lucky I am that the despair of addiction is not something that I have to deal with, so I don’t for a second pretend that my situation is similar or the same as another. I can say that I have struggled with accepting D and J’s behaviors and excuses. Once they allowed themselves the excuse of “addiction”, suddenly they no longer became responsible for their actions or behavior. After all, their “addiction” was their “disease” and they certainly couldn’t be responsible for anything a disease made them do right? In my OPINION, that’s bologna. From my perspective, I never, in my 17 years of knowing D and 25 years of knowing J, saw them (or any other addict I’ve encountered) INCAPABLE of saying no. At any time, they could have chosen differently, but they WANTED it more than they wanted a better life for themselves, or for me. I saw people that always had an answer for everything, and that answer would never place any blame or responsibility on their shoulders. In another post about FORGIVENESS, I wrote about Jerry and his inability to take responsibility for his addiction, alcoholism, abusiveness and more. I will not place judgment on him or Debbie (or any user), but I will also not enable them by accepting (or making) excuses or free passes for their behaviors and actions. The user uses everything and everyone around them for their own gratification and agenda. They (like any USER) make decisions and there are consequences, repercussions and casualties along their path of destruction. The difference between me and them was that I accept responsibility for my own choices; I want better, I want to leave a different legacy, I want a different future and I am/was willing to make the hard decisions (and take action) every day to live a life free of that bondage.

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Tender Mercies

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Today, while cuddling with my little girl, this little guy flew into our glass picture window. Eden and I heard a small “thud” and looked onto the porch and saw him twitching, legs curled closely to his body and eyes closed. We could see he was very badly hurt, and believed he was dead or near death.

I scooped him up and brought him indoors and out of the wind. He fit perfectly in the smallest part of the palm of my hand. He lay there, and we touched his wings and head, gently and patiently hoping for healing.

After a while, his eyes opened. He still lay there, but now looking at us and blinking as we would rub his tiny head with the smallest part of our fingertips.

After a while longer, he stretched his legs. Still laying on his side, he extended one leg, then the other and uncurled his toes. After a minute of this, he attempted to stand. Shaky at first, he found his balance and regained his wits.

Edie and I went outside and sat on the porch together, bathing this little goldfinch in the bright morning sun. We just sat there, together, smiling and enjoying the warm and beautiful spring morning as the birds chirped all around us. These are the peaceful moments I love about a home in the country, far away of the hustle and bustle of towns and busy roads.

As we watched, little finch took a small jump to the very edge of Edens outstretched hand and seconds later, he flew away to a beautiful old pine at the edge of our property.

In that moment I looked at my sweet Eden (6) with her wide eyes full of hope and pure joy, and I felt a wave of thankfulness and great peace rush over me. I am thankful for her beauty, for her compassion and for her little heart for Gods smallest creatures. I’m thankful to be blessed to be able to spend these days with her, home, together. I’m thankful for our life on the farm, learning all about life and death and purpose and all of the moments inbetween.

Most of all, I’m thankful for The Creator. For tender mercies he provides, sometimes in the form of a broken little finch that somehow found the strength to survive and fly away to his destiny.

FORGIVENESS.

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It occurs to me that if I have been given the opportunity to share my writing, my story, my life with you- then I am truly blessed to have a “platform” to be able to express a message through. It does not escape me that this also gives me the chance to help others or equip them with a skill or thought process that, perhaps, they haven’t explored before? I wish I could tell you that I am wise beyond my 30 years, or I have beautifully mastered this journey called life, but its my true belief that wisdom and mastery of life come with experiences and SKILLS that help you appropriately address and RESPOND to those experiences. I haven’t always gracefully handled every circumstance life dishes out, but once I found that FORGIVENESS was something I could do for my OWN FREEDOM (not for the sake of the one being forgiven), I found myself in a position of control and peace over “circumstance”. I could decide to give the power to my angst, anger, hurt, disappointment and pain by holding onto it and locking it inside to devour me; OR I could decide to accept events and circumstances and FORGIVE in order to move on and live a life of JOY and PEACE that the forgiven would never be able to interfere with or change. This “skill” is one I use DAILY. Sometimes it takes time, thought and intention, but it has always been worth it when you find freedom of the things or people that once oppressed you.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – (attributed to) Charles R. Swindoll

FORGIVENESS

For 13 years I lived with my biological mother and her spouse. When she was 21, Debbie found herself alone and with a child. When I was 6 months old, Jerry entered our lives. They married and he adopted me, as if I were his own, and together they raised me from infant to adolescence.

Jerry and Debbie were not a match made in heaven, or even a good pairing at that. They were both raised in addictive and abusive homes, and neither possessed the skills to effectively navigate a relationship, much less a marriage. They would separate and re-couple often, and “fighting fair” was never part of their relationship tactic.

Growing up in a home of alcohol and drug addictions was interesting and difficult to navigate. Being a child, I learned rather quickly that rarely seen seldom heard was usually the best approach. I spent my time alone playing with toys, outside with my dog, or exploring towns and nature in the many places we lived. We moved often, as is usually the case with those dealing drugs. Either paranoia of being exposed or deals gone bad with the wrong people kept us constantly moving from town to town and crossing back and forth between two neighboring states. I rarely was in a school long enough to make friends, and found that even though I was extroverted by nature, I became reclusive and socially awkward. It would be impossible to get to know anyone for many years because I could never bring them to my house, or genuinely share with them what my family life was like. I knew what was and wasn’t appropriate to speak about, and the inner workings of our family life were clearly off limits.

My parents would constantly remind me that my life could be much worse. They would defend their aggressive behaviors towards me by reminding me that they had experienced far worse than I ever had, and that if I dare complain about them hurting me, they could easily show me that my existence could be far more painful. I was told not to cry when being hit or else I would be “given something to cry about”. You learn to “suck it up” and “be tough”, when inside all you want is to fall apart. Its a state of fear that leads to acceptance. Eventually you simply accept that this is your life, and it isn’t going to change. You adapt and figure out how to best navigate it, until something drastic forever changes your destiny.

I was 13 when that day came for me. I was older now, and I was convinced that the way I was living was not “better” than the alternative, reguardless of what I had been brainwashed to believe. My parents were very good at instilling fear of the unknown- “You would never make it in a group home, they would eat you alive!” “You have it so good, your just too selfish to see it. Life could be so much worse for you, like it was for us growing up.” “Your lucky we are your parents, we are the only ones that would ever put up with you.” “If you think this is bad, I can always make it worse.”. This was my life from about age 9-13….nearly every day. I was living with a drunk father and a strung out mother, and every single “thing” was a struggle. I took care of myself, fed myself, got myself up and ready every morning, got myself to school, figured out bus routs and bus stops, and pulled pillows over my head every night to muffle out the yelling and blaring loud Fleetwood Mac music playing until 3am when they would both pass out. This wasn’t my every day, but as those years dragged on, it felt like this was my only existence. I no longer hoped for “good” days because they were so few; instead I daily embraced myself for what usually lie ahead. During one of the horrible days, I heard a voice telling me that this was not the life that was intended for me…there was better out there, but fear was holding me back from it. I ran. This was the day I started my journey into the foster care system where I bounced around for a few years before my MOM and DAD, the Champs, found me and made me theirs.

When I was 17, my senior year of high school, I was thriving. Without sounding arrogant, life was amazing! I was a part of a family that loved me unconditionally, I was excelling in academics, I was playing sports and involved in many extra curricular school and church activities….I was normal and happy and blessed. It was January, and I had a varsity basketball game that evening. I had just gotten home from school and was preparing a snack, the usual routine before a big game when I got the call. Debbie was dead, Jerry was in jail suspected of homicide, details were vague.

Its an interesting mix of emotion one feels, so interesting in fact that I doubt many can comprehend. I was standing in my comfortable and safe home where my FAMILY loved and supported me, but the people that raised me for my first 13 years were both, in my mind, gone. Jerry was responsible, Debbie was dead, and I was living a normal and happy life. How do you respond to that? Ill share in a later writing.

After speaking at Debbies funeral with my mom and dad in the front row supporting me, I went on with life. I graduated with a scholarship and went on to Bible College, I had friends and relationships and always moved forward. I met Nick, quickly realized that he was my future, and God became the core of our relationship and we were married a year later. Life was amazing, and I knew I had moved on, but there was something that always hindered me….I had yet to FORGIVE.

In my heart, I had forgiven Debbie and released my fear of her and my indifference towards her. I accepted that she did the best she could with the skills she had, and decided that she DID love me, but without a healthy example of how to love another, she simply lacked the ability to show me without hurting me. I respect her for who she was, and am thankful for the strength she instilled in me. I wont ever pretend that she was something she wasn’t, but I also choose not to disgrace her for who she was. She raised me. She tried at times to be a mother. I’m appreciative and thankful. Forgiving her seemed easier because she was gone, I no longer had to ever live in fear of her finding me or hurting me EVER again.

Jerry, on the other hand, was alive and shortly after Nick and I were married, he was released from prison. (Yes, you did the math correctly, he spent barely over 2 years in confinement for what he had done. Another example of a broken system.) I don’t know why, but I heard a voice telling me that I needed to face him, to confront my fear, and to tell him that I  had forgiven him for not only my upbringing but also for what he had done after I left. I had already forgiven him in my heart and moved on, but it was clear that I was being called to address this WITH HIM. It seems absurd, but it was exactly what I needed to do, so I did.

I found his prison id number and traced it to his parole officer who I then called and left a message for Jerry with my phone number. I didn’t know if he would ever call, but he did, later that day. I didn’t go into great detail with him. I told him I was married, happy, successful, and that I didn’t hold anger towards him. I told him I didn’t need his apology (as if he ever gave one) but that he was forgiven.

For the next 4 years, I had a relationship with him. I made it clear that the Champs and the Champs alone were my parents, that Tim was my DAD, but that I would never deny that he was my father for 13 years. I spoke to him on the phone about once a month, and Nick and I even went to visit him (briefly, for only an hour each visit) 3 times.

At no time during this 4 years did Jerry ever take responsibility for ANYTHING. It took me a long time to really digest that. He always blamed Debbie for every fight, for everything that happened to me, even blamed her for the night that resulted in her death. It was after much thought, and upon finding out he was drinking AGAIN, that I realized that FORGIVING him did NOT mean that I had to support him nor did it mean that I needed to have a relationship with him. I was so afraid of “hurting” him by forcing him to “feel bad” for what he had done that I never actually made him accept ANY responsibility for anything he had ever done….I was enabling him!

I learned that forgiveness is NOT enabling someone to hurt you further, nor is it allowing someone to deny responsibility for their actions (past or present). You CAN forgive someone who has not asked for your forgiveness, its called Grace. I had Grace-like forgiveness to offer Jerry at that time, but I refused to enable him by allowing him to deny responsibility.

A little over 5 years ago, at 25, I wrote Jerry a letter. I told him that he was forgiven, and that my intention was not to condemn him, BUT in order to continue any kind of relationship with me he would need to take responsibility for his past and present actions. I didn’t need an apology from him, I simply needed an ADMISSION that the years of abuse and neglect he had subjected me to were inappropriate and unnecessary, and to accept responsibility in his actions that resulted in Debbies death.

That was the last I ever heard from Jerry. He never responded to the letter, and that lack of a response was his answer to me. He would not take responsibility, and he would not concede, he was incapable of humility, therefore he AND HE ALONE decided to terminate what little relationship I was willing to have with him. We have never heard from him since, and other than the times when I’m speaking or mentoring on this message of forgiveness, I don’t think about him.

FORGIVENESS doesn’t have to be earned, and it isn’t something I did for Jerry, it was something I did for ME! I did it for Nick, for my children, for the Champs….I did it because I want to live a JOY FILLED LIFE, and I could never be filled with JOY if my heart was already occupied with contempt. In forgiving him, without him asking for it, or even deserving it for that matter, I took away every last shred of control he would ever have over me and replaced it with GRACE. I am thankful for him, for the lessons he tought me, good and bad, and for his presence in my life. I MEAN THAT. I learned from him, even if it wasn’t in appropriate ways. I have a photo of me sitting in the drivers seat of his truck, smiling and laughing. I remember he did that with me often when I was very small…he would sit me in his lap while I steered and he ran the petals and we would drive down the gravel roads by the river. I remember him teaching me to cast a reel and telling me I was a natural fisherwoman, something I’m still pretty good at. I choose to remember him like that and smile. His drunken rages have no power over me because I’ve forgiven that and don’t have to think of it…I can remember him however I want to and I DECIDE to remember the good. It isn’t something he deserves, or something he has asked for, or something I do for him….FOGIVENESS is for the one forgiving. In forgiving him, I am not a victim. I take responsibility for MY life, MY actions, MY destiny…MY JOY.

HOME.

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I went “home” this weekend. My middle brother, Joel, was there with his wife and 3 kids. We all have kids now and easily fill up the 5 bedroom home of my parents when we all come back for a weekend. Bryan, the oldest, and his wife have 3, then there is me with my hubby and our two, and my little brother, Caleb and his wife. Bryan and Caleb weren’t home this time, just me and my middle brother. We had a great weekend just “being”. That’s how it is when we are all home. My mom and dad don’t overwhelm us with big plans or places to go or people to see…they simply let us enjoy being home by “being” together. There is just something about “home”, even as an adult, that brings such comfort. Knowing that you belong there, that you have a room there, and that even when the world pushes or pulls you, you have a place where you can simply exist and be accepted not because your great, or important, or have a title; but simply because you are you and you are loved. Every time I walk in that back door, I remember the first time. I still keep the banner that was taped across it..”Welcome to our Family Kristle!!” Love, Tim, Rita, Bryan, Joel and Caleb

THE CHAMPS

I had met the man that preached at the Christian Church a few times, but only briefly. One of my shorter stays at a transitional foster home had landed me in his church for Easter Sunday service, and I was introduced to him. I had seen him around school, he had been a substitute teacher for one of my classes, and I had seen him at a few sporting events. Although he was friendly, and loud, and kind, I would have been nervous and scared to talk to a preacher like Tim Champ!

The day I was being sent away from my town, from my friends and from my school…the life I was just starting to build for myself, I met her. I didn’t know her, just knew she was the preachers wife. In that moment of fear, being led to a car that would take me to anywhere, somewhere I certainly didn’t want to go, she came like a whirlwind into my life.

I was still in some shock over what I had just experienced. My 5th foster home, the one that took the time to hear me, see me, and began to build me was gone. I came home to my things already packed for me and sitting by the door. It was right before Christmas and beautifully wrapped gifts that just the day before lay under a lit and twinkling tree now sat by my black garbage bag of belongings. My social worker was there, and my foster mother was in tears. I was leaving, that was clear.

I had just said my goodbyes to a family who lived up the road that led out of the small town. I had grown close to them and at that time they felt like my only friends in the world. I was leaving, being moved to a new foster home in a new town and I was crushed. My future was unclear, uncertain, and terrifying. My social worker and I walked out of the house, and started down the sidewalk that would lead me to the car she would put me in and drive me away into what felt like the abyss. With my head down, I didn’t even see the white van approaching until I heard it hit the gravel of the driveway.

She came out of the van, moving what seemed at the time rather quickly. I remember her hand in the air as if to stop the injustice that was happening, or to signal to the woman at my side that was, at the moment, controlling my destiny. “We’ll take her!” is all I remember her saying.

I know she said much more than that in the conversation that ensued, but I remember none of that…the only words that have stuck with me all these years later, and will ring in my memories forever were those three words….”We’ll. Take. HER.”

I stood there, probably doe eyed and eyes glazed for a moment. I didn’t know the Champs knew who I was? Why had the woman in the white van said that? How could she want me, she didn’t know me…did she? Did she mean she would take me right now, for the night; for the week; or forever? The woman at my side gave me a puzzled look, and I remember her asking if I knew the lady from the white van. I lied. I told her that I did. It wasn’t really a lie, I knew who she was. I don’t really think that I had ever met her, and I’m sure that up until the events that followed I had never actually spent any amount of time with her, but she had just spoken words that I was clinging to with the greatest of hope, so I told the woman she was the preachers wife and I went to school with their 3 sons. I was pretty sure her name was Rita. I told my social worker this, knowing I barely had met these people, but I knew what she just said, “WE (will) TAKE HER”, so that was all I needed to know.

That event didn’t change having to get in the car and drive to my 6th Foster home, a temporary one where I would be just a little over a week. I still had to go there while the State figured out what to do with me, and decided how to navigate through this interestingly rare situation. A family, NOT a foster home, had just offered to take me…and they were serious. I have no idea how that week went for the Champs. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the woman in the white van came home to tell her husband what she had just done!! What must their 3 sons have thought? Where did the family conversation take place when Tim and Rita shared the uncertain future and certain changes for our family?

I don’t know those answers, I wasn’t there. What I know is that a week later, I walked up to the back door of that 5 bedroom house carrying my black garbage bag to see a sign that welcomed me HOME.

Long time coming.

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For nearly 15 years she was invisible. Invisible to the world that took the time to stare and judge and have opinions about the people who raised her. Later they would turn from or look past (actually, they looked right THROUGH) the girl in foster homes. She was there…but they didn’t actually SEE her. If they would have, they would have seen a girl that was bruised, but not broken. Put down but not destroyed. Someone fighting and reaching, trying everything to dig out of the pit. They would have heard her loud voice begging for change, but how could they? No one hears invisible children.

Its time for a change.

I’m not invisible to the world. They see my typical American family as we go to our church, wear our clean pressed clothes, reside in our well kept home with the wrap around porch and white pillars. The world sees people like me. They see the mother who speaks kindly to her children in public places. The one who has her makeup on and her stray hairs tucked neatly back into her whispy ponytail. They see her serving where she can for ministry or her kids school and holding hands with her husband across the table at a local restaurant on their date night. I am certainly not invisible. I’m not complaining that they see me…it was always my hope!

What they don’t see is the child behind the scruffy and out of sorts man and woman. The ones that have on the same clothes from days prior and haven’t showered in the same amount of time. They look “poor”, disheveled, probably high or drunk, or a combination of both. Though they catch glances from the corner of your eye, you don’t dare look at them, and you certainly don’t notice the face hidden behind them. The little girl that walks with them trying to stay silent and out of the way. You never saw her.
A few years later she is still invisible, a few more beatings under her belt. She has been playing in the woods day in and day out for months to try to save herself from the screaming and erotic behaviors of the man and woman who drink every day and fight every night. She slips out for school before they wake and slips back in well after the sun has settled over the horizon, just as dusk begins to darken the neighborhood. Its okay that you don’t see her, she is trying to be seen as little as possible.
She is a teenager now. She is an A student making C’s and D’s. She gets picked on and sometimes hit at school or pushed into a locker, the bullies seem to see her. She deals the drugs she stole from her parents at the school bus stop and uses the money to slip into the gas station on her walk home to buy a little food or a soda, usually slipping an unpaid for pack of gum or an extra candybar into her oversized coat pocket for later. She knows its wrong, but in her world everyone takes and nothing is ever given, so you learn to make it on your own. You watch out for yourself because no one else is going to be there to do it for you. You learn to be “smart”. The world doesn’t see her, so she learns to use that for her advantage. No one even saw her when she spent the night under the bridge at the local park…its official, she’s invisible.
They are beating her again. This time is different. She is ready to get out and ready to listen to the voice inside of her that promises there is better out there for her. She runs. Foster care comes next, but quickly she sees that foster care is just another way to silence the voices of hurting children. She goes through many homes before feeling accepted in one. Then another. Someone listened as she spoke, and this time, they actually HEARD her. She speaks more. Its beginning to happen…people are starting to see her. By her 5th foster home, she has become visible. The foster parents see her. The teachers see her. Her peers see her. She will navigate through one more Foster home and then to her forever family that will mold her and shape her into the woman she will become, all because they see her now. They see ME now.

HE saw me all along.

It’s clearly been a long time coming, my collection of life experience and perspectives. I think now, for one reason or another, with my heart ripped wide open, I am finally ready to REALLY share and hopefully bring your attention to the Invisible people of the world as I see them. I will use this place to share my thoughts, my story, my life (past and present). People see me now, so its a great time to divert their attention away from me and onto them! I just want you to see them, take time to pray for them, and if you ever can…to help them. Sometimes even a smile at that invisible child standing behind the drunken dirty people in the store, or investing in a conversation with the touseled child sitting alone at your childrens school lunch table, OR praying over the idea that you might be capable of sharing your abundance with someone invisible….every gesture, every prayer, every smile…it matters. Who we are and what we do matters. Sharing my story matters. Finding Grace matters. Loving others matters. Seeing them matters.