“Baptism” chapter

I have decided to “leak” or share some of my book as I write it. I figure doing this will hold me accountable to finish. My attention span is that of a cat, so I need to basically hold my feet to the fire and publicly embarrass myself if it doesn’t happen. Not healthy but very effective.

This is an excerpt from a chapter. I am not even sure which chapter yet. I have all the puzzle pieces lined up but I haven’t created the picture yet. This is a nonfiction book. It is going to be a book about the hardships I have had in life that I chose to turn into great life lessons. This is obviously a rough draft. We all have to start somewhere. If we are always too scared to share then the knowledge or hope that we could potentially spread to others will never happen.

Enjoy!

I had to dig for it in the bottom of a moving box that had been sitting in my closet for a year. That box was kind of a catch all for all the things I didn’t want to put away. I opened the dusty book and started to read. 

I had this overwhelming power come over me and I fell to my knees and cried with joy. It was as if something entered my soul, heart, and brain and I could no longer hold myself up. I knew that this was a pivotal point in my life where I was either going to turn my life over to God or I was going to die. Those were my options. I was an “all or none” girl and He knew it. The next message I heard has forever changed my life. 

You need to be baptized.

I did not hesitate, I grabbed the phone book (yes, I am that old. We did not have smart phones “back then” ) I picked up my phone, with the long stretchy cord of coarse, and I started calling all the LDS churches in MESA ARIZONA!! DID I KNOW THAT MESA WAS HIGHLY POPULATED WITH LDS CHURCHES? NO! 

Being that it was the middle of the week and late in the evening, no one answered my desperate phone calls. So I did what any one who is desperate to live would do, I called the number on a pass along card that I had stuck in my Book of Mormon. A pass along card is a card that missionaries hand out, it normally consists of a picture of Jesus on it and a  1-800 number to call for a free Book of Mormon. It is not to find missionaries. 

I know this now. 

The phone rang, “hello.” 

“I need missionaries!”

Well,…that was the wrong thing to say to that poor kid. I could feel him perspiring through the phone. He was more excited than I was. I can only imagine what the letter he sent back home to his family said. 

Dear Family, the spirit was so strong with me today. A random crazy girl, that obviously needed Jesus called and asked me for missionaries! This is such a great mission…send more pop tarts…

He was so frantic that it caused me to calm down. I wanted to be like, Look kid, I don’t know where you are or what you are on but you better quit it. You may just die living a fast hard life.

 Later I found out that I had called the Missionary Training Center (MTC) for the LDS church. 

Oops. 

I went to work the next morning feeling different. I felt like I had been trying to find my way through deafening darkness while carrying weights, simultaneously being punched in the face and then all of sudden the lights were switched on and I could see. I no longer felt like an MMA fighter was following me around  and I knew that life was going to be easier to handle.

My Book: The Introduction

Photo by João Cabral on Pexels.com

Aricka, my loving daughter,  You are about to leave the comforts of my presence and go on a tumultuous journey. I have faith that you can handle this life. I am going to put you through more hardships than you believe you can handle but that is only because I know you can. I know what you will become if you choose to learn and grow from these hardships. The hard times will challenge you and try to pull you into a dark direction and it will, if you succumb to it.  The hardships will not stop throughout your life but I am going to bless you with a strong will and a burning desire to help others. That desire to help, will overpower any fears or hesitations you face. You will tragically lose close loved ones but you will power through those tragedies and develop a strong testimony, that I do live. I bless that you will be able to see others who are in pain or need help and you will be equipped to help them with their hardships and losses. Heavenly sisters will seek you and know that they can reach out to you for help. 

You will see things as a child that no one should see and you will feel alone and scared but know that I will be with you. You will hear my voice of warning and you will hear my guidance. If you follow my promptings and move forward with faith, I promise you, you will be a great force in the world and I will not let you fall. 

When you are on earth, please help my children to know that I love them and I watch over them. Help them to love themselves and see that they are children of a King. Help them to see their power and to not listen to the lies Satan whispers in their ear. I see their trials and the pain they are facing and I am with them. I hear their pleas and their cries. Please let them know that I have equipped them with the same gifts I have given you. Tell them to listen to my voice and follow my promptings. 

You will overcome great things in your life for this one mission, to help others. I love you and bless you on this crucial, tiring, long journey. 

I have faith in you.  

Love, Your Father in Heaven 

Good Fighting! That Exists?

Yes, there is such a thing as “good fighting.” Most of the time my fights are what you would consider “bad” full of anger and pride. We accomplish nothing and then end up having the same fight later with even more pinned up anger and resentment. I try and try to stay calm but that Latin blood in me yells, how dare you talk to me that way wedo! (Imagine Selma Hyek’s voice while reading that).

So here are some practical, yet sometimes tough principles to apply while having that inevitable heated fight with your spouse. These principles are from the book, “Marriage and Family: The Quest For Intimacy” by Robert Lauer.

*Discloser: These tips aren’t going to work in every relationship. There are too many variables for a one size fits all fix.*

Maintain Your Perspective- This one is pretty simple. Put away the boxing gloves for trivial matters, save your energy for more important issues. If you and your spouse are having a power struggle over the weather then there are deeper issues that should be addressed.

Develop Tension Outlets– Find something that will help you unleash the stress! My stress release is going to Target. Nothing can help me unwind and feel like I just got out of deep mediation like cruising Target without kids. When I can’t break away from home I go into my closet and eat the candy I have stashed in there and dream about going to Target. I realize it’s probably unnatural to like Target so much but hey, to each their own.

Avoid Festering Resentment- It is vital in a relationship to openly confront issues that are important to you and resolve them. Being hurt by a loved one can cause hurt and anger with a desire to want to get that person back. No matter how good it might feel to get someone back, it is not healthy to do. Forgiveness is actually the healthier response. Forgiveness reduces anger, anxiety, and depression, and it increases the individual’s satisfaction with the relationship and with life. Avoid speculation and guessing by being completely open with your spouse. There’s nothing like your spouse coming home from a bad day at work and you guessing his distant demeanor is something that you did wrong and now you are mad because you are assuming he’s angry with you but you haven’t done anything wrong.

Be Sensitive to Timing- Telling someone that they have royally pissed you off right before they are about to dose off is probably not wise. Telling your husband that he dresses like a slob right before walking into a party is just mean. Conflict can only be constructive when both people can function rationally as well as emotionally. Make sure no one is tired or hungry. I would also recommend having kids occupied or in bed before a serious conversation. Too many times have our kids come in while we were in a “bad fight” and we took out our frustrations on them.

Communicate Without Ceasing- Communication is not a cure all but it is important to not handle conflict with the silent treatment or by hoping that time will make it all better. I have tried that and it turns into a “groudhogs” day with the same fight over and over again. Which can be so exhausting. With resolving an issue the quality of communication is important. Listening is a crucial part of effective communication. We so badly want to get our point across that we forget to listen carefully to what are spouse is saying.

Be Flexible, Willing to Compromise- Compromise may be the only way to keep a marriage peaceful. Compromising does not mean one person is just giving up on an issue they feel passionate about. The respect should be mutual when it comes to topics that are important to the other. If they are not as important to you then either being flexible or letting it go will help maintain peace and harmony in the house. Selma Hyek can take a little siesta.

Use Conflict to Attack Problems, Not Your Spouse- I wish I could keep this in mind when Dan and I are arguing. This principle flies out the window and I start brining things up from 10 years ago and everything else that has pissed me off in the last decade. Wait…what are we fighting about again? That’s what happens when you don’t battle the problem and you’re just rehashing the past. The problem isn’t being fixed. So when you have a conflict, remember to JUST address the conflict. That’s if you really want to solve the issue.

Keep Loving while You Are Fighting- When Dan and I were in marriage counseling I had every intention of going into that session to strengthen my marriage, but instead I went in hurt and angry and I wanted someone to tell me I was right and that he was wrong. I wanted validation. I was intentionally trying to hurt my husband. When you refuse to hurt your partner during conflict with intentional hurtful remarks, that you know will hurt your partner, you are continuing to love while fighting.

Her Story #9

                Isn’t it funny how life doesn’t turn out how we expect it to, or look like anything we envisioned. If you told me that this is how my life would look, I never would have believed you, because of course I try to do everything perfect and the way it’s supposed to be done. My life looks very different than I ever expected.

                I grew up well loved by my family, did well in school, not a super social butterfly, reasonably secure in who I was. I have always been incredibly independent, competitive, a force to be reckoned with, outspoken and can and will get it done; “I’ll show you, “try me”.

                I moved into college and out on my own at 17 after my parents divorced, put myself through college. My relationship with both parents was strained. I found myself making my way through life and college, struggling with depression and what I didn’t know for another 13 years, high level functioning anxiety.

                I married the first guy I had a “serious” relationship with because honestly I thought, it’s this or I will be alone forever.  We had two beautiful kids together, but in this he showed his lack of maturity and an inability to keep a job.  The responsibilities fell solely on me.  Looking in hind site, I suffered with postpartum depression after my second child, but was completely clueless, I just could not figure out why it was so hard having 2 kids.  My relationship with my now ex-husband continued to disintegrate, he lost job after job and I found myself struggling to support our family and try to be a mom and keep our home afloat. After a couple of years of this constant fight and struggle, losing myself in the midst of it, miserable and exhausted, falling down this pit of despair. I hated the person I had become, the mom that I was, and there was no relationship, my marriage had turned into two people living in the same home and all I could think was I am teaching my children how to have a very dysfunctional relationship. My ex lost yet another job, all jobs in that area had been exhausted and I decided enough was enough. I told him I was done.

                I hated how I looked, felt, and the person I had become. I had become a tired and exhausted monster.  I decided I was going to try to start running. At first I couldn’t run at all, slowly I started to get better. I decided I was going to eat better, started losing weight, the running made me feel powerful, gave me an adrenaline high. The divorce finalized, I was free of that weight and in the midst was losing weight and had become a runner. It became a game. I had a goal weight set in mind, that if I ever could achieve that, it would be amazing. I got more into exercise and fitness, I was a running beast, all the while eating less and exercising more. The weight kept falling off. I got down to that weight I had in mind, looked in the mirror and said there is more to lose and this is easy, I bet I can lose five more, lost that 5 and decided I could lose 5 more. All the while I was on the scale multiple times a day, and if the scale was up, I didn’t eat, if it was down, I ate, I became more and more paranoid of food.

                I was sitting on the couch one night in bible study with a dear friend who had brought me back to church, I don’t remember how the conversation even started, but it came to light that it in fact was not normal behavior to weigh yourself 10-12x per day. We discussed my eating habits, how I ate based on the scale and that I must always expend more energy and calories than I took in. That night we both sat there and just cried and decided to remove the scale from my house and she took it home with her. Over the next couple months things only got worse. It was the 2nd week of December, I grew more paranoid by the day of food and exercised more and more, I hadn’t eaten in 5 days, I was too afraid to eat, I couldn’t. I showed up at said friends place of employment in tears and told her I was scared. I hadn’t eaten in 5 days and was too paranoid to eat. My friend said enough is enough and said she would get coverage for her work and take me to get help.  She begged me to eat, I went home that day and ate 2 eggs. I called and scheduled to get into a therapist and that began months of driving to see a therapist. All the while, my paranoia got worse, I continued to lose more weight. I told my friend how disgusting and fat I was, and she said there is nothing left to you, you are skin and bones. She and her husband discussed taking my kids and getting me into inpatient for eating disorder. I would go to the grocery store and have a complete melt down and leave with nothing because it was too overwhelming and scary.

                It took so much time, but the eating, the exercise amount and life slowly improved. I had to deal with and fight with my perfectionism that had been engrained into me. I had to dig into my bible deep and rely on friends, I had to learn to turn down and try to mute the voices that constantly reminded me how worthless, fat and disgusting I was, how I was an utter failure as a mother, daughter, friend… The weight on the scale, the way I looked determined the person that I was. It didn’t matter what else I was good at the voices screamed. I was paranoid of food. How ridiculous is it to tell people you are scared of food.

                I don’t know at what point that my desire to get healthy became sick and twisted, but it had been an all consuming battle for my life. To this day although I have gained significant ground in this battle, I know this is a fight I will always have. I look in this mirror and I am disgusted by my appearance most days. People tell me I have to learn to love myself. I am just happy the days that I can accept myself and not be disgusted, those days are huge wins. I have to dig into scripture and remind myself of who I am. I have friends who I can call and tell them the struggle and that I am failing and we bring me back to grips, but ultimately I have two beautiful kids I never want to fight this struggle and I don’t want to ever fight this disease. I will always fight and struggle with orthorexia and anorexic tendencies.

                A few years ago, I had some weird symptoms show up, seemingly overnight, I had to promise my friend that I was in fact eating, then seemingly as overnight as the symptoms showed up, they disappeared. A couple years ago some other weird symptoms showed up and just as mysteriously disappeared. This winter/spring, a horrible 12 weeks of weird and progressively worsening symptoms and the longest 8 week wait to find out what I already knew was wrong. It was MS (multiple sclerosis). I have the best kind you can get. Relapsing/Remitting MS, or as I like to call it, the trial version. When I decide I don’t like it, I will end up with the full secondary MS. 85% of RRMS turn into secondary progressive in 10-20 years. I am on meds and in the middle of another flare up now. 

You see, I have tried to do everything “right” in my life and if you told me this is what my life would look like, I would have laughed in your face. I am in my late 30’s divorced, single mom, with depression and anxiety, an eating disorder and MS. I can only say I get up every day because by the grace of God he grants me each new day. I can see all the ways he is constantly working in my life and preparing me for the next step/trial. He always gives me what I need, even if I can’t see it. He gives me the resources, the strength, but most importantly, he gives me the people who he uses to guide and strengthen me. I used to be so secretive about all my issues, afraid of what others may think, but I have learned the more I share, I take away some of the power that issue has hold over me. This has become so freeing, and I am thankful for those who have given and continue to give me the strength and support to press on; for being Jesus with skin which sometimes we just need. God is not done with me yet. I have two girls to continue to love and raise, Lord willing I will be here to complete it. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10