- Books, Literature, and Writing
A Mission of Love and Literally Dreaming the Future
Our sweet hub friend Faith Reaper encouraged me to open up a bit to do a hub of this nature. So here I sit, writing about personal experiences in a way that I do not usually speak about them, but my goal in sharing this is to remind people that there is always hope and that there is no greater source of peace other than faith. And I am realizing that sometimes the way to give back is to share my experiences in life, faith, and growth with others. Today I want to share my thoughts on giving and share a true story about a dream I had that turned out to be an exercise in faith.
I will say that it seems a bit strange and unnatural to sit here writing this, especially since I am at this moment, however long it lasts, content. Once the past is the past, it has a way of seeming less dramatic, traumatic, or whatever other adjectives might seem to fit. Even after I finally allow myself to have a good cry, it seems pointless to have been that upset. Why? Because life is what I make of it. I made all the decisions that put me on the path I'm on, and when some things are even beyond my control, they always have a way of working out. I have faith about that and I always will. I lose sight in that message every once in awhile and then have to remind myself of it. Maybe what I have to say now will be a positive reminder for someone else as well.
As I was writing, my mind flashed back to a couple of Kathy Troccoli songs. I think they were among the first songs of hers that I heard, but I loved the message the songs proclaim. I still do. So, I've included them. "Because You Love Me" is another song I relate to on a personal level. I do believe in the message of a dream, as you'll read - if you get that far (haha, it's a long one). More importantly, these songs are about love of life and others.
Kathy Troccoli ~ Mission of Love
Kathy Troccoli ~ Go Light Your World
There's Always Hope
All that said, I am going to briefly share a bit about what I've been through. Yes, I know others have had it much worse than I ever or have or ever will. I'm not seeking pity or even compassion. My hope in sharing is that others feeling lost, afraid, alone, or otherwise depressed and discouraged by circumstances might realize that there is always hope.
I'm fully aware that my choices and my actions largely led to the things that have happened in my life, but that is what life is; a serious of choices. Choose to be happy or choose to cling to worry. Choose to dwell on mistakes or choose to forgive yourself. Choose to trust your intuition or choose to ignore it. Choose to listen to the voice inside that says it's not worth it or choose to go down that road anyway. So on and so forth; it's always a choice. And I have a choice to control how I react to both circumstances and to how I react to those around me that may judge me, criticize me, or attempt to discourage me. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters, especially when going through trials and tribulations, is that there is always hope. Hope lies within my mind, within my heart, and within my faith. Again, this is something I constantly have to remind myself of in those times my general happiness is shaken. Sometimes it takes longer than other times to regain that equilibrium of inner peace. Still, it is there inside to return to if I allow myself to do so.
A Bit of Background
As one of the youngest in my class, I graduated high school at the age of 17. I was only a week or two past turning 18 before I moved off about 14 hours from where I grew up to attend college in Texas. I didn't know a single soul and I was alone and somewhat anxious, but also excited. That's the adventurous side of me, I suppose, yet somehow it all felt right. However, things happened, choices were made, and I ended up not finishing my last year. If I could do a few things differently and make a few different choices. . .Well, let's just say I might say I would, except that some of the blessings I have in my life today would not exist.
Fast forward nearly ten years after that, I have a husband and three beautiful children. I have my health, my love of life, my faith in God, and dreams that may or may not come true. I also have struggles and worries just as everyone else does, and choices to make. Some of the hardest choices to make are the ones that involve hanging onto myself and my own inner peace despite other factors I can't always control and despite not being able to control the reactions of others involved. Somehow, though, I think I've managed fairly well, especially considering that through most of these times I did not share my pain with others, even those that knew the circumstances. And then after the fact, it hardly seems to matter one way or another, because the time talking to someone about it really matters is in the moment when just expressing a thought or emotion is a relief.
Anyway, I've had points in time where things seemed to be going fairly well. You know - a roof over my head, steady income, and a future to plan. Of course, there is always a future to plan, but there have also been times when a better future seemed distant and maybe non-existent. I've been practically homeless, living in motel rooms with children and isolated without a vehicle or much access to anyone that really cared about me as a person and not for what someone judged me to be instead. I know what it is like to be looked down upon for being poor. I've lived without lights or water and even knowing that we were doing our best and trying to do better, felt as if I had nothing much to offer anyone else because they were too busy looking down on me to really see me. It's frustrating when others assume you are taking money your husband made that day for doing yard work and handyman work for someone else and using it to eat out on (which of course is deemed irresponsible when it is cheaper to buy more groceries with that money) when we were actually using it to buy food from a grocery store for that day because we had to keep food in a cooler and couldn't think about saving money by buying in bulk. We had to worry about everyday necessities that also cost money and could not even consider eating at a restaurant if we wanted to.
At the same time, during times like those, I learned to abhor the phrase "it's the Christian thing to do." The Christian thing to do is to give and to love for the sake of doing so, not for the sake of drawing attention to oneself for good deeds done. To me, the Christian thing to do is to give selflessly, and that includes not drawing attention to myself for doing something for someone else and it includes not reminding someone of that "good deed" when it might benefit me to do so. I don't even put my name on an envelope for offering plates in churches that use them. I like the pay-it-forward concept instead. Give because someone else gave to me. Yet I've had people do things for me in the name of wanting to do the right thing and then barely hide how much of an inconvenience it was to do these things, and I'm left wondering why in the world anyone would want to offer me assistance I didn't even ask for if it is such a hassle?
Then there were a few that I knew were just blessings from God. These people reinforced my reasons for wanting to do for others without complaint or even without the possible personal gain of others knowing I'd been kind to someone else. They inspired my hub "Angels of the Earthly Kind." Some of these angels, I think, were literally Heaven sent; there to fulfill a particular need and nothing more. Yet these people acted with such unconditional love that I'll never forget them even though I've not talked to them since. A few of them I never even learned a name or what their faces looked like.
I don't have much to offer right now. Things are much better than they have been in the past, but still rough. There was a fire and we lost everything. But here we are, now living in a different town, because it was a necessary move, overcoming other challenges as they come at us. Many of these things, if they had not happened to me, might seem far fetched. The thing is, this time I know things have been worse and could always be worse. And when I realize I am starting to worry about how things can get worse, I also remember that God is always there and does provide for all needs.
As for giving back, I try to be there for others whenever and however I can in hopes of maybe making a difference. Even if it is only a small one. I may not look like much, I may not have much to offer, and I'm far from perfect, but I care. I have love and prayer to offer. I have an ear willing to listen when needed. I will also share one specific example of faith and the power of prayer.
Because You Love Me ~ Jo Dee Messina
There was a time when my husband worked two jobs and I was home taking care of one child under two and about to give birth to another one. We lived in a reasonably priced apartment, yet we still could not meet the bills because the state saw fit to take child support out of both of his checks, nearly fifty percent no less. The mother didn't even want the case open, but that's another story altogether and another thing I know not to judge a person for without knowing the facts.
My point is that, shortly after my daughter was born, we were going to be evicted from the apartment, and I knew it. She was only a month or two old and I couldn't work because it would have all gone to pay for daycare anyway. I could not get assistance for daycare. I tried. Besides, jobs were scarce in that area. Unless a person has a car to work in another county, life is pretty much paycheck to paycheck for those not living on alternative sources of income in that area.
So one night shortly after my daughter was born, I fell asleep while waiting for my husband to get home from work. We had a couch for furniture and a kitchen table. My daughter had a crib, but she rarely used it. I think this time she was in it, though, and my son and I were on the floor. He was asleep beside me and I remember lying flat on my back praying until I fell asleep, exhausted from recovering from a c-section and trying to keep a toddler and a newborn content. So there I was asleep on the floor.
I woke up with this strange feeling upon me. The only way I can describe it is kind of like the buzzed feeling received when the dentist pumps you full of laughing gas (I had a ton of dental work growing up). Or maybe like that sensation when a limb you've slept on or sat on wrong falls asleep. Anyway, I also had vague images in my mind of a dream. Somehow, I just knew this was a message from God. I knew things would be alright, though I didn't know how yet. I knew that we were all going somewhere and that the time there would be temporary, which frankly, was not what we desired, but it helped me to cope when the time did come to leave. I was reminded that I "had a feeling" it was only a temporary thing.
It was a day or so later when my husband came to tell me about a place we were moving to. This lady had land for sale with a mobile home on it that needed work. There was an old half finished building on the property as well that could be turned into a one bedroom home. We went to the home of someone that is a family friend that is like a grandmother to my husband, and as we sat there conversing with her and her husband, I knew. I mean I literally knew what was going to be said next. It's such a strange sensation to know what someone else is going to say before they utter the words. This was different than deja vu, too. It was my dream! I had dreamt the future! Sitting there was when it fully hit me. That feeling of knowing it was going to be alright was because it truly was going to be alright.
With God, things are always alright. I've had similar experiences to that in which I've been awakened in the middle of the night with a sense of urgency to pray for someone, only to later find out why. But these experiences are usually in regards to others. That was the first time I really clearly had a sense of waking up knowing I just knew what was going to happen next and that I did not need to be afraid.
Prayer is a powerful thing. Faith is equally as powerful and I would challenge anyone going through hard times to remember that. Also remember that there is ALWAYS someone, somewhere that cares enough to offer love and compassion, if only in the form of prayer.