Five of My Favorite Things

cloudFive things that make me happy:

1) Cumulus clouds

2) Dr. Pepper

3) My Windows Surface (I really wasn’t sure I’d like it.)

4) The new Toasted Almond paint slowly appearing on my living room walls

5) Monday’s afternoon alone time

 

*photo credit

Wherein Lies Your Identity?

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“Wherein lies your identity?” He asked, searching the depths of my soul.

“What do you mean, Lord?” I answered.

“Is your identity wrapped up in your possessions?”

“Of course not,” I assured Him. “They’re just things, and things do not define me.”

“What if I sent a tornado and leveled your house to the ground?”

I smile. “I wouldn’t mind too much, so long as we were all safe. We’d get a new house out of the deal.”

“Is your identity wrapped up in your role as a mother?” He challenged.

“No. I don’t think so.”

“What if your children died in that tornado?”

Tears threaten to spill from my eyes. “My heart would be torn, Lord, but I would still be all that I could be for You.”

“What if I took your husband from you? What then? What if your sorrow was too deep to bare?”

A tear hit my hand with a splash. I did not answer.

“What if, after the loss of your family, you were left with no home and no job? What if you had to stand on the corner of the street holding a cardboard sign? What then?”

He paused. I cried.

“Would you still put your identity in Me? Would you still seek to use the talents and skills I’ve given you? Would you still take pride in calling yourself a child of Mine?”

The tears poured down my face and my shoulders heaved. “I want to think that I would. But please, Lord, spare me from Job’s trials. Test me in smaller ways… in the day to day. Let me praise You and learn to be all that You’ve created me to be in the mundane ins and outs of the life you’ve given me today.”

“I was just asking,” He assured. “Remember, you are more than the gifts I’ve given you, and should they no longer be yours to hold, you will still be My child, equipped with the personality and the talents needed for whatever life you may find yourself in.”

 

*photo credit

Music Monday: Just Might Change Your Life

Change Your LifeJust Might Change Your LifeSidewalk Prophets

(Listen on Spotify or Youtube)

You’ve got your reasons
Reasons just to walk away
No one would blame you if you didn’t want to face the pain
You find yourself  up against the wall
You’re scared to push cause it might fall
And it…
 
Just might change your life
You’re on the edge now take one step
And you just might find you’ll fly
You never know what will happen next
Don’t be afraid to let go this time
It just might change your life
 
You keep on reaching
Reaching for a hand to hold
You’re scared you’ll wake up on the edge of the unknown
You find your heart in fragile place
Afraid to move cause it might break
And it…
 
Just might change your life
You’re on the edge now take one step
And you just might find you’ll fly
You never know what will happen next
Don’t be afraid to let go this time
It just might change your life
Don’t be afraid to let go
 
Just let go, just let go, just let go, just let go!
And it…
 
Just might change your life
You’re on the edge now take one step
And you just might find you’ll fly
You never know what will happen next
And it just might change your life
 
You’re on the edge now take one step
And you just might find you’ll fly
You never know what will happen next
Don’t be afraid to let go this time
 
Don’t be afraid to let go this time
It just might change your life
 

Last Christmas, I hiked up my suspenders, rolled up my sleeves, and pushed on the wall. I was scared to death it would fall and crush me, breaking my very fragile heart. I wanted my husband and my best friend to hold my hand… to push with me… but they could not. It was something I had to do on my own. I had every reason to simply turn and run… avoid the confrontation… but the risk was too high.

You see this was a relationship in my life that was manipulative, draining, and destructive to my heart. It gripped me with white knuckles, preventing me from being who God created me to be. I spent so much of my life trying to keep this person happy, so desperately striving for their acceptance and approval. At the same time, wanting so badly to make them happy for their own sake. I wanted to fix them, pull them up from their darkness. But 34 years of trying with very little upward progress makes for a tiresome journey.

My husband encouraged me in October to bite off a little at a time. To start laying out the “I’m my own person” cards right away, letting them know that I could not do what they wanted me to do for Christmas. I didn’t want to tell them that. I first wanted to find a way to compromise or some sort of something to offer them as compensation for not giving in to their demands. So I waited.

October zoomed by, and I found myself in the middle of November. Both my husband and my best friend continued to tell me it was time. But still I waited.

The phone rang. It was them. Wondering if I had an answer yet… whether I would fulfill or defy their demands. My hand trembled as I picked up the phone to answer. I felt like I could vomit in the kitchen sink behind me. I took a deep breath and said “hello”.

“So… Do you have an answer yet?”

“Um. Yeah. We won’t be able to.”

A pause. And then a fake “ok. that’s fine.” Another pause. And then the various levels of manipulation ensued. I stood firm on the decision through each stage. Then came the last… the tears. I was so tempted to give in, to find a mode of compromise. But I knew I could not. My husband was holding me to it.

I took a deep breath and addressed some of the surface issues of our relationship. They turned defensive and angry. I could feel the heat of frustration and anger begin to fire up in my chest. My kids were fighting in the other room, only adding to the tension. I simply stated that I couldn’t talk about it right now. Told them goodbye and hung up.

I cried a lot that day. I just wanted to do everything I could to make them happy. It was habit buried deep down inside my heart. This person, after all, had been the most important in my life for such a very long time.

That night, I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote them a letter. A long letter. A very detailed letter. I had no plans to share it with them, but after I shared it with my husband, he encouraged me to. So I did.

The wall was beginning to crumble. I felt worn and weak. How would I face them on Christmas Day? It would be far easier to pretend nothing happened and just avoid them all together, hoping time would make them forget. That they would get happy again and I wouldn’t be the current cause of their anger.

I had the support and prayers of my husband and a couple very good friends, but they could do nothing more than that. It was I who had to keep pushing on that wall… knocking it down into pieces around my feet.

The tension on Christmas Day was thick enough to suffocate. I tried so hard to gently, calmly make it through. But gentle pushes do not tear down a wall. Sometimes it takes a bit of dynamite.

Confrontation exploded in my face. I stood up for what was important to me, and found myself surprised that the important thing was no longer this person. I gathered up my family, and we left early.

The next days and weeks… I don’t even know how to wrap my word thinking brain around it. My heart was crushed and broken into pieces. This relationship… this person… they’d been a part of my life for so long, and it felt as if it were ripped from the very depths of my soul. But one by one, God picked up the pieces of my heart and made it whole again. Actually more whole than it had been. Because where this person once occupied my heart, my thinking, my decisions, my actions… there’s now only the me God meant for me to be.

Is there a wall you’re backed up against? Are you afraid to push? Do you just want someone to do it for you, but realize that no one else can? Are you afraid your fragile heart will be crushed in the process?

Let go of the hesitation… the procrastination… the attempts at just living around it. Push. Let it crumble.

It just might change your life.

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In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credit

The Young{est} Years

RanBren

Very little sticks in the memory of a young child, except those things with strong emotions attached. I am sure that I had a lot of  very happy moments in my first four years of life, but I don’t remember many. I’ve been sitting here off and on all day, trying to conjure up as many memories as possible.

I’m becoming increasingly intrigued with my child self. I feel that if I can just grasp those memories, those thought processings, I will find a glimpse of my untainted self, for young children are pure personality. There’s very little interaction with the outside world to shape their personality… it’s all just them.

Perhaps that’s why those first few years of a child’s life are the most pliable. The years to be most guarded. It’s important to nurture their personality and protect it from the traumatic experiences that can darken and twist the most secure and happy of personalities.

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As I flipped through an old photo album, I pulled out a few photos that sparked some memories.

Top-Left: That’s me on my first birthday. Don’t remember a single second of it. I just wanted to show you how adorable I was. haha. Actually, it reminds me of my youngest when she was that age.

Top-Right: That’s my mom playing peek-a-boo with me. This is how I want to remember her in all my young memories. Fun, happy. Unfortunately, I don’t. I remember a troubled mother, a sad mother, a confused and angry mother.

But this I do remember… I always loved her. And I still do. She’s my mom. She carried me for nine months, snuggled under her heart. I listened to it’s beating in wonder. It soothed me to sleep. I still hear that beating (figuratively speaking, obviously) and I want nothing more than to be able to bandage that heart and make it whole. I want her to know a joy so deep, she can’t swim away from it.

Bottom-Left: That’s me at the age of two. For some reason, my brother and I had masking tape on our shirts. Our names were written across the tape with a permanent marker. I had pulled mine off and tried to restick it. Any person above the age of 5 would know that was a mistake. The darned thing would not stay on. It was too much for me to bear. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t wearing my name, then I was no longer Brenda. And I so desperately wanted to be Brenda.

I know that’s a lot of memory for a two year old, but I think I only remember that from looking at the picture so often growing up. The first time I remember looking at it and remembering the story behind it was when I was four, but I also kinda remember that that wasn’t the first time I looked at it.

Anyway, I just thought it went pretty well with the theme of this blog. Here I was two years old and already crying over a label ripped from my chest.

Bottom-Right: That’s my older brother Randy and I sitting on the back of my grandma’s black leather couch. He was five and I was three. This is the year the bad memories start. The next couple years would be hard ones for me.

I remember that my dad did not live with us. He drove a truck and we would see him every once in a while. I remember something being wrong with my mommy. She was sad.

I remember that my mom put my brother and I in a children’s home. I don’t remember how we got there or what my mother told us about why we were going there. I just remember how scared I was. (I know now that she was living in halfway house to overcome her drinking – I think???)

I remember being scared of one of the ladies at the home. Her voice was gruff and she often gave abusive threats. I remember crying in bed and one of the older girls in the room told me to shut up. I told her I was scared, and she told me if I didn’t shut up, she’d give me something to be scared of.

I remember not seeing my brother very often except during outside play time. I remember sitting and watching other kids play. I couldn’t play with them because I was sick in my stomach. Something wasn’t right and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I remember an older boy taking my behind the sandbox and touching me inappropriately. I didn’t like it, but I felt powerless.

I remember the gruff lady coming to get me one day. She took me into a room. Randy was already in there. And so was my daddy. My hero had come.

He did not realize until that day that my mom had taken us there. He came to get us out.

He took us to see my mom at the halfway house. I remember standing on the doorstep when she opened the door. We went inside, and I looked around. To the right side of the front door was a long staircase that turned the corner as it climbed up the wall. The banister and railings were stained dark. In the corner, where the stairs turned up, stood a bird cage on a tall post. The metal circular foot of the post pushed down into the plush carpet. I think my mom cried.

Dad took us to his mother’s house that summer. My brother and I had a lot of fun the summer(s) we spent out there with our grandma and step grandpa. There were the swims in the stock tank with little piglets running around it in the mud. I was scared to get out  of the tank lest the piggies bite my toes. There were romps with the dog, Ranger. There were sunny days on the lake. Crickets in the long grass. Daddy long legs. Ice cream. Happy days.

But there was a dark shadow in those summer days. My step grandpa has a teen aged son who stayed with them for several weeks. He sometimes made me do things that were inappropriate. He sometimes made me hide behind the couch and he would do things to me that a three year old should never experience.

The whole situation was taken care of legally. I’ve forgiven him. But that doesn’t take away the memories. It doesn’t take away the sickness as I realize my little Faithy is three. To think of a little girl that young having her innocence stolen. It puts fear in my heart somedays. I want to grab my girls and hold them close. I want to keep them under my constant watch and care.

These were my youngest years. Most memories are flittery like a fly buzzing around the room. But these are the ones that rest long enough to see clearly.

Headless Horsemen

headlesshorsemanDo You know the story of the headless horseman? I don’t, actually, but I think that there are a lot of headless horsemen in the blogging world. Bloggers who know how to spill the words on the screen and put up pretty pictures of themselves. But they’re headless. We know there’s a person behind that pretty web page, but we don’t know that person.

Sometimes that’s a good thing. After all, bloggers need their privacy. They are authors, and it’s very rare that we know a real-with-paper-pages-book’s author, yet we trust his words. So it should be the same with bloggers, shouldn’t it?

And yet, we want to know them… to feel a connectedness… an intimacy.  We want these horsemen to wear heads.

There’s a vulnerability in wearing a head. People might look at you. They might judge you. They might deem you as ugly or weird looking. They might point. They might laugh.

But I don’t want the fear of being vulnerable to keep me from wearing a head. So here’s me… putting on a head… my head… the realness… the me-ness.

Judge, if you feel you must. Call me ugly, if that’s your opinion. Point at me like an embarrassing four year old. Laugh, it you feel the need.

But I will still wear my head.

I will be writing a series of posts over the next several weeks that map out the timeline of my life… from my perspective. It’s scary. People I know may not think I tell the story quite right. People I don’t know may judge the life I’ve lived.

But this story… this life that I’ve lived… it’s part of who I am.

____________________________________________________________________

birthCollageThe first cries of a newborn baby pierced the air of the delivery room that early November day in 1978. My mother was exhausted, but not too exhausted to feel a surge of joy. She held me close and brushed her finger across my cheek. I gazed up at her, my eyes filled with wonder. This was the beginning of my adventure.

I didn’t know where this adventure would take me. Which paths I would wander down. Who would hold my hand along the way. Who would fail me. How many times I would stumble. The victories I’d celebrate.

It would have overwhelmed my little baby heart, if I had. The very magnitude of my life would have killed me on the spot.

{I can’t imagine what thoughts went on in little baby Jesus’ mind when He was born. He saw it all. He knew Who He was and where He came from. He knew His purpose, and He knew the pain He would endure.}

I was my parents’ second child. I had an 18 month old brother. Shortly after my birth, my parents were separated and eventually divorced.

I obviously remember very little about my youngest years, but I do know that the tiny memory glimpses that come to me in the night are scary ones. Abusive ones. It’s sad that a child’s mind so easily forgets the happy moments, but holds tight to the scary ones.

Unfortunately, it’s these scary memories that overpower the good….

 

*Photo Credit

Behind the Scenes Link Up

berriessm

This blog is all about finding myself and being me… being real in an online world of “make-up version” only. So I thought it only fitting to take part in this fun link up from Crystal Stine. You can find out more about the link up here, but the general idea is to post a photo of a very real moment and tell the story. It’s an opportunity to be real and show the world what takes places outside of the cropped photos and edited blog posts.

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A few years ago, I read on a blog somewhere about a woman who had friends over for an Easter dinner. While there, the friend asked if she would like help taking down her Christmas tree. I laughed and thought, “How can people leave their Christmas decorations up until Easter?!”

Well, I think I know how that happens now. We got the Christmas tree put away within the first week or two of January. But the rest… well, let’s just say it was well after Christmas when I finally got them packed away and carried back out to the garage.

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This photo (of my new can lights in the kitchen ceiling) proudly displays a Christmas garland still hanging up on February 28th. I was slightly embarrassed that it was still up then. Hahaha. If only I had known how long it would stay there.

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This photo was actually taken on Christmas Day after my 4 year old set up a fort with his new fort kit. But picture the sheets not there and the nicely arranged festive décor all in disarray with toys and general clutter mixed into it and that’s what it all looked like… (not too long ago).

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And this photo is of my sweet daughter who kindly agreed to help me pack up all the Christmas decorations, oh you know… about a week ago… on June 7th. I think we just might skip Christmas decorations next year.