faith

Faith Story – Part 2

I was 12 when my brother was born, and I moved by the time he was two. His father had been an abusive alcoholic (the reason I moved out) and my mother finally divorced him by the time he was in grade school. However, after a few years of living with my mom, he ended up living with his father by the time he was 11 or 12. My mother never continued a relationship with my brother after he left. I continued to reach out to him, and maintained a relationship with him. My husband and I would make a point to get him for a week each Summer. By the time he was in college, he announced that he was gay. I told him that I expected that, and it didn’t change my love for him.

On the heels of my baptism, right around the same time as my stand against my grandfather, my brother and I discovered we were living in the same city. We were super excited to meet up. I invited him to my son’s birthday party and he dropped by to get a hug, drop off a gift, and left me a letter to open later. This letter revealed that he was a practicing Wiccan. I spoke with him on the phone once or twice more, we had agreed to meet face to face, but he would only agree if it was at a Wiccan establishment. I declined, and he has never responded to any of my attempts over the last 10 years to reach out to him.

By 2003 my mom was still living in the garage apartment and began dating Jim . On the surface he seemed ok enough, he wasn’t abusive, and seemed to treat her well. I knew he read the Bible, and for years I would assume that he was a Christian. My mom started staying at Jim’s place more and more. Her father, and brother didn’t like this new guy at all, and the relationship between all of them began to deteriorate. Meanwhile, Jim allowed her to see her father through a different lens. The exposure of my grandfather’s offensive controlling behavior was hard for her to take. She had idolized her father, and in her 20’s had even legally changed her name to identify more closely with him. She became bitter, and avoided her childhood home at all cost. By 2004, my husband and I rented a U-haul and made the trip to pack up her things up, and move her belongings from the garage apartment to Jim’s place out of town.

Five years later, in 2009 I knew my grandfather was not doing well, and had been put in a nursing home. I pretty much thought my mom should make peace with her dad, and also should pay a visit to check on her disabled brother. He had been dealing with all of this on his own, with absolutely no skill or aptitude in knowing what steps to take.  She did not want to go, but I persuaded her to make the trip with me and her grandbabies. Upon arriving, the house that I remembered looked run down, and sad. My uncle could not take care of it well, and he didn’t care nor have adequate funds to pay others to help. Many times over the years, I offered help to my uncle, but he always refused. It was clear that my uncle didn’t like me, and he certainly didn’t trust me because he had been victim of a father of lies and cruelty. I would continually defend him and his situation to my mom who couldn’t say a nice word about the brother she once loved. My uncle didn’t know better, he wasn’t wise to the world, he lived in a protected bubble of his childhood room. His life was lived by osmosis with fantasy lived through books, music, and video games. My mother refused to make peace, or say goodbye to her father in the nursing home. Within a month of our visit, my grandfather would die, and I would be notified of this news via Facebook. I reached out to my uncle, and he refused any help and chose to keep matters to himself. There would be no funeral for my grandfather. 

Over the next several years my mom and I had some great times together. She and Jim would house and dog sit when we went on vacations, she would come visit just because, and enjoyed meeting us in the Texas hill country as often as possible. She taught her grandkids to sew, and spent lots of quality time outside sharing her love of nature with us. For years my husband and I had helped her financially and did not consider it a burden, but a gift we willingly gave. After many years of living together, my mother and Jim married. I watched him read the Bible and never had too much in-depth conversation.

By December of 2013 my mom revealed to me that she was following a cult. Of course, that is not what she called it, but after some research, lots of prayers ,and taking note of her words, actions, and attitudes it became apparent. By Easter of 2013 we pretty much stopped talking. In that last conversation, I began to cry and she did not. I quickly realized she was well rehearsed and ready for this expected interaction with me. She asked why I was crying, and I told her that her actions had eternal consequences. My heart broke that day, and when I realized how far gone she was, the Holy Spirit came over me like I experienced with my grandfather all those years before. My tears dried up. I had a boldness and strength to tell her that there was nothing she could say, or do would make me deny my faith in Jesus Christ. My husband and I would not tolerate her or Jim trying to influence us with their false prophet’s teachings. I told her I loved her, and that I would be praying for her.

John 14: 6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

Back to November 9, 2014, and I see this hospital pic posted by my uncle from the previous day. I called my mom, and she knew nothing. Yes, she had seen the post and thought he was just seeking attention, and she wasn’t biting. My next call was to a cell number I had, and sure enough my uncle answered. He quickly handed the phone to a nurse and she informed me that he was being prepped for transport from his hometown to the Houston med center by air ambulance. After many moves to various places, my husband and I now live in a suburb of Houston. Some may say this was just a convenience, by luck, coincidence, or fate, but I believe God had me move here for such a season as this.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

faith

Faith Story – Part 1

November 8, 2014 as scrolling through Facebook, I come across a photograph from inside a hospital room. My uncle was in a hospital several hours away. He and I were only 7 years apart, and quite frankly never had a great relationship. He had been born with an extremely rare congenital heart defect, and had lived his entire life as a miracle. His parents, my grandparents, raised him at all times concerned about his fragile health. Neither the doctors, nor either of his parents ever expected him to outlive them. He was never “normal”. He never was able to ride a bicycle, run or play sports, never had a career, never learned to drive, never moved out, never married or had children. He was never taught the skills necessary to live independently.

Though we were close in age, and from first through seventh grade I was under his same roof regularly, we never quite connected. He became jealous of me because I was able to do all the things he couldn’t, I was healthy and active, and very outgoing. My grandparents’ home was my safe place. It was the only place that would remain constant my entire life. My grandmother would always have these words for me, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (found in Psalm 118:2) She loved everyone she ever met, and her family knew we were her prized and cherished gifts. She passed away in 1991 after a long hard battle with cancer. Many people expected my uncle, her only son to die without her care, or simply die of a broken heart because he too loved her with the same love I did. That was not the case. God had something else in mind.

Shortly after my grandmother passed, my grandfather began a series of abusive verbal attacks towards me. He would say hateful, hurtful, bogus things to demean and degrade the memory of my grandmother (his wife of 45+ years). He had a way of doing this when only I was around, and he would tell me I needed to hear the truth. For years, although not as frequently, I continued to travel and visit my grandfather, uncle, and mother in my hometown. After the death of my father, this maternal grandfather started these painful confrontations regarding the daddy I loved. Again, I continued to visit and meet with my family, and he got to meet and hold his great-grandbabies, an honor and experience neither my beloved grandmother, or daddy received. With each visit, I would be crushed at the horrible things this grandfather would say about the two people who had shown me the most love in my life.

At the sudden death of my mother’s third husband. She called because she was distraught and grieving her loss. Within hours of this death, my grandfather had immediately started whispering his ugliness to her. My grandfather had built a garage apartment for my mom and her then husband. So now, knowing she was broke, and at a time of raw emotion he was making her more miserable with his verbal hissing and deceit. My little family was a week out from moving to a new city and knee deep in all the normal moving stressors, when I received the heartbreaking news from my mom. However, within mere hours my husband and I dropped everything to be at my mother’s side. I helped with finances, made phone calls and got her caught up by paying delinquent accounts, while my husband was the guard between my grandfather and my mom and me. We also made arrangements for her to come stay with us during the move and setting up the new house.

Within months of being settled in our new home, my grandfather and family were traveling to my new city to celebrate his birthday. I was so excited and wanted them all to come see my house, and even had been baking a cake for his surprise! The first cake, I had made was a total flop, and I baked another to make everything just right. It would be the first time my grandfather had seen where I had lived in almost 25 years. When they got to town, through a telephone conversation I learned that they would not be visiting my house at all this visit, and was told to just bring the cake to the hotel. What? Why? I was told by my uncle, and my mom not to push, and not to ask. I was disappointed to say the least, and I loaded my two beautiful babies, and the cake, and drove to their hotel room 15 minutes away.

I asked my mom to watch my kids while I went and had a talk with my grandfather. I wanted to know why he was refusing to come to my house. He first started in with the fact that he thought I was trying to show off. Then, he began his diatribe against my grandmother and father. I had recently been baptized, and I guess the Holy Spirit finally gave me the courage to tell him to stop. So, I did. This last face to face, one on one conversation we had I can only describe as a battle of spiritual warfare. I felt as though I was looking evil in the face. I put my hand on his knee and told him to stop talking about people who can’t even defend themselves. My truth, my memories of them, nor my feelings would be changed based on his outlandish claims attacking their good name. I told him that I loved him, I would be praying for him, but he would no longer get to share his warped “truth” with me ever again.

I left him sitting there after those parting words, and I was still physically shaking when I met up with my mom and babies. I told her of the conversation that had just happened. “Why did he want to hurt me?” I asked. What came next was a continuation of hurt and betrayal. My mom, and my uncle had been listening to my grandfather spew his “truths” about me for years. They were either too scared to stand up to him, or started believing the lies he was shoveling out. This was not the first, nor the last time in life my mother and I would stop talking.

There is hope in this story, but I pause here and will continue with more very soon. Let me share Psalm 27:10 with you that is my favorite of all time because it clearly says that my earthly father and mother will forsake me, but my God, my Savior will never leave or abandon me.