Today was tough

Today I was in Walmart doing some shopping…..minding my own business. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you, Erica. Just at that moment, you weren’t on my mind. Not until I came up behind a woman who looked just like you. She was your height, hair color and length, body type and about the same weight. I’ve been doing much better lately. That was until I saw her. I miss you so very much.

Friday will be one year since you’ve left us. It seems like just yesterday. I continuously want to wake up and have you here.

I’ve been reading a book about a woman who lost her son to cancer when he was just 8 years old. She explains grief so well. For a time, we walk in it. Then, as time goes by, grief walks beside us. Like our shadow. I can see now how I walked in it, and didn’t have the ability to function normally. I’m not normal now, but I’m learning the new me. Grief is not my friend, but it’s here to stay. Every now and then I run into something or someone who brings it to the surface.

I still have so many questions. I’m still unsure of death and what becomes of us. Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you see my heart ache for you? Cry for you?

I’m still so torn up at times, and I find myself just burying it because the pain is just too much to bear.

Someday, I pray that when we meet that we’ll know who we are to one another.

If you’re with God, please ask Him to help my heart.

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The Erica I didn’t know

I knew, but I didn’t know that I knew. I knew that there was something ‘different’. In my own uneducated, illiterate, naïve, ignorant mind, Erica was just a pain in the butt at times. When she wasn’t in school, she would be right next to me when I would be on the phone or visiting with a friend or family member. Right there, making every attempt to fit in to ‘my world’. As early as 5 years old, she would want to take part in my relationships with other people and I pushed her away. I set her up. I cherished her when I discovered she was a girl. She was so affectionate, loving and receptive to me. Our bond was so strong, it was lethal at times. My relationship with her was like night and day compared to Bryan. He just played. He was a boy. Although I had no brothers or experience with boys, he was easy to raise. It just came natural with him. Then, once I had Lindsay, I was convinced that my thoughts about Erica were spot on. Everybody else was in agreement with me, so how could I be wrong? She must have been like her father, because she certainly wasn’t anything like me or my family. (When I divorced him when Erica was 5, he turned his back on her and her brother).
But, when Erica was about 6 or 7, things started changing with her. She wouldn’t play with the other kids. She only wanted to hang out with me. I didn’t think it was normal. I wasn’t raised that way. I didn’t have the education for raising children. I didn’t know what to do. She would make every attempt to be involved in my conversations. She would try to finish my stories when I would be talking. She was wise beyond her years. I was oblivious. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to “feed” her. I only thought that if I bought her books, then that would help alleviate some of the ‘clinginess’. It did. Her imagination was sparked. Seeds were planted, and they grew. At times, she was incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy. Her dreams became her reality. She believed with all she was made of some of the stories she would tell. Until she was 17 years old, and ran from home for the very last time, she was ‘stuck’ in a world where she didn’t know reality from fantasy.
Once she left home, we seemed to get along much better. She was around people who really didn’t know her or have the same investment as I did. They were able to process her much different than I. She always thought that she could help people. She would counsel people when they were struggling. She even tried doing that with me. It just didn’t work with me because her immaturity would inevitably come through, and reality came into being. She would get frustrated with me. I wasn’t receptive to her ‘armchair’ psychology.
But, as she matured and refined her talent, she had a following of several thousand people who found her fascinating. People throughout the world who she was able to talk with on the phone, advise, cry with, and ultimately help. I put this in the back of my mind and was in denial until now. I shut down her Facebook with several thousand friends and followers. I didn’t want these people to remember the “Erica” that I didn’t know. She was gifted. She had a craving to learn. She started at just 4 or 5 years old to learn. I always told her that she could be whatever she wanted. I just was incapable of recognizing certain qualities and gifts that she had. She wanted to be a journalist. Then she wanted to be a lawyer. She would have been excellent at both professions. Ultimately, they bored her. What was her ‘God given’ gift? Psychiatry. That was her niche. She had a way of talking to people that was soothing, gentle, yet brutally honest that got their attention and would be able to help them. Much of what she learned was through life experiences, the classes she took at UC Davis, the books (100’s of them), and soaking up every single word, thought and conversation she could absorb while growing up. Had she finished, she would have been very successful in that field. She finally discovered her true calling.
I’m proud of the fact that so many people were helped and touched by her life.
While pregnant and raising our children, we always feel that WE’RE the ones who are teaching, when in reality, if we were to stop and access the situation, our children are teaching us.
God blesses us with these precious souls to love, cherish and nourish. I know that I failed in so many ways while I was raising her, but I also know that I taught her much more than I’ll ever know.
So many times, she would call me, tell me how she respected me, and my opinion and ask me for help on something. I really must remember those times more often.
If you have children, please pay attention to their interests. If they’re immoral, wrong or illegal, refocus them. If you don’t know how, learn. Get the help you need to help your children. Knowledge is POWER. Not just for you, but for them as well.
Just because we produce a child, it grows inside of us, doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we feel is in their best interest. Often times, we need to learn what ‘best interest’ really means. Every child has their own individual thoughts. They don’t always think the same way we do, or the way most people we know. Sometimes they’re an entity all of their own. Think about that.

MY HOUSE….written by Erica

MY HOUSE

Who slept here
before I came,
who lived
in this room,
how did it look,
was it
the same?
Was there a girl
or two,
a little boy,
a house filled
with toys,
with joys,
with dreams…
or was it just
a lonely place
with empty beds
and silent rooms
was it always
filled
with gloom,
and did the house
long to be
loved?
Was there a girl
who danced
and sang,
a dinner bell
that chimed
or rang,
and did anyone
ever
stand
right here
as I do
now?

Do I know
the name,
have I seen
the face
was this always
the same sweet
place,
was someone
glad,
was someone sad,
was there a dog,
a cat,
a horse,
a mouse,
who has been here,
who knows this
house,
do they know me,
do I know them,
and did they sing
a requiem
I feel them here,
I know their
tears
I loved them too,
the house was new
was theirs
was different then,
and yet it is
the same again,
and was,
and will,
and must always be,
and now
the house
belongs
to me.
April, 1995 (15 years old) – written in the same manner as in her journal (titled – “The Voice of My Innocence”).

Image

PSALM 139

PSALM 139

Please understand that I’m not here to paint a bad picture of my daughter. I’m sharing ALL things and memories that I’ve got locked up inside my heart, mind and spirit. If this makes you uncomfortable, then I’m sorry. This is MINE and ERICA’S reality. It’s what life is all about. I would have given my own life in place of a better one for her.
When my father passed away, she made a CD for me with music on it. It’s very hard for me to listen to, but one song that really speaks to me is; ‘Mike and the Mechanics’ – “The Living Years”.

I’ve finally accepted the unacceptable. This picture of Erica. It’s every mothers’ worst dream/nightmare. To force myself to accept the lifestyle that she had succumed to. I always felt in my spirit that she had demons that she couldn’t control. She wanted so much with all of her heart, soul and strength to be “somebody”. To make a difference.
Her intelligence got her into UC DAVIS. With scholarships and financial aid. There, she was determined to be a Psychiatrist. Not just any Psychiatrist. She wanted to study people like Jeffrey Dalmer, etc. As she was taking her classes, she would call me later (or call me on her way home) to tell me about what she learned that day. She sent me links to the lectures that inspired her so much. She wanted this second to wanting Braden. More than anything else in her life to date. But…that wasn’t to be. Unfortunately, she was incapable of juggling college, being a single parent, and raising Braden at the same time. I had no idea she was drowning. She wouldn’t talk about it. She would have felt like a failure. Her ego wouldn’t allow it. She didn’t want to admit that she was unable to do both. Whenever I spoke with her, she always embellished her life. Considering I was 10 hours away, I had no way of knowing any different.
When God took her home, we discovered how the demons that she had been fighting all of her life had won. She had been living a life that she herself would have NEVER wanted for herself OR her son. She had a man who had moved her into the apt. she was living in. He was paying her rent and all of her bills. She was “making money” for him. My grandson was subjected to this lifestyle. She was leaving him home alone at night. She was trying desperately to break ties with this man who was “keeping her”. She wanted her life back. But, she didn’t do it in a productive, positive way. I discovered that she was making plans to move to Australia just to “get away”. It became her demise.
A police officer warned me about the conditions of her apt. prior to entering. It was in the worst condition possible. Had she called 911 when she was in the process of her heart attack, my grandson would have been placed in protective custody while she got psyciatric help. I learned all of this AFTER the fact. I believe that God kept me from her life. I believe that because His perfect will had to be done. I would have gotten in the way and tried to “fix things” myself. If you think for even one minute that you would never allow this to happen to you and/or your child, be careful! Please don’t test God that way! I learned (the hard way) that in all ways that I’ve judged, criticized and condemned others….I’ve experienced the same and worse. When the scriptures say;
Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

This picture of her is in the corner just outside the front door of her apt. in Santa Clara, Ca where she and her son lived. She had sunk so low that she allowed these pictures to be taken. On August 19, 2012. Just 11 days prior to her death. There were several others, but this one speaks a thousand words.
God saved my grandson. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise. He couldn’t save Erica from herself, but He IS in control of the babies.
This wasn’t the life she wanted. For herself or her son.
What do I see here? I see my beautiful daughter who I gave birth to, loved, raised, taught, laughed and cried with, coached as she gave birth to my grandson. I see a beautiful soul who didn’t stand a chance in this earthly life. This picture is just a shell of who she really was.
When she was only 7 years old, I convinced the school district to test her. I knew since she was born that she was highly intelligent. She taught herself to read at 3 years old. She taught herself to tie her own shoes. She read books from a very young age that college students would struggle with. She didn’t even have to look the meaning of words up….she just knew them. She would use that language in everyday talking. It turned out that her IQ was 142. That was a bittersweet moment when I found that out. What do I do with a child like this? There was nothing I could do. I tried. But, living in a town like ‘Central Valley’, California, there weren’t options. I had no money to relocate. I was on AFDC and barely making ends meet. Poverty should NEVER play a role in a childs’ education…or their future! I always told every one of my kids that they could be whatever they set their minds to being. They knew from the moment they were born that I didn’t have the money to send them to college, but they could live at home and we would support them as much as we could as long as they went to school. We wanted for our children what we didn’t have.
I would like to tell Erica, Bryan and Lindsay that I’m sorry. I would like to apologize for their sufferings due to my ignorance. Is that appropriate? Is it even my fault? The title of this blog is Psalms 139, and there’s a reason for that;
God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.
1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit ? Or where can I flee from Your presence ?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

God took Erica into the “everlasting way.” This world was too much for her. He knew her heart. He knew that when she was just a teenager, she gave her life to Him. He protected her the ONLY way she could be protected. He protected her son in the same way.
I’m finally able to have closure in her death. I still grieve. I still want her here. I want to talk to her. I want to hear her voice. I want HOPE for her. God says in His word; Jeremiah 29:11;
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope….Jeremiah 29:11

Not always does this mean that our future of a life of hope and prosperity will be in an earthly manner. Some of us will have this future in Heaven.

One day I will be with Erica. I will see the life that she should have lived on this earth, and share it with her. My future is in heaven. I cling to that. For now, I will live out my days and try to do what God wants of me.

Going through stuff

M's day from E
It reads;
Mom,
I never forgot Mother’s Day- I just
haven’t had the chance. I was thinking
about you today, and I found this
card. You will always have my heart…
You will always have my love…even
across the miles. Mom, without realizing
it, you keep me going out here, determined
to succeed. I love you.
All my Love,
Your Daughter,
Erica

Today I’m going through things, as we’re preparing to move. I’m always finding memorabilia from Erica. I was going through a trunk when I found some cards and letters from Erica. I’m not going to sit down and focus on them right now, because I don’t have the time or the energy it takes to grieve over them. I’m just going to post them, and later when I re-read this, I’ll take that time that I need to allow myself to really cry. Even thinking about it gets me emotional.
This first one she wrote to Paul and me (no date);

Sometimes, I get really confused.
I don’t know what to do.
And, more often than not,
I end up doing the wrong thing.

Sometimes I get really scared.
I feel like there is nothing to live for.
Like nothing matters anymore.
And I want to lay down and cry.

But, every time this happens,
You two are there.
When my world is falling apart,
You two are there.

And, no matter what I say,
I know that you love me.
I know that you care.
And I will always love both of you.

And it is times like these
That help me in ways that seem impossible.
Words cannot express the way I feel
About what I have put you through.

I can’t live with myself anymore,
If I can’t change myself for good.
All I ask is one last chance
To prove myself and give you your return.

The time is long since overdue
To return the love you have so tenderly
Just given to me, when there are times I
Feel I don’t deserve it.

Dad and Mom, I love both of you in
ways I cannot begin to express.
No matter what happens, nothing will
ever change that.
Sincerely, with ALL my love,
Erica

1 YEAR AGO TODAY….written by Eileen

more sale & paul 008954674_578403252193438_2063632596_n<a

I must say that this is more a testament to God's faithfulness, love, mercy and grace than anything else.
4 years ago (2009) when we moved to Oregon, my husband, Paul was on unemployment. Prior to that, he was on disability from Bells Palsy. We had lived here for only 7 months when he got sick again. This time it would be bad. He had the worst global pain going around and in his head than he could stand. He had vertigo so bad that he couldn't walk. We had no medical insurance. We took him to the Dr.'s. They should have done a Lumbar Puncture, but they didn't. It turned out that he had Meningitus. He was hospitalized. While in the hospital he got Bells Palsy once again. On the right side. He had been complaining of the loss of hearing on his right side.
We weren't getting any answers, nor was he getting better. The Dr.'s released him from the hospital without running the correct tests on him, full of drugs, and no better than when he was admitted. I proceeded to do my own research and found OHSU. I made the arrangements, and got him an appt. By now, his hearing loss was 100% gone on his right side plus he had the most horrible ringing (tinnitus) in his ear. The Dr. was pro-active with the Bells Palsy, treated him with a steroid injection into the ear canal, ordered an MRI, and scheduled a follow up appt. We lived on the Oregon Coast at the time….a 21/2 hour drive away to Portland. On the follow up appt., the Dr. informed us that Paul had a tumor. Not sure what kind…could be a 'Facial Schwanoma' or an 'Acoustic Neuroma'. Considering the facial paralysis, the Dr. decided to operate. We went to see a neurologist who specialized in this. He saw Paul and explained everything to us. He also said that he would be making the incision in front of his ear, severing the facial nerve, then doing a nerve graft from either his neck or leg. He would be permanently paralyzed for life on that side of his face. On the day the surgery was scheduled, we had all of our ducks lined up. Our friends from Redding, Ca had driven all the way up to be with me during this time. Paul was being prepped for surgery. The nurse was unable to get the IV in his arm. She had to call for a phlebotomist. It seemed like it took forever. In the meantime, a resident Dr. came to check on Paul to just see how he was doing. To his surprise, Paul had no paralysis. He went and got the Dr. who had scheduled the operation. He was as equally surprised. The steroid injection had reversed the paralysis….just what he was hoping for. The Bells Palsy caused it….not a Facial Schwanoma. His surgery was cancelled. All dressed up, waiting to be permanently disfigured, and God stepped in and said…..'NOT THIS ONE….HE'S MINE'. At least, that's what we believe! So, we spent the next 2 years, just waiting and watching this thing grow. In February, 2012, he started having symptoms again. They were subtle, but they were getting closer and more intense. He had to have a follow up MRI scan. There it was. It had grown. Not much, but just enough that it needed to come out. OK, now we needed to contact the Dr.'s once again. They had left the Hospital. Neither one of them were even in the area. It was recommended that we send Paul's medical records to the http://www.hei.org/ in Los Angeles, Ca. The Dr.'s down there would review them, and give a second opinion — free of charge. By the way, he had gotten a very good job with Lowe's, and we had great medical insurance by now. They got his records and within 24 hrs., Dr. Slattery called and wanted to schedule surgery…..within 6 weeks. So, here we go again. This time, we were assured that the incision would be a c shape BEHIND the ear. They couldn't guarantee no paralysis, but the prognosis was much better than before.
May 24, 2012 was the scariest day of not only my life, but my husband, Paul's. On May 21st, we set out to drive from where we live – Salem, Oregon to Los Angeles, Ca. Almost 1,000 miles. He had an Acoustic Neuroma (brain tumor), that was scheduled to come out. We didn't know what the outcome would be. Isaiah (our son) and I waited in anticipation for what seemed like an eternity. This was the day that this horrible, ugly, very small growth that grew inside my husbands head would be removed. The Dr. wasn't sure if he would be able to get it all. He wasn't sure if Paul would have paralysis on that side of his face.
We had been staying at 'Seton Hall' on the property of the hospital, just for 'brain tumor' patients. We had seen and visited with some of the patients who had already had their surgeries. One couple flew all the way from Malaysia. He was just a few days post op. Although he was paralyzed on the affected side, he did very well. The scar was herrendous. His story was impressive, but frightening to us.
So, now Isaiah and I are waiting to hear, and finally he's out. He was in ICU, and only I could see him for 15 minute intervals. I felt so bad for him. He was in such pain. It was so hard for me to control my emotions as I saw him this way.
We were down there for 10 days. We left, and on the way home, we met up with Erica and Braden. She was unable to come to the hospital to visit, so we made other arrangements. There's lots of regrets we have in life, but this was one time that I'm very grateful to God for sending us all the way down there. That was the last time I saw my daughter.
It's been exactly one year ago today that Paul had his surgery. So much has happened. He has already had a follow up MRI and there's absolutely no residual tumor – PRAISE GOD! He has healed, and continues to get better everyday. God took care of Paul, and made sure that he wasn't butchered by Dr.'s who didn't really know what they were doing. God knew the future, and I believe that He allowed us one last time to be with Erica.
The pictures above are of him in ICU and today – 1 year later. GOD HAS BEEN VERY FAITHFUL AND GOOD TO US!

WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS FREEDOM….written by Eileen

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Erica 2002
13 Years ago, I never thought I would go through what I did. My son’s girlfriend had his 2nd child. He was in a different state at the time. I met my grandson, Isaiah when he was just 1 week old. His mother was just 15 years old. Her home life was horrible, and she was unable to raise a baby. A week and a half after meeting my grandson, and his mother, she phoned and asked me if I could take care of him for her for a few days. A few days turned into a permanent situation. My son was absent from their life, and I was the only one who could take care of this sick baby. She consistently had communication with my son for the first 8 months of Isaiah’s life. During that time, she would take him from us, and when he returned, he was very sick. He has many allergies, asthma, excema, mild cerebral palsy and needed special foods, and care. Every single time she would call, earlier in the day, a song would come into my spirit and wouldn’t leave. This song got me through the most horrible times of his small little life. My heart would be breaking, just knowing what (or what wasn’t) in store for him. She did drugs. She partied. Her friends always came to her house and played “house” with the baby. The cat slept in his crib. He was highly allergic to him. My husband and I were very active and always at church. Our friends spent so much time praying for us and the situation. We were advised by some people to force our hand and go through the authorities to take her to court and fight for custody. My heart wasn’t there. I wanted his mother to open her eyes and be a good mother. I brought her to our home. I taught her how to bathe him, feed him, hold him, take care of him. Her head and heart wasn’t there. We just continued to pray. During the time he wasn’t with us, I had complete peace. She would only take him back for a couple of days at a time. Finally, he was with us more than with her. When he was 8 months old, she asked us to take legal guardianship of him because she was fearful that she was going to be arrested for drugs. Of course we did, and within a very short period, she was in jail. We had him permanently from then on. When he was 3, she asked us if we would adopt him. Of course we couldn’t say no. He was ours. God placed this precious baby with us, and appointed us to be his parents. When he was 4, we adopted Isaiah. Now, everytime I hear that song, I think about that time.
Even now, through the difficult times I’ve been through, I know that I have freedom in Jesus, as He gives me complete peace. He’s in control of all things, big and small. He’s in control when our children pass away from this earth. He’s in control when a child is born to a complete stranger, but yet we were chosen to be that child’s parents. I’ve been blessed to be all of my children’s mother….including my grandson. I hope that you take the time to listen to this song. Invite the Holy Spirit to come in and do any healing in you if that’s what you need. The tears still stream down my face when I listen to this song, knowing that it’s only through Yeshua (Jesus) is complete healing.

WHERE DOES MY STRENGTH COME FROM?…. written by Eileen

Where does my strength come from? I don’t feel strong. Is it physical strength? Emotional strength? What kind of strength are people referring to? The word strong. I looked it up, and it has a variation of meanings. I’ve been told that I’m strong. I’ve endured a lot throughout my lifetime.
As kids, occasionally my parents would take us to church. At 13, I went forward in a Baptist Church to “received Jesus into my heart”. I didn’t want to burn in hell when I died, and this gave me insurance for eternal salvation. I got baptized, and “spread the good news”. It was very short lived. As I grew older, watching the secular lifestyle my family lived, I wasn’t in any shape to live the “Christian” lifestyle. So, I just fumbled my way through life, knowing about God, and sometimes wondering if I would even go to heaven when I died. I didn’t think that God would want me because I was such a sinner, abandoned Him and church altogether when I got married.
I graduated high school, got married, and escaped my home life. Right into the arms of my high school sweetheart….a sex offender/abuser (not officially, although he should have been prosecuted!). I finally left and divorced him 71/2 years and 2 kids later.
I married another man immediately, got pregnant, and he left prior to me having my 3rd child. He was emotionally abusive.
I met my current husband 13 months after Lindsay was born. She looked like him. She acted like him. She could have been his biological daughter. God knew what He was doing. Or is that what I just told myself? We went through our good times, and bad times. He had baggage, I had more baggage. We struggled. In spite of everything we were facing, we made it. We both knew that we were meant to be together. He helped me raise my 3 kids. He was with me through everything.
I remember when Erica was with Kevin. They were driving truck, going cross country and all over. I remember she would call me to tell me about the exciting places they were in. I remember the endless nights I would lay awake in my bed worried sick because I hadn’t heard from her in weeks. Theirs was a relationship of drugs and abuse. I would imagine her dead in a ditch someplace, and just lose it. The worry of not knowing where my daughter was, was almost more than I could bear. I would think that if she were dead, and I knew it, at least I would know, and I could have closure to the unknown. I’ve heard many people who don’t know where their child is, think the same thing. That couldn’t be further from the truth….I know that now.
I went through a period of time when my son was homeless not knowing where he was. I remember the knock on my door at 3:00 in the morning telling me that he was found in the Golden Gate Park with a needle in his arm, and it was unknown if he was alive or dead. It turned out that the informant giving me the information was out for her own self-gratification.
I went through a period of time when my son and Erica were removed from my custody and placed in Foster Care under false allegations created by the same person who gave me false information regarding my son’s demise.
Those 3 incidents were the most crucial and traumatic of times in my life. Until Erica’s death.
In between those 3 incidents, I had to constantly (like a mother bear) fight to hold back the wolves from coming in and devouring me and my children. You see, I have a sister who was a drug addict. I have a mother who enabled her lifestyle, and took care of her kids. I had a father who also was a prescription drug addict. That’s what I grew up with.
From the time I can remember (15 yrs old), I was always fighting for truth and honesty. I watched as my mother, father and sister lied, stole, etc, in-and-out of jail, and my mother enabling and working right alongside both of them. I taught my kids right from wrong. I worked very hard to keep them away from that lifestyle. But, I would learn that my mother and sister were very vindictive people. If they didn’t like what I did, they took matters into their own hands. So, I learned to fight for mine. Not illegally, just by trying to be smarter than they were. I learned how to be resourceful. I learned how to stand my ground. I learned how to outsmart them. I learned….I learned….I learned. I learned how to think like a thief and a liar. I’ve been told that knowledge is power….right? Well, I could say – I wish I had learned that back when I was 15. But, I didn’t.
I became an angry, bitter and hateful person. I became distrustful of most people.
Then one day I got saved. I mean Holy Spirit complete mindset and heart change! I had been working with a woman who started praying for my salvation from the first day I met her. I had a best friend who was also praying for me. Between those two, there was more power in their prayers (they didn’t know each other), than my family had with satan going up against me. Once I got saved, I couldn’t get enough. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANY PUNY DEVIL….RIGHT??? Well, hence began the fight of my spiritual warfare battle! For a year or two, I prayed for truths. For God to expose any and all truths so I could be vindicated! Well, He exposed crucial ones. Not all. Just enough that my faith in Him just grew by leaps and bounds. Little by litte over the next few years, more and more lies would be exposed. I wouldn’t have been able to handle all of it at once. Little by little, my faith grew to the point that now, God is in me in ways I didn’t know could happen, and in ways that can’t be explained. There’s no place in the Bible where it talks about this type of faith and trust. You just have to learn and experience it.
I’ve read and heard about Job. Job lost everything. He lost his children, his home, his belongings, his health….everything. He lamented. He cried out to God….WHY??? I HAVE SERVED YOU!
Why on earth do people compare themselves or others to Job? REALLY??!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
Do you think that Job was the same person once everything was restored to him (including more children), than he was before God allowed Satan to take him to nothing? I will NEVER be convinced that he was. If anything, he would most likely be living in some type of fear. He would most likely have issues with closeness and relationships with others. If God allowed Satan to do this once, what makes him think it won’t happen again? That was a very serious trauma that Job went through! Trauma’s leave marks on our souls. On our spirits. In our lives. It forever changes us from who we were to what we’re becoming.
Please
Be
Patient
God
Isn’t
Finished
With
Me
Yet
I suppose not. I read that once, and I thought that was a phrase used for people who have the need to judge and criticize others. It means something different to me now.
I’ve prayed for God to make me like a little child. Innocent. Unassuming. Naive. Pure. Sweet. Gentle. Nice.
I’m really glad that He doesn’t give us what we want all the time. He is forming us to what we’re supposed to be.
He wants me to have empathy. He wants me to have compassion for the broken. He wants me to stop being judgemental. He wants me to stop criticizing. He wants me to see others as He sees them. I get it. I really and truly get it.
When we moved here to Oregon, I applied for Medical Assistance through Social Services for my husband and myself. We had to be put on a list and it was like a lottery. Our names had to come to the top for us to even apply. That was tough! God took care of us in the interim. I understood at that point why people in Oregon were so poor, and why some of them had bad health.
One day (4 years later), I was driving out of a parking lot. A man standing on the street corner had a sign. Lots of them do, and I usually just keep driving. This time, I was reminded of the laws regarding Social Services. I remembered what I learned. Yes, I put my window down and reached in my wallet and just pull out a bill. I looked at it, and it was rather large. For a split second, I thought about replacing it with a much smaller one, but just handed it to him.
Did I learn compassion? Through what we experienced when we first moved here, I did. I didn’t forget that lesson.
I won’t forget that lesson. I saw everything that we went through in that mans’ face. In a very brief moment, what my husband and I went through flashed before me in his face.
So….when I was going through the various situations/traumas that I endured, do I see my strength? No. I feel the pain of what to do, where to go, how do I get through this? I want somebody to pay for putting me through this agony! Lots of what I’ve endured was in my crucial years of learning. God didn’t (or maybe he did and I was unaware) guide me. I attempted to go through my hardships fighting, kicking and screaming the whole way! Anger, hatred, bitterness, wanting vindication and justice, resentment and loss of connection found its way into my heart. It didn’t feel like truth and honesty were to be part of my life.
Once my earthly fight had come to an end, God stepped in. He saw my weakness. He knew my capacity. I was full. I couldn’t handle one more drop. Not even the mist of a drop.
The praying after my salvation for truth to be exposed just emptied my bucket. My bucket started filling up with faith in my God. Truth, honesty, grace, mercy from the most Loving of all. God. And, to top it off, He was mine. I was His. I wouldn’t be hidden from Him. I never was hidden from Him. All I ever had to do was to call out to Him.
What does all of this have to do with strength? I don’t believe anything at all. I call it DETERMINATION. Determined to live a happy, healthy, life in spite of what comes my way. Once I stopped fighting, and started praying, supernatural things began to happen. Not in a “feel good” way like so many people are chasing.
You see, when we’re in the storm, we can’t see what’s going on around us. We’re in the middle of a tornado. Everything is spinning around us, our life feels as if it’s out of control. That can’t be further from the truth. When we make a cake, what do we have to do first? We put all of the ingredients into a bowl. The mixer just mixes everything up.
The eggs- once whole
The flour – once a fine dust
The oil – once a thick liquid capable of so many things
The water – clean, clear and pure
We have a wonderful dessert. None of the ingredients will ever be the same again. But, put together, they have bonded to become something that was impossible without the others.
As it is with us. Everything we experience in life is just another ingredient that is added to make us somebody wonderful.
If I had my life to do over again, with the knowledge that I have today….would I change what I endured? I would. I wouldn’t want to endure the physical pain again.
But that’s why God doesn’t allow us to know or see the future.
I’m determined. I’m determined to allow God to continue to show me in this physical world the things that break His heart. I’ve asked Him to do that. I just didn’t anticipate that He would take me so literal and really bring me to a point that I would lose one of my children. It broke His heart when His one and only son died on that cross. He died for a purpose. My child died for a purpose. Yeshua (Jesus) died that we would all be saved. Why did Erica die? I don’t know. Maybe I will never know. Only God knows.
So…the next time somebody tells me “You’re a strong person”, I will look at them, and give all of the glory to God. He isn’t finished with me yet.

LOVE THYSELF….written by Erica

erica and bryan on curb 1984
For truly as they say,
For ourselves our lives we live.
Come to us the day
When no more there is to give,
Our self love will set us free.

I know I’ve been told
Of that grace that sets us free,
How, when we grow old,
And our eyes no longer see,
Our self love will set us free.

And the world will turn,
All the seasons still will change.
And still there will be those
Whose minds become derranged,
But Our self love will set us free.

September 22, 1996 (17 years old)