Monday, January 27, 2014

Who’s On the Throne?

My husband and I attended a great Christian marriage conference this past weekend. In one of the sessions the speaker was talking about how the heart and worship affects every area in our lives. Worship is our identity before it is our activity. He went on to say how romance is not the cause of a good marriage but the result of worshipping the right thing. Do we worship God Almighty, the creator of the universe or do we worship self? In other words, “Who’s on the throne?”

While he was speaking about how self-worship can negatively impact a marriage, my husband leaned over and said, “Boy does this apply to a narcissist like your Mom!”

As a narcissist, she continually has herself on the throne and leaves no room to share it with anyone not even the Lord God Almighty. She is the queen of her universe and the only god she truly worships. When she is reminded that she is not on what she considers her rightful throne, or not given her duly deserved adoration and attention, that is when hell breaks loosed for whoever is the cause or just happens to be nearby.

For many years, because of my Mom’s manipulation, control and fear she had instilled in me, I not only let Mom be on her throne, but in many ways let her ascend to a throne in my own life. Many times my fear of her was greater than my awe and faith in God.  I let my fears and peace-keeping at any cost put her on a throne intended for God alone.

Four years ago, I was blessed with a friend who, as she became very close to me, shared about her mom who is a clone of ours. What a blessing and support my friend has been in learning to deal with a narcissistic mom! She is a bit further in the process of healing, forgiving, setting boundaries and not taking the undeserved blame than either of us. One day, a couple years ago, I was lamenting how to deal with Mom when feeling like her current manipulations went against what I believed to be true. My friend wisely asked me, “Who’s on the throne of your life? Is it your mom or God?" Ouch!! Boy did that make me pause and think.

Since then, when issues come up, I try to, in the midst of the upheaval of emotions, remind myself she is not going to be allowed to climb unto the throne in my heart which is meant for God alone. I have purposed to not allow that idolatry to happen anymore! I still struggle with the dread, fear, panic and walking on eggshells in every encounter yet I also know my God is bigger, more powerful, full of love, grace, truth, peace and joy. She can no longer cause me physical abuse. Mom may destroy my sense of peace, my ego and my reputation, but she cannot destroy my faith and hope in Jesus Christ or my assurance of eternity with Him. 

I have begun to realize, that my taking her off of the throne does not cause her to become nastier. The nastiness is already in her heart. What I do or do not do does not cause the rages, the cussing out, the insults or verbal abuses. It is just what is inside her already leaking out.

This concept is illustrated so well in this passage of scripture.

Luke 6:43-45
43“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

So I continually remind myself the ugliness that spews out of her is from the overflow of her evil heart and not because of what I do or do not do. Do I like encountering this evil overflow, of course not! I so long for it to end, pray for a miracle or do all I can to avoid it. Now I realize and accept I must reserve the throne of my heart for God and living to please Him, no matter how much it ticks her off. If she wants to continually worship the false idol of herself there is nothing I can do about it. But to my God and to who I am in Christ, I must remain faithful and true.

May I ask you today, “Who’s on the throne?” Are you letting the narcissist in your life continue to rule or is the God of the universe ruling your heart?

Praying God grants you the faith and the strength you need to dethrone your narcissist.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Three Companions

Throughout my childhood and most of my adult years, I have had three constant companions: fear, shame and guilt.

I described in an earlier post in more detail how fear tiptoed into my life at a very early age. It was well in place and an active presence in my earliest memories. I now realize it was a fiery dart of the enemy of my soul most often shot from the bow of my own mother. Instead of nurturing and comforting, she condemned and abused. Instead of clear boundaries and expectations with consistency, there were ever changing expectations I could never meet; ones that would cause rages, expletives and abuse, verbal and emotional, as well as physical. My life became a constant state of fear, of always walking on eggshells, of never knowing when I would disturb the “beast”. Fear that I would once again cause the one who was supposed to love and care for me, to rage and inflict pain.

Shame and guilt were Siamese twins that entered my life shortly after fear. I truly believed that if I wasn't such a naughty child, my mother wouldn't react like she did. I was frequently reminded by her of what an awful a child I was and of how much she had to endure because of me. If I had a dollar for every time I was called “selfish” or “independent brat,” I would be quite wealthy! Every “sin” I committed was told in exaggerated details to Dad and others. As the years went by, the offenses grew with the passage of time or morphed into something very different from reality.

Success in any arena was unnoticed but anything she thought would reflect badly on her was cause for a “shame-fest”. Criticism on how I acted, what I said, my physical appearance, or my clumsiness only served to magnify my shame and feelings of unworthiness. When a volcanic explosion of rage occurred (and occur they did!!), I was told in words that would make a sailor blush how it was all my fault.  These rages were often accompanied by slaps, shakings, clawing of my arms with her fingernails and using whatever was nearby as a destructive weapon of her angry “discipline.” I was the problem… and shame and guilt were the only companions that I deserved.

But God…

God and His everlasting, enduring love and grace entered my life and I became His daughter, when I found His saving grace at the age of nine. Home was still hell and I still had my three companions, but I had a refuge. One who would love me in spite of anything I did. I still struggle with my three companions: fear, shame and guilt. But now, I am quicker to run to the sheltering arms of refuge of my Abba Father.

Psalm 27:10
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”

This verse has been a lifeline I have clung to the last year and a half, since my returned memories of past abuse and realization that my narcissist mom has never loved me and is incapable of loving me. It reminds me of the One who will never reject me, who will always take me in, who will always love me.

Isaiah 49:15-16a 

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
 And have no compassion on the son of her womb? 
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;”

My God will never do the unthinkable and abandon His daughter. He has my name engraved, tattooed on His nail scarred hand!!

While looking on Pinterest this week, I came across a quote on shame. While researching its source, I came across more of it. It is quoted from “Wanting To Be Her” by Michelle Graham.

"If shame tells me that I'm defective, grace tells me that I'm valuable.  Shame's greatest weapon is the fear of judgment; grace's even greater weapon is the relief of unconditional love.  Shame says that because I am flawed I am unacceptable; grace says that though I am flawed I am cherished.  Shame believes that the opinion of others is what matters; grace believes that the opinion of God is what matters.  Shame claims I must be perfect to earn the approval of others, grace claims that I am accepted regardless of seeing imperfections.  Shame makes me hide, grace makes us frolic.  Shame is the language of the serpent; grace is the language of Jesus."  

Reading this shows me how much I really need to stop listening to the voice of shame and rather hear the freeing truths of grace. I need to not hang onto guilt that isn’t mine or true guilt that I have repented of and not listen to those lies. Instead I need to accept all of the grace that God has extended to me and will continue to extend to me. I want to be His cherished one who frolics through life rather than hiding in the shadows of fear and shame!

O Lord God, please help me to turn my back on these three dreary companions of fear, shame and guilt, and instead remember your loving acceptance. Enable me to embrace Your grace and ignore the lies… I can’t do this on my own, Lord. Give me grace; Your Amazing Grace. Amen.

May you all find grace in place of fear, shame and guilt.

Grace to you,


Friday, January 17, 2014

Crawling Out of the Pit of Depression . . .

I lie in bed awake . . . morning has come, but I dread getting up.  I know how I want my day to go . . . a day of productivity, of happy energy and joyful accomplishment.  But as I lie here I find myself questioning once again . . . can I do it today?  Can I choose to engage and not fall as usual.  Not fall into the constant pit of depression that so often calls my name.

I try to be an upbeat person and for the most part, others would say that I am.  I smile at everyone as I go through the stores and do my errands.  I love to joke and put a smile on the face of others.  But inside of me rages a battle . . . not just daily, but hourly.  The battle of choices.  The battle of peace.  The battle of depression.

I am not sure when I first started dealing with depression . . . I remember writing sad feelings in a journel when I was still in grade school.  Until my Mom read it and ridiculed me and told me I was too dramatic.  So then I stopped writing them down . . . too afraid she would find them.  My greatest desire is to wake up feeling at peace.  Such a simple want and yet something I have struggled for most of my life to attain.

So as I lie in bed this morning I question . . . can I engage today?  Can I make today productive . . . make it a day that counts?  So many days I wake up with that goal and then somehow I get pulled into the pit again . . . an ugly pit that confines me . . . keeps me from being the woman God intended.  I scratch at it's walls . . . sometimes I am able to climb out for just a while . . . and I drink in the short-lived peace and freedom that comes with this fleeting accomplishment.  But it never lasts.  Sometimes it is a phone call that throws me back into the pit . . . or words of friends and loved ones that just cut too close to words of my past.

This past fall I went on a crafting retreat with a gal I had considered my best friend.  I was starting to really relax and enjoy being away from expectations and responsibilities.  At one point during the retreat, I checked my Facebook and made mention to my friend of something politically that was happening at the time and how people were reacting on Facebook.  I simply thought it was interesting and made for good conversation.  My friend began prodding me to state my views on Facebook.  I did not feel called to do this and the last thing I wanted to do was stir up controversy.  She did not let it go and kept pushing me to do what I did not want to do.  To make a long story short, it became very heated and ugly.  It ruined what should have been a relaxing retreat and our friendship has been quite strained ever since.  During this time she peppered me with words that ripped me to the core . . . I was negative, I was selfish, I was a bad friend.

This has caused me to spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking about things . . . am I capable of having a close friendship?  Will friends ever understand who I am?  Can I ever allow myself to be vulnerable to a friend like that again?

As the daughter of a narcissist, one thing  I have learned to do, as a survival mechanism, is to avoid conflict at almost any cost.  In the past I have shared my conservative views and it has gotten me into trouble with those that disagree.  For many, this is not a big issue.  They do not let the views of others affect who they are or lower their self esteem.  But for a child of a narcissist, I think it is different.  Our whole life we were told we were not good enough, were told we were failures and made to feel unworthy.  Because of this we spend a lifetime over compensating.  Going to extremes to be nice, to be loved, to be accepted.  And when I am not loved or accepted, it sends me into a tailspin of self doubt and total insecurity.  I am so very grateful for my husband . . . the man who has chosen to love me unconditionally.  He is the one person that I know loves me for me.  He sees my worth.  While I am sure he sees my shortcomings and failures, he doesn't see them as defining me.  He believes in me.  Because of him I am finally starting to try things and learn to believe maybe I can do things.  I wanted so badly to be an artist as a child, but my dreams were laughed at.  "Use it for your own entertainment but don't ever think you can make a living at it," my Mom would tell me.  For many years I would watch as others passed me by, becoming the successful creative person I longed to be.

And today, I have my own business and I am pursuing taking it further.  But for ever step or two I take forward, it seems I always take one backwards.  This fall I had a nasty accident with a table saw.  I was so fortunate to have kept my fingers, but it has been a long and painful recovery.  With over 30 stitches and a rod in my finger, I was not able to be creative.  This last week I had someone get on my business Facebook page and blast me.  Since I have not been able to post pictures of my own creations lately . . . since creating was not an option . . . I had posted ideas of others.  I never claimed them for my own . . . I just thought it was fun to share creative ideas.  I also posted photos that I thought were beautiful . . . simply to bless others.  Photos of barns, and landscapes and beautiful old houses.  Most of my followers posted great responses.  But of course the one bad comment blasts loudly over the others.  This person private messaged me as well and pretty much told me I was an uncreative fraud.  Please note, I don't know this person . . . I have never met him and doubt I ever will.  Yet still, he robbed my peace.  He spoke into my insecurities.  All the whispers in my head . . . placed there by Satan but fanned by my mother, played loudly in my head.  "You are worthless."  "You are a fake."  "You don't have any talent."  I spent that day lying on the sofa, not even knowing how to function.

Some days when the depression comes on, I can label it . . . find a reason why I am feeling that way.  We have one child in rebellion that causes us a lot of pain and heartache.  Another child who wants to do the right thing, but still keeps making foolish decisions.  Our youngest, has his act together so well, yet sometimes even that will cause me distress . . . is it for real?  Is he really well grounded or will it all come crashing down someday.  Some days it is the situation with my parents . . . Dad is in late stages of dementia and quickly going downhill.  My husband's parents are also in need of care and my father-in-law has Alzheimer's.  So these things are real and can cause me stress.  But so much of my depression is something much deeper than outward happenings.  It stems from feeling unworthy,  from feeling hopeless.

So I can wallow in self pity and maybe even be angry with my Mom for making me feel so worthless.  But what good will that do?  That only adds to my problem and sinks me deeper.  When I find myself consumed with anger toward my Mom, I am overcome with guilt . . . the guilt of not loving my Mom like I should, of not honoring my parents.

I wish I had a simple answer for overcoming depression.  It is not something I talk much about.  In fact very few people know I deal with it.  I could probably get a prescription, but I know, for me,  that is just a simple way to mask the pain . . . it isn't dealing with the cause.  So I will pray fervently for joy.  For seeing myself through God's eyes and not the eyes of others.  I know this won't be something I will fix overnight . . . and in fact I kind of think this issue may always be my "thorn in my side" that I never completely overcome this side of heaven.  But  I do know I will never stop fighting it.  I will never give in to the lies of Satan.  I am wonderfully and fearfully made.  God would sacrifice His only son just for me alone.  

I do believe in the power of words.  Words can destroy.  But they can also restore and rebuild.  Where will I find such words . . . words to give me hope and a future?  The word of God!  I am not nearly as learned in the Bible as I wish.  I have a hard time memorizing, but I know God's words do not fall void.  So that is my desire . . . and maybe you, dear readers, can keep me accountable.  There is life and hope in the word of God.  We all need life and hope.  If you too struggle with this seemingly never ending sea of depression, please join me.  Get off the couch . . . grab your Bible (and maybe a cup of tea, while you're at it) and begin drinking in the words of wisdom and truth.  The words of hope and peace.  

I wish for you peace . . . the peace that can only come from God.  Turn to Him and His promises . . . and His life giving words.  Getting out of bed now . . .

With love and blessings,


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Miscarried Memories

The hours since the phone call last night from my daughter have had me constantly praying and thinking and remembering. My daughter, who lives 1500 miles away, is 11 weeks pregnant with her third child. She called to let me know she is having cramping and spotting. Thankfully the ultrasound yesterday showed all is still fine with the precious new life and was sent home with instructions to take it easy the next few days. Like that will happen with a three year old and a nineteen month old!! So I am praying she doesn’t experience the pain of miscarriage and the grief that loss brings.

My daughter’s phone call quickly brought back into my memory my own three miscarriages with their pain and grief and along with memories of my mother who didn’t choose to believe any of them occurred. Rather than her prayers, loving support and empathy she poo-pooed them at the time and since has told others how they never happened and are more of my lies for attention. Even two summers ago she informed me she had never heard of any of my miscarriages so this must be another case of “my vivid imagination.” My hubby overheard this interaction from the next room and came to verbally support and back up my words of truth. In true narcissist fashion, when confronted with the truth she raged and started accusing us of being overly defensive, ganging up on her and teaming up in our lies. There was much yelling and expletives on her part. I reacted as I normally do and was in tears. My normally calm, easy-going and cheerful husband becomes firm and unrelenting with the truth when Mom gets like this. Since he doesn’t cower or back down, that resulted in his being accused of having a “big anger issue” and “how scary his anger is!” Funny thing is that Aydan’s husband also has this “issue” according to our Mom.

As I ponder on the potential hurts for my daughter and son-in-love from losing this precious little one, I am once again appalled at how a mother can belittle, forget or accuse her daughter of a vivid imagination rather than empathizing with her hurt and loss. I am saddened at the thought of any of my kids having to walk through something like this. If there is a miscarriage I will grieve the grandchild I’ll never meet or hold this side of heaven. Last night I was asking how our daughter was doing emotionally and spiritually with this and prayed with her on the phone. I have continually breathed prayers for her and the baby since her call and even woke several times during the night and prayed.

What I have discovered in recent years is that anything that possibly hinted of taking attention away from Mom never really happened. I never had three miscarriages; I never had babies on apnea monitors because they slept so soundly they would “forget” to breathe. My chronic illness and the physical effects of it are my “supposed symptoms”, my “supposed allergies”. She has bad-mouthed me to relatives and friends about how I make up lies for attention. Aydan has confirmed hearing this from her also.

So, what does one do when you have a narcissist mother who “miscarries” the memories of all your painful and successful events in your life? All the things that God has allowed into my life that have shaped me into the woman I am today?

I have a choice.

I can wallow in self-pity and become embittered or I can choose to realize my mother is mentally and spiritually sick and a miserable person who should be pitied. I need to remember she is spiritually lost and without any true hope and that short of a HUGE divine intervention – talking major miracle – she will NEVER change!

I can choose to be bitter or better. Bitter or better – what a difference one letter makes!!

I can choose to let my trials build my character and increase my love, compassion and empathy for others who are going through struggles, offering support, prayers and comfort. I can love by just listening and being a shoulder to cry on or arms to hold a hurting soul. I can recall the many times God has used various friends over the years to minister to me in my dark hours.

I also need to remember how God Himself has cared for me and, as I recount them, can build my faith to have confidence that He will care for me in the future.

 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

“You have kept count of my tossings,
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 56:8

What a contrast to my narcissist mom, a loving and caring Heavenly Father who is near to the brokenhearted, aware of our tossing through sleepless nights and is bottling and recording each tear we shed. This is the same God who, in 2 Corinthians 1:4, “comforts us in all our afflictions that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

So now I wait…and pray…and offer support to my daughter in this challenge. And I choose to remember a God who is always there to love, care, sustain and comfort me in all circumstances.

May you each find that grace and comfort in the challenges your life brings you!

Love and blessings,


This song has ministered to me in so many ways and hope it encourages some of you also.

In the Valley - Sovereign Grace Music

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Happy Narcissist . . . Or The Great Dillusion

I was talking to my Mom this morning on the phone.  My Mom is not a happy woman.  She is filled with bitterness and anger.  She is nice if it is to her benefit . . . knowing how to manipulate things to work for her good, but she is NOT happy.  So today, she was laughing at and making fun of a blog post I did on a separate blog I do, about happiness.  In my blog, I mentioned that I have only ever known three people that I would call "truly happy" . . . I was not talking about a shallow, temporary happiness, but more of a deep-seeded joy.   I believe this happiness only comes from living a life that is focused on the Lord and not ourselves.

She kept giving me examples of why she is such a happy person . . . examples of teasing my Dad or playing a joke on someone.   No examples of a joy that perseveres through any and all circumstances . . . not because of where we are in life, but because of WHOSE we are in life.  I certainly did not want to get in a fight about whether or not she is happy, for crying out loud!  But she is only happy when she is the center of attention.  When things are going her way.  And, since her expectations are greater than any of us can ever meet, she is rarely "happy".  Most of our lives growing up were about trying to please and appease Mom.  Trying to keep her from exploding and going on a tirade about something.  She was very explosive and we grew up with threats such as "I should just kill myself" on a regular basis.

My Mom wants to be seen in a certain light . . . she wants people to see her as some kind of amazing saint . . . someone who always puts others before herself, someone full of love and compassion.  She wants to be seen as beautiful, fun and exciting.  And, she truly acts like that is how she sees herself.

At 73, she still flirts with waiters and even men in our church, that don't remember her on the rare occasion she attends with me.  She tells us about neighbors and various other people that "made moves" on her.  She is aged and a bit overweight.  Not necessarily ugly for a woman of her age, but certainly no one who will still turn heads.  But in her mind she still is.

She tells me on a regular basis how "kind and loving" she is.  The people that I have known in my life that are truly kind and loving, do not have to brag about it.  In fact they never do.  Because their motives are pure and they are not seeking anything in return.  My Mom still uses an example of helping her neighbors.  This was for a short period of time she went down and visited a few times.  When the neighbors passed away, she befriended their children and had them believing she had been Mother Teresa to their parents.  For many years to come, they would give my parents free access to their ocean home for a couple of weeks each year.  They did this as repaying my Mom's great service to their parents.  But in truth, she had only stopped by to visit a few times.

The day in, day out woman I have known for my entire life is a bitter woman.  She makes fun of her children for having any dreams or desires of their own.  She can occasionally say something sweet to one of us . . . but only as a way of manipulation.   I look at her and I see a woman who is very unhappy.  In fact, after thinking about this, I do not believe a true narcissist, such as my Mom, can ever be happy.

Our happiness comes from God . . . He is the giver of any and all peace we have in this life.  While we may have fleeting moments of happiness based on circumstances, true deep-seeded happiness . . . or joy . . . can only come from the Lord.

Currently, my life, from a human standpoint, does not make me very happy.  I have happy things in my life . . . a wonderful caring husband, a beautiful setting that I am privileged to live in everyday, three beautiful children and even pets and chickens that make me "happy".  But I also have a child in rebellion (perhaps I will share about that a bit more in the future), and another one who is kind of "sitting on the fence" . . . kind of playing out the Romans 7 dilemma . . . knowing what he needs to do, but doing the wrong thing instead.  On top of that, we are dealing with my Dad's dementia . . . it is in the later stages and he is requiring more and more care . . . which means my Mom is expecting more and more of me.  Melissa lives a couple of thousand miles away, my older brother lives across the state and my little brother, though he helps out a bit from time to time, has never really taken on the responsibility at the level I have.  I am not sure if it is because he is a boy or if it is because he has the "youngest child" mentality or maybe, he has just learned to set better boundaries.  But anyway, on a day-in-day-out basis, I am the child she depends on and expects from.  I have no problem taking them shopping, to Dr. visits, etc. every week.  When Dad had an aortic aneurysm three years ago, I was there every day for three weeks straight . . . trading off 12 hour shifts with my brother.  If there are true needs to be done around the house for her, my husband and I are there.  But her expectations go well beyond need and into want.  Sometimes frivolous or unnecessary wants.  Their home was brand new when they moved in six years ago, so it is by no means a fixer upper. Yet she tells me often how she "needs" me to paint an accent wall for her, how she needs yet another rose or tree planted, etc.  I really don't mind sometimes doing the extras if there is time, but I do hate when it is expected and not appreciated and when I am made to feel guilty for not making her home the priority over my own.  But, that is another post for another day . . . my point is, I feel pressure from Mom that makes a "happy life" challenging to say the least.  

My Dad has taken a definite turn for the worst in the last few weeks.  His brain seems to have difficulty telling him how to do the most basic of things . . . such as walking, going to the bathroom, etc.  I truly believe he is down to his last year, if not only months to live.  I want to be there for him and my Mom.  But it is so hard.  Mom has such unfair expectations and says such mean things.  I understand that she is going through a hard time right now, so while yes I can give her some grace because of it, her meanness and unfair expectations existed long before this trial.  

But what keeps me struggling to tread water . . . and to find peace and happiness . . . is my fears.  As Melissa just shared in her last post, we grew up with many fears . . . fears of never being good enough to please our mother . . . or others, as she made us feel so very inadequate.  With the days until crisis with my Dad, drawing nearer and nearer, I have lately been experiencing what I guess are panic attacks . . . my heart starts racing and I am overwhelmed with a feeling of dread.  It is not a dread of losing Dad, as terrible as that seems.  I think I have been grieving the loss of my Dad for several years now . . . the man remaining is just a shell of what he used to be . . . his mind ravaged by the terrible disease of dementia.  No, my panic comes from thinking of the days, months and years to come in dealing with my Mom.  I am 50, Mom is 73.  Realistically she will have a good ten years or more left here on earth.  Can I deal with her making my life hell for another 10 years?  Should I have to give up my "good years" for her?  Will she ever let me experience joy with my own family in the years to come . . . when we someday welcome daughter-in-laws and grand babies into the future, will she allow us to bask in the joy of that, or will she have to continually pull me down and make me feel guilty for choosing to be happy?

My panic is actually keeping me up at night now . . . in fact, I am typing this at 4:00 a.m because I am unable to sleep.  I want peace.  My only goal for 2014 is to live a life of peace and to eliminate as much stress as I can.  So far, at day 5, I am failing miserably.

So what is happiness?  It certainly isn't what my Mom seeks.  It has nothing to do with the things you have or even the things people do for you.   It isn't even about having the perfect life or perfect family.  One of the women I shared about in my other blog, was a sweet woman who lived a life that by most human accounts would be considered miserable.  She lost her husband while in her 40's to a genetic disease.  A few years later that same disease took her one and only son.  She lived in poverty in one of the worst neighborhoods in town.  She was riddled with arthritus that twisted her joints and bones and caused her extreme pain.  Yet there was a happiness . . . a deep joy . . . in that woman that went so deep . . . something I have rarely found here on earth.  Everytime I saw her, even in her last days while in a wheelchair and extreme pain, she would declare, "God is good!  I am so blessed!"  Because to her, being a child of God was enough.  Knowing God created and loved her gave her happiness.  Having been allowed to be the wife of her beloved husband and the Mama of her only child, she counted as a blessing.  She was thankful for the little she did have . . . thankful not to be hungry and to have a roof over her head.  And when it was time to go, she was happy to know it was all worth it.  She is in heaven now, reunited with her precious loved ones and I believe being rewarded for a life well lived.

So maybe I need to rethink my goal for 2014 . . . and for always.  Maybe it isn't so much about being stress free, as it is about finding true peace and happiness.  I know peace comes from the Lord.  I know only He can give me the true joy I desire.  I say I am his child.  I believe in Him . . . now I need to truly believe.  Believe that He loves me beyond measure.  Believe that he wants me to live in peace and that He will walk with me through my fears of the months and years to come.

So today I choose peace . . . I choose to believe.  I do not believe living a Christian life is simply a matter of going to the alter one day while the choir sings "Just as I am".  I believe it is a daily walk . . . a daily choosing to consecrate everything . . . give it all . . . to God each day.  So I give my fears to the Lord today, I give my guilt and my anxiety, my resentment and anger all to the Lord.  I can't control the future . . . in fact I can't even see the future.  But God knows all my hours and minutes.  So this fear . . . that has taken such a stronghold in my life and the life of my sister Melissa, is not only keeping us in a place of anxiety and unrest, it is also keeping us from truly being happy.  From truly finding joy.  As Melissa shared, fear is not of God (you will soon come to see she is the smart one who is able to share all the Bible verses relating to these subjects. . . . I just know they are there but have a hard time remembering the addresses as well).  So if we are truly focused on God . . . on letting Him be in control of our lives, fear can not rein.  And if fear is gone, what replaces it . . . peace . . . joy . . . happiness.

Go in the Lord . . . in peace, joy and happiness!

With love and blessings,


Fear Lies Widest Awake in the Darkness

Fear lives widest awake in the darkness. The howling wind that knocks a stray plastic flowerpot against the house or makes the welcome sign clatter against the siding turn into intruders with sinister intent. The single chirp of a smoke alarm with a weakening battery at 3:00 am becomes the alarm system going off as a window is being opened. My thudding heart pounds in my ears causing me to question every noise. This was me, the great Christian, while my husband was recently on yet another business trip. 

I am not sure when fear first tip-toed into my life, but can't remember a time when it wasn't at least lurking in the shadows. I can't remember when it first visited and set up residence inside my fragile heart. 

My earliest memories of fear were of not pleasing my narcissistic mother and incurring her rages and wrath. I as far back as my memories go, constantly walking on eggshells never knowing when “Mommy Dearest” would arrive. One incident that stands out clearly in my young mind was from the spring or early summer when I was three years old. I know by the weather and which house we were living in as we we moved out of it early in the fall before I turned four. I was playing on our swing set with a neighbor girl and for some reason we began giggling and singing, “Pee pee, poo poo. Pee pee, poo poo.” Next thing I know Mom was out like a flash, shrieking like a banshee and sent my friend home and dragged me into the house. I was yelled at, smacked and handled roughly for singing such terrible things. She then put some dish soap in a cup and gave it to me to wash our my mouth. I am crying and uncertain what to do but somehow manage to swallow enough of it while sitting where she had roughly sat me down between the back door and the basement steps. My stomach reacted violently to the soap and I threw up and it went all over the basement stairs. I was then in trouble for throwing up all over the steps which caused much more yelling and her dragging me to another room and after that moment I can’t remember more about that early memory.

Fears were manifest in many areas of my life. I was frequently jumping as far as I could to get in or out of bed for fear of the monsters that lived under my bed at night. Though the most frightening monster I ever encountered went by the name Mom. I developed fears of fires and lightning storms neither which were helped by a Dad who chased smoke until we could see the burning building or a third grade teacher who told horror story after horror story of people being struck by lightning. As I matured, my fears did too. Fear of not being accepted, fear of not getting good enough grades, fear of failure, fear of not ever being attractive enough to be loved, fear of being alone, fear of being in new social circles where I didn't know anyone...fear of, fear of, fear of!!! Of course my mother daily reminded me of how inadequate I was - how ugly, how naughty, how selfish and such a liar. 

At seventeen after a thwarted attack by a drunk man began a whole new set of fears. Thankfully a neighbor that lived on my three block walking route to work intervened. I knew I couldn't tell anybody for fear my parents would find out and then Mom would make me quit my job which would mean I would never afford college or a car and would never escape from home. Now fear of rape or other attacks plagued me. Now entered the long era of nights alone becoming a battlefield of terror and horrific "what ifs".

  “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

God has been so faithful to help me face up to many of my fears, literally head on. He has bit by bit drawn me out of the shadows and into the light. He moved a girl terrified of mild spring thunderstorms to live for five years in Tornado Alley. He brought a loving, godly man into my life who after over 30 years of marriage still finds me beautiful in spite of the gravity pull of time. We once lived under evacuation notice for three weeks as forest fires raged nearby. The girl afraid of meeting new people, being accepted and new situations married a man who was raised in a loving family who frequently traveled all over the world, who was comfortable in all sorts of new situations and oblivious to any of the fears I had and assumed everybody was his friend. This same man joined the military weeks after we were married and we spent the next ten years moving all over. Our decade in the military was good for me as the distance from my narcissistic mother and new experiences helped to draw me out and to find out I was not quite as bad as I feared. Either that or I had been able to be “good enough” that my awful shameful self was not fully exposed to new friends I made. I grew in ability to enter new situations with less palpable fear and dread though I never was what one would think of as confidant. 

After our military years we returned to my hometown and lived within minutes of mom and Aydan. I quickly returned to old patterns of conforming to Mom out of fear of the consequences. The years of gas-lighting led me to believe I was truly as terrible of a child as she told me I had been. Then entered a long season of over fifteen years where I tried to be "good enough" to earn her approval and make amends. Fear of upsetting Mom or causing her wrath made me be easily played by Mom’s manipulation to the point her needs were put ahead of those of my husband or children. I tried to anticipate Mom’s every need and be there to help even before she asked. In the midst of this season I was still fighting my demons of fear that attacked me in night mares and while my husband had frequent travels in long tormented sleepless nights. Feelings of frustration of not being able to do as I wanted and at times feeling like I was "damned if I do and damned if I don’t" when it came to Mom were frequently present too. These feeling were usually accompanied with large doses of guilt as our relationship strains were really all my fault.

A few years ago God set the stage to enable me to realize my prison of fears and manipulation. We moved cross country with a job transfer with my husband’s company. This was not expected or wanted at the time but we had enough faith in God to pray to Him to direct our course by opening and closing doors. God slammed shut every door in our hometown and there were no decent paying jobs in his career field. Likewise He widely opened the doors for our move and all the details for the sale of our home, the move and the purchasing of another home in our new location fell beautifully into place. The greatest surprise was the bird out of its cage freedom feeling I experienced with this move. I suddenly saw the chains of manipulation and doubts my mom had wrapped around me and began to start thinking for myself and just being me! 

Shortly after moving, I attended a ladies Bible study where the focus was to believe based only on what the Word of God said not based on church traditions, what your Sunday school teacher taught or what your parents said. Rather fully believe in God and who He says He is and who He says I am. This was a big step in realizing the hold fear had on me. As I studied God’s Word and chose to believe Him, the more I recognized the false views of my mom, my false views about me and how much my fears were a lack of faith.

Since this move I have learned to come out of my shell and make friends and even enjoy some new social situations. All our moving and making friends in the military years means we have friends scattered all over the world which makes being able to catch up on Facebook a blessing. He has shown me that being real and vulnerable doesn't bring about more rejection as I feared, but tears down walls to build more relationships. Lately my loving Father has had me confront my fear of public speaking by having me share at women's events in our church. I must admit I was battling fear up until the moment I began to share, then God's peace washes over me as I began to speak and I actually enjoyed it!! Fearful Me!! 

One area that has been the most difficult to overcome is my fears of evil attackers while alone at night. My husband has traveled throughout our marriage both in the military and the years as a civilian. I have come a long ways and am SO much better than I was in the past. I know all the verses on safety, peace and sleep and can quote most of them by memory. For the most part, the last few years I have had many victorious times where I slept peacefully while he was gone. I realized last time as I relapsed and let fear once more rule, that I am still battling this and will only succeed when I keep my eyes on the Light of the World instead of looking into the darkness of what-ifs.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Over the last couple years, as I have recognized my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, read up on it and going through counseling I am able to deal head on with many of my fears in ways I was incapable of before. I have actually had views that vary with my mom and expressed those to her. They are not met with approval and have caused her to hang up on me, give tongue lashings and bad mouth me to others. My husband and I have figured out what are the boundaries we are keeping to prevent her from manipulating me/us or inflicting verbal abuse. I still have the panicky racing heart and twisted guts when she calls and tries to manipulate or begins a rage on the phone. Going home to visit brings much apprehension and battles as she has not liked the fact we choose our own itinerary and stay with our married son rather than her. The weeks before and during our visit I am on Zantac to deal with stomach pains the emotions bring on me. I now deal with fear and dread as my father’s dementia advances at how ugly things may be in the very near future as she still refuses to talk or look at care options and continues to demand her children do all care she cannot do on her own. My siblings and I are unified in the fact when it is too much for her to do on her own she needs to get outside help. Then there is the dread of how to handle it all when Dad is gone… Can I hope to be disowned? How do we tell her when she can again travel she is not welcome in our home? Ugh that makes my stomach churn… 

I need to remember to not dwell on fears of the future, to not fall into the traps of the what-ifs but instead fill my mind with the "whatevers". 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Hoping each of you be able to face your difficult life circumstances with faith rather than fear.

Love and blessings,


Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Name is Melissa and I am a Scapegoat

My name is Melissa and I am a scapegoat!

As my sister Aydan shared yesterday, we were raised by a malignant narcissistic mother.  Our family was so dysfunctional and so off kilter from what God intended families to be. We existed in a prison where one walked on eggshells for fear of incurring the rage and wrath of Mom. We learned very young that our home revolved around Mom and it was wise to do whatever to avoid the verbal, emotional or physical abuse that just about anything would trigger. The four of us siblings all had well developed self-preservation instincts and would quickly throw the other under the bus to protect ourselves. 

Between the throwing under the bus and other self-preservation tactics and Mom’s constantly pitting us against each other Aydan and I were relatives that tried to be civil to each other at holiday or other family gatherings. As married adults we lived on the same street for over ten years and were not close other than proximity. Sadly until just the last year or so we both longed for close sisters yet were still falling prey to the pitting and manipulations of our Mom.  Mom does not like our reconciliation and has tried to tell us lies about each other, but with us communicating and having made a pact to not throw each other under the bus anymore she has been rendered ineffective in that area.

As the eldest child I always felt I was the one that was blamed for much of life’s problems and also felt my brother and sister who were 3 and 4 ½ years younger than me paired up to gang up on me. I felt like the third wheel.  Mom daily reminded me what a bad child I was, an independent brat, self-centered and a compulsive liar. She also consistently let me know how ugly and socially inept I was compared to her as a child and teen. I grew up feeling not included, bad, ugly, shameful and unacceptable.

The emotional and verbal abuses I have always been fairly aware of but fell into a trap in my thirties and forties of trying to be loved and approved by my mom. There were times if our family had plans to go do something and she wanted us to come over then we did. Shudder …I hate the times I let my kids down to appease her!  God intervened by moving me across country from my family in 2008. I was surprised by the bird out of the cage feeling that came. In many ways I was free in ways I had never been before. My memories of the physical abuse returned in June 2012 and began reading and realized Mom had NPD – I mean every symptom on the checklist! The realization of how dysfunctional my family was/is and how many lies I had been told really made me doubt many perceptions of life. I had beaten into me (literally) who I was by Mom so much I believed it. Thankfully with wise advice from my pastor I began studying out who I am in Christ…what the Bible says about me as His daughter! Realizing that I am chosen, holy and beloved –Colossians 3:12, blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven - Ephesians chapter 1.

Aydan and I have been reconciled for just over a year and how that happened is a story for another blog post. Since we have chosen to keep in contact with our Mom with some boundaries we keep in place, the verbal and emotional abuse and manipulation continues. It is such a blessing for us as sisters, to be there for each other to lovingly support, encourage and vent as needed.

May others who read this see hope…beauty for ashes that God can in the midst of the ugliness of life create beautiful things.