Nathan’s son, Gabe, Me, and Nathan
Nathan’s appeal failed. By now, though, I knew that no attorney, evidence, judge, jury, or anyone or thing could stop God from accomplishing what He had in mind for my son. The beautiful thing to me was that Nathan finally knew it, too.
No matter what, I had to remember that God loves my son more than I ever could. He made him with a purpose, too. Nathan has his own process of refinement to endure, and all I can do is love him through it and pray for his success. He gets angry, rageful at times, depressed… facing so many years. I spend many a night in bitter tears myself wondering what is to be.
Jess was released from his four-year stint behind bars in October of 2008. By then it had been over two years since we had seen him. (We being Chelsea Rose, Natali, me, and his three-year-old son, Xavier).
Jess at Xavier’s 4th birthday party
Now, how do I put this without revealing too much of Jesse’s business? Let’s just say that by November, I had another grandbaby on the way. Xavier hadn’t seen his daddy but two times, and it looked like regular contact with Jess was going to be out of the question. Jess was now torn between being in Marietta with Xavier, and going through the pregnancy process with the mommy-to-be. The new baby would need him, too. His other concern was wanting to get his music career going, and felt he needed to stay in the Toledo area to accomplish that.
Jess still likes to party, but I pray for that to change. He hasn’t committed his life to God YET, but, as the bible tells me, “…Your righteousness is with my children’s children…” Sigh. Only God can fix what’s broken. No reason to beat my head against a brick wall.
Me out with the rest of the girls from the Massage class,
celebrating our graduation at Olive Garden.
As I worked towards my massage certificate, I prayed for my future business to be blessed. I counted on the words from Deuteronomy 28:2-14. If I obeyed God, all these blessings would come to me. I’d be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. My work would be blessed; I would be the top and not the bottom, the head and not the tail… I marched around militantly every day quoting some of those verses. I was out to conquer!
Me proudly displaying my massage certificate
I would receive my degree in July. In April I contacted the YMCA and asked them if they’d like to have a masseuse on board. They welcomed me with open arms. I began to market myself aggressively, putting in long, hard hours in spite of my ongoing studies and the nagging aches and pains in my body. The Y didn’t really have a free space for me, so I shared one with the aerobics’ instructor, who wasn’t thrilled to have my STUFF in the way. I had to tear down and set up my heavy equipment every day, but I decided to be grateful and keep a good attitude.
In the lobby at the YMCA
Many people, including Dimitri, warned that massage therapists don’t do very good business around here, but I just smiled. I had a secret, I was a praying person, a child of God! I had His favor on my business, and I would show them! By June I had only scheduled one appointment. I told Natali, who was my poorly paid assistant, to keep her chin up. The manager at the Y had told us that he thought we’d do better when the new facility was built, in a year or two. Could we wait that long? Whatever was to be, Natali and I both knew that God had good things in mind for us.
Then it happened! I got a call from the manager of the country club asking me to set up my massage chair for an event they were having on June 24th, my birthday! What a gift from God, I thought! I get to make money on my birthday! The event was a smashing success. The ladies made encouraging remarks about my skill as a masseuse. They were happy to have me there. As I worked, I began to inquire about whether or not they’d be interested in having a full-time masseuse on the premises. All of their responses were overwhelmingly positive. So this is why God didn’t give me success at the Y, I concluded, He had something BETTER in mind for me! That thought comforted me and bolstered my ailing faith.
The manager of the country club gave me a beautiful spot to set up, but he wouldn’t allow me to put up any signs. I left business cards around and put notices on the bulletin boards, but, by November, not one person had scheduled an appointment. Some of the things that made that so difficult for me were that I had sunk so much money into my business, so much time, effort, energy…and all along my heart wasn’t really in it. My goal had been simple: money. Sure, I wanted to glorify God with everything I did, but my GOAL was money.
God, you expect me to EARN my money. I am not trying to be materialistic, but I need to pay my bills! I need to care for my children! I’m the top, and not the bottom? The head and not the tail? As far as I can see, I’m not part of this creature at all. What is going on? My attempt to sell Avon failed, my childcare business failed, cleaning houses, nada! Massage, NOTHING. My book sales were a joke. I have no passion anymore for anything in life.
Though it really made me mad at God, I found myself going around town putting job applications in wherever I was qualified to work: fast food, grocery stores…you know, minimum wage jobs. Nothing wrong with that, except, well, number one, WHY HAD HE LET ME WORK SO HARD FOR A USELESS DEGREE? Plus the pain…ah, the pain. How could I press through it to work a full-time job anyhow? Talk about confusing.
With the nation’s economy slipping, the competition for jobs was stiffer than usual. …the top and not the bottom…YET, I only got one call for an interview, and I did NOT get the job.
Maybe I’m not a child of God after all. What is my evidence? Does God even answer my prayers? Am I alone? Is what the bible says true? I don’t believe God is a liar. There’s only one other explanation, he doesn’t exist. No, stupid! Think back at all the times He’s shown himself to you! Remember the dreams He gave you about Chelsea Rose before she was born? He’s there, all right. Then what? It’s me! It has to be my fault. But, wait! I repent when I mess up; I am forgiven…So that’s not it, either! He DOES hear my prayers! He is taking care of me! THEN WHAT?
I was turning into a zombie. Staying in my jammies, eating sweets, and watching television all day. There I was, on a blah day in November of 2008, slumped in my easy chair chomping on chocolate and having a cry-fest, as usual. On this particular day I was picking on God for making someone so utterly worthless. What was he thinking? I was a failure! I was even a terrible mom.
I had all that free time on my hands that I would usually use for writing, continuing my endeavor to come up with a bestseller. But even my passion for writing was gone, which meant my big dreams were dying, and who are we humans without a dream? Zombies.
Why not, I prayed for passion. I prayed for inspiration. I prayed for story ideas, strength, a clear mind, and for my dreams to be rejuvenated. Then I dragged my tired body upstairs to my office to type all of my frustrations and sorrows into my daily online blog. Somehow, the more I vented about my ever-present blues, the more of my testimony appeared on the page in front of me, and I started getting all kinds of positive feedback from people I didn’t even know.
I wondered if I should share it all when I didn’t have a happily ever after to share, but then I thought, Hey, I’m here. I made it to now! That’s sort of a miracle in itself. I made it with hope in my heart. I made it with faith that there is a loving God looking out for me. I truly am a “prisoner of hope.” He hangs on even when I want to throw my relationship with him away. When I’m in such a dark place that I don’t know how to go on, he just keeps lighting the way. (One step at a time).
Me at a more playful moment
Sometime today, I don’t know, something might happen to knock me off my feet, but God is gonna do what He always does: He’s going to lift me up again. He’s going to put me on the right path. He’s going to love me.
As I wrote this blog, I had a lot of proof-reading to do, and as I went it was like I was peeping into someone else’s life. I have to say, I was amazed to find God there, and there, and there, and there, in every situation, even when it felt like He was hiding from me.
I’ve learned a very important phrase from the bible, “…in due time…” Hang on, get your eyes off your snare, and don’t give up. Your time is coming.
I wrote this a few years ago and have added years and tears and prayers and many experiences to this story. Some for better, some not so great. But today, this is my favorite thing God has whispered to my heart:
This isn’t gonna be in my future. I don’t have to struggle against it. All I have to do is follow God and wait. I’m a child of God. My story necessarily has to have happy ending.
For more information, go backwards in time, so to speak. I started my blog with “the rest of the story” before I decided to share the excerpts from Dukin’ it out with God. Thanks for reading.