My Darkest Chapter

I have thought a lot about sharing this next chapter of my life. It is very dark. I was very miserable and very mad at my Lord for a long time. I am sharing the barest of details for many reasons-most of all, I don’t want to dredge up the feelings or allow any bitterness to creep back in with regards to all the circumstances.

In the fall of 1987, my husband asked me to get a job. I did this to please him, to be more of the woman he wanted and to help with our financial needs. I was fortunate to go to work for two doctors not terribly far from home except for 2 of my days which were spent at the south side office 60 miles away. Still, I enjoyed the work. I was very conscientious , but I admit, it was quite an adjustment working with a 0ne yr old and four yr old-putting them in daycare-changing our whole home life. Very soon after that, my husband asked for a divorce. Although I had grounds, I wouldn’t file, so he did. My world as I knew it completely fell apart.

I couldn’t understand why the Lord would allow him to leave me. I thought I had been a good wife-no not perfect and not “friends”, but I thought we had the Lord between us and two children-regardless of what mistakes we made individually could be forgiven, worked through-but it was not to be. Suddenly I was a single mom with 2 very young girls. I completely lost my vision of who I was. I felt completely rejected, unloved, unloveable. I quickly found out why men thought that new divorcees` were easy pickings. Even men that I knew and trusted made sure that  I knew they were available. It was an awful time.

I am very grateful that I had my two girls though. However grounded I was, was due to them and their needs…but when they weren’t with me, it was very hard. A lot of tears, screaming, I think I would have committed suicide if I hadn’t had them. How very stupid! But I had a lot of learning and growing to do. God was not finished with me yet.

God Delights To Show His Love

Today I got my hair done. My wonderful Colleen was able to cover up my incision and shaved spot on my head. No more hats! I’ll have to work with it a bit, but I am so grateful for her help

While I was there, we began to talk about this blog and all my stories. She asked if I had written about this or that or whatever-none of which I have gotten to yet. She has been listening to me for 18 years! We did a lot of talking about my GriefShare Ministry and why I am involved and what is currently happening with it.

I continue to be amazed at how God weaves together the fabrics of our lives-to help and counsel one another just by the simple act of sharing experiences. One that I didn’t share earlier was the outward, tangible sign that Jesus loves me and is always listening to me and caring for me.

It was December 31, 2008. We had just finished cleaning out my Dad’s apartment. There was nothing left-everything claimed or given away-empty-just like we come into the world-we depart it. As my husband and I were traveling back to Tampa on I-4, I was crying and although I know that it is not God’s usual habit to give us signs in the present day, I still  asked. Please Lord, just give me a sign that everything’s ok-they are together with you. I looked out the window and saw a plane flying along side the highway. It started drawing in the air. I watched as a smiley face appeared and then the plane began writing. The message was “Jesus loves you”. Now I don’t care who or what or why that plane was doing that-I know that I know that this was the sign I was asking for!

To see sky writing you have to be in the right place at the right time and we were certainly there! I believe with all my heart that was my heavenly Father reaching down to let me know everything was fine in His heaven.

Today’s Lesson

We are having Mission Week at our church this week. I have always loved listening to the stories of the missionaries around the world. We have a very busy, active missions ministry, sending out people all over the world. Of course I would like to be a full time missionary too and said something of the sort to my husband as we came home from the service today. He reminded me that I am in full time service now. I do share my Lord with anyone who will listen to me. I am blogging my stories. I am in a Bible study learning more about Him everyweek  and I am leading a GriefShare group. But to me, with the urgent needs that I see and hear about, it is so hard sometimes to just concentrate on what He has given me: The opportunity to help other people with their career decisions-which totally affect their lives and that of their families. Often, there is time for sharing…We are all called to different paths. This is mine, but we are also called to be “fishers of men”–an ongoing, never stopping, verb. That was what today’s message was about. I hope I don’t forget a single part of it!


So we settled down, our little family. My husband graduated Tech and went to work for a general contractor as a project manager. Those guys work long, hard hours and I am not sure that they are ever compensated enough! I never dreamed that someday, in a different life I would be recruting and placing those kinds of people!

Back to being a mommy! I loved this! I would go to KMart and find little sunsuits with hats to dress her in and then we’d come home from the store and try them all on! Like playing dolls, except she was alive! And active and very demonstrative of her likes and dislikes. I learned on the job about packing a diaper bag and all that one might need for just a couple of hours-remember this is before handi-wipes or pampers with elastic at the legs. I thought of it, shoulda, woulda, coulda on that! Too late! Of course we did the “real” diaper thing first, but pretty quickly went to the disposables. It just seemed cleaner to me. And I would put wet washclothes in tin foil to keep it wet for cleaning up-whatever. Our first outing, I didn’t bring extra clothes, but learned quickly to bring extras of everything! Melissa was a joy and I thought I was set! Now, we just needed another baby and we’d be complete. I didn’t want her to be an “only”. I have 5 brothers and sisters that I treasure and wanted at least one sibling for her. Because we had had so much trouble, we were advised to try again, quickly. At about the time Melissa was 13 months, we thought I might be pregnant again, but it turned out to be another cyst. This time, fast growing and very painful. Our doctor told us that he would do everything he could to keep me “in tack”. This was back when with 3 abdominal surgeries or even C-sections, you were done, but I was only 22 years old. I knew he was a good surgeon and trusted him.  When I woke up, though, it was to bad news. There really wasn’t much there to save. My tubes were destroyed by adhesions, my ovaries were covered with cysts-one about to explode with who knows what-and I’d already had two questionable PAP smears. Back then, with no test tube babies born yet, it seemed reasonable to take my uterus as well as the other organs. In fact, my doctor said that Melissa really was a miracle, because he couldn’t see how in the world I had gotten pregnant with no tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus! But our God is the giver of life and He knew and listened to my fervent prayers for a child. He made it happen-regardless of what the medical profession understands.

Once I got out of the hospital, I had a tough time emotionally. I didn’t know why-no one prepared me for “menopause” but that was what I experienced. Up and down emotions, crying, hot flashes. I finally bought a bag of marshmallows just to have something to throw that wouldn’t hurt anything! Finally, I had enough sense to call my doctor and he put me on premarin-estrogen. It took awhile to get stabilized, but what a difference! If I ever forgot to take the medicine, my husband always knew!

I still had lot’s of trouble with kidney infections and was hospitalized with surgery and lot’s of antibiotics. I think Melissa was about 18 months-she stayed with her paternal grandparents, who were two of the most awesome people I’ve ever known. Her “Grandmommy” took her hand when she got there, took her into the bathroom and said, “big girls don’t wet their pants” and that was that! When I came home from the hospital, Melissa came right up and said, Mommy, Big girl! and proceeded to show me her potty! I guess she was just ready, but my goodness, that was amazing. Melissa’s great grandfather came to live with the grandparents after his wife died. He became just as important as her parents or grandparents in her life. He would sit for hours reading books to her and just paying attention. I think that was what was so great about all of them. They really paid attention to you and loved you unconditionally.

I still wanted that second child! I prayed and read the Word a lot about my desires. I was very involved with church-taught Sunday School and also a women’s Bible study. I was very organized so that my household wouldn’t suffer my outside involvement. We had bought a house by then. It had a great area for a garden and so the greatgrandfather and grandfather came over, tilled and planted and we had some of every kind of vegetable. I learned to can, to make pickles-I always liked to cook so having fresh was great. I even tried making bread, but wasn’t any good at that. This was before the bread making machines were out there.

We had some great next door neighbors. They had a little girl Melissa’s age and so it was often that we all got together. Soon after, they had another little girl. This really made me yearn for that other child. Then in January 1986, God spoke to me through His Word and told me He was going to give us a child. I was to prepare for it. I took Him at His word and got down the crib and baby clothes and things from the attic that I had kept. I set up the nursery in our 3rd bedroom and waited. Early in the spring, I got a call from a friend. She had a friend who was pregnant and thinking of giving the child up for adoption. Were we interested? Well, what could I say? I told her I was totally ready for the child-that I knew we were going to have one, but had no idea where it would come from! So here it was. All we had to do was pay the legal expenses of the adoption and the medical expenses of the birth mother. We decided to correspond through our attorney. I wrote of my prayers and God’s assurance of another child. I wrote of my family and faith and desire to love and raise another child. Then in August, our second daughter was born. Our attorney called and told me by telling me how much she looked like me! Same dimples, dark hair,but healthy and whole. Of course part of the agreement was that we would take whatever the baby was-boy or girl, healthy or not.  God always gives perfect gifts and Laurel was certainly perfect in my eyes. We brought her home when she was 3 days old. I could tell right away that she had a milk allergy-boy-little did I know what we were going to go through with her allergies! But what a sweet girl. Melissa loved her baby sister and helped me with her. I was amazed at how my neighbors welcomed her with gifts and cards. All I knew was that now my family was really complete!

This Week, Tough, Except For God’s Whispering

I am in the recruitng business-have been since 1979–starting in Atlanta and then here in Tampa with MRI. I have always loved what I do: helping people, making a positive difference in their lives. Until this year, I have specialized in all things real estate and did well, but we all know that the market is really dead right now in development and construction for both residential and commercial. I’ve asked God many times if there was something else He wanted me to do, but the answer has always been no. This year, I asked what else I could do-industry wise-as I am still the major breadwinner for our household. I was surprised as He has led me to recruitng/placing attorneys! I had placed Real Estate attorneys before and in marketing them, I kept getting asked if I could find people for other practices. So here I am talking to people across the United States for different firms. I have chosen firms that are all about life balance and who won’t tolerate “attitudes”. So why was this week tough? Because I wasn’t getting positive response from any of my recruiting calls! Yet, I knew that I had a really special opportunity for the people I was seeking. I knew that God had someone for these firms. Who? Where?

This is where the devotionals and the prayers and God’s whispering come in. I try and have a short quiet time, reading a daily devotional and the Word each morning to start the day. Besides that, this week, because of dire circumstances, I was also praying with and for my sister and for me. For relief, for answers, for help, for open hearts for those I call. And I mean on your face on the floor prayer! I am going to share 2 devotionals exactly as written because they both have had such an impact-I don’t know the authors, but thank you for writing! Thank you God, for making sure that we would read these on the most needed and appropriate days…

1. Grow strong in your weakness. Some of my children I have gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your frailty is not a punishment nor does it indicate a lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me, rather than on your own understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen, when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness.

2. Trust Me and refuse to worry, for I am your Strength and Song. You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against your own strength. However, they are not today’s tasks-or even tomorrow’s. So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you. Since I am your Strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it comes. Because I am your Song, I can give you joy as you work alongside Me. Keep bringing your mind back to the present moment. Among all creatures, only humans can anticipate future events. This ability is a blessing, but it becomes a curse whenever is is misused. If you use your magnificient mind to worry about tomorrow, you cloak yourself in dark belief. However, when the hope of heaven fills your thoughts, the Light of My Presence envelops you. Though heaven is future, is is also present tense. As you walk in the Light with Me, you have one foot in heaven and one foot on earth.

There have been many others this week that certainly spoke to me, but none more than these two. I could hear God whispering to me “This is important. Pay attention!” as I read them. And re-read them. And then shared them with others. And you know what, the more I read, the more I believed, the more I shared. And then things began to happen as God is so delighted to hear us and then answer us. Are all the problems, issues resolved? No. But for the first time in a long time, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is wonderful to watch as He leads and makes His plan work! I know all this in my head-it’s my heart that has to be beaten on regularly!

A New Direction

Suddenly I turned into my mother! I wanted to share Jesus with everyone! I wanted to go back and ask forgiveness for anything and everything I had ever done to anyone!

My husband and I joined a non-denominational church and got very involved in the music ministry and working with teens. As young as we were, we felt that it gave us an understanding edge. I started going to a Bible Study on Wednesdays-Kay Arthur was the teacher-way before Precept Ministries…but the insight and learning that I obtained stays with me to this day.

I worked part time-first at Sears in the Jr High section. I could still wear the clothes and loved the selling part. Back then, there were contests for most sales, etc and being the Atype competitive person I am-I always had to win-even over the full time people. But it was a lot of fun for me. The hard part was working till 9 some nights, but my husband was still in school and studying so he couldn’t miss me, right?

Eventually we believed the Doctors about not having any children and moved to a one bedroom apt off campus. We were neighbors with some great friends and close to Tech, to shopping and restaurants and not that far from our church. I think we were in that apartment about 3 months when I started being unable to keep anything I ate, down! I called the Dr and of course, no one thought I was pregnant-it had to be something else! But after a blood test, it was confirmed, I was pregnant again.  Hallelujah!  This time I thought for sure everything would be fine. I was so sick at my stomach all day long and at night too. That part was awful and I had to take medicine and get shots for it. But then we were on the way into a football game and I started spotting heavily! I couldn’t believe that we were going to go through this again. I was put to bed-just got up to eat and go to the bathroom and finally a month later I was allowed up-still pregnant! At about 4 months, I was suddenly hit with the worst pain I had ever had and we rushed to the hospital. I was told after the exam that the muscles that had been cut to “restring” my uterus were now being stretched by a growing baby and what I was experiencing were muscle spasms. If I remember correctly it was also the first night I heard the baby’s heartbeat-strong and steady. That was great, but as the baby grew, the muscle spasms continued and I was given Valium to help! Remember this was 1972!  Otherwise, my belly continued to grow and I was so happy! God was giving me my heart’s desire! At 5 1/2 months, I woke from an afternoon nap to feel my belly contracting. I called my mom and she came and immediately took me to the doctor’s office. After the exam, we were told that my cervix had thinned out and my body was preparing for labor. The only thing to do at that point was to go back to bed for the duration and hope I could stop any active contractions with medication. My mom took me straight back to her house and called my husband. He moved our necessary things into the “in-law” suite that they had and I started a new world in bed.

At first you sleep a lot. But then you can’t sleep at night, so you have to entertain yourself during the days. I did watch TV, I listened to tapes, I read-after a month I was completely bored, but I had to stay down. My mom had the idea of my embroidering bibs, then she got me material to make a baby quilt–so I did stay busy. We did make some trips to the hospital during the next 2 1/2 months when my contractions would get to 2 minutes, but the dr was always able to stop them.

Then on March 12th, going to the table to eat breakfast, my water broke. My brothers and sisters still at home were little and thought it was so funny that their big sister had wet her pants. I was just glad that my mom was there to take charge. Once more we went to the hospital. I hadn’t dilated and back then, they wanted every extra hour in the womb they could get for the baby. So once more, we came back home. In the early morning hours of the 13th, really strong contractions started and when they were again timeable, we took off for the hospital–about 5am. Back then, they did all manner of things to prepare a woman to give birth that I won’t go into-but let me say, that things today are very different! This was a beginning time for the husband to be in the labor and delivery rooms and so my husband was with me. I remember after 2 hours of hard, almost continuous contractions thinking–was I crazy? I had done this on purpose to myself and there was no going back! I wasn’t dilating very quickly even with the contractions, but finally got to the point I could have an epidural. Thank God for that invention!! It completely took away the pain and we played cards all afternoon. Finally, around 6-6:15, I was ready to deliver. We went into the operating room-yes they still did that then- and here comes Melissa Karen. I watched in the overhead mirror. What a miracle that was! She was fine. I was not. I was bleeding out. My uterus had just stopped contracting-tired, I guess. I remember thinking before I went out (gas?) all this only to die now?

When I woke up, I was told what a great doctor I had. He had really saved me that day. About midnight, I got up, took a shower and walked down to the nursery to see my little girl. She was tiny 5lbs 12oz. and fit in the space between my hand and my elbow-which if you know me-is short! I thought she was beautiful. My little miracle. About 24 hours after she was born, Melissa was still very lethargic, didn’t want to nurse and began to turn yellow. And I mean YELLOW. Her eyes, her whole body was yellow. Her billirubin count was at 19, the highest the hospital had ever had. A specialist was brought in and they begain to treat her with meds and ultraviolet light. Once again, I thought-after all this-to lose her? She had ecoli in her system from my fluid and we were told it was going to take awhile for her to get better. So I left the hospital, again without a baby in my arms, not knowing what was going to happen.

This is where I went back to my God who had given me my heart’s desire. I begged Him for her life. I spent the next 2 wks most days at the hospital in the nursery. Rocking, loving, kissing, soothing, feeding my baby. At some point, I felt like a Mack truck had run over me and I had to rest more. Even though I had lost a lot of blood, it wasn’t quite enough for a transfusion, so I had a lot to build back up. One other “fun” thing I experienced was finding out I was allergic to iodine/betadine in a topical spray or ointment. Back then, this is what was used to help the episiotomy to heal! Not mine! Oh that hurt!

Finally after 2 weeks, Melissa was allowed to come home! She slept in a bassinet right next to me and ate every 2 hours. I think for that first month-all either of us did was eat and sleep!

Now my sweet girl is all grown up with children of her own! THREE girls! and she just pops them out! Where is the justice?

Recuperating and Thankful

I got the drain out of my head today. Boy did that feel good! I get to wash my hair tonight. Until you can’t you don’t realize how important that is! My doctor told me I am being impatient-now isn’t that a surprise- that I am not a 100% yet! Really, I thought since it’s just the scalp-how much pain could there be? I’ve found out and it’s a lot!

So, trying to rest. Answer some calls. Send some emails. I’ve really been blessed by my devotionals this last week. 2Cor. 1 3-11 says that God allows to suffer so that we can enter into empathy and understanding of someone’s else’s pain and suffering. He’s also reminded me about tending to my heart and spirit-which requires time with Him. Like when we go away from our house for awhile and come back with dust and cobwebs. I need to be sure that my heart is not a breeding ground for wrong thinking, wrong attitudes, wrong behavior. And lastly, cause I could go on for awhile, leaving a legacy. Deut 6:4-9 says to teach God diligently to your children-whe you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, whatever the time. I am so thankful that my kids are Christ followers. Really not because of my example, but because God is so faithful and I had prayed for them before they were born. Now it is up to us to teach the grandchildren the same things and most of all to pray for them.


So many people ask me to pray for them or their circumstances or I volunteer to. I wonder if they really believe that I do? Again, God is so faithful in HIS memory none are forgotten, so I am always reminded of who I should be speaking with Him about!

Tomorrow I start driving again. I also start this year’s Bible Study Fellowship program in the morning. We are studying the gospel of John this year. Tomorrow night I go back to co-leading our GriefShare Group. We have grown to 20 now. Death is always claiming new people and we have to be there for comfort.