The Missing Piece

2932Is it possible to meet someone, “the one”, that takes everything you knew wouldn’t work, and make it work?  

Is it possible for you to meet “the one” and their soul connects with your soul, as if the pieces have always fit; as if the pieces completed the magnificent puzzle?

Have you ever put a puzzle together and lacked the one piece?  You look everywhere for it, under the chair, under the table, in your kids’ pockets, on the bathroom sink, maybe even in the fridge, but still incomplete.  Then, when you least expect it and have long given up searching for that particular piece, it reveals itself.  Without any effort on your part, it is placed right in front of you.

As you place the piece, carefully in it’s allowable spot, you feel the overwhelming excitement and completeness.  What a magnificent, breathtaking piece.  You sit and stare at it and acknowledge every fitted piece of the artwork.  Let it sink into your soul and experience the sensations it sends to your heart.   Experience how it defines you in a way you never thought allowed.  Experience the openness this beautiful artwork allows, the forgiveness it sends when you think you’re not worthy of its beauty.  

Don’t just gaze, magnify the piece that put together everything you couldn’t imagine and allow it to add that touch of genius to your life.  Broaden your soul to what positives it brings, the hope that fills, the amazement you see, the abundance of joy that rocks your core and the mercy that brings you to your knees.

This particular puzzle has been stained, stuck against the table, collecting dust, not worthy of compliments for its unfinished work.  Yet all along, it has been missing that intricate piece that makes it thrive in a world inexperienced, under-estimated and unexplained.

The missing piece is a love that cannot be understood or measured, only experienced… it is possible.

 

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The Change is Inevitable 

The change is inevitable; you know it’s bound to transpire.  In the deepest part of your mind, you just never thought it would be your off-spring.  Those babies you carried for 9 months. The bottoms you’ve wiped, mouths you’ve fed, boo-boos you’ve kissed, cuts you’ve bandages, toddlers you’ve carried on your hips and an endless amount of time and love poured into these little beings you call your children.

Then the words come from their lips, “I hate you! Nothing makes sense with you anymore!  Get off my back!  You have no idea what I’m going through!  Ya  you’ve really being a parent! Whatever!”

The biggest struggle is hearing Satan constantly remind you of how many mistakes, bad decisions and times you have failed as a parent. Satan speaks…”How can you get upset, you DO deserve those words and to be treated that way. Don’t you remember those times you pulled those kids through relationships, divorces, not given them what they want, worked too many hours or didn’t fix supper?  After all that and you don’t think you deserve it?”

It’s one hell of a struggle; if you can’t feel the flames, come a little closer.

I’m sure I’m not the only mother, or parent that has felt the struggle. I’m sure when you go to the next parent meeting or ball game, all the parents look like they have it all together, but some are really screaming on the inside, maybe even crumbling…

I’m assuming if I continue to pray and remain open for change, it will happen. I know I have experienced,in my own life, that you CAN come back full circle and find that person you never thought you could be. I do have hope they will experience a love that can only be experienced and not measured. ..remembering my love for them, even when it didn’t feel like they received it…

The Masked Man

With my heart pounding and body trembling, I could only hope that I would get out of this alive.  I had a husband and three kids, their faces flashing in front of me as this man forces himself into the building, masked and unannounced.

November 3, 2011, three days after Halloween, late afternoon, I was working drive thru at the bank.  The branch manager and another young lady were working.  We had gathered around the teller windows, having conversation and as I looked to my right I noticed someone walk through the drive thru.  I whipped around and caught the tail end of this person with a Halloween mask on and I remember looking at the long black hair attached to the mask.

I asked the other two ladies if they saw him too.  I jumped off my chair and ran to the front of the bank, watching him pass by each window, hoping I would beat him to the door.  I darted through a side office as I reached for the handle of the door to lock it, the masked man’s hand was already pulling it open.  I jumped back into the room and shut the door, believing he saw me.  He made his presence in the bank and approached the other two ladies as I stood, frozen, behind that door, holding my breath.  I felt like if I exhaled he would hear me, so I stood as still as possible with my hands on my heart trying to keep it from beating out of my chest.  

The branch manager made direct order to the masked man, to remove his mask immediately.  With a suitcase in one hand and a gun in another, he gave direct orders that this was a robbery.  He demanded to get into the vault for the money.  I, on the other hand, thought he ordered the ladies to get into the vault. My thought was that the masked man was going to lock them in.  I knew he didn’t see me at this point so I began to make a plan on how to handle this situation as quick as possible.  

As the branch manager advised the mask man that she didn’t know the combination and it would take time once it  was open, he became more nervous and began pacing while ordering the other teller, who was pregnant at the time, to give him the money from her station.  I, on the other hand, was still in the side office imaging how I could get him.

I looked around the room and made eye contact with the phone on the desk.  The phone was in the direct path of the other open door to that office.  As the masked man began pacing, giving orders, I waited for him to be directly behind the closed door, I took one big step and picked up the receiver, dialed 9-911.  I heard his voice getting closer so I sat the receiver down on the desk and swiftly jumped back in the corner.  I heard the dispatcher’s voice on the line, “911, what’s your emergency?”  I frantically regretted my decision when the masked man questioned, “Are you the only two in here?”  When the branch manager answered, “Yes.”  I felt that he had heard the dispatcher’s voice and would glance my way and see the phone off the hook.  I imagined him coming to the door way of that room, seeing me in the corner and being stunned, would shoot me…

I heard the masked man’s voice drift back behind the closed door so I quickly stepped back to the phone, hung it up and jumped back into the corner.  With his gun pointed at the other two women, the masked man, put the money in his suitcase and demanded to be let out the back door.  Even with the masked man no longer in the building and doors locked, the feeling of invasion would not subside.  All three of us quickly came together and reminded one another to jot down any characteristics about the masked man that we could remember, standard protocol.  

The police arrived minutes after, showing their ID at the door to be let in, we were taken individually by the detective, to the back room to discuss our part in the story and what characteristics we could remember to build a case.

When my turned arrived, I sat in the back room across from the detective.  After sharing my view of the event, he began to speak about post traumatic syndrome and how this traumatic event could likely present P.O.S.  I advised, I had P.O.S. from the accident I was in when I was 16 yrs. old so I was familiar with the syndrome.  

The detective stopped talking about the symptoms and asked me when that accident took place.  I stated, 1993.  He asked more brief details and as I shared, he looked me in the eyes and with a softer voice, advised, “I was the detective on that case.”  I was shocked, not knowing how to react.  This is be my chance to ask all those questions I have always wanted to ask.  I froze, as the shock brought tears to my eyes, I sat there not knowing what to say or how to respond.  I quickly forgot about the traumatic incident that just took place and found myself back at 16 yrs old desperate for answers of why my boyfriend was taken away from me.  What really happened that night?

I finally calmed down and asked the questions I could think of.  He was nice to provide me the best answers he had.  He handed me his business card and extended the opportunity to reach out to him if I wanted to sit down and talk about more details.  Another officer took me home after the interviewing was finished.  I sat there in silence reflecting on the events that just took place and how I was traumatized once again of my life ending, but yet being thankful God provided the protection for us that day.  Along with placing this detective in my path.  Years go by from 1993 and I still run into people that are able to provide a memory or fact about when my life changed in 1993.

Court date was set.  The masked man entered the court room with shackles around his ankles and cuffs on his wrists, the site of him without his mask gave me chills.  I couldn’t believe I had went through the robbery much less sitting here in a court room to be questioned in front of a judge to sentence this man.  The masked man was given an opportunity to provide an apology and excuse of what provoked his behavior on November 3, 2011. 

Psalms 91:1 (911) became my favorite scripture to get through this time.  “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  The newspaper stated the officers responded to a hangup 911 call.  I may not have jumped on his back and taken him down like I would have like too but I was pleased to know  that the call did get through.  The masked man only had less than 15 minutes of my life in that event, but it will last a lifetime.  What that masked man doesn’t realize is that he just provided a fine example of God’s love and protection for those who believe in HIM.  So thank you “Masked Man” for showing how true God’s words are, apology accepted!

 

We All Fall Short…

That moment when your soul collides with the Spirit, shattering you into a million little pieces.  As every shameful, fearful, disgusting, guilty, worthless piece of you slides off like water, it creates a puddle around your feet. You look down and see your reflection, the load is less heavy, the burden less smothering.  

I was at my lowest point since 16 yrs old but now I was 32 yrs old, 3 kids later and on my 3rd marriage.  Not every decision I made was wise by far. I was struggling to stay a float in my life. 

The battle with “not feeling good enough” was over-taking me and the enemy was winning…again. I heard that voice often, “Even your kids will be better off without you, they have their dad and won’t have you spazing out on them. Go on, do it.”  Then the other voice battles, “They need their mom. They would be crushed without you and you are a good enough mother.”  It’s all to deep and confusing, I just want it to stop! 

I sat in that sanctuary for the second Sunday in a row, hoping for change.  My family and I were greeted by many with hugs and introductions.  The feeling of acceptance was overwhelming, especially when they don’t know me. They don’t know my darkness, my shame, my guilt, my failures, my wrong decisions and my fears.  How can they approach me with such love, I questioned.  

Towards the end of the service the pastor described the feeling I was experiencing in life…overwhelmed, depressed, at the end and more.  Then he followed it with describing the love of Jesus.  This love that saves, forgives, redeems…just what I needed, I thought.  The pastor motioned to come up front if you wanted to experience Jesus in your life and accept Him in your heart.  I didn’t even ask my husband if he wanted to join me, I just reacted like a woman on a mission, moved out of my pew and walked to the front.   I didn’t really understand completely what I was doing but I knew in the front of my mind that it was the last string.  This walk to the front was a last-ditch effort to feel something other than not wanting to be me in this life any longer.

With the hundreds of faces looking to the front, and the spot lights hitting my eyes, the pastor stood there with his arm around me and the other person standing on the opposite side.  We were not the only hearts wanting Jesus, there were a few more experiencing this moment, but my mind was on me.  The pastor spoke the sinner’s prayer as I repeated it in front of hundreds.  All the people who were there watching this experience soon vanished, to me, because I became so engrossed in my own experience I forgot that I was faced with so many.  As the prayer was over, the pastor turned and placed his hands on my cheeks forcing me to look him in the eyes as he spoke these words, “You are special.  God loves you so much.”  It was at that moment, I began to fall apart.  He didn’t know me.  The pastor had no idea who I was and all the wrong things I had done with my life.  How could he honestly look me in the eyes and say that, as if he knew?  

Then it was like a title wave, the redemption hit me straight in the heart.  I could feel the overwhelming love and forgiveness.  I had accepted Jesus in my heart but what I never knew, until that moment, was that the Lord had always accepted me in His!  I stood there in tears as all the shame, disgust, fear, unworthiness, dirty parts of me slide from my body and scattered all over the floor for everyone to see.  It was at that moment I bared my soul to be cleansed and made new in the site of God.  

This, my friends, is where my life changed.  I no longer needed the medication that my doctor said I would have to rely on for the rest of my life.  When my darkness came, God didn’t let it go as deep as it once did.   I was able to stay afloat with His help now.  I had a Savior I could call mine.  Over the 32 years prior to this day, I gave up on myself multiple times but I learned, God never gave up on me!  He accepted me right where I was in my life.  When I thought I was ugly, He was quick to remind me that I was made beautiful in His image.  When I felt undeserving, and still do many times, He reminds me I am forgiven and loved unconditionally.

We are all sinners and fall short of His glory daily.

Romans 3:22-24 “…..And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”

Serenity and Courage

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Another day in this place, reciting this line with the group.  They say if I open up with the group, the sooner I get to go home.  As I listen to all the other teens’ issues with drugs and such, I feel like mine wasn’t that bad and I would be so out of place if I shared it.  I could almost here the others mumbling among themselves, “Listen to her, she thinks she has it bad… she is hideous.  Why is she even here, she did it all for attention.”  This played over in my head, you know, that other voice that speaks to you and reminds you how worthless you are and makes you feel ashamed.

It was May of my junior year in high school.  My sister, my boyfriend and I all planned on skipping the day of school and just hanging out at Dad’s house.  I was scheduled to work that evening at Kroger so I figured I could still go to work, making it look like I had been to school.  We parked the car in the barn so noone would know we were there.  We hung out and did nothing important all day.  I think the thrill of skipping school was enough.  

It had only been eight months since the accident, I still struggled to care about being here… this life.  So I had risky behavior and continued teetering the thoughts of wanting to kill myself so I could be with Ryan.  At that time in life I didn’t understand much about God or heaven, so I believed, even if i took my life into my own hands that would get me to Ryan.  Plus, I was angry with God because He didn’t let me go with Ryan, but instead, I was left here to suffer such pain and despair having no idea who I really was.  

I went to work at Kroger, by the time I had to clock in a few hours later I get called to the office and the lady behind the counter said my mom was on the line.  My heart sunk, I knew I had been caught.  I spoke with her…actually she did the speaking and I listened, I knew my ass was grass.  She told me she would handle me when I got home.

I walked into the house and went straight to my mom’s room as she laid on her bed waiting for my arrival.  I stood there knowing that I was full aware of my careless actions.  She spatted off many words in anger, and then spoke, “Get out of my face, I’m tired of looking at you.”  I know, as a mother, she was angry for what I had done along with all of life’s other hardships so I probably topped it off.  I have also found myself, as a mother, stressed and at my limit, almost saying the same thing to my kids.

As the teen in this circumstance, my mental stability was not where it should have been and I took those words back to my bedroom with me.  I didn’t leave them in her room, I picked them up and packed them away in my mind.  I lay on my bed, grabbed my bottle of Paxil and took one pill.  Then those words I took with me spilled out all over in my mind.  I could feel the desperation of not liking it here, not caring anymore, and wanting to be where Ryan was so I took a couple more.  I began to shed my emotions and finished the bottle.  I lay my head down on my pillow and feel asleep.  

With the alarm clock ringing, I opened my eyes in a panic, noticing how my stomach was in severe knots.  I tried to get out of bed but the stomach pain overtook me.  I laid there wondering what to do next.  I forced myself out of bed and looked in the mirror.  I was shocked at my own sight.  My eyes were dilated and I looked like I had just seen a ghost.  My mind went rushing, how was I supposed to pull this off like it never happened.  I feared telling my mom, my plan wasn’t to be here to wake up, but instead God didn’t even want me (so I thought).  

With every ounce I had in me, I began to head to her bedroom.  I tapped her and said her name, “Mom” but she didn’t wake up, “Mom”.  She opened her eyes and flew forward.  “Stacy K, what did you do?  Tell me what you did!” as she is getting out of bed and throwing her clothes on. I told her I took my antidepressant pill in the dark and took too many.  She asked me how many I took. I said a couple.  She repeated the question until she received a more accurate answer.  “I took 5 or so.”  I honestly took about 20.

Once at the emergency room, they examined me and said the medicine had sat to long in my system so pumping my stomach wouldn’t do anything.  They moved me to ICU to keep a close eye on me while having me drink apple juice and liquid charcoal.  Every time the nurse would walk in she would be holding two plastic cups, one with a straw and one without.  She would give me a sip of the juice then rotate the cups and I would drink as much of the liquid charcoal as I could stomach, then back to the apple juice to help wash it down.  

A few days later I was released with the condition I would go directly to Koala Center for inpatient treatment.  I pleaded that I learned my lesson and didn’t need to go, of course, I was the minor so it didn’t matter what I said, I needed treatment.   I sat in my room, writing letters to my friend and family and I can’t see out the window because its not made of glass, I can’t have anything that would allow me to harm myself so I was limited.  I hated it there, with the understanding I wasn’t supposed to enjoy it.   It took me about a week to open up to the group and talk about the accident.  I received a lot of out pouring through love and concern from all the kids in that group.  I was shocked.  Maybe they did care about me, maybe they did understand how I was feeling regardless of the relevance in all of our testimonies, we all came to the understanding pain is pain.  Pain does not discriminate, it is free for all.

One week and a couple days later, I was picked up by my mom and returned home.  I felt better than when I arrived but still left confused, not understanding my purpose to this life.  I just wanted to go home, crawl in my bed, turn up my music and cry.  Ryan still wasn’t going to call me, wouldn’t be coming by to hang out, and I had to return to school again, alone.  When will this stop?

They always said, “Time will ease the pain.”  I hated hearing that with a passion.  When someone tried to encourage me with that response I felt as if they didn’t understand the pain, the darkness, the longing, the emptiness, the worthlessness, the huge hole inside my heart.  

I am here today to remind you that as low and dark as one can go.  Time really does heal the pain, but it’s not time alone.  It’s serving others, sharing your story and reaching out to the ones who think they need it the least as well as the ones who know they need it the most.  Make your pain count for something.  That is your purpose through this!

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen”

For My Sake

“I think you’re pretty, honestly I have always thought you were pretty even when you were with Ryan.”  Ahh, those words from a boy’s lips hit me just right.  It’s exactly what I needed to hear without knowing it.  The thoughts going through my mind, “Am I really pretty?  Has he really thought that?  Maybe I really am good enough, at least I feel like it now.  It is my senior year and someone is actually noticing me.  I thought everyone forgot me.”  Oh how the devil prowls around seeking whom he may devour with his sweet words, delicate touch and relentless attention.  

With my spirits lifted, I walked down the hallways still missing Ryan, but yet seeking the attention of the boys who were offering it.  I didn’t understand it then but it was my temporary fill to my emptiness without Ryan.  They sought me out at my weakest and betrayed me and Ryan’s memory.

One after another they inviting me to basketball games and on dates but the stipulation was no talking to them in school and to not let anyone know about us… we were only friends on the outside.  Their lips spoke promises and concern, but their actions were daunting.  

Let me give it to you like this…when a young girl is lost and is trying to find herself but has no direction, a boys attention and encouraging words can help her find a gift she never knew she had.  Once that gift is discovered and the boys continue to swim in it, you realize just how much you have lost yourself into some fixation that this is actually what you are here for.  

Feeling complete by my actions, I felt wanted, loved (at least what I thought it felt like), needed and good at something.  The boys continued to place bets in the background and played with my self-esteem and heart.  

There was a party happening just around the country corner and my sister and I were making plans to go.  My sister and I were really close and we did a lot of things together.    I was open to alcohol but she was not.  She was the designated driver, my side kick and my best friend.  

After consuming too much alcohol at the party, I became nauseated and ran to the bathroom to throw it all back up.  A guy friend, or at least I thought he was, came into the bathroom and said he would help me upstairs to his room, because it was his house, and lay me down for a bit.  By the time I got to his room my sister was attempting to make her way up to get me and take me home.  Another guy got in her way to stop her from making it up the stairs to me.  As she sat there trying to plead her way up, approximately 4-5 guys walked up the stairs to where I was laying.  

I remember laying there, still feeling nauseous and extremely weak as he made sure I was comfortable.  Without warning I feel him unbuttoning my pants and slowing pulling them down my legs.  I try to resist and tell him to stop but I have no strength.  I am barely alert at this point, struggling to stay conscious while requesting for him to “please stop” but without hesitation he continues to pull my pants off around my ankles.  He said, “It will only take a minute.” 

The strength I wanted to have, I didn’t have and the words I wanted to scream, wouldn’t get any louder… I was helpless and at the mercy of a boy, he was the only one who thought he was a man!  The tears rolling down my cheeks, I ask the guy laying on the floor to please help me, but the guy on top continued to shush me and repeat, “It will only take a minute.”   He had his way with me as I laid there crying continuing to request help from the guy on the floor.  I’m assuming he was asleep since he didn’t respond to my plea for help.  Moments later, my eyes were too heavy and my body too weak… I remember nothing more.

It wasn’t until 22 years later I was advised that the 4-5 guys that made their way upstairs that night may have had a good time too. 

I’m not telling you this for you to feel sorry for me, I am baring this part of my soul so you can see that if you have experienced this… you’re not alone.  I’m not a quiet person and I find it my purpose to expose the deepest and most shameful parts of my life so you don’t feel alone.  Some will say that since I choose to drink, its my fault, so be it.  I’m not fault-finding here, I am sharing so the one person who needs to read this, will read it and remember they shouldn’t feel dirty and ashamed, they are loved and special.

The boy who assaulted me that night continues to walk around, is married and has kids of his own.  He has apologized many years later but I haven’t forgiven him.  I know I don’t have to forgive him to his face but I DO need to forgive him for my sake.  

Still Broken

I open my eyes to the ringing of my alarm as I pause to remember what day it is and where I’m at, I soon realize he isn’t here.  I’ve got to go back into that school and look for him, but he won’t be there.  I will wait outside of my car for him to pull in but he won’t come.  I will wait at my locker for him to walk me to class but he will never arrive.  I roll over in bed, bury my face in my pillow and sob.  It must have been a dream.

The day was a warm dreary as I clasped his hand in mine.  It felt like no matter how close I got to his body, it wasn’t quite close enough.  I could feel the urgency inside of my gut that he was soon returning from where he came from.  We sat in my car as Ryan spoke without saying a word as I felt the pleading in my every word, “Take me with you when you go. My Mom will understand, she knows how depressed I am and how I am not complete without you here.  Please, please Ryan, I don’t want to be here.”  Ryan continued to speak without saying a word and I listened without hearing.

Out of no where, we were walking down the street. Ryan was wearing his favorite Notre Dame shorts and red t-shirt.  Red was his favorite color and Notre Dame was half of his favorite college football team, Florida State was the other.  We continued to walk the street holding hands as this desperation boiled up inside of me and I stopped walking.   I pleaded for him to take me with him.  Every ounce of my being yearned for his presence.  My hand tightened its grip as I stiffened my arm to pull him back.  I didn’t want him to move forward, I wanted him to remain next to me.  For him to kiss me and reassure me he would be with me, that he would take me home and write me another love letter… just one more!  

The tightened grip loosened as our intertwined fingers began to separate and I was screaming on the inside without saying a word.  With a smile on his face, Ryan began to walk in front of me.  I followed him feeling like I was traveling the same speed but couldn’t seem to catch up.  Before I knew it my body was stopped and I couldn’t go any further…Ryan drifted off and eventually disappeared.  It felt like I lost him all over again.

My eyes opened and my heart was racing.  Sweat was falling and I was out of breath.  I did a quick glance around my room to put where I was back into perspective because I clearly had no idea.  My mind began to replay where I had just returned from, my head fell back onto my pillow and I realized I was that close to him.  So close I should have said more, I should have kissed him, I should have begged and pleaded more, didn’t he love me, why wouldn’t he just listen to me and take me with him.  There I lay, without my other half.  Another agonizing day back to school, arguing with my family and not wanting to be here.  

I looked down at his class ring still on my finger, as if nothing had changed.  He was placed into the casket with my class ring still on his finger.  More than one piece of me went with him.  I took out the letters and for the hundredth time, I sat on my bed reading our conversations, our love words, our imagination and our dreams.  

A moment later, my mom burst in the door, “Are you up?  Honey you need to get ready for school!”  With an attitude, I reassured her I would.  It took more than what I had to get myself out of that room, to face those hallways and sit in the same spot in class without him.  

The out pouring of love through cards, letters, flowers and taps on the shoulders was amazing but it didn’t touch that empty spot.  It wasn’t quite wide or deep enough to fill it.  Once time moves on people begin to forget you, but your pain never leaves.  It’s a recurring pain and emptiness that won’t break away, won’t let up and suffocates you.  

I was still broken.