Surface Christian.

I never would have described myself as a surface Christian. I mean, I have always believed in God and Jesus. I grew up in church and youth groups and the whole thing. If you had asked me yesterday if I had a strong faith, if I was a true believer I would have said yes, and I would have believed I was being honest. I realized today though that I’ve been living my life on the very edge of faith. I’ve been standing on the shore rather than diving completely into the ocean.A couple of months ago my husband and I were invited to church by the man who presided over our wedding. Because my husband and I felt such a genuine connection with this man we decided to check the church out. We had been together for 2 years and while we both have a true relationship with God, life and our circumstances had prevented us from attending church regularly. We went into this church with open minds but not very high expectations. We were quickly reminded of how God works in our lives. 

Every week the message has had something to do with 1 aspect of our lives or another. My husband has totally immersed  himself in studying the Bible and prayer in a way that I’ve never seen him do before. Because of his true desire to become closer to God he has become a totally different person. He has a peace surrounding him that I can’t even believe some days. He has become quicker to pray and slower to react in every situation. Until today however, I wasn’t really getting it. I was seeing the changes in my husband and the strengthening of our relationship because of it, but I wasn’t finding that peace or that closeness in my own relationship with God.

Today I finally prayed. I asked God to show me what it was that I’ve been missing. I asked him to show me why I’m still panicking over every little thing and getting so lost in the stress of life. I asked to truly feel Gods spirit in my heart. And something remarkable happened to me.

As I stood praying in church with my husband and kids I had an experience that I’ve rarely had in my life. I heard a voice in my head that was absolutely not mine. I felt the words in every part of my soul. God spoke to me and said, “I have given you so much in your unbelief. Why do you still doubt?” This statement applies to my children. When I was 18 I had a hysterectomy. I chose at that age to not risk passing the gene that caused my cancer along to my babies. As a result of that choice, I believed I would never have children. In spite of my doubt and worries and stresses, God saw it fit to bless me with a daughter that inspires me every single day, a little boy that stole my heart completely, and an angel baby boy who I want more than anything to make proud.

Today when I looked at these gifts from God that I did nothing to deserve I felt like a fool. I have seen the evidence of God working in my life every day for the last 24 years yet still I’ve held onto my pride. My human nature told me I didn’t need to get any deeper into my relationship with God than I already was. I was on the surface of Gods love, only dipping my toes into what this relationship could be. Today I made the choice to accept this invitation from God. I chose to let go of every single doubt and every bit of my human stubbornness to handle my life myself. Today I decided to throw my arms out to God and dive completely into the Ocean.

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Scars

I have scars. They are scattered over my thighs, my stomach, and my lower back. For the past 10 years of my life these scars defined a huge part of who I was. These scars said that I was a crazy mess of a girl. These scars said I couldn’t find a healthy way to cope with life. These scars said I was WEAK. So I hid my scars. I lived summers in Arizona and Las Vegas never wearing anything aside from jeans because I was afraid to have anyone see my scars. When I was 14 and my family found out I had been cutting myself they thought I was doing it for attention. My mother was embarrassed by what I’d been doing so she told me to stop it. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how else to calm the storms inside of my head. I knew only that cutting my skin open made me feel better. So because I didn’t know how to stop I became better at hiding. My cutting moved from my legs to my back and stomach where the evidence was much easier to hide. Within my family it became just another thing we didn’t talk about. I became a master at lying and very good at pretending I was okay. I also became deeply ashamed of my scars. Pretty, healthy, happy girls didn’t cut themselves. Normal girls didn’t crave pain and blood and secrets. When I grew up and decided to stop hating myself my scars were an issue. They were a reminder of how lost I could get in my emotions. They were visible proof of what a freak I had been. As I grew more confident in the person I was in every other area of my life, my blindness, my personality, my ability to take care of myself and others, my scars remained a serious point of shame for me. They continued to be a reason to hate my body, my past, and who I had been. This summer when it started to get hot I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to spend one more day hiding who I was. The very real truth is that I spent the majority of my life being broken and in a lot of ways, I was comfortable with that. It was what I knew. Changing who you’ve always been takes a huge amount of work and perseverance. Part of being strong for me now is accepting all the ways I wasn’t. Being confident means I can wear shorts or a dress that doesn’t go to the floor. Being me hasn’t always been perfect. I haven’t always done the healthy thing. I haven’t always been happy. I haven’t always been free from shame and embarrassment, but today I am. I’m PROUD of my scars because I’m proud of who I have become. I’m proud to say that I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. I’m proud to say that I no longer have to pretend I’m okay. Because I’m so much better than okay now.      

Perfect In my Eyes

If you are like most people you probably don’t think about your eyes often. I don’t mean all of the things your eyes do for you, I mean the existence of your eyes in general. Your eyes being in your face is a given for you. I am not someone who has had this luxury in my life.
When I was 1 year old I developed bilateral retinoblastoma. This is a cancer of the eye which develops in young children. When presented with all the treatment options my parents chose to have my eyes removed. This was a decision that I will always be grateful to them for making. I have been blessed to have been healthy ever since. My eyes though. How does one deal with a toddler who suddenly has a lack of eyes in her face?
My parents did what most parents would do. They had prosthetic eyes made for me. As I grew older I learned to take my eyes out and put them back in again. I also learned that my ability to remove and replace my eyes made me interesting! I drove my parents crazy by taking my eyes out and leaving them places they didn’t belong. I educated my Friends about the mysteries of the prosthetic  eye. But somewhere along the way I developed a deep insecurity about my lack of eyes.
I have learned in my life that this world is a very visual place. If you look different, people are going to judge you differently. So I can respect the fact that my parents wanted to shelter me from a certain amount of that judgment. They taught me to never leave the house without my prosthetic eyes in. If I was sick, or suffering from a headache, or couldn’t find my prosthetic eyes, they made me wear dark sunglasses. They told me to never let anyone see me without my eyes in. They told me that I didn’t look good without my eyes in. They taught me to be ashamed of something I couldn’t change. I don’t believe this was the intention. I believe the intent was one, to stop me from losing my very expensive prosthetic eyes. Two, to save me from the judgments of an uneducated world.
In the last few years though, I’ve learned something else. It is a lot more healthy to be confident in who you are with or without eyes then it is to search for The acceptance of the whole world. I will never be exactly like everyone else. When I go out in public people stare at me! They stare at me if I had my eyes in or if I don’t! They stare at me because I use a cane. Because I’m blind! They stare at me because I have an interesting hairstyle. because I have tattoos and piercings. Whatever! I have learned that they are going to stare! There is no getting around that! But I’ve also learned that I have a safe place within my family. That when my husband or my step kids look at me they don’t see a girl with no eyes. They just see me! They except me with or without the prosthetics. And they never ask me to change. If I’m not in the mood to wear my eyes it doesn’t matter. I can just be myself and not worry that the people closest to me, who should always except me for exactly who I am, are judging me. It’s a very safe feeling.
When I read on social media about parents of children who are struggling with the same kind of cancer complaining about their child not wanting to wear their eyes, it makes me remember the little girl I was, and the young woman I became. I understand and respect the desire they have to keep their children safe from the judgment of others. I implore them to also teach those children that they are beautiful no matter what they decide to do with their eyes. Teach them that people will stare, people will ask questions, sometimes people will be mean! But that’s life. it’s far better for them to know they have a safe place in their parents arms than anything else. They need to know that they are perfect in their parents eyes, even though they no longer have perfect eyes of their own.

Blue.

When I found her she was just a tiny thing. Not like a little baby, like something from a fairytale. She was alone. I wasn’t a child, not someone who floated away on delusional thoughts. I was 21 and finishing up my degree in english literature. I was a little obsessed with my weight then. I’d go running every morning in the park across from my apartment. That day was cold, freezing really, but i didn’t care. I ran every day, no matter what. I was in the middle of my third lap when my hair came falling around my face. I stopped to look for the hairband i lost. I saw the flash of color among the grass next to my feet. I bent to see what the flash of blue could possibly be. It was a basket. Not big, probably just a bit bigger than my hand. It was surprisingly heavy when I picked it up. I went straight home, not bothering to finish my run. I somehow knew I shouldn’t open the box outside. I opened the box on my kitchen table. Inside was a baby. There was no other word for what she was, she was undeniably a baby. She was wrapped in a pink blanket and a note was on the inside lid of the box. It wasn’t written in english or any other language I could read. She was sleeping. I felt the breaths move in and out as she dreamed. Her hair was blue. It was obviously not fake blue either, where ever this tiny baby was from, blue was a natural color for hair. That morning, Blue also became her name. I knew from the moment I saw what was in the box, that I was keeping her. I had no idea what I’d do with her when I was at school and work, I knew I couldn’t tell anyone about her. I didn’t even know what she was. When she started to cry, it was a shockingly human sound. I pulled her from the box and held her in 1 hand. She looked at me with her tiny blue eyes and smiled. She was beautiful. The first 2 years were a long list of secrets. My little sister was the only other living person who knew of Blue’s existence. She took care of her while I worked nights so my parents wouldn’t see my tiny baby and lose there minds. I knew Carley would keep everything to herself and take care of my baby girl. I told her the story of how I found my Blue and she never asked another question. The year she turned 2, Blue was 7 pounds and long enough to pass for a human new born. Her long blue hair was not the least bit human. When I decided I was going to pull her into the human world, I cut it all off. Carley was pissed when she saw the color of brown I dyed it. She screamed at me that I couldn’t put this baby in a normal daycare, I couldn’t even tell anyone there was a baby. I didn’t even know what she was, how could I take her to a doctor to get shots for school? I told her I couldn’t let her grow up all alone. I had a back up plan though. I told Carley if it didn’t work, we’d take the baby and go. Car would be 18 in 2 months so we could just go. She agreed to the plan only after I put this version of it to her. The 2 years I worked nights at a hotel I had also been getting my license in foster care. The morning I pretended to find my 2 year old daughter on the front porch of my house I was horrified. I only put her down once the doctors had to get her weight. I think now it was part of her magic that everything fell into place. There were only a few questions. Where did i find her? How long had she been there? They determined that she was 1 week old. Somehow they didn’t notice the fact that she had teeth. I don’t even know if the hair color would have really been necessary. No one asked anything. They let me take her home. From then on she grew more normally. She had been talking and walking for about a year by the time I took her in to the real world, so there was a little more pretending. By the time she was 5, she was testing at the level of a second grader in preschool, because she had lost the first 2 years. She was my sugar fairy. That’s what I called her. She drew pictures in the sand at the beach. She ran up to me every day after school and hugged me and told me how much she missed me. I held her close and sang her to sleep every night. She remembered everything from the first moment I opened the box, but not 1 thing from before. I wondered sometimes if some night when we were sleeping if some supernatural thing I couldn’t even imagine would be in my house taking my baby girl Blue. Other nights I wondered what she would grow up to be. What world had she been taken from, what was she missing, what couldn’t I give her? The year she turned 12 in reality, 10 to everyone but Car and I, I gave her the letter from the box. She held it in her hands and read. I could tell she was reading it, she was understanding it. “Mommy? Can I go see the place?” “I can’t read that baby girl. What does it say?” “Oh my God, you never read it? You don’t know?” “Know what? What don’t I know?” She was smiling even as tears fell down her beautiful face. “Mommy, it says if you took care of me while I was tiny I’d be safe. It says when I turn 12 i’m old enough to go back.” “Okay, where are we going?” She took my hand and walked outside. We were still in that apartment so the walk was only about 5 minutes. She stopped in the grass and just stood there. She put her hands into the air and took a deep breath. The trees to her left rippled slightly before the woman stepped out. She was a copy of my daughter, just looking wild. Her long blue hair was twisted and curly not like my baby girls straight smooth hair. The woman put her hands on my shoulders and hugged me. “I can never tell you what you’ve done for my family,” She said. “What are you?” It was the only way I could phrase what I was asking. What I’d been wondering for the last 12 years of my life. “I can’t explain it to you. But by keeping her safe, you have saved us.” “What does she have to do with the saving of anyone? She’s just a little girl.” Blue hadn’t moved from the spot in the grass. She simply watched us, her mothers, talk to each other. “She is not just anything. She’s the princess. She’s the hero we need. My people, her people, have been under attack for the last 2 hundred of your human years. We age differently as you probably noticed with your baby girl there.” “Why did you send her to me?” “When we have children, they are tiny. The box you found her in is where she would have spent the first 2 years of her life if she had been in our world. There were others who wouldn’t have let her live them. They would have found the box and taken her before she could save herself.” I didn’t care about anything but what this meant for her now. She had finally found her voice, and she was wondering what I was wondering. “What do I have to do?” She asked still standing in the grass. “Just stand there Blue.” The woman said. That same ripple happened, and my daughter disappeared. “What did you do to her? Where the hell is she? I need her. You can’t just take her.” I lay down in the grass and started crying, hard. “I’m so sorry I can’t give her back to you. You did well for her.” She took the place my daughter had been standing in before and rippled out of my life. I called Carley to come pick me up. I cried the story to her while she made 1 up for the cops. I spent the next 5 years pretending to look for her, while on the inside and to Car I broke for her. I couldn’t leave that apartment because I had to remember her. Had to go lay in that spot in the grass every day and pray to God I’d get to see her again. The day she turned 17 I got my wish. In the grass where I’d last seen my daughter standing there was a box.

Shouldn’t Be News Worthy

Today I saw a post on twitter about a young woman who is blind being offered a braille menu for the first time in her life. The twitter post and subsequent BuzzFeed article made it seem like this absolutely normal moment was life changing for the young woman. At first it made me smile, that blindness was being discussed on social media. After a while though, it began to bother me quite a bit. I’m 24 years old and I have been blind for 23 of those years. I learned at a young age to ask for menus in braille. They aren’t always available, but in most chain restaurants they are. Because most of the general public isn’t used to interacting with those of us who don’t use our eyes to see, you have to ask for the braille version, but it’s always fun to be able to decide what you want for yourself. I myself, am a creature of habit. Once i find a food I like at any given restaurant I’ll usually just order that food because that’s what I want. The last time I was given a braille menu I used it for the purpose of showing my stepson what braille looked like in a book. I never saw something like a braille menu as anything more than I deserved. Maybe my opinion here is a product of the self confidence I’ve been actively fostering in myself over the past 2 years. But I believe the fact that what should have been seen as an ordinary moment in a young woman’s day became a news story says something very negative about how blind people are treated by the majority of the sighted public. If we as a Society are surprised and emotionally moved when blind people are simply treated like everyone else, what message does that send? From where I sit it screams that people who happen to not have eyes that work should feel very lucky when they are treated with common decency. They aren’t usually seen as full, capable, functioning members of the world, so when they are they should be extremely grateful. The sad part of this to me is that it becomes a vicious circle. Blind people are taught that they shouldn’t expect to be treated like everyone else. So they grow up not demanding the respect they should be given automatically. On the other side of this equation, the rest of the world is learning that they can, for the most part ignore blind people. When they do treat the blind like they are actually people too, they expect a parade for their goodness! I see this whole situation as just sad and wrong. I live my life demanding respect. If someone is genuinely kind to me I am thankful for that. But if I’m offered the same treatment as my sighted friends, I just call that a normal day. It shouldn’t be news worthy that a young woman who is blind was able to order dinner with the same ease as her sighted sister. Blind people need to become strong enough to take what they, as human beings in this world, deserve. And in return sighted people shouldn’t feel like saints when they do the minimum to include blind people in everyday life.https://twitter.com/buzzfeed/status/846786971385171968

Picture Of  a Little Boy

I never pictured my life with a baby boy. In my head, there was always a little girl cuddled in my arms. And I did spend a lot of my life picturing that girl. No, I never pictured a little boy. That’s a good thing, because I never could have dreamed up this boy. He is energy. He is dancing around the living room, no matter how tired I may be. He is soft hair that always smells like sunshine, even in the winter time. He is long car trips singing anything we can think of. He is tiny fingers interlaced with mine. He is hugs and kisses all the time. He is pleases and thank yous. He is superheroes and Xbox games. “Harmony, do you remember Batman’s real name?” He is STILL teaching me these things! He is laughing so hard you can’t even breathe.He is light and thee absolute definition of love. And I am so incredibly blessed to be his Harmony.        

Adoption.

There was never a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. There was no big sit down conversation about where I came from. One of my older brothers is also adopted so in my immediate family, being adopted isn’t even that special. When my brother and I were younger we’d compare our stories. I’d say, “Well at least you know who your father is.” To which he’d reply, “Well at least you’ve met your little sister.” We’d usually end up laughing at the end of this while our non adopted siblings looked on in confusion. With my parents and I there was always a disconnect around this issue. While my dad didn’t mind talking about it, he took the stand in our lives of if he didn’t need to know information, he didn’t. He always told me that the details surrounding my birth family wern’t known to him. From the time that I was very young my mom would get upset if I asked any questions about my birth mother. So as I got older I learned not to ask. The things I do know, that she was a teenager, an addict, a general wreck of a girl with a 2 year old daughter already when I was born i picked up by listening to the conversations of the adults and my older siblings. As a teenager I had a lot of anger for a woman who would give her baby away and not look back. I couldn’t understand how any drug or issue could be more important than your daughter. I couldn’t understand how she could have just walked away. As an adult I understand that 19 isn’t all that grown up. And that addictions can be very strong indeed. I understand that she did what she felt was best for her, and me. And I couldn’t see my life any other way. I couldn’t imagine a life with out my siblings and parents. I couldn’t imagine being anyone but who I am today and I owe my birth mother a thank you for making the choice she made for me 24 years ago. Accepting all of this for what it is, there is still this feeling I get every year around my birthday. I read a book once that theorized that children who are given up at birth equate their birthdays with their first sence of loss. I don’t know if I believe that, but I do know that I get this intense heartache feeling in the days leading up to my birthday. And my birth mother and little sister are constantly on my mind. I decided last year that I don’t have an interest in finding my birth mother. I don’t want answers, I’m not angry, I don’t want a new mom. And as curious as I am about my little sister, I’m not curious enough to actively look for her. Most of the time there is peace in having made all of these decisions. But for about a week every March there is just a lot of pain. The part of my heart that is still very much a little girl is just sad. She wonders how life turned out for those people she never new. She wonders too sometimes, if their ever wondering about her.