Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Dad's Legacy

This is a picture of my dad, Harry King, when he was in his early 20s, around the early 1930s. He was one of the most musically talented people I've ever known. He loved to sing and could play anything with strings on it. He mostly played guitar, but he also played the piano and the violin. He even had a cello for a while, and he learned to play it pretty well before he traded it off for something "better." I have a picture of him with it, miraculously, shown below.  He was always buying and selling musical instruments, so he would have different instruments all the time. If he were alive in today's world, I have no doubt he would be on eBay all the time.

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad and me singing some silly song he made up. How I wish I had recordings of those times! There wasn't any video, of course, or even cassette tapes in those days. He had reel to reel tape recorders though, as you can see in the picture below from about 1960. I guess he didn't think about the silly songs as anything of consequence, so he didn't record them, but those are the main things that impacted me. You just never know what your kids will remember and treasure about their growing up years.

So, remember that, you young moms and dads.  Make memories with your kids and document it well. Today's fun and games become tomorrow's treasures in their memories of their childhoods.

My dad left me a legacy. No, he didn't have money or anything of any real value according to this world's standards. He loved the Lord, though, and he loved to worship Him with singing and music. That is the legacy he left me. He passed that down to me, and now I am worshiping the Lord in song. It's a passion of mine. Recently, our praise team sang "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" during worship on a Wednesday night. I was flooded with memories of singing that song with my dad. Sometimes we sang at church, sometimes on the radio program he had for a while. I was thinking how he would be blessed to know that I'm still singing and praising the Lord. He instilled a love of God and of music in me, and it's still there! I got choked up and almost couldn't sing that song thinking about him.

What a Godly heritage I have! Here's to my dad, who has been in Heaven for 32 years, worshiping Jesus in person!  Thank you for what you left with me. 

(By the way, your grandkids all sing and play, too, in case you didn't know.) 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

No More Chains

This is a very long post that I have prayed over a lot. I have made it as concise as I could, but this is like a fire shut up in my bones. I didn't sleep much last night because I had written this in my journal but not posted it. I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot keep this inside if even one person will benefit from it. So here is a portion of last night's journal entry: 

Over the last few years, the Lord has been peeling away layers of my heart, like layers of an onion. At times this can be painful, but most of the time I’m just amazed that I am seeing glimpses of “the real me,” instead of the fa├žade that I have hidden behind most of my life. I'm just as surprised as everyone else; I had no idea who I was, either.

In the last couple of years or so I have learned a lot about myself.  For instance, I now know that I am an introvert.  I am much happier alone or with a few I am close to than in a crowd. I have to have my alone time to rest and recharge. Being around large groups of people is exhausting and drains all the energy out of me as a rule. I am ok with being with close friends and family to an extent, but even with them I find I have to be alone after a while.

I’ve been reading old journals; some from over 20 years ago, and some from recent years. I have found a common thread throughout: I discovered that I had severe emotional damage up until about 3 or so years ago. It is suddenly so clear to me, and was quite a revelation to me, though I'm sure those close to me knew it long ago. I was desperately needy, and always seeking to have that need filled by various people. I’m not even going to try and analyze why I became that way. God knows; and if He wants me to know, He will show me. If it is better that I not know, I’m ok with that.

One of the characteristics I developed as a child and teenager is embarrassing to admit, but I can tell it now because I am totally delivered from it. I became very much in need of approval and affirmation. It was revealed to me as I prayed and sought the Lord that I was an attention seeker.  Some emotionally damaged children seek attention in any way they can get it because they are so neglected and so starved for love and acceptance.  Sometimes the attention is in the form of discipline, but it seems that they would prefer negative attention to no attention.

I was not one of those who did bad things to get attention, though; at least not openly bad.  I didn’t break things, or steal, or intentionally try to hurt others.  The destruction I rendered was to myself.  I turned my insecurities inward and became my own worst enemy. I constantly berated myself inwardly for things about myself in which I didn’t feel I measured up to the standard I had set for myself. 

As I said before, I’m not into analyzing why I became self-loathing and critical of myself, but I do have a theory. It all came into focus in my time with the Lord last night. I believe it was a generational curse intended to destroy me. This was mentioned by a Christian counselor I went to for a while a few years back, and I knew when they said it they were right.  I have renounced this curse in the name of Jesus, and I am free from it. However, God is still cleaning up the damage left in its wake.

I used to be so focused on everything that was wrong in my life that if I happened to open up to a friend on occasion, afterward I would hate myself for being such a pain. It became a vicious cycle, and it constantly fed the ever-growing chasm in my heart that the insecurities of feeling insignificant and unloved had made. After I shared my heart with someone I would hate myself and became convinced I had made the listener angry or not love me anymore.  On and on and on, ad nausem.

Most of my friends from childhood had no idea I was such an emotional wreck because I was very good at hiding my true feelings. I'm sure I didn't even know I was doing it or that I had emotional problems, but I didn't let very many close enough to me to discover it.

I went along like this until I met my husband when I was 17.  For a while, things were much better.  I loved him, and he made me feel good about myself because he claimed to love me. Of course, it wasn’t long until I began to doubt that he really did, and I proceeded to try his patience with me like I had with the few friends I had let close to me.

He wasn’t without emotional damage himself, though. He was an imperfect human being just as I was. He did love me as much as he knew how, but he was only human. No human can fill the void that is intended for God, no matter who they are or how much they love us.  So we were like two damaged souls trying to find the light switch in a dark room.  Neither of us knew where it was, and we kept hurting each other while trying to find it. 

I remember a specific time in the first year of our marriage where we had been arguing about something.  I don’t remember what the argument was about, but I do remember crying and running down the hall to the bathroom hoping (probably subconsciously) that he would come and comfort me and tell me it was all going to be ok.

He never came. I needed a knight in shining armor on a white horse, but he was just as broken as I was.  This event set the tone for our entire relationship.  I can see so clearly now that we both just needed Jesus.  At least, I know I did. I can't say for sure about him.

I found out about the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers when I was in my late 30s.  By this time, we had 3 children entering their teenage years and our marriage was teetering on a precipice of fear and insecurities that we had lived on for so many years. This pattern I was into of setting up anyone who loved me to not be there for me, which I perceived as proof they didn’t love me repeated itself over and over until God finally opened my eyes to what was happening.

One morning I was all alone in the house, and the pain in my heart became so intense I could stand it no more. I had been attending a church for over a year that taught about the saving grace of Jesus, and all that Word that had been planted in me finally broke through my crusty, hard heart. I gave my heart to Jesus on October 31, 1994 in a broken, sobbing mass of tears on my living room floor. My life began to turn around, but it was many years and heartbreaks later that I began to see and experience the chains actually falling off.  

There was so much damage and so little trust and respect in our marriage that we eventually divorced in 1997. That was a very dark time in both of our lives.  God mercifully intervened into our lives and it appears that my ex is now a Christian, too.  He remarried years ago and seems to be happy now.  I am truly happy for him.

I am a different person today than I was even 3 years ago, thanks to the miraculous and healing touch of Jesus in my life.  Even though I gave my heart to Jesus 20 years ago, the healing is a process; it didn’t happen overnight. I know now what I did when I set people up to dump me; I was only repeating the pattern that had been established in my family line many generations earlier.  I am so thankful that the blood of Jesus breaks that curse and those chains of emotional damage have fallen off.

Jesus is my Savior; He is my Knight in shining armor who rescued me on that day 20 years ago when I cried out for Him to save me and help me.  He always ALWAYS comes to my aid when I am hurting.  He meets me at the very point of my need; He picks me up and holds me until I am reassured that He does love me and always will and He will never, EVER forsake me.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

Monday, June 8, 2015

There and Back Again: A Mother's Journey to Arizona

It has been 4 weeks since my trip to Arizona, and I hadn't taken time to blog about it until today. When I arrived back home, I stepped off the plane into another dimension; the one where we enter the crazy, hectic, last two weeks of school where I work. It's certainly been life in the fast lane lately. Finally, I am getting around to writing about my trip.

And so my story begins....

Mother's Day morning at 4:15 am, I left for the airport to catch a 5:15 am flight to Dallas, where I would have a 2 hour layover and fly from there to Phoenix. Because there's a 2 hour time difference in Arizona, I would leave Dallas at 8:20 and arrive in Phoenix at 9:05. My son, his wife, and her mother and I would have all day to frolic in the Arizona sun and enjoy each other's company. That was the plan.

But that's not how it played out.

I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and got checked in.  By shortly after 4:30, I was sitting in the waiting area by the gate. We boarded the plane on schedule, even though there were thunderstorms in the area. We sat on that plane for about 45 minutes, then were told that our flight was delayed due to storms in the Dallas area.  After over an hour, we finally took off, but my connecting flight was supposed to be at 8:20, and I knew I would miss it.

They put me on another plane to Phoenix, and it was boarding when I landed.  I had to practically run to get there, since the Skylink was down due to lightning. I made it, and boarded that plane.

And we sat there an hour.

Eventually, the pilot announced that this flight had been cancelled.  We all had to deplane, and get in line to get yet another flight to Phoenix.  I stood in line for probably 45 minutes to an hour and was finally given another flight, but I was told it wasn't a boarding pass.  They told me I would have to go to the gate where this plane was departing and get a boarding pass. I encountered some very unhappy American Airlines personnel who proceeded to take their miserable attitudes out on anyone who dared to ask them anything.

By the time I found where my flight would board and get someone to make the effort to print me a boarding pass, it was mid-afternoon. My sweet little plan to arrive in Dallas about 6:30 am and have a leisurely breakfast during my 2 hour layover had totally fallen apart. I finally got something to eat about 3:00 or so. There was a Starbucks and a Wendy's in that part of the terminal, so I had myself a caramel macchiato and some chicken nuggets. Unorthodox combination, I know, but I had my heart set on Starbucks coffee for breakfast and by George, I was going to have it!  I knew I needed some protein, though, so that's why the chicken nuggets.

My flight was delayed a couple of times, but it finally took off about 6:15 pm.  I was finally headed for Phoenix, and landed about 6:45 pm Phoenix time.  At least I got a couple of hours of my miserable day back due to the time difference.

The graduation ceremony was the next day at 10 am. Pictured is my view from our seats. This ceremony was just for graduate students; those getting a Masters or Doctorate. My daughter-in-law received a Master of Arts in Music. I'm really proud of her; she has worked hard for this for the last 2 years. I'm so glad I was able to fly out there for this.

After the ceremony, we had lunch at a quaint little restaurant near the campus called The Normal Diner. Of course, with a name like that, you might know it would be anything but normal. The food was really good, and the fellowship was, too. My son, daughter-in-law, and her mother, along with a couple of Alli's friends that also graduated sat and visited for a couple of hours.  We had a great time.  

The picture to the right supports my claim that this eatery was anything but normal. It had a flair for pop culture that was quite charming. For instance, there was an entire wall of 8 track tapes. Yes, that's right. Eight tracks. If you don't know what those are, I'm really, really sorry. They were great.

Google it.  

You can get online and find out more about them. They were very popular in the 70s and they had a great sound. Sadly, they didn't really catch on. When cassettes finally came on the scene, they faded out.  

Alli had play rehearsal and her mother had to fly back home that night, so they didn't get to go the the Botanical Gardens with us. This was one of the activities we had planned to do on Sunday but didn't get to, thanks to my being stuck in Dallas all day.  *sigh*

Jeff and I spent a couple of hours touring the gardens.  There were more types of cacti than I ever knew existed. It was a neat place but SO HOT. I'm sure it seemed extra hot to me, since we had been having an unusually cool spring this year.  The day I flew there, it was a 65 degree, rainy day at home. It was in the 90s when we toured the gardens, though, so I felt like I was being roasted alive. 

But it's no secret I'm not a fan of hot weather, so I'm probably not the best judge of how hot it really was.

One of the neatest things was this sundial, pictured above. As you can see, it was 5:00 pm when we were there. This sundial was completely accurate, thanks to the fact that Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings time. 

We talked it over, and we decided this sundial is probably the reason they decided to stay with standard time. They wanted it to be accurate.  (Haha. Just kidding. Not about talking it over; we did that. We have no idea why Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings time, though.)

After we left the Botanical Gardens, Jeff, Alli, and I went to downtown Tempe to find a place to eat.  I saw something I hadn't seen before. I don't know what to call them, but they put out a mist of water to cool down the people walking on the sidewalks there. We were there at night, but it gets very hot in the daytime, as I had just experienced at the Botanical Gardens. I wish they had these there.

It was a great trip, even it it was short. I flew back home the next day after graduation. This time, the flights left as scheduled. I was back home Tuesday night about 10:30 pm. I am so blessed to be able to go and see my children.  It's tough sometimes, with them all living away from here, but I get to go some neat places to see them.