Thursday, December 29, 2005

Do they really know? Continued

Tonight was spent in the kitchen baking for a delivery I have tomorrow for Sugar & Spice. My last one of the year! As I spent the evening in the kitchen I got to listen to my husband's mp3 player while I baked. It sure made my time in the kitchen more exciting. Plus I got to listen to all the songs I downloaded, so it was nice singing along to my favorite songs. Since music runs so deep through my veins, God uses it a lot to speak to me. Tonight, He took me down a path I wasn't ready to take which leads me to sharing it with you.

Kelly Clarkson is probably my favorite female artist right now. Her voice is one of the most amazing I have ever heard. Plus I feel a connection with her because we both had the same choir teacher in school, Mr. Glenn. I know if we ever met, we could share stories of Mr. Glenn yelling at the class! Different schools, different districts, different years, but the same Mr. Glenn. Kelly sings a song that I like to sing over and over again. The words take me back to a time in my life that I don't like to think about or talk about. It was time that bruised my heart so badly that I am still recovering today. With all the pain that it brought me, I am learning now as I approach thirty years of age, that it is a time in my life that must be dealt with. So as I listened to that song over and over again tonight, I went back to the eleven year old girl that I was and sang, "I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky . And I'll make a wish. Take a chance. Make a change. And breakaway."

When I was eleven years old, my Mom left my Dad. My brother and I lived with her until I talked my Mom into letting me live with my Dad. I was so worried about him because he would tell me that he was going to committ suicide if he did not have me with him. Never would I let my mom know he was saying those things to me! For if she knew, she would never let me leave so I just made her life a living hell until she let me leave. I just knew that if I were with my Dad that he would be okay. I could take care of him and make sure he did not commit suicide. At eleven years old I did not realize that he was manipulating me. So, I moved in and took care of Him. A couple of weeks after I moved into his one bedroom, nasty apartment, the electricity was cut off. It was winter so it got very cold at night. He had no way of paying the bill because he had lost all of his accounts with his job. He had drained my grandmother dry of money so no one could bail him out. For three months, no electricity. Not once did I tell my mom. Each night he would leave to go to a friends house. I was left alone in a cold and dark apartment with no electricity. I did not even have light to do my homework. It hurts so bad to think about this but I remember crying myself to sleep every single night. Finally in the middle of the night, he would come home so drunk that he could not walk. I would tell him to sit down, I would pull of his boots and then that was it! He passed out every single night! I never had lunch money, never had a ride to school or a ride home. I actually failed my grade because I was never at school.

Last week I was at Best Buy buying my husband's Christmas present. When I walked in, I saw a girl that I went to school with in the sixth grade. She knew me back then during that horrible time in my life. As soon our eyes met, I knew she remembered me. Of course I acted like I didn't see her and walked around the corner. My heart was pounding and my stomach began to feel sick. This girl knew who I was. She knew what I came from. I remember when I was eleven she made fun of me because I did not have real "Keds", I had fake ones. I tried to take a blue sharpie and draw a square on the back of my shoes so they would look real, at least they would from a far distance. She also made fun of my makeup. I had just begun trying to wear makeup but I did not live with my Mom and I wasn't real sure how to wear it. Often, I wore too much because I just didn't know. I can still hear her voice now, "Amanda Livingston wears her makeup like Indian paint!" Not only did I not know how to wear it but I did not have electricity in the mornings to use a light and see what I was doing. Also, I loved to dance when I was a little girl so one day I heard this particular girl talking about her dance classes. I wanted so bad for those girls to like me that I lied and told them I took dance. Then there was always the talk of girls going to each other's homes to have slumber parties. Not me, I didn't really have a home. So, each night while my Dad was out getting hammered, I would pray. No TV, no radio, nothing! The only thing I could do was pray. It was those years that I began to feel how amazing the comfort of Jesus is. Every single night, I would cry out and ask God to make me a normal girl. "God, I just want to be normal. Help me be happy someday."

Seeing this girl in Best Buy brought up so much emotion. Until now, I haven't shared with anyone about seeing her that day. There was an urge deep within me to let her see me. "See! Look at me! I'm normal! Look at my kids! Look how gorgeous they are! I have a house! I have nice clothes. I have an SUV to tote my kids around! I am the All American Mom! Look at how good I have turned out! And some days I even think I am pretty darn cute! I may not be wearing Keds but I am wearing the cool and hip stuff now! Oh and look at my makeup, I think it looks awesome!" Now, I know that those thoughts may sound vein, but that was the eleven year old coming out in me. The thirty year old wanted to move on and forget I ever saw her but I now think God put us there at the same time on purpose. Whether this girl from my past remembered me or not, God used her to remind me that I am a normal girl now. Finally, I was able to

You may be one to cast judgment on others. You may make fun of them, talk about them or think bad thoughts about them. I know I have. But, what if you really knew what was inside of them? What if you knew where they had walked? What if you knew how they felt every night when their head hit the pillow? Maybe you think of them as being rude, unfriendly or unsociable. You may think bad of them because they don't smile at you or talk to you when they pass you in the hall at work or in the foyer at church. But what if it had nothing to do with you? Do you know their pain? Do you know what's in their heart? What about you? You have a story. You have pain. You have bruises on your heart. Do they really know you?

Father, I am overwhelmed by your sweet presence in my home tonight. I feel you doing so much in me right now. I know that you have called me to ministry and I know that all of the things on my timeline have happened for that very purpose, to minister. As you prepare me for that ministry, help me to love your people. The ones that don't smile, the ones that don;t affirm, the ones that don't accept me, help me to love them. And please help me to smile, affirm and accept. I want others to see Christ when they see me. Help me to heal so I can truly have the marriage I was intended to have.

Mom, I love you. I am so glad you married my other Dad, James. We are so blessed to have him and I am so thankful that you are married to someone that loves you how you are supposed to be loved. I am so sorry you ever went through the things you did but I am so glad you got the courage to take us out of that life. You are my hero.


Christy said...

Amanda, I am going to be praying for you! I haven't been thru alot of what you wrote about but some I can relate to. God has a way of taking our past and using it for HIS glory and I know he has a plan for you. He is going to use the things you went thru to minister to a heart... I know he has used you thru your blog to bless my soul! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I've been really going thru some things and I just really feel encouraged!

Sonya Terrell said...

Oh Amanda, I'm sitting here crying from reading you post. So much pain in your past and it makes me hurt for you. You are on the road to healing, I know it! I can feel it! Keep praying to you Father he wants all the pains of your life and he wants to make them into something glorious. I've been down some of the same roads as you in my childhood days and as I wrote in my blog the other day, I will not dwell on them! I will pray for God to use them for his glory. Use me God!

I will pray the same for you! I love you Amanda!

Kathy Allen said...

Oh Mandi, unfortunately I can relate to a lot of what you have written about. It was very painful for me read your blog because of how much I love you and of what I went through as a child. I think that is why I keep everything-because I didn't have anything when I was younger. What I can tell you as a 48 yr old woman. Yes, it still hurts sometimes but I am over it. When God brings you a long way it is because you were worth fulfulling a purpose He had for you...and it usually is a big one. The past has put something in me that can not be taken away and it gives me courage to be strong for the people I love. You had to go through that to be able to be the mother you are now...preventing your children from suffering so that they may be bright for Him. When you get will get easier. Hard to explain on a computer. I love you and I can say that you amaze me each time I am with you. You have the qualities of a perfect mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, woman and child of God. You had to have the past to reap this reward. You have not seen the best yet little girl.

Kelly Ann said...

I Love You!!

Amanda said...

Thanks ladies for reading such raw material. It's not in me to blog about anything. I don't enjoy reading senseless stuff so I'm not going to write about it. So, I think you know by now when you come to my blog that it will be emotional! I have some incredible ladies in my life. Wow, I am so blessed!

kelly G said...

I tis so evident to me that all oif the things God brought you through made you exactly who you are now. If you have trouble seeing who you are now, I will elaborate. You are a gift from God, a joy to His soul, a devoted wife, a mother of 2 beautiful children, a great friend, a person that at times may be unsure of herself, but never doubts the work of her Father's hand. You Amanda are a saving grace to many, a refuge for most and a voice that God uses to portray His message. If you ever have trouble getting that...just ask, there are a lot of women here who will be happy to elaborate.

Kelly G

Sonya Terrell said...

Kelly, that is about the sweetest thing I have ever heard one woman say to another woman!

And I agree with everything you said!!

Love you, Amanda.

Amanda said...

Kelly G., thank you. You are a Godly woman, I know. So getting those words from you makes me feel blessed. I was just thinking how blown away I am that I have women in my life that are real. We don't just talk about the weather. We talk about the real crap that goes on in our lives. Oh and we do talk about where we got our jeans and how much they cost! That's what makes us such a unique group of ladies. Its time for all women to get a grip and share their flaws. I honestly can't take counterfeit people anymore. As we have learned from Michelle's sister's car accident, life is too short to not be real. Thanks Kelly for being so real. I love you!

kelly G said...

Amanda, it is so funny you say that, because my goal in 2006 is to be real, to let others get to know the real me, flaws and all!! That is a HUGE struggle for me!

Anonymous said...

I had allot of catching up to do - I did not look at my computer much between Christmas and New Years.
I have read this blog twice now - I can relate to this. Not because I went through the same exact things but something in this blogs just pulls at my heart. I have had my own set of trials in my life - to many to write about while leaving a commnet, and there are times I want to scream out "Look at me NOW!!" Just like you said you wanted to. Many times when I look back at things I have gone through and I wonder "why" I had to or why did I make that choice or why did this person do this to me - I always bring it back to the fact that IF I did NOT go through that - I would not be able to relate to others.....make sense??? I think that we go through painful things in our life in order to bond with each other and with God. If we all had perfect lives, childhoods, marriages - 1) we would not really NEED each other and 2) we probably would think we did need God either.

I cannot begin to imagine how hard that must have been - But I can tell it made you a very strong woman.
I know we don't talk or see each other - but hopefully one day we can ;o)))
I appriciate your honesty on your blogs.