Losing My Place

So, I don’t know if anyone has read my post about discrimination, but let me offer a short recap: I was asked to no longer take communion or be a part of the worship team due to my secular living arrangements.

At first I was really upset and angry about this. We had a meeting, the Pastor, the Praise leader and myself. And they told me how my secular lifestyle is not good for the church. How people like me are undermining the true biblical principles.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my feelings are hurt. I don’t like being at the center of this sort of discussion. Especially when I can’t even dispute the claims.

Because they’re right. I do have a secular lifestyle. I live with Bobby. We have a house together, cars together, a cat and now a puppy together.

We are together.

I, personally, don’t feel like I am undermining God or his principles. I know that in the Bible he says you shouldn’t have a physical relationship without the benefit of marriage but, we can’t afford to get married right this moment.

We know we will eventually but, I was informed unless we get married immediately, don’t live together, or sign a written contract stating we will cease having any sort of physical relationship, I can no longer maintain my position on the praise team or take communion in the church.

They essentially questioned my commitment to God. They asked me to define how I knew I had been saved because my sin nature should have been hindered if I was REALLY saved.

Now.. I don’t mean to sound hateful but, aren’t Christians supposed to leave the judgment to God?

I don’t condone my lifestyle or choices, but the key word in that is MY lifestyle, MY choices.

I don’t promote the way I live to anyone in the church. I don’t step up and yell at the top of my lungs that I am living with a man!

I don’t hide it either though. I am not above posting things we do together or places we go on Facebook or Instagram. We have taken vacations together, and we’re going to take more. That’s part of a relationship.

I know I live a secular lifestyle. But I don’t feel like I have wronged God. God and I have talked. We’re on the same page.

Is he happy with all of my choices? No. But neither are my parents. It doesn’t mean they don’t love me.

It doesn’t mean anyone has the right to tell me I am not right with God. Or that I am not allowed to sing to God or praise him for all of the wonderful things he has done for me and continues to do for me on a daily basis.

I feel like I am truly blessed by God. Despite my current lifestyle. I’ve had terrible life experiences, in the distant and recent past. I am even struggling currently. But I don’t feel like it’s a result of my life choices or lifestyle. Sometimes bad things just happen to bring you closer to God.

I am choosing to learn and grow from ALL of my experiences, both good and bad.

I don’t know why I felt the need to drag all of this out. I just feel like I have lost my place.

There is nothing I like more than singing to God. I can feel the spirit move through me when I sing. On my own. In church. I hate that that was taken away from me in church, but I am so blessed to still have all of those songs in my head, in my heart for when I need them.

Which is daily.

I will not stop singing. I will not stop praising. Even though I now feel like I can only sing and praise at home on my own.

I have been invited to church here in my hometown through a series of circumstances. I am still trying to get the courage to go.

I am scared.

Scared of going to church.

Scared of being judged for going to church.

Scared of being judged for my lifestyle at church. New or old.

I don’t feel like anyone should be afraid of church. No one should feel like they can’t go to church. Because the isolation I feel right now is devastating.

I just want to go back to church, I just want to feel like I belong. Like I can be comforted by a family that’s bigger than just my immediate family. I just want to feel like I can be there and have my prayers heard and not be judged by the people there.

I just want to feel included. Maybe they’re right and I am not right with God. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel so isolated or alone right now.

With Bobby gone though, those people were my friends. My family. I felt good praising God in like company. Now.. I don’t know how many of those people were actually my friends. I don’t know how many of them actually believe in me as a person. I feel like the subject of gossip.. I thought that all ended in high school. Apparently I was wrong.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Because right now I just feel lost.

 

So Much Stress..

In case the title wasn’t a big enough clue… My life is complete stress right now.

Bobby has gone back to work and so I’m on my own again for a little while.

Before he left, on Monday, he rescued one of the stray dogs in our neighborhood. She had been hit by a car. She was left to die in the middle of the road. She couldn’t move her legs but she managed to crawl/roll into the ditch by the time he went back for her.

He loaded her up and took her to the emergency vet clinic here in town.

She lost a litter of puppies.

She has a broken back.

She still can’t move her back legs..

But she’s fighting. So I am fighting for her. With her.

Bobby and I have talked about it. We’ve resigned ourselves to the possibility that we’ll have to put this poor dog down if she can’t pull through. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that regardless of how this plays out and whether or not she pulls through we are going to have a potentially debt inducing veterinary bill. We’ve resigned ourselves with the fact that we may end up with a handicapped dog for the rest of her life.

My parents aren’t thrilled about this situation. They are worried about how much this veterinary bill is going to be. We’re just getting established. We’ve been trying to save for a wedding. For vacation.

And I’ll be honest. I have never loved Bobby more than I do right now. For rescuing a dog who legitimately has no one else.

He and I visited the vet’s office together twice on Monday, and yesterday before he left for work. I went back again yesterday night and today.

She’s made some progress but it’s still a day-by-day situation.

Now, to add in some more stress. We just adopted another rescue. A barely 8 week old puppy. He’s happy and healthy. But he wakes up a lot. Especially in the middle of the night. When Bobby was home, we had a system where he would wear the puppy out during the day so he slept more during the night. But he’s gone now and let’s just say, last night wasn’t a night where the puppy slept all night.

I’ve been trying to balance vet visits, vet bills for the puppy, grocery shopping, working out, and actually making it to work on time (not a strong spot for me on a normal week).

I just feel so overwhelmed. Adding in the tensions from my recent church experiences I just feel pressure to even survive on a daily basis.

I have suffered from some anxiety disorders but I thought I was doing better. I thought I was coping.

Last night I discovered, I am not.

I couldn’t get the puppy to go back to sleep. It was 3:14 in the morning. I had already been up with him twice. So, I took him outside to go potty, and then when I brought him back in, I am ashamed to admit, I yelled at him..

I was so tired. So just.. worn out from all of the things going on in my life.

After I yelled and scared him, I felt terrible. So I sat in the bathroom (where he is staying until he gets potty trained) with him and just cried until he fell back asleep. I played with him and his toys until he got worn out. The last time I looked at my phone before it was time to wake up it was after 4:00 in the morning.

I have intense anxiety about being a parent in the future to a small human. And this entire puppy situation has just reinforced the fact that I don’t think I am going to be a good mom..

I tried to tell Bobby that and he just said he thinks it’ll be easier when he has a job where he stays home all the time. I think that will help but.. again, he won’t be the mother.

As I said. So much stress in my life right now.

So. Much. Stress.

It’s like my anxiety has just come full circle.

I think part of this is due to recently getting off of antibiotics I was on for a severe kidney and bladder infection, which made my hormone birth control less effective. I suffer from PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). The hormonal birth control helps to suppress that. So when it was being counteracted by the antibiotics, I think it set my system out of whack.

And now looking back at that.. I realize I am just making excuses.. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I crack under pressure.

But I do.

So. Much. Stress.

 

Discrimination is Real.

So, for those of you who may or may not read my posts. Let me clarify a few things before I get into this topic. I am a Native American. I am heterosexual. I have a good job and have never been arrested or in any sort of legal trouble.

All of that being said… I have faced what I view as discrimination.

So, how did this all come about? Well, I wasn’t at the grocery store being told I couldn’t wear a hijab, or in the streets being told by police that I needed to go home because I was black and therefore unsafe to be out and about after dark. I wasn’t in any sort of altercation with the law, or really with anyone around me.

I do my best to just be the best person I can be and move on with my life altercation free.

So, where did this happen? What in the world went wrong that I was discriminated against?

Well.. be ready for a shock, because it sure shocked the hell out of me.. I was at church. My church discriminated against me and told me not to return.

I was KICKED. OUT. OF. CHURCH.

I was told I could no longer sing on our praise and worship team, and I could no longer take communion with the church.

Now, before I get too involved with my story, I can respect the church’s reasoning behind asking me to step down from the praise team.

They stated that due to my secular lifestyle, I live with my boyfriend, and no, not as roommates, I was not maintaining the lifestyle necessary for being a role model in the church. I can respect that.

However, how they chose to inform me of their decision, is ridiculous.

First off, the pastor, elders and deacons reached out to MY PARENTS, not me, and not the worship leader at church. They told my DAD that due to my lifestyle choices HE needed to tell me I wasn’t allowed back.

They did not tell the church worship leader. They left that to me. I had to tell the worship leader who had already sent me my set list for Sunday that I had been asked to step down from singing. I wasn’t welcome on Wednesday night’s either.

Talk about an awkward conversation.

Now, as much as I can understand their decision, I can’t respect the way they went about things. Nor can I ignore the fact that I feel so unwelcome at that church now.

All of this came about from a discussion about initiating another elder to the church. A question was asked about how he felt about secular lifestyles, people who live them, and whether those people should be in a position of authority within the church. He replied no.

Now, I only find that ironic because the question posed to him right before that was, we have an aging congregation and no new influx of young people, how can we fix that?

Well, my answer to that particular question is, by being so strict and judgmental towards the younger generation.

Now, I don’t want to make excuses. I know my lifestyle is not biblical, but I don’t broadcast that to the people I go to church with, well.. DID go to church with, as I have decided not to return.

I have volunteered with this church for at least the last ten years. I ran the youth program for awhile until the Pastor’s wife and I got into a disagreement about a VERY racially charged and ignorant statement she made during a lesson/discussion. I have organized volunteer activities for the younger age groups as well as the older age groups. I have volunteered time and money and energy and effort.. And I am just really disappointed that things have come to this.

I enjoyed singing. I loved it. I felt like it was a calling. And now I am scared to even sing in the car anymore for fear of bringing something bad down upon myself.

I have felt bad about life choices before, but I can’t bring myself to regret or feel bad about this one. Bobby is God’s gift to me. He loves me. Cherishes me. And we talk and pray together daily. We discuss God and God’s plan for us. Just because we haven’t gotten married YET doesn’t mean that it isn’t in our future. It’s a daily discussion. Financially we just aren’t ready for it.

I can’t help but feel incredibly judged. Ridiculed. I am upset. I am hurt.. I thought that church was a place for sinners. I feel right with God. He knows my life. He knows my heart.

I just can’t believe how.. unwelcome they made church. I am now nervous and scared to go to ANY church. And a break from God isn’t going to make it better, but I think what I am craving is.. a break from the PEOPLE who think they can enforce God’s will and rule. His judgment.

Church shouldn’t make you want to remove yourself from the company of other “godly” people.

But it did. It does.

I don’t know when or if I will be going back.. but I will keep you updated.

 

Catfish…

So, I don’t actually talk about this very much, but I was watching Catfish recently and it brought a lot of memories back.

I was catfished once.

Not by anyone strange. Not by someone I met over the internet. It was SO much worse than that.

I was catfished by my (ex)best-friend.

Now, this was an elaborate scheme. It involves fake email accounts, fake phone numbers, multiple fake people..

What happened was completely insane.

It all started when she apparently started to get feelings for me of a romantic nature. Now, I always wondered if maybe she swung that way, but it wasn’t ever a problem because I don’t care one way or another who anyone else is attracted too.

Then suddenly it was a problem.

She was trying to convince everyone that she is straight. She was away at school about 3 hours from where I was living at the time, and we used to be exceptionally close. We spent weekends and such together going to concerts and whatever struck our fancy. I know she had to be lonely.

She may even be straight. I don’t know. This could have been an anomaly. Again, I don’t care.

But she basically imagined a boyfriend into existence. He conveniently lived in Kansas, so I never got to meet him. Or see him. Or even talk to him out loud.

But he emailed and texted me. Introduced “himself” to me and said he was madly in love with my best friend.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we spent a lot of time together, but she wasn’t exactly an easy person to love. I can’t imagine how in the world she thought that he would instantly just know he loved her after meeting her for about a minute.

Which is what she told me.

So, she also took it one or two or twelve steps further.. So the mysterious “boyfriend” had drug and alcohol problems. Probably because she wanted to make her seem like a savior.

She has always struggled with her own depression. Self-harm, alcoholism, and she claims “abusive” family life. (I quoted abusive because I have met and spent time with her family, with her there, and without. They love her. They don’t do anything intentional to hurt her. They bought her a truck and paid for her to go to school for almost 10 years, have paid for her to do whatever concerts, camps, and whatever else she wants. And I know that buying things could be a mechanism that basically ensures she stays quiet about things, but she hasn’t.)

Anyways, back to the story, this magically “in-love-with-her” boyfriend, he somehow had a fantastic brother! Who low and behold was in the military and deployed overseas, his girlfriend had Jane-Doe’d him and he needed a pen pal.

I feel like this is where I should have come to the realization that things were definitely not as they seemed.

Now, I did end up being a pen pal. I emailed him, yet another fake email. I should have realized how similar the emails from “Dustin” and “Jake” were. But I was a little caught up.

I made the mistake of sending him photographs. Nothing raunchy, but photos nonetheless. He always said he’d send me pictures, but never did.

And then, he did send me a picture. He sent me several pictures. Straight from Google.

I did a reverse search. And bam. There they were.

Did that stop me form continuing this odd relationship? Nope.

I was dumb. But is that the end of the story? Nope!

We were suddenly in a relationship. Then the emails stopped coming.

His “brother” said he had been attacked while on duty and was suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

Apparently he work up and didn’t have a clue who I was!

Surprise!

Months went by and I didn’t hear from “Jake”. Meanwhile, “Dustin” and my ex best friend had broken up and he was asking me for advice on how to get back together with her. Basically, she wanted to hear all the great things about herself and all the right words, from me. Not the pretend boyfriend.

She was “Dustin”.

So, what happened next? Cause you know it can’t just end right there.

“Dustin” ended up hitting on me. He said he needed comfort while his “brother” was recovering and the best friend had left him.

Was I smart about things? Nope.

Now, don’t get me wrong, at this point, I KNEW something was up. Something was wrong here. So, I may have played it a bit..

I basically encouraged him to pursue a relationship with me.

I was seeing cracks in the veneer of my friend at the time, and I knew this wasn’t going anywhere. I had already googled both “Jake” and “Dustin”, their phone numbers, the articles that they should have been in.. Nothing.

I pushed to meet him. I pushed for pictures. Nothing.

It was never the right time. There was never a good place to meet.

Then it all came to a stand still.

I started talking to Bobby. I ended all other contact with boys/men around me except for Bobby.

Then the best friend comes back into play.

She didn’t want me with Bobby. So, instead of saying anything to me about it, she started pursuing Bobby.

She told him that he deserved better, someone thinner, someone who was more than willing to make all his dreams come true. (Because clearly I wasn’t).

Then it got ugly.

She started sending him nudes and topless shots.

Now, she has a lovely body. She’s a perfect size 2, but she doesn’t have hips or boobs to speak of. She’s just thin.

I found the topless/naked photos. Bobby showed them to me.

When I confronted her, she told me everything. How she made up BOTH brothers. How she sent Bobby pictures to make him stop talking to me.

How she had feelings for me. How she didn’t want to hurt me. (Yeah, right.)

Now, this wasn’t just a plan that was a couple of fake facebook profiles that flirted with each other for a month or two.

This was YEARS of my life she screwed with.

YEARS. OF. MY. LIFE.

I ultimately decided I couldn’t forgive her and our friendship ended.

There were A LOT of hurtful words said. From her, and from me.

Her because she couldn’t understand why I wasn’t continuing the friendship with her, and me because she sent naked pictures to my boyfriend rather than just talking to me.

I lost a best friend. So did she.

But she did lose more. She also lost her facade. And any hope of us being friends ever again.

I lost my respect for her. My faith in her as a person.

Are you ready for Fall?

What goes through your mind when you hear that it’s Fall? Maybe where you live it’s more commonly called Autumn.

I’ll tell you what goes through my mind. Orange. Yellow. Red. That deep dark purple. Scarves. Boots. Denim jackets. Pumpkins. Halloween. Bonfires. Football. S’mores.

I can’t help but be a tiny bit excited that Fall is finally here. Am I going to miss Summer? Absolutely. I love the hot weather. I love my bikinis. I will definitely welcome a trip to the Bahamas in December as a chance to get away from the cold weather. But Fall.. Everything gets a chance to start over after Fall. The leaves fall off the trees, the whole world changes color from green into a bright and beautiful place.

How exciting it is to watch the whole world shut down and sleep for a bit before it comes back to life in the Spring. New beginnings emerge from Fall and Winter.

Fall does bring some great things with it though! Who doesn’t like football? Or bonfires? Or better et, s’mores? I haven’t met very many people who don’t like a s’more.

Fall brings cooler weather, which is great for snuggling and oversized hoodies.

It’s the perfect time of year to curl up in a big chair with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate.

Another fun thing about fall.. All the food! Who can go wrong with pumpkin spiced anything!? There’s Halloween candy, there’s Thanksgiving, and better than all that.. There’s the treats that come with fall. Pumpkin spiced coffees, s’mores, pumpkin pie, and all the other assorted sweets that are more “Fall” appropriate. (Can you tell yet that I am mildly obsessed with s’mores? Cause I totally am…)

I always get wrapped up in this time of year. I get engrossed in the football games, college and NFL, I get all excited for weekend runs when the temperature drops and I can run outside instead of attempting to run on a treadmill in a gym. I love all the things that you can do outside. Summer is for water sports, but hiking is best in the Fall when nature is alive and the trees are all brightly colored.

I am going to miss my tank tops, and my bikinis. I love the summer weather when it’s warm and I can go without shoes. Or when I can wear shoes that don’t need socks. I feel like this year, with my biggest birthday yet being his past summer, I am having more trouble than usual letting go and getting in the mood for fall.

I do have to admit that I am excited about the fall aspect when it comes to the trees in a little different way this year. Why? Because I have my own trees this year. I have trees that are going to change color and leave my yard in complete disarray. And I am excited about it!

I also have squirrels that are currently nesting in some of my trees and the baby squirrels will be old enough to be out and about in just a few weeks or a month or so.

Plus I have so many beautiful birds that are also building their nests right now. I am going to have baby squirrels and baby birds in a few weeks!

One more aspect of color in the fall is the flowers.. I recently bought some bright yellow mums to spice up my porch! They are perfect and I love them. I also put in another flower bed (I am calling it a flower bed despite the fact that it doesn’t actually have any flowers in it, just greenery and non-flowering plants).

I feel like I have really drifted throughout this entire post, but I am going to blame my antibiotics (which are causing a lot of confusion for me right now). However, I am going to close it off with this, are YOU ready for Fall?

Cause the more I think about it, the more I think I am definitely ready for Fall.