Chapter Nine…Noah

Our lives were starting to turn around. We had a baby boy on the way, Jason had received a promotion at work which brought in more income, and we had found a house to buy on contract.

We moved into our home during my second trimester. It was on Blossom Drive, and the home was a dream. It was yellow with white shutters, full front porch, 3 bedroom, game room, 2.5 bath, two car attached garage; and a large fenced in backyard made for entertaining, with two huge willow trees for shade.

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5 months

My pregnancy up until that point was going well. Our baby boy was growing and healthy, but my morning sickness was NO JOKE! It lasted until 20 weeks!! Unfortunately, my health started to take a turn. My swelling was horrible by the end of my second trimester, too much protein was showing in my urine, and they were watching my blood pressure closely. My doctor slowly started having me take time off work. Standing all day assisting in surgery was not helping, and around 35 weeks I was placed on bed rest.

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8 months

My 36 week appointment showed a spike in my protein output and blood pressure. My doctor spoke to her colleagues, and they determined I needed to be induced at 37 weeks. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. So, at 6 am, on April 27th, I was admitted to the hospital and induction started. My goal was to have an all natural birth. Unfortunately, my blood pressure spiked during labor, and I was told that if I didn’t want an epidural, I needed to at least take some pain medication. So I did, and slept for 2 hours of my labor. I asked for the epidural at 7 cm, and by the time the anesthesiologist arrived, I was feeling the need to push. I received my epidural, and at 3:59 pm, delivered a healthy baby boy, Noah.

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It was the second time in my life that I was a family of three, but this time was filled with joy. I remember staring at my precious son and thinking, ‘How can anyone doubt that God exists?’ I was holding a miracle in my arms.

Our first night home was eventful..I was a hormonal mess. I had decided to breastfeed, and all Noah wanted to do was nurse the entire night. Jason and I didn’t sleep, not one minute. My mother-in-law stayed with us the first couple of nights. I will forever be grateful to her for that. I remember hearing her knock on our bedroom door. It was early morning, maybe 7 am. I was crying and told her, he just won’t quit screaming. We haven’t slept at all. She held out her arms and said give him to me, and you both go sleep.. and we did. I’m quite positive that I have never loved my mother-in-law as much as I did that morning.

The weeks and months following improved. Breastfeeding was going well and Noah began sleeping thru the night at 3 months. What wasn’t going so well, was Jason’s position at work. He was working 60+ hours, was given more responsibilities, but wasn’t being compensated for it. We had a newborn son, we lived away from family, and it was just too much. So Jason decided to step down from his managerial role. I had returned back to work, but it was horrible. I was fortunate that my former coworker had decided to stay home, and was watching my son. It definitely game me some relief, but I never got used to leaving him each day. It didn’t feel right.

Noah was 6 months old when the bottom fell out. The company Jason worked for decided they were paying him too much, and cut his salary. We couldn’t afford a baby and the house payment. Shortly after receiving that news, I found out that my sitter wanted to return to work. We were going to lose the house, and had to back out of our contract. Our credit card debt was insane, and we needed to start over. My mom and step-dad allowed us to move in with them. We had a 6-12 month plan to pay off debt, and save for a home.

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So we packed up our things, rented a storage unit, left our dream home, and returned to our hometown.. and moved in with my parents in the fall of 2007. A month later, Jason walked into my work. The company had let him go. They assumed he would not continue to make the hour drive, and thought it best that they parted ways. It was around Christmas time.

We had been married 3 years, had a 6 month old son, one income, accumulated debt, and living with my parents.

What were we going to do? …

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter 8… Marriage Part 2

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The stress of finding a job and not conceiving started to take a toll. Jason settled for a job with a lawn care company, and took a major cut in pay (by major, I mean 30K). We were still able to make ends meet, but it was tough. We didn’t want to appear to our friends and family like we didn’t have it all together. As a result of that way of thinking, our credit card debt started accumulating.

We were also trying to figure out why we weren’t conceiving, so I had made an appointment with an ob/gyn. I went for some bloodwork, and was told that my body did not ovulate regularly. She recommended Clomid, but felt I needed to lose thirty pounds before I could start the medication. I had been diagnosed with hypertension and she felt I would be a high risk pregnancy. I left that appointment devastated. I called my mom while I was in the parking lot. I could barely speak. Yes, I had gained weight and was not the 130 pounds I used to be; but I was not obese. (See above picture.) I thought I couldn’t have children… and I blamed myself.

I thought…if only I hadn’t been a promiscuous teen, God wouldn’t be punishing me for my past choices. I thought that  I had to earn His approval and grace. That He must think I am just not deserving enough to be blessed with a child. I did get to work though. I started exercising regularly and lost 15 pounds. My next appointment, she was happy with my progress, but wanted me to lose another fifteen. My co-worker, and good friend, said I needed to get a second opinion. She recommended me to her family doctor.

“I thought…if only I hadn’t been a promiscuous teen, God wouldn’t be  punishing me for my past choices. I thought that  I had to earn His approval and grace. That He must think I am just not deserving enough to be blessed with a child.”

The new doctor reviewed my test results, blood pressure, and weight loss. She didn’t agree. She thought I was at a healthy weight, and did not need to take blood pressure medication. She believed I could get pregnant on my own, but to help with some weight loss and ovulation, she put me on metformin. It was also known to help with those two things.

So, where was God in all of this?  Shortly after taking my job, a couple coworkers of mine invited me to their church, The Vineyard. I had never experienced church quite like this. It was the main portion of a strip mall. It was a large open area with seating, a coffee/doughnut bar, a full band, and a children’s church area set apart from the adult service.  The members were of all ages and walks of life…and everyone was welcomed. I had started a relationship with God as an adult. Jason and I both became more involved at The Vineyard. I had joined the dance ministry team and Jason was involved in the sports ministry. I had filled notebooks of prayers for our finances, a child, my work… but I wasn’t really in God’s Word. I also still carried around my past and believed that grace was something I had to earn.

“I also still carried around my past and believed that grace was something I had to earn.”

I was to follow up with my new doctor a month after my first appointment for additional testing. Leading up to that appointment, I began to feel off and tired. I was at dance practice and my equilibrium was off. The girls thought I should take a test; so after practice I stopped at Walgreens. Jason and I had been trying for 13 months when God answered my prayer…

I was pregnant…

 

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter Seven… Marriage Part 1

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Jason’s proposal at my work.

Well he did it…he completely surprised me. He had set it all up with the doctor I worked for and my office manager. Everyone was in on the surprise, except me. It was a day of celebrating, and we did just that, the entire weekend. (I’ll save you those details though!) We quickly decided on a date and the planning begun.

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Engagement photo

Planning a wedding is always stressful, but my plate was incredibly full. I ended up having to have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy over Christmas. The recovery was not easy, and our families had to come to our place to celebrate Christmas. I was also studying for two exams for work. I had to pass my radiology and anesthesia assistant exam, both which were scheduled about a month before our wedding! Still, we made it work. I had begun selling Mary Kay part time to bring in some extra income. We took out a personal loan to pay for our honeymoon and some of our debt, and with the help of our parents, we were able to have a beautiful wedding.

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April 24, 2004, Little Flatrock Christian Church

We had a few hiccups before our big day. First, we were not able to be married in the church Jason grew up in, and that we would attend together when home. The pastor, at the time, wouldn’t marry us because we lived together. He asked us to live apart during our engagement; but logistically and financially, it didn’t make sense. I was disappointed, but not angry. I respected his conviction, and he did attend our wedding. The church I had attended as a young girl was available and did not have a full time pastor. We were able to be married there, and Jason’s sister officiated the ceremony. (Try having premarital counseling with your future sister-in-law!! )

The second happened the night of our rehearsal. I was emotional, nervous, excited, happy…a multitude of emotions…but the one thing that stands out about that night was a simple sentence my future mother-in-law said, ‘Do we have to go through with this?’ Rejection had reared its ugly face. My inner 9 year old girl had come out, and I thought that his family doesn’t accept me. They know the truth, Jason deserves better. I was so hurt. Jason and his sister noticed that I was upset. I don’t remember what they said, but by the time we arrived at the dinner, I had stopped crying. (Now, before you get your feathers ruffled, looking back I see a mom who’s youngest son was finally getting married. I am sure she also was going through a multitude of emotions and didn’t mean to hurt me.)

“Rejection had reared its ugly face. My inner 9 year old girl had come out, and I thought that his family doesn’t accept me. They know the truth, Jason deserves better.”

The wedding was perfect, and the following morning we flew out to our honeymoon destination, the Mayan Riviera/Cancun. We had a week of rest and relaxation, and then headed back to the real world.

We were comfortable in our one bedroom apartment. Jason and I were trying to save for a home, but we had a problem with trying to keep up with our friends. We had just gotten married, but our peers were starting families. So around our one year anniversary, we began trying to expand our family. We were going to move to a larger apartment at the end of our lease and we were happy.

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Then, Jason came home from work and said we needed to talk. His work had to downsize and were probably going to go out of business. They had to let him go…

As for a baby? We had been trying for months, and no baby…

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter Six… Jason

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A wedding in 2000

I was over at my best friend’s house playing cards when he walked in. I knew who he was immediately. He used to quarterback the high school football team and he played the drums. I also knew who he ran around with because my friends and I thought they were all cute. I had just graduated high school, and he was finishing up college. He had no idea who I was.

We all sat around playing cards and having a good time. My friends kept kicking me under the table and nudging their heads at him. I was still having a difficult time getting over my previous relationship, and was blind to the fact that he was showing interest. We ended up talking late into the night. I felt comfortable with him, and I opened up about the relationship I had just came out of. He showed empathy, and said no one should ever be treated that way, and he was sorry I had to go through that. He asked for my number before he left, and I honestly didn’t think I would hear from him. His name was Jason.

A week later I came home from work. My mom said Jason had called, and they had talked for almost an hour! He had asked me to go to a concert with him, and I was having a hard time deciding. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested…it was because I didn’t feel good enough for him. All I saw was my past; and I just knew that once he heard it, or any rumors, he would be out. I had already been hurt enough, and I just couldn’t go through it again.

I did go on that date with him though, and several more after that. That was (and still is) the best summer of my life. Fall came and he started his last semester of college and I began my first semester of nursing school. We would email on our breaks and spend every weekend together. He would surprise me by being at my house when I would get home. He enjoyed just spending time with me AND my family…and I loved his family.

 

 

Jason’s parents were remarkable. They had eight children, Jason being the youngest, and a huge extended family. They loved each other, their family, and God. It was because of Jason and his family that I started attending church again. The amount of respect that Jason gave his parents, and his parents toward him and each other, I had never experienced personally.

The choices I had made as a young teenager took a toll on my mom and our relationship. We fought constantly, were both stubborn, and said things to each other that were so incredibly hurtful. The more serious Jason and I became, the more I started to compare our families. The resentment and bitterness of my younger years started to take hold.

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Jason’s first apartment

Jason and I had our disagreements, which mostly centered around how I fit into his life. We had an age gap between us. His friends wanted to still go out, and he was torn between spending time with me or leaving me out, and he would receive grief from them. I was coming from a place of not trusting men, of feeling rejected, and was really just waiting for him to figure out that he deserved better. He seemed too good to be true. He never raised his voice at me, he didn’t resort to name calling, and he never would even think to lay a hand on me. I didn’t understand it. I was used to a different way of handling conflict.

I eventually started staying with Jason on a routine basis. I had left nursing school and started taking classes to become a dental assistant. Jason had finished up college and was trying to find a job he would enjoy. He wasn’t having much luck finding a job in the field he had majored in, and I could see that he started to become disappointed in himself. The apartment lease he had with his roommate was coming up for renewal, and we decided to get our own place. Jason finally found a job, I had accepted a job through my externship with school, and I officially moved out of my little small town to the Indianapolis area. I was twenty years old.

Life was good. We were in love. Jason was making good money, and I had a rewarding and stable job. I felt like I was finally starting to find myself. I was away from my past. The new friends I had made didn’t know what my story was, and they saw me for me…and they actually liked me. I didn’t have to wear a mask anymore. I was growing up and no longer felt like I had the chains of my past holding me back. We would still go home on the weekends and visit, and it was good. We would attend church, my relationship with my mom had grown, and I had been warmly welcomed by his family and several friends.

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Enter a caption

Finally, in April 2003, Jason walked into my work during a meeting. He was wearing a shirt and tie, dress pants, and holding a bouquet of roses. My coworkers all looked at me and smiled…

Jason got down on one knee…

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter Five… The Not So Sweet High School Sweetheart

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Junior Prom

I was on cloud nine…I finally had a boyfriend who treated me like gold. He catered to me and would compliment me daily. My friends were surprised by the relationship. He just was not the type of guy I usually dated. We both had parents who were divorced, but he did not have a relationship with his dad or very many friends. He became very close to my family and we became inseparable.

I had stopped attending church and youth group. I had shown up for try out practice to start cheering again, but bailed on the day of tryouts. (My mom and my coach were not happy. I remember being pulled from class asking why I didn’t try out.) I had tossed my goals and dreams out the window. I had someone who finally loved me and told me he would never leave me. I stopped making plans and spending time with friends. We talked everyday on the phone or I was over at his house. Snow days didn’t stop us from seeing each other, and whatever he had going on came first…even over my own family.

So you can only imagine what happened the day I was given a letter he had written another girl. He had made plans to see her while I was attending my older sister’s wedding. He denied it and left school during lunch. I followed him to his house and broke up with him. I knew I needed to get back to school. He had went inside and came out with his gun. He said he couldn’t live his life without me; and as I was pulling out of his driveway, I heard the gun go off.

I remember jumping out of my car and screaming his name over and over. He wasn’t answering me and I was terrified. All I could see were his legs, and once I was close enough, he finally answered me. I was angry and went to leave again as he shot off his gun. I called our moms. He was threatening to commit suicide because he couldn’t live without me. He had me. He knew my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and he had me convinced that it would kill him if I ever left him.

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Senior year

The relationship spiraled from there in so many ways. The plus side, he was going to graduate and had started taking care of himself. The down side, we broke up constantly. You know… the whole ‘I thought I could change him’… well he changed, along with his ego. Despite all of it, during winter break of my senior year, he proposed. We started planning for our future after high school, and I bought my wedding dress. I had already started college during my senior year. I had been accepted into Ivy Tech School of Nursing for that coming fall and was taking some of my prerequisites.

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Class of 2000

I had the opportunity to go to Mexico for a month after graduation. The week before I left, we had broken up again. By this time, my mom had seen enough red flags that she had stopped supporting the relationship. She no longer trusted him, and was concerned with how I had withdrawn from my family and friends. He still saw me off and we had agreed to email each other while I was away. There was silence the entire time I was gone. My emails from my mom included some rumors of some trouble he was getting into and she wanted me to not contact him anymore.

I returned home to find out that the rumors were all true. I was supposed to leave to go camping with him the week after I returned. The day we were supposed to leave, we had gotten into a huge fight. He had become so good at lying, that I think he may have believed his own lies. I told him I wasn’t going to go and tried to leave his house. He kept blocking the doors. I managed to get around him, but he caught me and I started to struggle. I was able to get one arm free, and I elbowed him as hard as I could so he would release me. He did for a brief second, and then the hit came across my face. I stood there in complete shock. My face was on fire.  I ran out the door, and called my mom. He had followed me out into the yard and was blocking me from getting inside my car. I kept trying to push him away, but he shoved me to the ground, and kept doing that until his mom finally saw what was happening. My parents took me to file a police report. Unfortunately, there was nothing the police could do. It was a matter of he said/she said, but I was advised by the officer to stay away from him. He knew the name quite well.

I did stay away….for a couple of weeks. I almost cost myself my entire future when I decided to move in with him. I remember the night I told my parents, my dad and stepdad meeting him down the road to confront him, and my dad driving me to drop me off. I was given an ultimatum after a couple weeks. I either come home, or my college would not be paid for… so I went home.

Some of you may be wondering why I shared so much about a couple relationships I had in high school. I share them because they shaped my idea of what a relationship looked like. I share them because I have learned that if you don’t confront the pieces of you that are broken, if you continue to put bandaid after bandaid on your wounds…you will never heal. Those deep wounds have a way of seeping into each relationship you have in life.

“…if you don’t confront the pieces of  you that are broken,

if you continue to put bandaid after bandaid on your wounds…

you will never heal.”

Shortly before I started nursing school that fall, I met my angel…

Jason walked into my life…

 

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter Four…Wearing the Mask

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Sophomore cheer

I had accomplished a dream of mine since I was a very young girl. I was a cheerleader.

I cheered all through middle school, and two years of high school. I loved to cheer, and it was important to me. I wasn’t into it for the short skirts or the popularity. I had a passion, and had goals to cheer through college. My ultimate dream….was to cheer for the Kentucky Wildcats. (Yes, I am an IU fan, but the University of Kentucky Cheerleaders have dominated for years!)

My freshman year, I cheered for freshman football and then made the varsity cheer squad for basketball. I was a greenie, and definitely treated like one. A few girls weren’t too happy about it, but I persevered. I was living my dream. Sophomore year I made varsity for both football and basketball, but quit after the football season in order to join the gymnastics team.

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Junior year of gymnastics

The mask I wore showed that of a happy teenager. I had plans every weekend with friends, my grades were good, and on off seasons I worked various jobs. I had my own checking and savings account, and was responsible for paying for my car insurance and cell phone. What my friends and family didn’t know, was that my inner dialogue was incredibly negative, and I felt like I was the black sheep and a disappointment.

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Junior year

Boys were still in the picture too, and I had a taste for the bad boys. I pretty much would do anything to earn their approval or love. They, in turn, would take advantage of that and me. I had defined my self worth based on how these boys treated me. I was fourteen, and a freshman, when I first gave away a part of myself to a young man who was nineteen, and I kept chipping off pieces of myself through the remainder of high school.

“I had defined my

SELF WORTH

based on how these boys treated me.”

I just wanted to be loved. I wanted someone to tell me I was worth fighting for and not abandon me. I wanted to be accepted, and would make choices, poor choices, to gain approval from others.

The first part of my junior year, I began dating another guy who was four years older than me. I remember confronting him one evening about a rumor of him cheating on me. What happened that night wasn’t pretty, and how I handled it at that time, is not what I would do today. I have remained silent about it for twenty years, until now.

I remember telling him no over and over. My body going numb and limp. I remember him covering my sobs with his hand because his family had come home, and once it was over he acted like it was completely normal. I was a sixteen year old girl, who since the age of nine had been telling herself that she was not good enough to be loved. That it was her fault her daddy left, and she was unworthy, a failure, a disappointment… the labels that I had been using to identify myself were endless. So what did I do the night I was raped?

I begged him not to break up with me. I apologized to him, the person who just finished assaulting me, for making him angry and questioning him….and I never did anything else about it. (The relationship ended a couple months later. Today, I can say that I have forgiven him; but it wasn’t until recently that I came to realize how much that night affected me. I will save that for another chapter.)

So, I continued to cope by entering yet another relationship. Relationships were where I found validation, despite how messed up they were. This one though, was going to be different. He still had some bad boy qualities; but as my mom had put it, ‘he worshiped the ground I walked on’…

That should have been my first red flag…..

By His grace,

Misty

Chapter Three…Boy Crazy

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7th grade

I was boy crazy….at least, that is what my mom used to say. My first “boyfriend” was in the fourth grade, and I’m quite positive that I never went without one from that point on.

I craved attention. I longed for someone to think I was special; and unfortunately, I thought boys could do that for me. It felt good and I felt wanted.

You don’t know, what you don’t know. I didn’t know that my value and self worth didn’t come from young men. I didn’t know that even though my earthly father had “left me”, that my Heavenly Father was still very much present.

Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I would have told that young girl to stop. Stop trying to fill the void of feeling wanted and special with people that are flawed and will disappoint you. I wish I could tell her that, no matter what, your Father loves you unconditionally, will never abandon you, longs for a relationship with you, and whose grace and forgiveness abounds more than you can ever understand.

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (Msg)

I didn’t know that though. Yes, I had attended church off and on since the age of 8. Yes, I had sex ed in school; but emotions, feelings, hurts, and divorce weren’t included in Sunday School or sex ed. So I continued to seek out male attention, and preferred attention from older boys.

Middle school was rough to say the least. I had crossed a line with an older boy and rumors started. I had written in my diary what had happened, and my mom found it. She confronted me one day after school. I was terrified. My mom contacted the older boys family and I was forbidden to go over to their house for a time. The rumors became worse, and I just went along with them. Attention is attention, right? I knew deep down what did and didn’t happen, but I was scared. I have found that people believe what they want to believe, and they tend to believe the juicier side, rather than the truth….especially 12-14 year olds.

I was bullied consistently my first year of middle school by a girl whose boyfriend liked me. She would wait for me after class to follow me, write threatening notes, call my home nightly, and even changed her bus route so she was on my bus. The days she couldn’t ride my bus, she would have others take over. The rumors escalated to the point where I actually had someone ask me if I was pregnant and if I killed my baby. None of which was true…I hadn’t even been with a boy in that way.

I didn’t try and fight it though. I didn’t even tell my mom what was going on. I had been telling myself since I was nine that things were my fault. I deserved what was happening because I was a girl who made people I love go away. I had thoughts of taking my life. I never acted on it, but I just wanted to not cause anyone else pain.

My eighth grade year was better. The girl had went on to high school, and it appeared the rumors were last years news and kids had moved on. I had gotten more involved at my church and youth group that summer, and Easter Eve of my eighth grade year, my mom, sister, and I were baptized. I felt relieved, incredibly happy, and clean. I had a fresh start. I was fourteen and found the love of Jesus, so everything was going to be perfect, because girls who love Jesus don’t have problems… at least, that was what I thought. I’ll never forget the day I told my friends at lunch that I had gotten baptized. One of my friends looked right at me and said, “I think you just did it because you felt like you had to. It makes you look better.” Old habits die hard… if my best friend felt that way, maybe God did too.

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8th grade cheer

By the time I entered high school, I had become a pro at wearing a mask…

By His grace,

Misty