“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
This is another blog post from last year, the year that we made it through so much that there just was no other way to explain any of it except to credit the reality of miracles….miracles that were meant just for our family…miracles that were incredibly bittersweet, annoying and sometimes very funny and perplexing….like the one below. I still can’t believe this happened. Later on this month, I will give you a follow up story about this car, and the cars that followed…..
The Most Annoying and Amazing Miracle, ever. The Amazing Cash Machine.
This next miracle has been a source of great frustration and stress and humiliation for me….on so many levels….but Heaven stayed with it as I guess I was supposed to learn a great lesson of HUMILITY from great HUMILIATION…..and then…ultimately, another great act of love occurred because of and through it…and then another…(and it ended up saving our bacon more than once…miraculously)
Now…this whole story is just a story that our family and everyone close in our life who has witnessed the Ross Family vehicle crisis of 2009 just laughs and laughs about…because really….the crazy, wild ridiculousness of it….the sheer amazingness of it just makes you laugh….plus…I think everyone has just thought it’s really funny that I have had to drive around in bashed-up vehicles all year….because it serves me right for being so dang prideful to begin with.
This is one lesson that I have been stubborn and reluctant to learn….but, I think…I hope….that I am finally there…..
Ok…it all started with a minivan……….a minivan that I complained, cried about and cursed over….because it was old….and it was embarrassing…because I thought I was too young and too cool to drive a minivan…and I am a car person, I have been since I was a little girl and my dad used to show me all of the cool cars he liked…he was a car person…..I really love nice cars with sweet interiors and fancy gadgets and drink holders and awesome stereos…….but after our financial conundrum………..I was left with the old, sweet minivan…the SMV as we called it (sweet mini van)
It was in tip top shape. It cost us $2500…it didn’t have a dent or a scratch..the inside was in fabulous condition…it even had a sweet aftermarket CD player….
….then our oldest kiddo started driving…and he ‘learned’ to drive in it…so, by the time that season was over…it pretty much had dents and scratches on all sides…not big ones…just little ones….but…still…if it was embarrassing before……it was even more embarrassing now.
And then..the most awesome part of all with the SMV was that it had a “timing” issue……at random times throughout the day…without warning………when you were stopped at a stoplight or a stop sign…..and you were getting ready to go……..you would push down and down on the gas pedal……and it would rev up with all 4 of it’s cylindars…but it wouldn’t go…like…at all……..then, it would finally get the message that it was supposed to go…and it would peel out and give you whiplash.
One time I was at a 4 way stop. I dreaded those…especially when they were full of cars on all 4 sides. There were some teenagers at the other stop sign. They were busy doing something…so they kept waving me to go…I kept pressing the gas pedal…my SMV kept revving. They were laughing so hard..thinking I was trying to be awesome. My kids were laughing hysterically because I was soooo embarrassed…after about 30 seconds of the revving……and the teenagers saying GO LADY…GO…and waving their arms to get me to go…..the SMV finally got the message and peeled out, whipping our necks back……teenagers at the stop sign laughing and laughing and laughing……my kids doing the same…..me completely and utterly embarrassed. Sheesh.
I kept cursing the SMV and the fact that I had to drive such a piece……..you gotta understand that I was the only one in the house who had the big issue……my kids thought it was hilarious….never complained.
Not long after that…..the SMV got totalled….I mean the kind of totalled that equates to being DONE and in a junkyard. We only had liability insurance…..so……..you can see where this is going….
I was left with NO car. That was in April of 2009.
I didn’t consider that I might not have a car for quite some time. I thought in my head that maybe this meant that I would finally get a sweet new car and that my humiliation could finally be over. Pretty dumb that I thought that, since the whole Chatterbox gig had just ended, and we had no financial stability on the horizon……….
We DO have a little 1991 Toyota pick-up. It is Marq’s….so it is meticulously kept and runs like a champ. It does have what is called an extended cab…which means if you bend the seats down forward and climb back there, you can ride with your knees at your chin on a piece of carpet covered metal that will fit one of your bum cheeks on it.
THAT is the vehicle that got the Ross family around in the summer of 2009…..when Marq was gone, and Brock was gone (he also drives a little Honda that we also own….but he had several jobs and school…so we shared when we could, but he wasn’t always around) I didn’t have anything to get me around at all…..I was stranded at home.
So…….I had to go to YET ANOTHER stage of swallowing my pride……..and luckily, had some amazing friends….namely Shantel and Maria…..and was often on the phone like this:
Well……this all sounds so dumb and ridiculous and lame now that this year is over…..but, this was such a huge issue for me. I complained about it a whole bunch……I think my kids and my husband loved making a big game of it…when we would all pile in a tiny toyota pick up and I would hide my head…….that’s a LOT of people in a small truck…kind of like one of those clown cars.
Well…then our oldest son graduated….and so he was home more. I got to start driving the Honda…which I complained about. It doesn’t even have drink holders…and if you know me…you know I love my icy drinks in the summer…………I complained about the stereo and I complained about the fact that it was stick shift. Shame on me.
Our oldest worked all summer and when the summer was almost over….the Honda was parked at work….and someone backed into it. Great…..a great big scratch/dent down the side….a replay of the SMV………
Who knew that the whole plan for this car was going to be so incredibly miraculous! Read on…..it’s pretty darn cool what happens next…..
In September………the jobs ran dry and the money ran dry and rent was due and we had prayed and prayed and prayed and worked our booties off….and then Marq was asked to volunteer his time for a 2 week training thing for Boy Scouts of America. I was pretty freaked out…..
I told him that I didn’t think it was a good time for that…I mean…we had, seriously $60 left in our bank account and a whole lotta the month left.
He told me…like he always does….that if we do our best, and then give our time….help as many people as we can, whenever we can, wherever we can, however we can…that he knew for SURE for SURE for SURE that things would work out. In this post….you are seeing that I can sometimes be a bit of a pain…..because…still, I was freaked out…worried…………all of it. But, he really just kept reassuring me.
He was to go the mountains for 6 days…no phone service…nothing….no way to get a hold of him.
When he left he said. “I KNOW that something will happen while I am gone and everything will work out.”
I sort of believed him. I tried REALLY REALLY REEEAAAALLLLLLLLLLY hard to.
Our oldest son decided the next day that he was going to finally take the Honda in to have the scratch looked at…….he called me a few hours later…completely amazed…
“guess what? that little scratch is worth $1400…..they are writing you a check right now”
FOR REALS!!!!!! Oh my gosh, you have no idea…that might as well have been a million dollars because that was SOOO huge for us.
That week…I also got an old escrow check from 2 years ago, a rebate check from Walgreen’s and a whole lotta happy goodness as I realized that the faith principle really works….while volunteering, Marq also got a few months worth of odd jobs that would get us through the next months.
So amazing…… you never never EVER know how or by what means God will bless you.
OK…so, we didn’t get the car fixed…we used the money to pay the rent…I drove the car around through the Fall with a dent in the side and my heart softened a little more, feeling more and more thankful that I even had a car at ALL. I didn’t complain as much……..
Well….then, guess what? (this is long, I know….but I swear it’s worth reading….)
This one wasn’t quite so fortunate. This was another HUUUUUUUMONGOUS lesson in humility/humiliation….
One morning…I was in quite a mood…..in my sweats….feeling kind of bad about things….tired…freaked out again….money was starting to dry up again….the whole thing was just getting kind of old. I had to run to the store in the dented Honda and don’t think I really even brushed my hair too much…definitely didn’t put on make up….was in frumpy sweats and a too big sweatshirt with paint all over it…my hands were also covered in paint……….I stopped really quickly at the store….and realized I needed gas….
I am not very awesome at putting gas in the car. I am really pretty clumsy and I just really love it that my son or my husband does all that kind of stuff for me. But, I had to do it….so, I pulled up…thought I pulled the emergency break….and….
Started trying to figure out the dang gas pumps…the screen was broken..I couldn’t figure out how to get my card to go in….on and on…i kept hearing honking…..louder…longer….louder………I was already annoyed and getting more annoyed by the minute. Finally…after the honking didn’t cease…I looked up to see that the honking was AT ME…and an old man in a big pickup truck was trying to yell at me through his window…waving his hands all around…his wife was doing the same thing…I looked over…my car was gone.
I looked across the parking lot….and there it was rolling…rolling, picking up speed……rolled halfway across the parking lot…headed into 4 lanes of traffic.
So I took off running in all of my frumpiness…..chasing the run-away car….and…it took a slight little turn, just before it went into the road, and smashed RIGHT into the big Chevron sign….I looked around at people shaking their heads, some laughing……..and looked down to see that the car was all smashed up in the front. I got in, peeled out, and went into the parking lot next door and cried a little…………then I went to a different gas station to fill up…one with no slope in the parking lot.
Now…I spent the next few days riding around with the side all scratched up….the front all banged up….the money in the bank account disappearing………and then….believe it or not….
One of my lifelong besties, Carrie……convinced me and my sis that we all needed to get out for a nice Holiday outing…….soooo, I picked her up and my sweet double-dented car…and we headed out to meet my sister.
Of course, I had all sorts of wonderful/sarcastic things to say about the dings and dents in my awesome car….and I told her the stories with drama and passion…….and, I KID YOU NOT…JUST as I finished telling her about how that first little accident paid our rent….and that it really could have been a sweet blessing….and I told her that someday I hope to have a new car…..but that we were out of cash again….we stopped at an intersection, waiting to turn and
….some chick was texting and smashed right into the back of me.
Carrie and I looked at each other and just busted up laughing…I think I even put my hands in the air and said YESSS!!!!! ……..in fact…….I laughed when I called the police, when the police came, and when they were writing up my report. I could not STOP laughing…..
I KNEW this was another crazy freaky blessing that was gonna pay our rent again!!!!!
A week later we were picking up a check for $1700 from their insurance office.
I should tell you that we only paid $2700 for that car in the first place….THREE years ago, before my son had driven it all the way across the country and back and it had gotten him through his last few years of High School.
Soooo, needless to say. The rent got paid again……..and….the incredible cash machine took another one for the team.
I got the sweet experience of driving a car that had bashes and dents pretty much in every single place that it could………but, still drives perfectly……tell me that’s not some kind of crazy miracle.
There’s EVEN MORE to this story……which I will tell you tomorrow. But, I just want you to know that our whole family knows FOR SURE that these crazy things keep happening because we just keep on praying…keep on believing and keep on keeping on…………….
And….we thank God over and over and over for the INCREDIBLE CASH MACHINE…….even if it’s ugly, embarrassing, old and has no drink holders…I have started thanking it patting it on the head every single day…..because it seriously was our LIFESAVER…not once but TWICE at JUST THE RIGHT TIME…EXACTLY WHEN WE NEEDED IT. Our “starting-over” phase has not been uneventful…and as we are starting to get on our feet again….we will NEVER EVER EVER forget these amazing experiences that we have enjoyed/endured as a family.
There was a time in my life when I felt trapped, stuck, and without hope of knowing much else. In all honesty, there really was not much that could be done in the form of help from anyone else….not even through the miracles of prayer….not much that could be done until I DID MY PART, which was making hard choices. I had to do the things that I were deep in my heart, but I had to be the one who made the choice and did those things. No one could have ever done that for me. Practicing this over and over again (many times only because that was the only way left) has given me a skill that I hope to never ever take for granted again……the skill of REMEMBERING THAT I HAVE A CHOICE. I have a choice and you have a choice. We all ALWAYS have a choice, or two or three. You can argue, like I have at times in my life, that you don’t have any choices left because of things that have happened in your life….sometimes because of other choices that you’ve made (I have sure been there) and sometimes because of choices that other people made that affected you and your ability to choose certain things in your life. Sometimes tragedies, disasters and unexpected things happen that were no one’s choice, but that leave us with less or different choices. ALL OF THESE THINGS HAPPEN. And it is hard…..believe me, I know. BUT, we are NEVER NEVER NEVER left without ANY choices. We ALWAYS get to choose what is going on between our ears….what we will try to fill our minds with. We get to choose what comes out of our mouth and what is given from our hands. We get to choose what we believe and what we will stand up for. This does not mean that we do not live with the consequences of our choices…….but it DOES mean that we are not trapped, we are not stuck, we are not left without hope. IT IS HARD to get back up when we fall. It is hard to break free from things that are trapping us. It is hard to decide to get unstuck and then to do the work to get there…..but WE CAN DO IT. We just have to CHOOSE to do it. One little thing at a time.
photo of me by my friend, Jeanne Oliver, www.abushelandapeck.typepad.com
If you are in a place where you feel like your choices are diminished, please just decide that you will make ONE CHOICE today……a good choice that will bring some peace into your life. YOU get to choose what that choice is, but may I suggest that you seek out things that are beautiful and true and REALLY SEE THEM…or REALLY HEAR THEM? No matter what is going on in your life in this moment, no matter how bleak or overwhelming or even devastating, you can choose right now to put something beautiful into your mind and to start to heal your heart. It is a hard choice sometimes, I know. BUT ONLY YOU CAN DO IT. This is the part that is so important for us to remember…NO ONE CAN MAKE OUR CHOICES FOR US (or they are not our choices, are they?) We MUST take this beautiful gift of our free will and make it into our beautiful story. WE MUST. We must take hold of what is entering into our minds and hearts and choose to only let it be goodness and truth. We must take the steps forward that we know we need to take, no matter how hard they may seem. We must stand up for what we know to be true. We must stand up for others in their weakness. We must CHOOSE the life we want to live…….or a life we never wanted will simply happen to us. We must be the captain of our own ship, and we must be the director of our own orchestra and we must be the gardener of our own garden. God gave us this beautiful gift of choice for our own happiness. WE GET TO CHOOSE. WE DO.
Let’s choose the best stuff we can find. Not just the good stuff….the best stuff. The beautiful, true and joyful stuff. The meaningful stuff. Sometimes the difficult stuff. JUST CHOOSE, okay?
And then tomorrow, choose again.
Our ability to choose is one of the greatest miracles of all…….the greatest miracle we could imagine…freedom is beautiful.
This post was originally published in 2009 on my personal blog…..it is a story worth sharing, so I am sharing it again!
Please look around in your own life for these kinds of tender mercies…….I am certain that you will see them. When the time comes, look around for opportunities to BE a miracle…..those opportunities exist around every corner.
The Miracle of the Woolen Socks
This little guy is the reason I knew for sure I needed to write about all of the incredible little and big miracles that got us so joyfully through what could have been a pretty miserable year…..so before I move on to the other things that happened….I want to tell you about an exchange that happened a few days ago that left me feeling so profoundly loved, heard and understood by our Father in Heaven.
My 4th little man is the most thoughtful, soulful, old soul. He has been since he was born….he used to just look at things for the longest longest time…even as a baby…as soon as he could talk…he would ask the deepest questions after he investigated something for way longer than a small child should have the attention span for.
He takes things incredibly seriously….promises, relationships, friendships…homework, animals….he has the best laugh ever, and he laughs because things really do touch him down to the core. He is kind and smart and sweet and a very important part of our family. He is the VERY BEST FRIEND to little man #5…..who is really equally special………I will never understand what I did to deserve the 5 children I have been blessed with….you would just have to spend a day with them to understand.
And….I honestly don’t know what I would do each day without these little boys…..the boys that almost didn’t make it into our family because I was sure I only wanted to have 3 children…..and Marq and I had 3 incredibly wonderful children and then #4 came as a big surprise when #3 was 5 years old………#5 was an even bigger surprise….when #4 was just a baby.
Our last regular paycheck was in April of this year. Through so many incredible acts of kindness, acts of nature….acts of God…..and lots of hard work in every form….we have made it month to month and day to day and week to week……and had absolutely EVERYTHING we have needed…but not much more.
It’s hard as a mother to know that Christmas is coming and you don’t have much extra to “fill the stockings”…..my other three kiddos are teenagers…and really good, responsible, mature-ish ones at that….so the talk to them about things being sparse this year in the way of wrapped gifts was an easy one….they get it. They don’t feel slighted or forgotten or sad…..in fact, they have been working their booties off babysitting and doing whatever other work they can get so that they can buy gifts for each other.
But I have been oh-so-worried about the Santa lists that my two little men would write out. I WANT them to have a very special Christmas…I WANT to give them what their hearts desire, I am their mommy and they are my babies and this time is so short with them……..I KNOW that especially my soulful little man #4 would really think HARD about what he wanted to ask Santa for……what he wanted very most for Christmas……and there would be a big reason behind what he was asking for….and he would trust for sure that Santa would keep his promises……and I KNEW this might be a bit of a heartbreaking year for him.
And……….I’m sure you can understand…….it was breaking my heart just thinking about it.
I know it seems kind of dumb………I know that material things are of little real value…..I know the meaning of Christmas….but I also know that God knows what is weighing on our hearts too…..and little dumb things are taken care of just like big & important things are…I know this for sure.
I talked to Marq when I got home from my trip this week. We had saved up a little bit of money, and then we had one of those little vehicle emergencies that have a way of soaking up every extra penny……….so, there was not too much more left after that. Marq and I were in our bedroom and I told him that the other kids would be ok….but I really wanted to make sure that the little men had at least one really special present……they had not really told us anything that they wanted for Christmas…I guess this was just mostly weighing on my heart…..somewhere I was thinking that they were not telling us because they didn’t think they would get anything this year……
Marq and I talked about things that we could sell……and we just decided that we would make it work…we would figure out SOMETHING to make sure that they didn’t feel like Santa forgot about them…..
Well…………something happened that I will never, ever forget.
We went out into the living room where the little boys were hanging out and playing by the Christmas tree…….Marq and I sat down on the couch next to them….and I asked #4….
“If you could have ANYTHING that you want for Christmas, ANYTHING at all….what would it be?”
It was pretty clear that he hadn’t really thought much about it…..and that surprised me.
Then…he tipped his head sideways…..looked up at the ceiling for a while…and then said…..
“My friend at school has THE COOLEST socks, he said they keep your feet warmer than ANY socks that are made. I think they are called WOOLEN SOCKS…….that’s what I want….I want some woolen socks…..do you think Santa would bring some woolen socks?”
I was stunned.
I actually started laughing.
I looked over at Marq……and we both started laughing in amazement.
I said “Buddy….I am SURE than Santa will make you some really perfect wool socks.”
then we looked over at little man #5….the first one was miraculously easy, doable…we’ll see how this one goes…
“What about you, pal…….what would YOU want if you could have anything?”
He looked at Max and said….
“I want some woolen socks too.”
….and they got up and ran off to play.
AND THAT WAS THAT.
Marq and I just sat there stunned for a while….I said….”can we buy some woolen socks today?”
and he said “yep, we sure can…”
NOW….you can not tell me……EVER…no one could EVER EVER EVER tell me that angels from Heaven….SOMEONE from Heaven put those desires and thoughts into the heads of two little boys at Christmas……
to bless a mom and a dad who just wanted to give their kids what they really wanted….
and two little boys are gonna be OVER THE MOON excited on Christmas morning by this:
If that is not a miracle….I don’t know what is.
Still makes me cry just to think about it. About the tender little mercies and tireless thought that God puts into solving our problems, big and small when we go to Him with them.
He really came through…..this whole month has been this way.
Can’t wait to tell you more.
Keep looking for ways that Christmas miracles are showing up all around you….it will fill your heart with so much love and joy that you won’t even know what to do with yourself……..this has been the best Christmas season I can ever remember….
BEST LITTLE MEN, EVER.
…..soon with the warmest toes, ever.
Originally posted by melody ross on December 20, 2009 at www.melodyross.typepad.com
I hope that I never ever ever ever EVER take for granted a scene like the one above, which I snapped yesterday because I am still feeling the newness of having my husband back. The husband who hops on his tractor when it snows and plows the driveways of anyone who might need it. The husband who is the perpetual good samaritan. I hope it always feels new and amazing and miraculous and beautiful…because really, that’s how we should always look at the people that we love. I’ve got the lovesickness BIG TIME for this man, though….if you ever want to see a girl who doesn’t cry much anymore shed big huge tears, ask me to tell you about my husband….it will get me every time….because of that long stretch when I DIDN’T have him anymore.
Last night we went to visit my niece in the hospital after she had just had her cutie little baby boy. I am very close to my nieces…so when they have kids…it’s the closest thing to being a grandparent that we have experienced I think….when I looked across the room at Marq….holding that baby………….my heart melted. He is very much known in all of the world as the “baby whisperer” so I see him holding babies a lot…but something came over me last night when I realized that we really were going to be grandparents someday…together…that we made it……….
It is a miracle that we made it. It really is. It will always be a miracle. It is a miracle that grows every day…….love is a miracle. Family is a miracle. I hope that I will never take these words for granted. Being without them and then being with them again…………..a miracle.
This is Marq Ross bringing me a cup of tea at Brave Girl Camp in May of 2010. He is the love of my life. He is my hero. He is my friend….my very best and most loyal friend. He is my companion and partner. He is my greatest teacher. He is my champion. He is my miracle.
I am recycling my miracle post from last year…I hope that’s ok. I know it’s long. If you are in a tough place in a relationship…especially a marriage….trying hard to hold on…I hope you will read it. I hope you will search your heart and fight for true love for as long as it takes.
Originally posted on my personal blog December of 2009:
More than 50% of marriages end in divorce. If you add in a head-injury, a traumatic brain injury to be exact….it goes up to somewhere around 75-85% (I have been told all sorts of different statistics). Tell me it’s not a miracle that in 2010, we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Sure, 5 years of those 20 were pure, torturous hell, but, we made it through that part. I can finally say we are on the other side of that horrible ordeal…..the biggest miracle of THIS YEAR.
On March 29, 2009……..My Marq picked up and pretty jubilantly rattled the contents of his translucent brownish-orange prescription bottle, then poured out one last pill….and swallowed it. And that was the end of that part of things……we never, ever thought he would finally take his last pill. The huge pile of pills were the only thing that kept things at least slightly stable….kept the rages at bay for the most part, the suicidal thoughts and plans manageable, the depression at least numbed a bit…the sleep constant….the moods hilly instead of mountainy….they kept his body alive and at least kept him from remembering or feeling what his life had become.
But on March 29 he swallowed the last one….because it was time….
I wasn’t even home that day. I didn’t even know that he was that close to being done with his meds, it was so scary for me that he was actually going to stop taking them, that he really didn’t talk to me much about it, just to his doctors. The last pill day was actually his 41st Birthday and I was in Los Angeles…..a story I will tell you a bit later, because that week held all sorts of surprises…….but over the greater part of the last 5 years, the pills were more numerous than I wish to remember, and the different drugs that we tried and failed were a pile of expensive bullies that just made things harder in most cases. I never thought the last pill day would ever come….but it did.
I have to say that I think it is very merciful that we can not see into the future……I think sometimes we think we want to know what is going to happen, but so many times we would be so absolutely overwhelmed with what is ahead for us that we probably would give up. In Autumn of 2004, it had been a few months since Marq’s accident, and he still was just not feeling well, and just “off”…not himself. I kept telling myself that it would be just a few more weeks and he would be back to normal, I kept telling him that too…to just hold on…and I really believed it…..I would have my husband…my rock, my hero, my business partner, my parenting partner and my best friend. We could make it a few more weeks…..we had been married just a little more than 14 years at that time….our kids were 13, 11, 8, 3 and 2. Here’s a photo of our family just about a year before it happened…..
So we got through that first 6 weeks and things were not getting better. Little did I know….little did HE know…that the bad part hadn’t even started yet……that it would be a steady decline down into the darkest most hellish place imaginable….and that soon, we would not even recognize him, he would not recognize himself….that our marriage….our friendship…..our dad…..would only be a memory.
I remember talking to Marq’s doctors in the beginning…and asking them what was going to happen, when he would be better….and they would just give me the saddest, most pitiful looks…….and most often would say….”it could b 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years…..we just never know with brain injuries”
Well, I believed FOR SURE-FOR SURE-FOR SURE that we would be the 6-weeks case. I KNEW that with all of the good things that Marq constantly did in the world for others, for our family…that there’s NO WAY that a loving and kind God would let this last more than 6 weeks……so I buckled down and prepared myself for a long 6 weeks.
6 weeks went by…….things still got worse….6 months went by….even worse……a year…….
The path was confusing and horrible. It started with debilitating headaches and exhaustion. (Did I tell you this was from a surfing accident? But…a long string of concussions over the years from all of his extreme sports totally magnified the problem) He was in bed for weeks at a time. He hardly ate. He was so drugged up that he really couldn’t carry on a conversation. After about 60 days, when the headaches were managed, but he was still drugged-up, I started to notice little personality changes. He just was not himself………I attributed it to the drugs. At this time, we had a big, successful business….so I balanced my time between running the business and running home to be with him and our 5 children. He had been the stability and rock in our business and our home…the analytical one who made sure everything was meticulously planned, that everyone was safe, that everyone knew what their part was….that everything would be ok. The chaos that ensued in my brain was indescribable……Thank goodness we had amazing, wonderful, loving babysitters at home helping all day…….Marq just stayed upstairs in our bedroom….so unlike him….you see, he is the hardest working man you will ever meet in your entire life….so full of life and passion and enthusiasm….BOUNDLESS, unbelievable energy…..the BIGGEST LOVE for others I have ever seen in a man…..and he would hardly get out of bed.
Then the rages started…and the depression. He was INCREDIBLY negative. Mean. Nothing made him happy. He would not look at me…he didn’t want to see the kids. Every day he slipped into a deeper, darker hole. He didn’t want to wear the same clothes….he didn’t want to see his friends…..when he was awake he stomped around, so angry. (I do want you to know that he never, ever ever took any of this rage out on me or his children. He knew he could not control it….so he pretty much just stayed away from us……..and from almost everyone else.)
More months went by…..he spent more days in a row in bed. He talked less when he was out of bed…..he had a constant scowl on his face….EVERYTHING made him angry. He was scary……he looked different….his face had changed and his posture had changed…even his voice seemed to have changed….it was honestly like our kind and fun dad had died and someone else was living in his body.
SO MUCH HAPPENED during those years…….all around us…too much to mention…..but, he just stayed upstairs in that room….sometimes came downstairs and went out to his workshop to try to weld something, or build something….he would get so frustrated that he would just go back to bed….years and years like that…..YEARS……..years are long like that….they stretch and pull and spread like they are eternal.
I will get to this phrase “PLEASE STAY WITH ME” in just a bit…..I guess I need to tell you that in 2000, we bought a 100 year old farm…..the house of my dreams….I would put up a photo here….but I’d have to go look for it because it’s just too hard for me to keep photos of that place around……because we don’t live there anymore……BUT….Marq and I had spent almost an entire year renovating it before we moved in……..he would work looong days outside, turning the side pasture into a huge, beautiful yard for the kids….then work inside….fixing things up…..it was beautiful and perfect and custom made just for us, for our family…it was our home and everything was planned so that someday our grandchildren would visit us there…..and we would rock them to sleep on the porch…..a gorgeous old stone house with a big porch and small, cozy rooms and beadboard everywhere and bright colors painted on the walls…..more than 25 old trees on the place……hay fields and a couple of old barns….I gotta stop talking about it…that part still rips my heart out.
But…that’s where all of this happened…so you can imagine what happens to 7 acres when the man of the house is down in bed for years………our oldest son tried so hard to keep the place up….but he was really just a boy then. Ultimately……..through a long string of really yucky things….we lost the farm.
But before that all happened he laid in our bed…the pencil post bed that we set up together in that upstairs room…the coolest part of the house where the entire upstairs was the master bedroom….lined with old 12-panel dormer windows….so full of light….such a happy little room before it all happened.
So….back to STAY WITH ME.
People ask me all the time how we stayed married through this. People asked even more DURING it. The doctors would even ask. Some of the doctors would sit me down after it had been years and tell me that it would be ok if I couldn’t keep going…..that things might not ever go back to how they used to be…when they would see what our marriage had become, or how the old Marq was gone and this new guy was miles past difficult and angry and withdrawn. Most of them didn’t even know the old Marq….if they would have, they never would have suggested to me that it was ok to leave……
What people didn’t know was what would happen when I would think about leaving…..because I will be honest…I did. This time was no picnic…..so, sure…there were sometimes really bleak “what if” thoughts……….but, I want to tell you about a very short little conversation that happened enough times that I was able to endure it……..
I don’t know how many millions of tears I used to cry…………but, it was a lot. I most often cried upstairs in my closet….where my kids couldn’t see me, where Marq couldn’t hear me from the bed. I would go in my closet and just kneel down and sob and sob and sob. I was so angry at God for lots of those years….but I still talked to Him. He was still very kind……over those years, I really did learn that He knew and understood and knelt right there beside me…..but, I still was angry and confused and felt very abandoned. I would stand in the shower, with it on full blast…..and that’s when I would really sob……..let the sound of the water drone out my sobs….let it all wash down the drain…..then….I would get dressed…………and so often….so very very often, I would come out of the bathroom, where my closet was too….and he would still be there lying in that bed, sleeping…..
and so often……I would tip toe over there and kneel down next to him and cry really silent tears……….and I would stay sometimes for a few seconds and sometimes for a few minutes…sometimes for a long time. Sometimes I would gently put my hand on top of his, or try to fit my hand under his. I would just look at him……and remember…remember the promises and the kindness and the amazing years we had lived together so far…………..and I always thought that he didn’t even know I was there….his eyes were closed…he wasn’t moving at all…..in most cases….it would have been days since he even spoke a word to me…..but SO MANY OF THOSE TIMES, when I would start to stand back up and leave…..his hand would quickly grab my arm….or my hand…..and he would just say….
“Please stay with me”
Now at the time…it was confusing because it never seemed like he wanted me around…or that he even noticed that I was around…but when he would say this…I knew that there were deep parts of him still there, covered up and held hostage by the war that his brain chemicals were waging with him. So, I would stay there, beside him, just a little bit longer…or I would crawl up on the bed and lay next to him…………and, it made things feel worse sometimes….those reminders of what we used to be together……and he wouldn’t say another word….it didn’t lead to a conversation, it didn’t really lead to anything….and then more days would go by without him looking at me or talking to me…….but I would remember those words “Please stay with me”
And I would research and research and research ways to help him…..and take him to his doctors….and look at old pictures…..and listen to music that spoke to me…………
“Please stay with me….”
It’s really the only thing he ever asked of me during those years……..and kneeling or laying beside him was the small thing….but, I don’t know that it’s really what he meant………the bigger meaning was to stay through the next years, through the next rage….stay with me while I figure this out….stay with me while I am crazy and mean and psycho….when I’m not myself….please just stay with me.
There was another conversation that happened on a day when he was coherent and up and awake………one of the WORST parts of the ordeal were the “normal” days…they were like mean tricks and they would show up with no warning and end in the biggest, longest, worst crash….sometimes they would last for days in a row…sometimes for a few hours….but it’s like the clouds would clear in a little hole of a storm…and the sun would shine for bit…and my old husband would be back…or really clear glimpses of him………and I would rush to get as much information out of him as possible.
I asked him on one of these days what he was feeling…..I didn’t want to ask….I really didn’t want to know the answer to the question that I NEEDED to know the answer to…but I asked it anyway……..and we just had a really matter-of-fact conversation. I asked him about Me. I asked him why he didn’t see me anymore, why he didn’t look at me……I asked him if he still loved me.
I still hate talking about this…but now that we are on the other side……….it’s ok to talk about. If you could see me right now I am drenched in tears again because I have not talked about this in SUCH a long time……and feeling now that it’s time…these are different tears…………more cleansing tears than bitter tears…and that is good I think.
But…the conversation. I asked him if he still loved me. He said….”I know I should love you, I KNOW I should. I know that’s what I should feel…but I don’t. I don’t feel anything…..” and he grabbed my hand and said “Melly, I am so sorry. I hope I can feel that again someday.”
And then hours or days or whatever…however long that was later…..he was gone in the black hole again…….
and more months and years went by.
Anyone who met Marq this year….or knew him before the accident…this would come as a complete shock. He is the most loving, doting, affectionate, kind, serving, sweet husband. The most patient teacher…the most selfless worker…………..the most loving loving, uncondionally loving human being…But, that left him for those years…..
Here’s what I know. I know he would have done the SAME for me…..HE WOULD HAVE STAYED. I KNOW he wanted me to stay. I KNOW he wanted to get better……….and I KNOW that there were things that happened during those years that were essentially for my personal growth….for his…for our children….for our family as a unit…….there were things that could not have happened any other way.
I could tell you a million things that made it possible for our family to stay together………but it all boiled down to DAILY decisions….just like all difficult things do. Sometimes the decisions were hour by hour….but when life is HELL…..When things are harder than you can imagine…you have to wake up every day and decide, before you even get out of bed, what and who you are going to be today…what voices you will listen to….what path you will choose….. We both had to decide each day that we would do what it takes to stay together…..to keep our family together. We had different battles to fight……..he had to break free from mental hell……he had to keep fighting when he didn’t feel anything but rage and didn’t really even want to be alive. I had to fight to keep my promises…..I had to fight off the loneliness and the confusion and the devastation……………and, I KNEW HE STILL LOVED ME SOMEWHERE IN THERE……
But…..if I died tomorrow….I would forever regret not proclaiming what the REAL miracle was….all along. I am not one to preach or to be a religious fanatic…….but there is NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that things would have turned out the way they did without many many many hundreds, thousands of prayers, and the FAITH that we worked really hard to cling to….and the faith and prayers of family and friends and strangers….we simply would NOT have survived this without God there…..without the healing influence that overcomes you when you find that all you have left in the entire world is the love that God feels for you…the way that He knows you….the way He knows what you are capable of…how you feel, what is ahead for you, what you need to be able to keep going. When my husband could not feel love for his wife…me…………my heart was so broken…..so I took it to God…I remember saying the same thing over and over to Him…”Please show me who I am to YOU….please help me understand…….please heal this up…..” and He did…EVERY DAY…every time I asked…even when I was bawling Him out for letting this happen to us….He just kept comforting me….. ….and that’s how I stayed….and that’s how Marq stayed alive and fighting……because we stayed next to God…..honestly….and as always….God never left us for a second. Five years is a very long time….and at the same time…five years isn’t very long at all.
We are doing awesome. We are happy most days. We have PEACE…………
One of the other things I used to pray…..words I would say….”I will give up EVERYTHING if you just give me my husband back….”
Well…guess what? God took me up on that offer……………the next miracles I will talk about concern the other things that happened this year…..losing pretty much every material thing we ever worked for………but, finding EVERYTHING we ever needed.
The above post was originally posted in December of 2009 on my personal blog at
How DO you go out and be amazing????
Well…you tell us! We want to know what you are deciding to do in spite of obstacles and objections and critics and trials and cellulite and mean employers and rebellious teenagers and bad traffic and doctor bills and mistakes and lack of resources and, and, and….
We know that there’s a million reasons, a million excuses NOT to go out and be amazing, but we know that you are choosing to go out an be amazing anyway.
So maybe they told you that it was a dumb idea…..but you decided to KEEP BELIEVING IN IT ANYWAY
Maybe they told you that you would never be able to change, maybe you told YOURSELF that….maybe the signs pointed to a caged life….but….you decided to FLY FREE ANYWAY
Perhaps you wish your voice was as pretty as the girl next to you…maybe someone even said you can’t really sing…..but you wanted to sing it LOUD so you KEPT SINGING ANYWAY
Then there’s forgiveness…..and there might be a chance that you believed that you could never forgive that horrible thing that happened…or the people who were involved…or even God. It was hard, but you chose to FORGIVE ANYWAY
You fell down once, maybe even twice. It hurt. It has taken such a long time to get it all going again…..but you are amazing….so you KEEP TRYING ANYWAY
There were probably voices that said your dreams were too big, or you were not qualified, or that you had your head in the clouds….but you were brave and YOU KEPT SHOOTING FOR THE STARS ANYWAY
Some people might think you are kind of a freak. You wear your hair in funky ways, you listen to funky music…you totally stand out. You decided that you were BORN to stand out…and you go out and BE YOURSELF ANYWAY
You burned dinner last night. You have a full day today and none of your favorite clothes fit. There’s negative stuff going on all around you. But you see the big picture…all of the goodness and abundance around you…you see that the roses are worth the thorns….and you choose to BE HAPPY ANYWAY
You are afraid of starting over. You are scared of all of the changes going on in your life. But you want that life that is burning in the heart of your soul…..you want it so bad, that you swallow the fear and you LET IT GO ANYWAY
You know you could stop and count all of the reasons that you can’t, or you shouldn’t, or that it won’t work, or that it’s not possible…..but….YOU CHOOSE to go out and BE AMAZING ANYWAY.
SO tell us now….what are you going to DO ANYWAY??
Tell us, tell us…please please please!!! When we show each other what we can do, and that we WILL DO, and what we ARE DOING. We can all keep going out and DOING IT ANYWAY! SHARE SHARE SHARE!!
Put it in our comments……or take one of our photos above and write your own blog post about it and we will link back to your blog…….make sure that if you love Brave Girls Club, you tell everyone you know about it, ok??? We want every woman in the world to feel free to GO OUT AND BE AMAZING.
The end of the year is a crazy, busy and often stressful time. It is a hard time for lots of us. I remember well my own long string of difficult years….where each of them ended with the holidays, and all of the mixed emotions attached to them. Something that has always always always been wonderful…year after year, no matter how hard the year had been….was to really and truly look the last year over. Look it over, up and down, side to side, in and out. Look for the miracles that made it so that I was and am still breathing in and out…still having the opportunity of another day. Still learning, still growing, still here. Sometimes we forget all of crazy things that happened to help us along….all of the “coincidences”, all of the things that just somehow worked out, all of the people who showed up just in time. All of the friendships made and the changes made and the progress made. Our days are filled with these kinds of miracles. The end of the year is a great time to reflect on all of that. I would like to share some of mine with you, and I hope you will share too. Our stories are so much more healing to each other than we could ever know….so please open your heart, your mind and your memory bank in the coming month as we seek out and share the each other’s miracles…….
a wonder; marvel.
Here’s the miracle I’m thankful for today:….THE POWER OF WRITING THINGS DOWN.
I am constantly in awe at the power of putting ink to paper and having faith in what we’ve written down. It is as if an army of miracle makers is sitting on each of our shoulders, waiting to put circumstances together that bring our deepest goals and desires to fruition. We are suddenly called to action by the deepest voices of our gut…and when we keep the faith in the words that we wrote…miracles happen. Miracles don’t always happen fast…..but they always happen exactly when they are supposed to, and always just in time. I just found a journal that is a few years old….and it reminded me that I really need to know what I want out of life or life will just keep happening. We’ve got to write stuff down. I typed out an entry at the end of this post.
What have you written down lately?
Ready for a miracle? Start writing down your goals…your dreams….your ideas.
I will tell you SO MUCH MORE about this as the month progresses. For today….we will start with something little….so much more to come.
sending so much holiday love to you!
An example? I’m sharing this because I want you to know that I know what it feels like to be in a place where you just want to be ok. I have been there….so much of the reason we started BGC. Because I know what it’s like to be there…I know I needed to know that I could get out of that state of mind. I felt so lost…felt so much like my best years were over….Here’s an exerpt from one of my journals not so long ago….while trying to work my way out of a very difficult years-long funk…..trying to figure out how to clean up all of my life’s messes, how to be happy again, how to dream again, how to hope again, how to trust again…..it all started with I WANT TO MAKE ROOM FOR:…and guess what? Over the months…it has happened. I got there. I wrote it down first.
I want to make room for happiness, bliss, joy, light. – I want all of that to take up so much rom that there is room for nothing else. I want to make room for fun & adventure & new experiences & friends. I want to make room for forgiveness & trust & healing. I want to make room for more goodness, which means I must de-clutter, remove and eliminate everything…every feeling everything limitation that is no longer necessary or constructive in my life. I want to make room for new ideas & beauty & appreciation & creativity. I want to make room for fun outings & projects. I want to make room for making my home beautiful & homey. I want to make room for security, and trust that the security is real and not fleeting. I want to make room for love, absolute unconditional love. I want to make SO much room to be able to give love to others, especially my children. I want to make huge amounts of room for the truth, so that nothing but the truth fits. I want to make room for God, a room that is always open, a special room where nothing else can come in, a room where He dwells, always, where I can always find Him and He can always find me. I want to make room for writing, and understanding why it has been so very difficult and scary to write. I want to make room for carefree, happy days, for happiness, for fun and for new memories. Yes, I want to make room for NEW memories instead of holding on to the old memories. I want to make room for serving others, and sharing what I know and have with others – and I want to make room for letting others teach, share & even serve me. I want to make room for new definitions of success, happiness and wealth. I want to make room for new opportunities that I never thought existed, or maybe never even knew existed. I want to make room to see the miracles and blessings all around me. I want ot make room for peace – safety. I want to choose solitude out of choice rather than fear and desperations. I want to make room for whatever I was born on this earth to do or be. I want to make room for experiencing more foods, more art, more places – but even more, I want to make room for doing this every day at home with the people that I love. I want to make room for my spirit, every hour of every day.
(typed out from a handwritten journal, 2 years ago.)
I had an experience a month or so ago that I am glad that I documented with my camera. It was a huge A-HA moment that caught me by surprise, but that filled me with so much joy that it changed my heart…reminded my heart…reminded ME that this whole big huge world is designed in such a way that if we look hard enough, we can feel utter bliss almost all the time. And…on the flip side, if we look hard enough…we can feel other things that are not so fabulous too. Essentially……if we really want to, we will find whatever we are looking for…we just will. I know I blogged about SEEing in a different way last month….but I am learning so much about seeing every day!
I was doing a photo shoot, setting up some letters…not the ones up there…I put those up after I realized what was happening, it was some other word….and in the background…..all blurred out…I caught a glimpse of my guitar, my vintage green couch and cream chair……my stuff all over the place….and the deepest part of myself heard the word “HEY!” and I said “HUH?” it said “HEY, do you SEE that even though it’s been hard…your dreams are coming true? Do you SEE that you finally started playing the guitar this year, that you are working independently as an artist full time and that you are sitting on your floor in your studio RIGHT now deciding what you will do this day?”
(sometimes I get so busy trying to get to where I am going that I forget to look at where I AM…sound familiar?)
“Do you SEE that you are surrounded by fabric scraps and paper scraps and paint colors and all of your favorite things?”
“DO YOU SEE?“
And…I want you to know something….when we started Brave Girls Club…and DECIDED to CALL IT BRAVE Girls Club…..it was because I am a very scared person. I am a worrier. I am scared of almost everything. That is one side of me…the other side of me is the side that wants to live life in full color, the side that has big dreams and big ideas and wants to have fun and enjoy life……and so those sides fight all the time…because really…there’s a whole lot that you can be afraid of…if you go looking for things to be afraid of. EVERY DAY I have to decide whether I will choose to be a scared girl or a brave girl. Brave Girls Club is was not formed because of our enormous bravery…but because we WANT to choose bravery, every day. SOOOO, I saw my bracelet that I have to wear as a reminder…….and it REMINDED me again. That here I am.
and that EVERY DAY I MUST CONTINUE TO DECIDE WHAT I WILL SEE
WHAT I WILL SEEK OUT
WHAT I WILL LOOK FOR
I can open the door to my studio any time of any day and see this…..beautiful colors everywhere…paint….my soul stuff…..how could I ever have a bad day when I choose to SEE this?
I want to live in the forest, in the mountains, next to the water. Currently, I live in the back of a subdivision in a regular house. It is lovely. I am thankful. I love our home…but a part of me longs to be in the forest, near the water…….
5 minutes from my house is a trail that has been there forever. I have been too “busy” to SEE this trail. This year, out of my yearning for the forest and for nature and for water….and after my husband made me walk this trail one day…..I have been walking this trail at least once a week. I didn’t HAVE TO WAIT to SEE the forest or the water or all of the things that are there. I get to see it now. It has been right in front of my face all along. It not OURS. It is a public place. But….I have been waiting to see it, until it was exactly what I had in my mind…our own little place. NOW I GET TO SEE IT EVERY DAY IF I WANT TO.
And it is winter. And…from far away…the trail looks muddy and bleak. IF that’s what you are looking for…that’s what you will find. Mud, gray…..bare trees….greyish silver water running through the river.
but then here and there, there are beautiful little surprises that often we just walk right past……….unless we are looking for them. Little surprises that can make a dark day into a bright one if we take time to stop and see them.
spots of beautiful chartreuse green moss mixed with rusty orange colors…..with a backdrop of perfect dark bark…….what is this for except to be beautiful and to bring joy into our lives….really?
We can see the cold cold cold white snow…..and we can see how beautiful it is falling on the water.
this might look like a dead old tree…but Winter always leaves beautiful little seed pods…and look how luscious they are when a dusting of snow has fallen on them!
And then there’s the evergreens…..the plants and trees that just stay green no matter what…..they just do…so diligent….just like us…..rain or shine, cold or warm, sunny or dark….they stay green.
Just look….there is SO MUCH TO SEE.
So are we seeing a cold and bleak Winter? Or are we seeing the essential change of seasons….the rest time for the plants and for us….the time when the leaves have been shed and it’s time to get ready for the brand new ones to grow in….time to sit at home by the fire and remember what a great year it’s been….and what miracles brought us to where we are now….and what we can work on next year….
and see the way that so many things that look like tears….drops of tears…are actually more beautiful pieces of art for light to be reflected through…..do you see how this picture above would not be the same…not be as filled with light without the drops……isn’t it such a beautiful world?
So….HEY!!! HEY YOU!!! What are you seeing???? SEE IT!! SEE IT!!! SEE IT!!! Miracles everywhere…and starting tomorrow…a whole month of miracles here on the blog….it is going to be AMAZING.
Hi Guys!!! TOMORROW WE ARE STARTING!!! We will be handing out kind messages to people on the day after Thanksgiving, all through the holidays. For everyone all over the world who is going to join us in the BGC Holiday Challenge…..here’s a PDF to download 3 pages of messages…so now all you have to do is print them out, cut them out and pass them out….if you want to go a step further, you can pass them out with hot chocolate and cookies!!! Make sure you videotape it or at least take some photos and we will include you in our video in early January.
if the link doesn’t work, just copy and paste this address into your browser…http://bravegirlsclub.com/pdfs/RWOK-BGC-HOLIDAY.pdf
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, watch this little video and we will explain!!! (you can see it much bigger a few posts down from here….)
WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US!!! Read all about the challenge HERE
THIS IS GOING TO BE SOOOO GREAT!!!!
MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THE VIDEO IN THE POST RIGHT BEFORE THIS ONE!!!!
A PERFECT LITTLE MOVIE TO WATCH WITH YOUR FAMILY!!! YOU WILL LOOOVE IT!!
100 AWESOME THINGS!!! You might SEE YOURSELF in the movie!!!
see it??? RIGHT DOWN THERE??
If ya can’t see it…..CLICK HERE YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!!!
We know it’s kinda long….but WE PROMISE you will enjoy watching this wonderful video….you might just find YOUR name in here somewhere!!!! We fit everyone in that we could!!!
For Thanksgiving, as a gift to all of you, we made a video highlighting one hundred AWESOME things from our 1000 AWESOME THINGS post last week……..ENJOY IT!!!! IT’s a great thing to spread and to share on Thanksgiving!!! Feel free to put it on your blog, to share it wherever you want to share it……….
and here’s the imbed code if ya want to put it on your blog!!!
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One final thought…….here’s a tried and true way to have a wonderful Thanksgiving: