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Oh the Humiliation!

01/11/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

One of the most difficult things to understand right now for me is when its okay to say enough is enough. In today’s society I think a lot of people need to put their grown-up pants on and start acting like the adults they were raised to be. No….I am not just talking about ‘millennials’ or ‘kids these days’…I know far to many adults who get offended and hurt over the smallest things. Things people haven’t even said but they are thinking in their own head. It is so confusing to me. Since when has a yes not meant; yes…and no not meant; no? Since when do we have to sugar coat every little detail in our life or in our kids lives to have a conversation. Granted I did not grow up in a typical house for my age group…so thick skin was developed…but come-on people!!

I was your typical teenager in the fact that I was as awkward as they come. The summer I turned 14 was the summer that my parents saw fit to fix my under-bite…something I am so grateful they sacrificed money for…but at that time it was about the most humiliating event I could have suffered through. Not only did I have an under-bite I also has a cross-bite. I was still growing and hadn’t hit puberty…I was such a late bloomer…that the orthodontist recommended a face mask method over surgery. There were countless hours spent at that office…getting molds of my teeth done, setting the wires and hooks, putting a plate in the top of my mouth so I could turn the dial with a pin every couple days pushing my teeth further and further apart to correct my cross-bite, and then also being fitted for the lovely face masks that they gave out in those days. The very first mask they gave me was a football helmet…no joke…with a contraption out front that my rubber-bands inside my mouth would hook on to. I think that lasted about 3 days…it just would not stay on at night and I was supposed to wear it all the time. The next device worked the same way but was smaller. By smaller I mean that it took up my entire face but it wasn’t a helmet. I had to basically wear this mask 24/7. I wore it shopping, to church, to the park, babysitting…the list goes on and on. Each time I was more mortified than the last. If I tried sneaking out without it I was reprimanded sternly and told to go back into the house and get it. It did nothing for attracting the boys…pretty sure this was a side plan all along…my drooling problem became 100x’s worse and my speech…well lets say I spit more than I talked. I also wore glasses…at that time they took up your entire face, and then there was the every painful acne. There is a family photo floating around this house somewhere of this stage in my life but I can’t find it…which I am secretly relieved about. 6-7 months later my under-bite was gone and braces commenced. At this point in my adulthood I am so thankful for the sacrifices my parents made so I could have the smile I do, which was quite the sacrifice considering there were 8 of us kids at that point being raised on a teachers salary in small town Missouri. But lets just say during that time I had to grow thick skin. Was it fun? No. Would it have been easier if no one made fun of me? probably not because I didn’t like the situation I was in anyway. Could I have blamed others for my perception? I could…but really I was in control of how I saw myself and where I let my mind go. I am not saying it is every okay to bully…but sometimes teasing is just that…teasing. It wasn’t just braces and headgear I was teased over…I had the whitest legs of anybody you have ever seen. Even to this day they have no color. I refuse to fake tan so they are just white…I can’t do anything about it. It’s how God made me and I am finally okay with it. Well, I am okay with the whiteness and arbonne’s self tanning lotion. 🙂 Anyway, because of this thick skin it got me through some tough times in my life. Times when I was pregnant at 19 and not married. Times of going to school for landscape design being the only girl in my class and 4 years older than everyone else. Times of failure when I would have to move back home because something didn’t work out. And as a young woman, living on her own, supporting a kid and working multiple jobs. I believe that my mental state would have been much different if I hadn’t been raised to have tough skin in those moments. The tough skin though is also what has made the situation I am in now so hard.

When I met Matt he was unlike anyone I ever knew. He was funny, adventurous, introduced me to knew music and places I had never been, he had dreams and goals, and he wasn’t afraid to say what he was thinking. I fell so much in love with him…I still love him as odd as that may sound…but over the years and especially the last few more than any other…the words became harsher and flat out mean. Before I continue I do not write this wanting you to judge him or think worse of him…I am simply putting my thoughts down to process myself. This is not an “let’s all hate on Matt” or “he is a scumbag” or any other thoughts that may enter your head. It takes two to get where we are now…not just one. Anyway, I put my thick skin cover on and dealt with it…thinking that it was a phase, that it would pass, or that I was just becoming wimpy, that having two kids almost 17 months apart and one 8 years older than them was draining all my impulses of being strong. He wasn’t all to blame, I allowed it and sometimes even responded with harsh words that I had promised myself I would never say to another person. I know in marriage there is going to be times where you can’t even stand to be in the same room as your partner, I know that it isn’t all roses and chocolate and hugs and kisses…but no one, and I mean NO ONE deserves to wonder about their very existence because of what another person has said to them. Who are we to be the judge and jury? I am realizing now…that it is okay to stand up and say enough is enough. That these words and things you say to me are not acceptable. That the way you treat me in front of the kids or in private isn’t acceptable. It doesn’t have to be perfect but this treatment…yeah…it isn’t going to happen. The balance though is saying it with love…not screaming it, not throwing it in his face. I do not believe…or maybe I don’t want to believe…that he knew what he was doing. That he purposely put me into a place where I was questioning my every move not knowing what was going to set him off. That is one reason this is so hard. I think when someone sees a certain behavior when they are young they naturally inherit that…they improve on it and not in a bad way…what I mean is they say “well, i didn’t like it when so and so did that so I will NEVER do that and I am promising myself to be better”, which then they become in those one or two areas…what they don’t see is that none of it is acceptable, that none of it is right or just. We can’t be perfect and in my own life I know that more than anyone but that is why I am thankful I have someone coming along side me, carrying me and saying “My child I have you in my arms. Rest in that. Learn how to lean on Me because I am helping you, not to judge you but because I love you. I want what is best for you and I want you to become calm in Me that I may show you what is right.” 200643_491237074247342_1558786513_n

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I should have been a cowgirl…

01/10/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Today is one of those days that just send you down the winding paths of memories. It doesn’t help that I only got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep because of the boys, the fact that I am staying in the room (and have been, coming up on a month now) that my sister and I shared in our teenage years and then again housed me for the beginning months of motherhood when Boyd was a baby,  or the emotional state my mind has been in lately but sometimes the reminiscing can be extremely emotional or cathartic…I guess its how you look at it. No…today is one of those days that sends me remembering the years of my youth and I can’t shake them. We started the day off attempting a reading lesson and when the word ‘rod’ was pronounced ‘ram, rat, rag, rock…etc.’, basically everything but ‘rod’…yeah, I sent my kids outside. Maybe that makes me a bad mom but in that moment I totally would have become a worse mom if I just did not let them get some fresh air. For my sanity and their safety…school work was suspended. (I am totally joking about their safety part by the way…don’t want anyone to think I was being serious.) Anyway, this kind of day reminds me of the days my mom would probably have the same experiences with one or more of us kids and would tell us to go outside and pretend we were on the Oregon trail or in the wild west. In my adulthood I now realize more than I did then, that about 75% of the people that were on the trail died and the wild west was filled with dangers…not sure what mom was trying to say…. 🙂

We had a horse…or rather a very large pony. I believe the qualification for a horse is 14 hands…wendy was 13.5 I believe. We all loved her so much. She was the absolute best. Hours would be spent on her and even the babies would ride if an older kiddo was holding on. I can remember one day when mom packed us a lunch and we set out on the Oregon trail…all 6 of us I think from Avery all they way up to me ranging in age from 3-12. We took our wagon and shimmied something together to affix it to the saddle and we set off on our long journey. Other kids got to play the computer version while we had no idea what a computer even was…no joke. My parents only had 4 acres but we were surrounded by a parcel of land…not even sure exactly how many acres it is…that was owned by some people that live in saint Louis who came out and used the property as hunting land and let us pretty much grow up on that land as well. We affectionately grew to call them ‘the hunters’ and there was dismay in our voice every year when ‘the hunters’ would show up because that meant we lost access to our beloved woods and trails and even a couple camping spots. The fearlessness that mom had sending us all out with a horse, a red radio flyer wagon shimmied up to a saddle that I am 100% convinced would not be OSHA approved…a sack lunch, and orders not to return for a couple hours at the minimum is something I admire. I have found that as much as I don’t want to admit it, I am probably a bit of a helicopter mom. I’m getting better, but the idea that something could happen to my kids has played a part into what I allow them to do. I think its easy for us to feel like we are failing our kids at every turn and that plays into how we release them and let them experience things. I am pretty sure that day we had my little sister, Adley, contract yellow fever and die or something…I know we had one of my siblings pretend to die because we ‘buried’ them on the side of the trail…meaning we made them lay down in the tall grass, we would cover them with leaves and then we would leave. It’s a miracle my younger siblings have any love for us older kids at all. We would be gone for hours on days like this…hours. Playing in the woods, fighting off enemies, nursing the sick and dying and riding our horse. There was a back pasture we would take her in and just let her loose…it felt like she was flying. I loved riding…being on her, walking down the road…flying over the ground…I was at peace. Even in my teenage years when the pulls of right and wrong, emotions and hormones were taking over I could take Wendy out and all would be right in the world. She died my freshman year in college, that was a sad, sad day, I don’t think you often forget your first animal love. Many years later when I was at school at Linn State Technical college I would go to a place I looked at as a second home…Turkey Hill Bible ranch. That place was such a joy to be at and I would get to ride…I taught Boyd to ride there as well. He was only two. A friend and I worked with a couple feisty horses…getting them to a place where kids would ride them. Boyd was always our test…if he could ride them at two we knew they were good. A couple years later I took a trip out west to Montana with Boyd…visited a friend but then went on the explore the state myself. I fell in love. I think there has always been a pull, whether or not to feel like I was flying above the ground or an ache for wide open spaces where it was just my horse and I…that pull has been there and was started at a very young age.

Those are the memories that will I get to carry with me in this life. I watch my kids and wonder if its possible to leave them with the same quality of memories I had growing up. I am not saying all my remembering are joyful and warm and fuzzy…but in each one of them, regardless how I felt in that moment, was with people I loved and who loved me.

Me with our horse, Wendy. I Was almost 10 here.

Me with our horse, Wendy. I Was almost 10 here.

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I just had to say it…

01/08/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

In my life I can see specific moments of growth and moments of destruction. I feel often like if my life were laid out for everyone to see they would see 3 steps forward and 5 steps backwards often times in the same day. I don’t know if its like that for anyone else but even in adulthood I see many of the same frustrations in myself as others saw in me when I was a teenager and I can’t help but wonder if it is because of an unwillingness to grow, to evolve, to change or if its because the other person has stayed put…stuck in this image of who I was instead of seeing who I think I have become. I think it is easy to look at another person and assume they have their life together and instead they are falling apart at the seams. Every little sudden move might result in the stitches being torn wide open and their flaws and insecurities are right there…BAM…for all the world to see. I have been struggling all day with how to write this post. I know it has to be written but I am so drained right now I don’t want to go deep enough to write it.  I don’t want to admit to myself that I feel like the world is crashing down around me…that the breaths I take are almost impossible and that every moment I am questioning my every move. Should I send this text or should I not? Should I write these words or is that too harsh or direct? Can I say what my heart is screaming or will I be judged? Is it okay to want something different than what you think others want for you or is it selfish? Am I screwing my kids up or are they going to be okay?

One of my weaknesses in life has often been being in having a relationship with the wrong guy. Doesn’t mean that they weren’t great it just means they were wrong for me. If I were to write out a list of my indiscretions with relationships it would provide a pretty good look into may of the issues and insecurities I had/have. It was easy for me to fall for those that needed help themselves, that needed someone to care for them, that needed ‘fixing’ if you will. Probably in part because if I wasn’t with someone more messed up than me then I wouldn’t have to look inside myself and say, “Lord…what the heck is my problem. I need you and I need you to fix me.” No, if I was with someone a bigger wreck than I then it justified my behavior. Don’t get me wrong…I have loved and been loved deeply it wasn’t like these guys or relationships were the worst things in the world. But, each one took another piece of me. Each failed one was yet another failure and when Boyd was in the picture it was another way that I had let him down. That I had possibly ‘messed’ him up for years down the road. I am not writing any of this for you to feel sorry for me, or think of someway to console me…I am writing these things for me to get rid of them. For me to stop harboring them and to forgive myself. I’ve made countless mistakes and an obvious one is my relationship path…that is the thing about grace though. I think that we can be walking outside of the path that has been designed for us, but when we are ready to cry out, when we are ready to humble ourselves before the throne there is a love extended unlike any we have ever known or can experience any other way. That love, that grace is extended and He pulls us close and says…’okay, I am not going to punish you…there are consequences that you will have to live with and work through but no my child, I am ready to walk beside you, to carry you and to lift you to greater heights than you have ever known’. Right now I am in a very dark place in my marriage…right now I don’t see how things are going to work out, going to right themselves and going to improve. Maybe they won’t. There is a part of me that doesn’t want them to. I mean I want them to for the sake of my kids but not because I REALLY want it. I don’t want to go back to a place I questioned my every move, my every thought and what would be said to me if I did something he doesn’t like or agree with. How do I process all of that? How do I make the best decision and how do I move forward? I don’t know…but I do know that I have someone, the most HIGH KING,  who is taking my hand, who is walking next to me and who has carried me at many points over the last few years and especially this past month when I could hardly stand. We all have those silent demons that eat away at us, the crushing weight of the world and as mothers I think we feel it on a greater scale. Probably because we are exhausted with trying to make sure we get through every day. We have laundry, groceries, kids homework, all the running, accounting, bills to deal with and so much more. Satan come into our lives and disrupts our kids, darkens our view and takes our joy. We are so busy trying to survive that we forget to ask for help from the One who can carry our burdens with us. Christ wants to have a relationship with us, He wants to love us with an agape kind of love, He wants to carry our burdens, He wants to forgive and give grace…I am trying to live in that place right now. The place where He is my all, where He is the one I turn to and where He is the one who is carrying me.

This song is one of the many that are encouraging me these days.

 

 

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Forgiveness – New thoughts today

01/07/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

As I have pondered my questions from yesterday on forgiveness and have been wrestling with it today a few things have struck me. Now whether or not these things are true, grounded in some deep understanding of scripture or words…these are the things on my heart.

Can I forgive and still stand up and not accept a certain behavior or behaviors? I believe the simple answer is yes. BUT, it is hard to do. Growing up we were taught a distinct understanding of right and wrong. We knew that if we said a bad word, were mean to each other,disrespectful or didn’t do our chores there would be a consequence…usually in the form of a spanking or, in my case, often Tabasco sauce…Go figure. 🙂 I don’t think that was easy for my parents to do…to be the referee between so many of us. I can remember more than one instance where something happened and my parents forgave us kids for what we had done. I also remember a time, a very pivotal time in my life about age 14. We were attending a church and had been for some time at this point that was comprised primarily of other families similar to ours…homeschooling families that had the goal to raise sound, character filled and godly men and women. It was one of the first times I felt like I belonged somewhere other than home. It wasn’t because I was forced to go either…in our house it was expected we go to church and participate and while my parents taught the scripture and the way of Christ…we were all allowed to make our own decision on our beliefs. No…I felt like I belonged because there were other girls there that ‘got’ me. We were all sewing machine fanatics…yes, we made our own clothes, we all baked our own bread (multiple times a week in our case), we all were familiar with gardening and the tasks that come with it from the care to the canning, animals…especially gathering eggs and milking goats or cows was second nature, and there was an understanding of how to care for younger siblings. Here I wasn’t looked at as odd, unusual, or plain weird…no I was accepted for who I was. It was such an amazing thing. Little did I know or understand the underlining issues my parents were having. To this day I do not completely understand what happened or everything that led up to that fateful morning when I came downstairs and was told we were not going to church…something that NEVER happened. I remember getting a sick feeling a couple days later when one of the couples from the church showed up and us kids were told to go upstairs and not come down until called. The tears on my parents face only solidified the knots in my stomach when we descended a few hours later. We were told we were never going back and that we would probably never see or be able to talk to those people again. Now, understand that I am writing this from a child’s perspective. A perspective that is skewed in ideology, friendships and not having the big picture of what was happening. I do remember though being utterly devastated. Crying tears upon tears for my friendships that were lost and a serious crush I was never going to see again. I anguished in the next months…what had happened…what was going to happen…why was mom crying all the time and was my world ever going to right itself? A few months later we…my siblings and I…were at a competition, sort of like a speech/music/science/math all rolled together. We could enter into different categories and then were judged and placed depending on how good we were. I was in the speech and piano. Anyway, I remember feeling the excitement and dread all rolled together the day of the competition but not because of what I was reciting that day but because my very best friend, in the whole world whom I hadn’t spoken to for four months was going to be there. I felt like Anne of green gables getting to meet her bosom friend, Diana….it was unbelievable. I remember walking into that gym looking everywhere for her and then I saw her and she saw me….we screamed and were in each others arms in seconds. There were so many tears that day, hugs, and promises to figure out how to talk no matter what. I never had blamed her for what had happened but I did blame her parents and the hosts of other adults that had been involved. That day she asked forgiveness for what had been done…even though neither of us really new and it was easy to forgive her. When we parted ways later that day I had a heart full of joy that quickly turned to sorrow and bitterness. In a matter of minutes I went from walking on air to hating everything around me and blaming every single person in that church…well the adults anyway. That anger grew and grew…it lasted months…even after many of the couples involved came to my parents and apologized. No one ever said sorry to me and owned up to the pain I had felt, the betrayal and the loneliness. It wasn’t until almost 2 years later at a revival of sorts that the teacher was talking about forgiveness and it hit me. I had to be able to forgive…even though I was wronged, my parents and family were wronged. The bitterness and anger I had inside was eating me alive…my attitude had changed towards people, toward friendships and towards the meeting of believers. So…I forgave…without being asked or apologized to, but…to this day I do not accept or agree with the treatment of my family. Over the years more information has come out and for me to say what happened was what God would have wanted…well that is foolish. It wasn’t in accordance to His scripture or resembling love at all.

I believe we can and have the ability to forgive but that we also have to stand for what is right, what is true and what is pure. Whether or not that translates into how another person treats you, the words they say, the names they may call you and the constant tearing down of who you are. I believe we can forgive when we don’t agree, when we know what is going on is wrong and that it may separate a friendship or relationship forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We have to forgive, we have to give grace…why? Because the bitterness, the edges of evil, the discontent and grumbling heart can take hold if we do not. I do believe though…that just because we forgive doesn’t mean that all is repaired or forgotten. If a person does not ask for forgiveness there can be no repair made. Reconciliation can not happen and fences can not be mended. If a person or persons have done something that I need to forgive and can not see it themselves, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I can forgive but that doesn’t mean that I have to forget or act like nothing is wrong…but I CAN NOT let the seeds of anger take root…because that, my friend…leads to more problems.

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Forgiveness – the constant struggle

01/05/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I think, in my life anyway, one of the things I have the hardest time with is forgiveness. Forgiving myself, forgiving others and for forgiving situations. The really sad part is that I seem to be able to forgive a stranger easier and faster than I can forgive those who love me.

This started many years ago when I was probably about 6 or 7. I remember standing outside of the bathroom in the house we lived in talking to my mom. I forget what it was that had happened that was a punishable offense…but what I do remember is that it was both my sister and I getting sternly talked to and asking to own up to whatever this offence was. At that stage of my life I had a tendency to tell stories…something otherwise known as a lie…a punishable offense that I perfected well into my early 20’s. Anyway, I am getting sidetracked.  It should be known that I lied at that age because I also did not like displeasing anyone, not because I was afraid of the punishment…that came later. So here we were, my sister Micah, 18 months my junior and myself answering mom about something one of us did that was going to be punished by a spanking. It is also important to note that, while my younger sister has always been a ‘better’ person, more faithful or more understanding than me…she is my best friend, my confidant, my warrior and she liked to bite me when we were younger. She would pick on me mercilessly…I honestly don’t remember it, but have heard stories…but she didn’t lie either, she was good…she was bouncy, a klutz and a mess but she was good. So here we were being asked who did this punishable offense and I emphatically denied it. I denied it because in this one instance…I truly did not do it. My mom then looked at my sister and asked her if she did to which Micah replied, “no I didn’t. Tasha did.” No matter my pleadings in that moment or explanations or cries to Micah to tell the truth my mom believed her and not me. I received the punishment…a swift pain brought on by the end of a wooden spoon. I think my tears and crushed spirit about did my sister in because she ended up owning up to whatever the error was that had been committed and then she too was disciplined. However, in that moment, when i felt so betrayed I didn’t know if I could forgive her and when she asked I didn’t right away. Thus began my struggle of forgiveness.

I couldn’t at that point understand that because of my tendency to story telling it was hard for my mother to believe me. Now being a mother, watching my own children with their personalities and differences, as a mother I take that into account. It is a hard thing to admit…that I struggle with forgiving others. I am often faced with the reality that I can say i forgive…but do I truly? I hardly every forget. Of course I have totally forgiven Micah for that unimaginable offense that happened so many years ago but that isn’t what I am talking about. I am mostly talking about in my marriage or adult friendships. When I feel so wrongly accused or slighted or mis-judged (because we aren’t supposed to judge right?!), or mis-treated. Sometimes I feel justified in not forgiving, in not moving on, in not growing. Other times I wonder if it is okay to forgive but not to forget, or, if its okay to forgive but not to accept the way I am being treated and to stand up for myself…for my kids…for my family. When is it okay and when isn’t it okay? Christ came as a baby, died on the cross so that we may all have the opportunity to live with Him in paradise…HE forgave the sins that had been committed and those that would be committed…even by me. He FORGAVE those that killed Him pleading with His Father to also forgive them “for they know not what they are doing”. How do I as a human forgive on that level? How do I love with that kind of love? And is it okay for me to stand up and say I love you, I forgive you but I do not accept this? What does that look like?

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The Beginning of a Journey

- Author: Natasha Phillips

A new year…new resolutions, new goals, new outlook and new adventures. With the new also comes regret of resolutions broken in the years gone by, goals not met, a negative thought or thoughts that may have encompassed you in the year past and a regret of adventures not seized.

A long time ago there was a little girl. She was innocent, full of spirit, adventurous, a tom boy and a helper. She loved life and life loved her. They were kind to each other and opportunities seemed endless. Dreams of India filled her head and heroes like Clara Barton, Amy Carmichael, Mother Teresa, Adoniram Judson and Jim Elliot inspired her soul. She was happy and lived a charmed life…a different and unusual life but charmed all the same. As she grew so did her restlessness. Her identity became more grounded in other people, in what she thought she should be allowed to do versus what the Lord had in store for her. Her desire to live of the earthly world with one foot in the world set aside for her by the death of Christ on the cross took hold. She was like a bird looking for shiny objects. She could be easily influenced and also appear righteous. Life became hard, it became burdensome and it became lonely. She was outside of the will and plan that had been cast on her life from the moment she was born. She was outside of the direction and counsel of those who loved her and wanted what was best for her. And then…in a snap of a finger she was back…with visions of helping others, encouraging, becoming what she should in the Lord and yet again she became distracted. This is the cycle she was stuck in, the ever evolving wheel of good versus evil, our heart versus our mind and Satan versus the King. This little girl…she grew up to become me…and this is my story of finding the will God has for my life. The plan He has set from the beginning. I do not know how this story is going to end. I know what I am going to say next and I know how I want to proceed…but I do not know where it is going. I wish I did…but you…along with myself…will have to wait and see. My prayer on this journey is that you will begin to pray with me, that you will be encouraged and that I grow…that I grow in the plans that have been laid for me since I was in my mothers womb. I look forward to this journey with excitement, trepidation, and with an open heart. Please join me…follow along and maybe we can encourage each other.

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