A Walk In My Shoes….

Shoes come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, & styles for a multitude of purposes. Some shoes are for fancy occasions & celebrating; others for the mud & muck, the deep waters. We have the active shoes for running & sports playing, & the comfy shoes for resting & kicking back (you know.. the flip flops or converse). We change our shoes with the seasons too, as we walk through life we adapt to the weather. We adjust to the road conditions, we walk, we run ahead, we start, we stop, we splash in the puddles, we stand completely still. 

The Velcro Years

Oh, to go back to the days of velcro straps, the ease of carefree childhood. Living at home with my parents, sister, brother, & herd of cats & dogs was truly a bittersweet time. My God given creativity shined early on as I would create books, reports, 5 hand made copies of my own version of the newspaper (hand delivered to the bedroom doors of my family of course), presentations, & hours spent copying paragraph upon paragraph of the encyclopedia. My world revolved around playing outside, imagination running wild & free, cartoon loaded Saturday mornings, birthday parties for all our pets & each of my doll babies. Days were filled with repetitive watching of Wizard of Oz, Annie, Sound of Music, & Little House on the Prairie. Evenings were spent reading book after book until falling asleep, anywhere & everywhere, knowing that Daddy would carry me off to my bed, that I would arise the next morning safe & sound.

The Soccer Cleat Years

Kindergarten to my Senior year of high school my life was practically lived out within the chalky lined perimeters of the grassy soccer field. I lived & breathed soccer, playing every season of youth league & each moment in between in my backyard with my four legged furry opponents. Running, running, & more running, all to condition myself to be able to run, sprint, for over 90 minutes at at time. I worked hard my freshman year to be noticed, to make an impression, & I succeeded. I got to play up with the varsity team immediately after finishing playing an entire junior varsity game. Practice was about a half hour after school for 2-3 hours at a time with games 2 times a week. Sunday was my only day off but I spent it working a 10 hour shift at our local grocery store as a cashier to make some extra money, look responsible, & to simply say I had a job. In our off season I would volunteer coach the same youth league that I played in all those elementary years & eventually would work a 2nd job hosting at a restaurant in our mall. I was constantly pushing myself, filling every time slot, academics, achieve, win, striving to be good enough, to be known. Looking back I think I just wanted someone, anyone, to be proud of me. I didn’t drink alcohol but once or twice in high school as an evening with one of the two official boyfriends I ever had ended badly when I mixed entirely too much kool-aid with generic vodka & I collided with my foolishness or rather the wall in the hallway. I dated the same boy, with only a short break up “see other people” season, from 7th grade till graduation. I thought I knew love & had life figured out, but as I approached senior year I was suffocating. I wasn’t known for being me, I was known for soccer goals & being “his” girlfriend. I walked off the field, cleats worn down, feet tired, bruised, muscles aching, educated but unprepared.

The Stiletto Years

Graduation didn’t feel like an accomplishment but more a release of the straight jacket I had been wearing. I ended the 6 year relationship & inhaled freedom deeply. I set out to find myself but on the complete wrong path. Again, I found myself working 2 jobs. I would work at a local department store 8 hours a day beginning at 9 A.M. & then would go straight to the local tanning salon to work till 10 P.M. Some how I managed to land a job as a receptionist at an oral surgeon’s office & with that great hours, great pay, & weekends off. I took pride in working so hard but spent my hard earned money rather carelessly on food, alcohol, clothes, & my car. Tattoos, piercings, tan skin, late nights, way too many drinks, careless fornication, & one brazen attitude produced quite the stormy season. Like a true Jezebel I wanted men to want me, to find me attractive, I would reel them in then crush them under my heel with no remorse. Hurricane winds brewed, the waves increased, & I found myself stuck in an unhealthy relationship & pregnant. I wish I could tell you I turned my life around right then & there; I didn’t. I feel quite contrite about telling you I was over taken by the words of others, the threats, the looks of disgust & let down, the fear, I made a choice, I made the wrong choice. In fearful desperation, with selfish distortion, I had an abortion. Of all the failures this is my largest, I failed my own child. 

The Flip Flop Years

Stepping down, out of the heels, I lowered myself into a season of bitterness determined to be alone. I voweled to abstain from men entirely. I was harsh, rude, disrespectful to any male who tried to even speak to me. The next part of my story is where we witness one of the first of many grace filled miracles of God, the same God who protected me at my most undeserving moments. It is purely by the grace of God that I introduce The love of my life, Derek, into the story. To say I was rude to him would be an understatement & an injustice to his persistent efforts. Friends tried to introduce us, I replied with malevolent facial expressions & discourteous silence. He approached to talk, I walked away rolling my eyes. He asked for my phone number, my answer of no was deafening. One day as I was working in the tanning salon here he came walking in, my friend on the phone begging me to be nice, he enters & simply asks to go tanning. This freckled, blue eyed, country boy was not serious, was he? He was. He did. After, he approached & asked to take me on a date. I reluctantly agreed. Our first date should have been a dream come true; this 20 year old man took me to see The Notebook. He took me to the most romantic chick flick EVER! Here is where you learn I am NOT normal; I am awkward & hard headed. I didn’t respond with giggles & smiles, I was terrified as I felt every stone wall I had built start to shake & crack as if he had just done a Jericho march around my heart. He had. Each moment with him I felt the stone crumble away into gravel. Songs began to make me think of him & I anticipated the hours when work was over. But one night a friend divided us, she lied to us both, he questioned me, I reacted like a python striking his concern with my venom, I ended everything; I ran, stomping both our hearts. A year later he returned to that tanning salon, on a whim, sharing he missed me. Talking more we realized we had both been duped in the past, that so called “friend” didn’t like me & definitely liked him. We moved forward, together, picking up exactly where we left off & this is where I tell you I finally stopped resisting & the imperfect love story did begin.

The Flats & Tennis Shoes Years

This man, with his strong arms, picked up my bag of garbage full of failures, regrets, remorse, & one shameful abortion & placed it in the dumpster. He wiped the filth & grime off my face, kissed my forehead, & then vowed to spend the rest of his life by my side. Hand in hand, we set sail together. The next 11 storm-tossed years were comprised of mountains, cavernous pits, the birth of 3 beautiful children, first steps, forgiveness, growth, giggles, tears, sleepless nights, & so many rainbows. Growing up I always want to be two things, a writer & a mother. I have embraced motherhood well, slipping it on like your favorite pair of tennis shoes, comfortable yet worn. My wife shoes had to be broken in a bit, taking a few years to mold them to my feet, adding in arch supports, letting go of my selfish ways & replacing them with selfless love & servitude. Writing was the one shoe I lost along the way. I held in my hand one shoe, the girl I have always been, but the match was no where to be found. It was lost in my bag under sweaty shin guards & A+ papers. It was lost in my car as the drive to work & earn overtook me. It was lost under beds as my depraved heart bled promiscuity. It was lost in the murky waters of my abhorred failure as a mother. 

The Ruby Red Slipper Years

God was someone, some “thing” I had questioned through childhood. I had visited churches & youth group meetings from time to time & of course was a member of Fellow Christian Athletes in high school. I had never really prayed but one Saturday, right there in our dining room, surrounded by the mountain of bills, nearly 8 months pregnant with our 3rd child, off work due to bed rest, I desperately cried out to God. “Lord, if you will help me, help us, if you will get Derek a new job, a higher paying job so that I can stay home with these 3 children, so we can survive, I will go to church, I will do whatever you want, forever.” The next morning I loaded up our son & daughter & set off to visit a nearby church, my husband staring at me as if I was leaving him forever. I had no idea what I was doing. It was, no I was awkward. Phoning the only friend I knew at the time that went to church, I pleaded if she would join me in praying. I returned home to find that my husband, out of no where, had applied for a job. Tuesday came & he received a call to interview. Thursday he interviewed. One week later he had accepted a new position, making more money than both our previous jobs combined! Accepting Jesus into my heart I slipped on new shoes; Ruby red, sparkling, slippers of redemption, mercy & grace. God showed up & He continues to show up in mighty & imperceptible ways as I labor to live out each day my devoted promise. Sharing my testimony, & the Autumn Anchor site, shows that I have finally found that matching shoe. But, I won’t be putting them back on; they don’t fit. The ruby red slippers will remain. No matter the terrain, the weather, I am ready, for I know there is no place like home & I am walking the narrow path to get there. One clumsily step after another I walk in faith till the day I walk through the gates of Heaven.