I hope time is finding you all well.
I know it's been a while since I've posted on here... but I wanted to leave a quick(ish) message (in the off-chance someone still checks this blog). Or maybe this post is just for me... but either way---
Dad's been home for a year now. A YEAR! Wow. Sometimes, I still can't believe it's true. It's strange how time passed so slowly for so long and now, it seems to be flying by... it's funny how we all slipped back into the life we left all those years ago. And I mean the life we had 13 years ago. The life full of wonder, potential, and joy. A life I NEVER thought we could all truly live in again. Yes, there are still hard days and we still have to deal with "the fallout" of everything; but we had all forgotten what it felt like to live in a life without fear surrounding every move we made... and somehow, going through it not only made us better people but it showed us how to appreciate the little things and stop stressing about the things we can't change. To laugh and mean it, from the bottom-of-your-heart, mean it! To live in peace- even in a world of chaos- to stay in our "joy-bubble" and be okay with "just figuring it out" as we go. We now know what truly matters in life and we now embrace it.
Absolute fresh air.
When I started this blog, I couldn't even fathom this day. The day I would sit here and say 'he's home! And we all made it! Oh Lord, we actually survived it.'
It was a far off dream that I knew we would make it to one day-- but it still seemed impossible.
And yet today, I just returned home with my whole family (yes, dad too!!) from our first family trip in 13 years. Somehow, this whole blog has become a record of bad memories-- a life I lived in some distant past. Somehow, the impossible happened. Somehow... life went on.
My life was turned upside down when I was 13. From ages 13-19 I lived in a "fear world". Maybe not every second of everyday-- life did go on-- but the fear of my family being split into pieces always lingered in my heart and I carried it everywhere I went... (you all know that story..)
Then from the ages of 19-24, my family and I had to move past the "fear of what if's" and learn how to live in those pieces, in the "prison world". For the better part of my life (maybe 'memory' is a better word-- but who really remembers day-to-day life before that age anyways??) I had to constantly "learn how to live." How to deal with the cards that had been dealt to me... although none of it was my fault or my choice. Funny how life can do that-- keep bending you, keep testing you, keep seeing how much it will take to finally break you. Until you finally find yourself spending time everyday asking God and the universe "How much more can one person really take?! It's too much..."
And what's even more funny-- the moment you realize that it IS over and that you SURVIVED. No. not only survived but that you came through it at the end as a Champion. Better. Stronger. Wiser.
The moment you realize that it's not what you do - it's not what the government (society, your neighbors, whoever..) has labeled you as - it's not what you've been through, that defines who you are. But how you chose to respond to what you've been through (are going through) is what defines who you are.
I used to think that if ANYONE who truly knew what I was going through had been through it before me and made it out of it-- somehow, some way-- could have just looked me in the eyes and told me they knew what it was like, I know it would have helped me. Strengthened me.
If someone could have looked into my eyes when I was that scared 13 year old girl and said:
You aren't alone. I TRULY understand and I promise you-- you WILL get through this and you REALLY will be okay...
In the end, I discovered that there was someone who was telling me that very thing, I just didn't realize it yet... There is only one reason why we all survived... our strength was not our own. There was a point we all had to really understand that we are not living for ourselves but for something much bigger than ourselves... and I won't preach at you today, but I will tell you that no matter what you come to face (and whether you realize it or not), He will always be standing there beside you, holding your every tear in His hand, and reminding you:
"You are not alone. I TRULY understand and I promise you-- you WILL get through this and you REALLY will be okay... Even if it seems impossible! Even if it seems like no one has ever faced what you're facing before! Even if all the odds are against you... and even if you can't see anyway out-- I promise, this WILL pass. I promise, you will be okay."
For me and my family, time did go on. Life went on. And we all came out of it better than when we went in. And you will too.
Never give up.
May God bless you,
-----> My new ministry for Familes of Prisoners begins in February.