Friday, February 1, 2013

Frankly Friday Link Up...

Today I am linking up with one of my lovely blogger friends, Amy, for Frankly Friday. 

What is Frankly Friday? Well, here is the description from her blog: 

Let's define Frankly shall we...
frankly |ˈfra ng klē|
in an open, honest, and direct manner
. . .
I want this to be a way for all of us to be open, raw, and transparent with not only each other...but with ourselves. I think we put a lot of stock into the "fear" of what others may think of us...into the "fear" of really putting what's on your heart out there in case someone decides to tear you down.
I'm over the fear & you should be too.
So let's write...whether it's about a situation you're struggling through, a victory you've made, a memory that you can't let go of...anything as long as it's honest.
. . .

Today I am going to share something that is VERY, very personal. If you don't want to read this post, I will not be offended. Someone once said to me, referring to my faith, "The only reason you still believe in God is because you've never been through anything." This scarred me. I had to bite my tongue so hard, it's a surprise I didn't bite clean through. I responded with a brisk "You don't know what I've been through." And walked away. It's never alright to judge someone on their past experiences that you know nothing about.

This is my sister and I from the summer of 2008. We were on vacation where this story begins.

 I've been through quite a few traumatic experiences with my parent's health. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers when he was only 52 years old. His doctors started him on Prednisone in 2008, which led to the absolute worst year of my life. I was only 16 years old. He became this scary, over the top religious man. On a family trip to the beach, he bought a gun. He later said he only bought the gun to see if a man with Alzheimers disease could buy one. And obviously, he could buy it. There had been a few smaller instances when he seemed different, but that was the first obvious change. My dad was always a very quiet man, never had any use for weapons of ANY sort. We never even talked about them.

Once we got home from vacation, he said he was going to kill the mayor of our town. He actually went to a local radio station, asking them to broadcast it. They thought he was kidding, and just played it off. I was scared...these people weren't taking him seriously. They didn't know his mental state, and my family was horrified.

One night while I was getting a bath, my sister comes running into the bathroom, panicking. She locked the door behind her. My dad is chasing her, and he has so much strength that he breaks the door handle. My mom must have talked him down because he never entered the bathroom. I honestly remember very little from this night. But that same night, he threatened to shoot each of us, my mom, my sister, and myself. He said God had revealed to him that we were demons. After that, my sister and I packed a suitcase with only clothes for the next day and we ran away to a friend's house. I was terrified that night. We had left our mother alone with our father, who had threatened to kill us all. It took forever for me to fall asleep, and I am sure that when I did, it was from pure stress and exhaustion. 

We found out the next day that my mother had called his neurologist and SOMEHOW, his doctor managed to get him to come to her office that day. He was later admitted to the hospital. There, he got in a fight with his nurse and had security called on him. After fighting security, we were forced to go to court. I saw my father in handcuffs. I had always been a "Daddy's girl". This was the most difficult thing I had ever been through. He was transferred to a psych ward at a hospital about 80 miles from our home. When we visited him, I remember being so scared. Only two of us could be with him at a time. This was my dad! The man that I tried so desperatly to impress, to make proud. I can still feel my heavy heart just thinking about it. I have tears while typing, and it's been almost 5 years.

During this horrible experience, my mother's health took a huge turn for the worse. The stress proved to be too much for her body and she starting being sick all the time. She was diagnosed with Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and a rare disease known as Myasthenia Gravis. They found out the medicine was what was making my father crazy, so they took him off of it and he became pretty lethargic, spending basically all day in the bed. 

Years have passed and both of my parents' health has declined greatly. Neither of them hardly ever leave the house. Our family hasn't been out to dinner in months. I haven't seen both of my parents in clothes aside from pajamas since Thanksgiving, as my dad was too sick on Christmas. My dad wasn't able to go to my college graduation. It's been extremely difficult on my sister and me emotionally.

Wow, that was quite a ramble. Anyways, if most people knew this story, they would most likely say "How do you still have faith in God?" To be completely honest, in 2008, I feel that I lost a lot of it. I remember praying and feeling like I could not have been more alone. But I know that if God had not been there, we would not have all made it out. When my dad realized all that he had done, he apologized to us, and he cried. I have RARELY seen my father cry, as he came from a family that shows VERY little emotion. I am not going to lie, it was extremely hard to forgive him. I was angry at him for a long time...I held him responsible for my mom's deteriorating health. But I knew that it wasn't his fault. This man he became was not my daddy. We have a good relationship now, and we never mention that year...ever. 

My faith in God is now stronger than ever. Honestly, I don't know where I would be if I had lost my faith. I know that God pulled my family through that horrible year. We may not have all been mother and my father are both in bad health and my sister and I have these horrible memories that we may never forget. But we all made it out of it alive, and there were times I wasn't so sure that we would. 
God was looking out for us. He really opened my eyes to His presence in a time that I really needed Him.

Sorry for such a long and quite depressing post. I have shared this story with very few people, and frankly it feels good to get it off of my chest.           

22 lovely notes:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story! It must have taken a lot of strength to get through that, as well as write about it today. I hate when people judge others especially when they truly have no idea. One of my favorite quotes is, “Always be nice to people because everyone is fighting a battle.” I hope your parents get well.

Jessica said...

Aw, thanks for your kind comment! I love that quote - It's so true. It's easy to judge without knowing the full story, but it's certainly wrong. You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Thanks for following my blog too! I will absolutely be following yours as well.

Linnea said...

Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. I think that it is a good reminder for people to have faith in God no matter what. You are such a strong woman. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Jordan said...

What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing! Your faith is an inspiration.

Lindsey Louise Bales said...

ah, what an inspiring story! you have a talent with writing and it was great to share!

lindsey louise

Jessica said...

Thank you, Linnea. It means so much! :)

Jessica said...

Thank you, Jordan! Thanks for reading. :)

Jessica said...

Thank you so much, Lindsey Louise! :) I am glad you stopped by.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this experience with us...I can't imagine how scary that must have been. Did you tell any of this to the person who made that rude remark about your faith (if you don't mind me asking)?

Rosala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosala said...

Wow! I really enjoy hearing where people come from and what they've been through. Not that I'm thankful you had to endure this, but God rewards the ones who persevere. :)

Lacey said...

Oh goodness gracious girl. First, thank you for sharing. You said at the end of your post that you were sorry for such a depressing ramble. Honestly... your story is uplifting. Not because you had to go through such hell, but because of where you are today and the fact that you chose to rely on God and not turn your back from Him. Your faith and reliance on Him is a testament to His goodness and love and it makes me so grateful that we follow such a God.

Second, as a sister in Christ, I am SO proud of you!! Even though we've never met and only recently started following eachothers blogs, I am sossosososos happy we did cause you are an encouragement to me and we can be friends and share our stories because of God. He is so great!

Third... my heart breaks for you! I am sooooo sorry you had to go through all that. I was shocked when I read it, cause you just never know what someone has been through. You show such character and conviction! I know your heart will heal more over time and God will carry you through. I am glad your relationship with your father is better. And I really hope God continues to bless you and your family :)

Again, thank you for sharing! I having been preparing to share some of my personal story, too, and your post was the inspiration I needed to be fearless! :)

Jeanine (Wayfaring Girl) said...

Wow, I was quite taken aback reading this as well and my heart breaks for all that you have gone through. There are few words, really that I could say about it except in agreement with Lacey that it is a huge testament to the Lord's working and grace in your own life. What the enemy had wanted to use for evil and to tear you apart forever from each other and from God---God won the victory through you in keeping hold of your faith.

My mother passed away a little over a year ago and I had to watch her die slowly every day over the course of one horribly, unforgettable year--a year that she was racked with pain and suffering in her body the entire time. And I too felt I had come to the absolute end of myself. I didn't think I could make it from the emotional and physical stress that I was under but God amazingly kept me sane. I am certain without Him I would have had a mental breakdown among other things. My mom never gave up her faith and love of the Lord in this whole time --she won her battle in the end and she was victorious and such an amazing example for me.

It's for certain, we wont understand why things have to happen the way they do on this earth, all the time. Or why God chooses not to "step in" at other times. But I do firmly believe there is a glorious picture and plan that we see only in part and knowing how He has kept me and how good and wonderful He is, I know I can trust Him and that He will reveal it all, in His good time.

It's very encouraging to me to hear your testimony. Thank you for sharing :)


Amy said...

Oh girl, ::hugs:: actually ::multiple hugs:: <3
I am so proud of you that you were so honest, raw, and transparent with the world today. I can only imagine how much courage you had to muster to actually write every word. What a horrible year 2008 was for your family...and i know that the years since haven't been a cake walk (as you've mentioned). Something i've learned: God is in the struggle. It takes a lot of faith to recognize what you have, to love God the way you do, and it is truly beautiful. Your foundation is set, and while you may have moments of doubt/frustration/anger...that will never take the rooted love you have towards God.
Praying for you and your family, i actually just did. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your story with us!

Jessica said...

Hi Robin! Thanks for reading! I did not tell him any of the story. It had happened too recently (He said that a couple of months after everything happened) and it was just a bit too much at the time. I just walked away. Thanks for the comment!! :)

Jessica said...

I agree! It's a good way to get to know someone, just by hearing their personal experiences. Thanks for reading this! :)

Jessica said...

Lacey, you have been a blessing to me in the short time we've been talking. I feel like we have so much in common and that we could be wonderful friends! :)

Thank you for such a sweet comment. It means so much to me! Our God is amazing and it is true that He can bring us through anything. We can undergo so much agony and pain and not know why. But if nothing else, I always fall back on the fact that it is God's plan. He has reasons and we might not understand them. Our minds are so finite compared to Him!

I would love to read your personal story! :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!!

Jessica said...

Oh my goodness, Jeanine. I am so sorry to hear about your mother and your experience with that. It's so hard to watch your parents' health deteriorate like that. I can't imagine losing my parents. I am really close to both of them and find it extremely hard to accept that one day they won't be around.

I am so glad to hear that your mother was such a wonderful example for you though. It is encouraging to know that she is in a much better place now and is no longer suffering.

I am so honored that you chose to tell some of your story to me through this comment. Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

Jessica said...

Aw, Amy! Thanks for such a sweet comment. It means so much to me. Very true...God is right in the center of everything. We might not understand why anything is happening, but He is there for us. Our minds can't comprehend a lot of things...but God knows best. Prayers are SO appreciated. Thank you!! :) :)

Regine Karpel said...

Such a blessing you are! God bless you!

Veronica Joyce said...

Thank you for sharing this, Jessica. It is always so nice to read uplifting stories such as yours. I have always admired the way you preserve and defend your faith. I pray that your parents keep getting better and better everyday, and that they may be able to have a healthier life with you and your sister.

God bless you always.

Marlen said...

that was very brave of you sharing that story, especially since you didn't tell many people about it. i have never experienced anything scary like that, or had yo worry about my parents health. i can't even imagine how scared and sad you were at that time. it's wonderful to know that God has helped you through such a difficult time, and even though things are still hard, you keep your faith. thank you for opening up to us like that

xo Marlen
Messages on a Napkin