Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Move Closer

I was born in Ohio on January 27, 1974. My mom was pretty much a stay at home mom but would branch out and try other jobs as we got older. She had a daycare at her house one time and also did a bit of real estate. My dad was a hard-working, never missed a day of work in his life, 100% dedicated to the company, Executive. Eventually, he climbed the corporate ladder and became Vice-President of the company. He won numerous manufacturing awards, and was even featured in Wall Street Journal. I remember a couple of years ago riding in my dad’s car and the CEO of Apple Computers called him on his cell phone.

My family history goes something like this:

My two younger sisters and I grew up in a small suburb outside of a mid-west city. We had softball in the spring, basketball in the winter, parades for 4th of July and of course St. Patrick’s Day, a good elementary school, and fun things to do with your family on the weekends like visit the zoo or go swimming at the club.

I attended CCD class each year. I made my communion and it was a big deal in the family. I got a 10-speed bike.  We had a cake, and family from around the state came. My mom was Catholic and my dad was Atheist. He has since had a change of belief.  He celebrated holidays as just holidays without the religious side to it. My mom took us to church on Sundays while my dad stayed at home.

I remember my dad as being like every other day in the neighborhood – dependable, stand-offish sometimes, but overall a very caring guy that you could trust and wanted to please. In the winter, he would take us sliding and out for hot chocolate at McDonald’s after by himself -just him and three young girls. He was the guy who took us to our practices and games. He even coached some of our games. He planted a huge garden in our backyard. He was the guy who painted, fixed, and made our house the way it was. He really enjoyed holidays and celebrated every holiday to the fullest! Every daughter got a birthday party to be held at their choice of location, every Christmas we had 20 presents each to open, every Easter we had our own egg hunt and our own basket. We got bikes, video games, clothes, jewelry, Barbies, games, roller-skates. I look back now and can’t believe it all – if I had three kids there is no way I could afford to give them all of that now! I like to remember my dad like this.

Columbus was great but in the 7th grade I noticed that a lot of the girls were “growing up fast” and I wasn’t ready yet. The girls became very materialistic and very boy crazy. I didn’t care about the things they cared about and I just didn’t feel comfortable at school anymore. I started to think less of myself. I wasn’t popular and even though we had a lot – it wasn’t enough to keep up. So when my dad said we were moving to Brownsville, Texas, I was actually a bit relieved; until I realized what I was truly in for.

Brownsville, Texas was a cultural shock! We moved there in 1987, in the middle of my 7th grade year. To be honest and blunt, I hated it at first. Everything was new and way too different for me. It was hot too many months out of the year. It didn’t have the small hometown feel I had always known. It was a poorer community than were I grew up. And also, we were a minority there. Going to the mall or the local HEB, my family stuck out. I went to a public middle school were I was again “not part of the group” or any group for that matter. Just like the mall or HEB, I stuck out at my school. Since we lived in what was pretty much a retirement golfing community 20 minutes away, I didn’t have anyone I knew at school from my neighborhood. I spent most of my 7th grade year alone and focused on school work and my only two  friends. I wasn’t the only one. My mom had no friends and this move was VERY hard on her because her family and everyone she knew was “back home”. My sisters did a bit better because they went to a small Montessori school. My dad was on the other hand was loving life.

In school, things did get better my 8th grade year. I met more friends and while I didn’t get involved in anything but band, I was happy again. We had new neighbors across the street and they had four girls so we hung out A LOT. In 9th grade, I found my nitch and had a group of friends. I played tennis and that kept me plenty busy. Things were going good.

Then…. In the middle of my 10th grade year in 1990, we moved to Windsor, Canada. I cried because I adjusted to life in south Texas and didn’t want to leave. In Canada, I attended St. Anne’s Catholic School. In the Windsor area, you can choose if you want to go to a public English school, a public French school, or a public Catholic School. My mom chose the Catholic school because that was where most of the kids in my neighborhood went. I wore a uniform and I took religious class.

We stayed in Canada until I graduated from high school and then my family moved down to Harlingen, Texas in 1992. I cried again, because I had adjusted to life in Canada and didn’t want to leave my friends. The move took place the summer before I was to attend college. In the fall, I started at Southwest Texas State. My sisters were in high school at the time. I missed my family a lot and tried to come home often that first year. Eventually, I found my niche and a boyfriend at SWT.

After two years into SWT, I kid you not, my dad moved the family up to Detroit! I stayed in Texas. I was tired of moving every 2-3 years. Every move was hard and every move was from one extreme to another. I had found friends and a boyfriend. I was settled and frankly sick of my dad and all the moves.

The move to Detroit was hard on the whole family. This was one of those make or break you points in our life and unfortunately it broke us. My sisters found it hard to make friends in high school. My middle sister let my dad know often how much she hated it there and how much she hated him for it. My dad became hard and distant. He put up a shield with us and I know he had lots of pressure from work – his boss, the union, etc. When I came home from college, my dad and I had nothing much to say to each other. I saw him as a greedy jerk. He became rude to my mom and he started to drink a lot more. The one good thing that came from moving so much was that it made me, my sisters, and my mom closer. There were so many months we didn’t have anyone to talk to or hang out with so we just hung out with each other.

After college, I married my husband and moved to Houston. I worked in retail. Then, I worked for a hospice, a job placement agency, catering business, a marketing survey company, then eventually to computer company that made software for the title industry. I was an administrative assistant to the CEO.

In 2000, my parent’s got a divorce. I was angry at my dad. I knew after the final move to Detroit that their marriage wasn’t going well. My dad began to drink and he was just plain rude to my mom. My mom never stuck up for herself when my dad made snide comments. I felt like we had put up with all the moves and all the crap he gave us and now he was just going to divorce us. Lots of anger was inside of me. I had my daughter the same year the divorce was finalized so no one on my side of the family really celebrated her birth. My mom was depressed over the divorce and every time she visited me she would reveal some other mean thing my dad did that would just make me hate him more. My dad moved to El Paso, Argentina, and Brownsville again, and eventually back up to Detroit.

We didn’t see much of each other until my daughter was baptized. Before my daughter was baptized, I went through confirmation. I wanted to set a good example for her and wanted to have all of my steps completed so I could help her complete her steps in life.

Once I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to stay at home with her but we couldn’t afford it. So, I decided to go back and get my teaching certificate. When she turned two, I was a teacher. I had my summers off to be with her, two weeks at Christmas, and one week in March. I was happy. We moved to a bigger house at that time with a pool. I sought a good therapist and worked through my parent’s divorce and now have a better relationship with my dad. I understand things a lot more and I want to have a good relationship with him. He is now married and living in Phoenix, Arizona.

I switched teaching jobs to be closer to home. My daughter went to kindergarten at my school and we were going fine but I will say that I ALWAYS missed my mom and sisters I made sure to see them every summer for two weeks and at least one holiday a year. My mom and sisters and I were always close even through the hard times.

It was around the second summer I had off that my faith took a turn uphill. Up until this point, I didn’t attend church regularly and besides my time at the confirmation classes, I wasn’t involved at all.  Until, I read a spiritual book. It intrigued me because of the title Live Your Best Life Now. My mom bought it and I started to read it and I swear to you, it changed my life.

Until then I never saw God or religion as a thing to turn to when things got tough. I tried the first thing it said and that was to believe that God will give you his favor everyday. So, I told myself that one day every once in a while I would say “God grant me Your favor today”, and sure enough it happened to me later that same day.

We were near a vacation spot in Michigan and my daughter had to go to the bathroom BADLY. I was frantically running to restrooms and they were both locked - the boys and the girls.

This man came up to me and said, "Do you need to find a restroom for your daughter?"

"Yes", I said.

"You can go on up to my condo. My wife is there, she will let you in."

Sure enough she did. I know it sounds small but this was big! First off, the guy was talking on his cellphone, by his boat, and his condo was an nice luxury thing near the water. He could have blown me off, and kept talking on his cellphone but he didn’t. He walked across the street and came up to me, to help me out.

I also had another experience where I was thinking hard one day about what was next in my life. That evening, I reached across and just picked up the Bible and it flipped open to Jeremiah 29:11 and in big bold print I started to read “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I was stunned and felt God talking to me. That was actually the first Bible verse I had ever read by myself in my own home.

Many times since then, I have fell to the floor, sobbing my eyes out over a family thing or a work thing, praying to God and letting him know I couldn’t take anymore. I felt comfort in doing that.

After that summer I started to attend church more regularly and I did perpetual adoration for two years on Sunday night from 7-8. I started reading Max Lucado books, praying the rosary once in a while, and praying to God every night.

In January, I told my husband I wanted to move to be closer to family. We decided to make 2008 the “Year of Change”. We put our house up for the market and left notice at our jobs. We waited and waited and waited for an offer on our house. My sister-in-law told me about Novenas. She told me to pray the St. Joseph Novena. I did and on the last night of the Novena, I kid you not, the realtor called us at 10:00 that night to say someone made an offer on our house! I called everyone I knew and told them about the St. Joseph Novena story.

Once our house sold, the next thing was to make the move to Round Rock. We did in June. I needed a job – bad. We couldn’t get a house until we did. We lived with my sister-in-law and her family. It was hard not knowing when and if you were going to get a job. One night I locked myself in the bathroom and cried hard and begged Jesus to get me a job. Sure enough – later that week I had an interview and then a job offer on Friday. Again, I kid you not!

There is this song called “Jesus Bring The Rain”. The first time I really heard that song in the car I got choked up. The song talks about this guy not minding the trials of his life because it brings him closer to Jesus. I thought to myself that maybe the move and lack of job over the summer has really brought me closer to Jesus. And how true that song really is.

God, grant me Your favor today


Angela said...

I got Goosebumps reading this. I love that song too. Jesus bring the rain. What a great story.

Teffanie said...

Isn't it fabulous! Thanks for checking it out.