Monday, July 21, 2014

Close Encounters With Darkness

I remember the very first time it happened.

I was 15 years old when I first experienced this encounter with darkness- a darkness so black and heavy that my young heart felt as if it would crush underneath the weight.

This unfamiliar visitor, depression, decided to take up residence although no invitation had been extended, and I wasn't certain how it had entered my life.

I had been blessed with a natural sunny disposition, able to see the proverbial silver lining behind every cloud. I was the one who always managed to bring a smile to an otherwise sad face, and encourage a heart that needed a little nudge to find its path toward peace. But somehow, on this day, all that was familiar to me had disappeared in a thick cloud - a dark fog. A fog so thick, I could not see my way clear as my hope and joy was being choked out of my young teenage existence.

An ordinary circumstance that would leave any young girl's eyes filled with tears, but not a horrible incident by any means, became the introduction into a world I did not know truly existed until that day. A world where dark heavy cold blankets are wrapped tightly around those who visit there.

Although those that are tightly wrapped are more like prisoners and less like visitors.

 I wanted to run from this horrible place but my feet would not move. They were shackled to the floor. My mind told them to get up and run but I was unable to loosen those shackles on my own. Severe hopelessness set in and my days and nights were blurring into one long never ending bad dream.

The memory of the initial pain that had brought me to this place, had now faded and was replaced by a much deeper overall, overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and despair. ..for all things in general. Everything was dark. My once happy-go-lucky spirit had been crushed beneath the weight of something so much more powerful than any emotion I had ever experienced. It was so foreign to me, I didn't even know what to call it. "Depression" didn't seem black enough to describe it.

Depression robbed my sleep, and blocked the brightness of the morning light that was created to give me hope. It left me tired, and lonely and full of fear. I feared that it would never leave or that I would be held prisoner endlessly and would spend the rest of my days choked by the thick fog that would not allow my escape. I would go to sleep with it in my bed, and awaken early in the morning with it by my side. A ball and chain had somehow made its way to an innocent girl and refused to be removed.

Nothing seemed to matter. This overwhelming sadness seemed to overshadow even the most joyous moments. My brain was clouded and unable to process thoughts properly. Common sense was not so common, and uplifting or encouraging words from others fell on deaf ears.

For the first time ever in my life, I experienced the feeling of no longer wanting to live.

I never thought about taking my own life, but was honestly hoping that my days would be shortened on this earth if this was how I would have to spend them. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel and had I seen it, it would have just been a cruel tease as my feet were unable to walk toward the opening had it presented itself to me.

I remember my mother allowing me to miss 2 weeks of school while she tried to get help for me. She took me to my doctor, who at the time was not much help. She would pray over me, the sweetest most heartfelt prayers, but even that did not break through the darkness.

She began telling me of her own experience with depression, and she shared her intimate secrets with me, of the pain she had struggled with for many years. She also began to read to me from the scriptures, words that brought little glimmers of hope to her soul, and scriptures that ultimately brought her out of the dungeon.

She told me of her many fears. Fears that she and I shared. Fears that our minds would never go back to the peaceful place they had been accustomed to . She then opened the Bible and read these words to me, and it was as if a powerful sword had sliced through the thick lingering cloud and the brightest light my eyes had ever seen was now not only visible, but penetrated my soul.

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

A sound mind? I had never known that the Bible contained scriptures relating to those struggling with mental issues, as I never really read much of the Bible for myself at that point. I mean, I had grown up in the church, and knew all the stories of Noah's Ark, and Creation, and Jonah in the belly of the whale, but as far as just reading it for my own knowledge, wisdom and peace, I'm ashamed to say that as a 15-year-old daughter of a Pastor, the Bible was not on my list of must reads.

My mother pointed me toward more and more scriptures on peace, and hope and joy and freedom from fear, and the more I read, the more these things became a part of my life once again. I could feel the heavy cloak falling off of my weak shoulders as I began to finally make my exit from the abyss.

I could not get over the fact that King David, in his Psalms, could articulate many of my very thoughts and feelings as his also dealt with fear and despair. I could relate so well to a KING, from thousands of years ago. The same life that sprung from the pages into my soul was the work of the Spirit of a LIVING God that King David was experiencing so long ago.

I had finally realized why this book had become so treasured to all those old folks who were always quoting from it . It had been become LIFE giving to them. And now to me. It was not just pages filled with fables and stories and poetry, it was life giving- hope giving- PEACE giving- those powerful inspired words written through men thousands of years before, had touched my young soul and inspired me to dig even deeper. And I didn't want to miss a thing.

So much of the words are now a part of who I am. They come to mind when I'm faced again with circumstances that rob my peace and joy and try to steal my hope. They cause life to be stirred up within me once again. Courage rises up- enough courage to hang in there and fight the fight- regardless of the size of my opponent.

Depression has tried to hold me down a few times over the years. It seems to disguise itself each time it makes it's entrance and tries to catch me unaware. But if you are one that has ever been a victim of this strong-armed enemy of your soul, you know it is no one you want to visit, let alone live near.

I am still experiencing disappointments, discouragements, pain, unanswered questions, and I have suffered in many ways that I can't fully share here, but no longer does depression hold me captive.

I will literally run in the opposite direction if I even sense darkness in the distance.

But now, I am not afraid. I have Peace. I have found a refuge.
I feel His presence. I know I am not in this alone. I know He is going before me and clearing a path for me. I feel His peace, and I can truly rest. My sleep is sweet. What a gift!

King David said it so well. Especially in the beginning and the end of Psalm 91;

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

"Because he loves me, says the lord, I will rescue him. I will protect him for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." Psalm 91: 14-15

*There's a prideful part of me that would rather not share about this experience because depression is viewed by so many as a weakness, and some who have never battled with this powerful enemy do not realize that the victim CAN'T "just snap out of it!" so they may view those who suffer from depression as not only weak but lazy or selfish. But I continue to come across so many people (in my blog life and in my "other life") who are battling or who have battled with the same that I felt like sharing my story. Or part of it anyway. Because I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that my life is or has been perfect or that I am always HAPPY, because I am not. But I have found my way clear of the darkness, and am so thrilled to be free that of course, I want to share the escape plan that worked for me, in the hopes, that some one else lost in the fog would see that little glimmer of hope, which will lead them to freedom...once and for all.

And then they can say, along with King David and me..."He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm." Psalm 40:2

Monday, January 20, 2014

A girl can dream...and I just happen to have a few (a repost)

(Jordan Murphy Photo)

I have a dream that one day every child, in every nation will lie down in a comfortable warm bed, with a full belly and surrounded by the love of their family.

I have a dream that the intelligent minds of the world would grasp the importance of listening to the cries from the hearts and souls of those in need.

I have a dream that every adult would realize the importance and power of their words when landing on little ears.

I have a dream that one day the importance of teaching self-sacrifice and reaching out to others will top the lists of parental lessons passed down to their young.

I have a dream that one day we will not wait and rely on governments and leaders to begin the aid to the elderly, the poor and those who are sick, but we will first start the giving, assistance and healing and let them follow our lead.

I have a dream that one day our leaders will lead from their hearts, and not political agendas, and poll ratings and labels and fears.

I have a dream that one day every human will feel the love of their Creator and know their worth as a Divine creation of the Master's hand.

I have a dream that one day we will all decide that we will not be ready to leave this earth until we have made a difference...a change... a positive impact, a lasting impression that will forever benefit someone other than ourselves or our own.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Every word we say today, every action or reaction will make some sort of difference (be it good or bad) in our lives and the lives of those we come across. Our words and actions will either encourage and build someone up, or they will tear them down... choose carefully.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

*I have posted this again today-something I wrote awhile back. I'm still dreaming these same dreams.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sweet Freedom

Photo by Jordan Murphy

We take so much for granted....just assuming "it's always been and always will be." 

Today, I am grateful to be living in a country where I have the freedom to pray, gather together with my brothers and sisters in Christ and openly worship our Creator with no fear of punishment or harm (not the case in many countries in our world).

I can express my opinions and may receive criticism but  I'm still afforded the opportunity to express them. I can freely vote to further express my opinions, and do so without fear (unlike many countries around the globe). 

I can hold Bible studies in my home and publicly invite others to attend, I can share scriptures openly--verbally and through the Internet-- and ask for and offer prayer from and for others. I am not forced to "smuggle" the sacred scriptures into my home and I can openly share the Gospel, The Good News, with others.
THIS is freedom OF religion
-and I for one, am very grateful that I am still allowed to follow Christ openly with no fear of retribution. That is not the case for many of my brothers and sisters in Christ living in other parts of the world-- not just as missionaries, but as natural-born citizens of other countries who have converted to Christianity and are now in harm's way-- their very lives and livelihoods at stake. We have no idea how blessed we are-- and to those who came before me who sacrificed to make this freedom possible, THANK YOU!

And to my brothers and sisters in Christ, offer a prayer of Thanksgiving for this blessed freedom.

Praying for wisdom for those who lead us and govern our people--that the Spirit of our Creator will whisper in their ears what is right and good and just. And give them the courage to carry it out.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

To My Father

I wrote a poem to my Father to try to articulate just how powerful the example he set for me was in regards to the relationship I now have with my Heavenly Father. I've shared it before, but am sharing it again in hopes that a Father will read it and be inspired to be such an example.

My relationship with God the Father was strengthened by the example you set

I know Him as my provider, as you have never failed to meet any need that was within your power to grant.

I know Him to be forgiving as you chose to look beyond my faults and give me another chance...and another one...and another.

I know Him to be all powerful as you have shown me how even you will move heaven and earth to fix any problem that would cause me harm.

I know of His wisdom, because you have enlightened me through His written word so I could understand what is best for me.

I know Him to be patient as you have tried to teach me the same things over and over, sometimes years of trying until I finally "got it"!

I know of His compassion as I watched you reach out to the lowest of the low,and to those who were down and out and "undeserving".

I know of His joy as you have passed along your wonderful sense of humor to me.

I know Him as my protector as I have always felt safe knowing that you are around and that NOTHING will ever come between the two of us.

I know of His peace because you have always been a refuge for me when I'm in need- I can always run and hide in your strong arms.

I feel the love of God in ways many will never know, not only because you have continually pointed me toward Him, but by your example as a Father here on earth. I know Him as One who takes pride in His creation and enjoying my company. I can feel His delight in me, and I know I am  treasured--not because of who I am, but because of whose I am.

I am a unique creation of the Most High God. Valued highly and I am not replaceable.

Thank you, Dad, for giving me

 this priceless gift.

Happy Father's Day!

I love you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Don't just stand there--DO something!

 Billy Crystal  candidly articulated what many of us feel when he admired the physically fit, rock-hard body of a fellow actor at an Academy Awards show, and I've never forgotten it.

"I'd do ANYTHING to look like that....well, except eat right and exercise!"

 Now, before you click away thinking this is yet another New Year's Resolution Healthy Tip blog post, hang with me here, because Billy's statement actually resonates with many of us, regardless of the object/goals/dreams or just wishful thinking  we are accustomed to jotting down this time of year.

Osmosis. I wish it were more common that it is--especially regarding growth in many areas of my life. If becoming physically fit with rock-hard abs could happen by osmosis, I'd begin saving my dollars to be the first in line to purchase it!  Wouldn't it be nice to become smarter without having to read or study or take tests? I would also love to become wealthy without really having to work too hard. I'd love to be able to run in a marathon without having to put in those laborious hours of training. I want to become fluent in sign language and osmosis. And yes, become wise  and spiritually sound like King Solomon and have the patience of Job just by wishing for it.

I think many of are wishing our lives away while we never make plan one, or even a feeble attempt to move toward a goal we'd like to meet.

What do you REALLY want?

If you're like me, anything I REALLY want, I will try to get it. And I don't meet try as in "wish" I'd get it, and mean I will plan and make the attempt to have whatever it is in my hands. (Think, Peanut Buster Parfait from the DAIRY QUEEN.  It may be late, I may be tired, but if the mood strikes, and the craving begins, I will get up off the sofa, scrape up some money, get in my car and drive to purchase one.)

Why do so many fail at keeping   resolutions they pledge to keep to start the new year? Or why will many avoid making them at all?  I believe it's because we never plan to move toward our goals. We don't want to invest in the dream. We don't want to train our bodies or minds or spirits. We want these wonderful things to happen to us by osmosis.

So, with that said..what is it that you want?  What do you really want?  Write it down, then write down a few steps that will get you closer to getting what you want.  Then, DON'T JUST STAND THERE, DO SOMETHING!


Diet and Exercise 

If you have the desire to be physically fit, obviously, some sort of exercise will be required to achieve that goal. Find a plan that you would enjoy. Some enjoy the gym. Call or local one, and a least visit once and see if it is doable. Others enjoy group classes like ZUMBA or SPINNING or water aerobics. Others prefer walking. Or home exercising with a DVD.....whatever it is, make the first step toward it. Sign up for the class. Purchase new sneakers, or dumbbells, or the DVD....then actually SHOW UP! You will be one step closer to becoming fit!

If eating right is your goal, make out your grocery list that includes many more fruits and vegetables. Don't purchase the sweets or sodas or bags of chips,  or whatever may  be your downfall food. Look up some healthier recipes from healthy food you actually like... make it possible and convenient to stick with healthier eating by actually having healthy food within reach!


One of the best things you can do for yourself is to educate yourself. This may include formal/higher education, but also READING and learning about things of interest will enhance your life, makes life more interesting (and you'll be more interesting also). I ask alot of questions. I GOOGLE for many answers, I then may purchase a book to find out more on the subject, or sign up for a class that gives me more knowledge. I love to learn!

The local library houses thousands of free books on every subject imaginable. The Internet has videos you can watch to learn how to do something you've been wanting to learn to do, or if you are an audio/visual learner, on a video on a certain subject matter will benefit you.

Sign up for ONE CLASS at a local community college. One class will allow you more time to focus on the subject and is much more affordable. Most colleges offer online courses for those unable to go to the campus for classes. You may find that you really enjoy the subject and will desire to learn more, or decide to earn a degree in the field of your choice. There is so much more to learn. Don't limit yourself regardless of your age or background.


First Things First

Start at the beginning here.  The starting point is at the feet of Jesus.  Come humbly before Him. Be honest about  your situation.  Tell Him your heart's desires. Ask forgiveness of Him and thank Him for the sacrifice He made on your behalf- dying on the cross for your sins and cleansing you from all unrighteousness. Ask for strength. His strength to overcome. Lay your burdens down at his feet. Allow His Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct you from this day forward.


Fist of all, Bible reading is NOT boring or drudgery. We are unlocking answers to the many questions that arise in our life. In addition to the greatest plan of Salvation and eternal life, there is unlimited wisdom to be gleaned for our day to day lives. It draws us closer to our Creator and we listen to hear His voice as we read the words He inspired.

You can start a daily bible plan, like "reading the bible through in a year" , but sometimes that becomes overwhelming for some, and it causes them to quit altogether, Some like to begin the new year by reading a chapter in Proverbs each day (since there are 31 of them).

I like to begin in Matthew, and reread the life and times of Jesus while he walked among us. I like to see how HE acted and reacted to those around him. The believers and unbelievers. You may actually be surprised when you read it in context.

Joining a BIBLE STUDY in a small group is also beneficial. Some are held in the church in Sunday School classes or mid-week services, others are held in the homes. Small group studies are very beneficial as they help to form friendships and bonds and relationships among fellow believers. Something that we will find more important in the upcoming days. We are able to bounce questions/ideas/answers off each other and gain fresh perspectives. It also helps us commit to reading and studying and gives food for thought for our daily lives.  Call a local church to find if there are any you would be interested in attending.

A devotional book is a great way to begin your quest into the Word of God. They are a great way to begin your day and start your "conversation/meditation" with Him. I recommend "JESUS CALLING" and MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, but here are countless good ones. Make a visit to your local Christian bookstore . Ask their opinion as well. If the price is too steep, check out the same book on


I cannot tell you the many benefits of finding a local church body to become a part of. In addition to hearing the word of God preached through a spiritual leader  who devotes himself to prayer and reading of the Word and offers an inspired and fresh perspective, the fellowship of believers is so important. There is strength in numbers! Prayer when needed, visitation to hospitals, prisons, clothing rooms, feeding programs, Seniors groups, youth ministries, Bible schools, ,etc., are all a part of this beautiful family of God who meet together frequently to strengthen those ties that bind. To attend as a family, and become a part of a local body will strengthen you as well.  You will learn alot about the Word of God, loving each other as family, and persevering.


The best thing you can do for yourself, is to develop that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as our relationships here on earth require time spent and sacrifice on our part, we must choose to spend time talking to Him, consulting Him on issues and decisions (through prayer and reading His word) in order to strengthen that relationship and become more like Him.  it does NOT happen by osmosis. It is a commitment. And you be be thrilled with the outcome of this commitment. Unlike other things we commit ourselves to that drain us physically and emotionally, this commitment offers strength and REST!  Jesus said, Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest."  He goes on to tell us to learn of Him, as we yoke ourselves to Him.

Regardless of  where you find yourself lacking, you must make a plan to move toward your goal. Don't just  WISH things would be different in 2013, PLAN for things to change! You can do this!


Monday, December 31, 2012

To "-er" is Human in 2011

So, here we are-anticipating the arrival of spring, just as we were all anticipating the arrival of the new year just a few months remember-when we each were vowing to make major life-changes and drop old habits by the simple declaration of a resolution.

Well, not everyone made resolutions because there are many conflicting ideas as to whether are not they are beneficial. I've pondered the remarks from those who are either too "cool" to resolve to do anything differently,or those who don't believe in setting oneself up to fail, against those who believe anything is possible if it begins with a goal.

I have resolved to do many things and failed and I've set no goals and succeeded (in the fulfillment of nothing) and really,I ask you- which is worse?

So this year, I compromised. In my human-ness, I decided to "-er".

Here was my plan:

I did not resolve to become a healthy eater and fitness nut because I knew by day two, sometimes as early as day one, I would cheat, fall short, fail or give up ...but I did resolve to become healthi-ER than I have been in the past ...THAT was possible-foreseeable-doable- attainable.

I may not be able to have a perfect temperament in every situation, but I resolved to be kind-ER and gentl-ER, in 2011.

I knew that most likely I wouldn't sign up for some extra college courses this year, but I look forward to becoming smart-ER about the things I know little of including things that don't necessarily hold my interest presently.

I might not make the best decisions in each situation, but in 2011, I resolved to be wis-ER about the choices I make regarding my time, my energy, my money and my actions.

I am a goal setter, but I prefer setting realistic goals that build upon each other in order to place myself in full view of the prize. And it is obvious that those goals must begin with a plan as well as a concentrated effort on my part. So, I resolved to become bett-ER about planning and following through with my good intentions.

And how is that going, you ask? Well, a less-ER woman would get defensive when that question is asked, but I will say, I am a bett-ER woman for even making the attempt to move forward when it would be much easier just to sit back, relax and stay just the same.

So, as I enter this new spring season, full of hope and wonder, I lift my fruit smoothie to the sky and offer a toast: "Here's to the rest of 2011- may it be filled with "-ers" that will make your former human self green with envy!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Little Child Shall lead Them (a repost)

This was one of my very first posts from a few ago when I began blogging. It's also one of my first articles to be published in a regional magazine. It has always been one of my favorite "life lessons" that I learned from my children.

Many years ago during the early years of our marriage, my husband and I were preparing for yet another Christmas holiday, putting together our gift list and planning to give to a very worthy cause.

My brother had told us of a church nearby that had parked a semi-truck in their parking lot and were going to fill it with furniture, gifts, toys and clothes and drive it to a community in Mexico to be distributed to the needy villagers there.

We were struggling financially, so there were no new items to purchase, however, we had plenty of extra clothes and toys we could donate.

I went through my closet and pulled out a large pile of clothes that we no longer wanted or needed, picked out a few other items from around the house, then went to talk to my 4-year-old son about going through his toy box to give from his abundant collection of unwanted toys.

I explained to him that his toys would be going to children who may have never had their own toys and many had no parents or family to help meet their needs. We discussed how very sad their life was in comparison to ours, and although we didn't have much money, we would be considered rich in their eyes. I told him how any toys that he decided to give away would help put a smile on the face of a needy child many miles away.

I left him alone in his room so he could sort through his toys so he could choose the toys he didn't want to play with anymore. A few moments later, he emerged from his room with two contributions; a fuzzy lamb backpack full of books and a pair of "Pound Puppy" house shoes.

He handed them to me and said, " Here Mommy. Give these to those kids to make them happy."

When I saw his gift choices, I thought he had misunderstood what was going to happen to his gifts.

"Now, you won't be seeing these again, they will stay in Mexico with the kids", I said, certain that he must have been too young to understand this concept.

"I know. I don't think they have puppy shoes and lamb backpacks in Mexico", he explained.

In that moment, my entire perspective on giving to the needy changed.

Let me explain the significance of his gifts.

Each morning when he awoke, he would fill this lamb backpack, (his favorite) with books for me to read to him each day. If we finished reading those books, he would refill it. He would walk around the house wearing this backpack and would take one out and ask me to read one aloud to him. He loved the backpack, and so enjoyed the many books we would read together.

The "Pound Puppy" shoes basically never came off his feet unless we were going out of the house. He would even sleep in them! They were just white slippers with puppy heads on them but he was so attached to these little shoes.

I looked at the two gifts he had chosen to give, then I glanced at the LARGE pile of "gifts" I had chosen to give.

Mine were clothes that were out of style, didn't fit , or things I just didn't care to keep. His were the two most cherished items from his collection of treasures.

I was immediately humbled.

A four-year-old child was giving the very best he had to someone he didn't even know because he wanted to make them smile. He was HAPPY to give his most cherished possessions if it meant making life better for someone else.

I went back to my closet, picked out my best Sunday dress, with the matching shoes and purse and laid them on the top of my pile as I asked forgiveness for my very selfish "generosity".

I really had not given anything. I was getting rid of things I didn't want to help make space for the new and improved items that would soon take their place.

My four-year-old child led the way to inspire my giving from a heart of love and true compassion.

As we make our plans to give again during this season, ask yourself a couple of questions?

What can I give that would put a smile on some one's face?
How can I help lighten some one's load?
Am I truly giving from a heart touched by compassion or am I just giving my "sloppy seconds"?

Will you allow a child lead you?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How I became a Grandmother (in two words...well, several two-word lines)

little while 
knees- weak
baby home
God's gift

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen....and Survived!

US Olympic gymnast, Gabby Douglas fell during her beam routine last night. Not only she did not receive the coveted Gold Medal spot (as she has enjoyed recently), she didn't earn any medal in this category.

Only days before, she finished  first in the all-around competition (the most-coveted achievement by Olympic gymnasts), as she led her US teammates to capture the gold medal.

 After her fall, she quickly hopped back on the narrow beam (which I'm sure  suddenly seemed more narrow than usual) and finished her routine and cheered  on her teammate  who was awarded the bronze medal.

Such is life.  One day we're on top, the next day we may stumble and someone quickly takes our place in the spotlight.  In no way does this prove we weren't good enough or  well-prepared, it simply means that we are human- and "perfection" or success in any area is the goal, not always the reality.

 Do you see the muscles in her thighs? Those muscles didn't come from quitting when she fell...that strong definition of muscle tone came from the countless hours and many times she  hopped back on the beam  and continued her discipline regardless if she landed on top or on the floor.

 Here's to all of us in our attempt to succeed in our lives- falling on the floor doesn't mean it's over, it means we now have a different view--perspective from the floor is also very valuable.

Learn the lessons from the floor and the beam routine will become stellar!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

To Tattoo or Not Tattoo, that is the question....

I'm reposting this account of my reaction of my son's tattoo. Yes, I'm ashamed of how I reacted. Maybe when you read this- you'll see what a poor choice I made handling this situation  and will avoid the same behavior should something similar happen to you.

I'm a survivor. I survived the parenting of three teen-aged sons!

I have battle wounds, lifelong scars and some great stories to pass down to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My sons are three very unique personalities so "something new" was always coming up or going down in the Murphy house.

Some of my parenting skills were adopted by others who thought I was doing a great job rearing three boys (blind leading the blind) but as you will see, my most shining moments as a parent, were usually preceeded by a blundering attempt controlled by knee-jerk reactions. (Now I know where the word JERK originated)

There were times, though, I would feel very passionate about an issue and there was no moving this Momma! Some of those things I don't regret, but other things I did not handle properly at all, and later, I would find the need to apologize to my sons. Sometimes the apology would come immediately, other times it has come years after the fact when it just dawned on me that I hurt them.

I am happy to report that my sons are very merciful!

One particular incident that I handled all wrong was the tattoo debate.Once the boys hit about 13-years-old, they would start asking, "In a few years can I get a tattoo?"

"No." I would reply ,very matter-of-factly. End of discussion.
The issue would arise again and again. In fact, some foreshadowing took place when #2 was in the 6th grade. He wrote an essay on what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"I want to be an architect," he declared.

I was so proud. He was already a great artist and had such an eye for detail. I knew architects were paid well so he wouldn't have to struggle financially like his father and and did for so many years. I began instantly dreaming of the pride that would come by being able to say, "My son is an ARCHITECT."

Have you ever heard the scripture, "Pride comes before a fall"?

Well, it was like I fell out of a 10-story building and landed belly down on some pointed sharp object when I read the rest of the sentence in his essay...

"Or own a tattoo parlor."


What the...?

Whose kid in the 6th grade wants to be an architect by day and work in his tattoo parlor at night?

Did I mention my kids were weird? No member of our family has ever been like the majority around us. Yep. We're all weird.

I let that one go, thinking he was just speaking nonsense, although he did get put in time out once for drawing tattoos on kids in the classroom that very same year.
I guess I was in denial or something.

Anyway, when the boys would start asking about getting a tattoo, I would always say ,"Sure. So long as your very first is a picture of me and it says "I love my MOMMY on it!" That would usually end the discussion for the day.

I would find sketches he had drawn of possible tattoos laying around the house.
(More foreshadowing). I would then sketch my "I love my MOMMY!" design and leave it with his artwork.

When he was a senior, many of his friends had already had a tattoo, and his begging was driving me up the wall! (and you all KNOW what a great driver I am!)

I would explain for the 57,987,210th time, my many reasons he should NOT go ahead with such a silly idea.

1. I know him.

He changes his mind every time he blinks, and although he thinks it sounds like a great idea right now, he'll change his mind later and be stuck. (Did I mention that his mind had actually "stuck" with this desire for 6 years?!)

2. He could catch Hepatitis, Aids, or a bad infection from a dirty needle used by the heroin addicted tattoo artist.

Yeah, I've seen some of the parlors around here.

3. He may not land the perfect job as an architect when they either saw his tattoo or asked him if had had any during the job interview.

( I know this would be an illegal question to be asked in an interview, but he was only 17. He had no idea).
I know that was not a great parenting skill demonstrated right there, but Hey, do as I say, not as I do--Or did.

4. He has a beautiful back and that would just "mess it up"!

5. You shouldn't mess with what God gave you.

It's just not right.
(Did I mention that I have double pierced ears and get my hair colored and highlighted every month? Yeah, well that's WAY different.)

Anyway, the debate continued for what seemed like an eternity. But I always felt that at the end of our one-sided "discussion", he would agree- it was not a good idea after all.

On  a cold, blistery day in  January, the day after his 18th birthday during his senior year, I went to awaken him for school. There he lay, on his belly, muscular arms wrapped around a pillow, his beautiful back all cut and...what is that? His beautiful back had GRAFFITI on it!

"Oh #2, HOW COULD YOU!" I asked. Okay, I asked loudly. Okay, I YELLED at the top of my lungs! (I'm not proud of my reaction, but I'm trying to be transparent here.)
My reaction even surprised me. We then had a big yelling match, right before school.
I was going over all the reasons he shouldn't have, he was telling me all the reasons why I was crazy! Then he left for school, with a slam of the door and a screech of his tires.

Alone with my thoughts, I realized that my biggest issue was I felt he had defied me. That my reason and logic and parental influence was no longer a powerful factor in my son's life as it had been when he was younger.

Those are actually valid reasons to be upset, however, never valid reasons to react like a crazed woman! I was hurt. I was angry.

I called my sister and started ranting, "You will NOT believe what #2 did!". I went on and on, now giving her the reasons why he should not have done this.

She allowed me to rant for a bit, then she answered me. Her answer was very sobering (not that I was drunk or anything. (although at that moment, had booze been in the house...).

She calmly said, "Sher, I'd give anything to see Sean lying in his bed with a tattoo on HIS back."

Her son had been killed in a Jeep accident when he was 16.

That was a defining moment in my life. The day that these insignificant differences that I had made HUGE deals about just all fell into perspective.

I could not wait till he returned from school so I could kiss his beautiful back, tell him I was sorry for my reaction and let him know how much I love him.

As soon as he entered the door, I rushed to him to apologize, kiss and love him. We both just cried, holding each other. Lucky for me he has a heart of gold and is very merciful.

He then said , "Mom, did you even see it?"

"No." (my eyes were more blurred than normal with rage!)

He proudly lifted his shirt and explained the tattoo's significance.

It was a four leaf clover ( proudly representing his Irish heritage). Boxing gloves were inside the clover. One with his late Grandpa's name on it, "Chick" who was a golden glove boxer in the army who he never got to meet. The other glove had Sean's name on it. Sean had just started boxing a few months before his death.

I cried some more.

I was so ashamed of my reaction, especially when this meant so much to him and the meaningful symbols he chose just made what had offended me earlier, become something very beautiful in my eyes.

This was the beginning of my trying to find out the back story when people act in ways in which I don't approve . To dismiss a person entirely, due to an outward sign, or behavior is missing out on the VALUE of that person.
I know of people who have quit speaking to their children because they have done things that have "disrespected the family" or church. I'm sorry, but my children are MY CHILDREN who will always receive my love and guidance. I don't have to agree with their choices, but I am required to love them. (And not flip out when I disagree with choices they have made that do not please me.)

I'm counting on the same from God. Regardless of how bad I mess things up, I still feel His love, and I can take these things before Him for forgiveness, cleansing and guidance. Always. And forever.

Now my son has another tattoo. You can see it in the above photo. It is a scripture within a cross that has special meaning to him.

I kiss it when I see it.

This was originally written three years ago. Son #2 is getting ready to be a father in a few months. As you can see by the photo below, he now has MANY tattoos--all very meaningful to him--the "sleeves" are actually illustrated bible stories (that he designed) that hold particular meaning to him. He recently purchased his own tattoo gun and has begun tattooing others on the side. No tattoo "parlor", just fulfilling his dream.  His lovely wife Sol has a brother who is an Architect. :)