Thursday, October 29, 2009

Old habits are hard to break

        So I have to be completely honest, Jason and I have been struggling a little bit....ok we hit a wall in the past few weeks in our progress, but we're back on track. The truth is, when he came here and we were reunited and in the eye of the miracle we had a super strength motivation behind us. We knew there was a lot of hard work to be done and we were ready to face all of it, head on, to save our family, better ourselves, and take the leap of faith that God had called for us. 

We have accomplished SO much already.

Jason was blessed with a job about a month after we got here and had the opportunity to do some side work in the mean time. We've received the amazing opportunity to share our story through our church and through my writing to give others hope in the way God is working through us. Our family has the gift of staying with another family full of grace, encouragement, and wisdom. An amazing amount of very gracious people have helped us with monetary support, I can't tell you how thankful we are for that. We also are able to join various groups in the church, together and separately, that are a great way for us to meet other parents and married couples. These are just a few of the blessings that we have received. 

I'm can't express how grateful I am, but it still hasn't been easy. I would be lying if I said that we haven't wanted to pack it up and go home. The fears and worries we have are overwhelming at times. It is no surprise to me that our pastor has been talking a lot about Abraham and his obedience the past few Sundays. We miss our family and friends to a point that it's painful. We miss the people that we don't have to explain our actions or feelings to because they've known us for our whole life. We are social people and not knowing many people well has been hard especially being from a small town were you know exactly who to trust and who not to. Right now God has put us in a position to be surrounded by trustworthy people and I'm so thankful for that. 

This is just a new way of living for us here, everything is different than we we're used to. And there are so many road blocks financially that it makes it hard to focus on any other issue like, I don't know, our marriage. I'm sure just a few of you can relate.

The good news with that is we had a meeting yesterday at Dave Ramsey's office because we were accepted by they're ministry program to get some coaching. (Another amazing blessing)

We really just want to find a light at the end of the tunnel,  but it's hard to see at times when it seems so far off.  And we are scared and I'm trying very, VERY hard not to be but we have never dealt with so much at once and this is really hard and a lot of transition. We have gone through many rough times, but we never faced our problems. We used to let them build up to an eruption of horrible fighting about everything that had bothered us in the last month or so. 

I am happy to say that we have realized that we both just need to dig deeper within ourselves and together and seek harder, love more and remain strong in our faith in God's plan for us. Starting over at square one is really hard, but at least we will do it right this time. Our actions and the basis of our decisions before Christ became our sole influence had everything to do with how we fell apart. We wanted to blame every thing else for our mistakes but ourselves. We'd point the finger at our childhoods, or our lack of money, or a bottle, but never at our own choices. It ironically parallels with a story that is the root of the name of this site.

One of our favorite things to do together is fishing. On a sunny, July day in the summer of 2003, Jason and I had decided to spend the afternoon fishing. After about five hours in a little roe boat we had a full stringer of pan fish that we intended on eating for dinner that night. Out of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, the sky became black and the wind kicked up, strong enough to bow the trees that surround our little fishing hole. Rain began to pour so hard we couldn't tell if the water was coming from the sky or raising from the pond. We could see nothing. We where blinded. We started to row to the shore but the wind seemed to be rushing at us to hard to get anywhere. This struggle went on for about 45 min before......

We noticed that we hadn't pulled the anchor up!  

And then the real icing on the cake was that once Tweedle Dee and I got to shore (two minutes after pulling up the anchor) the entire stringer of fish had come untied from the boat in the chaos. Soaking wet, without dinner, there was nothing else to do but stand on the edge of that pond and laugh and embrace the story that we'd have to tell. 

The catch is that there is a much deeper meaning to that story that we now embrace, but we wish hadn't taken us so long to get. We were so so busy blaming the wind and rain of the storm that we couldn't see our own selves holding us back. Thus the innocent storm.

There is no more blaming of our past, and there is no circumstance of the present that will keep us from fighting the good fight. Our eyes are as open as our arms and we own our mistakes without excuse. We are learning from our mistakes and continuing down this beautiful path that God has given us no matter how hard it gets, we'll make it.
Blessings to you,




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Todd and Angie,

        Where do I even begin...I suppose thanking you for answering the phone when someone needed help would be a good place to start. Someone that you didn't know anything about, there whole story, or have any reason to care about. All you knew was there was a mother with two girls in Michigan that needed move to Tennessee, and I have come to realize that you chose to help me for the same reasons I chose to let you. 

         The Lord new what He was doing when He put me with you. I don't think that had it been anyone else, that my family would be together today. God knew that it was going to take an immense amount of strength and faith to guide his miracle into place.  You two have, and offer all that and more. Our hearts were nearly hardened, and I thought we had passed the point of any return. I didn't even know who I was anymore when I arrived in Tennessee. You have not just been so selfless to just take us in, pat us off and send us on our way, but you have gone above and beyond and followed through with what you started by getting involved, unconditionally. So thank you for your faith. You are both heavenly warriors, armed with love, and were willing to march through thorns to retrieve an unseen flower.  Thank you for asking me questions, thank you for sincerely wanting to know my heart. By answering and exploring my heart with you I was reminded of who I was. Thank you for loving me for who I am and not for who you thought I could be if I changed. 

        When I moved out of your home briefly in July you let me learn on my own that it was not in God's plan. When I was going to get a divorce you offered to go with me. When I wanted to stop the divorce you brought my husband to me against all reasoning from our horrible past, you had faith in us. It is your obedience in God and your irrevocable commitment to your faith in Jesus that our family is together today. You believed in His plan and taught me to do do the same without pressure. You set a pure and genuine example in your daily life. I think,  you didn't really know what a powerful message that you were and still are sending to me without the use of words. Much of your example has aided in my growing relationship with Christ. 

       I you may or may not realize this, I'm pretty sure you do, but I just want to thank you for knowing where to draw the line with me. You guys know exactly when to be there for me and exactly when leave me in my sorrows. If not for that, I would have been robbed of the deep connection that I have with God. The night's spent when you two knew I was in pain, but left me be are the nights that I was comforted so well in prayer. These times of grief that you didn't sit with me while I was in tears about my screwed up life were the ones that were the most healing in my faith. The nights when you were there are the times that I learned what faith and grace were through your words of wisdom. You help us help ourselves which is easier said than done and I want you to know that I acknowledge and appreciate that too. 
       Angie, since you have taught me how to sew, not only have I acquired a new skill but I am now able to put into words a visual for this experience.  I truly feel like it is God's hands guiding torn, flimsy fabric through a machine, creating something beautiful. We are mismatching pieces that have fallen apart and slowly with a lot of work, we are getting patched with vibrant colors and strong thread to last forever. He is working so lovingly and carefully and you two are the needle and thread complying with His every move until His work is done. Once again, thank you for your faith.

        Your hand in our redemption goes so much further than what has transpired in or marriage just these past few months. Our daughters futures have been rewritten as well as Jason and mine. Not only are they going to dodge the broken home upbringing but, our little girls are going to be raised in a house that makes Biblically based decisions on a day to day bases beyond the time that we are living with you. It is in my prayers that one day they will continue a legacy of unconditional love in the unity of the Body of Christ. After being on the receiving end of so many blessings through the generosity of others I know there will come a time when I hope we are able to give as much to others as you have given to us. Our counselor says you are putting treasures in heaven by by what you are doing for us, I want to do that too. It boggles my mind to think about how many other people you are helping besides us through your gifts in writing and music among other things.  There literately people's lives that you have touched that you will never meet and your kindness and good works will live on long beyond your earthly life. WOW, that is a fact, not an opinion. You have tended a harvest in my family as humble servants of God that will grow for generations. 

       That's mostly why I decided to write you a public letter. I wanted thank and encourage anyone else who loves others the same Godly way you love us. Also, there is always the possibility that some random person will read this and be inspired to maybe love someone else well despite their situation or personal choices in there life. Kind of like the paying it forward and having things come full circle. 

       Also, when it comes down to it, you are just really great friends. Not just for all you've done for us but because I am so happy and blessed that I even know both of you and your daughters. As individuals, your both hilarious and can tell stories as a couple and separately that crack me up. Working in a bar for years goes hand in hand with a lot of crazy stories and jokes, and you guys can tell a great story with more animation and character than I've ever heard. I love that you cease the day, and get the most out of life in your work and family, and I love that your not perfect and acknowledge that through all of it. I love that know matter how much praise you receive, you remain humble and that takes discipline. Your just people like everyone else and I'm thankful and glad to know two people that choose to live so well. 

     I could go on and on for days for all the things I'm thankful to you for. But you guys know how thankful we are about having somewhere to live and all the other things that you are doing for us. And I try to express my thanks by helping you as much as I can. I felt like I just needed to put into words the impact that you've had on my soul. I don't think there is any amount of house work that could cover that so I did my best to relay a big message of appreciation in a little letter. I  I love you guys,
Candice Hamilton



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

House of pain

Jason and I bought our house on December 5th, 2006, two days prior we had found out I was pregnant with our second child. I viewed the pregnancy as a blessing with the purchase of the house in the same week, Jason was overwhelmed and was less than excited about the timing. As I look back, I try not to beat my self up anymore about my lack consciousness of his anxiety over the amount of responsibility that he felt weighing and continually growing on his shoulders. He tried to tell me it was too much for us at once but didn't put up a strong fight because he new how much it meant to me.
Never the less, everything about the house seemed to be exactly what we wanted, two blocks out of town and within walking distance to work, in a quiet, kid friendly neighborhood. The house had a new furnace, it had been rewired, had a new water heater and been partially remodeled. Jason needed to be in walking distance because until two weeks ago, he has never had a driver's license. Not because he had one and lost it, but because he never wanted one. We also wanted a house that required some work we could do ourselves to make it our own. One thing that I also loved about it was that the yard was empty, not one flower. It was like a blank page to an artist for me to create and nurture a color scheme to my liking. I LOVE to garden. And so began, what I thought was going to be the beginning of the rest of our lives in this home, my nest. On December 4th of that year, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, amongst all the rest of the excitement, and that anniversary is the last one out of four that we've "celebrated".
I viewed the purchase of our house as living the dream, more than just a shelter. A place to invite friends and family, the foundation of our lives and memories of the growth of our family would be built in the walls 530 Jackson Court. Jason felt that way too to some extent, I think the stress of the mortgage payment and the freedom of owner ship went hand in hand for him. We hosted the family Christmas party for the first time that year. A lot of our things were still in boxes and the walls were still bare but as friends and family all gathered in our home, at our table, eating the meal for a army that I happily prepared all day, I my heart exploded with joy. It was a dream come true that most girls have, husband, wife, children, new life growing within me and out.

I had spent the spring and the first part of summer waddling around my new template planting flowers with Savannah at my side, plunging our hands in dirt that was ours and nourishing carefully placed, colorful life that I thought we would watch grow together for years. Evenings that Jason and I were both home were spent mulching and painting the garage together and then we'd built a fire to enjoy with each other and friends.

In June our car had taken a sudden dump and we bought a van. We knew that it was going to be tight to try and swing another payment on top of the mortgage with only having around $1500 a month to work with during the winter months. (money is seasonal in our part of Michigan, there is more to be made in the summer months than winter, even in the restaurant business) Against Jason's wishes we bought the van adding another $10,000 to our debt. That's when things really started to take a turn.

God blessed us with Madelynn Joy Hamilton on July 17, 2007. Up to this point Jason's drinking had stayed minimal compared to other seasons of his life. Winter that year hit us like a hammer financially and when I went back to work from maternity leave this time, I took all opposite shifts from him so we never needed sitters to save money. We never saw each other, and when we did, we usually spent our time fighting sometimes all night. One day I sat and thought about it and the way our schedule worked, we had 16 whole days off together a year. The further apart we wondered from each other the less we depended on each other and eventually depended of other things....none of which geared toward Christ. We made for an easy target for Satan and we let him have his nasty way for the rest of our time residing in our house together and a part.
Our home became a battle field for Jason and I and a playground for the devil. My prayer right now that as the house goes in to auction at the end of the month, that I may keep every memory of the blessings that God gave us through the storm and be at peace with taunting, painful memories of our sins. I am no longer a victim, Jason is no longer an addict and that is not going to be our house anymore.
It's a little scary because the foreclosure will put the nail in the coffin that we really can't go back even if we wanted too. I was feeling a little home sick yesterday, every now and then I get a little lonely or just miss going out and digging a hole in my yard because I can. I miss my family and my friends, (Chris, Amy and Sara I love you and miss the heck out of you chicks!) Usually when I feel this way, I turn to God or when I need prayer and really can't get it together, Angie because I know they will be there. Yesterday I went out on a limb, and conveyed my feelings to Jason and even allowed a few tears to fall. He listened and he comforted me when I needed it. For every piece of our past life good or bad that we are loosing, it seems that a blessing is bestowed. It's called pruning. Thank you Jesus. Many blessings to you and thank you for your continued prayers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Simply Complicated

I have sat for a long time tonight trying to come up with a a interesting and articulate post that will fill who ever reads this with hope and inspiration. Honestly, blogging is completely new to me and this started when I agreed to do a guest post on Angie's blog and it turned into me having my own. I'm glad though because it gives me a way to "journal" while helping others (I hope).
The weekend that Jason arrived in Nashville, we attended an Al-anon convention and I stood up the second day he was here and told our story, and that was when I realized what an impact our story could have on people. After all was said, and the meeting was over, people swarmed Jason and I bearing tears of hope and encouragement, and shared very personal stories with us of their current situations. I will never forget the feeling that I had when for the first time in a very long time my husband and I had made a positive impact on others as one.

Sometimes it's hard though, I am surrounded by a monumental number gifted, and BRILLIANT people. It seems as if not one person that I have come in contact with here doesn't have an amazing talent in glorifying God. I, by no means am trying to say oh, poor me, stuck with all these talented people, what is a girl to do? ha ha. That's not it at all. I am BLESSED, beyond what I can write, but I am still just a small town girl that has a lot to learn. So, I listen and read and absorb as much as I can. I do much less talking and a lot more listening these days. Plus it's just plain intimidating at times.

I'm a little good at a whole bunch of things, but I'm not sure if I have a niche. If I do I'm sure the big man upstairs will let me know, and until then I'm totally content putting all of my focus on Him and my family. There is a beautiful line in the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge that talks about a woman feeling like she is "too much and never enough" at the same time that I love. I have always felt that way and I'm sure many of you have too.

The one thing that I am sure of is that I should keep writing because my husband and I embody God's redemption and grace, we truly are a miracle unfolding and I want to share His mighty work with all that I can because everyday that we are together let's someone who has the "see it to believe it" attitude, well, see it! Many blessings to all of you!


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