outofthepigpen

Memories from a Moment in Time

Memories from a Moment in Time

Have you ever been walking along doing your everyday life and found yourself in an unexpected situation so startling, so shocking that you could barely breathe? A moment in time that seemed to last forever……where you felt that if you took a breath, your whole world would come tumbling down? An unanticipated walk on a jagged cliff full of dangers no matter which way you turn?

In 1991, I experienced such an incident. My husband and I had been married twenty-eight years. He had been feeling bad for a while when the doctors found a mass in his abdomen on a Friday. On the following Monday, they did exploratory surgery. My unexpected moment in time came when the doctors came out of surgery and said my husband had inoperable cancer and would probably be dead by the end of the week. The tumor had twined around and was squeezing his aorta, kidneys, other vital organs, and they were quickly shutting down.

I know I must have kept breathing, but it didn’t feel like it. I looked at the doctors and listened to their words, but the shock of the moment stopped time for me. When I return to that memory, I can see the area of the surgery waiting room where we were standing, my family and friends gathered around. It seems like an indelible marker was placed in my brain at that time. Time stopped in our lives that day, never to return as we had previously known it.

As time moved forward, my husband received chemo, radiation, etc., and after five years, he was declared cancer-free. Even the Oncologist said that only God could have done that. He said, “I knew we had to have a miracle if this man was to survive”!

The memories I have from that time reshaped my life in many ways. I wish I had known then that people don’t know what to say and may say something really hurtful that sticks to you like glue! I would not have taken those words to heart. I wish I could have really heard the sweet love of the hearts around me as they offered their love to me. I wish I had known that the “out of the body” feeling I experienced was my natural body protecting me for a time…..instead of wondering what was wrong with me. As we have been learning in previous posts, I wish I had known that memories are not reliable and that I needed to write down MY experience! I learned a lot!

Thirty years after that happened, this Nana wants to share some things I learned and offer you some wisdom that could help if you find yourself in a “moment in time.”

First, your “moment in time” memory will never be just like anyone else’s moment. Your situation is unique to you, but some simple truths can help us navigate our individual moment.

Second, with the sure knowledge that….when you have your “moment in time” …..a staggering unanticipated walk on a jagged cliff full of dangers….and it leaves an indelible memory written on your life, remember that your life is not over. If your moment is recent, the first thing to do is breathe. Seems simple but isn’t. Just breathe. Take as many deep breaths as you need to let your body begin to adjust to the shock. Things will be swirling around you….feelings, bewilderment, shock, ‘why me’ questions. You have been here and heard the voices, and you will walk forward because you must.

My second piece of wisdom is to be careful with your memories. This is hard advice but can be life-giving to you. Take a moment to write down what happened. Please don’t post it online. This is for you going forward. As we have talked about before, memories are not reliable, sketchy at best. Please write!!! Try not to write other people’s advice, or comments, or judgments. This is your life, not theirs. Guard your memories. Good ones will help you heal. Bad ones can be dealt with……forgiveness can change the course of your future life.

Third, if your “moment” happened a while back, you can still redeem the time, the “fallout”….whatever that looks like for you. If you are reading this, now is your time for a change in your life. Please don’t stop reading here….you can be brave and look back into the past. Hope is in the air here!

Oh my!! I stopped writing this post for a minute to take a call from a Doctor. Another heart-stopping “moment in time” has just happened to us. I have been writing this post sitting in a hospital room with my husband thirty years after the above event I just described. He has been here six days. We are scheduled to leave for rehab in a few hours. The Doctor just called me and said the CT scan we did today shows unexpectedly that your husband has “numerous metastatic tumors in both lungs.” She said, “You will need hospice soon.” Another indelible marker….time has just stopped in our lives once again, breathe, Nana Ann….just breathe. Will finish later.

77 days later:

Postscript: An address change notification! My precious, greatly loved husband of 58 years went to Heaven on August 12, 2021, at 92 years of age. A broken heart is a price worth paying for loving and being loved by this man!!

Grace and love until our next visit! Nana Ann

 

 

 

My Personal Story

Hi, my name is Ann. I am starting this blog because I have lived in a Pigpen lifestyle trapped by circumstances, wrong choices, and in a bad place. I wanted out and think you do too. I learned things the hard way. I can save you some steps and maybe point you in the right direction on your way Out Of the Pigpen! Hope is in the air right here!

Here is a bit of my story. As a teenager, I felt I was losing the real Ann on the inside while trying to look okay on the outside. Maybe you can relate. I married to get out of my family life (even though my parents were okay) and found that it was not what I thought it would be. I hoped another person (my spouse) would make me happy. That didn’t work (even though I married a great guy and am still married to him), so then I lived a fantasy life in my head while doing real life. I finally stopped and asked myself if I wanted to continue living a “less than” life or if I wanted to make a change. Soooo…. I made a change, lived through it (painful), and landed in a great lifestyle. The changes included a reality check on why I left home, why my family relationships were weak or non-existent, who I wanted to be, and how to get there. If you are living in a pigpen lifestyle, I think my experiences can help you get out. If we share our victories and defeats, I believe we can move Out of the Pigpen.

What is a Pigpen?

Each persons’ pigpen looks different, but they all have similar circumstances. We all feel trapped by our circumstances! We made choices that seemed right at the time but were wrong for us, and we ended up in a place of broken dreams – a pigpen. It’s never too late to change direction and find a new path. It takes two things to start a journey out of a pigpen place.

1)  We have to take an honest look at our life and decide if we are where we hoped to be and who we wanted to be.

2)  We must make a firm decision to go a new direction – out of the pigpen. Each of us has an inner strength. Now is the time to reach inside and use that strength. This change will take all the bravery you have, but I know you can do it!

If you are reading this, I know you want to make a change. The first step to make a change is always the hardest. Be brave and determined. Let’s do it!

A Place to Belong

Each persons’ pigpen looks different, but they all have similar circumstances. We all feel trapped by our circumstances! We made choices that seemed right at the time but were wrong for us, and we ended up in a place of broken dreams – a pigpen. It’s never too late to change direction and find a new path. It takes two things to start a journey out of a pigpen place.

1)  We have to take an honest look at our life and decide if we are where we hoped to be and who we wanted to be.

2)  We must make a firm decision to go a new direction – out of the pigpen. Each of us has an inner strength. Now is the time to reach inside and use that strength. This change will take all the bravery you have, but I know you can do it!

If you are reading this, I know you want to make a change. The first step to make a change is always the hardest. Be brave and determined. Let’s do it!

Home. A safe place to live in a family loved and cared for by those in our family. There is a commitment of love that binds us to each other in a deep way. God has placed love in each of us. It is part of the innermost nature of a person. A place where they love us and, we love them. A family to belong to can look different for each of us  How home looks is not as important as having a home place and those special people.

Home is a dream, a place of hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion.  A destination to search for and to find.

What does going home mean to me? Looking at leaving a pigpen place can be scary because it is, at the very least, known to us. We need a destination, a place to look forward to with hope. Going back to our beginning can start the process of healing and, hopefully, restoration in our lives. Looking at how the past shaped our lives lets us understand more clearly how we got to where we are now. It also gives us a road map to our destination.

Our goal for beginning the journey starts with the following.

1)  Finding our way home by:

a.  Understanding our current selves

b.  Learning who God made us to be, thus giving us a chance to leave the pigpen and find our home

c.  Restoration to any natural family members we can locate, which makes way for forgiveness and understanding

2)  Facing the facts. We won’t ever leave where we are until we decide we would rather be somewhere else. Not our current pigpen.

3)  Make a decision, then do the work!

Coming Home

Don’t stop reading when you see the words “Coming Home.” Just those words can strike a place in every heart, whether for good or bad. Leaving the pigpen place in our lives and going to a better life requires us to take a heart look at how we ended up there. The other side of “Coming Home” is “Leaving Home.” A question to ask ourselves….why did I leave “home”? I told you this would be a challenge!

How did I get here?

1)  Why did I leave home? Did I run? I believe God intended us to live in a safe family, loved, and cared for. No love at home, mental and physical abuse can drive us to desperate actions. No matter how hard we try – nothing works, running seems like the only hope.

2)  Why did I leave home? A desire for the unknown? We can live in a safe family, loved and cared for, and still be led away. In the secret places of our minds, we might be thinking “my family is too strict, no fun, and they don’t trust me. Everyone has better stuff than me. It’s boring at home – adventure is out there!” Our eyes see, and our ears hear forbidden things. And a desire for the unknown leads us away from home!

Either way, we can end up in a pigpen place…..lonely broken hearts, sick and tired of living in dark places both body and mind. Take a look…..maybe it’s time to go home.

Can we do it?

A New Journey Awaits You

When I started working on this blog, I had no idea that the whole USA and most of the world would be on quarantine, whether mandated or voluntary. I’m sitting at home doing my part to keep people safe – how about you?

This season in the world with COVID-19 and social distancing, we might have more time to reflect on our lives, whether we are homeschooling or cleaning closets. Why don’t we take a few minutes each day and ask ourselves some questions? Depending on our answers, we might want to reset some goals, cross off some completed ones, and make some new goals.

Here are some questions to think about:

1). Am I lonely even if I live with people? Robin Williams said you could be lonely in a room full of people. If you answer, yes I am, let me help you dig deep and see if you can figure out why it is true. Then let’s see how to make a change.

2). Am I disconnected from my birth family? Why? What difference does it make?

If you have read this far, I know you are thinking about changes. Please consider reading the articles on the home page of outofthepigpen. I think you will find a path out of the disappointing, wrong turns taken in your life and into a new lifestyle. This blog is all about hope for a better future! 

 

With Love, Nana Ann

Welcome! I’m glad you found me. Today I’m sitting on the front porch thinking about all of us who live or have lived a life that we never thought would be our life. Even though there is a kind of sadness in that, there is also the hope of a change. This is not the “wishful thinking” kind of hope. This is the deep, living hope from God based on His promises to help us.  Funny thing about hope….it hangs around just waiting for us to discover it. Actually, I believe hope is alive. Like love and faith, it just waits for us to say in our hearts, “I wonder if there is hope for me”? Then hope springs into action, and we find ourselves willing to look at things to see if there is a better path to follow for the rest of our lives.

Maybe, right now, you are saying…..right-  duh!……I’m not even going to ask if there is hope for me because I know there isn’t. Please, just say it anyway because an old lady you don’t even know (me), asked you to. Like a Grandmother who has lived long enough to see how things really work says lovingly to you, “Honey, just try it.”  I’m asking you because I know that hope is stirring in your heart. After all, you are reading this blog!

Try it and let me know what happens. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Sitting on the porch wishing you would drive up, sit down with me and tell me what’s up in your life!

Grace, Nana Ann

William Evan’s Story About Home

Many long years ago when I was a very small boy, and my younger sister was a very small girl, we lived in a house that had a very large front yard.  The front of the yard, furthest from the screen-enclosed front porch of our house, bordered a Farm to Market road.  The road was fairly busy and several Chinese Tallow trees (better known in this part of Texas as chinaberry or tallaberry) bordered our yard, close to the road.  I spent much time in one of those trees, reading about Tarzan and learning about gravity by jumping from one limb to the other and frequently tumbling to the ground.

Though I do not recall the offense, I do recall that there was a day when my sister decided she had to leave the house for good and so she ran away; all the way to the very edge of the road near the trees in the front yard… and there she lay in the tall grass for what seemed like forever. 

I was concerned and delighted as only an older brother could be.  I was fascinated by what might happen to my sister as she exercised her self-will and decided to do what she pleased.  Though, as my sister was sensible enough to follow the rule of not going into the street as she left home, I was becoming more interested in my mother’s reaction to my sister’s act of defiance.

As forever was slowly ticking away, I decided that the experiment was going stale and went to tell my mother that my sister had left home… that my sister had run away!

My announcement that a beloved member of our family was gone forever was not greeted with what I felt was the appropriate amount of consternation, or even dismay.  My mother calmly stopped whatever mothers did in those days, walked to the front porch, glanced outside through the screen, and then went back inside to continue her business.        

I went back outside and kept my sister company in her leaving home adventure.  I did not sit very close, as my sister was obviously taking pains to remain hidden in the grass, but I sat close enough that I could see her.

This watching got old very quickly and, as my attention span was appropriate to my size, it was drawn elsewhere, as only a small boy’s attention can be, and I left my sister in her misery in the grass underneath the tree by the road.

I don’t recall what prompted my sister to come back to the house and to stop running away, but she came back with more hurt feelings than she left with.  She was very upset that no one came to find her.  My mother hugged and comforted my sister appropriately and told my sister that she had been watching her and waiting for her to come home.  This announcement, that she had been watching her, was quietly greeted with skepticism since she had been so very far away.     

Several years ago, I decided to visit as many of the homes that I grew up in as I could find.  When I returned to the home in this story, I was staggered by how small the house was and by the tiny front yard and the scraggly trees still lining the road.  Why, I could practically cross the entire yard in several long steps!  I felt like I had stepped into a time warp.  My very small boy memory and reality clashed there underneath the trees where I learned of gravity. 

It became clear to me that my mother was not concerned those long years ago because she could see my sister the entire time my sister was running away.  Further, my mother knew she could rapidly get to my sister if my sister had taken the next step in self-will and left the yard.

The Death of the Hired Man is a poem written by Robert Frost.  A line in the poem says, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.  I believe this to be true.

In contrast to the sentiment that Frost expressed, novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote a book titled You Can’t Go Home Again.  I think you can go home again.  You may be different when you arrive, but you can still get there.

Best of all, thousands and thousands of years ago, a man called Jesus, told a tale of a young man that left home in self-will.  This young man in Jesus’ story demanded his inheritance that was his by right, and left his home for reasons that are not stated, but that would make perfect sense to any of us that have ever left home.  The young man lived his life according to his conscience and his desires, limited only by his shrinking budget.  Until at last the young man ran out of money (and the kind of friends that money brings) and found himself in a pigpen wrestling with pigs over scraps of food.  This young man decided to return to his home and to the Loving Father and family he left behind.

The Loving Father sees the young man coming back home and runs to greet him and makes him welcome and restores the young man to the family.  The older brother who had been working faithfully in the fields for his Loving Father while his younger brother has been away partying like a wild man becomes upset by his Loving Father’s extravagance and you just know there is going to be trouble from the Good Son as time goes on.

Jesus closes the story before we learn of what kind of trouble or how much, but we all know ourselves, and we all know our fellow man, and we know that hurt feelings and difficult conversations are coming to that house.

When those that were organizing the ancient Book of Life that is called the Bible titled this particular story The Prodigal Son, they may have missed the focus.  To my mind, the story would be more aptly titled, The Loving Father.

I was recently asked what home is.  And more importantly how does one get back home after leaving, particularly if the person left in an unhealthy way.

It seems to me that all of us are caught up in leaving and returning… almost a pattern, if you will, or a dance of leaving and returning.

And to what do we return?  What home is there to return to?  Do “they” really have to let you in when you return?  The Good Son is always working in the background.  How far to run is too far? Prostitution?  Gluttony?  Never stopping when you are full, but always having those last few bites, that last snack?  Anger?  Using your emotions as a weapon or a tool to accomplish your will?  Alcoholism?  Child Molesting? Murder?  Unforgiveness?  Keeping those who have wronged you on the hook as it were, never letting them go and keeping yourself bound as well?  Shame?  Self-loathing?  How far is too far?

Oh, the degrees and subtleties and nuances of our very own pigpen!

I believe that home is Love… that the Loving Father that Jesus spoke of is home.  I believe that the return to Love is as simple as glancing His way… and as difficult as setting aside our self-will and the harm we do to ourselves and those around us.  I believe that Love is as close to us as the air Love provides.  I believe that to even sigh with longing in Loves direction will draw you to Love, to wholeness, to Life.

I can’t tell you what might happen when you turn your face to Love.  Love both calls to and responds to each of us individually, as Love created us individually.

I am a loving father myself, not even in the same sentence should I be mentioned with The Loving Father, the Creator who is very Love itself, but even I know how to respond to the three people that are my children.

I knew how to respond to them when they could only cry or whimper, when they were helpless.  I knew how to respond to them as they grew older and more articulate.  I know how to respond to them now when they are grown and married and have children of their own.

You are in a very small yard watched over by a very Loving Father.  A Father who loves you so much that He lets you run away.  A Loving Father waits for you.  Come home to Love.   

William Evans

A “Forever” Place

News Flash! Hope is in the air here! If you have started on this journey, be kind to yourself! Good morning, all! I’m thinking this morning (on my porch again…gorgeous weather) about what a Pigpen life is really all about. No matter what your physical living conditions happen to be, great or terrible, the bottom line is this…..a Pigpen is a sad, lonely place, a foreign country. You are at this place in your life, realizing that things are not turning out the way you hoped, because in some form or fashion for one reason or another, you deliberately left, were kicked out of, or simply wandered away from HOME. But, remember what we talked about last time in “With Love, Nana Ann” hope lives here.
It doesn’t make any difference if the home you left was your birth family, adopted family, “grafted into” family, or the family of God. The fact is that you and I, ( yes, I was a pigpen dweller) left. We receive our first taste of love in our home. Our first sense of belonging, of knowing that we ought to be taken care of, is in our home. Our first food and water are in our home. Our first discipline comes in our home. Our first knowing that parents are not perfect and make mistakes that hurt our feelings is in our home. Siblings… incredible and terrible….can be part of a home. No matter what our leaving experience was or how we feel at this time, home is supposed to be a “forever” place. Think about the appeal on TV for someone to give a forever home to a dog, cat, horse, or person. The world knows the truth about a “forever home,” and deep down, so do we!
Wouldn’t you like to make peace with your “forever home”? Healing, restoration, and forgiveness are waiting for us there.
Grace, Nana Ann

Listen to Your Heart

I’m glad you found me today! I changed my location from writing on the porch to a cooler spot. This morning after I exercised, I found a comfy chair at the gym and have been writing to you from here (watching everyone else huff and puff).

Let’s talk about home. Read my article in the “Coming Home” section, and you will better understand what I’m saying. From birth to death, there is a divine connection with our birth family. In one sense, it doesn’t matter how we were treated by our birth family….the link is still there. Denying the connection can leave an “elephant in the room” feeling in our lives and the lives of our current families.

I learned a “forever home” lesson about birth families when our family took in our first foster child about forty years ago. We received a 3 ½ yr old boy. The first thing he said to me when we met was, “are you going to be my Mommy?”. Against the foster program advice, I said yes. He had been beaten many times and starved. We got him directly out of the hospital, bruised and broken front teeth.

He would eat a meal, run in the bathroom, throw up and come back begging for more food. He also wet his pants continuously. I would ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom, no, I don’t, he would say, look right at me and wet his pants. Also, he would climb up in my lap, lean forward, throw his head back and butt my head as hard as possible, leaving me bloody and bruised many times. Took a while of testing to realize we weren’t going to starve him, beat him, or send him back. After one year, the foster program reported his birth mother had rehabilitated, and they were sending him back to her.

Why am I telling you this? This is the lesson I learned through observation, experience, and heartbreak. After one year of good loving care, he still wanted his mother more than anything. Knowing what she was like, at 4 ½ yrs old, he wanted to go home. He needed that birth family connection that I believe is put in us by God. A broken or wounded birth connection, no matter what happened, can cause us heartache over the years.

All of us need to make peace, if at all possible, with our birth families. No matter what happened, how simple, or how terrible our reasons for leaving, if we don’t at least take a look at them, we may never recover from the loss. Next time we visit, we are going to look into the mirror of time. Can we take a look? Bravery and determination are the keys. Listen, in this blog, there is no blame or shame on any of us. Hope lives here. Wishing I could look you in the eye when I’m saying this so that you would know it’s true.

Love, Nana Ann

 

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