A year ago today I was sitting at the kitchen table where I was boarding with a pair of sisters. I had just been told for the second times in as many months that I needed to find another place to live.
Being a Saturday, I had few options. I was half crazy with worry and doubt. I had come to South Carolina in the greatest leap of faith I had taken in years. My roof had fallen in (literally) and seeing I had no ties to Massachusetts, I decided to move here. A lady had befriended me online and offered help. And so I packed up what I could salvage and just moved.
Although it was actually raining inside my apartment and the ceiling had fallen in leaving a huge six-foot by four-foot hole, it wasn't long after my arrival in South Carolina that I knew I had made a dreadful mistake. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I won't go into any details, but the situation was unacceptable to me. When I voiced my opinion I was told, "Then 'git gone'." I was devastated. I didn't know another soul in this state. I had only been here 57 days. Welcome!
Very leery, I placed an ad on craigslist. I do NOT recommend this at all!!!!!! Without any access to any kind of government services, I accepted the solitary invitation to move. Again... a very bad decision on my part. But it wasn't as if I had options overflowing to me.
I felt happy that the two sisters were church-going people. Each with a handicapped child and women of God, I felt confident when they came to pick me up. I thought perhaps I could finally get to go to church after being unchurched for so many years. I was desperately seeking God, but didn't know He was sitting on my shoulder the whole time.
Upon my arrival I was pointed to the couch where I would be boarding. The room I had rented was 'not available.' Again, with no options, I thought, "Oh well, it's better than being on the streets." But as time would pass I could see the fallacy in that thought process.
During my stay there I noticed they were always buzzing about Facebook. I had never had any interest in social networking. What's the point, I thought? So I decided to check it out. I had seven friends haha. And then they added me so I had nine.
Being bored and loving to play around with pictures, I thought I would create a picture with a quote on it. And that was the beginning. It grounded me somehow and made some sense of my life of chaos. It would be the only thing I could be faithful to for months to come.
With no resolution in sight and still with no connections made I had to resort to craigslist again. This time a lady came to get me who had another boarder with a small child. My thinking was that there was more than one boarder so it was probably legitimate. I soon learned that I had to stop thinking.
I had arrived in April and here it was August and the other boarder and her five-year-old son and I were now residing in one of those motels by the week. We were out of money and the rent was up in just a few days.
I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone. And I was crying in a way that I hadn't cried in years. I was broken and ashamed of myself for believing in people that didn't deserve it. I don't remember much of that conversation, but I remember him telling me to hang on, that I still had nearly two days left, to not panic.
In my misery and suffering I cried out, "Oh sure! And where is God NOW?" He assured me that things would be OK. I wasn't convinced and I was mad as a hatter for him being so cold (my perception). It's easy to say things will work out when you're all comfy in your own house. I left that conversation bitter and angry and with an attitude of 'I'll show you!'
I had been outside for privacy. I went in, got on the computer, and placed one more ad on craigslist. This was a Sunday night around midnight. At 11 a.m. on Tuesday the rent was up. I had no money and just a glimmer of hope.
I kept checking my emails and making calls to wherever I could to find shelter. Nothing. I have severe breathing issues and it was one of the hottest summers South Carolina had had in a while with temperatures in the 90s and 100s. Soon I would be on the street unable to breathe. I was petrified.
In the meantime Kenny and Anna had rented the room next to mine. God-fearing and God-loving people they were... like a breath of fresh air. Kenny assured me that God would not let me down.
Monday was near to a close and suddenly my phone rang. I looked at the clock. It was 10 p.m. and a number I didn't recognize. It was a response to my ad, the only one I might add.
It was a young couple. They lived so far away, over an hour. She asked me a bunch of questions and said she would get back to me. I told her I would have no phone after 11 a.m. the next day. Inside an hour she called me back saying they would come to pick me up but couldn't until Wednesday. During that hour span the woman with the child I was staying in the hotel with received a gift of cash... enough to buy a couple more days. We were ecstatic!
I told the woman on the phone that I had no money until the following month. She said it was no problem and would be there to pick me up the following evening. I wouldn't believe it until I saw it, but there she was the following night.
They lived in the country and I liked that idea. And OMG, the critters! they had seven dogs and nine cats. The Mama kitty had just had a litter. I was in heaven.
But as it seemed my life in South Carolina came in two month increments, I soon realized that I had to be making other plans here too.
This time I contacted the only people I knew... Kenny and Anna. And they got me in touch with a woman who has been my saving grace, my angel, Stephanie. That was the end of October 2010.
This total stranger took me into her home and drove me to Pensacola, FL five days later. (I thought I needed to be there. Another bad idea! haha)
After two months and knowing that once again I had messed up, I called this young woman for help. She said she would call me back in an hour after discussing it with her hubby. Twenty minutes later the phone rang and it was Brian, her husband. He said, "Hi, Stranger. Get your butt home!!!"
And so January 12, 2011 I came back to South Carolina, to a place I vowed I would never return. I'm eating those words day by day. With Stephanie's help I have secured my own place. Donations from friends of hers has furnished this place I now call home. I am grounded and feel at peace most of the time. I have a church family that I am getting to know. And God is number one in my life. I am most certainly blessed.
Throughout this whole ordeal I found comfort each day knowing I would see my friends on Facebook. I would do my little picture thing and it gave me a sense of purpose and belonging. The happiest part of the day was opening up the page to look at the notifications bar. I was always amazed at how many people cared about me.
Today is one year since I posted my first picture. And over the year I have become the self-appointed 'cyber cake maker' for birthdays and anniversaries... and anything else I can find an excuse to whip one up LOL. So today I whipped one up for myself.
As I told you, when I started I had seven friends on my list. I call them my Super Seven. It is fitting that my journey should begin with God's number.
I wasn't too sure I was going to like Facebook.
I had heard so many negative things about it. But part of what it did for me was give me back some.... Hope.
It most assuredly restored my... Faith.
And with a LOT of... Prayer...
I learned how to... Live this thing called Life.
And almost by osmosis I began to... Love again.
I Learned how to... Listen.
So I could Listen to Learn...
Somewhere along the way I discovered that I kind of liked...
And that life isn't all that serious... that I can... Poke fun at myself for making dumb decisions. My friends and I have Poke-fests. I love that.
And I learned that even though people have busy lives with families and jobs and kids and interests, and that maybe they don't communicate often or long, but that a... LOL on a post REALLY means... "Hey you, I was thinking of you." I feel special when I see comments and Likes. It makes me know I am no longer alone in this world.
It's been a great year in spite of the heartache and pain. I have grown by leaps and bounds. I am excited about my new life and about my future.
I wanted to share this special day with you... because...
p.s. On the way in you heard my favorite song of all time, "Amazing Grace," done by guitar. It's a nice rendition and I love it. It's kind of how I felt at the beginning of the year... definitely somber, and slow for sure. Take a moment to hear how I feel NOW... due in LARGE part to YOU, My Facebook Family... Brought to me by a Loving God whose Grace is, well, IT'S AMAZING!
I love each and every one of you. Thanks for making it a great year. I look forward to many years ahead!