by Maria Mize
In case you're wondering who I am ---- here is a brief autobiography about me.
|A SHORT STORY ABOUT ME (a work in progress) |
by Maria Mize
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls---
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation. -Habakkuk 3:17,18
The biggest event of my life happened in 1984 when I became born again! It's been a rough road. But the Lord said He would never leave me, or forsake me ---- and He never has. I have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
You don't realize how self-righteous you are until he humbles you. Like Christ, I have learned obedience through the things I've suffered; however, unlike Christ, I am sure I have deserved most everything I've received. I would go through all the heartbreak and sorrow and humiliation a million times over, if that's what it takes to be more like Him. And I would go through it a million times over rather than be without Him.
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
I was born in 1958, and am the second born of five girls. My parents met through mutual friends and were friends before they became young lovers. They ran away and got married and my mother was actually pregnant with my older sister when she graduated from high school.
So, needless to say, it was tough growing up. My parents were always concerned about having enough money and providing for us.
Though I have fond memories of driving in an Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible when there were just three of us girls. We wore scarves imprinted with nursery rhyme characters. We used to make potato chips on our knees by leaning into the middle console while riding in the backseat --- without seatbelts. The sun shining in and the wind blowing.
My parents came from hard backgrounds --- my father’s family being middle class and my mother’s family barely surviving. They taught us how to survive, and we've always been independent.
My dad’s father never demonstrated much love for my dad, instead he was the object of physical abuse and ridicule. You see, my granddad had to drop out of college to marry my grandma and he always had a deep-seated hatred for my dad for that reason ---- undeserved but there nonetheless. While my dad is very intelligent and went on to get a college degree in criminal justice and even taught as a Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati, he had learning disabilities while growing up ---- a short attention span, etc. My granddad liked to torment him. He used to flick him on top of the head and say, yes, you’re stupid ---- do you hear that hollow sound ---- there’s nothing inside. It makes my heart hurt when I think of what he went through. He and his dad came to terms with each other at some point in time because we used to go over to their house almost every weekend to visit. There was always a politeness between the two, but never an open show of affection. Though I remember when my granddad fell ill, we were at the hospital all the time; and my dad went to see him every single night.
My mother, with two younger twin brothers, was raised without the presence of her father --- who had alcohol problems and was abusive to my grandmother. That’s why they divorced. My mother had a rough childhood where she was the most responsible person in her family. I won’t go any further because she would be embarrassed if I went into much detail.
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
Back to me----again, I was born in 1958. My older sister did all the talking for me. So, I didn’t talk for quite a long time. Every time my parents would ask me a question, she would tell them what I wanted or otherwise answer for me. When I was born, my hair was so blond, I looked like I was bald. I was overdue, and there wasn’t any redness in my skin tone ---- I was white with bright blue eyes. Mom says I looked like an alien.
I grew up in a rural village in Ohio. I was born in Middletown, Ohio, along with my parents and siblings. The family was well established in the area for generations, and everyone knew us. So we could never get away with anything growing up ---- someone would always tell on us! Not that we were ever in any real trouble. We were good kids. Dad taught us all about drugs, etc., being involved in law enforcement and security. So, we knew the effects of just about any drug someone might try to offer us. About the hardest drug we ever came across was marijuana. Like I said, we lived in a small town. We really didn't have a lot of "drugies" there...
I had a lot of friends growing up, living in a neighborhood where most of the kids were right around the same age group as we were. It was a young, growing neighborhood. The local elementary school and high school were within walking distance from our neighborhood. I remember running home every day from Kindergarten because somebody let their big dogs out right about the time Kindergarten let out every day; and I would run scared and they would chase me ---- either all the way home, or back to school, whichever was closest. So, after this continued day-after-day, they finally switched me to the afternoon Kindergarten class so I wouldn’t be walking alone. The dogs didn’t seem to bother me as much when I was with the other kids. Of course the dogs never hurt me, they just scared me half-to-death.
A girlfriend of mine who lived down the street had a large tree in her yard, and we were always climbing that tree. We used to dress up in long dresses and pretend we were gypsies. Then we would climb the tree and sit there looking pretty in our dresses, chatting about everything under the sun.
We used to gather and play GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD and HIDE AND GO SEEK with the whole neighborhood. We'd play kickball.
Sometimes the boys would build forts and spy on us girls.
We used to go blackberry picking and get chiggers.
When I was growing up, there was a local swim club that everyone in town belonged to. It was the only swimming pool in town, and we spent just about every day there during the summertime. It was quite a lark. We were always sunburned and nobody wore sunscreen in those days.
Over the years, I grew up and went to high school. I was in the Marching Band, Concert Band, Future Secretaries of America, National Honor Society. I took college preparatory classes, though the guidance counselor told me my SAT/ACT scores were not high enough to attend college. How’s that for encouragement? I was elected Apple Butter Queen in our small village in 1975, which was quite an honor and blessing for me.
I did a lot of babysitting, housecleaning --- anything I could do to make a little spending money. In a family of seven, there isn’t a lot of extra spending money to go around. I worked summers at the Swim Club concession stand until I was old enough to get a job making more money. Then I worked after school at the local nursing home --- in the laundry and housekeeping department and then in the kitchen and dining room. When I worked there, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that type of work.
So, when I got out of high school, I began looking for a secretarial job and finally found a good paying job at an aerospace company called Aeronca in Middletown. My main job was making coffee.
I later worked at Ohio Casualty Insurance Company in Hamilton --- they actually sent me for several months to a branch office they opened in Overland Park, Kansas to train a group of girls to do the same job I did in Ohio. It was great fun. They paid for our apartment, car, gasoline and gave us extra money for living expenses. There were 4 girls to an apartment and we had a blast. Training new people during the day and going to disco’s at night. We had so much fun!!
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
I married in 1978 ---- a guy I met at a disco in Middletown whom I had also gone to school with. I got pregnant right away, but the marriage was a nightmare. Not only did he have an alcohol problem, but he was into drugs as well. After six months of hell and almost being killed from physical abuse, I called my parents to come get me. I was 20 years old.
I stayed with my parents and two youngest sisters until my daughter (born in 1979) was six months old. Then we got a small apartment down the street ---- without air conditioning. Boy did we get hot during the summer. But I had a wading pool for my daughter and we used to go outside, and she would swim around that little wading pool while I stuck my feet in the water and watched her.
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
I raised my daughter alone --- for the most part --- with some help from my parents along the way. I had dates, but not too many boys want to get serious when the girl comes with a "ready-made" family. It was lonely. I was never able to get any child support to speak of. It was tough raising my daughter when all of my friends were single and playing hard, and I was tethered to great responsibility. I made a decision early on that my daughter was more important than going out with my friends; so, I did the best that I could by her. Yet there were still plenty of screwups.
I married again ---- it was brief and didn’t work out. Then I remarried my first husband ---- another brush with hell that didn’t work. In 2001 I married another man --- a Mexican guy --- but with many differences, we finally separated as well and finally divorced in October 2008.
Since 1996, I have worked at the same law firm in St. Petersburg, Florida. I work hard, but am consistently overlooked for promotion. I have taken some courses, but since I don’t have a degree, they won’t promote me. It’s tough. That’s why --- though I am 49 (turned 50 in 2008) --- I’ve started back to school again. I took a Creative Writing class and was preparing myself for Intermediate Algebra. I hate math.
I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
My daughter has grown up and turned out well. She is married to her high school sweetheart. They are both Christians and have two precocious boys ---- 3 and 5 years old ---- now (in 2009) they're 5 and 7 and will turn 6 and 8 this year. I see them as often as I can ---- but for only a few hours at a time. When they leave my house, I'm exhausted.
I’ve always loved to write and have a talent for it. So, when I started back to college, I enrolled in a Creative Writing course that suited me just fine. It was there that I learned there are actually writing sites online where you can submit work and review the work of others. That’s when I found www.writing.com ---- and I really enjoy posting my work, getting feedback, and the interaction between other members on the site.
I HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO!
I'd like to share with you my "born-again" experience. I was raised Catholic, baptized, had my first communion and was confirmed. My chosen confirmation name: Maria. I always felt close to God from the time I was a child. My best friend when I was in gradeschool was a friend named Judy Kahlhammer. Whenever we wanted to spend the night together, we would pray first (say the rosary) and then ask. Whenever we prayed, our parents always said "yes." When we failed to pray, we always got a "no." Once we got a "no," we'd look at each other, smile and go up to her room and pray (say the rosary). Then we'd ask again, and then we'd get a "yes." So, I learned the power of prayer at a young age. When I was in gradeschool, I wanted to be a nun. I asked my mother why the priest told us not to sin and yet everyone kept on sinning. She said it was because we couldn't keep ourselves from sinning. (She was right; we're born with a sin nature.) We cannot become perfect in and of ourselves. If we could, Jesus died in vain. Because of what she said to me, I quit trying to be perfect. Though I faithfully went to confession to cleanse my heart.
After my daughter was born, while dating someone whom I thought loved me, I got pregnant. He refused to marry me --- though I begged and begged. I told him we only needed to get married, have the child, and then we could get divorced. I didn't believe in abortion and didn't want either of my children to go through the humiliation I felt was certain in having a baby outside of marriage. So, after sobbing and praying for days, a friend at work suggested I get an abortion and told me where to go. I made an appointment. The following day I had an abortion. Though remorseful and hating myself for what I'd done, I felt a little less burdened --- almost normal. I've never forgotten that child.
I stopped going to church because I felt like I'd killed my baby though I knew it was wrong. I felt to go to church was hypocritical. I was certainly on my way to hell. How could God forgive me when I couldn't forgive myself? I finally went to a face-to-face confession with our priest. When I had committed the worst sin of my life----the church changed confession from going behind a curtain and confessing through a screen to face-to-face confession. Lucky me. So, there was no hiding. I made up my mind to confess. I made an appointment and rode my bike over to the church. Our priest was young --- probably mid-thirties ---- I can't remember his name, but I began confessing my sin, sobbing and full of shame. I was given tissues and assured of God's forgiveness. I still had a hard time believing I was forgiven; but I was coping.
I married a man in 1984 whose mother was a born-again Christian. She knew I'd been raised Catholic and wasn't sure I was right for her son for that reason. She asked me if I would go to church with him. I told her I was willing to go to any church as long as we both agreed upon it. We bought a house. Our next door neighbors were born-again. My daughter was going to a Christian nursery school where they didn't just talk about God; they really knew Him. Prayers were going up at every angle. We asked our neighbors about their church. When we stepped into their Church, the presence of God was so heavy it was tangible. He was there; and I knew it. We began going to a bible study. Then an Evangelist came preaching against rock 'n roll music. I thought he was really off the wall ---- way out there somewhere. To me, there was absolutely nothing wrong with rock 'n roll music. I had Rolling Stone albums, ELO, Led Zeplen(sp?), Pink Floyd --- a lot of albums; and we watched MTV literally every day. So, while attending services held by this Evangelist, I spoke to God and said: If there is really something wrong with rock 'n roll music, you will have to prove it to me. I began a little test. I would play only Christian stations on the radio for a few days while watching Christian TV and I felt myself being drawn closer to God. Then I changed the channel and listened to rock 'n roll music for a few days ---- I felt myself being drawn back out into the world, away from God. That's when I destroyed all of my albums. They had an altar call and I felt the Holy Spirit move upon me, drawing me forward. Scared, I said: God why do I need to go forward; You know that I love You. (I didn't know what would happen to me if I went forward as I watched them take people into a room.) God said, I want you to go forward. So, I did. I went forward and confessed my love for God my Father, my Savior the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit and was immediately born again---enlightened---different. I felt really clean on the inside for the first time in my life. My husband went forward as well, but I sincerely gave myself to God; he didn't. My life changed; his didn't. Our marriage began to fail; we separated twice and finally divorced.
Once born again I thought I had to be perfect. So I was determined to be perfect and not let God down again. Then one evening I lost my temper. I went to take a bath and crying out to the Lord I began telling Him I was sorry that I couldn't be perfect --- that I was just going to have to go to hell. Then he whispered to me: I will help you. Wow! That was all I needed. I know God is real. I know His Holy Spirit speaks to me; and that the Lord Jesus Christ is my advocate with the Father --- He never ceases to intercede on my behalf. Whenever, I start seeing too much Kim and not enough of Him, I go back to His Word. The Word of God cleanses us --- teaches us --- shows us the Father and draws us close. When I pray, I see results. I'm not only born again, but baptized in water and in the Fire of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I have the gift of prophecy and intercession. And I know --- for a fact --- that He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me unconditionally and there is nothing He wouldn't do to help me stay close to Him. He is my God and I am His servant. My only purpose on this earth is to fulfill His calling (His purpose) on and in my life. I'm marked by God. He knew me before I was born and, therefore, He knew I would choose to be His.
One time I was washing the car in a bikini --- like I'd always done --- I began to feel shame, like I was doing something wrong. I spoke to God and said, Lord, if this is You, give me three scriptures. Immediately three scriptures I didn't even know popped into my head. I went inside to look them up in a concordance and there they were. So, I put on a one piece bathing suit and finished washing the car. (There had been a man across the street cutting His grass and apparently, me in a bikini was creating inner turmoil for him.)
Today, I wear a gold cross around my neck (a gift from my daughter). I don't wear it to prove anything to anyone but myself. His cross around my neck reminds me I am His. I belong to Him; and I've made a choice to live for Him and to be His representative on this earth. I still have problems trying to be perfect --- getting jealous, feeling insecure --- but He helps me continue as I stay focused on Him. When I allow my focus to be broken --- even for a little while --- my sin nature begins trying to reign and I begin to feel miserable, condemned and imperfect. When I am focused on Him, He is able to touch others through me --- the glow of His glory falls upon me and He makes me shine. And I KNOW it's Him shining through me and not me.