Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Another restless night of tossing and turning with eyes wide open. So tired these days and sleep just wont find me. I feel the weight of a million words, worries, and thoughts weighing heavily on my mind and heart. I try to "cast my cares on Him, but at the moment I can't even seem to hoist them up enough to cast. So I will write. This is my effort to "cast" my cares to Him, and anyone who may listen and relate.

I feel like I have to be really careful with this blog post. It's a year in the making. 8 years in the making really. I feel like if I open my mouth too far, too much will come out. But if I don't open it enough, not enough REAL will come out. So we shall see where this leads.

I have expressed to a couple of people, not in near depth, that this past year (2011) feels like a year of stripping. (Great sentence, right? :) ) I feel like I have "lost" close to everything that I held near and dear and prided myself in. In this process of the stripping, God has brought restoration in areas at the same time. Here is some of my journey.

McAlester has never been "home" for me. But I fell in love with a man who invested himself there. And so I stayed and I made a home where my husband was and I poured myself into teenagers. The brightest spot in my time in McAlester was loving on and investing in teenagers lives. They were my world and reason for being there.

When I was growing up, I loved to be around people, doing things 24/7, being spontaneous, and outgoing. Over the course of 8 years in McAlester, I lost that. I lost me. Often times over the last 8 years I had been labeled as "unfriendly" or "rude" and even "evil hearted". Those were always easy labels to call someone when you would rather not delve in and see the hurt behind the silence and awkward conversation because the depression was so deep that I was scared to death of having a conversation. So many times I couldn't bring myself to answer a phone call because the depression had gripped me so tight and changed who I once was.

Back in January, Broc resigned from full time ministry under God's direction to take some time for healing. We just assumed that healing would take place somewhere new, maybe even warm and tropical. :) We were so excited to leave McAlester and start a fresh chapter somewhere, anywhere. But God had other plans. Little did we know that He had plans to let us linger in my place of hurt for a year with no direction in sight. Thats right, a YEAR. Talk about getting inpatient and angry. But, I want to share some of the things that happened over the past year that have brought us to where we are today. Some of the hard, ugly times, and some of the healing, beautiful times. Stripped.

One of the things that has happened in the last year, most of you know, Izaiah was diagnosed with Aspergers and Echolalia. We saw some signs and had some concerns over the 3 years of his little life. But I will never forget the day the "official" diagnosis came. I felt like a zombie the whole day. That was the week that I went into a recluse state and fell back into a depression. I felt so alone and scared. Im going to talk about a couple of things that I dont expect parents whose children do not have a "disability" to understand. You can be understanding without understanding.

The month we found out Izaiahs diagnosis, I began a grieving process. I began grieving the child I dreamed and thought Izaiah would be. Please hear me. I love my son more than any word could ever express, and I would not change a thing about him. But if we are being gut honest, you never wanted to be the parent of the child that doesnt know how to play with other kids at McDonalds properly and gets made fun of. You never wanted or dreamed of being the parent of the child you can't have a real conversation with because their minds live in a place we dont understand. So I began to grieve what seemed to be a death. The death of who I thought he was going to be.

I also grieved the dream of having a family of 4. At this time (I dont know what the future may hold), Broc and I have decided based on the care and attention Izaiah needs, to not have any more children. My heart aches and grieves at the thought of never dressing up or painting a little girls nails. Broc never having a daddy's girl. I grieve that dream. Izaiah demands and deserves so much of our love, attention, and time. I want him to have every opportunity to succeed to the fullest at life. And we have devoted and committed ourselves to him.

I have walked through a dark and lonely time with very few and often no one by my side. Some of my own doing. When you recluse and feel like no one understands the things you are dealing with when it comes to your child and a year of unemployment, you push people away. I have done that. Simply because I dont know what to say to someone right now.  Someone asks how you are doing, and you lie or tell a half truth- because if you told the whole truth, it would be really ugly, long, and dramatic. I lost alot of people I considered friends this last year. People I loved and told my life secrets to. Maybe I wasnt ready to be a true friend? But God knew. And I'm stronger now because of it. They all taught me lessons, so for them, I am grateful.

I have also been stripped of "church". I/we have been so hurt by church over the years, that in all honesty, we took a year off church. We did attend a church several times over the year, and we love that church dearly and adore the people and pastor (we were fed truth every time we attended), but it never was home church for us. All of my life I have thrived in church. My whole life was based around church. So to have this stripped from me was a whole new world. But I feel like in this years time, God has revealed to me so much about what a church was meant to look like and how it is suppose to operate. And that WE are the church and what we do in our day to day lives is the church. The place we go on a Sunday morning is simply a building.

Another thing that I can testify to God's goodness for my little family... In a year of total unemployment, we never missed a bill payment. We never fell behind on paying our bills. Broc says it right when he says, you work harder being unemployed than you do when you are employed. We have busted our butts the last year to make ends meet. This is where the furniture business, The Shabby Shop was birthed from. Need to pay bills. We transferred VHS to DVD and we continued funeral videos for a local funeral home. God brought us business throughout the year and we are so very thankful. Also, without both sets of our parents support and love, we would not have made it. I am so thankful to my parents for giving us a place to call home during this hard time.

Not everything in the last year of the stripping ;) was grieving and loss. There was a literal moment in time one summer Saturday morning at the grocery store that brought more healing to my heart and life than probably any other time. I have carried alot of hurt over the past several years. This situation was the beginning to my depression and hurt so many years ago. Alot of words said and actions played out with no resolve or apologies on both sides. Bitterness and un-forgiveness. And it all melted away with a simple conversation and a heart felt hug. I believe that hug was one of the main reasons Jesus was walking us through one more year in McAlester. If you are reading this, Thank you for your hug that day. :) It meant the world and changed my life.

Whew. Thats alot to get off the heart and chest. This is me. This is what I have been going through. Jesus has stripped me and he is repurposing my life and making me new. Thank you for being sandpaper to my life and heart McAlester :) You stripped me so that I can be repurposed and new in this next chapter. (Just to keep it straight, I'm not blaming McAlester as a place, but its a place and origin of hurt in my life and represents people and situations that brought much pain and change to my life.) You will never be home to me, but you will always be where my testimony began. And for that, I am thankful.

"The scars tell a story. They were meant to be there all along. There is beauty in the scars.(This blog post changed my life.)


  1. :) luv to the Jennings....grace and peace to you in your next season!

  2. Beautiful. God is faithful in the end, though the waiting can be quite painful. Your thoughts are wonderful and really get to the core of your experience spiritually. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Mandy. You are entering a new season now, and I have do doubt it will yield a great harvest!

  3. Dear BEst Friend that GOD brought into my life years ago, that i will be forever greatful !...Wish more than anything to have been there for you, i myself know what its like to hit rock bottom and fight so hard to keep going...The faith that you and your family has is amazing. As you know GOd doesnt give more than we can handle, although sometimes its like wow really...but we keep going anyway because we have and no one will for us. Reading your blog makes me think of this song i have been constantly playing on my ipod by Smokie NOrful called Run Til I finish..basically it is saying that i have made up my mind that i will run this race in life until i finish. Made me think of what you went thru. YOu are an amazing, mother, sister, daughter and friend. you are loved ! Thank you for your testimony
    i love you so much...niki c

  4. This is so beautiful, sweet friend! One day you will look back & see what he was doing even more than you do now! I love you!!!