Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth

I should really be going to bed, or at least trying since I’m not really sleepy…but after writing an article today I am inspired to write a blog post instead.

The article is about the story of Ruth from the Old Testament of the Bible.Now, I have never read the Bible other than select verses here and there that seemed to be printed on just about everything imaginable. However, I found this story to interesting and inspiring. I’m not going to retell the story, so if you haven’t read it you should (READ IT HERE).

Sometimes we feel like we can’t possibly handle what is being thrown at us. I know that I often feel like I am being pulled in a hundred different directions at once and wonder how I am going to make it through. I admit that I whine and complain and am generally unpleasant when I get stressed out. I assume that the great majority of people have this same affliction toward stresses. In my latest blog post I talked about all the issues I have been facing in my conversion to Islam. These things have caused some internal conflict within myself that I think has been resolved by reading and understanding the meaning of this Bible story.

Ruth was able to handle everything that was put in her path. Not only did she handle it, she didn’t complain about it either. She knew what she had to do for herself and for Naomi and she did it without doubt or question. The path may have been hard, but there were shards of hope thrown in to keep her looking up and on track. God was letting her know that she just had to keep going to reach the end of her journey and not to give up along the way.

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13

This verse is pretty much the definition of what Ruth and Naomi were going through. Just like it says, God provided for them a way out they only had to endure the journey in order to find it.

Another major theme in the story is the devotion and commitment of Ruth toward Naomi. This is a dedication that should be put toward everyone we love. We should be ready to act selflessly in order to protect our loved ones and keep them safe. These are the people who will be there for us when we have problems, the people who we will turn to for help. It only makes sense that we should treat them in such a devoted manner.

This is another thing that I desperately need to work on. I know that I am horrible at showing my gratitude, it’s just not something that I have ever been good at. I am so gracious for everything that my husband does, he is an excellent father, a wonderful husband and a great provider. All of that being said, I get mad over the smallest things and in the end the fight just isn’t worth it. My mother, as mentioned in other posts, is a point of contention for me. We fight over things that she says to me. I have been trying hard to not let them bother me, but sometimes the anger just comes out before I realize it. I want to change that. Life is too short to let such things bother me.

Now, with this new found inspiration, I am going to try my best to deal with all the things that are thrown my directions that would normally get me down. I am going to try and remember that at the end of this test, the way out will be revealed and I will be blessed immensely for my journey. I am also going to strive to treat my loved ones with a higher regard, especially my husband and my mother. Afterall, I owe my life to one and the other blessed me with a beautiful family.

This may not be the most well written post, I just wanted to get this out before I forgot what I wanted to say. I am rushing because Silas is ready for a bottle…so, no revisions! Forgive my sloppy writing and I’m sure my many misspellings & grammatical errors! Peace & Love! Cassie

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The hard thing about changing directions

I have always been someone who takes their own path. I don’t follow along with other people if I don’t agree and I’m also not afraid to voice my personal views on any situation. The way I lead my life has posed problems for me in the past, mostly with my family and their not approving of my decisions or stance on an issue. My decision to become a Muslim is no different, it may actually be one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in terms of my family, particularly my mom.

I remember when I told my mom that I didn’t believe in God. I think I was probably 16 years old and honestly probably told her more to make her mad then for any other reason. The truth was that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, it’s that I didn’t consider myself a Christian and that I didn’t want to be associate with any religion. I didn’t know much, if anything, about any other religion and I also didn’t know much about Christianity. All I did know was that I didn’t agree with what I heard and how the Christians I knew behaved.

Now, why would I tell my mother something like that to make her mad you ask…

How about a little back story? My mother and I lived together, just the two of us for several years after her and my father were divorced. The divorce was something I had wanted for a long time and so had she. My father was a real jerk, and that’s putting it nicely. He was what you might call emotionally abusive to me and my mother and living with him felt like living in hell.

I was a good kid, didn’t stay out past my curfew, didn’t make stupid decisions and get myself into trouble, had great grades in school, etc. I did, however, start dating a boy who was 4 years older than me and my mom hated him. We fought about our relationship constantly. I know that I told her my disbelief in the middle of a fight one day, probably to get her off of my back about my boyfriend, and it worked.

Since then I tried to explain, on many occasions, that it wasn’t really that I didn’t believe in God, but more that I wasn’t sure what I believed. I knew that there was a higher being but I didn’t really know what to call him or what to believe about him. I ended up labeling myself Agnostic. Over the last 11 years she has brought this up more times then I care to remember, and always with negativity.

Last October, when my husband and I made the decision to convert, I really didn’t want to tell her. I knew that telling her would mean that I would forever have to hear how she disagreed with me and how stupid my decision was. After talking it over with Chase he convinced me to tell her. So I did.

I expressed my concerns to her and told her that I didn’t really want to tell her in the first place. She acted like I had no reason to feel that way and she promised that she would not act any different toward me or say anything negative, especially since she knew nothing about it. That didn’t last long, not that I ever really believed it would.

My mom mentioned little things here and there. She asked me ridiculous questions about things that didn’t even make sense. For example, she asked me to make brownies for my aunts birthday party, then decided it would be hilarious to ask “There’s nothing in brownies that you’re not allowed to eat anymore, right?”. She has asked similar questions about almost anything I was going to eat at her house. I can deal with it, it’s annoying, but I can deal.

Then, a couple of days  before Christmas, she informed me that everyone would appreciate it if we didn’t mention anything about “our new found beliefs” while everyone was there for Christmas. She told me that it would just start problems and potentially start fights. I didn’t say anything, even though it kind of upset me that she would even say that to me. She could tell that it upset me so she went on about how “oh no, now I’ve pissed her off.” I wasn’t mad, I was upset that she would say such a thing to me. I would never ask anyone not to mention things like that, ever. I don’t get offended when people talk to me about their religious beliefs and I expect the same courtesy in return. Although, I never mention it unless I’m asked a question which is very rare outside of the bantering.

I asked her what happened to not being negative about my decision? Hadn’t she told me that she would respect it and respect me? That’s when she told me that she had been doing research about it online and she just can’t agree with any of it. I guess that whatever she read made her decide that our relationship was less important then her narrow minded, likely misinformed, views. That’s when I asked her to please not talk like that in front of my children and we left.

I called Chase on the way home and just lost it. Crying is just not something that I do, especially not without good reason. My mom had officially upset me enough to make me doubt that I had made the right decision. My family has always been my safe place. We get together all the time and talk about anything and everything. It felt like they had started to not include me in things that they used to include me in, like shopping trips. I told Chase what was going on and how they way they were acting was making me feel. I also told him that I just wanted things to go back to “normal”.

I guess I am just a really lucky person. My husband stopped by my mom’s on his way home and talked to her about the whole thing. He was able to convey to her how she was making me feel and she actually listened to him.  I have never been able to make her listen to me about such things but he did.

Overall, things have been much better with my family since then. She still says little things every now and then, but they usually are much less condescending. Her main issue right now is that she is convinced that I am letting my hair grow out and not bleaching it anymore because I “have to”, not because I want to. I can live with that, it’s much less ridiculous then so many other things that she has said.She’ll be happy to know that my hair is driving me crazy and is about to get chopped back off and bleached again! 🙂

There have been other challenges, but this has probably been the hardest for me. When you are so accustomed to talking to your family about anything and being accepted for who you are it’s hard for all of that to change so abruptly.

 

Growing up so fast

I’ve read a few blog posts lately that talk about the tragedy of losing a child and also about the fear that comes with the next pregnancy. I wanted to tell a brief story about my own experiences with this as well as the emotional turmoil of having a baby daddy who could care less. The point of this isn’t a pity party but to show what good can come from so much strife.

I look at my oldest and I realize that he’s not a baby anymore. He’s still my baby, but he is getting older. He can communicate his needs and man is he independent. The last 3.5 years have flown by and looking back I can see that having him is where my life truly began.

The situation around his conception and birth was far from ideal. I was living with my ex husband hoping to work things out when I found out I was pregnant. He, of course, wanted nothing to do with me or the baby and I found myself totally and completely depressed. He and I had been pregnant once before right after we had got married and it ended in a miscarriage early in the pregnancy. This misfortune marked the beginning of a failing relationship. It left an emotional scar that will never be completely healed that resurfaces in the form of fear and unease during each subsequent pregnancy.

I openly admit that I have struggled with depression and anxiety disorders my entire life but during my pregnancy with Merrick they reached their pentacle. I felt totally lost. Here I was, living with a man who I deeply loved and was once loved by in return and who could now care less about me or our unborn child. Not to mention that I was in constant fear of another miscarriage. It was devastating. Since we were no longer married, people asked me if I even knew who the father was which only made me feel worse. Of course I knew and so did he. Parts of his family still deny he is their kin because of the situation.

I was pretty sure that my life was falling apart around me at this point and I distinctly remember feeling like I couldn’t go on.

Then it happened. He was born.

I remember the day he was born. I remember the long labor before his arrival. I remember my arms being to weak to hold him when they finally handed him to me. I remember him laying on my chest and looking at me with those beautiful innocent little eyes. I remember it all like it was yesterday.

Having him turned my world around. Holding him in my arms made my problems disappear. It was a cure for all the depression and worries that had built up inside of me. It was an intense feeling of relief and hope that washed over me.

Now I look at this little boy and it amazes me that he has grown so much. I can’t believe Merrick is almost 4. Not a day goes by that I am not overwhelmed by my love for him and Silas. I am continually amazed at his abilities and skills. He’s growing up so fast and I want nothing more than to raise him so that he will be a good person full of compassion and love.

After all of this is said…I can’t see how anyone could deny the existence of God if they have ever comforted a sick child or looked into their child’s eyes for the first time and felt true, unconditional love. How can you deny it when this precious gift has been handed to you? I, of course, doubted the existence of any great and supreme being after my miscarriage, I couldn’t understand why God would want anyone who wanted a child so badly to endure so much pain. After holding my sons there is no way I could ever deny it again and I am thankful everyday for the opportunity to be a part of something so beautiful. Experiencing the pain that came with the miscarriage made the birth of my son that much more amazing to me. It forced me to see the miracle that lay before me in a different light. I only wish I could have realized this sooner and I hope that people going through a bad situation can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that things will get better.

Merrick Mama loves you and your brother more than you could ever possibly know. I look forward to seeing the people you both become.

God, I love ya.

God, I love ya

"God, I love ya." ~Merrick

Starting with the good:
My three year old son, Merrick, has been very interested in watching my husband and I pray. A couple of days ago while I was in the bedroom praying he went into his room and got out one of his small blankets and spread it out on the floor and informed me that he was going to pray as well. He wanted his own flash cards and he took one of his dada’s hats to wear as well. It may be the sweetest thing I have ever seen, and I am proud of him. Today, when he decided it was a good time to pray he even “put his head on the floor” and started saying “God, I love ya.” It’s ridiculously cute and I can’t help but smile and laugh when he does it. When he’s done he puts his hat and his cards in his hat drawer and puts his blanket away also. These may be the only items that he has ever taken the initiative of putting away himself!

And on to the not so good:
After all of this cuteness I decided to show my mom the picture I took of him “putting his head on the floor”. She kinda killed my buzz. She acted totally appalled at the picture and that I was encouraging her grandson to do that. When I told her that we were converting she acted like she was going to be supportive. Since then she has informed me that she will not leave the house with me if I wear “one of those things” over my head (it’s a scarf mom!), seems totally freaked out by me wearing long sleeve shirts and told my husband that she didn’t want to hear him speak any Arabic when he mentioned it.

Now, I don’t wear a scarf on my head all of the time, I’m still trying to get used to it. However, it seems ridiculous that I have to take it off before I go to my moms in order to avoid her comments. Her and my grandmother are convinced that by “wearing that thing on my head” I am destined to become a victim of a hate crime. Honestly, I don’t wear it around the town that I live in because it is a small, redneck kind of town and I just don’t want to deal with the ignorance of the people here…however I do wear it when we go to the metroplex. (And guess what, I’m not the only person I see with a scarf on their head)

It’s all a little frustrating to me. I have always felt like I can talk to her about nearly anything. I was scared to death to tell her that we were converting and she told me that she didn’t understand why I would be scared to tell her and seemed like she was going to be very supportive. I guess that the supportive thing is getting old and it’s time to ignore my feelings about it.

I’m not mad at her, I’m sure this is all hard for her to understand. After all, I have always cursed like a sailor (still working on this one), worn low cut blouses and of course never associated myself with any form of religion. To say that I have changed a few things about myself may be an understatement. I am hoping that she will recognize that the changes are for the better and learn to be more supportive, even if she doesn’t agree 100% with my choice. I also hope that she will recognize that Merrick is my son and I will raise him the way that I believe to be right and respect that as well. I guess that only time will tell.

Finding my faith

When I was a child I assumed that I was a Christian, simply because that’s what I was told I was and that’s what everyone I knew was. I went to church with friends, more for socializing than for learning or worship, but never really felt like I fit in. Once I became a teenager I realized that I didn’t have to be a Christian and that I was capable of deciding for myself what I believed to be true in terms of a higher being.

I have always known that I believe in “something” and I have always felt that this “something” was watching over everyone. I also knew that I didn’t agree with some of the things in Christianity and that I have yet to meet a person who claims to be a Christian and practices what they preach. They all talk about being good people and how it’s important to let God judge people, yet no one I meet leads that life. (I would like to point out that I am not in any way coming down of Christians or arguing their beliefs and I am in no way saying that every Christian acts this way, as I’m sure there are a great many who lead very moral Christian lives.)

Admittedly, I have prayed to God on many occasions for help, even though I had no idea what I really believed. I even prayed for guidance as a woman at Wal-Mart instructed me to do after I would not accept Jesus right there on the baby food isle. She assured me that if I prayed he would lead me to him; I just had to be willing to see it when he did.

A few weeks later, my husband decided to research Islam. This research was not meant to be a life changing event, just merely a want for knowledge on the subject. He and I share the belief that you can’t judge things such as this without at least some true, unbiased knowledge on the subject. We both were tired of hearing people bash Muslims and call all Muslims terrorist; so his research began.

In the beginning I was less than interested in learning about Islam, I didn’t mind being ignorant, it just meant that I kept my mouth shut about something I knew nothing about. However, since it was something my husband was so interested it, I couldn’t help but listen to him when he spoke about it. Our talks at night before bed sparked my interest in the subject and I found myself reading about Islamic beliefs and practices for hours on end. It seemed like the more I read and the more we talked about it the more it made sense to me. It really seemed to fit into the things I had always believed.

One day it just clicked that this was God answering my prayer for guidance. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband, about my revelation as I thought they would think I was crazy. A couple of days later my husband told me that he wanted to convert and he was ready to do it right then, he had absolutely no doubts. It was both a relief and a little scary at the same time. I felt almost like we couldn’t possibly have spent enough time researching before we came to this conclusion. The reality is that sometimes we just know in our hearts that something is right, no matter how long we spend gaining the knowledge to support the feeling.

The following day I decided to tell my husband that I had also been thinking about converting and also about my fears and concerns. He agreed to wait until I was ready before he converted so that we could do it together. That was about 5 weeks ago. Since then I have come to terms with our decision and am totally comfortable with it. We have told our family and our friends and have for the most part have been met with support and understanding.  Going through this has shown me how blessed I am to have such caring and loving friends and family in our lives.

Last night my husband and I prayed for the first time. I’ll admit we did it in English and we used flash cards to guide us through so it was a little rough, but not as hard as we thought it would be. Today, I prayed alone for the first time (once again in English and with the flash cards). It is a lot different than anything I have done before, but it felt right.

I know, without doubt, that I have made the right decision. I also know that I want to be a better person, not only for myself and my family but for God as well. There are many changes that I will have to make in order to be the person I need to be. I have taken the first and hardest step by finding God and I feel like with the support of my husband, family and friends, the rest will come much more easily.