She did a lot of watching and learning as a child.
Watching her dad yell at mom, learning how not to act in public as her two sisters scared everyone away. Watching and learning; collecting and receiving negative patterns that she hopes to God will not be passed down to her future children. There’s something inside her that sets her heart on fire. Something inside her saying:
“You are beautiful. You are better than this, you are enough.
I am with you.”
They told her that happiness is a journey. But she wasn’t sure why the journey seemed so hard. She had lots of friends, a good job, a healthy family, and she prays to God every night. Was there something wrong with what she was doing? Was there something she needed to let go of? What is it that she was missing? There was a striking pain inside her mind that would turn on and off from time to time. She couldn’t put her finger on what was causing this discomfort. And although she may not understand, she held on tight to the One who can.
They told her that light comes after darkness. “Well how long does the darkness last?” she wondered. The pillow covers on her bed were stained with mascara from all the tears she cried at night. She lost a lot of friends that year. All of her friends wanted the “old Elisa” back. You know, the one who always partied, flirted with guys, and did things for attention. They thought the old Elisa was so much more fun to be around. But Elisa didn’t want to be that person anymore. She couldn’t understand why her friends no longer wanted to spend time with her. And although she was heartbroken, she had to stay true to who she was called to be.
They told her to keep waiting. She found herself praying more and more as the days went by. Some days she didn’t even know or understand what she was praying for. She didn’t know what she needed. Confidence? Love? Guidance? All of it? She then felt anxious again. And so, she decided to go on long walks to clear her mind. She painted her days away and laughed with the sun. Sometimes, her sister called her and reminded her of who she once was. And then, she eventually learned that it didn’t matter what other people thought anyhow; so she decided to dance with the wind instead.
They told her to keep going. Keep shining. They told her it’s not too late to be who she wanted to be. They told her to keep dreaming and that she shouldn’t give up on her passion. She didn’t know if spending extra hours at work or loving people who have done so many hurtful things to her meant anything to anyone. But there was something inside her that reminded her it is all worthwhile in the end, and that every little thing she does, matters.
And so, she kept on dreaming and dancing with the wildflowers. Sometimes people asked her why she was always smiling. And you would never expect for her to have come from the family she was raised out of. And then there came a moment when no one had to remind her of her potential anymore. Because there was something inside her that was setting her heart on fire and personally speaking to her.
Real faith, cutting to the chase
Where you go, I’ll go
Lift up your head
Light is growing, darkness sheds
Lift up your voice
Sing from your soul
Words travel out of your heart, into another person’s soul
There’s something inside me, something inside you — Something inside us
A burning fire down in my soul
No more sitting on the curbside, waiting for time to pass by
Start by standing if you want to fly
The sun shines, smiles bright
Keeping with the fight
Hold on tight
It was her 7th birthday. Elisa blew out the candles with her twin sister Michele and made a wish that she hoped her heavenly father would answer. The kitchen was filled with lots of cool toys that day. Elisa enjoyed playing with the LiteBrite most, where she could use all the different colors and pegs to create different creatures and shapes that funneled through her imagination. She also enjoyed hanging out with her life-size stuffed doll named Suzie, which she cuddled and played with every day. Elisa created lots of fun for herself despite the chaos that happened around her.
One time, she was having so much fun dancing with the wildflowers that she got lost for a few minutes from her family. She didn’t seem to mind, though.
Although the room was filled with family and lots of toys, there was something inside her that was craving more on her special day. Her heart was longing for something that was missing and she wasn’t exactly sure of what she needed. Her family just finished enjoying a pretty pink cake filled with flowers, and her favorite combo: chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and strawberry ice cream on the side. Elisa’s dad made sure to give her the very first flower design before anyone did anything else to the cake. Dad’s love for Elisa was stronger than the current of the waves at the California beaches. Dad had a hard time expressing this to Elisa, though. His feelings were blinded by many years of drinking that he drowned himself in. Most days, Elisa didn’t seem to understand why he was walking funny and slurring his words. Or why he wasn’t home as much as mom was.
Elisa had beautiful brown curls and bright green eyes that her mom and dad enjoyed getting lost in; especially after a long day of work and getting chores done around the house. It was getting late and Elisa decided to go back to her bedroom, unwind from the day, and began brushing her favorite Barbie doll’s hair. The time seemed to escape Elisa while she was relaxing with Barbie. She heard a knock on her door and kindly said, “Come in!”
“How was your birthday? What did you wish for?” her dad asked.
Elisa longed for her dad to ask such a question. This was a special moment for her to tell him exactly how she felt. Dad was never around or sober enough to genuinely listen to her. She never knew how to express such feelings to him and she finally felt ready to do so today; a divine moment in time.
One time, at school, Elisa’s teacher talked to the class about smoking and how it’s bad for you. The teacher also gave the class different ideas on how to let a family member know they are concerned for smoking, you know, in a nice way. That particular class really stuck with Elisa and she decided to put the class lesson to use on her birthday.
Elisa looked into her dad’s eyes and without spending a second to ponder the question, she said,
“For you to stop smoking.”
“I know honey, I’ll try.” He gave her a hug and a kiss, said goodnight, and left the room quickly. Dad didn’t want Elisa to see him crying.
Elisa picked up her Barbie again and changed the Barbie doll into an exquisite ballroom gown.
Elisa liked to play dress-up for herself, too. Her mom picked up a bunch of dresses 5 times Elisa’s size at the local Goodwill for her and her sisters to put on fashion shows for grandma to watch. Elisa liked to think she was a princess sometimes. She dreamed about family, happiness, and beautiful things.
She began to cry when her dad left her room because she realized that her dad wasn’t going to quit smoking anytime soon. But Elisa was mature for her age. At lunch time, she noticed that a lot of friends received handwritten “I love you” letters from mom in their lunch boxes. Everyone wanted to trade cookies for chips, or PB & J for turkey sandwiches; and Elisa never really had anything to trade with. Often times, she had to borrow snacks or lunch money from the office because mom forgot to pack the lunch; or maybe there was nothing at home to pack anyway. Sometimes Elisa just wanted to be by herself at lunchtime; she didn’t know where she belonged after witnessing her friend’s latest tradeoff (Dunk-a-roos for Cooler Ranch Doritos). Finally, she began figuring out ways to make lunch on her own. She reminded mom of the things she liked and needed at the grocery store. Elisa did laundry for mom and helped clean around the house as much as she could. Especially when dad had to leave for a while to go to a place called rehab. Elisa wasn’t sure what going to rehab meant and she was wondering what exactly happened to her brother around that time, too.
“Mom! Yesterday at school, one of my friends asked me how many brothers and sisters I have. Should I have counted Bruce?” Michele asked.
“Yes, just tell them he’s at college if they ask.”
“He’s not though, right? He’s in jail!”
“Yes, but we don’t want them to know.”
Elisa spent a lot of time with grandma when dad was away. She was happy to be with grandma because grandma played nice music, took her on long car rides, had a pretty dog, and gave Elisa lots of hugs. Elisa felt safe there and liked to watch Family Feud with grandma.
When dad got home from rehab, things didn’t change very much. The cops had to come by the house every so often since he was yelling at mom. Elisa just went up to her room with her sister and colored when dad yelled at mom; and she played music inside her mind to let the time go by. Twinkle, twinkle little star was her favorite.
There was one day when mom and dad brought Elisa and her sisters to a place a couple blocks down the road, called the Boys & Girls Club. When the sisters walked in, everyone was making gingerbread houses because it was around Christmas time. There was a Christmas tree in the corner of the Club and some kids were making paper chains. Elisa was greeted by one of her best friends from school who she couldn’t believe was there! When one of the staff members showed them around the Club, she told mom that Elisa and her sisters could come every day, if they wanted. Even on the weekends.
And so, ever since that day, Elisa went straight to the Club after school. One day, when she was doing homework, a staff member told Elisa how good she was at math. Elisa began telling that staff member many things about her life: about the boys she had crushes on, about the girls at school who drove her nuts, and how her dad’s drinking made her upset. And then, the staff member took her out to an art museum when Elisa got older. Her name was Beth and she had long brown hair and pretty brown eyes. But more importantly, her spirit was filled with love and kindness. Sometimes, Elisa would cry when she had to leave the Club because she didn’t want to leave the beautiful place that she was a part of. A place that she could finally call home and feel loved and valued.
Beth helped Elisa apply for college and get a scholarship through the Club. In college, Elisa was able to explore her passions, discover new friendships and also create boundaries from her family. She was finally able to laugh and smile when she imagined her days to come.
Time continued to pass by for Miss Elisa, and she began feeling more and more beauty within herself. She spun faster and faster with the wind as she got older. Although not everything lost in her soul had been found, inside her heart was a captivating love that grew more and more profound. That was the day she met her true love.
Years ago, she wouldn’t have thought she was worthy of such a gift that only her heavenly Father could provide. He was all she ever dreamed of, and more, in a man. And the thing was, right when she decided to let go of all her troubles, he decided to ask her out for coffee. That’s when the birds were singing and the trees were dancing.
Just as the sky is blue, Your love holds true
Just as a ring is gold, Your plan unfolds
Just as the night turns to day, You never fade
Just as a flower grows, Your beauty shows
“Cloud 9 has nothing on us,” he said, as he held on to tight to her. He never wanted to let go and she never wanted to let go either. And for the first time in her life, she felt as though everything made sense. As if this gift from heaven was sent and designed specifically for her. No one could replace this gift or take this gift away from her. This was her special moment in time that seemed so divine.
She was caught dancing with the wildflowers again
The shadows of the trees disappeared as she walked on by
The roses and the doves in symphony with one another
There’s something inside her that’s setting her heart on fire
She closed her eyes and twirled faster
She opened her arms so she could spin with the wind
And the best part of letting go
Is that you spend more time with the One who never lets go
The sun sparkled along the river
Flowing parallel to her long red dress
She walks by the water expecting to receive
The wisdom in the trees close deep
There’s something inside me that’s setting me free
Over and over again