I’m Grace. I grew up in a rural area in the southeast, where life was pretty quiet and you could listen to the song of the whippoorwill in the summer evenings. We went barefoot in the summertime, ate watermelon slices outside so we could spit out the seeds, and fought over the three channels on television.
When I was around seven years old, I accepted Jesus as my Savior in our little white-painted church during a revival. My baptism was a few months later in a nearby river because we didn’t have a baptistry. My family had just started going to church about a year or so before that. I praise God for how he led us there and then led our family down the path He meant for us to take.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I felt strongly called to go overseas to teach. I’d been teaching close to home since college and had never traveled far away on my own. It was there that I later met my husband; a yankee, of all people! By then, all of my misconceptions from childhood about north, south, big cities or small had been replaced by the reality of the family of God. My husband was from a godly, Christian home and that was all that mattered.
We had both of our children overseas. Each child was a precious gift from God. We joyfully (except for those “wee hours” in the beginning) took on the task of parenthood. Our oldest, a boy, was not even two when our little girl, Flory, was born. We were a “complete” set of four.
When Flory was nearly a year old, we moved back to the states to be near family. Time had shown her to be a bit on the “clingy” side (cried EVERY time she went in the church nursery, but stopped within seconds of me being gone). However, she became MUCH more clingy at this time. I couldn’t go ANYWHERE without Flory practically attached to me; she was like another appendage. Her father had gone back overseas to complete his contract over the summer and she didn’t know all of these new people (family) with whom we stayed.
When my son began preschool at the age of five, Flory and I went along so I could help out in the office a few days a week. She was three, so she was also old enough to be in the same class. She often had to be pried off of me so that I could go down the hall to the office to work. She didn’t like to talk in front of people she didn’t know, so the kids were always surprised to realize she COULD talk. As a matter of fact, Flory had quite a large vocabulary for her age. She simply chose to suck her thumb and be silent instead.
By the time Flory was eight years old, we had become used to her nature. She had “come out of her shell” in first grade, thanks to a wonderful teacher and a good friend. However, Flory was still a light sleeper who was afraid of the dark. As a matter of fact, when we moved into our current home, our eight year old was afraid of many things, especially of being by herself in any room. We allowed this behavior during her first year in their new school, but declared her to be “too old for this” when she began third grade.
That was the year we slowly realized that Flory had a real problem. My mom and I first noticed it when we joked about some behaviors that resembled OCD. After a short time, however, it was no longer a joke. It took from February until the late summer, after many doctor visits and tests, to find that Flory suffered from Anxiety Disorder/OCD and underlying ADHD. It was not a childhood phase of monsters under the bed, nor a simple attempt for attention.
Thus began our journey with Flory to fight “the scareds” as she sought comfort in her “safety spots” around the house. Flory had accepted the Lord around age eight and surprised us by wanting to be baptized; a child who was still scared to dunk her head under water. Two years later, Flory heard a song in church that resonated with her. It was called, “In the Secret Place.” Flory loves music and this song spoke to her in a way that none other had. Although she knows that her fears are not realistic, she struggles with them often. Therapy is helping, but we are seeking together to help her find her own “Secret Place” in the peace and confidence of God’s care.