The call to (en)Courage…

what we do with our love

“It’s not my job to encourage…”

I can’t tell you just how many times I have heard this phrase uttered in the work place, churches, circles of friends, doctor’s office waiting rooms, in the everywheres of our everyday lives…  Our hearts should break for the broken.  Wide open.   We don’t have to have walked their journey, we don’t have to understand, we don’t even have to agree.  These are not prerequisites for encouragement or empathy.  Our hearts should break with the broken.  And with that breaking comes the responsibility to reach out a hand, smile, and love.

And so, oh sweetest sister and brother, it very much is our job.  In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why — why we’re all here…  to courageously encourage one another.  Because it is an act of courage.  To not judge and just give love and spread light — in all of this darkness… ❤

Because there’s a battle raging.  Don’t know if you’ve noticed.  But it’s out there.  And the causality is our souls.  I’m not talking brimstone or pearly gates.  I’m talking hope.  And some souls are throwing in the towel.  Giving up too soon.  Finding no home, no resting place, no validation, no welcome, no receiving handshake or warm hug.  Not even being able to muster of the vaguest memory of one that can carry them over with some sort of perseverance until that next time.  It’s getting pretty bleak out there.  And our surmounting apathy for one another is one of the fastest growing and darkest of evils.  “It’s not my problem…”  until.it.is.  I’m tired of losing souls to hopelessness.

It is very much our jobs — all of us being a part of this human race — and we should just generally give a damn about each other — and a job because it does take time and thoughtfulness, effort, persistence and work.  We have to look past ourselves, our noses, our ideology, our theology, our own comfort.  We have to think past ‘selfie’.  We have to think humanity.

And yes, I’m talking an every waking day conscious undertaking — to get up in each other’s faces and remind one another of just exactly who we are.  To help one another focus on the all of us — so that we can see that we are more than just our toil, blood, skin and our bones.  To turn us towards our divine.  To help us remember that we are precious, we are sacred, we are eternal and holy.  What miracles we are!

And in all of that amazing is this rather huge bit of humility — that every single breath we take is a gift.  A blessed gift that can be taken from our lungs at any moment.  So in these moments that are really ours only in the most arbitrary of senses, we can choose to give love, and hope, and to spread the kind of joy that doesn’t depend on circumstance — but on an ever-present and sustainable spirit that says ‘you are enough simply because you are you — and in that you is purpose.’  And we can choose not to waste it, simply by sharing it, and by encouraging that purpose in others.

And that purpose doesn’t have to be deemed as something superstar lofty to be legitimate.  It doesn’t have to be ridiculously grand.  It simply has to be.  You can go ahead and settle into who you were created to be and get good and comfortable with the authenticity of that.  No manufactured or contrived outcome required.  Just you.  Showing up and being you.  Man that’s brave.  Seriously brave.  Owning the all of who your are and your story.  Serving.  Giving.  Shining you.  Beautiful you.  And no one gets to judge that — I’m not saying no one will — but you continue on in your purpose.  Because you can.  Because you get to.  And because no one gets to diminish or determine your value.  We’re all just people.  And all the big and small that is.  You are here.  You exist.  You are breathing.  And you are always enough.  Now.go.be.that.  Wow.  THAT is freaking radiant.  And only YOU can do that.  That’s right.  Sounds cliché, I know.  But really, only you have the power to add your fingerprint, your light…

So in all of this forsaken darkness, go and be that light.  And please don’t stop shining.  Some times that light of ours may be a little dimmer than others — I mean, we’re human in all of our bones, toil, blood and skin and divine as well (and hiding under blankets just sounds better than being all brave and super woman or mannish on some days — I so get it — but just keep it lit, okay?  Keep it burning.  Keep it glowing.)  And try again tomorrow… ❤

Yes, dearest ones, it very much IS our job.  To help one another keep that light burning.  One of our most sacred — this encouraging one another business.  This building up of one another.  In this battle where darkness seeks to relentlessly rage on and make all of us feel so helpless and hopeless — we are called to shine like stars in the universe.  We must courageously encourage.  We must be one another’s hope keepers.

It is the resistance.  

It is also brave.  It is also strong.  It also just may take all you have.  Because there are so many broken hearts and spirits out there.  There are so many people hurting.  And if you can’t see it, you’re simply not looking hard enough…  There is so much that is pushing us all down — fighting to take out our light.  So many light snuffers.  But we can.  We SO very much CAN.  It is who we are courageously called to be.

To make sure that every single being on this planet understands that there’s a seat for all of us at this ginormous table.  Where everyone is welcome.  Humanity is an inclusive gig — this blood, bones, and divinity ensemble.  Pull up a chair.  Take a load off.  I see you. And I am reminded when I look at you,  that I get a glimpse at the face of God.  And what a treasured and holy miracle that is.  You may call him something else — but I see him in you…

Please don’t give up.  Dark looks so powerful sometimes, doesn’t it?  But it only takes a tiny spark.  Just one seemingly insignificant ember to glow in all that black stuff.  Courage, love.  Such miniscule specks, so they appear, those radient stars in they sky.  But you can’t count them all now, can you?  It’s not our size, it’s not our strength in the world’s eyes, it’s not anything darkness likes to throw in our faces and measure.  It’s that little light inside… ❤

And that light is divine.  There is no greater power.  And the love, hope, and all things amazing and albeit magical that come from that?  Well, we know that love always wins.  Always.  Even when it doesn’t look like it.  Because love is never, ever given in vain.  Never lost.  And always worth it.  Because it’s not in the getting of it, it’s in the giving of it.  The putting out there.  Just.keep.shining.

I see you.  I love you.  And why don’t you take a minute to encourage that person next to you?  We could all use a little bit more — the fanning of our own sparks, yes?

And with that kind of love and thoughtfulness for one another?  Man, we can light up this whole world. ❤ ❤ ❤

Yes.we.can.

Namaste, loves… (yeah, I see that gorgeous light in you)

what are you going to do

 

 

 

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Moving from mountains…

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Dropped Max off at football practice this morning.  (beware — gushing Mom ahead…)

Can’t begin to tell you how proud of am of this kid.  He’s set his alarm every morning this summer.  I’m tired from just running him around his busy schedule!  Holding on to these next four years with both hands.  God, I love him.  And these past 14 years have flown, just FLOWN by.  I can’t imagine how absurdly insane these next four will speed past… I also can’t imagine not seeing his precious face every single day.  He shrugs it off, “Mom, it’s not like I can’t Skype you in college…”  same.thing.

And I don’t want to get lost in all this busy, his busy, our busy, just plain life busy.  But it kind of just happens, doesn’t it? Despite our best intentions to be present.  It’s like this inevitable suck of our attention — time’s busy nothings and everythings…  Just staring at him across from me in the car and wondering “how the hell did we get to here?” Till I’m jolted by his deeper than deep voice — “Mom, you’re doing it again…”  Right, there’s no crying on the way to football practice…

And I think of a family that is laying their boy to rest today in our little town.  Holding them so close in prayer.  As I can’t imagine their pain, and when I do — it swallows me whole.  Completely guts me.  NO momma should ever, just ever… and I can’t.  I can’t breathe, so I just pray some more.  And I count these moments cherished, blessed.  Because we always think we have this thing called time, don’t we?  And we lament the moments we have not yet had that will go by too fast like we already have them saved up in some future arbitrary bank…  so maybe the key is to enjoy the seconds.  And not assume we have the luxury of stored time at all — a future of “then” moments…  Prayers for this family for whom death cut time all too short.  Our hearts break for you.  ❤

And in all these thoughts and tears I grab my coffee and my Bible and find some solace in the quiet resting place of the morning.  Just the din of the neighborhood kids playing outside.  It’s been a summer.  And as someone who tries desperately to see the good or some sort of lesson or opportunity for growth in everything, we’ll just say for this family and so many of our beloved friends — we’ve all done lots of stretching…

So opening my Bible and sighing I just prayed upon everything, so selfishly, that God could PLEASE speak to my heart.  I didn’t want to be that “Encourage me!  Encourage me!!!!” needy daughter to my Lord — again — but there I was —  Dear Jesus, I need salve for this soul — and like NOW would be ever so nice.  And I was prepared to sit there and read all morning if that’s what it took…

And there it was, in a rather unlikely place — as I’m going through the Old Testament again — Deuteronomy … the second law…

“The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”  Deuteronomy 1:6

Yep, that’s it guys.  I broke.  Cried.  It all came out.

And of course, there is context with the Israelites walking through the desert and so on and so forth.  But this verse spoke to me about transition.  Or the need for it.  And perhaps, sometimes, our fear of that necessary change.  So we become stagnate.  We become stuck in familiar patterns,  whether they be thought ones or physical ones or both.  We get stuck on mountains.  High ones.  And sometimes it’s scary to come down from such high places.

You have stayed long enough on this mountain.  You’ve done your time. You’ve learned what you’ve needed to learn.  You’ve struggled, you’ve had it out, you’ve wrestled all.the.things.  Now move.  It’s time to take hold of my promises.  It’s time to TRUST that they are true.  It’s time to KNOW and BELIEVE that good things are waiting for you.  Go get them.  Go to the good things!  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21c)

And not only do we ‘need not be afraid’, but we don’t have to have it all figured out.  The older I get, the more I realize this.  God is a God of order, not disorder — but he’s not expecting us to organize it all and make it all right.  People are complicated.  Life is a giant mess.  And so often times, we take that mess on when it doesn’t need to be ours and it’s not meant for us to carry — we more than likely have to deal with it, yes, but we can pray on it, make boundaries, and give it to God and he will fight for us (faith, yes?).  Walk down that mountain and throw a few things out of that backpack you’re carrying — heck, throw the backpack off the mountain altogether. He will fight for you.  And he’s got good things in store for us!

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.”  Deuteronomy 1:29,30

Throw the heaviness off the mountain as you go.  You are no longer tethered to it.  And that is really the gorgeousness of God’s grace, isn’t it? He lifts our burdens while he carries us. 

I can’t solve all of life’s problems.  I’d really, really LIKE too (being the problem solver, type A that I am 😉 ) — but I can’t.  Not mine, not my family’s, and not my friends.  I can’t make people understand me who don’t really want to — because they would rather tell me who I am, what I’m really thinking, and what I’m really feeling — instead of just listening.  And I don’t have to try to figure out people for whom reality isn’t consistent — the truth of events and time ebbs and flows for what works for them and feels right for a given situation.  It’s relative to their perception.  What is sometimes is and then sometimes they can decide that it isn’t.  It’s maddening.  And I can be hurt and frustrated and sit in that, or I can realize none of this has anything to do with me.  I can see the long history of the none of this having to do with me.  The insanity and crazy that has caused.  The constant forgiving and giving on my part.  The longing to be understood, to be validated.  And realizing that my worth has nothing to do with that mess.  With their mess.  And I can choose to not be a part of it.  That is their journey.  That is their walk. And I can forgive and love some more. Because so much has been given to me.  And I can chose to see love for exactly what it is, and to embrace what I am meant for.  And all the holiness, grace, and utter humility that comes from that existence and purpose — so much humility 🙂 .  And it certainly doesn’t entail constantly fighting for the definition or validity of mine. ❤

I can rest.  I can move freely.  I don’t have to be afraid of falling.  “You have stayed long enough at this mountain…”  It’s time for a different view.  With easier air to breathe.  It’s time to move on.  I don’t have to be afraid of shining his light…

Love you guys.

Praying for all of us.

Much peace as we hold onto promise.

Ang

“To let go is to lose your foothold temporarily.  Not to let go is to lose your foothold forever.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

Talitha koum…

 

 

God is good

 

I haven’t written in a long while.  And this is so not what I imaged my first post from hiatus to be. Not that I hadn’t wondered about this day.  What it would feel like, be like…  because I have. 

 

It isn’t anything like I thought it would be.  And yet a little familiar too.  Nothing could really prepare me for this.

 

How could it?  The kind of relationship I had with my father doesn’t beget neatly boxed or mentally prepared moments…

 

My life has always been a whirlwind of crazy and chaos.  That much has stayed consistent.  I’m quite good at waking up and rolling with what ever comes my way. 😉

My mind is fighting myself with each tap tap tap of the keyboard as nothing in me wants to continue this post.  It’s forcing me to be present.  I don’t want to be present right now.  As my sister of my heart is always reminding me ‘that which I fear is often that which I should write about most’…  Love her so much.  She makes me brave.  ❤ How blessed we are to have people in our lives that encourage us to be better and more courageous people??? ❤  ❤ Very…  (love you, Sum) ❤

I wake up early every morning declaring this day a battle against the forces that fight against me — and I push through every single voice in my head that has me defeated already (so many layers…) — before my feet have even hit the floor.  Because I have to keep living — somehow.  This is a blessing.  Yes.  A blessing.  Because it keeps me present.  It keeps me focused.  And I know He’ll get me through another day, like He always does — and I have faith — if I just keep moving and if I just keep walking, I know that little by little I will get there.  Life is a journey.  So I breathe.  So I pick up my mat.  I begin my practice, and I connect my body to my spirit.  And dammit, some days it’s so very heavy and it’s so freaking hard for those of you who do not know this pain.  We all have our “things”, right?  I remind myself of this and pray for all of us.  So many of us.  I know I’m not alone…  (I see you too…  hang in there, loves,  hang the hell on…) ❤  Some days are hard.  Some days are easier.  But every single day is a blessing.  And every single day we get to BE a blessing! ❤

These past few days have been somewhat of a blur of numb.  And I don’t WANT to be present or connected anymore.  This is a slippery slope for me… so.I.write.

After I got the bizarre phone call — because of the nature of the conversation — that went from one story to another as it changed, my sister said she ‘wasn’t going to do an homage of sorts, of course’ (and I was thinking, ‘why on earth would you???’ as my first visceral reaction of procession to all of the contents of the words of what just transpired) but then she put together an Instagram post.  One of which I didn’t even know about until a couple of friends reached out to me and asked if I was okay, and to let me know they were sorry.  So there was that.  Using the word father.  Crediting this person with life and addressing heaven.  It was all just too much for me in this instant of a moment.  Maybe one of her ways or  pieces of healing.  We all choose differently and uniquely.   It’s what makes us human, after all. ❤  And I wasn’t going to write a darn consonant or vowel.  Cause numb.  Yet here I am.  In this head space.  Writing.  Because it’s how I heal…

Huge life events bring out different things in all of us.  We’re human and so unique in that humanity, aren’t we?  In death some of us choose to remember better than it was, some of us choose to remember as it was, and some of us choose to not remember at all.  The mind is interesting like that.  In a way, it ‘takes care’ of us like that.  And equally interesting is the way in which those different ways of remembering can cause pain to those close to us.  It’s not intentional.  It just happens.  It’s all part of the circle of things, isn’t it?  It’s a process unique to all of us.  This is mine.

For me, authenticity is the only path through anything.  My brain is super annoying like that.  It’s super annoying to other people like that.  Really.  It’s a disorder of sorts.  It’s just pedantically how I tick.  I can’t escape it.  I’ve tried — for the sake of my husband and the “awkwardness” this sometimes entails sometimes for his family as well (and social situations 😉 ).  Apparently, there are no meds that really work for it.  😉  Yet — ultimately everyone has their choices in which to deal.  And we all have our lens, we all have our experiences, and we all have our way of dealing with the pain those experiences illicit.  And sometimes our brain tries to save us.  I get this.  I often wish mine would.  Sometimes I wish I never started therapy.  Just kept suppressing.  But then, I would have never started really living.  I would have never been free.

So now we get awkward… (it’s what I do best…)

See, the “creating” part of life isn’t all that difficult to me.  Sure, it’s a miracle — but a miracle that was created by God.  Not by us mere humans.  I’m not so hubristic as to think that we came up with and manufactured this whole process all on our own.  We’re fantastic yes, but not THAT amazing.  Shooting sperm into an egg takes a couple of seconds (give or take).  It’s the process thereafter that means more to me in terms of our significant fingerprint on the relevance of things.  The lifetime process thereafter of raising a child.  How we build up and strengthen our children, not systematically choose to destroy them or use them for our selfish purposes…

In that regard, I had a God that created me — friends, my husband, family, myself, teachers, several therapists (God bless them –really, amazing people, so thankful), amazing people (I do use that word often 🙂 ) and the Holy Spirit — that were involved in my creation.  And part of that creation?  It involved freaking YEARS of surviving and undoing what had been done to me, by my parent’s choice.  And I’m still working on all of this.  Respecting creation, I’ll thank God and everyone who truly had a part in that.  Not the person who didn’t think I was worth breathing and made a point to let me know that pretty much every single day he had the chance.  And if my father had a mental illness, it would have been amazing to know this as a child, young adult, and adult.  I was not made aware of this.  I was only ever aware that it there was something wrong with me.   It was something that I hoped in the exchange for the possibility of my inherent evil, but was not told.  I really thought the voice he was hearing was God’s.

I thank God for breath.  He had me in His plans before the creation of the world.  And how I came to be?  He had a plan for that too.  So I will credit God, who holds the plans he has for me — and always has and always will.  If He wanted me here, I would have come to be. 🙂  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29: 11

I understand peace and transcendence and wanting that for your self … yes, I SO do — but truth doesn’t need to be void from it.  They all coexist.  In fact, for my journey, true sustained peace requires it.  Years of walking THROUGH pain — not over, not under, not around — but THROUGH — has taught me that much.   Again, my journey.  Not everyone’s.  And part of this through? — reading through diaries I had kept since the age of 7 all throughout my college years until my babies were born — then I got too busy and started reaching out to all of you here.  Painful as hell.  Especially the first time.  Yes.  But necessary — especially in my family where things weren’t talked about and are forgotten.  It’s like I have to remind myself that it was bad.  That it wasn’t okay.  That it wasn’t normal — in the scope of your average, typical “family” fare.  That hey, it’s really more than okay that you freaking feel this way, Ang.  Because it  became my “normal”.  And really, until I got out of that “cult” of living and went to college?  I did not truly and fully know or grasp or even understand how messed up it was.  How messed up I was.  And how deeply and utterly self preserved I was — all in my neat little quiet package (because we do not speak or betray the family — my phone conversations were even listened to)  — all of the mechanisms I had used to self cope, to take care of me, to just make it on a daily existence — one foot in front of the other level, to rationalize the abuse — and it all went into self harm (because I needed to inflict more abuse to my body!!!! (ug), and to my brain, because I believed I was so vile) — and I took personal responsibility for absolutely everything (because I had been taught to and told to —  “you were always such an anxious child”). Barf.  All of it.  And I wasn’t really angry about it, on the outside.  That would draw attention.  I didn’t want any attention.  I so perfectly internalized it all. I was a good girl. A good kid. Despite everything being said about me.  So ironic looking back on all of that.

Loves, if you’re angry, rage a little.  Really.  If you’re sad, be sad.  Cry.  Feel it.  It’s okay to feel it.  And you might still feel it from time to time for quite some time.  That’s okay too.  You’re not a bad person for having feelings.  For having a voice.  Have a voice.  I found mine so very late.  I’m just so blessed by the people who helped me find it at all.  Really. For encouraging me to sustain it.   Thanks to all of them.  I still think quite often, is it okay if I talk? now sometimes…  because it’s still scary. But —  We are here to be who God created us to be.  We all have a unique purpose.  No rival.  No one gets to take that from us.  “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.”  Esther 4:14.  “For such a time as this.”  Speak, sister.  He’s got you.  ❤

And it’s funny how this is SUCH a hard habit to break.  I actually had this epiphany just a few days ago during yoga.  I am critically hard on myself.  On my awareness of myself.  I expect nothing less than perfection and am acutely aware of my endless flaws.  So.many.flaws.  I’m REALLY good at being flaw-full (y’all get this from my other blog posts, I’m sure 😉 ). I’m a hot mess of mistakes.  I try SO hard to get away from this (hence the yoga — smile), but it is a prison and a bondage I wrestle with constantly.  I demand the absolute best from myself at all times.  And yet, the absolute best has yet to be given TO me by anyone but Jesus (and I realize he’s the only one who will 🙂 )…  I give so much breadth and width to others.  Why can’t I give it to myself???  When those who were supposed to give me love, provide and care for me have  failed  — and I am totally okay with them simply throwing their hands up in the air and saying “oh for heaven’s sake, I did the best I could.  I don’t remember.  I didn’t.  I forgot.  Everyone makes mistakes”  — and my all time favorite — “Just get over it…” and it’s all forgiven — and I, somehow, end up taking responsibility for it all.  I yet I continue to demand perfection from myself, take absolute responsibility for all things (those that aren’t even mine to take), yet don’t really seem to demand it from others…  Why?  Because I don’t ever want to be like them?  Because some one HAS to?  Because I never feel worthy?  Because I believe everyone gets five billion chances? Because Jesus said to turn the other cheek?  Because I always feel like one should have hope?  Or because I am the only piece of this cray fest I can control?

I truly do not know what the answer is to that question…  but I’m also truly done asking it.  We all have choices.  And mine is to get off of this infernal wheel…  I need to let go of feeling like I have to have it all together and be everything to everyone.  And so I write… ❤ It frees my brain, it frees my voice, it frees my soul…

I am at peace.  I have forgiven.  And the shortness and quickness of those words does nothing to show the incredible length and struggle of that process and journey. But forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to make it prettier.   God makes beauty from ashes.  That’s so amazing, isn’t it?  (this journey isn’t pretty, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold holy beauty. ❤ ) Or that I need to somehow imply that any of  it was okay or just a different way of ‘doing things’ — a mere ‘difference in philosophy’ or ‘lifestyle choices’.  It was pretty ugly.  There was some lovely in it too.  But it wasn’t all pretty.  I’m proud of the work,  I’m proud of the person I’ve become for it, and I’m proud of the voices that have been released because of it…

Forgiveness, for me,  is realizing that the deep pain that person caused really had absolutely NOTHING to do with you.  It had everything to do with them and the kind of person THEY were.  Those were their choices.  That was their walk.  And yes, you gotta pick up all the broken — but you will.  Every single freaking day of your life, you will.  You will make that choice.  For you, and for those you love.  Because that’s the kind of person YOU are.  And your life will be beyond amazing.  Because you are you and God is God.  And that — THAT person He created for good and for an incredible purpose — and that is a holy miracle.  And that is YOUR miracle.  Amen.

There is peace in knowing that someone that evil is no longer taking isn’t here on earth.  That presence is gone.  And that may sound horribly cruel to some of you.  I realize this.  It doesn’t mean that I am “happy”, it means part of my mind is relieved.  One of the weird effects of my PTSD is that I would see him — when he wasn’t there.  Standing on the corner as the kids and I drove to school, in my home, in my bedroom — actually SEE him.  And then I would have panic attacks.  I would sometimes vomit.  I am hopeful that knowing that he is no longer physically here helps with those episodes.  I also hope the nightmares that I would have here and there diminish (they become more frequent with stress).  That I don’t wake up in my own puke, or having sweat through all of my clothes and wet the bed in terror — because I’ve been raped.   Throughout childhood, one of the ways I was punished was having to stand naked for periods of time (as chosen by him) before my father.  If I struggled with taking my clothes off, I’d have “help”.  He’d look at his watch and the minutes would start.  If I tried to cover myself or cried, the minutes would start again.  This happened well into adolescents.  As did timed and watched showers.  Until high school.  This accounts for the rape dreams for me.  My therapist link it to other issues that don’t bear talking about here.  Some things need to be kept private.  And everything is so real in those moments.  Because even though I am 41 years old, I never feel like an adult.  Ever.  And sometimes I am afraid he is going to come and take everything I love away from me.  Because that’s what he did.  Over and over again.  Friends, who I was, my dignity, all the junk that was made up about me, and I was left to fight for myself. Even within my own family.   And yet I would.  And God never let me go.  We are all such miracles…

And because all of that was hardwired into my brain for so long,  I would also STILL have to remind myself this is MY house and MY family and I am a grown up — I am a grown up — and he can NOT hurt me anymore.  I would have to remind myself of these things — when I would get the psychotic birthday cards, the notes stuck in my doorway — just so Marty and I would know that he knew that even though we’d moved he now knew where we lived (each time we moved, from apartment to apartment from house to house) — the calls from various people asking if we had money to help with this that or the other thing, the calls from the ex-wife he was married to for a year because she was divorcing him — could I help? — if not for her, for her boys — the all of the crazy of it all. That was just in the past nine years or so.  That is my reality.  Not to mention after college.  What my husband and  I went through with our wedding.  And helping my mother through the divorce.  After not being so very blessed in the family’s graces for so long up to that point.  Crying three month old in hand (colic is fun 😉 ), Marty and I did that together.  Off to the court house.  Because I wanted to be good daughter.  I always wanted to be good.  So incredibly thankful for my husband.  Through all of our issues (and as much as I can complain about him 😉 ), he has been through and supported me through so much of life (and has seen so much).  I thank God for him.  Going through everything with his mother and all of this has been tough.  Marty is amazing.  There’s that word again.

And Chuck was graciously given opportunities for reconciliation.  I have my own children.  This was important to me.  The “how could a parent do this, allow this, to happen to their child???” hit me beyond hard after having my first.  It still hits me from time to time during big (and small) childhood moments with my own boys.  But what also hits me is the want and need for family.  So I tried.  I tried.  And I feel like I constantly try and give chances in this department.  And I am also so incredibly aware that God gives us family all around us.  That that word is a verb. Not just a noun.  It’s what we do.  Another gorgeous moment(s) in reading my diaries (took a few times) 🙂 — is seeing all of the people God placed in my life along the way.  Thank you, heavenly Father.  You have always taken care of me. ❤

And I do I believe in hell.  I know it’s not a popular theology as of late.  I’m a minority.  And I believe there is some sort of a place for people who choose to crush innocence and mitigate the existence of childhood.  I don’t morn the loss of it, my childhood that is.  I just know I really didn’t get to have one.  And I know it doesn’t really matter what I believe to any of you.  At all.  Not a single bit.  It shouldn’t.  And I am not pretending to be God.  I’m not Him.  I’m not the one who does the judging nor the condemning.  Regardless, I don’t believe in a God who doesn’t have a sense of justice — of right or of wrong.  And that for those of us who can’t scream or have a voice on this earth through epochs of our lives, who are invalidated, smeared, silenced — just maybe those who take our voices away get to do some screaming somewhere else…  And maybe it’s not hell, for those of you for whom that word is too harsh.  Maybe there’s a middle place.  Maybe there’s a place of omniscient understanding.  A place where everything comes together.  Where our pain connects to the place of the hearts of people who weren’t able to feel or understand that pain.  For what ever reason.  A connection room.  I can’t imagine we get to go around hurting people all of our lives and then not learn from that — ever.  That makes this existence the most futile and pointless reason for creation… for all of us.

I can’t honestly cry over the loss of a father.  Because I never had one of those.  That word is reserved for someone precious.  I can’t even cry over the loss of a relationship — because I truly never had one of those either.  It was rather one sided in the trying department.  You can’t really have a relationship with someone you fear.  Someone who tells you who you are, but doesn’t know who you are or even takes an interest in getting to know you — because all of the you is bad.  It was all (and is still, to some extent) absolute insanity.

 

Thanks to the friends that have been with me through this all of this and that stay up till midnight and beyond through my bad times and get me.  Who don’t shame me.  Hold my hand, my tremors, and my heart.  You are so very precious.  I get beaten up and broken from time to time.  We all do, don’t we?  Other times I know I won’t let you in for anything.  In those times, thanks for understanding that I need space.  For understanding that during these times I am not building walls, that I just need space.  And often much of it (smile).  Sometimes it’s too freaking scary in there.  I know you know me well enough to understand that I don’t do fake.  So I just need time.  And all of this?  It’s sometimes just too dark.  And sometimes that dark is even too dark and heavy for me and I don’t want to put that on you.  Or just walk around sad all the time. Because I know it will pass.  It always does.  It never lasts forever.  Nothing lasts forever.  Not even the darkest darkness.  ❤ ❤ ❤

But it’s never too dark or heavy for Jesus.  So I will give it all to him.  Every day.  And what a blessing that is?!?!?!?!?!  And how close we walk.  ❤ And in him there is no darkness.  And he’s been through it all (and then some).  How small are my tribulations! 🙂  I may often feel like a little girl trapped in an adult’s body (smile). Yet HE makes me strong.  He IS the reason I AM.  I KNOW this.  Down to my bones and my beating heart and the soul that is filled with his Holy Spirit.  This.much.I.know.   His.love.remains.  His love always remains.   Again, what holy miracles we are. ❤ ❤ ❤

To hear that the person that gave me the literal sense of  life and then subsequently did his best to destroy it passed away on Father’s Day — and how do I feel, and how am I doing?

I don’t know…

But I do know that the God he claimed to hear and speak to he has finally met.

And I will too. 

So humbling.

I will too.  That very same God.

So, as my tattoo in Aramaic daily reminds me —

“Talitha koum” Little girl, arise! (Mark 5:41).

Because we don’t get to choose the hand we are dealt, but we get to choose how we walk with it and carry it now — don’t we?

And I am certainly thankful for what I went through and daily struggle with in that it has taught me to see people and love them in ways I otherwise may not have.  I know this. It has taught me to be brave.  It has taught me to be humble.  And it has taught me to love and hold onto God in a way I know I would not.  Vulnerable?  Painfully, yes — from a space that is constantly pierced open.  Making lots of mistakes?  Yes.  But I’d like to think, always growing.

Slow is still a pace.

Namaste — the light in me, sees the light in you.

And it’s holy beautiful.

(After having a lengthy conversation with my beautiful sister, I want to reiterate and make it very clear that I did not have any intention of coming off as angry in this post… and I had no intention of hurting or disrespecting my family…  I love them very much. ❤ My father was constantly in my prayers.  And it may appear as if this girl is stuck in the past — but I don’t believe that is so — some memories come back up with big things like death, I believe — but I also believe that some things are ‘forever heals’ — till we meet the one who heals all things.  And that this is not a bad thing.  Not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it makes us strong and present and courageous.  Not only for ourselves — but for others.  It’s kind of like our super power.  It makes us more — not less.  We are not less.  We were never less.  So every day we take the chance to grow and use our healing for others.  To do what we can to lift those who aren’t yet ready to lift themselves.  To let them know that we were once there too.  And that they can.  Maybe not right at this moment.  But one day.  They will.  And that’s not living in the past.  That’s living in a miracle.  And that’s pretty freaking precious.  So yes, when I wrote this — in that space of just finding out all of the everythings of death and what that all brought rushing back for me — some things came up.  But they don’t last forever.  Nothing ever does.  Not even darkness.  It’s not eternal.  But love is.  But.love.is.  Let’s not forget that.  And be kind to each other.  Please.  Love is never wasted.  Ever.  Nor is forgiveness.  Blessings and hope.) ❤ ❤ ❤

You did not waste your love

 

 

 

Hope… the greatest resistance.

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as you ever can.”

John Wesley

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Dallas Clayton

 

The courage to be.  It is the title of this blog.  It is the mantra of my life.  And it is taking quite a few of us all of the courage we can muster to be who we are created to be in these current moments…

I was created for love, for kindness, and for good.  I was created for kingdom work. And while it is more than okay — while we SHOULD be moved — while I am angry, saddened, disgusted, depressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged by all of the evil incessantly increasing all around us — it is not okay for me to become paralyzed by it.  And I’ll admit, some days I have.  There have been many sleepless nights spent in tears, in prayer, bleeding out, pouring out pain to God.  Sometimes,  if I’m honest — screaming at him.  Why? Why, for the love, why?!?!?  But this is what free will looks like.  This is choice.  This is sin.  And I must continue to be who I was created to be for something, for someone, for a love so much bigger than myself. I must get up and walk.   

Because this isn’t about me.  This has never been just about me.  This has, and always will be, about US.

And that is the root of this problem.

There is the camp of ‘I’ – well, this isn’t directly affecting ME.  And there is the camp of ‘us’ — where there is injustice for one, there is injustice for ALL.

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And it seems really easy and super convenient for us to throw labels around to make these atrocities all the more comfortable and palatable for us too, doesn’t it? To make it an “us” versus “those people” issue. Labels like democrat, republican, pro-life, pro-choice, feminist, immigrant, Syrian, Muslim, Christian, Jew, liberal, conservative, (there.are.so.many–feel free to add your own), that proficiently categorize everyone oh so perfectly and throw them into a neat and tidy little box that we can check “yes, I agree with that” or “no, I disagree with that” and we may even chose to vehemently hate them.  I detest labels.  I thoroughly resent them.  Because while they, on the surface, may be created for the intention to do something good — to give us a glimpse into some one’s theology, background, upbringing, presence — as a society, they have made us abhorrently lazy.  They have made us superfluously stereotypical.  They have made us think we don’t even have to listen to each other anymore, because in our ignorance and egocentrism all of a sudden we have become “the experts” transfixed on one word set to describe or characterize a person.  And we have forgotten this simple truth–  That we are all just people. 

And that is both extremely humbling AND powerful, isn’t it?  Same beating hearts and blood coursing though our veins.  We all need oxygen to breathe. We have the same capacity  for good or evil.  The same propensity for choice.  People.  We’re the ones who decide to take it to the next level.  To judge each other.  To hate each other.  We take it there.

And I have been labeled a great many things in my life time.  Most of them have been yelled and screamed and beaten into me.  I’m still picking at some of them that are annoyingly sticky.  People think they get to decide your labels.  Because sometimes labels determine our value too.  There’s big words full of all kinds of meaning and associations in labels, isn’t there?  But that’s the funny thing.  People really don’t get to decide these things about us.  No one gets to define you or me or the person next to us or even half a world away.  We’re not that powerful really, or that all knowing about anyone.  It’s a form of hubris I’ve never understood…

And maybe that’s because I’ve never been a ‘neatly fit into boxes’ sort of girl.  It pisses so many people off.  What to do with THAT one?  And that frustration and anger creates more labels and violence and so many other names that get thrown at you.  So interesting.  Our fear of not being able to define and label.  Why can’t we just accept each other as people?  Sure, it’s messy.  And it takes more time to get to know one another.  And so much more listening.  And we might just have to make actual, real connections instead of just assumptions.  And we might have to get over ourselves a little and what we think we know.  And then, dammit, what would we do with all of our ignorance and bias and bigotry?  We just might have to unlearn it…

I have to bash through my labels every day.  I am NOT who they say I am, and I never was — one at a time — usually practicing yoga — BAM — one by one they go. And I am free.  This girl is a beloved daughter of God and I am who he says I am.  And that girl is love.  And that girl is pro-humanity.  All of us.  That neighbor thing doesn’t have borders.  It doesn’t have creeds or sex nor is it defined by religion.  I’m pretty sure by the state of our nation that Jesus would not be allowed into our country.  I often wonder if he would even be warmly welcomed into our churches these days.  He was the most radical and revolutionary inclusionary of all time.  And I’m walking in his footsteps.  And that is all I’m expected to do each and every single day of my blessed life.  Walk.  To get up and walk.  For him and for the love of every single child of God.  Which, in case there is any confusion, is every single one of us.  And in the words of my beloved sister Cole Sako, “I must have missed the scripture in the gospel where Christ said, ‘Screw ’em.'”  We belong to each other.

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So turn off those people who keep posting all those annoying ‘political’ posts and blogs in your Facebook feeds.  Most of us aren’t posting political, friends.  We’re just posting humanity.  But go to your notifications and do just that.  I keep seeing so many people posting this comment, and I understand — it’s getting to be overwhelming — it is.  But do you know what I think?  HOW INCREDIBLY BLESSED WE ARE!  How blessed we are that we GET TO DO THAT!  They are reminders to me — in my face reminders, and I am constantly praying for those people who don’t get to hit that “turn off” button.  Because this is their LIFE.  Every single day they are dealing with the horrific ramifications we get to “turn off”, ignore, or “turn away” from. How privileged we are that we get to tailor what we want to see and hear in our daily lives!  We get to choose it for ourselves and tell ourselves we’re going to ‘decide to be positive and not let that negative garbage affect us.  Those people are just whiners and complainers.  I’ll take care of that!  Done and done!’ And we kind of feel altruistic about it, don’t we?  Like we just did something really amazing and kind of righteous?

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Just turn him off and look away…

The truth of the matter is that evil IS happening in our world.  And even if we decide we DO NOT want to SEE it or HEAR it, it’s still out there.  We don’t make it GO AWAY by shutting our eyes or editing our Facebook notifications.  But we also don’t make it go away by screaming f*** Trump every other word either.  That doesn’t make it stop and only adds gasoline to his fire.  Rage and anger have their place, but after so long — they only become noise.  Noise lost in all of his noise.  And they, personally, make me stupid and incoherent.  There has to be a balance.

That balance is in love.  That balance is in hope.  This is our path to resistance.  And this resistance is displayed by action.  It is displayed by what we DO.

We have to get out there and DO.  Not just yell and scream.  Yes, we need to draw attention to what is happening because it is so stark raving ridiculous and awful.  We have to keep speaking out and speaking up.  I am NOT advocating silence.  Because the apathy, the apathy that this nation is displaying is just as stark raving ridiculous and awful.  I’m actually not sure which is worse.  So we draw attention to what is. We speak up. And we resist.

And part of that resistance is hope. And that hope is in the giving of love and the doing of good.  Supporting the good.  Drawing attention to the good.  Being light in the blackest of darkness.  Giving all the more.  Loving all the more.  Extending the very best of ourselves to each other in ways we may never have before.

How?  There are so many ways.  For this family it means donating to women’s shelters, love bombing those that are the encouragers and the supporters and the givers that do NOT get the love and support THEY need to do their jobs (love on your teachers, the activists in your churches, your police officers, your community support staff that are doing so much to BE THE GOOD!!!), giving to organizations that support children with disabilities and give them opportunities they would otherwise not be given (check out DWOL), giving to local and international organizations that are helping stop sex trafficking and supporting the victims of these crimes — this vicious slavery trend that is sweeping our country and the world, donating to the local food pantry, donating to this AMAZING organization called Help One Now (so many ways to get involved — from organizing your own garage sale, to a lemon aid stand, to supporting a child — just look into it, and please, please read Chris’s ‘Doing Good Is Simple’ and get involved — life changing, friends — life changing), to waking up each and every day and doing every good we can in every way we can for a hurting world.  It is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  We have to be tenacious about this — in our jobs, for our families, for each other.

And pray.  God, yes, pray.  This verse in the Bible always brings me to tears because it reminds me of the power of prayer and just how much Jesus LOVES us and how he encourages us, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1.  And he tells them the parable about the persistent widow.  A woman who does not give up.  A widow.  A woman.  Catch that, girls…

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We can’t give up.  This kingdom work is here.  Now.  It is why we are here.  “Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20,21  And as we say in this house, BOOM! Now, let’s get to it!

I want to leave you with a little something from Chris’s book, “Doing Good Is Simple”. 

“Imagine what the rest of the world would think of Christians if we fought hard for those who suffer, if ordinary people like us lived a life that is in fact not ordinary at all.  We can love deeper, give more, serve together, and feel a sense of mission.  We belong to God, we belong to one another, and each day we do our best to capture the opportunities right in front of us.  The kingdom of God will be found when we choose to leave the comforts of the Christian subculture and experience joy of life in the middle of the world’s mess and sin and devastation. It may not look clean and tidy.  We may not have nice, pat answers to all the world’s questions, but what we will have is far greater — a story about a God who is willing to lay his life down, and stories about his people who are also willing to lay their lives down.” (Marlow, 201)

This isn’t political.  This isn’t about labels.  This is human. This is life.  This is love and hope and despair and about all of us.  Not us versus them, but we.  The human story.  And some of us have bled the same chapters.  And some of us have not.  But we shouldn’t have to bleed the same history to know right from wrong or good from evil or to have the ability to extend ourselves in love and grace.

And we don’t have to wait for others to get on board or to figure it out.  We can.  Right now.  We are able.  Little by little.  We can’t do it all, but we can always do something.  Find out how you can do YOUR something.  Little by little.  I keep saying this to myself.  Little by little.  Just do something.  Wake up every day and do your best in love and in hope.  And that, that’s the resistance. Louder than screaming.  In fact, it’s the loudest protest.  To.be.love.  To.give.hope.

Little by little.   We can make a difference.

Love you.  So much.  ❤

 

 

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