It is What we Make It

Alan house

 

Absolutely hating the saying, “it is what it is”, has lead me to really digest the phrase. To me, this popular saying is wildly repetitive. I mean, come on now, of course, “it is what it is.” Let’s put a little more thought into it, why is it what it is? Stuff happens I get it, but in this life, especially as Christians, we are called to turn the “yuck” of what life throws our way into His master plan. Introspectively I contemplate that “is it really what it is?” Or is it an eternal opportunity for us to make it into something that may impact our inner ability to grow and prosper into what God has intended for us in the most magnificent way?
My tire blew out.

“It is what it is.”

I was late for work…again.

“Oh well, it is what it is.,”

My life sucks, I lost my keys…AGAIN!

“Who cares ’cause, it is what it is.”

My wife left me because I’m an addict and can’t stop feeding my want for the numbness drugs bring me.”

“It is what it is.”

I’m back at Rogers Memorial Hospital after promising I’d never have to go back to this place.”

“It is what it is.”

No!!! Stop this complacent way of justifying our situations.  It isn’t what it is, it is what we make it!!!  

Can I get an “Amen” people?

Life throws many curve balls. The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him you’ve got this great plan for your life, that you’ve got your life figured out.

Reason being: We can’t predict what is going to come our way, the struggle, the torrent, the joy, love, acceptance, rejection etc… None of it is in our hands.  All of it is far out of our reach, as far away as the stars we watch on a warm July night holding our loved ones close.

So…it is what it is…right?  Let’s take a look at the last week of my life and see.
I recently spent four days at Rogers Memorial Hospital Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  I saw people of each gender and every race struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Let me tell you, I saw it all, from depression, anxiety disorder, heroin, cocaine, opioid, ecstasy withdrawals, alcohol dependence, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. I met the most extraordinary people fighting to combat the darkest and deepest places in which had created their own living hell.

On my journey, I met…
A homeless man whose love and hope resided in Jesus as he spent a long winter in Wisconsin… homeless.  Living under bridges and one meal a day at the local food bank, somehow he managed to find drugs.  He was there with me recovering from heroin use to help dispel the fact that he had been raped. I asked him once, “How did you survive being homeless in Wisconsin in winter?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth. I continued, “How on earth did you survive being raped.  The very worst of the worst.  I get it.?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Through squinted eyes and messy hair, his hand covered his mouth, as in a showmanship of trying so hard to not vomit up the turmoil he had been through. My hand reached out to meet his quivering broken self. “I admire you more than you’ll ever know,” I whisper. His response…
“It is what you make it.”
A lawyer from Houston, Texas who carried with him sorrowful stunning crystal blue eyes,  going through a painful, yet, necessary divorce.  On Sunday I asked, “Being it’s Father’s Day how hard is it to be away from your newborn son?” He responded, “that is part of why I’m here. My Bipolar went completely out of control at the thought of my son growing up with me as a part time dad.” My words seemed to echo through the commons area where we spent our free time, “I can’t even imagine.” Bowing my head in introspection and sorrow for this wonderful man who had reached out for help, I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. “So, my friend what are you going to do?”
“It is what I choose to make it.”
I met an addict deep in the trenches of withdrawal symptoms displaying profuse sweating while feeling cold, body aches, tremors, and his nose bleeding out all the poison.  Come to find out he had been using heroin for ten years straight, I asked him one night, “Why now, why are you here here in this moment, after many attempts at rehab?”

After a long pause, he stuttered, “My addiction has taken over every aspect of my life. I have overdosed five times in the past week, man. I’m so lucky to be alive. My last OD was at work, my boss found me passed out in the bathroom. I’m most likely going to lose my job where I was making crazy money.” Responding with my eyes wide with the wonder of what can happen to a life I also stutter out, “Why now, what about this time after two stints in rehab is going to make you clean?” He ran his worn construction hands through his dark thick hair. “Because I can’t be buried next to my twin brother. He died when we were 16, I just can’t do that to my mom, my dad, to me.” Tears dripping down my placid face I ask him, “How? How do we do this, never turning back, giving up our crutch?
“Our sobriety is what we make it, man. We just have to Ami, you don’t want to be buried next to your babies, do you? Of course, you don’t.

Let’s chose to make it what we have the ability to make it; which is something so much…better.”

I had these amazing and deeply strong and courageous people surrounding me as I went through one of the most difficult trials in my life.  We poured into one another for hours on end. Talking, crying, withdrawing from the poison that we filled our veins with. We played silly games that the counselors made us, after rolling our eyes at the sight of “Loaded Questions”, we all laughed and felt authentic empathy for one another. Our stories were all different, our past, our pain, abandonment, abuse, and total destruction of our hearts. We were united in a common joining of pain yet hope to make it what we had chosen to make it by having the will to seek out help.
I’ll never forget the people I met the four days I was in the hospital. Never ever ever. They were one of the many reasons I had to fight because in fighting we were in the battle together. Cheering one another on toward victory over the enemy’s playground we had chosen to play on.  Death was searching for us, each and every one of us, yet by crying out for help we fought the fire of an inevitable end. We battled the turmoil inside us that we had invited into our inner will to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight.
Eventually, seeking the ability to overcome, I am currently in a four-week partial hospitalization program where I spend six hours a day with intense medical observation, coping skills, weekly drug and alcohol testing for accountability. Which is perfect, as God designed such capable people to care for the “us” who have such battles inside our minds.
It is what it is.
I have a mental illness.
It is what it is.
I struggle with alcohol abuse.
It is what it is.
I have had a really rough go of life, facing struggle after struggle since I was two years old.
Oh heck no, it isn’t what it is…it is what I make it!
And I chose to make it perfectly where He needs me to be, ministering to others.
Make it well with my soul. To follow Christ, giving Him all the pain, addiction, sickness and my past turmoil that has an imperative reason as to why I’m here, right now in this place, facing this struggle.
Ultimately, it is what I make it
I chose to make my life the stunning bright light of beautiful glory that God intended for me before I was even me. And that is the true definition of, “it is what it is.” God’s grace tells us that we are perfectly and wonderfully made, and it sure helps get us there when we make it what He desires for us to make it.

The Beauty we Grow

morning_melody_by_judylee-dmld79.jpg

 

In the glistening sun, I see it, peeking out from the grass.  The ugliness declared in all of its form. A disgusting, thorn filled weed. 

I’ve really got to pick those evil, prickly weeds before they spread, I think as I wipe my brow of sweat from the bright brilliance that has brought us an unremarkable warm season.

  • A few weeks later I stand at the same precipice.  After failing to pull the weeds out of my garden I find myself facing a multiplied amount of sticker bushes.  Yet I feel they are Not capable of extraction, simply left to breed, because I didn’t pull it out when I should have.  

Yet I’m so tired, Lord, so very tired.

 So, Who can clear the debris if I’m not able?

I just can’t.  I mean after being a wife, mom, and work, work work, when do I have time to pull out all of the weeds? 

I look up and see the same strong Son making Himself known to my soft blue eyes saying, “I will make it well, I will pull the weeds.”

But how?  They are too high, multiplied, and are speaking to one another and soon they will overtake me?  How can this burden dissipate?

The Voice continues to Speak:

Because It Will.  It just Will.

Have Faith, my child, trust that I will send you what you need to weed out the ugliness and plant the plentifulness I intend for your life.

Please weed out the ugliness because I just can’t.  I simply can’t.

The weeds fester on.

They grow and multiply.

Time passes on, as I’ve forgotten about the pests yet unrest has grown in my soul, in my spirit, in my journey.  

Weeks later, a day presses on my spirit that requests my strength, growth, and a possibility for something that might transpire even through the weeds.

Turmoil bound, I wander into my garden of peace and tranquility and am met by a thousand peony’s who have made their appearance, and a  couple hundred lily’s;  yet to my disappointment a million thistle bound weeds that have overtaken my garden of Peace and Loveliness.

REALLY???

In fervor, I recall asking for these weeds to be pulled, gone, far from my safe haven of trust, honor, and beauty.  Yet they were still there, multiplying in record speed.

I shake my head in frustration and grab my greatest nemesis to come meet me in a dark room; Insecurity.

 It meets me there and tells me I am not enough.  That rejection comes in waves, especially when I feel safe.  Darkness tells me that the thorns on the green weeds are of my doing.  I wasn’t enough so now it prickles all who touch, to the point of a pain that makes them want to never come back.  To me.

 Insecurity reminds me that rejection has come in waves throughout my life, especially when I start to feel safe.  I am not enough so now I prickle all who touch me, to the point of a pain that makes them want to never come back.  To me.

So, I do what I do best.  I run.

In hiding, I grab my phone, my drink, and my vape thing that makes me feel better in times of duress.  I find myself in my safe haven of a room where there are no thistles, no weeds, and no monsters to remind me that I’m not good enough.  

Reaching for my contact with God’s people, my phone, I reach out to her… a stranger who had sent me her number in a time of need.  Someone I’ve met once, yet who God had predestined me to know a million stars ago.

“Hello.”

She answers.  My voice quivers.

Deeply taking her where I am at in my pit of darkness, I hold my emotion until the part of feeling rejected.  That is where I completely lose it.  For that is my thing.  Rejection, abandonment, loss, loss, and more loss.

She cups my tears and tells me more of her tale.  See, I had met her on a big ‘ole screen months prior telling the three thousand people who attend Journey Church that she has suffered many of the toils that I have.  That day in early spring, where the wind was still deep and the frost continued to bite I took in each and every one of her words.  That she had been healed from all of the demons that haunted her and she had created a home to help others in such situations.  A miracle indeed had taken place in this beautiful woman who I now knew because she was brave enough.  To share her story.

Oddly enough, I found out, she knew me too, as she had read my book of overcoming the tragedy of losing a baby and my tale of God bringing me back despite the bleakest of possibilities because I shared my story.

We were suddenly kindred spirits God knew needed each other in His perfect timing.

“Don’t feed your weeds of insecurity.  Know that Jesus is working hard in you to bring His greatness.  In that, you are being hit with a loss from the past that manifests itself now.”  She bellows into the waves that brought us together as the sun finally decided to set.

Silence on the line because I was sobbing.

“You are good enough.  You are plenty.  Stop feeding the ugly weeds in your life.  STOP giving them life.  The people God has brought into your life will rally around you, not defy you.  They won’t forsake you, for with God who is against us?”

More tears.  An open heart reaching out in a form of surrender I ask God to heal the sad in me that assumes the worst in people who are invested in my life.  

We pray and I calm realizing that I had been feeding the ugly green prickly despicable weeds with my fear, doubt, and speculation of loss.

  I acquiesce to what I know is True even though it’s almost impossible to believe.

An hour later I walk into my garden and the weeds are magically gone.

Because an hour earlier my husband had ripped them all out, not a single one left to fester.  

What we choose to allow to grow will, yet if we give our all and fixate on the strength that will pull it out, zap our insecurity and turmoil from life, the glory will come.  It just will, it has no choice.

Tonight, I thank my God who has sent His army once again to lift me up.

To help me defy impossible odds, and overcome the most unthinkable of circumstances.

What we feed becomes the growth within us, so let that be the Truth, the Word, and Grace be our beauty we grow. 

My Muse Called Joy

 

joy-of-joy

I’ve always believed that in times of joy my words leave like the summer turns to fall so fast I can barely blink.  Possibly due to the fact that I’ve had much less than happy times in my life than joyful ones.  That is why my words feel like the waves of the great Pacific Ocean. Over and over, forming stunning white caps of pain, struggle, and wreckage.  The muse has been many times over…sorrow, confusion, and abandonment.

Yet now, the sun shines.  A dark heart that is usually completely laden is light, lifted into the blue bliss that you see when you awake from a long slumber.  For me, this view is rare forcing me to find gratitude opposed to anger, aggression, and loss.  

Sunbeams blind me and in that, I cover my eyes yet still feel the peace of a thousand blue skies and sunlight mornings.  

So why have I found that I’ve lost my words in times of such rare…peace?

Searching through the dark basement of my cavern of vocabulary I find my Joy sealed in a box covered with cobwebs and fear of repercussions.  Afraid, I open it with more fervor than I’ve ever had.  I fear to see a contentment that I’ve never felt, yet kept at bay for fear of eternal repeats of the past pain I’ve felt.   I rip open the sealed box to the point of ache just to see inside.

As the brilliant yellow light filters into the dusk overtaking it, despite my reluctance, the dark cemented hole in my world implodes into a brilliance of light, color, ultimately manifesting into an array of my very best friends in the world.  In that moment they find me yet again…My Words….everywhere with open arms of need and an earnest to express more than just the sorrow I’ve felt, yet explode the joy I have inside me that now runs through my veins.  A brilliance that needs to implode the world as prophetically as my turmoil has.  My Joy comes to the forefront.  It takes away the darkness, with a glimpse of the sunlight on my face and in that the verbiage flows from me…that of…Acceptance.

Unconditional Acceptance:  Ten years in the arms of my gift in this life, my husband Alan has come to pass.  We’ve lived through the very best and the deepest of worst. Loved deeper and felt further than our minds could have imagined ten years past. Tonight he said to me, “Even though we had no idea, God was doing all of this far before we knew Him.”  Enough said.

Deep Acceptance of myself:  Flaws and all.  In’s and out’s.  Great things about me, and terrible ones, I can somehow now miraculously embrace.  The highs and lows of living with Bipolar Disorder can bring one to a place of confusion and ultimate self-doubt.  One of the gifts I’ve been given recently is to just rest.  Love me through it all. Highs and lows.  Ebbs and flows, God somehow produces greatness for Him and manifests in ways I could never explain.

Unthinkable Acceptance of Forgiveness:  Recently in my journey, I have been able to forgive things done to me that I could have never been set free without the power of deep intervention.  A darkness that has blinded me, incapacitated and imprisoned me for years, I’ve let it go.  I completely have allowed it to fly away from me a few weeks ago as several hands were laid on me in a union of prayer and healing.  Forgiving the trespassers against me has ultimately allowed the inner demons haunting me to be set free and allowing the Son to shine upon me in a way that I could actually see it.

Acceptance of things I can’t Comprehend:  Losing my two babies has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure.  My husband tells me I’m beautiful when I’m crying for them.  I take that in, as I will always mourn Jaden and Zac.  I accept the loss as part of who God intended me to be.   Yet in that, He has given me a gift of how to accept the beauty we are given after the storm.  For me, it’s a beautiful little girl with my eyes and dreams of her own past the stars.  I rocked her to sleep tonight deeply taking in the acceptance of the beauty of things I couldn’t understand as I stood at the gravesites of my lost baby boys.  But now I hold a gift I never dreamed I’d have.  A daughter.

In closing, I’ve been proven wrong.  Words can flow in times of Joy.  The author inside of me is always at work, banking each and every emotion, echoing hardship yet also unforeseeable beauty.  It’s all mine to keep and bring to life forevermore.  

My muse is life itself.  In all its many faces, in times of turmoil, but now…I proclaim a season of JOY!

Stardust

 

 

Recall your darkest moment. One of the bleakest periods in your life that you feel define the brokenness inside you that is really hard to heal.

Those moments may come in flashes like a cool April thunderstorm. Wakes you up in the middle of the night like a boom of reality when you least expect it. Brilliant light against the wall, a commanding crescendo fighting the perfections of everything that tells you “all is well.”   You fall awake to realize that, “all that is well isn’t so well…”
When we keep it all together due to a fight inside of us to prove to the world that we are in fact “okay” despite the sorrow and hurt that has fought so hard to break us, there are going to be those times. The essence of darkness where bolts of light will make us shudder at the fact that we are not okay. People that who shouldn’t have failed us.

Sickness has come overtaken our bodies.

Hands have been put on us that should have never been there.

Words have fallen on our ears that should only exist in the pit of fire and brimstone.

Yet, somehow we have borne it all, we’ve taken it in and become the best part of us that we could have become.  Come what may…and we have risen above!  We’ve gone through the fire and materialized into something deeper than the hurt…past the agony and into what wasn’t able to be done right by us.

Life wasn’t good enough for us, as we bleed a broken heart in front of God.  He didn’t take it away because He needed us to be able and ready to be here in this moment. To answer the call…

A woman cries with a moaning sound that only a woman who has lost can understand. You are able to comfort her because you’ve buried a baby.

A young man in anger lashes out because his father has left not only him but his mother and younger brother. His fist becomes his only redemption leaving blood at every turn. Yet, you see it and know his pain because your dad wasn’t enough either, and after the lashing, he has on your face your cry with his tears he hasn’t been able to release.  After that he see’s the love of God and enters into a union with you that will continue into eternity.

Dark circles fill her crystal blue eyes as she puts on a pretty face, yet you can see through it.  Prisms of light shine in you that she is drawn to even though she has no idea why.  In that, she lets you in one dark night where she has a gun by her bedside that was her last call. But you were there because you have had hands on you too, that should have never been there. What was supposed to be enough wasn’t, but because of that you were able to hold her still and share the healing hands of Jesus that save her that night from the shame, disparage, and the fate she had proclaimed on her life.  

God can move any mountain in front of us. He really can.

But sometimes He doesn’t for a reason, and I can resonate with that throughout the decade plus three I’ve been on this earth… (you do the math…)  I have experienced…

Parents divorced

Sexually abused

Beaten

Left alone

Accused

Emotionally allocated for things I didn’t do

Depression

Anxiety

Anorexia

OCD

Fear

Failure

Success

Divorce of my own

Faith

Turned my back on God

A sick child I almost lost

Buried two infant babies

Anger

Substance Abuse

Anger

Fear

Failure

Success

….

Tonight I found myself on my knees. Not like the usual, “God. Help me I’m struggling….”. No, it was different. It was a bleeding of my soul…a reckoning of why? And He told me,
I am able, I was able.

But I needed you. To go through this.

Life couldn’t be what you needed.

So you could be enough for Me to use you.

Colors flooded my tears in the form of a rainbow and I saw my children. They haven’t felt the sorrow and hurt that I have because I did.

I held a child on Wednesday night who has been abandoned by her father. Words were able to flood from me like a tsunami because I knew her hurt.

A girl I know admited recently, she throws up after she eats, I listen, hug her, then tell her she is good enough. The food she is purging from her body has nothing to do with being “thin”. It’s about control. We talk, she opens up, and the dialogue leads us to a place of neglect. I hold her as her tears flood with absence of her mother.

I know He is able.

I know He is strong.

Yet, it doesn’t always work that way. Our darkness isn’t always healed so that the residue can drift off of us into a beautiful array of stardust to bless the next.

The Difference Maker

So, I am going to be completely transparent and honest with you, because that’s how I roll.

Being me, “Ami Beth Cross” at times totally sucks. Think of a perfect pristine piece of glass. You see right through it, not hiding anything it lets you see the other side of whatever it may block. Yup, that’s me. I wear my heart on my sleeve, another thing that completely is a buzz kill about being me. You know how I feel when I’m in the trenches. Also when I’m filled with more joy than I can handle. I’m real. I’m here. And I don’t care what the world thinks….
Okay, not so quick….
Of course, I care what the world thinks. I may be this big ball of exploding life in front of your face, sometimes so exuberant you pray to God you don’t see me again, but yes I have feelings. Deep, deep feelings. I, in fact, want people to like me, accept me, laugh when I joke and cry when I cry.

You see, I have been deeply rejected in my life. As a child and an adult by my very own parents, the people who made me held me as a baby, and I’m sure had hopes and dreams for me. But “I” wasn’t enough, my smile didn’t do it, my cries for unconditional love wasn’t enough. When I hear that the world rejects me it hurts on a deeper level than, “people are mean and immature.” It resonates in my spirit where I was formed as a child and felt rejection at a very young age.

Recently I’ve gone through something that both gives me confirmation that I’m doing the right thing, and an aching in my heart that tells me I’m worthless, unlovable, and expendable. Unfortunately, the dark emotions usually win the battle in my mind confirming the reason my dad could reject me. If your parents can’t love you, then who can’t?
I’ve been told that I am a show boat, a facade, a joke, someone who everyone around them finds completely obnoxious and annoying. As much as these words cut right through my heart, I wiped the tears off of the sleeve where my emotions stay and thought, “how awful it must have been for Jesus to be convicted of a crime He didn’t commit?”

As I complain about typical drama and gossip of this world that is never truly truthful, my mind fluctuates to my Lord who not only endured a false accusation but a death that is unimaginable. All I have to do is suck it up and know in my heart that my true friends love me, see me, and take in my intentions. I make mistakes. I hurt the people I love, I am in fact, unlike Jesus, flawed. The world that hates me for my joy is the same place that nailed Him to a cross, the land that beats me down despite me begging for forgiveness for my transgressions, is the same soil that flogged our King and nailed Him to a cross.

Revelations such as this make my situation seem small and also propelling. If people of this world despise my joy, I am doing what I’m called to do. The enemy attracts to what he knows we fear the most. For me it is acceptance.  When I face ridicule I navigate back to a place where I was a child begging for love and willing to do anything to confirm such. God tells me that I am in the Light, and He is my acceptance and Love.

If Jesus could die on a cross for who He was and what He had to do for all of us, I can suck it up and move forward despite a few people who want to tear me down. I can rise above and become the Difference Maker that makes the masses uncomfortable, yet what was predestined to be my gift to make others embrace a failing emotion of our times, JOY!

The Parable of the Parrot

Image result for words

I am about to share with you something that will probably shock you to your core.  Words that have been spoken to me since I can recall until now are that I, in fact, talk too much.  I know, it is a major confession.  Yet, in the midst of a really great church service today, Pastor Kevin spoke on what I seem to excel at…words.  A power exists within the linguistic ability to build up or destroy.  Our inner moral code is formulated with what comes out of our mouths and what can be detrimental the words we tell ourselves that believe we truly are.

Absorbing every word of our beloved pastor had to share on the power of words I both felt great appreciation for my gift, yet a deep burden.  I have both the gift of spoken and written word…what a responsibility!  My heartbeat slowed, my air flow swallowed as I gasped in the great knowledge of what God has called for me in this life.  Like a sword that is in your hands and you can either lift up or chastise.  You have that much power.  Yet, we all do.  The wordsmith isn’t the only one held accountable to such a duty.  We all are.

I almost didn’t go to church today.  After battling on Saturday a day of depression that I haven’t had to face in a while, the kind where I could barely get myself out of bed.  Saturday, the only thing I wanted to do was sleep, find some kind of peace in nonexistence.  Faces danced in my mind of my children, my blessings, my God who has always been faithful, and my husband, my dear wonderful blessing of a husband who loves me so…and even so…I wanted to disappear.  An imbalance in the brain, circumstantial, environmental, abusive past, all things prelude to such an illness.  The words of others telling me I’m weak to not trust God for healing blared in my silence as I tried to do anything but sleep.  In that moment, that precipice of time, His hand reached down and caressed my hair like my mom used to do when I was sick.   He said it wasn’t my faith in His ability to heal me that was lacking, it was my trust in Him that He hasn’t healed me is what I needed to cling to. He gave me a vision of why I’m where I am.  Sometimes we aren’t healed.  People die of diseases that they don’t deserve, and more so, they live with illness’s that holds them back from the better part of themselves because of a purpose.  God told me my purpose was clear.  And it is my words.

I drifted off to sleep, thankfully.  My dreamland brought me to a place where I was speaking in front of a group of young women.  All suffering from…depression.  A door opened and I walked through it, even though in my dream I could barely keep my head up, my eyes open and my body afloat.  What I saw were sixty, maybe eighty eyes on me begging for hope, for an answer.  For enlightenment.  Digging deep into my life experience, pain, torture, lack of want to go on, I walked on the stage and told my story.

Tears fell.

Knees buckled.

Women’s lives were somehow touched.  Because of my pain, not my immediate healing.  My journey through the perils of grief, abandonment, abuse, loss, addiction, fear, love, joy, birth, re birth, loss, loss, loss lives were forever touched….I woke up with a gasp of air that filled me full and left me okay with not being healed today.  For healing comes in so many different forums.  Sometimes our closure to the vice that hunts us down is simply helping others who are walking in the shoes we had to navigate tough territory in.

I almost didn’t go to church today because I’m battling a big go at depression.  Somehow, I got up, dressed, put some makeup on so I wouldn’t scare anyone, and gathered my family to Journey Church.  Walking into the place where it is easy to find and experience God my husband and I ran into Pastor Kevin.  I told him, “I’m so excited about this service.”  He smiled, humbly as he always does, and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder.  In that moment I wondered if he knew if I almost didn’t come.

Words flowed, from a wordsmith to a wordsmith.  Taking notes as fast as I could process I realized that my polarity is huge when it comes to my words.  Sure, I write books, blogs, speak, but I am so very capable of the polar.

I have gossiped.  Slandered.  Cussed. Been blasphemous.  I have. Usually depending on my polarity or the reach of where I chose to hang my hat.  Folks I surround myself with, words I acquire into my vocabulary.  They can be either earth shattering beautiful, or God-forsakenly hurtful.  

Colorful and smart the parrot knows this better than any of us.  Mimicking who is dancing in front of her, she speaks the words, repeats the actions because it is all she knows.  Yet, we as followers of Christ know that we chose who we polarize ourselves to.  When we surround ourselves in darkness we speak….way more crass than we would in the light.

In the sunshine, we encourage, build up, bring peace and open the door of opportunity of God to move.

I have been the enemy’s parrot.  Speaking ill words of people who have done me wrong, spreading gossip, true or untrue, somehow giving me a high that is straight from the pit of hell.

 I have been God’s parrot.  Shouting from the mountain tops His love, promise, hope even in the face of depression, abandonment and abuse.

The takeaway and the burden of my heart this week is that when we speak kindly, even against those who we feel don’t deserve it God will shine, those around us will be blessed, and we will be at ease. No, we aren’t Jesus.  We can’t be, but we can try.  It is our calling to Fight so hard to act as He did, and strive to be the better part of us that He is in the process of formulating.

Words are monumental and in ways we are all parrots, repeating our surroundings and giving what we are given.  Chose light, love, joy, freedom, and repeat.

 Repeat.  Repeat Love.

All of Me

yImage result for freedom

Close your eyes and try hard to imagine what you were doing one year ago today.  I know it can be hard when a monumental thing may have not occurred at this time 365 days ago, but for me it did.

One year ago, I had just quit dream job, something that I had literally worked my whole life for.  Being a publicist for a national company, writing recognized magazine articles, public speaking, social media marketing, making great money,  it was everything I hoped I would become.  In that moment in time, I was living my life purpose…so I thought.

If it was so great then why would I quit this so called “dream” job you ask.  An office with a view came with a price.  A title with a grand business card was slowly stealing my soul as I reported each and every day to a boss that chose to belittle me yet praise me.  One who knew no boundaries and promised to equip me with fear yet accolades.  I just never knew which antidote I was going to receive.  He yelled, found joy in me, belittled, laughed, changed his mind, then back again, and finally pushed me too far.  For I had made a promise I was destined to keep, that I would never let a job ruin me again.

Two years prior that very occurrence came to pass.  I was loyal, obedient, and taken advantage of.  I had many chances to stand up for myself, yet, I stayed quiet and allowed the lashings to keep on coming.  My health deteriorated, my mind was dizzy with anxiety, and my self-worth demolished.  All because of a jealous and horrible boss who had it out for me in the worst of ways.  I took the bait and became her scapegoat.  Eventually, to save myself, and my family, I walked away.  I left.  Exited the building with my head held high in pursuit of my greatest dream, to become a published author.

I accomplished this goal, but my head wasn’t as upright as I wanted people to think.  I was beaten down, and the worst possible thing I could have done,  I isolated myself.  I wrote constantly, marketed my name, my purpose, sleeping little, and drinking a lot.  I mean a lot.  I clung to a numbing mechanism that took what I thought to be my demise away.  Got drunk on the good life, while the past slowly ate away at my bones making me weaker every second I continued such a life.

I ended up at Rogers Memorial Hospital because I chose to.  Dual diagnosis.  Depression and alcohol abuse.  Now that’s a tough card to read for a perfectionistic person who really wants the people around her to think she’s super great.  Humbled, I spent seven days detoxing, in counseling and meeting some amazing people who years earlier I would have dubbed as “losers.”  Titles cause pain because the back story isn’t taken into account, the seeming drug addict who is unable of quitting has a story.  I had a story.  They all had a story.  And in that our tales mingled in the midst of all the demons we were fighting.

After finding my way out of the darkest hole of my life the light started to shine again.  I published my first book February 20, 2015.  A romance novel about overcoming the most impossible of odds to find a destiny in the midsts of pain.  Sunset Vibrations, my first go at fiction was a great success, and I hadn’t touched a drink in months.  I was finding my way back, forward, and all around the turmoil,  my life had brought me thus far.  After the painful burial of my infant babies, childhood trauma, poor adult choices, I was finally choosing to cocoon myself in a wonderful sense of peace.

Four months later I published a little memoir titled, The Return to Happiness.  Accounting my experience of losing two infant baby boys within the span of eighteen months.  I never held back, shared my soul, my despair, flooded a bucket of my tears, yet eventual hope.  After I hit the icon on Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes and Nobel that says “publish” I ran into my bedroom and hid under my covers.  Terrified of all I had bleed over the pages of my book I was afraid that the people of this world who saw my big smile, and wonderful children, and husband…what would they think when they found out the truth?  That I sucked at turmoil, and I gave into methods to numb myself ; what would the world think of this imperfect girl?  An agonizing hour later my husband pulled the covers off telling me I had to come downstairs right now!

Looking at the sales analysis as an author and seeing you are in the top 100 best sellers list is a moment we all dream of.  The Return to Happiness was sitting at number sixty nine and I dropped to my knees and sobbed.  Joy, pain, exhilaration and pure gratitude flowed through each and every tear that hit the floor.  I was a best-selling author because I dared to share my darkest voyage through grief.  I had made my greatest dream come true in the midsts of vulnerability and courage of my deepest weakness and pain through loss.

Slowly, I was finding my way back to the top of the water not drowning underneath it.  In my youth, I had a fervor for God that could shake the mountains.  I praised Him wherever I went, loving and breathing the breath of salvation with every passing air.  Yet, I turned away in my mid-twenties.  That is for another blog, but indeed I said goodbye to God, I’d figure it out on my own.  I’m good.

One year ago today I took my turn at reconciling the black color of the past decade plus five of my life.  After leaving the dream job of my life I told my husband, “this time we are doing it right.  I’m not isolating myself.  I’m not drinking myself into a stupor.  We are going to church with the boys.  We are going to make this work.”

My older sons were deeply embedded in Journey Church near our home and I felt the calling to attend after not being part of a church since I was twenty-three.  

It was a Saturday night, much like tonight.  We sat towards the back and the message was about “The Prodigal Son”, a child who had left and returned after so much time and pain.   At the end, I told my husband that I need a minute.

Standing on weak legs, I found my way to the stage…alone.  

My head bowed.  I pleaded, “God, I’m back.  I want you.  All of you.  Take me back.”

I exhaled pain, regret, sin, anguish, and then inhaled…love.

Forgiveness.

Acceptance.

A home.

That was me one year ago tonight.  365 days have passed and my world has exploded in a way I could have ever imagined.  I have matured as a wife, mother, friend, author, and woman more than I knew possible.  God instantly healed me from one of my biggest nemesis’…anger.  The rage inside me dissipated that night I stood at the altar of my church.

I’ve given up vices that I thought I needed to get me through.

God has given me a renewed relationship with my mother.  Also, I’ve been able to forgive my father which I never saw possible.

The beautiful love of a couple who were called to take me into their hearts and lives acting as a surrogate mother and father came to me almost instantly after prayer for such.  Grandparents for my kids, unity for my family.

I’ve been called into a job where I serve people with debilitating pain on a daily basis and have the opportunity to bring a smile to their faces.

One year ago I came home.  After loss of a career that I thought was my everything.  But was my everything.  Because if I hadn’t left I may have not found my greater purpose, my chance at rebirth, growth and righting all the wrong that I had done and that was done to me.

God has a way of doing that.  He takes us in, no matter how far we’ve traveled away, or what may transpire in our beautiful and angry minds.  One year ago, my life changed.  My struggle continues deep into the night, to not rely on things that promise me hope yet bring me darkness.  I’m still drawn to the mystery of wanting to take control, take the wheel.  The thick liquid that numbs it all still calls my name and at times I answer it knowing of its false healing powers.  Yet, the grace that grabs my hand over and over again tells me that no matter how much I fail…no matter how much I succeed…that  I am His.  And He is Mine.

 I am running fast forward toward all the purpose He has.   For me tomorrow and all the healing He will do for my yesterday.  The all of me that He is healing and creating because of the all of me that was, and is to come.