The Beauty we Grow

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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. 

All of Me

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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.

Ministry of Joy

The tall reflective glass stared back at me in an essence of taunting. Mirror mirror on the wall, I’m the most unloveable of the all. More shameful words echoed in the distance, equivalent to a beast of a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon. Cupping my hands over my ears to shield myself from the barrage of chastising words, I all too soon realized that the jeers were coming from the inside out.

Navigating this turbulent life with a beat up self-esteem is hard enough. Fighting through years of neglect, abuse, and ill decisions makes it one thousand times more arduous, doubtful, and filled to the rim with fear. I deeply know what it is like to want, yet be given an interlude of an unanswered question.  Why in the world am I made to suffer so often in this life?
For often times we are meant to be put in the trials of tribulation in order to fulfill our greater purpose, or majesty of intention placed in our lives by a God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. We can feel alone, abandoned, scared.  Yet, m years later realize that the cup we were given was more than enough to fill us to the rim of a ministry of joy we had no idea was coming.

Let me explain:

When a child is given grim circumstances they can find joy in the smallest of things. I used to ride my bike around my grandparents neighborhood when I was little. Pretending I was the mommy driving my kids to all their sports and then to a home safe and warm waiting for daddy to come home from work, brought me more unexplainable happiness than I can describe. Pretending that my dolls were my babies that I loved more than the sky and deeper than the sea made me feel complete, despite I was living with my grandparents away from my mom and far yet closer to my father than I ever wanted to be.

We can envelop joy when pain is our only reality. We feed of of it like a man wandering in a desert of strife for many years without water or food. We cling to a smile because if it is all we have then somehow we can be okay. At least this has been my journey, my take on an ever turbulent life and even more deeply painful circumstance that I came from. Yet, in the wake of it all the one thing that always brought me back to my stance of joy was the unbreakable truth that God had a purpose in it all. A rooted meaning for me to grow closer, stronger, and further into Him. For when we have all of our needs met it is easy to get caught up in the happiness of contentment, the trap of consistency, and the ability to stop seeing the need that deeply envelops our world.

Recently I was privileged to meet with someone who I not only look up to immensely, but who I find absolutely engaging, funny, and transparent. God had placed it on my heart to reach out to the lead pastor of my rather large church in seek of guidance on the turbulent season of my life I find myself currently placed in yet again. His words of encouragement forged a great cascade of truth bombs blaring inside the deeply wounded subconscious of my inner child.

For I hear:

I’m not good enough.
I’m unworthy.
Unloveable.
Intolerable.

Adjectives I described myself to be, this spiritual leader, found deeply skewed.

“But, you are one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. People have to smile when they are around you!” Was his response to my constant thought that I was all the things that big old mirror told me I was. The things that the enemy preyed upon and found delight in that I actually believed.

Wait, what. I’m lovable?

So many times it is easier to take in the lies that play out in our minds then the truth that is in front of us. I took in Pastor Kevin’s words, permitted them in my soul, and did something I don’t usually do. Let them find truth in my being and greater purpose in this life.

Since our meeting I’ve been able to see the joy he spoke of. My smile shines in my mind’s eye more than my past struggle can.  My ability to see the good rather than the evil ability this life has on us is more at the forefront of my thinking than my years I’ve spent in exile from love and acceptance. God brings people into our lives to lift us up and give us tools that we had no idea were beaming at the surface of the greatness God has in store.

I have now taken on a ministry of Joy. To smile more confidently, feel berated less, and accept love on a deeper level. What do I say to that girl looking back at me in the tall mirror? God loves you, He has you, and He absolutely has a purpose for your Joy.

Pieces of Glass

 

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The glass is alway half full to me, no matter the circumstance, turmoil or besiege.  Until it cracks and spills the captive juice all over the place.  Then, it is nothing but a fallen hot mess.  Who is there to pick it up, the broken glass and shards of ice that pierce my skin?  

Alone, I tried so hard to figure this out.  Sinking deeper into despair I realized that I alone cannot figure out how to keep all of the tiny broken pieces together.  The ones that exist inside of us all.

I isolated myself.  I left the land of the living.  I clung to my writing, husband, and kids.  For that’s all I really need, right?

A cold February night one year ago told me that it is indeed not true.  For in my isolation,  I found a darkness that was unparalleled to most.  For humans are simply not meant to be alone, God deemed it so in the Garden of Eden.  In fact, He gave man woman and woman man to comfort, lift up, and encourage one another.  And that great man and woman grew into an empire of humans that would co-exist until…well…now.

In my darkroom of aloneness,  I realized that I was suffering because I encased myself in a world that was existing without community.  I was lost, angry, and hurting with no one to wash my tears away.  For the first time in my life, the glass half full looked dull and empty.  I no longer cared if it broke, because in my isolation everything was shattered to the core.  

Two years ago plus some, I did this very imprisoning act to myself.  Thinking that becoming a full-time author on the brinks of greatness was enough.  Flowing toward dreams of grandeur I locked myself into a cave of creativity only to fall to my knees without communion.  For in my words, I was tormented by my own demons.  Words came, but that was all, as I was found bleakly alone.  

A stark winter’s eve almost a year ago, I was called home.  Out of isolation and into a tribe of people who I’ve come to love and adore deeper than I could have ever imagined in my backlash of anger on a life that I didn’t choose.  For we truly don’t know what we don’t know.  Through the depths of the grand moment of finding my true purpose as an author, God called me back to an even greater calling to serve a true purpose as a child of His once again. The pastor,  Kevin spoke of a prodigal son.  Pastor Jordan sang the lights dimmed so I could cry freely.  In that moment on a still frozen night, I answered the calling.  That no matter how far away I had been, how much damage I thought I had done with my hot mess of broken glass of half full liquid, God was greater, a Healer, anticipating my return.

You see, I had left God, for longer than I’d like to admit.  A decade plus some, which was enough time for two of my four children to be influenced by a life far from God.  Plenty of time for me to have seen the light again after many life experiences had left me listless.  The loss of my two infant baby boys, back .  to backYet, I still remained cold.  Angry, held off by the idea of letting go of control.  For in surrender bad things can happen to us, right?  A lack of a tight grip on our lives can lead to the most ungodly persuasions imaginable.  A road I wasn’t willing to travel again because my life had dictated to me that when I gave up my stronghold I was left with pain and invasion.  There was NO WAY I wanted to go back to the place of a small child who had no say in the turmoil that surrounded her.

Then the ice crackled and time warped into one giant explosion of love.  The sun came up through the clouds and color shunned darkness and  I had no other choice but to see what was in front of me, a beautiful Love that I once saw as a trap.  God called me home almost a year ago, through a story of a boy who left home under the most despicable of circumstances; yet he came home.  In the midst of prayers, fasting, love and fortitude I found my way back.  Having no idea the magnitude coming back to God would have on my life, I plunged in head first.  The healing that would take place, the justice it would serve to the open cunning wounds of my past has been an explosion in the sky, a beauty foretold in the pre-destined book of my life.

The people I was called to meet, them serving me, and somehow, me making them smile from time to time, has served as a deep testimony in my life.  As the anniversary of my one-year reunion with Jesus approaches all I have to say is thank you.  Thank you, God, thank you, to my family that never gave up on me, thank you church, and thank you to my new friends who have lifted me up more than you know.
Mostly, this half full girl deeply states a year later, I am 100% completely filled up after a year in your embrace of love.  Here’s to the next explosion of grace and far past the desire and predestination of God’s goodness on all of our lives.  The ride has just begun, for in the eyes of God, our glass is nothing but a great reflection of Him far into eternity if we let it be so. No matter how many times He has to put all of our pieces back together again.

The Army Behind Me

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December found me lying silent, and in that season a blanket filled with quiet I fell into a thick darkness that I know all too well.
A war was waging, a fire blazing, and I could hear the gunfire in the background of my bleakness. Sleep couldn’t come fast enough, and the thought of leaving my house left me paralyzed with a desire to black it all out. All the goodness, the light, words, and song that usually consumes me was diminished to a dismal singular flame flickering on my bedside. Barely keeping me…here.
That is depression, the enemy, a stillness that can black out a once active and fertile mind and consume it with…black.
Recently, the silent enemy of depression knocked on my door, as it does periodically in my life for no particular reason. Finding it extremely difficult to explain this kind of struggle to the world has been a challenge my entire life. It seems simple for people to understand a disease that is medically coherent.

Heart disease, a wrecked knee, cancer, lung disease…all things that are tangible.
But mental illness it isn’t visible through my smile.

My hug.
Or in a peppy attitude that is saved for the hour you may see me.
What consumes me the moment I can let my guard down, is a desperate plea to my God who knows my pain. My suffering, and the reality of an imbalance in my brain that in unseen to the naked eye. The disfiguration of such a struggle is beyond words, metaphors, and enlightening.

The reality is black yet the tangible feel for people who haven’t walked in its ugly shadows is sadly gray.  Unforeseen. And misunderstood.
I’ve fought my entire life to hide the demons that wage within my mind. For, I do not want you to see me as weak.
I know this more than I know most things, I am anything but weak. What I’ve seen and been through in my life, yet still risen above proves so. God has given me a precious gift of an armor that has shielded me, kept me, and built me up despite horrid and unforgiving odds.
Yet…a child is only as strong as she can be. The mind can only take so much, and the body will eventually have an emotional response to repeated toxicity. Hence, my lifelong battle with depression and anxiety.
It’s hard for me to write when I’m struggling in the brinks of the darkness, therefore I have been silent lately. So this will be brief. It’s difficult for me to breathe, walk, get dressed, so the manifestation of the love of my life, my words, leave me as well.
But one thing I’ve learned in this past year of returning to my faith after a seventeen-year hiatus is that I am LOVED. I am not alone, and that I am capable.
My voice, though it may be small, is needed in this world. God told me so, on a cold February night last year when I re-dedicated my life to the Lord. He spoke through the pastor, into the music, providing a spiritual army as a portal into my soul. I will speak of mental illness as loud as it is needed. To normalize it, to forgive it, and to bring peace and hope to my fellow sufferers of such a hell.
The army has always been fighting. Praying, fasting and praying again. Now in the throws of my faith, I know this. I was never alone. WE ARE NEVER ALONE. And when I feel as if I am, somewhere deep inside me I know they are there, fighting when I am too weak.