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.

Sinking Sand, Lifting Praise

I’m stuck in a pit of mud, the dark thick kind that keeps sucking me in deeper and fuller into its abyss.  My hands can’t move, my legs can’t kick.  My mind is racing for a rational way out, to race to the top and surge my way up.  I’m sucked in like a storm surrounding me without a name, no prediction of its force, only a gale force wind and black clouds closing in faster, my breath is gasping.

I move without motion.

Emancipated in a silenced fear that races through my inner mind that rages with a blank stare, I lie in silence.

I see her.

Her long blonde hair and gypsy green eyes tell me it’s ok.  A small hand reaches out to my sinking appendage that can’t move from the blackness I’m covered in.  “Help me!”  My voice is but a sound of no accord as my throat is parched past the shadows that are covering my shoulders now.

Light will come, just hold on.  Her song sings, loud and like honey to my ears.

Yet, I can’t.

I’m sinking fast and far, dark and smothered by the stretch my body is capable but that isn’t there.  My muscles tense as I wage the war against the black smoldering slithering mess I’m in yet again.

I turn my eyes down as the love is undone.  I’m not worthy, my life has surely become what it deserves to be-swallowed. 

Light will come, just hold on!  Her voice is getting more panicked.  I know she needs me and my teeth push together making a sound that growls with the wind.  Howling is coming as the breath of the sky shakes the leaves and makes ripples in the mud bath I’m lying in.

I’m sinking deeper into me.  Faster into the demons of my past and the fear of my future that the weakness will always hunt me down and eat me up, piece by bitter piece.

My mouth is close to the murky substance that collides with me every night.  The sick taste fills my buds before I can even feel it touch my palate.

You’re closer than you know.  Her voice is a shrill now.  Calling to the wind, begging for my mercy.

Closer than you know, she cries.  Fight your way out!

My lower lip feels the cold taste of the earth as it starts its wage against me slowly etching its way toward my lungs, to fill them deep so I can no longer taste air and slowly drown in my own demise.

Fight, fight FIGHT!  She is screaming now which is coming out in a singalong sonnet of her hope.  Her voice rises with each octave that raises its plea.  FIGHT, Mommy, FIGHT!  

My lids close, my lips are covered and I dip my face in head first.  I open my mouth and let it all in, the sin, the darkness, the feel of the rocks and debris fill my senses as the last thing I see before my eyes fill completely with the mud of my life is her long hair and gypsy eyes.

Lift up your eyes and see, Heaven is closer than you know!  I hear in a symphony before my ears are filled with the murky death that is calling me to fall into.  It’s not just a singular sweet honey voice anymore, it’s the orchestra of many.  Five voices sing out in unison.

Come back!  Fight!  You’re closer than you know!

I succumb to it, fall forward and backward and wayward and deeply into what the demons in my head say I deserve.  The last thing my ears penetrate is all of them; singing praises and a plea to God.

I know you’re there, come back!  They bellow to the storm above, the shadows that are taking me away.

My lungs collapse.  My body shakes with the faint air that’s left in me.  My mind goes blank and all I see is the mud I’m encased in.

God are you here, I calmly ask?  I let the mud in and then I’m nothing but motionless.

It’s dark here, silent.  The fear is gone and the sleep is deep.  Peace is on me and I’m walking on the mud now, yet it is a sea of blue not brown disparaging bleakness.  I am still.  And I am quiet.

But He is there reaching out to touch my hand and He grabs my heart to heal it from all my pain.

I’m there, where I thought I wanted to be.  To be rid of it all, the torture, the fear, the sinking sand I was falling deeper into every night, even as I smiled and tucked them into bed, wasn’t this what I fell asleep to after night fall?  The thought of it all ending here, me in quicksand, them okay without me being the burden I know I am.

LIFT UP!  LIFT UP, LIFT UP.

I hear her, him and him and him and him.  My head turns and my eyes open in the black of death and I shake with a fervor I haven’t felt in months.  For, I don’t really want to be in this sinking mud, this really isn’t what I desire, for them to be at the top and me at the bottom of a deep grave I’ve dug myself into.

I’ve got to find a way out.  To lift up.

By your spirit I will rise, from the ashes of defeat.

In your name I come alive.  The resurrecting King, is resurrecting me.

By your spirit I will rise. 

They are all signing praise songs.  In my imminent death, they are closer now to what God needs of them, singing out a symphony of a pardon for my life.

My arms find their lift and I fight with every muscle in my body to find a way to the top, to fill my lungs with the air that He gave me forty four years ago.  My legs kick, my torsor begs to rob my grave and give me another chance at Victory.

It’s always going to be a struggle for me, to find my way out of the sinking sand, but relying on the wrong crutches to help me walk is never going to bring me back to the top.  I have to hold on to my King, who can defeat the ashes of depression and suicidal thoughts.  He declares that as the mud doesn’t quite touch the fullness of my soul, it only delights in my demise.  Loves me giving up, cheers me on as I give up.

Yet..God hears the voices of my army.

They are signing now.

And somehow I can hear them.  Their tearstained echos find their way into the pit.  I can hear them now.

I fight.  I climb my way out and my head emerges from the pit, filled with debris and sticky mud that covers my milky white face.

She’s going to be okay! I see her long hair and gypsy eyes come dancing towards me.

His and his and his strong presence come running behind her.  “Yes she is, baby, yes she is.”  He says; my husband and the love that needs me

I grab their hands as they slowly lift me out with all of their might, pulling me from the trenches of a thousand pounds of mud.

Mommy! 

Darling!  My voice dances with hers as I know I belong with her and him and him and him.

It’s all I hear as I lift my voice in praise for a God who doesn’t want me to hide my face from Him as he has surely come for me-sent my family-my friends-and the sounds of Heaven to Praise a God that wants me here.  Even when I cried out to fall into the sinking sand, He was lifting their voices in praise because I couldn’t.

They dry me clean and I hug her, and him and him and him over and over again, promising that I won’t fall so deep again.  I may struggle, I may succumb to pain and call out in the depths of the night where I only hear their rhythmic breathing, but I vow to never fall into the quicksand again, but to lift my praise in times of despair.

Just as they have done for me, I will do for Him, for He loves me and needs me here to lift up the heavens and tell my tale of being an overcomer.  A fighter, even when the quicksand of life beckons me to fall into it, I won’t for I have seen the cost is deep and my life is worth light and praising even in the despair of quicksand.

 

 

 

 

 

Ego-Me=God

I had a dream.  Of telling my story in front of Journey Church.  I would pour my soul out about losing my two babies and many women would relate and run up to me and say “me too!”  I would hug them and say, “I know.  It’s so sad.”  We would cry, I would hug them and the story goes on.  I wrote a book, I told my story in front of hundreds and I would feel better at the end of the day.

The dream seemed to have come true.  I was asked to speak in front of Journey Church to tell my story of losing my two babies, Jaden and Zac.  But I couldn’t meet the requirements of the venue, I was going on vacation and wouldn’t be able to speak in front of who I thought needed to hear my story.  I was devastated.  I cried.  My ego was called out by God, He said, you aren’t on the course I want you on.  I called back, “but God, I want to tell my story.”  He said, “You already have, you wrote a book.”  I yelled back, “but I want to speak!”  He cried, “Your ego is too big.  I am bigger.”

It broke me, my heart, my story seemed insignificant.  I wanted to tell it at Journey Women, because I was certain that women needed to hear my story, that they would befriend my story and take my loss into their hearts as their own.  I knew I needed to tell it on a stage.  But God had another plan and I was too wrapped up in my own idea of how He wanted my story to be told.  I buried my need and held my dream in my heart.  I would tell my story on a stage…someday, right?

I lead a table at Journey Women Gather and only two women showed up.  They disappeared before I had a chance to gather them up and take them into the stadium where the other women were telling their stories, the ones I was supposed to be with.  I wandered into the sanctuary and found a single woman.  Alone, sitting by herself.  I asked if I could sit by her and she said yes.  I said ok.  We sat alone, together, listening to the ladies talk and the Lord work.  God nudged me and said, “ask her if she’s a mother.”  Um, ok. I don’t know this girl but ok.  “Are you a mother?”  I whispered in her ear.

“Yes.”

Then He brushed against my ear hard, “ask her if she’s had a miscarriage.”  WHAT?????  Are you sure God?  I don’t know this woman!  Are you SURE?  Yes, He said in my minds eye louder than I’ve ever heard Him.

“Have you ever had a miscarriage?”  I obey.

Eyes meet.  Tears collide.  She holds up two fingers.  Yeah well, me too, I think.  Me too, side by side burials.  Two.  Me too.

God says, ask her if she wants to talk outside.  The volume of the speakers blare, the sound of their words override what I’m afraid to ask.  But somehow I do.  “Do you want to talk?”  She nods.  We walk hand in hand outside to the vestibule that God had waiting for us from the moment she walked into Journey Church tonight.

We sat, we cried, we listened, we wept.  For our babies.  For our loss.  God didn’t want me to speak to a huge audience that my ego would have loved.  God needed me to speak to a singular person who I had no idea existed.  He needed me to tell my story to allow another to cry, to hear her tears that the world tells her that are not good enough.  For a world that says that miscarriage isn’t a loss that needs to be heard.  It’s a silent loss.  It’s a secret for us to keep. 

God told us that we are not alone.  That the anniversary I celebrate yet mourn on Sunday, the 10 year loss of my Jaden Hope, is a forever loss that needs to be heard.  But God wanted it to be intimate, to be between me and a stranger this year.  I listened, she told me her story, I cried, she spoke and we are forever bonded together.

Ego is strong, I am a victim of it, but God had other plans for me tonight.  He had a picture of me sitting with a grieving mother who has suffered as I have, one who needed to be heard, one who needed to tell her story more than I needed to be up on a stage beaming my story as I pridefully told my tale.  God said, “No”!  I have other plans.  I have a single person who needs you and you need her.

Because, God plus me equals trust.  God plus me equals truth.  God plus me equals a story that was meant for one  not many.  Because ego is strong, but God is Truth if we listen.  If we follow, if we hear the story we are meant to tell, to whom we are meant to tell it to in the moment it is meant to be told.  In that we are met with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit and the truth that is meant for us to live in the moment we are meant to live in it.

 

Imperfectly, Perfect

My small four-year-old fingers are intertwined in her soft and silky long brown hair. In my ear, all I can feel is her warm breath as she inhales to sing another lyric of a song that makes every bone in my tiny body melt into her more. Love evaporates from her into me and molds me more into all that she wants me to be. The smell of her soft perfume permeates my senses and all I can do is melt into her and listen to each and every lucid lyric that comes from her soft mouth straight into my heart.

This is one of my first and very most treasured memories of my mother and I. In times of struggle and feelings I’ve lacked in self-worth, this memory has been one I’ve held on to many times throughout my life. The young remembrance of my mother’s love and her song all over me is really what I think of her when I dig deep into my memory bank. I haven’t thought of how clean our house was, what was served at dinner, or what she wore. My memory cave brings me back time and time again to the way I felt in her arms when it was just her and I. All that consumes me when I blanket myself with my memory of her is…love. Pure. Unapologetic, raw and beautiful love.

We as women get caught up in the idea we have in our heads as to what makes us a good mother. The pressure to be perfect has never been more intense and our own mind creates this version of what we should be to produce amazing children to gift to the world when we are done raising them. Having this preconceived notion that we have to dance a dance of perfection plagues this generation of mothers who are just trying in this life to do more than has ever been done before. We now have to add the task of providers, protectors, nurturers and loving creatures that will do and be what our kids deserve.

Is it ever enough?

A good friend of mine recently said that she thinks she is a bad mom. Now, this statement left me in shock and a bit angry. I mean, this woman is a GREAT mom who loves on her kids with every breath she takes,  kissing on them, planning great days filled with films of memories for them for when they are older. So, why does what I see as a perfect mom think she is, in fact, a bad mom get me so riled up? Possibly because I often times feel the same way about myself. The reflection she had on her defeated face was staring me blankly in the eyes that looked all too familiar speaking lies that can sink even the strongest of vessels.

This made me take pause at my own life. She said her house is a mess and she doesn’t cook really great dinners like you see on Instagram. Quite honestly if I was held to this regard I would be the worst mother alive. My house isn’t spotless (okay it’s a hot mess at the best of times) and I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for my husband Alan, we’d all completely die of starvation. Yet, as I sought out my reality in this encounter with my dear friend, I too have thought this of myself on many occasions.  But why as God see’s us as perfectly imperfect and that is enough for Him.

I’m a bad mom. I work too much and often times am writing when I could be spending time with them. They don’t have perfect little cubby hole things to put their toys in so their rooms don’t look like a hurricane just drove a deep dive through their bedrooms. I have vices I wish they didn’t know I had. I am tired and cranky at times and look like a zombie on the weekends. I’m sometimes quicker to anger than I wished and I don’t have them in five thousand activities that I’m sure would make them poised to be leaders of the free world.

Why is it so hard for me to hear my friend say those things about herself?  Although I can speak the same language to myself on more occasions I’d like to admit I have. Every time I sit in a deep sinking mud of self-loathing that wants to drown me, my husband reminds me of what a great mom I am. I do hear him and drag myself out of the messy quicksand and wipe myself off and try to remember that I do give them all the love I have. But, why is it so much more of a wake-up call now that I’ve heard my friend speak the bad mom language over herself? I truly think this is so because I see her as a perfect love for her 4 kids, so why do I not see that in myself? Why are we so impossibly hard on ourselves for being…well…imperfectly loving and capable mothers?

My oldest son who is 20 tells me that he appreciates all that I’ve sacrificed for him. My 17-year-old son tells me I’m his hero. My little ones who are 10 and 5 squeal with delight when I come home as I hug them longer than I’m sure they’d like. That speaks all it should, but at times it isn’t enough. I hold myself to this high and impossible regard that at time steals my joy because I can’t obtain the perfection that I have in mind for myself.

A messy house with unfolded clothes on the floor and dreams of play times that pass me by are always in the back of my mind but deep in theirs has to be the love I give them when I hug them. When I walk away early in the morning to work to provide for our family they see me laboring hard for us and the dreams I chase in the aftermath must mean something to them.  As a matter of fact, I know it does, as my (almost) grown children have told me so.

When you hold your baby to your heart (no matter their age) and allow them to feel the passion you have for them that is like no other it makes you a good mom. When you put down the distractions of the day to watch them play you truly take in the essence of motherhood. Breathing in the air that surrounds them is like filling your lungs up with oxygen and feeding your soul with enough water to travel decades in the desert.

When my daughter asked me tonight to sit on my lap, I immediately put my phone down, grabbed her on my lap and breathed in her essence as I sang a single lullaby in her ear. A messy house behind me, and my insecurity telling me that I need to be better, I recalled my encounter with my own mother and my heart lifted knowing that this is what she will remember. This is enough.

Soft sweet nothings sang in her ear with my love exploding all over her like a thousand stars lighting up the sky took over all my insecurities of what I have deemed it is to be a perfect mom. That is what she’ll remember and all I will treasure when it’s all said and done and I’ve given my best version of myself to the world.

;Life

life__s_highway_by_alancross

i want to Live…

Yet,

i want to die.

Can i live somewhere in between?

i want to feel, yet,  i desire to be numb

Why can’t i just accept that life isn’t perfect, whether I’m numb or present?

Evil thrives in the presence of facades, yet, Grace illuminates through my Truth.

i like to keep my poison private, my beguiling friend, who binds and gags me.

Trying so hard to convince me to take darkness by the hand and pour another.

I want to Live because He died.  And oh what a waste it would be for me to exist hidden behind the mascarade of my lies.

The Truth has already set me free.

Through death, He Overcame

So that I may live my Life in the Light

;

My Life goes on, past the darkness and into Eternity.

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 Parable of the Parrot

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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.