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.

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.

A Forever Love

12299291_1706064462972839_7662594365277638010_nThe great love awaits.

I can feel it, on the curtails of the winds, and time.  It is coming.  Just like it was promised.

Small pigtails hit me in the face as a little girl, found my way to the mirror top, glaring into my small eyes, I just know my prince is coming.  Because that is what the fairy tale tells me.  Tilting my head to the side I stare until my legs give way.  Blue prisms of confusion don’t understand why such a prince would save this laden princess.  I mean, I have no Tierra, no castle, and no bright frilly blue dress.

The great love awaits.

Mustering up enough courage to ask my twelve-year-old counterpart to the junior high dance, (yes that’s how old I am we still called it Jr. High), he rejects me.

Echos fall off the walls of the old school as laughter jeers its way past me, yet deeply into my heart.  Rejection exalts itself inside me and all that I am.

I think I heard him say the word,  ugly.  A Dog.  A big fat joke.  My head bows in submission to the lies of this world.  The Valentines joke is on me.  I show him all that I am, and that isn’t good enough, so I gather my things, stand up, and move forward.  Brokenness and all.

…A great love…awaits…Right?

Standing in the mirror where I am tall enough to see what stares back is telling more than what is real.  I see a girl whose smile doesn’t reach her eyes, downcast and forgotten after I had tried out for the high school cheerleading squad, and even though I had the most amazing split jump I wasn’t chosen.  Was it the clothes I wore, my makeup not on point?  Or that I didn’t enslave the right friends.  How out of touch am I?   My head drops and the last glance I have in the reflection is a large chasm of tears that pour down my face into the drip of a faucet below.

My love has come!

Finally, he holds me in his arms and tells me I’m his everything.  His strong touch and soft scent lull me to sleep as he declares me as his only one.  I am the princess he had dreamed of if only I give him my everything.  If only…

I drift away….

Handsome green eyes look upon me with favor.  Large strong hands cling me tight, and I feel the safety I’ve sought my whole life.  He asks for my everything…but it feels like it’s not enough?

What do I do?  Give or take?  All I see in that moment is the eyes of a younger vision of me wanting nothing but…love.  The promise of an escape, to be born again.  Away from the dark valley and the afraid version of me that sleeps every night.  He says he’ll offer me the world.

But something tells me otherwise.

The great love awaits.

Pushing myself up from his bed I shake off my feeling that I need to run home, look back into his loving and enticing eyes, and I fall into his kiss, which finally feels like coming home.  Warm, inviting, accepting, telling.  I am beautiful.  I am his.

Hands follow further than I want them to go, I panic in a reach inside me to realize what I truly want.  Is this home?  Is this what I want?

Pardoning his advance the look I’m given is of frustration, like when I was a child and didn’t obey my father’s orders.  My mind goes black.

All I want is…The Great Love.

Backing up, retracing my steps, I grab my integrity and gather myself out of the fluff of pillows and blankets that were meant to comfort me. Somehow, I stand.

I stand.  

Grab my jacket off the chair and say goodbye.

Leaving his room the cold meets me in an imminent arousal of test and reach.  I breathe easy knowing that my Prince is the Prince of Peace.

/ / Just You and Me / /

/ / Across the Sea / /

John 14:27l

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Tears prickle at my soul as I realize what could have yet didn’t happen.  That I am not ready to beg for a love to save me that is at the hands of a man until I accept the power I can embrace that truly sees me.  A shore that casts only for me.

I take His hand, make Him mine and dance until the wee hours of the morning knowing that building myself up through the Love of my Savior and myself I will find a Forever Lovee that awaits me.

The Upside Down Masterpiece

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Imagine yourself being able to create a masterpiece of astounding art.  One that prickles at the skin of any onlooker, a painting so intense that you can’t think of NOT staring at it.  Now, captivate in your mind this very undeniable piece of art being painted…upside down in front of your eyes!  Brush after stroke, having no idea how it will all turn out.

I recently embarked on a 21 day fast (a period of time giving up something) that distracts me from focus, prayer, and introspect along with my church.  For some, this may be food, wine, soda, or swearing, but for me, my great distraction is Social Media.  Oh, how I love to demonstrate to the world how I am loveable, I have talents, my children’s smiles and a great batch of cookies that turned out on par splattered all over a platform that allows me to.  I love the likes, comments, and affirmation that I am accepted.  Like a drug, it can take up time, focus, and has the ability to rule my thinking; creating a pendulum of reality and a facade.  After deciding that I would only eat fruit, veggies, and nuts for 21 days, and then almost passing out at work due to low blood sugar, I had some OJ, concluding I was eliminating the wrong distraction.  For, when I was hungry and irritable for the first two days of my fast, I found myself scrolling endlessly on Facebook, looking for some answers, I mean this is the internet, right?  Immediately I knew I was giving up the wrong distraction and deleted all social media apps from my phone.

An urge swelled, a deep desire to post a picture of my adorable kids coining a quirky and loveable caption on Instagram, occurred pretty much the second I swore off my fix.  I put my iPhone down and actually lived in the moment of their laughter and joyous play.  Okay, I can do this.  Live in the moment instead of foreseeing the likes that could pour in after a second in time played out in front of me that I will never see again.  In that, I realized that every stage in time is bottled up waiting to explode in a brilliant color.  Quite possibly anticipating to expand our hearts and reshape our thinking.  Day one of fasting a venue that I love so much was a success.

Moving on to the next level of what a fast truly calls us to was a bit of a challenge.  God’s purpose for a fast is to cling to Him in prayer and His word when our belly groans, or in my case, a surge of online approval screams.  My first Saturday night without such pleasure, I found myself lying on the floor of my bathroom, while I would have usually been wasting my time scrolling away… but this night I found myself…praying.  

Focus Ami, you can do this.

My mind wandered…what will I wear to church tomorrow?

Focus!

Okay, God, I’m here, and kinda want to…talk.

In that introverted moment, I rallied all of the courage I had been meaning to have for months asking Him to reveal something to me in past that I know I’ve blocked out.  A security blanket of black, to protect a fragile little girl who wasn’t ready to peer into the mirror of an iniquity seeming to be far too reaching to process.

Lord, I’m ready.  Let me see it, all of it.  No matter what it may be I know you are here…with me.  

In the essence of vulnerability, He allowed me to remember.  He showed me a vivid vision of my four-year-old self-experiencing an intrusion I’d obstructed from my memory bank, yet somehow knew had always taken place.  Jumping up off the floor I instinctively cried out for the one person in the world who I knew could make it all better.  My husband.

“Alan!”  A shrill astounded throughout twenty-three hundred square foot home.

Two seconds later, he appeared.  “What is wrong, baby?”

“Just hold me.  God will do the rest.”

I didn’t sleep into the trenches of Sunday, wondering if this really was a good idea, as I couldn’t erase the image from playing out in my mind over and over again.

Monday brought more unveiling of anguish, un known battles that were being fought while I lived in bliss.  I felt as if what I relied on for affirmation was punching me in the face, talking behind my back, and shunning me at every avenue.  Unbeknownst to me apparently I wasn’t doing as great of a job as I thought, mulling through my everyday routine.  There were things I could change, improve on, love more, talk less, and humble myself before.

Sunday at church I sought out Pastor Kevin as soon as I saw his six foot five frame gleaming at the door of our large church, waiting for someone who may need God’s provision.  

ME, yes please HELP ME!  I ran to him.  

“PK, is it normal to have the enemy attack you big time during this fast?”

His steely introspective blue eyes met mine and a smirk covered his face as he quipped,“Tell me something I don’t know.”

So this chaos is normal in my obedience?

 In that realization, licking my fresh wounds I decided, fine, I’ll just be like everyone else.  During my uncomfortable state of being called out by God…on what seemed to be pretty much everything, I drafted a version of me that wasn’t even close to who God made me. If I act different, I will be loved, right?  Sullen, downcast, introverted, not to mention pitifully sad, I dragged myself through the next three days.  Those around me couldn’t help but assume I was sick, filled with an anguish of a lost loved cat, or by chance they rejoiced at the apparent lack of my usually annoying joy.

Embarking on week two of this painful and deeply confusing fast, it became clear to me that I was not only being beat up Rocky Balboa style by the enemy but also by myself.  Like a brick slammed into my face-God showed me that I was clearly missing the point.

For, this time was intended for me to sacrifice, turn inward and run closer to God in order for Him to allow me to stretch.  Further than I could have ever imagined, as we rarely spread our wings to the point of ache in times of contentment.  I surrendered to the power of Truth and found the smile on my face once again, no matter the revelations of past pain, inequities I may be responsible for, and decided to take ownership of it.

Pain has been given when I didn’t deserve it, and I have brought some storms on others.  So, in prayer, I cried out to God as to how I may stretch and grow so I can rectify pain I may have caused others?

God clearly spoke to me through two wise women. My mentor and dear friend,  my mom in Nevada both voiced that I needed to humble myself and do what we all hate to do when we realize we were infinitely wrong.  Apologize for my wrong doings and forgive the pain forged upon me.

Ugh, really?  Yeah, um no thanks, God.  They hurt me, I didn’t ask for any of this!

“Yes you did, the moment you decided to come back to me.  This is how I heal, how I move.  Through Truth.”  God declared in my time of deep reflection.

Finally, I may be catching on.  This fast isn’t only for me to stop posting dinner plates on Instagram.  It is an outlet for me to heal, prosper, and feel pain I need to embrace in order to forgive.

Week three found me sicker than a dog (whatever that means) with a head cold that fogged my mind, and weakened my body.  As I laid in bed, departed from my usual routine of phone in hand, I answered God,  Fine, I’ll do it.  I’ll say I’m sorry.

After crying out to my mentor for guidance as to how to navigate such an arduous venture she insisted we meet in the prayer room at church after service.  In this still, dim lit, cozy room hung a painting of Jesus that escaped my breath at the mere beauty of it.  Jesus’ eyes were fixated on me in a telling way, as if He could see right past all of my turmoil and the disobedience of the past.  I prayed with my friend, felt His anointing in my life, and left through the narrow door believing that where I am, is where I am supposed to be.  

Days later my pastor told me that the life size painting in the prayer room of Jesus was painted upside down by an artist during a church service years ago.

UPSIDE DOWN?

How on earth did a painter create such an awe striking canvas filled with a divine view of Jesus looking upon up us, from the wrong side up?

As I sat in that very room on the last day of my 21 day fast with my husband, God revealed to me how He used the artist to create something so far reaching, upturned.  It is how He works.  While we are dizzy from seeing the world from our own point of view, the reality we chose to live in, Jesus craves for us to see it from His perspective.  

The church onlookers must have been in awe as the canvas was flipped right side up, thus showcasing the compassionate, loving, and sacrificing eyes of Jesus staring back at them.  Who knew such a possibility of greatness, could be formed from the bottom up?  God does and that is often how He works miracles in our lives.

For that is how He cries out for us to live our whole lives.  Having no clue what will come of it, except burying deep in our hearts that if we trust, obey, are faithful, and submit we can be turned around and displayed as His perfect masterpiece.

Hurt People, Hurt People

My heart broke into a million tiny glass fragments as my eight-year-old son told me of a classmate who was beating him to a hot bleeding pile of hurt with his words. Pulverizing him into a bloody pulp of a mess of emotions Trasen shared with me the awful, untrue words this boy slammed at him like a lashing in the face.

I held him, cried with him, ad told him that people can be deeply mean in this life for no apparent reason.  Rocking him in my arms, it pains me to admit that it doesn’t stop in the third grade, sadly it chases you throughout your whole life.  Heartbreaking as it is,  bullying isn’t a clear view as to who is on your side and who is jealously and deceitfully against you.

Looking back on my life, I feel as if someone has always wanted to “beat me up.”  From the reaches of a challenging and abusive childhood to this day, I feel the slaying of cruel words chastising me when I least expect it.  When I was Trasen’s age, the mean girls at the bus stop tortured me for months, telling me they’d beat me up after school.  I would run and hide at every opportunity to not ride the bus after school or to be “sick” when I wasn’t.  I was TERRIFIED!

“Beat” me up?  What does that mean, a punch to the nose, a kick in the stomach?  Or even worse, vicious words behind my back that I was awkward, too tall, lanky, without the coveted “Guess Jeans” and “Esprit Shirts”, and my worst insecurity (at that time)…that I was ugly?  The thought of the latter was much more abusive than a kick in the gut.  Slam your fist in my face, make my body bleed, but words…those cut far deeper than any knife could.  For what others speak of us when we are not there is the truth, right?

Sadly as I comfort my sweet child, I realize that these people follow you through your entire life.  Those who find joy in making fun of others, trying to sabotage our best efforts, our innate gifts.  They are fearful of the unique and wonderfully made person that God made, and they are in a race to seek peace but have no clue as to how to reach it…

Recently, as I am doing a 21 day fast with my church, where you give something up that is important to you, for me, that happens to be social media.  I love spending time with my readers and friends all over the world!  It is a joy that brings me to a humble place that I have the opportunity to engage in.  Although it is distracting, and something God has called me to give up, to spend more time in prayer, reflection, and the Word.  Values that will bring me closer to my God, myself, and my family.  Can I just say here that it has been SO INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT!  For a person like myself, demonstrative, outspoken, gregarious, and super social I have had to literally conjure up the deepest of my self-control to use the time I had been on social media to spend in prayer, reflection, and introspection.

The outcome has been a deeper connection to God, to my writing, my family, and myself.  I have grown in the past two weeks more than I have in the past six months.  Deep devotion has the ability to provide us with a bird’s eye view of what we fear, love, and a plethora of things we may need to alter in our lives to become closer to Him…  

Last Saturday night, instead of wasting my time on Facebook, I wandered up to a quiet place in my house where no one could find me, and I laid on the floor  and said this simple prayer:

Reveal to me.

What you want.

For me to put You first.

Please let me see some things from my past that I’ve blacked out so I can finally heal.

Please.

Please.

Please!!

In that moment a vivid recollection came to me, jolting me to my core.  I screamed my husband’s name for comfort.  ALAN!  

I crawled into a tiny ball under the sky of this great big world that is often times so very hard to understand.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant memory from my childhood, to the contrary, it was something no child should ever have to endure.  Yet, somehow, someway…I did.  But why should a child be made to suffer so?  In that moment of question, God declared to me:

It has made you who you are.  

Who I needed you to be.

My everyday world has been a never ending brigade of attacks the past fourteen days. Doors have been shut, people have betrayed me, I’ve been accused of things I’d NEVER do, but mostly, a nerve has been electrified in my deepest of insecurities.

Am I good enough?

Am I lovable?

Why don’t they like me?

Am I smart enough?

And for God’s sake why did God make me the way He has…

Happy.

Joyful.

Vocal.

And PLEASE tell me…why do I have such an annoying loud laugh?  I mean, come on now?  It’s just NOT normal!!

The core resistance as to why it took me so long to come back to God was shoved in my face.  Like a court jester dancing around me in a prelude to victory.  Sadly, for five days I deeply bought into the lies of the enemy.

My mood becoming uncharacteristically sullen, watching my back at every moment, incapacitating my words, actions and deeds hoping that the people who are made so uncomfortable by my existence didn’t try to crucify me, I realized I was fighting an unwinnable battle.

While I would have been asking for answers on social media, I chose to lay in my bed, with a big white comforter to seek out an answer from God, not mere people like I would have done on Facebook.  But in reality,  when all I wanted to do was quit this silly game of drama, I was called to stay in the battle.  Get that Eye of the Tiger back, and be… me.  If joy isn’t welcome in a place of misery than I’m doing something right!

For I am not of this world, I am only living in it.  Knowing I’m called to a ministry of Joy (thank you, Pastor Kevin, for that revelation) it puts my existence into perspective.  For, I have suffered much, fought battles that young children never should be subjected to, and have cried myself to sleep more times than I could ever count.  I have struggled physically, emotionally, financially, and professionally.  Yet, I’ve been victorious on all the same platforms deeply into the sunset of my deepest insecurities.  

This world can beat us down along with hurt people who want to hurt us deeper than they have been berated.  Life can throw things our way that we never saw coming (especially during a twenty-one day fast), and we can feel like giving up.  I know I have.  I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and start over, possibly at a place that didn’t hate my guts.  But God told me otherwise.  I have to admit it really made me ANGRY when He clearly told me in the prayer room at church this morning, as I was meeting with my mentor, Christine. I hammered away at how toxic a certain environment is for me, how I’m unfit to be subjected to such torture, God stated to me loud and clear….I’m not done with you where you are.

A full on cry leaped from the deepest place in my lungs as I took in the symphony of His direction.

“But, God I thought you were going to deliver me?”  I pleaded.

He answered:

I need to spread your joy,  to speak deliverance through Me.

Um okay… how do I argue with that?

With a wet face and a trembling hand, I took the prayer of my mentor into my being, knowing that the anointed room we talked and prayed in had given me comfort, strength and an answer

That I am right where I need to be, even if it’s not at all where I want to be.

For, He has greater plans for using me in a dark world that I am not apart of, one that goes against my inner sensitive fibers of my heart.  

Press, on.

Divorce your emotion of ridicule.

Lean on me.

Because I have great plans for where you are at this moment, at this time.

I left the anointed prayer room lifted up, filled with joy, courage, and a strong feeling that there is a triumph against the bullies of this world. Interestingly my life has a grander picture than running away, it is encompassing me loving the hurting people who delight in hurting others.  I will answer His call until another door opens for me to run freely into because I’m not of this place, I’m in His comfort forever no matter how much the hurt strive to hurt me…

 

His Price Was Paid, Twice as Much

I did it twice yesterday, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I really don’t.

Compulsion screams at me the need to get rid of it all, but deep inside I ask of what more I could be if I didn’t want to do it anymore?

Looking out at the perfect sea, on a sunset meant for me to see, I beg for redemption from the white caps that beacon me home. Into the white foam of perfection that the world screams that I must be.

My stomach rolls.

Fullness takes over. A need to rid. To be done with all the turmoil, takes over.

Why, oh why do I feel this way, I ask, finding my way to the closest bathroom. Where is it., where is my reprieve? Where can I give back what was given to me in vain? The replenishment that I do not deserve, I must give it back to the sea that somehow brought it to me.

I don’t want to do it. It hurts, and makes my eyes water like when I cry so deeply my heart feels as if it could combust.

Yet I find myself at the brinks of the floor, cold and alone, as if my knees were bleeding on the sterile cold tile.

Full and alone.

Feeling as if I need to be empty because that is the the way I need to be. Stripped of goodness and life.

I grab the steel cold toilet seat to turn it up so I can meet my destiny. Tears prickle at the forefront of my barrier even though they aren’t supposed to come yet. Not just yet.

A sound comes from nowhere, from across the sea. Far from this land calling out. A cast that needs me more than I need to flow from my pain.

Wind blows, and somehow a truth makes way, from burden into my being. \

The whisper says, “cry no more. Bleed not, for I have done so in your name. Take your hand and lift it up instead of putting it down your throat. I suffered so you can see the light not the darkness you are pledging for in this hour.”

Wind blows. Faith beacons, and I have no choice but to take His hand instead of using it to hurt myself further.

Grace saved me tonight. I don’t want to do it anymore, across the sea, into forever my pain is His and His faithfulness is my greatest prize.

This is where I decide. The rising tide forging its anger, or the Promise of forever that He paid on my behalf, a choice that I have to make.

Feelings are fleeting and are easy to rid of in the turmoil of the water of the chrome oval object in front of me. Do I want an easy way out, or the way to redemption?

Take my hand.

I take HIs hand and come with Him…past the rough of the sea and feelings of abandon.

Off my knees I stand, perfect in His love and sacrifice. Knowing I don’t have to give myself the punishment I feel I deserve as His price was paid twice enough.

His punishment was paid twice enough.