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

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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.

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

jesus

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.