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.

Stinky Face

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A note to my four children:

No matter what….

I will always love you.

Whatever comes your way, I’ll be supporting, loving and praying for you.

I am forever on your side, through your success and failure, I will always love you

Whatever you may become in this life is beyond my grandest imagination…

No matter the manifestation, I will be your biggest fan.

Your Dreams will become my own, and I shall fight when you are too tired to go to battle.

Love  always, Mom

Consider the infinite beauty of holding the perfect baby in your arms after a long arduous labor.  In that earth shattering moment where you were physically connected just moments before, it is hard to embrace that they may embark on a life adventure that you didn’t foresee for them.

I’ve raised a son, he is eighteen, graduated third in his senior class of hundreds and he is absolutely one of the great love’s of my life born of my body, my heart, and my soul.

Caleb is currently at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  In case you haven’t heard of this private university, it is known globally for its music pastoral program.  As a matter of fact, Prince himself utilized the high-tech studio on a regular basis to record and practice when he was still alive.  My boy dreamed, trained endlessly, but most importantly followed the calling on his life.  

For those of you who know my son, Caleb, he is a mere genius.  I can list his many accolades but to not seem prideful (because I’ll admit I am)  I’ll stick to the topic.

When Caleb came to accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior he was teaching himself the guitar.  Our family had recently experienced a second deviating loss of a sibling of Caleb’s within a short time frame. My boy lost two infant brothers back to back.  Two graves, two shoe box coffins that forced a young man who never felt emotion embarked on a chasm of eternal anger or possibly a God-given outlet.  Secretly I prayed for us all (to a God I had myself rebuked for years after leaving Him twenty years prior). Caleb found the wonderful and powerful outlet of music.  At the time he was in the Medical Science academy at his high school that was acclaimed for producing doctors and engineers.  Both of which my boy could become, as a matter of fact, this kid could be anything he wanted to be.

One dark night as I did laundry, Caleb ate his dinner after a long night of leading the youth in worship at our local church he summoned the courage to declare his purpose to me.   

“Mom.”

“Yes, Caleb?”  I stated after putting together an impossible puzzle known as matching socks.

“I feel God is calling me to be a Music Pastor.”

Great pause took place in my heart.  Caleb could be anything, ANYTHING in this world, and succeed in that endeavor past the stars.  His IQ is off the charts, his ACT scores through the roof, and his writing ability clearly announces his feelings, facts and heart in a fluid and concise manner.  In that, he wants to go into the ministry?  To make a menial living, and live a life of constant and at times unappreciated service.  I look over at my sixteen-year-old man-child as he eats his dinner prepared with love and sacrifice by his stepdad, and all I could see on his face was a look of concern, deeply wanting approval.

…Of what I’d say.  What I’d think, how I’d react.  All I could do was swell with a pride matched by one  of the greatest of moments in my history.  For instead of focusing on money and stature, he was following a deep, intense, and at times very challenging calling on his life.  I could barely tether in my smile as I answer him:

“Son, do what fulfills you.  You can always make money, you can never get back a purpose not served.  God will provide if you follow your calling.  Don’t find yourself trapped by expectations of what you are supposed to be.  Be…Just be what you are called to be.

He is studying music at a renowned school of worship in Minneapolis, Minnesota  at this moment.

My second son, Cameron is gifted with visuals, behind the scenes talent, as the captain of the camera he has an acute artistic ability.  He has an eye for the camera and his ability makes me shiver.   His love for his family forces me to marvel as he offers me emotional comfort and wise words, I would have never expected from my own child.  Cam has been my confidant, my rock, and the one who I can always count on.  His ability has endless possibilities, past the confines of any insecurity that we all hold deep within.  

Cameron volunteers at his church doing the technical aspects that allow the service to rock out and is a leader in his youth group.  But mostly,  he meets the heart of the youth that look up to him, he joins with people where they are, he cancels plans that mean the world to him in order to minister to someone who needs him more than his “fun” plans coincide with.  My Cameron, my darling gift of a son has a greater purpose than I could have ever imagined.  I asked him one day, “what do you foresee in your future?

He simply answered,

“I don’t know yet, but definitely something in the ministry.”

I once saw him directing films in Hollywood, following his starlit dreams of fame and fortune.  Yet, God called my second son to be His and serve His people.

My two little one’s futures will transpire as they grow in the goodness and trials God has in store for them.  Although, my eight-year-old son Trasen already has a passion for the word.  After summer camp the pastor told me he begged to read his Bible with his flashlight every night before bed.  He also received the “Wisdom” award at Spring Hill Camp.

Lilia and Trasen shall see the magnitude of greatness they are called into in due time.

I’ve always read a children’s book to my kids called:

I Love You, Stinky Face.

In the beginning of the book, the mother tells her child, “I love you, my wonderful child.” ~But the child has some questions, and valid ones at that.

It tells a story of a child asking his beloved mother, would you still love me if….I’m something different than what you want me to be.

What if I’m was an alien, a one-eyed monster, a big ugly ape, or a skunk with a stinky face?
Would you still love me then?

The mother answers, I will love you and I will provide the needs you have no matter where they may take you.

The mama of the one-eyed monster read bedtime stories until his one big eye fell asleep, the ape she fed a banana birthday cake and the skunk she gave a great big bubble bath.  She met the child’s needs despite uncertain and unexpected circumstances.  I mean in all reality no one really wants a one-eyed monster for a child, but if I had one I’d love it with all my being.  It’s translated into an unconditional love that a mother can exude, the kind of love that transcends time, situations, and struggle.

After reading this book that is tethered and worn after four children worth of bedtime stories, it gave me great hesitation reflecting on my current struggles.

My oldest baby has grown up and he is making his way into the world as I’ve always dreamed he would.  All of God’s endless possibilities are at his footsteps.

 But as far as me…I feel left behind.

It spreads through a familiar feeling of abandonment; my greatest nightmare, my most abundant personal parental reality, as to this day…my father is absent.  And my mother…well it’s very complicated, to say the least.

Has Caleb abandoned me?   Of course not!  He has followed God’s gracious path towards the greatness He has planned for him.  Caleb has to find his wings, his greater purpose to fulfill all he is called to be.

But I’m home.  Without his beautiful song echoing throughout my home and my heart.

 Has he left me?  No.

Is he gone?  Yes.

Do you love me, God, even though I’m a skunk that needs a big ole bubble bath?

A one-eyed monster that needs help reading her bedtime story?

God says, YES my child I love you no matter what, in spite of  your failure, disparage, or in times of deep loss.  Even if it is the healthiest kind, such as your adult son leaving.

Caleb is done being my child under my roof that I worked so hard to grow up, Cameron is on the brinks. I’ve found myself in the midst of what some call a mid-life crisis, having cut my hair and gaining fifteen pounds, and at times being tugged at to fall back on unhealthy coping mechanisms, I cling to God begging Him to not take His love away from me.  Even in the midst of not living up to what I know He has in store for me I’m contemplating how to figure out this new life, new dynamic, and major transition, I have to ask Him what if today I were a slimy green alien would he still want and love me?

And do you know what my Father in Heaven says to me?

I will always love you,

Stinky Face.

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The Wish Flower

God’s beauty comes in so many forms we miss them every day. What if your ugliest of secrets could be used to be His most beautiful of testimonies? Join me in finding our inner wish flower!

 

Every now and then in life, a wish has the potential to manifest into reality.  Possibly, a plush garden that we are set free in and given free reign to grow and prosper.  But in all reality, nothing of the sort comes without a lot of hard work dedication and sacrifice.  A short time ago I clearly heard the voice of God telling me that He has extraordinary plans for me…perhaps a stunning garden of my own to dance and sing in if only I was ready….  

I saw a vision so magnificent chills prickled my skin to the point of ache.  My eyes filled with tears filtered through a colander crafted by Hope.  The kind of desire only God’s promises can bring, those created with the purest of gold.  The sun formulated shadows on the stunning Wisconsin landscape as I envisioned my dream turning into reality, for as we all know God doesn’t lie. Holding on to the peak that God had just given me, I imagined myself right where my Maker had told me I could be…

But under one very important condition, one that I wasn’t sure I could meet.

I had to give up my last vice, the one that had been plaguing me for the better part of my adult life.  My poison, my escape, my greatest lie yet what I oddly considered to be my very best friend.

God clearly told me “no more one foot in, one foot out!”  He declared that in order for me to fulfill the destiny He has laid out in front of me I had to stop blowing on the wish flower hoping my dreams would come true.  It was time for me to become the wish flower.

Early in springtime, our green grass is filled with bright yellow weeds we call dandelions. Most of us find them to be a hassle, an annoyance, and something that eventually turns into a feathery mess that only creates millions of more ugly weeds.

Each and every one of my four children in the innocence of childhood found such “ugliness” to be a flower that they could pick for me.  When my three boys were little they would run to me with a handful of the golden weeds, proudly handing me what they saw as a dozen yellow roses.  Of course, my eyes lit up and I kissed them harder than they liked.  I’d put those darn, hideous things in a cup of water and place them where all could see.  They were flowers from my sons after all.

Recently my youngest child, my one, and only daughter discovered the brilliant abundance of flowers everywhere her eyes could scan!  The same glory shone on her face as she picked as many as her small hands could hold to present to me.  I smiled and warmly held on to the memory of my older boys doing so as preschoolers and finding myself so blessed that I got to be the recipient of dozens and dozens of dandelions one last time.

As the weeds went to seed I taught my daughter to pick one, close your eyes tight, make a wish, then blow!  We had so much fun running in the meadows captivating our wishes and watching them fly in the wind.  A few days later my daughter and I were on a walk and she declared with her sweet angel voice:  “Mommy,  let’s pick the wish flower.”  As she tugged on my hand dragging me over to a dandelion that was resigned to nothing but a bunch of white seeds held on by a frail material that would scatter with the slightest of winds, she picked one for herself and then one for me.

“Blow, mommy, blow the wish flower.”

In sweet unison we sent the seeds out to pasture with all the breath we could muster. Fragments of the once robust weed were sent in every direction to cultivate the next season of the ugly weeds life.

I took great pause looking at a stinky old weed through the eyes of my children, and in that moment I realized how similar I am to that “flower”.

Often times I feel less than desirable and misplaced.  An annoyance that shouldn’t be adored as a “real” flower, but merely one that only looks like one from a distance.  

Standing there watching the tiny buds of future life fly in the sky destined for their landing place I realized that is how God uses us.  He takes our “yuk” our undesirable and unlovely things to plant the earth with His mercy, grace, and beauty for all to look on in awe.  I’ve discovered through struggle and past turmoil that our past where we no longer live, but where we can be used in tremendous ways.

Of course,  the catch twenty-two is we can’t live there anymore if we are destined to do the work God has in store for us.  We have to move past the comfortability that holds us back, whatever the last straw is, we have to break free and move into the light and testimony of the calling He has on our lives.

A few days later I did it!  I leaped into the arms of promise and purpose giving up my crutch and truly began living, soaring toward the woman God has in store for me.  I’m ready for Him to breathe new life into me and blow my seeds all over this world.  For every part of me, broken and beautiful is wonderfully and fearfully made and God has promised me that He will use it all for His glory.  

For as a daughter of God, I am His wish flower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why my Facebook Life is Fake

We all are guilty of taking 51 shots on our iPhones in order to get that one selfie that makes us look incredibly skinny, pretty and oh so perfect! That is the lure of publishing our lives on social media, we are finally in control of our lives that in reality we have no control over what so ever. So here it is folks, the really bad selfie of me!

Alan and Ami's bdayI am imperfect.    We all are.  Yet I feel social media is the perfect medium to allow our imperfect beings to show a false reality of what we really want to be seen…I admit it, right here, right now I fall into this category.  In the depths of loving the selfie taking, word choice moments that may have formed an unrealistic vision of who I really am, I want to call myself out, to let you see a glimpse of true reality.

I’m sorry if you feel lied to but this is really who I am…

1.  A divorced woman.  Yup.  I failed at marriage the first go around.  Indeed, my ex and I are still friends, we chose kindness not hate.  But we are still not one.  We are left nothing but..painfully divorced as a couple.  Leaving my two older sons with a mom and dad who didn’t keep to our original marriage vows, who are scattered amongst the wreckage of the rest of the world.

2.  I am an author.  I get to tell amazing stories for a living.  Yet in order to do so, I have lived a lifetime of hardships that allow my words to flow from my ache-ridden heart the way that they so fluently do.

3.  I have lived with a painful eating disorder.  I have posted pictures of a skinny skeleton of myself from my past with a story of the torture that comes with being so thin.  There is always at least one in the crowd who tells me how “great” I looked.  Yes, it looks great to live on 400 calories a day and to succumb to the pain that comes with the pressures of perceived perfection.

4.  I have no clue what I want to be in this life…still.  I’m 41 years old and have no idea what I’m going to be when I grow up.  Most women at my age can identify with being a stay at home mom, or having a career.  I am still in-between and after a few unpredicted situations of having to take a late stand in life against abusive people, I am still finding out just who I am and where I am supposed to be.

5.  I have a child who is leaving and one who is just starting out.   My oldest son of four children is getting ready to go to college and I am so very proud, beyond belief!  Yet, accepting he is leaving my nest is more difficult than I could have ever imagined.  I want to chase after him every time he comes home this last year he is under my roof and give him one last hug, just in case he should forget what it feels to have my arms wrapped around his neck.  Yet…I have a baby girl who I have dreamed of having my whole life who is just three years old.  She is just starting out, the breath of life is fresh and every new discovery is a light in her eye.  As much as I embrace it, there are times I wonder what it would be like to be simply saying goodbye to the teenager who begs for freedom, not starting all over again.  A sign that we are never truly content with what we have, are we?

6.  Depression, it hunts me down when I least expect it.  Ins and outs.  Ebbs and flows.  It always finds me.  End of story.

7.  I’m a figure skater.  I always wanted to be on the ice, and made the dream come true at the age of 30.  But by choice not by recognition of simply wanting to be something I wasn’t.  And  I’ve fallen more than I’ve landed.  I have more bruises than pretty dresses.  Anything worth while comes with hard work that is unthinkable to most…

8.  I have a love-hate relationship with any form of alcohol.  Being an ultra-controlling Virgo, I absolutely hate the idea of anything controlling me.  Submersed in the freeing feeling of one too many martinis I have to ask myself, is this where I really want to be?  Numbing the difficult day away, or truly feeling it through good times and bad?  Scrolling along on social media all we see is ways “wine” is the only solution to a difficult day, yet is that really any kind of a solution?

9.  I don’t speak to my father.  Because it is healthy.  And that alone hurts.  Way more than I ever lead on.

10.  My husband and I aren’t perfect.
  We take date night selfies.  We post our dinner recipes for the night, and show you our children’s pretty faces, but please know that we do fight.  We clash.  We are at odds, more than we’ll ever let you know.  But if anything in my life that is imperfect, my marriage is the one thing I’m the most proud of because no matter how flawed I am, no matter how much I struggle to find balance, my husband chases that dream with me.  And he perfects my imperfections with his own struggle, and he forces me to see my beauty more than any single human being ever has.  Simply what we all truly need in this life is that one person who has our back.  And that is what I don’t say enough on social media, that I’m flawed, I hurt, but through it all, I have a partner who is too.  He holds my hand and says, “we will make it through the struggle…together.”