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 Everything​ that Holds Me Back From Your everything.

When God tells us to let go we hold on tighter. Is that the root inside us saying that we are afraid of excellence or is the enemy burning us of our greatness as he only has a last ditch effort-or both? Follow me as I find out…

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Your Grace Abounds in Deepest Waters~ Hillsong United

Last night I had the privilege of seeing one of the greatest worship bands of all time on the last leg of their US tour.  As I danced, sang, and worshiped my heart out at Hillsong United’s Chicago finale concert I was brought to a place I haven’t been in a long time.  A place of complete and total surrender.  Because grace is not deserving  of  the abundance  God gives and can be perplexing, so we shun it because it simply doesn’t make sense.  Yet I’ve had the privilege of  receiving God’s grace first-hand several times in my life.  First, as a wandering young adult who could have chosen loss yet somehow someway chose a life  changing life.  (Through that, Grace brought me one of the greatest joys of my life to this day.)  Second, as a young adult who could have vanished at the hand of my own hand with an eating disorder that left me thin, depleted, and not as in control as I thought I was.  Third, as a middle aged woman still longing for love and seeking it in all the wrong avenues, through a mind-numbing state.  Doing so after a life of abandonment and loss of two infant baby boys in the span of 18 months.  This time a clear liquid found in a bottle saying it was my friend and my escape, I clung to.  Sure felt like grace at the time, yet it brought me nothing but sorrow, emotion of the evil kind, and so much devastation.  That is where the true forgiveness came.  When I was at my deepest darkest lowest cavern, Grace was with me when I wasn’t with it.

“As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'”  ~Romans 9:33:

Shame.  It comes it waves and it can wash over me faster and swifter than any tsunami that claims the land.  The sun sets and that is when it seeks me out the most.  When smiles fade and eyes list off to slumber is when it wakes me up from my hope of rest.  Shame speaks mountains yet God overshadows all with earth shadowing lights that blind our view of what we believe.  That is what I saw last night at the concert of a lifetime. With my teenage son, my eight-year-old son, and my husband by my side.  Lights come, rains pour down, and prophets sit and wait.  But if we cannot reckon our shame we are lost…in a sea of excellence made yet not received and that makes us simply a facade.  

This is me.

When I am sober, I am a force to be questioned by the enemy.  A force that God uses to move mountains and build bridges of struggle yet knowledge and peace of salvation.  I know the gift He has given me.

Yet I struggle so deep and far  into the past…

To numb the loss.

And my fear.

The pain I’ve suffered in this life.

I know what promise lies ahead for me, yet I fight them internally in a deep battle greater than all that has come before and will go into the sun.  Because that is what happens when the darkness is threatened.  I’ve overcome so much in my life.  Why is this addiction the most difficult so far?

I’ve overcome so much in my life.  Why is this addiction the most difficult so far?

Grace, what have You done?
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in Your blood  ~Hillsong United

The cross has taught me to live.  At church this morning my pastor delivered a grace-filled message that ripped me open and left me tearful and broken.  I feel the enemy has been working my whole life to tear apart the very things Jesus can use, the gifts I have despite the struggle, or more so because of the struggle to serve Him better.  My pastor spoke of the fact that “I’m not judging you, that you should judge yourself.”  And that, “The enemy is going to barricade you inside your hell to hold you back when you have come to know Him.”

Yes.  And Yes.

Judging myself alone, I know the idol I need to leave at the altar.

Alcohol.  My bitter enemy and most pretty war that calls me king: and gives me false joy.

The enemy haunts me down: even though I rededicated my life to Jesus six months ago and was baptized in the warm waters of Wisconsin last week… indeed I’m being attacked.

Can I overcome, yes!~

Am I predestined for greatness?

Indeed, I am.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

As the showcase of lights danced on and the bombard of music sold my soul and the cadence of song continued in my heart to call me home, I clung to the cross that has declared that I let go of the one last lie.

The last everything that holds me back from everything God has planned for me.

So tonight as I write to God, to you, to me.  I say this, that  I want more.

God has given me a promise of forever.  I want this to be it, a mercy seeking greatness that has been promised to me by my King.

Tonight my husband said something to me that moved barriers, “I need to hold onto the love that has been sung to me last night in the form of a voice so beautiful.  A voice that said to me this morning in the form of a splendor of a speaker that God is using on this earth in the form of the leader of our church.  Through the example our church used in a woman who bore her deepest soul on a stage that shown her every dark moment, yet draped in me all that I am and all that I fear and hurt so deeply.

As an author, many of you know God has called me to tell my story of childhood/adulthood parental abandonment, divorce, success, love, progress, and addiction.  After an extremely convicting Saturday night spent with one of the greatest worship bands of all time, and a Sunday morning spent with a Journey Forward pastor who calls out and loves the people of his church as God has called him to do, I am left feeling challenged.  To pierce through the dark and become all I am meant to become in spite of the enemy in the prime of my greatness.  Not the pain, abandonment, fear, and anguish that makes me want to numb my future greatness.

So, I encourage you all to fight hard and find your greatest purpose God has for you no matter the challenge you may deem impossible.  Join me in my journey as I say, my God,

I am Yours and You are Mine.

Enjoy the song that inspired this blog: