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 Beauty we Grow

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In the glistening sun, I see it, peeking out from the grass.  The ugliness declared in all of its form. A disgusting, thorn filled weed. 

I’ve really got to pick those evil, prickly weeds before they spread, I think as I wipe my brow of sweat from the bright brilliance that has brought us an unremarkable warm season.

  • A few weeks later I stand at the same precipice.  After failing to pull the weeds out of my garden I find myself facing a multiplied amount of sticker bushes.  Yet I feel they are Not capable of extraction, simply left to breed, because I didn’t pull it out when I should have.  

Yet I’m so tired, Lord, so very tired.

 So, Who can clear the debris if I’m not able?

I just can’t.  I mean after being a wife, mom, and work, work work, when do I have time to pull out all of the weeds? 

I look up and see the same strong Son making Himself known to my soft blue eyes saying, “I will make it well, I will pull the weeds.”

But how?  They are too high, multiplied, and are speaking to one another and soon they will overtake me?  How can this burden dissipate?

The Voice continues to Speak:

Because It Will.  It just Will.

Have Faith, my child, trust that I will send you what you need to weed out the ugliness and plant the plentifulness I intend for your life.

Please weed out the ugliness because I just can’t.  I simply can’t.

The weeds fester on.

They grow and multiply.

Time passes on, as I’ve forgotten about the pests yet unrest has grown in my soul, in my spirit, in my journey.  

Weeks later, a day presses on my spirit that requests my strength, growth, and a possibility for something that might transpire even through the weeds.

Turmoil bound, I wander into my garden of peace and tranquility and am met by a thousand peony’s who have made their appearance, and a  couple hundred lily’s;  yet to my disappointment a million thistle bound weeds that have overtaken my garden of Peace and Loveliness.

REALLY???

In fervor, I recall asking for these weeds to be pulled, gone, far from my safe haven of trust, honor, and beauty.  Yet they were still there, multiplying in record speed.

I shake my head in frustration and grab my greatest nemesis to come meet me in a dark room; Insecurity.

 It meets me there and tells me I am not enough.  That rejection comes in waves, especially when I feel safe.  Darkness tells me that the thorns on the green weeds are of my doing.  I wasn’t enough so now it prickles all who touch, to the point of a pain that makes them want to never come back.  To me.

 Insecurity reminds me that rejection has come in waves throughout my life, especially when I start to feel safe.  I am not enough so now I prickle all who touch me, to the point of a pain that makes them want to never come back.  To me.

So, I do what I do best.  I run.

In hiding, I grab my phone, my drink, and my vape thing that makes me feel better in times of duress.  I find myself in my safe haven of a room where there are no thistles, no weeds, and no monsters to remind me that I’m not good enough.  

Reaching for my contact with God’s people, my phone, I reach out to her… a stranger who had sent me her number in a time of need.  Someone I’ve met once, yet who God had predestined me to know a million stars ago.

“Hello.”

She answers.  My voice quivers.

Deeply taking her where I am at in my pit of darkness, I hold my emotion until the part of feeling rejected.  That is where I completely lose it.  For that is my thing.  Rejection, abandonment, loss, loss, and more loss.

She cups my tears and tells me more of her tale.  See, I had met her on a big ‘ole screen months prior telling the three thousand people who attend Journey Church that she has suffered many of the toils that I have.  That day in early spring, where the wind was still deep and the frost continued to bite I took in each and every one of her words.  That she had been healed from all of the demons that haunted her and she had created a home to help others in such situations.  A miracle indeed had taken place in this beautiful woman who I now knew because she was brave enough.  To share her story.

Oddly enough, I found out, she knew me too, as she had read my book of overcoming the tragedy of losing a baby and my tale of God bringing me back despite the bleakest of possibilities because I shared my story.

We were suddenly kindred spirits God knew needed each other in His perfect timing.

“Don’t feed your weeds of insecurity.  Know that Jesus is working hard in you to bring His greatness.  In that, you are being hit with a loss from the past that manifests itself now.”  She bellows into the waves that brought us together as the sun finally decided to set.

Silence on the line because I was sobbing.

“You are good enough.  You are plenty.  Stop feeding the ugly weeds in your life.  STOP giving them life.  The people God has brought into your life will rally around you, not defy you.  They won’t forsake you, for with God who is against us?”

More tears.  An open heart reaching out in a form of surrender I ask God to heal the sad in me that assumes the worst in people who are invested in my life.  

We pray and I calm realizing that I had been feeding the ugly green prickly despicable weeds with my fear, doubt, and speculation of loss.

  I acquiesce to what I know is True even though it’s almost impossible to believe.

An hour later I walk into my garden and the weeds are magically gone.

Because an hour earlier my husband had ripped them all out, not a single one left to fester.  

What we choose to allow to grow will, yet if we give our all and fixate on the strength that will pull it out, zap our insecurity and turmoil from life, the glory will come.  It just will, it has no choice.

Tonight, I thank my God who has sent His army once again to lift me up.

To help me defy impossible odds, and overcome the most unthinkable of circumstances.

What we feed becomes the growth within us, so let that be the Truth, the Word, and Grace be our beauty we grow. 

My Muse Called Joy

 

joy-of-joy

I’ve always believed that in times of joy my words leave like the summer turns to fall so fast I can barely blink.  Possibly due to the fact that I’ve had much less than happy times in my life than joyful ones.  That is why my words feel like the waves of the great Pacific Ocean. Over and over, forming stunning white caps of pain, struggle, and wreckage.  The muse has been many times over…sorrow, confusion, and abandonment.

Yet now, the sun shines.  A dark heart that is usually completely laden is light, lifted into the blue bliss that you see when you awake from a long slumber.  For me, this view is rare forcing me to find gratitude opposed to anger, aggression, and loss.  

Sunbeams blind me and in that, I cover my eyes yet still feel the peace of a thousand blue skies and sunlight mornings.  

So why have I found that I’ve lost my words in times of such rare…peace?

Searching through the dark basement of my cavern of vocabulary I find my Joy sealed in a box covered with cobwebs and fear of repercussions.  Afraid, I open it with more fervor than I’ve ever had.  I fear to see a contentment that I’ve never felt, yet kept at bay for fear of eternal repeats of the past pain I’ve felt.   I rip open the sealed box to the point of ache just to see inside.

As the brilliant yellow light filters into the dusk overtaking it, despite my reluctance, the dark cemented hole in my world implodes into a brilliance of light, color, ultimately manifesting into an array of my very best friends in the world.  In that moment they find me yet again…My Words….everywhere with open arms of need and an earnest to express more than just the sorrow I’ve felt, yet explode the joy I have inside me that now runs through my veins.  A brilliance that needs to implode the world as prophetically as my turmoil has.  My Joy comes to the forefront.  It takes away the darkness, with a glimpse of the sunlight on my face and in that the verbiage flows from me…that of…Acceptance.

Unconditional Acceptance:  Ten years in the arms of my gift in this life, my husband Alan has come to pass.  We’ve lived through the very best and the deepest of worst. Loved deeper and felt further than our minds could have imagined ten years past. Tonight he said to me, “Even though we had no idea, God was doing all of this far before we knew Him.”  Enough said.

Deep Acceptance of myself:  Flaws and all.  In’s and out’s.  Great things about me, and terrible ones, I can somehow now miraculously embrace.  The highs and lows of living with Bipolar Disorder can bring one to a place of confusion and ultimate self-doubt.  One of the gifts I’ve been given recently is to just rest.  Love me through it all. Highs and lows.  Ebbs and flows, God somehow produces greatness for Him and manifests in ways I could never explain.

Unthinkable Acceptance of Forgiveness:  Recently in my journey, I have been able to forgive things done to me that I could have never been set free without the power of deep intervention.  A darkness that has blinded me, incapacitated and imprisoned me for years, I’ve let it go.  I completely have allowed it to fly away from me a few weeks ago as several hands were laid on me in a union of prayer and healing.  Forgiving the trespassers against me has ultimately allowed the inner demons haunting me to be set free and allowing the Son to shine upon me in a way that I could actually see it.

Acceptance of things I can’t Comprehend:  Losing my two babies has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure.  My husband tells me I’m beautiful when I’m crying for them.  I take that in, as I will always mourn Jaden and Zac.  I accept the loss as part of who God intended me to be.   Yet in that, He has given me a gift of how to accept the beauty we are given after the storm.  For me, it’s a beautiful little girl with my eyes and dreams of her own past the stars.  I rocked her to sleep tonight deeply taking in the acceptance of the beauty of things I couldn’t understand as I stood at the gravesites of my lost baby boys.  But now I hold a gift I never dreamed I’d have.  A daughter.

In closing, I’ve been proven wrong.  Words can flow in times of Joy.  The author inside of me is always at work, banking each and every emotion, echoing hardship yet also unforeseeable beauty.  It’s all mine to keep and bring to life forevermore.  

My muse is life itself.  In all its many faces, in times of turmoil, but now…I proclaim a season of JOY!

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…