Monthly Archives: May 2016

“I’m Never Writing Again!”

cross this out“I’m never writing again!” I cried out with tears in my eyes and a whimper in my voice. “I also deleted Facebook off my phone and I’m done getting on it!”

My husband is rarely surprised by my dramatics, but still always actively participates in helping me come to a quick resolution.  He has learned that listening with a sympathetic ear, then quickly redirecting whatever lie it is that I’m believing, is the best approach to the circus I drag to town on the crazy train.

“She’s better than me.  Her writing is so raw. She quoted scripture and cussed in the same paragraph. I’ll never be this good and I can’t take the embarrassment of it all. I quit!”

Ronnie wrapped his arms around me and let me cry it out.  He assured me that my writing is good, that people can relate to it and that I’ve just got to keep writing. I wiped away my tears and nodded my head, but damnit…I was done.

I thought about this all day, wondering if I should announce my departure from the podium, no, that’s so dramatic and attention seeking.  Maybe I would just go silent, no, that’s not what God called me to do. Ahhh! I should take a class and read material from more writers that I want to sound like! Wait!  That’s inauthentic.

I was spinning my wheels…did you hear it too? was spinning MY wheels, as if this calling was somehow meant for me. As if I was in control. As if I had a say in the whole thing.I had made this thing all about me and, quite frankly, it was mostly made up. All the thoughts in my head were swimming around, festering, giving each other high fives, breeding, pumping each other up, all the while sending me off the emotional cliff, headed for writer suicide!  I was doomed!

It’s a really bad place up there.  Exhausting. Lonely. Dark. There is very little truth conceived there and the demons that lurk there are evil ones, waiting for their hot bed, waiting to destroy me, ready to kill. It’s moldy and seething.  It’s the rotting flesh of my own pity. The place my confidence goes to die. It’s God-less there…or is it?

I believe that no place is God-less. I believe that the fear we live in is simply the privacy fence that we look through, seeing the green pastures ahead, but too afraid of the barbed wire we imagine is lining the top. I KNOW that God exists in crack houses and dirty motel rooms.  I know he follows his people into war. I know that he sits bed side during failed suicide attempts. I know.

So how in the hell could I deny that he was here, in this the ugliest of sins, envy? I couldn’t. He was there and I intended to seek his counseling, because I was dangling my feet right over that ledge, posted and ready to jump head first into the abyss.

“God. Help. Save me from this. I don’t want to be jealous.  I don’t want to be self-loathing. I don’t want to toss-away the passion you have given me. Help.”

He heard me.  I knew what I needed to do.

I picked up the phone and dialed her number.  What the world was I thinking? Was I really about to do this? Hopefully she won’t answer. She answered. I confessed. I was free.

The truth we shared was beautiful. I confessed my jealousy. I told her about my emotional breakdown. I murdered the demon that I had carried with me all day long. And you’d never guess, but she had felt the same way. Turns out, she isn’t super confident about her writing. She’s a little embarrassed each time she hits Post. We also talked about how rare it is that people are vulnerable enough to call and talk about what ails them, usually resorting to something far less attractive and far more damaging.

At the end of our conversation she thanked me for calling and told me I was a great writer. She reminded me that God used TWELVE disciples and a messiah to deliver one message. I and she are just two of the voices carrying the same message. The message that there is hope, that God does save and that although every voice is different, each is valuable.

“I’m never writing again!” quickly evolved into, “I think I’ll write about this!” And I’m glad I did. Today that monster didn’t win!

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The Fear and Freedom of Taking the Plunge

cliff jumping

These last couple of weeks have been crazy ’round these parts.  There are a lot of changes going on in my business.  All good ones, but changes none-the-less, and change, even when it is good, can be scary.

On Sunday I went to Tonkawa Falls with a group of friends. We were quite the crew. My husband, my AA sponsor, one of my employees and a girl who I’ve been helping while she’s transitioning out of the strip clubs into a healthier lifestyle. All very different.  All very much alike.

At one point, all of us ladies made the climb to the top of the falls to check things out. We had noticed a group of boys sliding down the waterfall, then climbing back up and we needed to investigate further, so we did.  When we got up there we got the 411. If you sat in just the right spot, the current would usher you down the slippery rocks and into the icy, bubbling brew below. We all kind of laughed and talked about the dangers of it all and how, surely, we would hit our heads if we dared, so we watched, one, then two, then eventually several teenage boys tumble over, unharmed.

“Kinda looks like fun!” My employee remarked.

And it did!  After a few minutes of encouragement from the rest of us, she sat down, shivering and scared and she launched off!  feet first, screaming the whole way, into the water below, alive!  It. Was. Glorious!!!

One by one I watched my girlfriends fly that day!  After the falls, they mustered up the courage to leap from the highest peak.

It dawned on me that over the last couple of weeks I had witnessed so pretty awesome plunges.  We had a wonderful young lady staying with us through her final month of college and just the day before she walked the stage with a degree in business.  The once homeless, exotic dancer decided to finally turn in those stilettos and glitter body lotion and left today for a year-long program that helps women who have been sexually exploited. I jumped in with both feet and bought a $12,ooo juicer for my juice bar (that was scary) and my husband left his job to pursue something more fitting for him.

These actions were all different, and yet the fear and intimidation felt as we crossed the platform to that degree, got in the car to go get help, turned in that 2 week notice and entered in that credit card information, THAT was all the same. And for that we had each other.

The other similarity is the freedom we each felt as we realized that making those decisions and running full speed ahead, even though we were sweating bullets the whole way, was totally worth it.  We had done it and it was good!

Whatever cliff you are facing today or may be looking at tomorrow, because the cliffs will always rise, just know that you are not alone. Whether it is the hypothetical plunge or the 20 foot drop, be still and know.

The Inherent Paradox of Motherhood

image

Motherhood. Those ten little letters arranged together to create one of the world’s most profound ideals. It’s the ideal you aspire to live up to, the one you struggle the most to escape, it’s your proudest moment & your biggest mistake. 

I spent the first half of my life fighting my mother at every turn.  Never taking much of her life into consideration. I was very self focused & hell bent making a mark on this world, good or, as seemed more likely, bad.  She was a prime target for much of my teenage angst, yet always the first phone call in times of need. I pushed her away & held her close. What a confusing conundrum.

As a mother I gained some respect & understanding of my mother, and yet, still vowed to never be like her. Although many times repeating some of her greatest qualities.

My mom was a teen mom, before being a teen mom was something that awarded you a reality TV show. She was pregnant & married by the age of 15 & had 2 children by the age of 16. I came along much later & probably had a lot more luxuries than my older siblings.

My mom never graduated high school, but she did graduate from The University of Texas when she was 45. I was in & out of school at the time, getting kicked out regularly, once for bringing vodka to school in 7th grade, so I spent a lot of time at UT with her. Those were some of my favorite memories. 

Looking back there were so many things that I took for granted when I was growing up. My mom loves tradition around holidays & always makes sure we adhere to said traditions. She loved to take roadtrips, driving & always stopping at every historic landmark & cemetery. She is an artist & my life has been plastered in vibrant blues, rich reds & blinding yellows. She has never been afraid to share her struggles or listen to yours. She is am adventurer. I get that from her & my son gets that from me. I love & admire these qualities now, but rolled my eyes in disdain at them then.

When I was 18, I became a mom. It was & still is, one of my most cherished badges. My first born changed me in a way I could’ve never imagined. The classes, books & infomercials prepare you for the diaper changes, scraped knees & failing grades. What they do not prepare you for is the way your heart is forever marred, damaged & broken. You are not prepared for a life of pride in something you feel such great responsibility for yet can hardly take credit for.  All of a sudden you hear your mother’s voice echoing in your speech. A new love, empathy & regard forms for her.

Before I had children I loved my mom for the things she gave me; life, shelter, love, food. After my children were born I loved her for the things she taught me; how to live, work ethic, a heart for others & how to cook.

During my active addiction I all but destroyed my mother. Sleepless nights wondering if I was alive, calls from jail where she would leave me because at least I was safe there, the people I dragged home, the trips to the hospital, the lies I told & money I stole. I used & abused her & she still answered my calls.

Sitting at breakfast this morning laughing with her & my oldest son I realized what a miracle it is to be staring into the face of God. This is the Love that is woven into the testaments. This is the forgetful Love in the letters. This is where we learn to Love as God Loves us. Alive, breathing, palatable. 

Motherhood. Those 10 little letters. Peppered with the deepest love, the hardest truths & the most sleepless nights. 

Thank you mom. I love you.

My Hero Sarah (The Hero Series pt 2)

Sarah Holland

Here is what I can tell you about Sarah:

She was born into a big family with several siblings. She grew up vegan and was well versed in the health benefits of organically grown fruits and vegetables. She is smart, funny, outgoing…and an addict.

Sarah was a bottom of the barrel user.  She stole, robbed, fought and conspired to get drugs.  She went to prison, more than once and was treated for her addiction, more than once.  When she got clean, the only thing she knew about computers is that when you stole them you had to be sure to grab all of the cords or the pawn shop wouldn’t buy them. She was what many would call a hopeless case.

She is my hero.

As I sat with Sarah not too long ago commiserating on the way our lives intersected, where we came from and how graciously God has reconstructed the torn up, burned down, broken lives we were destined to die in, it occurred to me that I was standing on the most sacred of ground.  That THIS moment was what dreams were made of.  That I was sitting face-to-face with another miracle.

We talked about the way our skin used to crawl each time we accidentally caught a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror, now our skin was the most beautiful cloak we don. How waking up each morning was the first and worse news we found that day, to praying that we will live well into our golden years.  That living a life of manipulation, crime and fear has blossomed into lives purposed to share the truth of freedom, fighting the good fight and boldly walking out in faith.

Today Sarah is in graduate school to be a licensed professional counselor specializing in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, she is happily married to an amazing man, has a renewed relationship with the family who shunned her, volunteers her time to help other recovering addicts, works out like a beast, teaches ESL at night and is one of my very favorite friends.

She saved me once, from the trappings of my own lying mind. She came, sat me still and told me the truth, woman to woman, addict to addict, God’s child to God’s child. She told me that recovery is real and it is hard and it takes time, but that it can be done.  I needed to hear what she was saying right in that moment. I count her as one of my early recovery angels and probably wouldn’t have stayed put if she hadn’t talked me down off the ledge.

Here’s to heroes and angels and all that sort! Praise God for His manifestation in flesh!