The Inherent Paradox of Motherhood

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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.

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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!

Give a Girl a Chance!

18 months ago, after about 6 months of limping through small business woes, serving juice in Styrofoam cups (with ice…ugh), dragging Ronnie & Haigon around to farmer’s markets, writing a business plan from scratch with the help of Google & my dear friend Stella & working my butt off to make this little engine go, I presented my business plan to a group of people who love & support me.

I was asking for a $5000 small business loan! my goal was to buy some new equipment, fancy bottles & a rental space to amp up Luna Juice Bar! I also wanted to start paying Aprille, who was limping along with me. We prayed so hard for that loan to come through. She was helping me build this dream…for free!

After a lot of work & much deliberation, I was granted that loan! It was the start of something big & I was so grateful because on paper I was not bankable. I had a huge gap in employment, I had a history of drug abuse with only a little over a year sober (at that time) & bad credit. But these people, they believed in me. They saw hope in my story.  They weren’t going to give up, so….they handed over a $5000 check to an ex-crackhead!!!!!

Today, I paid that loan off. I was only late once, this month, because I just forgot to pay….my last payment & I forgot! Yeesh!

The feeling of pride I had when I put that check in the mail was indescribable.  I did it. I followed through with this commitment.  I finished something I started. I worked hard & I accomplished this goal! Wow! Tears come to my eyes as I think of all the amazing people who helped me do this thing! My heart is bubbling over! I am in awe of God’s Grace, power & deep love.

I can’t believe it! Here we are…just the beginning! I’m just so dang grateful!

These Servant Hands

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The picture you see here is not of dirty hands.  As a matter of fact, I wash my hands over 50 times a day, most recently with textured soap, the same kind that mechanics use.  Look closely.  Can you see the cracks?  See the stains? See the toil and strain?

I recently became more aware of the way my hands looked.  I went into a nail salon 2 weeks ago in preparation for a huge event that, not only was I attending, but was also sharing my testimony at. When the beautiful young girl picked up my hand to paint my nails she wrinkled her nose & made a comment about how badly I needed a manicure, but that there wasn’t much she could do at that point.

My hands are not dirty, they are stained from processing beets and other colorful fruits at my juice bar.  I try and I try to get them clean and uncracked, but nothing seems to work.  I think I’d have to take 2 weeks off to heal them completely. They are ugly, and gross (looking) and I have become increasingly aware of these facts.

This morning as I got ready for church I noticed them again. UGH…I was a greeter this morning.  It’s something that I take great pride in because I can’t offer much to my church body in the way of money or time, but by golly, I can wish them a helluva fine “Good morning!” But this morning as I got ready, all I could think about was how disgusting my hands looked.

I went into the bathroom, again, to give them one more good scrubbing, to no avail, then headed off to church, where I was sure that everyone who took a bulletin from me would notice.

Greeting went as it always does.  Lots of chit chatting with my greeting partner for the day, hugs and smiles from other church members, comments on hair and dresses and bow ties. Standing in the sunlight of the Spirit both figuratively and literally. Seeing my peeps.  My church family.  Serving them in the best way I know how, with a warm greeting!

As I snuck into church after the opening prayer and took my place next to my dad and my husband, I looked down.  There they were, those old tattered hands.  I had only just then thought of them again!  I had been sure that morning that I would have a hard time focusing on what I was doing because of the state my awful hands were in, but no, I hadn’t thought of them at all.

What a concept!  My service to others; people I love, people I hardly know, my friends, my family, total strangers, had completely taken all the fear, self loathing, embarrassment and inner voices away.  I had been healed, if even briefly by that simple act of selfless service to my fellows.

For the rest of the day I wore these battle scars with pride.  I work hard for these deep cracks and stains.  I love my life, dirty hands and all.  Most importantly, when I was feeling low, it wasn’t self-care that helped, it was helping others that healed.

Saint Ronnie – The Haiku

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Saint Ronnie in Spring

Deals in the Heaven’s card table

Royal flush of hearts

 

My husband is the most amazing human I’ve ever known.  He is my hero, my saint, my very best friend.  I am starting a series called The Saint Ronnie Series.  This entry is the first of many poems, Haiku’s, short (usually super funny) stories and Ronnie-ism’s.  BOLO for more!  These will be great because they are about my favorite muse!

Daddy/Daughter Date

It’s that time of year!  All the super sweet pictures of little girls dressed to the nines, being whisked away by their prince charming; Dad! To a lavish ball, filled with other dad’s and their daughters.  It’s magical and memorable.

I didn’t grow up in an environment that fostered a daddy/daughter relationship.  My biological father was abusive towards my mother and I feared him.  I loved him, but I feared him.  We didn’t go on dates, he didn’t teach me how a man is supposed to treat a woman, we weren’t buddies.  He was dad and what he said was rule.

He and my mother divorced when I was 9-ish and my mom met my step-father.  He was kind, loving towards my mother and genuine, something I had never experienced before.  He was so different and I did everything I could to run him off.  I have no clue, other than Divine intervention, how he stayed through my teenage years, but he did.  His dedication and love are the temperature by which I gauge most of my relationships today.

So when I see these adorable posts of fathers treating their little girls like princesses, my heart tugs and I think back to the last “date” I had with my real dad; my step-father!

As you probably already know, I am a recovered addict and alcoholic.  To say that I dragged my parents through the fire, would be an understatement.  I was nothing short of the death of them. On my last bender my mom started making funeral arrangements. Of course, I was convinced, and would have convinced you, that I was only hurting myself and that the pain and suffering my parents were feeling was sidebar.  It was not.  It was more real, confusing and conflicting to them than almost anyone.  They were definitely in the top 5 victims of my addiction.

I called my step-dad up one afternoon and asked him out on a date.

“Well…ok.  What will we be doing?” He asked.

“I was thinking that we could go for coffee and then to an AA meeting.”

He chuckled and agreed.

The next day I put on my all blue Chucks, a pair of blue jeans and a faded concert “t” and we were off! To a meeting. To a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was glorious!

He listened with intent, soaking up all that he could gather, hanging on the next words of each person in the room, hoping, maybe, for an answer to my affliction. One of his former bosses and close friends was an alcoholic in recovery and my step-father was privy to this lingo, but still captured by it all.

When we left, I thanked him.  I felt so loved and honored that this daddy/daughter date went so well.

Our relationship has changed over the last few years.  I have gone from being the phone call they dreaded to the receive to the daughter they can now relate to.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye…after all, he hates these tattoos, but we can find common ground in the relationship that we’ve built over the years.

I didn’t wear a ballgown or fix my hair.  He didn’t ring my doorbell or bring flowers.  But the best daddy/daughter date was had, our style, our speed, our God orchestrated.

 

Awkward Silence

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Silence is golden…or so they say.  It can be a coveted luxury for a new mom, the sacred place for a worshiping soul, the blank canvas for a studious learner.  It can also be death for an abused lover, pain for a suffering addict, the dark and lonely place of a mind that feels alone.

Almost 3 years ago I embarked on this sober journey…again.  I was known as a chronic relapser.  Someone who comes in and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, staying sober until life looks good, then tearing the whole thing down, only to scratch and claw their way back into AA, repeating the cycle. It is embarrassingly awkward, filled with judgment of people who don’t understand and lonely because clearly, you just can’t “get it.”

I ALWAYS wanted to be sober.  I longed for it to come easy to me.  I saw people, knew people, who had come in, dragged up from the depths of hell, much like myself, and they “got it.” Whatever “it” was, they got it.  I wanted that illusive “IT!”

Lack of desire was not the issue.  If you knew me when I was using, you know that I am not even a shadow of the person I was created to be.  God made me in His image to be loving towards people who are hard to love, kind & generous, creative.  When I am using, it’s as if the candle is blown out.  I can think of nothing more than of myself, justifying my poor behavior as acceptable, greedy & dried up in a desert of shame & pity.

When I washed ashore in September of 2013, in my own version of Nineveh, Victoria, TX, I felt the call to be creative.  I come from a family that fosters creation on one side and encourages hard work on the other, with little time for creativity.  I fell somewhere in between, loving both hard work and writing.  I needed and outlet for the time because I was given the chore of sitting still, being quiet and listening to God.  Not the easiest thing for a girl like me, but I knew my will had been broken, I was going to do whatever I was told to do, so I did.

I began this blog.  You can look back over those posts and see that my journey had just begun, but there was still a powerful story of redemption beginning to surface.  I was awakening, slowly but surely.  I received a phone call on afternoon, from someone I greatly admired who told me that I should put the brakes on this writing thing, that being so “out there” with my early recovery could be detrimental to my case in point.  I heard & listened & shut it down. I also got a comment from a person from my dark past, who did not have my best interest in mind.  These two incidents drove me to this 2 year awkward silence.

Recently, listening to God and not my fear of being “found out,” I started sharing my story.  I was given the green light from my husband to be candid, open, honest…even when it is ugly, about what I went through.  You see, this story is not just mine, it is his too.  He suffered on the other side of my addiction for 2 years, mostly silent, dying in his own way.  So to get his blessing to move forward was all the push I needed.

Here I am.  Back. With an incredible story of redemption, light, love that defied all obstacles, hope.  This isn’t just my story.  It is the story of many women, who sit in silence, wishing they too had an outlet.

Stay tuned.  This is just the first of many posts.  I can’t wait to tell you of all that has happened.  A love story that only God could’ve written. A business that was built in His hands.  A family stitched together with the Almighty thread of peace.  A life you would hardly recognize as the one violently tossed from the belly of the whale.

This story is ours.  Join me. Break the silence.

Beauty for Ashes

I have heard it said many times that God takes the horrible, tragic things in our lives and uses them for good.  A prime example in my life has been the relation and comradery I find in the 12-step program I attend.  Each one of those folks is using their darkest past to carry God’s light to the suffering afflicted in order to help them see that change is possible.  Another great example would be mother’s who put their children up for adoption.  The majority of children who are adopted out are not born into the greatest of circumstances, but their new family is able to provide them with the love they so desperately need.

Neither one of these senerio’s is perfect. Each one is still conducted by and through human beings, and we all know that humans will fail us, but in each one of these dramatic cases there is a common thread of God showing up and showing off.  He loves to take unbearable situations and make them remarkable!

I wanted to share with you a real time experience I had in this arena just yesterday.  It will demonstrate how humans fail, I fail even bigger, God comes in because I open the door and something even more out-standing than I could have ever imagined happens.  He is so Good.

A couple of days ago I called my husband.  A little back story here is that we are currently separated and I worked on utterly destroying our marriage for the last year.  We both have room for improvement, but my actions warrant complete dismissal.  Back to the story at hand.  I called him earlier than he likes to be called and I bugged him about something that I wanted him to do.  Great way to wake up, right…a nagging wife!  When he answered me, his tone was condescending and his manner was short. I immediately went on the defensive and ended the phone call, only to text him moments later.

The text was NOT nice.  It wasn’t wrong in the sense of context but it was accusatory and angry.  I needed to say what I said, but I didn’t do it in a very loving way.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to an uncomfortable situation and I wanted to shake him up.  The text ended with the threat of, “maybe we shouldn’t talk if you can’t change your behaviors.”

And with that, we didn’t talk for 30 long hours.

30 hours may not seem like a very long time, but in marital fight time, especially when 300 miles from each other, it’s an eternity.  I spent the first 5 hours checking my phone every 20 minute or less to see if he responded.  The next few hours were spent in anger contemplating whether I would answer the phone when he did call.  After that I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  My dreams were awful.  I was hiding from someone and on the run.  I woke up unrested, but with a new resolve to make that day better than the last.

The problem was finding out how to do that.  In the past I would’ve acted out of fear.  I would’ve manipulated, spun my wheels until I got what I wanted, cried, begged, pleaded and degraded my own worth in the process.  Today would be different.

I started off by praying that God help me to focus on the task in front of me.  That each step be clearly marked and that my selfishness be removed so that I could follow through with duty.  I placed more emphasis on God and I let him carry me to work.

One of my jobs is cleaning houses.  During that process I asked God to help me do things differently.  To allow me to make a move I have never made before.  I called someone who God has lead me to as trusted leadership.  I told her about the situation and she spoke some truth about herself and her relationship into my life and I identified with her.  I had been selfish, I had reacted out of fear.  Did he need to stop speaking to me in a disrespectful manner? Yes. But how was my reaction going to transmit us to a place of common ground.  I was humbled by our talk and hung up refreshed.

I called on God again. I asked God to forgive me and to give me guidance on how to rectify the situation.  I waited and I sat still until I felt God move me to call my husband.  What ensued could only be attributed to God.

When we talked a heaviness was lifted.  I expressed my apologizes and insecurities.  I didn’t explain or justify, I simply laid my mistake down before him and asked him what I could do better.  We talked about it and he set some clear boundaries. I did the same.  I expressed my dissatisfaction with the tone he used and we both vowed to get better.  We talked through some of the hardest shortcomings of our 6 year marriage in a little over 30 minutes.  My husband told me that he could only tackle one issue at a time without getting to angry and I followed his lead.

Our conversation ended with the first truly unprovoked, unsolicited, unforced “I love you” we have shard in a very long time.

This is one of many times that I have found that just by letting go of the reigns and relinquishing control to the man upstairs, a dooms-day situation was turned into a beautiful bridge to recovery.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to mess up.  Thank you for loving me when I do and thank you for turning ashes to beauty.  You are an awesome God.

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All Things Made New

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Happy New Year!!!

What a wild ride 2013 was.  It wasn’t the best year I’ve ever faced, but I was brought to a place of utter dependence on God and that is worth all of the failing and falling that I did and continue to do.

I have a new apprication for the things in my life that came so easily to me.  Shelter, work, transportation, but most valued of all the things I attempted to destroy are the relationships with the people in this world that I truly love and care about.

You would be amazed at the love, consideration and grace that has been shown to me over the last year.  Someitmes I am shocked when certain people will still answer their phones or return text messages.

For a while I was under the impression that I didn’t deserve their love and kindness.  Then one day, it dawned on me, I absolutely didn’t deserve it, but they gave it any way.  They showed me what it was like to have forged true friendship and I am grateful in deeper ways than one could possibly imagine.

In light of all these amazing discoveries and revolutions, I decided that this year, instead of making a list of things that I resolved to “change” or things I would swear off, I made a list of things that I will do more of.  I am of the firm philosophy that if you fill your time with good things then the bad things eventually become obsolete.

This morning when I woke up I set my intentions as such:

Pray way more. Constant communication with my maker causes me to make less of my own decisions and depend more deeply on Him.

Spend more time repairing relationships with family and friends.  I have caused a lot of damage over my life time.  I should have my hands busy with this one.

Treat my body better.  What I put in it and what I do to it. More veggies, more working out.

Write often and with consistency.  Writing is a great passion of mine and I just don’t treat myself to it enough.

There are more, but I won’t bore you with the details.  As you can clearly devise…it’s going to be a year of addition and not subtraction.

2014. Here I come!

This blog is managed and written by Summer Shine aka Victory Chic. The opinions herein are endorsed solely by Summer and are not the opinion of any of the affiliates mentioned…so don’t go getting all crazy with anyone else. Don’t like what’s being said? UNSUBSCRIBE. Love ya!

Love Is Worth The Risk

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C. L. Lewis

Last night I sat alone in my room contemplating a very risky future move that I am making. I considered all aspects and came to the conclusion that it’s risky, resource consuming and the results are inconclusive to says the least. As a matter of fact, the odds are NOT forever in my favor. If logic was at play here, I would be screwed.

Logic however, is not the deciding factor in this decision. Love is what’s on the table. My heart is what’s at risk. Money will be thrown away and my reputation, what is left of it, will be used against me. I am placing myself in a place of complete vulnerability to the circumstance.

I’ve laid bare my situation, so I’m not afraid to say that I am making a move that may seem careless and illogical. Although it is not careless, it is absolutely illogical and I am more grateful in this moment that I still have the courage to make illogical decisions.

Over the last year I have done everything I can to destroy the blessing of marriage that God has bestowed upon me. I have disassembled the very foundation on which I was given to build on. Brick by brick, layer by layer, I deconstructed every ounce of trust and demolished every crumb of emotion. I reduced my marriage to little more than an obligatory phone call each night, probably more out of pity than much else.

There is more blame and shame to be passed around than what I have time or permission to share, but the fact of the matter is this; I only live out my part of this marriage and I can only own what I have done. I only have time, energy and resources to clean up my mess and I intend on trying to do so.

The relationships that are the most important to me in this life are the ones that I damaged the most. I turned my back on God and quit believing that He could rescue me if I would just let Him. I lied, cheated and stole from my husband and son. My mother and father spent countless nights wondering if I was even alive, not to mention the deciet and neglect. My friends were exposed to my disease and trusted leaders were pushed to the side. I did what I could to harm myself and in the crossfire were these innocent bystanders. Their only crime, loving me.

I run. I am good at that. I run hard and fast and if I can hide, I will. I ran hard and fast to drugs and alcohol. I ran hard and fast to New Orleans. I ran hard and fast to Victoria and into the loving arms of my Father. He kept me here and healed my heart, but He is not done with me. My dependence on Him has increased but is not absolute. My mind focuses on Him, but not completely. I have faith, but it is not unshakeable, but He has brought me to a place of surrender, which is exactly where I belong.

I am going back to face the lions. I am going back to clean up my mess. If I told you that I didn’t have hopes for the future, I would be lieing. What I don’t have are expectations. A girl can dream, but my ambition is to clear away the wreckage of my past as unselfishly as I can pray it to be done.

I want my son to see how I feel. I want him to know that my undieing love for him in greater than any momentary fix. I want my husband to see that I am willing to look him in the eye and see the pain I have caused, feel the distance and experience the cold. I want my mother to see that she is my first choice for holidays even if I am fearful of being hurt. I want my friends to know that their unconditional love has not gone unnoticed and that I can trust the people that God has sent to guide me lovingly.

Sometime in January, when I feel completely released from my work here, I am going back to Waco.

This may seem risky. I assure you, it is. I am walking right back into the damage I have created, but how does a mess get cleaned up if you don’t go back with a broom and some gloves? God has armed me with some artillery. I trust that He is not giving me anything I can’t handle. He is good.

I know that this will not be easy. I know that there will be many tears shed. I know that I risk humiliation, hurt, heartache and discipline. I also know that the love I have been given from above and here one earth is totally worth the risk.

Lord, please guide me. Give me strength. Do not let me grow weary in good works. Show me how to love as you have loved…sacrifically.

Palms up. Minds open. Hearts receiving. Others touched! To live.

This blog is managed and written by Summer Shine aka Victory Chic. The opinions herein are endorsed solely by Summer and are not the opinion of any of the affiliates mentioned…so don’t go getting all crazy with anyone else. Don’t like what’s being said? UNSUBSCRIBE. Love ya!

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