Dust Yourself Off And Try Again

I’m so thankful for my church. I’m so thankful for the people at my church. I have been in a complete spiral probably ever since the protests at the Capital. I decided I didn’t need God’s peace and understanding and would confront the headlines, the people, social media, all of the events going on with my worldly knowledge. I was just so flabbergasted and could not wrap my mind around what I was seeing and hearing. Lies, lies, I know if I post these things the lightbulb will go off and the veil will drop and they will see clearly. So why am I so thankful for my church and the people there? I get the best counsel at my church. Even if it’s not what I want to hear I get the truth. It’s the truth in love though. We all need the truth. We all need the truth in love.

By this morning I was crying about every ten minutes. Why? I don’t know. I think when I decided to go this alone and not let God be my source and let the world be my source of information and what I needed to do, my anxiety level went up and my fear was bubbling below the surface. What actually came out was anger. I usually pride myself in not posting controversial stuff on FB. Nothing to get extremely upset over (at least I think) and then I felt my anger was justified. I did not post horrible hateful things but they were sarcastic and would not serve to facilitate peace. I found myself becoming more and more agitated over the course of this last week. I was unsatisfied, unorganized and was feeling a bit of despair. This is the beginning of the end. Oh my lord, what if I can’t protect the people I love. What if they aren’t really saved? Oh my gosh I need to look at everyone around me and see who needs to be saved! So don’t act like you never have wacky thoughts. I know I’m not the only one. If you don’t, this blog may not be for you. I’m not crazy but ya know.

So this morning when I was counseled I was reminded of spiritual warfare. I was totally humbled when I thought about the scripture and my blog that I wrote about last week. Peace – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27. My husband (Wyatt) likes to tell me FB is from the devil. He is probably right. I think Satan prowls around looking for ways to bring us down and FB sure is a grand place to do that. Pit one of us against another and use our own words against ourselves. I turned right around and let my heart be troubled and I was afraid. I was trying to open the eyes and ears of people who I thought needed fixin. My question this morning was, when are you supposed to speak? When do you say the truth? When do I stand up and say no, wrong is wrong and right is right? You will not make anyone hear or see if they are in a reactive state. I will not do any good or be heard if I am in a reactive state. That is part of what I gleaned this morning. I know that logically. That is what I did though. I put logic aside and understanding when I put God’s peace aside and decided to go at this from my own wisdom. So Satan has enjoyed his week on my FB.

This is such an opportune time for us as Christians to show up or show out. Don’t look now you’re going to screw that up and your going to be right on point. We are human. If at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again. (I think that’s a song – Aaliyah). I don’t believe in coincidences or luck. I believe in God. Things come together because of God and I don’t believe todays scripture was a fluke. It was meant to be for today. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9. I also think God has a sense of humor. Look at this world. How can he not. Did God leave us his peace? Yes he did. Did he call us to be peacemakers? Yes he did. He also called me to put on his armor. If the attack is coming from FB I need to take a break from FB. If the attack is coming from the news, take a break from the news. Cut off the attack. So, I’m dusting myself off and not for the last time.

Peace He Gives Us

This has been an interesting week. I have struggled with all the things that have taken place in our country. I have been fearful at times, calm at others, confused, confident, angry and sad. I’m sure every feeling there is to have I and everyone else in this country have been taking a ride on that emotional roller coaster and would really like to get off. This whole upheaval is going to mess up the second half of my life. Huh?

Yes, that was my thought last night. You people need to get your act together. Can we not just go back to how it used to be. Republicans, democrats, yeah we don’t like each other’s policies but we aren’t drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Don’t you cross it or I’ll rage on you.” I want to yell at the Trump supporters who took an extreme and unlawful position at the Capital. You ruined it for the rest of us. Thanks a lot! Now we are all lumped into this title of “The DC Riots.” Which is an all encompassing unfair title. I want to yell at the media for not reporting the news. They thrive and stay in business off of our fear. They don’t report the facts no matter who’s side they are telling. No matter what network you are watching. I want to yell at the looters from this past year. You know what I have seen change in my town? The name of a High School. That is great but the underlying problems we are talking about are not any better. Burning down property, beating people up and instilling fear in others does not bring us where we need to be. When I think about all this, I just take it all in and I think, we can never go back. We can never fix all this. This is the beginning of the end. Again you people are messing up the second half of my life.

Why? Well I’ll tell you why. I have things mapped out. Wyatt is going to work for so many more years we will be able to travel and enjoy all that we have worked so hard for. We certainly can’t do that if we are having pandemics, burning things down, having riots, looters and protests. We can’t do that if we are in the middle of Revelations. Oh Lord, is Jesus coming back soon. I’m going to miss going to Rome. I knew it. I have wanted to go to Rome forever. Jesus, can you just back things up a bit if you are coming back now. Besides if things are about to blow up and we lose things like our utilities, I don’t do well when I can’t wash my hair. I’m getting ready to cover my porch and add a patio and fire pit outside. Well, I won’t be able to enjoy that. (Throws hands up in the air). Yeah, that’s my insane thoughts. As if God should consider those issues when his plan is being carried out. STOP! Sarah has to go to Rome first. Then! I can darken the sun and the moon and let the stars fall from the sky. I really have to laugh at myself. Those are such selfish thoughts. I have now played the end of the world completely out. I am having an anxiety attack or I’ve taken to much sinus medication. Well maybe I won’t build a patio. If I’m not going to use it then what’s the point. Should I just sit here and wait for things to fall completely off the rails. Then I take a breath and say I don’t know these things. Why am I so afraid. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. – Matthew 24:36. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.

It is human nature to be afraid and to think of ones self. At least I think so. I’m not a psychologist but that’s the word according to Wonder Woman. I have to bring it back to Jesus. Which is what I do. Times like this when I’m all these feelings then I have to come to ground. My eyesight also gets blurry to. I start to see things not with God’s eyes but with my eye’s and my eye’s can be very judgmental, hateful and proud. It’s time to bring it to ground. Ground will always be God. I nor does anyone else know when Jesus is coming back. I do not know how bad this chaos is going to get that we are experiencing right now. As far as things going back to the way they were, that’s not going to happen and there are reasons why it shouldn’t. I am certain that Jesus said “Peace I leave with you;” So when I’m checking myself at ground level I know that he says specifically “do not be afraid.” Now I am human so I can’t just shut that off and never be afraid but I have a living God who is never afraid.

I don’t know what to expect in the coming months. God does. I don’t know if I will go to Rome or get to use my patio. Those things are so trivial and ridiculous that they would actually be a concern. When you have anxiety it’s crazy where your mind goes and the onslaught of bizarre thoughts that come at lightening speed. I guess for me this kind of climate can have the power to grab a hold of me and drag me around by my hair and let me know one minute to the next how I should feel or react. I will continually take the power back and not be a prisoner to the fear in this world. I want to grab a hold of the peace he left to me, the peace he gave to me as much as I can.

Fear Of The Lord

It’s the start of a new year. I know that it’s time to drop bad habits and start good ones. It’s the time of year when we all put so much pressure on ourselves to try and be the best version of ourselves. What does that mean? I’ve never really been a New Years Resolution kind of gal but I think we all say generally we will eat healthier, exercise more, drink more water those types of things. What does that mean spiritually? That’s what hit me this morning. I know the changes I want to make with my body and I know the things that need to be done to get where I want to be but spiritually, where am I and where do I want to be? Where does God want me to be?

I spent another New Years sober which is something to celebrate for me. That road has been pretty rocky since my sister died. There have been a lot of pot holes and the path is a real ankle twister. This is the 2nd year in a row that I have had someone in my immediate family die and navigating through my feelings is a daily trek in need of hiking boots. It’s the comfort I miss in my drink. My friend and companion that has been there so long with me. Any alcoholic or addict will tell you that. For me it’s a he and he’s like a friend. Not a very good friend but he’s there and he doesn’t judge you and doesn’t talk back to you he’s just there when he needs to be and he’s warm and he’s numb. He’s also jealous and won’t allow me to have any relationships with my family. He won’t allow me to be shared with anyone especially Wyatt. He wants me all to himself and won’t stop till he has me right where he wants me. All to himself after I have demolished every relationship I have and he is all that is left. So of course I need to continue this journey and continue to battle and know this is not just a battle of the physical body but a battle of the mind, the spirit. There are things fighting for me to give in and give up but there are stronger, tougher things seen and unseen fighting for me to stay in it. It’s worth it. I have been called to stay in it. Spiritually, where am I, am I moving forward, where do I want to be, where does God want me?

I have so many things rollling around in this brain of mine. You would be scared if you could see in there. I have so many ideas and projects and things I want to work on. Pretty big things that I dare not say out loud because that might actually put them out into the universe. I might actually have to overcome my fear and move forward on what I feel I am supposed to be doing. If I do that though, I just might be rejected and I just might fail. That’s a whole lot of just mights and maybe, what if. That all sounds like failure to me. You have no idea how hard this is to write. Again there are so many reasons I can come up with not to move forward but there are bigger, greater more powerful reasons to trust God and move forward.

We all struggle. Some harder than others and I for sure know others have much harder struggles than I do. My sobriety and a few projects I have been rolling around were at the forefront of my mind when I thought about this New Year. This 2021. Like I said most of us go to taking care of our bodies and we know how to do that or how to go wherever we need to go to have someone to help us do that. Do we always look at where we are spiritually? Where we are with God. I want my focus to be there. I know I can’t do anything without God so why would I not start there? Why would I not feed my mind and my soul? Without the word of God and his guidance in my life and seeking him in prayer what foundation do I have? It says in the Bible – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding Proverbs 9:10 I don’t know how many times that is in the Bible. I stopped counting at 9 maybe that’s it, maybe there’s more. I am not a Bible scholar. What I do know is that it’s important. It’s something I want to explore this year.

So I’m going to focus first spiritually on what it means to fear the Lord. How is that the beginning of wisdom? There is so much more behind that scripture than when you just read it at face value. I know whatever God has for me this year (I hope one of those things is to burn this mask) I have to have a strong foundation. I can only do that by understanding how to build the foundation correctly. In order to gain that understanding I need to fear the Lord to even begin to have wisdom. How am I going to do that? Well I’m going to do that by figuring out just what God means by that and the only way I know how to do that is by getting to know him better than I do today. I will never understand if I don’t have a relationship with my Lord and God Jesus Christ. I pray we all have a better year than last year and I will continue to ask God to let me wake up 30 lbs lighter in the morning. Who knows, he does do miracles. Faith of a mustard seed people!!

The It

Sin is so attractive? Doesn’t it make so much sense? It’s so reasonable. You deserve it. You’ve worked for it or earned it. It feels good or else you wouldn’t do it. Some of those sins we share with other people. Some we find that we want to keep hidden and do them in the dark, in the privacy of our own home. You know the most obvious ones. Alcohol if your an alcoholic, drugs, pornography, having an affair down to what we consider little white lies. “Oh these shoes? I’ve had them forever.” Says the wife so her husband won’t get irritated about the money spent on them. The argument is just exhausting. That’s a sin that makes a lot of sense to a lot of women. The same goes for men. Not wanting to hear us moan and groan about getting together with guys after work so you may be working late. Those little white lies. You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s not like you’re cheating. It’s not hurting anyone. Your just saving each other from the evening of arguing. Your actually doing each other a favor.

OK, before you go saying those examples are sexist, it’s what I came up with. Apply it to your life however you like. Maybe the husband is buying shoes and the wife is having drinks. Either way this all comes out the same. I had the opportunity to stay an evening in Miami alone. My brother and I made the trip to get Miriam together but he flew out before I did. It’s seldom I’m alone or in a place where I can do anything I want and absolutely no one will know. Now I have worked very hard the last three years and have not had a drink. I never thought I would say those words. Drinking and I were a couple as far as I was concerned. I was in a hotel 961 miles away from anyone who could physically show up. To drink or not to drink? That is the question. So goes the mind and how I deserve it. No one will ever know. Right down there in the hotel lobby. There is not a soul here that knows me. I have had so much loss and why can’t I just be numb for a while. Only one. Well, only two. Well that probably wouldn’t do it. So, maybe three and a shot just to take the edge off. I couldn’t move off the bed. I kept finding shows to watch and literally could not move from my spot on the bed. I honestly don’t know what I watched that night but I do know I ordered room service and had the best Cuban sandwich I have ever eaten and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia instead of three and a shot. I did get up to answer the door for room service but locked myself in, jammied up and covered up like there was a blizzard outside.

Cheers to sleeping all night and no drinking, I slept with prayers from my Mom because I don’t know about anyone else but it is also skooky (that is not a typo I meant to type skooky) to be in a hotel room by yourself. Maybe it’s just me. Get ready, feeling good, make sure Miriams ashes are safe and secure for travel. Fly out of Miami and had a lay over in Charlotte. Well Satan and all of hell must have said “Hell NO” (haha get it). Any way they weren’t giving up that easy. My gate that I landed at was literally I think at one end of Charlotte Douglas Airport and the one I had to fly out of must have been at the complete opposite end. I need to stop and grab a drink and start my trek. I kid you not every time I looked up there was an airport pub, tavern something advertising a place to sit down and have some type of alcohol. I must have been hallucinating because when I looked up I saw a bar with liquor bottles behind it and empty chairs at the bar every time I looked for somewhere to buy a soda. I started walking so fast I was sweating purfusely. Then the my mind starts going. Last call, your so stressed, just stop and have one. One can’t possibly hurt anyone. THEN……JESUS said “Do you know how many steps you are getting on your Fitbit? Do you know what your heart rate is right now.” If you stop you will break that rhythm you have going and between this and the Miami airport you could probably burn off that Cuban sandwich. I bet you could get all your steps in today without getting on the treadmill.” I’m not kidding y’all. Jesus was keeping track of my steps and he was like, you go girl, keep moving, keep that heart rate up!! So then it became a challenge of not stopping until I got to my gate. AND I DID!!!! Without stopping. I’m sure people thought they might have to call EMS because walking like that with a mask on is some kind of hard. I was really loud, like I was the only one there and just ran a marathon. Thank you, I’ld like to thank my husband Wyatt, for loving me, my Mom and my sister for always supporting me, my Son for being such an inspiration in my life…… Yeah.

So, I made it home and felt magnificent getting that bear hug at the airport from Wyatt. I know I had lots of help on my trip. I had lots of prayer and Jesus held my hand. The thing is, the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that no one will ever know. Yes, they will know. If your sobriety means something to you and to the ones you love you will not be able to keep that a secret. Not only will it tear you down but you will feel as if you let everyone else down. Please don’t think I am saying relapses don’t and should never happen. That is not at all what I am saying but the lie we tell ourselves that no one will ever know is that. A lie. Being sober is hard. I’m not sure if it ever gets easy and you can just walk on by without a care. I do know right now today I am sober and I am so very blessed and thankful for all the people in the my life that helped me get there.

I will leave you with this because we all need to remember this. If you are an addict or maybe you’re not. Temptation can come your way whoever you are. I didn’t just come out of the gate an addict. IT’S seductive, IT’S logical, IT’S deserved, IT’S pleasurable and IT will rear IT’S ugly head when you least expect it. IT likes the element of surprise. That IT will be whatever you need IT to be.

Miriam 11/22/20

I’m sitting in the Miami airport looking around at everyone else, wearing their masks, socially distancing 6’ apart. No one is talking except to people in their own party or some are having a conversation on their phone. There is a child over in the corner, maybe 6 or 7, crying, well not crying just whimpering and letting out the occasional wail. Dear Lord I do remember having a small child but please let him get on another plane or all the sudden become magically happy. Most of us are just looking down. You know looking down at our phones, tablets, whatever it takes not to look each other in the eye. With this pandemic we are fast becoming a closed off society. There’s also the occasional person who doesn’t know what headphones are or an inside voice. Yes everyone wants to hear your conversation or listen to TikTok or whatever movie your watching. Were you raised in a barn. I’m thinking so. Where is your mother?!

As I struggle to breathe, well that’s a little overly dramatic but I’m so over this mask, I get it, I’m wearing it. Let’s not go into that issue. So, I’m getting ready to board my flight and this trip has been emotional. I didn’t come down here to soak up the sun or to relax. I came down here to pick up my sister. My sister Miriam. I travel back on this plane with her cremains. It’s almost too much to even wrap my head around. We just buried my Dad a little over a year ago. To have another loss this soon is almost inconceivable.

Miriam passed away November 22, 2020. There is no doubt Miriam lived a hard life. We have been through ups and downs with her and have expected this call many times through out the years. My Mom and I have been on the phone with rehabs, women’s shelters you name it. We have had places lined up for her ready to go right up to the minute all she had to do was get on the bus or connect with a person. We had such excitement that each time was going to be THE time. It never was. And not just me and my Mom my whole family and even people that weren’t family have stepped in and tried to get her help. As horrible as the dark times were she always seemed to pull through them. God always put people in her life to witness to her and to help her. From the random guy at the gas station who would just walk up to her and say “God told me to tell you he loves you and you are not lost.” To men she met in Miami who would call myself and my Mom on the phone and tell us they were so in love with her and they just wanted to save her. They would do anything to get her out of the life she was in and get her back to us or to treatment or to anywhere just out of Miami. She has seen and been through a lot in her young life. Things to horrific for me to write on this page. Things no person should ever have to go through. One thing I’ve learned though my own addiction, you can not help an addict until they decide they want help.

You can pull someone out of the depths of hell, put them in the best program and take them out of the situation they are in. Clean them up, give them new clothes, a job, do everything under the sun to put them on the right path. You would be better off spitting in the wind and setting your money on fire in the back yard. An addict will find that life no matter where they are. I don’t care if you move them 5 states away. I don’t care if you put them in a different country. You can not help someone until they have hit their rock bottom and are reaching up saying please, please help me. I need help. I know this. I don’t speak because I read this from some book. I did not stop drinking until I said I need help. Until I hit my rock bottom. Everyone is different. My rock bottom may be totally different than what yours would have been. You may say you would not have gone down the hole I did. You would have stopped before I did. Maybe. I hope you never find out.

What I know is, it is hard to find a person or family out there that has not been affected some how some way by drugs or alcohol. It is a beast and all it does it destroy families and ensure the pattern gets repeated from generation to generation until someone stands up and says ‘NO MORE!’ and breaks that cycle for their future generations. It’s an escape people. We will do anything to stop the pain we feel and to not go through the emotions that come along with being hurt. Let me tell you, and addicts reading this understand. It’s no fun going from numbing your pain and not having to feel to all the sudden feeling every emotion and having to deal with all your baggage. Who wants to do that? Miriam had a lot of pain and because of that she wanted to escape. She wanted to block out all the pain that she had been through. So starts her cycle for her future generations. She has 6 children. She didn’t raise any of them. Are the things that happened to her an excuse for why she wasn’t a present mother? No, lots of people go through bad things and become productive people. She could not be one of those people. So goes the pattern for her children. They have the choice to numb the pain, be absent from their children’s lives or stand up and say. ‘NO MORE!” I do believe the person or persons who exacted so much pain on my sister will have to answer for what he did to Miriam and how it changed the direction of her life.

Miriam wasn’t just her addiction. She was funny. She loved to make people laugh. She had the ability to talk to anyone. She could meet you and within 5 minutes she knew everything about you and you felt like you had known her all your life. She was a ride or die. She was my very first best friend. She meant so much to so many people and she will leave a hole in so many lives. I’m bringing her home today, where she belongs. Her family never gave up on her. We loved her no matter who she was or what she did. She was ours. She was loved and she belonged to someone. While we have her ashes, I do know in my heart through everything she went through she knew Jesus as her savior. Was she walking hand in hand every day with him? No. Do you? Do I? Salvation is not conditional or based on works. Salvation is eternal and none of us deserve it. I thank God that he loved us all so much to send his one and only son to die on the cross for us and shed his blood to make us clean so we could live and have everlasting life if we believe.

Hug those you love more often. Take time to have conversations. Miriam was 40ish (I’m not sure of the exact amount of days) clean from drugs up until the day she died. She was supposed to be traveling to my house for a visit mainly for her Mom. We don’t know where we are going to be from one minute to the next. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Say hello to those you pass while your out and about. Just say it loud so they can hear it from behind your mask. Smile but make sure you smile with your eyes so people can see your smiling. If anyone out there reading this needs help or is struggling with an addiction of any kind please reach out. Reach out to me. Reach out to a friend. Call the National Drug Abuse Hotline 24/7 (888)582-7969. If Miriams passing has done anything at all it has renewed my desire to maintain my sobriety and it has also brought family together that we never thought we would have a chance to meet. Heaven is so amazing I bet my Dad is still showing her around. Those two are quite a pair.

Wait For It….

It’s getting close. Can you feel it. I’m sure your phone is blowing up with texts and calls. Every other commercial on TV, bashing this politician or that one. Telling you who you should vote for and why. I’m getting ready to go put my hip waiters on because it’s getting deep. On both sides. You can’t walk in either direction without stepping in it. Breathe, yes breathe, I am not here to try to convince you who to vote for. You get enough of that from everywhere else you look.

Calm down, stop beating your friends, family and even people you don’t know over the head because they don’t have the same political beliefs as you. We are all going to go vote and hopefully we will all handle it like adults. Lord a mercy I know that’s wishful thinking. You know what though? Our next president has already been decided. I wish I had the inside scoop and could fill you in but God and I are not tight like “that”. We talk but he’s not about letting me know the future. So unfair.

I know that can seem flippant and you can shrug that off but it’s very true. God is not going to be surprised on Election Day. He is not going to be sitting on his throne and look over at Peter and say “ huh, well I didn’t see that coming.” Yes, we all need to do our duty and vote and feel honored and proud that we live in a country where we are free to cast our votes. What we shouldn’t do is put our hope and faith and all we are in whatever man or woman is sitting in the White House or in congress all the way down to our Mayors and Chiefs of Police. They are people and they are fallible. I’m not saying anything new or shocking but we need to start getting behind the leaders who are elected. That doesn’t mean supporting everything that comes down the pike if it goes against what we stand for but this constant bashing and tearing down of people is just relentless. How do we expect our children to act any better if we as adults are acting like our children?

Our next President may not be who I vote for. He is still my President. I still live in the United States of America. There is all this talk of change in our country. How are we to change if we are losing friends over our political beliefs. I can’t be your friend or vice versa because we have different opinions. That just hurts my heart.

My reading today was in Psalm 104 and verse 24 jumped out to me. The whole Psalm is actually beautiful if you read it. Verse 24: How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all. – Think about that. How many are your works!!!! Too many to count. He made them all! Our knowledge is finite while his is infinite. We can’t even begin to comprehend all that he has done. God did give us the mind of Jesus Christ and he will provide us the wisdom we need in every situation if we will just listen. We can’t listen, when we’re arguing or being a keyboard warrior striking out and shooting our words as if they were tiny missiles. We need to learn to be still. We need to learn to seek him first. We need to learn to look on those around us with love. I write this to myself as well. I’m certainly not the poster child for always being calm and showing the love of Christ. I want to be better though. I want to be less like me and more like Jesus.

Like it or not Election Day will be here and there will be a winner and a loser. Be kind, Be still. It doesn’t matter if who you voted for is in office or not that doesn’t stop you from being kind or being still. We can all start the next four years with open dialogue. Not everyone will do this but if just a few take a hold of love it can spread. Use the mind that God gave you and listen for his wisdom. He will give you wisdom if you seek it because in his wisdom he has made all.

Below is a beautiful song. Please listen. It’s by Fernando Ortega. The Creation Song. If you read Psalm 104 and listen to the song it will make sense.

Earned Titles

A year has passed. How can that be? Somehow it feels as if the time got away from me and yet it also feels like this past year, since August 23rd 2019, has been the longest year of my life. My Dad has been gone a year today. As I sit in my room and look around I try to picture how we were all in here with my Dad. He was surrounded by so much family. He was so loved and I don’t think he ever realized just how much love his family had for him. How he had earned the title of Dad and PawPaw. The title of husband (Mom’s person). Those title’s aren’t given out free of charge. Just because you can be all of those things doesn’t mean you are.

My Dad was just that. My Dad. He loved me and my brother and sisters more than his life. He would have done anything for us. He loved his grandchildren and great grandchildren the same way. There is nothing any of us could have done that could cause my Dad to withdraw his love. His was unconditional. He was truly an example of my Heavenly Father. I know he earned the title of husband. He was my Mom’s person. Good times, bad times just ok times they stuck together. I never once ever remember feeling uncertain about my home life and the fear that one or the other might leave. I just knew they were there and that would not change. Don’t get me wrong, life in the Bailey household was not like the Brady Bunch but we always loved each other and it was always home. My parents have always been home no matter where they are.

I miss him just as much today as I did a year ago. Don’t let anyone tell you time heals all wounds. It does not. I may cry less today than I did a year ago, but I find myself missing him and wanting to share things with him only to remember I can’t. There are days that I laugh thinking of him and days that I cry. Then there are the days of anger. I feel like I was cheated. He should still be here. We had things to do, to talk about. We all thought he was going to be here for much longer after he got treatment and we got 3 months. 3 months to the day he was diagnosed and that was it. He should still be here. Sitting on my front porch, letting me push him around for walks outside and saying hello to everyone that he doesn’t know and greeting them with random names. Hi Chuck, Hi Steve, Hey Bob long time. Yes they would look at him like I must know that guy, and say hi because if I don’t, it’s rude. I guess that’s the thing. We don’t know. God chooses the time, the day, the place, the minute. He’s ready when he’s ready. Don’t waste your moments. You may not get them again.

I think my Dad is the first person that I’ve lost that has been that close to me. It’s certainly the first time I have ever had an urn in my home. My Dad has been sitting on my mantle for a year and it has been bothering me. He just sits up there. Kind of like a trinket or conversation piece. So, Wyatt hates when I start sentences out with so. So, I wanted to go to the beach this weekend. It just felt like a way to be close to my Dad. He and my Mom love the water. I took my Dad with me. Just stick with me guys. I know that sounds weird and creepy. I wanted to take my Dad to the ocean and just put him there in the surf. His little urn right there in the surf beside me. Listen, if I saw someone on the beach with a tiny urn before my Dad passed away my thought would have been, that’s creepy and personal so yeah. You just don’t understand until you’ve been inducted into the club. It’s not a club you want to be in and you can’t fully understand the actions or words of the people in the club until you are inducted. It was a little word from God to not judge people when you see them doing something you deem as weird. You don’t know what that person is going through. So yes I took him to the beach and I was glad I put him right there in the surf. I don’t like him sitting on the mantle so I’m going to plant a tree and bury him under the tree along with a bench to sit on. He loved to sit outside and that seems like a better place for him. For me really. I know he is pain free in heaven and all these things we go through after someone we love so deeply dies are how we deal with our pain and loss. I will enjoy sitting on that bench and thinking of my Dad.

I have really struggled this past year with the loss and it felt like someone just kept saying, “I think you need one more thing for you to work through.” Who hasn’t though. 2020 has come with a lot of challenges for almost everyone. I would like to think I am coming out the other side and seeing clearer. I look forward to my tree growing big enough for a bench and a garden stone. I can sit there and read a book or just enjoy the outdoors and think of all the ways my Dad earned the title Dad many times over.

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26.

My Dad used to pray this over all of us kids and this is what my garden stone will say.

God Doesn’t Waste

I love that God is never wasteful. Everything he does is purposeful and not by coincidence or accident. My pastor preached on planting seeds this weekend. Everything begins as a seed and nothing happens until that seed is planted. What I plant is what I will reap. I always reap in a different season than I sow. I must be patient and not give up. Each one of these points and many more was given in Pastor Chad Herndon’s sermon on Sunday 5/3/20 at New Song United Methodist Church. You can find his sermon if you are interested at newsongumc.org. This is not a plug for my church but I did not want to take credit for writing something that was not mine. God does not let anything go to waste. We just don’t always have our eyes set on him and we waste what he is trying to teach us.

I am struggling this week. I don’t have any energy. I don’t feel good, I’ve had a migraine since last week that comes and goes. One day on and one day off. I’m just feeling uncomfortable in my skin. Should I blog? I don’t think I really have anything to say. I really never know what I’m going to type until I sit here in front of this keyboard. Who am I doing this for? I don’t really know. I keep questioning God as to what my purpose is. What do you have for me Lord? I feel a longing in my soul that I am meant for more. If you’ve read my last couple of blogs you know I’ve been reading Psalms and I’m still reading Psalms. -The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. Psalm 67:6 – That was part of the scripture I read today. Look at God not being wasteful. Leading me right back to Sunday and Pastor Chad and planting seeds. I want what I want and I want it now. I’m going to plant these seeds and by tomorrow or at the latest next week I’m going to be ready to harvest my crop. Well, we all know if you plant any type of vegetable or crop that’s laughable. God may choose to do that but most likely he is going to prepare you, bring you through the growing process. Let you be watered and let the Son shine down on you. Let you go through some thunderstorms and get whipped around a bit so your roots grow strong in the earth and the weeds don’t overcome you. Only God knows when your roots are strong enough to do what he needs you to do. Waiting patiently is not easy to do but waiting patiently and continuing to pursue God on a daily basis is hard for me. He’s not just going to drop something in my lap because I’ve waited quietly. He needs me to pursue him and get closer to him. I don’t know about anyone else but that is a struggle for me. There are so many distractions that can easily take place of talking to God. Watching TV, listening to Audible, sleeping, Social Media and the list goes on.

I used to question how in the world the Israelites could walk around in the desert for 40 years. I don’t question that anymore. Just think if they had TV or social media. They might still be walking. I think I’ve been walking around in the desert for about 45. I just keep circling that mountain. I do know this. I have not ever lost my faith. I may have wondered in the desert and circled the mountain but God has never walked away. He is always right where I left him. God is good and God is faithful. I know that with all the breath in my body. I need to stop trying to harvest what is not ready. I need to pursue God with a fever and make sure I am available. Make sure I am not wasting what he is trying to teach me or show me. Show up for church (on line) take time to talk to God every day, plug in where I can during the rest of this quarantine.

This has been a difficult time for all of us. Being quarantined, those of us who have addictions and are finding different ways to cope are struggling. If you’ve lost your job this is a very frightening time. If you’ve lost a loved one this is a time of mourning and it has to be done in such a lonely way. You can’t be surrounded by your friends and family. This time of uncertainty can either draw you closer or push you apart. This needs to be a time when we draw together and love those around us. As I was writing this, a song came on by Maren Morris. The Bones. It love what its saying. -When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter -yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter -Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same -When there ain’t a crack in the foundation -Baby, I know any storm we’re facing -Will blow right over while we stay put -The house don’t fall when the bones are good

If we have good bones, a good foundation, strong roots we can stay put. It might be uncomfortable. It might not be where you saw yourself. Plant your seeds, be patient and don’t give up. Remember you always reap what you sow in a different season. Make God your bones, your foundation, your roots and he’ll hold you up for the harvest. God is never wasteful so don’t waste his goodness.

Credit to Pastor Chad: Seed references from 5/3/20 Sermon

Fly To God

The world is still spinning and life is still happening. Whether it is happening very slow for you or hasn’t changed at all depends on where you are and what you do. Easter was just yesterday and I’m sure like most of you it felt very different this year. My in-laws did not come down. I did not see my son. I had sunrise service in my living room streaming on my TV instead of at Hollywood Cemetery. Which by the way is a beautiful service if you get the chance to join us hopefully next year. It overlooks the river and is led by several different churches one being New Song United Methodist which is where I attend. There are bag pipes playing. Communion is offered if you choose to partake and it’s just so meaningful. Sorry, got a little sidetracked but I look forward to it. I have to say sitting on my couch for sunrise service lost a little something. I looked at Wyatt and said, “Well, that was kind of a let down. But I think that’s my fault.”

It wasn’t the message or how it was delivered. Yes, we all want to get back to doing things like we were, such as going to church and being around people and not worrying if that person is closer than 6’. Did I miss the message though? Did I miss the big reveal? Did I forget the reason I should be overjoyed? All of the things that I do on Easter and leading up to it can be very meaningful and really touch my life but I can’t let those things overshadow or take place of the big surprise. The tomb is empty!! So, if I don’t go to sunrise service at Hollywood cemetery or have my usual meal with my usual people and this day doesn’t go as normal is it “just a let down?” Well, it shouldn’t be. Jesus didn’t forget to rise up out of the tomb! Easter should be a time of celebration. No matter what our circumstances are. I had a good day yesterday. I planted flowers and spent time with Wyatt and my Mom, but I must admit I didn’t feel very Eastery. (That’s a word, yes, it is.) Until today. Until I had time to reflect and think on yesterday and read in my bible this morning.

I’ve been reading Psalms for a while now and I never felt like I could get that much from it. It just seemed to be kind of boring. News Flash!!! God can speak to you from anywhere in his book. You just have to be open and ask him to let you have ears to hear and eyes to see. We are all so busy I think trying to get through this and get back to normal, which is understandable, that we may be missing God’s training. I’m not saying we should all embrace this and let this become our norm but while we are here let’s not run. Let’s see what God has for us. Psalm 55:6 Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. – Yes, oh wouldn’t we. Fly away from all of this and get back to life and get our children back to life and back to work. We need to work and pay bills and get out of this house. Oh, wouldn’t you be at rest then if you could fly away from all of this. But!!! In your escape where are you flying to? Alcohol, food, TV, pornography, drugs or are you just simply filling your time with anything and everything to escape from God? Instead of flying away we should be flying to God. There is a plan for each and everyone of us. You can learn from this time and let God teach you and give you the knowledge you need and the instruction you need to learn during this time. Or, you can fly and you can completely miss out on the knowledge and the instruction that he has for you. He has something greater for me and for you and he will reveal it to me and to you when we are ready. I can live in this and rejoice that the tomb is empty from my couch and get in a different mindset for the day. Let God speak to my heart and accept that where I am can still be used for God’s glory and trust that he is training me for something greater.

So, do I really want things to go back to normal after all is said and done. NO!! I don’t. I want to be better. I’m not sure how I want to be better but I just feel that back to normal is not where I want to be. Back to normal sounds complacent. God give me ears to hear and eyes to see, train me for something greater Lord and let me fly for you when the time is right.

Hope in 2020

We have certainly started off 2020 with a bang! Slowly but surely we are all coming under some type of lockdown. No dining out, no public entertainment, no gatherings of 10 or more people, schools are closed for the rest of the academic year and the list goes on. My family in Charlotte is on a shelter in place order. That’s spreading as the Corona virus spreads. The anxiety, fear, depression and just cabin fever can be overwhelming. There are so many issues to deal with on so many levels.

I know many who are worried about their jobs and wondering if they will have a job to go back to. Worried about how they are going to pay the bills during this time if they have no income coming in. Small businesses are suffering and may close, large businesses are suffering, the economy is in a tail spin, I’m stuck at home with my children for how long? Ahhhhh! This most definitely is the end of the world. The apocalypse. I bet you are glad you decided to read this today. There are a lot of people who are really feeling this right now and then there are a lot of people who feel this is not that bad. Some feel the media is blowing this up, the government is trying to take over and take our guns and our freedoms. A lot of our young people feel invincible and have chosen to continue life as usual and nothing is going to hold them back. So where does that leave me? As I flip flop from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day on this whole thing. I’m sure this is going to be over sooner than later. The CDC and WHO are just being overly cautious to protect us. Oh Lord, the CDC and the WHO don’t really have a handle on this thing at all. We are going to be in our houses for months on end and we are going to lose so many more people than we ever thought. I could literally end up sitting on a rock in my back yard like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Sneaky little viruses. Wicked, tricksy. Your never going to stop. Your going to ravage the world. No, no, I’m not listening, not listening. You don’t have a cure and you’ll never have a cure. No, No. My trust is in the Lord. (If you haven’t seen The Lord of The Rings, that makes no sense at all).

So after all that gloom and doom where am I? What am I doing not to end up on a rock in my backyard speaking to myself in riddles with three strands of hair left? I come to the only place I can and should come to. My God, my rock, my fortress. I have bounced back and forth and some days are good and some days are really a struggle to get through. That’s human nature people. We are going to have those feelings, they are natural. It’s what you do with those feelings. I can’t let them consume me. Rocks are not very comfortable to sit on. When I am having those thoughts and feeling out of control I give it to God. I am praying for his peace to replace my fears and anxiety. When I am feeling peaceful and content I don’t stop talking to God. Well that’s not true. Sometimes I do because it’s easier to talk to God when we are in trouble than when we are doing good and walking down easy street. What I’m saying is don’t just run there in times of trouble, run to him in times of joy. He is with you through all of that. He is not a genie that just shows up when you need him to fix you. The Bible says count it all joy. All of it. That’s not easy and this is not an easy time for anyone. Especially if you have contracted this horrible virus or have lost a loved one. I can’t even begin to imagine your feelings at this time and I won’t pretend it’s just so easy to look up to God and say, I count it all joy. What is the purpose for my tragic loss? If I could put my hand on each and everyone of you and cry with you and pray with you I would. I wish I had all the answers, we all do, but I don’t. I do know that out of every tragedy and heartbreak God can be found “working for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28 and his name will be glorified and spread far and wide.

I want to say this before I wrap up. I was reading Psalms today. Psalm 42 and 43. It struck me that in both Psalms there were verses that were exactly the same. Psalm 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise him. My Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise him. My Savior and my God. I think that sums it up pretty good. When you are down, depressed, upset, etc. what can you do? You can put your hope in God, you can praise him. He is your savior and your God. Without hope we have nothing. If you don’t know God as your savior it must be awful hard to have hope. Who or what are you putting your hope in? Man, science, objects false deity’s? If you want that hope and you want peace you need to know Jesus. All you need to have that and know Jesus is to accept him. To believe that he is the son of God. That he was sacrificed and died on the cross for your sins, and was raised from the dead 3 days later. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God. Your belief in him will save you. You can be filled with his peace and you will have eternal life as he prepares a place for you in his kingdom. No, everyday is not a cakewalk but that’s not what he’s promising. He’s promising you eternal life and a freedom here on earth that rests in our hope and belief in him.

I know that was a lot to read today but I guess I need to write more often. There was a lot trapped up in my brain. Thanks for sticking through it with me. I know I can ramble but there is a point in the end. Please stay safe and enjoy your families with the time that we have been given and be creative in how you spend your time and communicate with those you can’t visit with at this moment.

Guess What Day It Is?!

It’s almost the end of January. I feel like I am always waiting to get through something. Once I get over this hump then I can really start moving forward. If I were to title my life I think it would be, Over The Hump. Well, that would be fine if I actually ever got over the hump and saw the other side. I’m like the camel who walks around yelling, “Uh oh guess what day it is?!! It’s hump day!” It’s hump day every day. That commercial does crack me up, however I don’t want to be stuck on hump day.

I’m waiting to get through the holidays. Get through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Those were all very hard to navigate without my Dad for the first time. They probably will be for the second and third time. I probably will never find that it’s easy and I’m not missing him during the holidays. Then my ex starts whispering to me. (My group leader referred to alcohol as an ex boyfriend and that is just what he is to me, my ex) You know what would make this easier? If you just had a drink. Just one. All you need is one to take that edge off. I can remember that feeling I would get when it hit my stomach and my head said, “Relax, don’t worry, you got this and you deserve this.” It never stops at one. I would drink until my head hit the pillow at night and maybe get up in the middle of the night if I was still thirsty. So, I have to have that conversation with myself that this will not take the edge off. My ex is a liar and there isn’t room for him in this relationship between God and I and my husband and I. Just one has severe consequences. So I think just get me through New Years and I will have gotten over a huge hump.

Then January is here and it’s my Mom’s birthday, well for some reason I need to get through that because that’s an occasion without my Dad. Well you know what, Valentines Day is coming up. That’s going to be hard for my Mom so I need to get her through that. Oh my goodness, St. Patricks Day is in March, geez I gotta get through that with everyone drinking green beer. Guess what day it is? It’s hump day!!! Meanwhile, I’m also putting on hold so many other things. Eating right, exercising, getting involved with outside interests etc. etc. etc. My Lord I can have a whole year of hump days. I don’t want to be that camel for the rest of my life.

I want to live purposely. I am so tired of never getting past the hump. What’s on the other side? Great and wonderful things! God is just waiting for me to crest that hill. He has magnificent joy and life fulfilled, I just have to follow him. Right now I have chosen to place the things of this world, the temporary pleasures as my God. You can only stay happy for short bursts of time when you do that. Have you ever read the 23rd Psalm? I mean like read it in the Bible. You may have heard it but to actually read and look at the words. Most of us have read or know by heart The Lords Pray, Our Father, Who art in heaven….. That is how Jesus told us we ought to pray. I read the 23rd Psalm today which I never have read the actual words. I have heard it said and heard my father say it many times. If you read and study the words it really can be very impactful.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

I don’t need to be stuck. There’s no reason. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. My God is my protector and I will not lack for anything I need. He is my shepherd, he will guide me. He is my shepherd, he will care for me as my great physician. He is my shepherd, he is my savior. You can disect every line of this and see what certain words actually mean and this Psalm means hope. I want to live like that. I don’t want to live waiting because I will miss out on what is over the hill for me on this earth. I want to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” when I see him in all his glory.

My goal is to stop waiting to get through. I am through. I am here and now. That does not mean that I will not hurt, grieve or struggle but I can do that in the moment and let God be my shepherd and guide me, heal me, care for me and I will trust him. I’m going to crest that hill and hump days can go back to just coming through with that camel, once a week.

The Baby

Change. It’s not easy. We all get into a comfortable routine where everything makes sense. This is how we do life. We have traditions that we have created with our own family. Wyatt and I were married and had to find a way to fit both of our families together for holidays and birthdays and family gatherings. Then we had JT and things became more centered around him and the dynamics change and we found what was comfortable for us. A way that we can fit both families together yet create our own traditions as well for just the three of us. Time marches on and you grow and people move away, people die, people go through ups and downs and if your family is anything like my family you fight. Yes there is fighting and hurt feelings sometimes but we seem to always find our way back to eachother because the one thing that doesn’t change is the love we have for each other.

It’s Christmas Eve and I find myself really struggling to find my place. Everything about my life has changed. I’ll be honest, I really don’t like it and earlier I felt like having a little pity party for myself. So many things have changed at one time. Can we not do this step by step? Change is hard enough. Why God can we not ease into all these things? Even if the change is positive it can still be an adjustment because it’s different. You are introducing something new into your life and figuring out how to make it fit.

I feel like everything hit at once. My Dad passed away, JT moved out, my Mom moved in, JT started dating someone serious (which as a Mom can be hard to become the #2 when you’ve been the #1 in your son’s life for 18 years) and then here comes the holidays. Nothing about Christmas Eve, nothing about this Christmas season has been the same. Now obviously not all of these are bad or negative changes. My Mom moving in is a good thing but is still a change for her and Wyatt and I. JT finding someone is a good thing and I like her so that’s a plus. It’s just a lot of changes. It means doing things differently like sharing JT with another family when he has been all mine. It means not getting to ride around and look at lights with my Dad. It means not getting to exchange Christmas presents with my Dad. It means for the first time in 18 years JT won’t be here when I wake up in the morning. Like I said, change is hard and as much as you want to try to force it to stay the same sometimes you just have no control. Life happens and we must figure out how to reshape ourselves into the new mold.

As I sat tonight crying off and on having my private little pity party I thought about the Christmas Eve service I had gone to earlier and the message. Today is about the baby. The baby Jesus. It’s not about watching Christmas Vacation and eating KFC. Side note, KFC closed early and I was not able to get my chicken which is a Christmas eve tradition we do every year. Just so you know, I cried. Back to the matter at hand. Today is not about me and my pity party because my traditions are changing. The baby Jesus. He’s what I should be concentrating on and if anybody should have had a pity party it would have been Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine. Mary the virgin is pregnant and Joseph still decided to marry her and then they trek off with Mary pregnant as can be on a donkey and can’t find a place to stop except a stable for her to give birth in. Jesus is put in a manger. We like to romanticize this scene and make the stable all clean and tidy but I bet that stable was, well a stable. Dirty, smelly, animals around making noise, scratchy straw. I don’t think it was as pleasant as we like to picture it in our books and plays. That, is some change for ya. 9 months before I think she was probably just living as everone else and then an Angel visits her and boom, the changes just kept on coming. I’ll bet Mary and Joseph could have had a pity party or two and maybe they did but with God’s help they reshaped themselves to fit the new mold.

So as I think about all these changes, yes I am sad. I do miss doing things the way I have done them for the past 18 years. I do miss my Dad being here for the 44 Christmas’ before this. If it means doing things differently then I guess it’s time to create new memories and new traditions, like joining my Mother and Father in-law and going to the Christmas Eve service together. Wyatt and I visiting our neighbor last night and sitting and talking with her and making a promise to myself to visit more often. Maybe we’ll eat Popeye’s chicken on Christmas Eve. (I don’t know guys, KFC is my go to. Popeye’s had to step in and it wasn’t KFC). We will have to play Christmas morning by ear and just find our place in it together until JT and Kaitlyn get here. All I know is even in this time of change and the ups and downs I can be so very thankful that 1. I am not pregnant and on a donkey and 2. God was willing to put on human flesh and walk among us and then be crucified for my sins and yours so that we may have eternal life. That is something that can never and will never change. Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope you all enjoy your families today and remember it’s about the baby today.

Struggle To Marvel

It is a struggle. I’m trying to act like it’s not but my heart just isn’t all the way in it. I’m ready for January to be here but I’m not sure a new year will be any easier. Getting through the holidays when you have lost someone is hard. It’s hard enough just doing life on a daily basis. We all have struggles we wake up to every day. Pain in one form or another has me debating whether to put my feet on the floor each morning when I open my eyes. Dealing with the physical pain is enough to make me want to shut down and then my brain kicks in and tells me all kinds of lies to make my struggle even harder. Near the top of the list of coping skills is pulling the covers over my head and not facing the day. I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow, after all tomorrow is another day my dear Scarlett.

I found myself on Thanksgiving wanting to fast forward to the end of the day. It just seemed like a chore. My Dad was not there and you could feel it. There was just that certain something that was missing. I keep trying to think about his pain and how thankful I am that he is not in pain anymore. It’s very hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that he is in Heaven. That may sound weird. I know that’s where he’s at but that’s something we talk about. That’s where we are going to go when we die if we believe in Jesus Christ. If we have accepted him as our Savior. It all seems so very far away. Death seems so far away. For me at least. I know some people have experienced loss all to often and you truly don’t understand that feeling until you experience it yourself. We talk of dying or what will happen when we die, to our possessions, to our bodies, to our loved ones and what it will be like in Heaven. It’s such a different conversation when someone so close to you dies and their physical body is not here with you anymore. It is just so amazing and grand for my mind to grasp that my Dad has moved from his physical body on this earth and is now in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!! He is in HEAVEN!!! Maybe that doesn’t strike you the same way but it has me in complete and utter awe. When I think about my Dad that way I can’t help but smile. I can even laugh out loud because I am overcome by the joy he must be experiencing. Sometimes I cry being overwhelmed by the feeling that comes over my whole being of pure happiness. Happiness doesn’t even describe it. I don’t actually think there is a word that can describe what I feel when I think of what my Dad is experiencing up there in Heaven with God. Whoa! Electrifying!!!

It’s here on earth where I miss him. I miss him being here for the traditions our family has created. I miss him being here to complete us. He is our leader. Our Big Giant Head. (Third Rock From The Sun joke) He is our touchstone in our family. I don’t think January is going to make things any better. I don’t think you ever get over losing someone you love. I think you learn how to live better with it. There is no magic time frame that will make this not hurt. There will always be a hole where my Dad should be. It’s a bitter sweet hole filled with the longing of wanting him here but the knowledge of knowing where he is and that I will see him again.

During this Holiday season I get it now. It’s like a club. Not a club you want to be part of. When people would post on social media or speak about missing someone they had lost and how hard these times are my thought was, “Awww that’s sad, so sorry for your loss.” Moving on now. You can’t understand how that person truly feels until you are in the club. It’s ok. I thought I got it. I thought I understood how sad that must be. I pray you are not in the club this Christmas but if you are I pray you laugh at the memories and good times you shared, marvel at the mystery of the Heaven they are experiencing and most of all, top on your list, share Jesus with those around you so they too can be certain of where they are going and you’ll be able to marvel at the mystery of Heaven that each one of you will experience.

Filling Hearts

This weekend was amazing. You are never quite aware of how a disease such as cancer can change a personor a family until you are the person or the family that it changes. We have breast cancer awareness month and there is a fundraiser or foundation for this and for that. Alzheimers, injured veterans, families of fallen police men and women, St. Judes. I mean the list for the places you can put your money to help fund organizations or to help find a cure could probably make it’s own book. If you are not affected by any of them you can never fully understand. You can have a heart to want to do something and believe me that is what we need. People with hearts to want to do something to help others in need and to reach out and give. I have a heart and a passion for several organizations that don’t personally affect me but now I have an understanding on a deeper level that I will never fully understand the gravity of their situation and that makes me want to be more compassionate, more giving, more caring and more precise in my prayer life.

When you are told that your father has been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rapidly growing brain tumor, your kind of left looking at the person telling you confused and saying, “I don’t understand?” That’s not something that actually happens to people I know. That happens in the movies or you hear people talk about someone they know that had a brain tumor but not my Dad. It’s just all so unreal. It still is. I’m not sure why. There is nothing about my Dad or my family that would make us immune from this type of thing. My parents are just going to grow old together and pass away on the front porch in their rocking chairs holding hands. Change of plans. Now I have to learn all these medical terms and statistics and be constantly disappointed. Every time I think we are going two steps forward we are actually falling three steps back. People are now coming out of the wood work telling you that they have a family member that passed from this cancer or someone they know that was close to them. I never really even heard much about this particular cancer but it’s everywhere. There is no cure. There are cases of individuals living with it for 15 years but they are much younger and very few and far between. Best case scenario is to slow down the rapid growth and give you more time. It’s heinous and wretched to watch someone go through as I can imagine all terminal illnesses are.

Let me get to this past weekend and why it was so amazing. As I’m sure many people are like me and they go through life and may donate to certain things or have causes that are close to their heart but then get clothes lined when these things affect those closest to us. Richmond held it’s 2nd annual RVA Brain Tumor 5K. I have never been apart of something like that. I have never participated in an anything K, marathon, walkathon or raising money for a cause like this. This was amazing. Our team – PawPaw’s Pride (we called my Dad PawPaw when he became a grandfather) set a goal to raise $1,000.00. We raised $1,995.00!! That is amazing and I want to thank all of you who made that possible. The National Brain Tumor Society set out to raise $175,000.00 and we collectively raised $272,221.55!! How awesome is that. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find a cure so when our children grow up they may not have to go through what we have. Their children may not have to watch them suffer with this disease and many others. I’m not saying all of these things so you all will jump on the bandwagon and be avid supporters of the National Brain Tumor Society. I certainly think that would be amazing and we would love to add to our team of walkers next year. The more the merrier. Let’s make PawPaw’s Pride the #1 Team in Richmond!!!! I say all this to tell you be passionate.

You don’t have to wait to be affected by something horrible. You don’t have to wait for someone to die or to be horribly injured or fighting for their lives or any number of issues we have going on in this world. This disease has changed me and I will never be the same and I will be a part of the National Brain Tumor Society and RVA 5K every year now. That’s just my world though. It’s easy to stop there and not venture outside of my world and what affects me. I have other things I am passionate about and want to help make a change in. Sometimes we either don’t know how, or we don’t want to step out of our comfort zone, we put it off and say “I’m going to donate to them, I need to set that up. Next month. I’ll get that done.” We can always turn that channel as well because those commercials make us sad, uncomfortable and we just don’t need to watch that. God calls us to do these things. To reach out. To step out of our comfort zones. How else will people see the love of God. – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself , if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17 – “Do not neglect to do good and to share wht you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16 – “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1John 3:17

What does your heart urge you to do? Where does your heart urge you to go? It’s not all about writing a check and sending money. Your time means so much. I have a heart for the homeless in our community. Well then I need to be spending time reaching out to our homeless. Serving, donating, plugging in where God wants me to be. I have other things on my heart that I feel I should be doing. No, you are right. We can’t do them all. We can’t save the world by ourselves but together everyone can make a difference. Ask God to show you where you are supposed to be. I promise he will show you.

The amazing thing that happens is, in the process of giving of yourself you are blessed. You are fullfilled. You think you are the one serving, helping and making someones day brighter. You are, you certainly are, but you will walk away being more served by the ones you are serving, being more loved by the ones you are loving, making meaningful deep relationships, and being so filled with God’s love you feel like you just might bust.

So as I move forward through this process. From receiving my Dad’s diagnosis to functioning and working through the grief and understanding his death I continue to learn. Nothing happens good or bad that there isn’t a way to glorify God. I may not always do such a bang up job and make the right choices but he’s working with me and he’s holding my hand every day. I love my family so much and our bond has done nothing but gotten stronger since May 23rd. Walking in the 5K this weekend was exhilierating, a great way to remember my Dad, a wonderful way to strengthen my family, and an awesome way to bring awareness and raise money to find a cure for this disease. We walked it this year. Well, some of us are in better shape and ran. I walked it this year. Next year I’m going to run it. If you know me that will be quite an accomplishment. Don’t wait for tradgedy, start filling hearts with love.

Conversations With God

I have really been struggling since I wrote my last blog. I think I’ve said it before. I’m a planner. Usually I have some sort of an outline in my head as to what I’m going to write about. Now I will tell you, each time I’ve sat down to write with an outline or general idea in my head, God has taken me in a different direction. The difference is, I had an idea. I had an outline of some sort. I felt confident in sitting down because there was something there. Not lately. It’s like a black hole. It’s blank. I have nothing. I feel like a deer caught in the headlights.

I keep jotting down little thoughts and ideas in my notebook that pop into my brain. Lord knows if I don’t write it down, it’s gone in the next five minutes. Then I start to question myself. Maybe that’s all you have. Maybe you were just supposed to get on here write a handful of times and then move along. Well, maybe that’s true. How am I supposed to know? Where’s my burning bush? Can’t you just give me a word God? Well, that’s the thing. It was pointed out to me the other night in my recovery group that I just need to let it happen. I am listening to the voices of defeat and not even giving God a chance. This oh so wise person said, “You have got to stop trying to plan out everything. You can plan a lot of things but you are going to have to just let God move through you and stop trying to put him on a schedule.” Not planning is along the same lines as going to your job/school naked. Yeah, hermit status for the rest of my life. I want to feel confident before I step out and do anything. I want to feel like what I put forth is going to be met with acceptance and understanding and not get egg on my face or wow did I really say that.

It’s so funny because I used to think I was so confident back when I was drinking. I could talk to anyone, life of the party, dancing on the tables and sometimes the bar. What a false sense of confidence alcohol gives us and oh what it makes us step out and do. Talk about egg on your face or wow did I really say that or do that. We are more afraid of showing our true selves and being real with eachother than we are of being absolute idiots and making a fool of ourselves. That can just be chalked up to, oh, she just had to much to drink. Well that’s not the real me. I am more than that. Why are we so afraid for people to see us? We are afraid they just might not like what they see. It’s like the filters on Snapchat. Ya’ll better stop using those all the time and take some real pictures of yourself. Someone is going to see you in person and not know who you are. I needed to take that filter off. I needed to be me because it got to a point where I didn’t even know me. I had to start finding out who I was again and just where it was that I decided that I didn’t love myself enough.

So I took the advice and picked up my computer today. WITHOUT AN OUTLINE! WITHOUT A PLAN! She was right. That wise person in my recovery group. God knows what I need when I need it. Just like all the other times I have written. I may have felt confident but It was God laying on my heart what needed to be said. It is God writing this today. I just placed my fingers on the keys and started typing. The words just flow and you know what it’s like? It’s really like I’m letting you all in on a conversation that God is having with me. He likes to wait to reveal things to me until I’m typing here. Maybe he thinks someone else might need to hear something similar. My confidence needs to be in God. Not in how well I think I can write about a certain topic, or just how many ideas I have come up with.

It is a process to get to know myself. I have hidden away for quite a few years. I am learning through my conversations with God. I didn’t even realize until tonight that he was showing up in real time and having class with me each time I wrote.The more I remove the filters and remember and find that girl inside, the more I like her. The more I’m not ashamed. I may have done some shameful things but that does not define me. I am more than that. If I could just see myself as God sees me. Whoa!!!! Watch her go. Now that’s a Wonder Woman.