Owning My Stories

Anne Lamott says we own everything that happens to us and that we should tell our stories. This brings up fear, sadness, false shame, false guilt and anger for me.

I don’t enjoy causing anyone pain, whether it be directly or indirectly. I have gone out of my way to not say things, or to say them only when absolutely necessary, with such meticulous calculation, that I can cause the least amount of pain possible. I see now that this is another layer of codependence. This is another way I take on responsibilities that are not my own, and frankly, I want to be done with this harmful practice. It serves no one, not even the ones who think they would fare better with my silence and enabling.

When I was ordained 3 years ago, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I remember low-key begging my mother to keep quiet about it and of course she didn’t. Anything I didn’t want shared, should not have been discussed with her, lol because it would always be as good as broadcasted before anyone who would listen. It took far too long for me to understand this. I think part of the reason I felt unofficial was because I didn’t feel I had a clear understanding of my purpose.

I now understand my ultimate purpose is to love and be loved by Him. From there, I have gifts and things to share, all from a place of overflowing love from my Abba. These are things I get to do, not absolutely have to do. There’s no ball and chain that comes along with this deal. There is freedom, peace, love, joy, and when the trials of life come, there’s my Abba, walking me through it all. We do it all together.

I am naturally, an open person. I don’t like superficial conversations and small talk. That is draining to me over time. If you look at my very first blog post, I’m sure there was a level of vulnerability there because it’s just who and how I am. I make no apologies for that, but now, things are different. God has shown me areas of my life that I need to face full on. Things I need to accept and deal with, and in doing so, I need to speak and share openly.

It hurts. The last thing I want to do is cause others to feel uncomfortable, but my sharing my story is just that- me sharing my story. I am not responsible for others’ feelings or actions beyond that.

Anne Lomott’s quote says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

God is giving me greater clarity on my ministry, and in order to do it, I must have room to speak openly. I will do my best to be sensitive to others, but I will not shy away from where God leads. I said earlier, that beyond loving and being loved by God, I get to do other things. I refuse to live a mundane existence where I cower in fear of man or woman. When it comes to my life, I want Jesus to get what he so dearly paid for because I love him. I love him more than I fear you. There’s more to come, dear reader.

Just What We Need, More Labels

It intrigues and annoys me (just a little) that there seems to be labels for literally everything. If I am honest, it can be helpful at times, to at the very least, understand that you’re not alone in dealing with something or going about something in a specific way. Oftentimes, there’s a word for it. It has a name. Sometimes, it’s fascinating and eye opening and other times it seems downright silly.

Before I knew of the word “unschooling”, I was doing it with my oldest child. Before I knew I was “prophetic”, I blurted out truths to people that I couldn’t possibly have known on my own. I did it so often, I started to say, “I have this ‘thing’…” Then I got a little closer to the label and began to call it ‘a gift’. I chuckle at myself as I type this. Before I knew what an empath and highly sensitive person was, I exhibited the traits and more often than not, suffered for them as a child.

I cried too much, and too easily. I was far too sensitive. I got too happy about nothing. I was told, and not in a good way, “It don’t take much to make you happy.” Now, pause for a moment… Why on EARTH would that be a problem?! To be happy for the smallest of things, looked at as negative… Anyway, I quickly learned as a child that I was a problem, with a problem, many problems actually, so I worked hard to hide and stuff my true feelings. This didn’t always work, but hey, I tried.

Now that I am older and have a better understanding of who I am and how God made me, I celebrate God and how He created me. There are parts of my sensitivity that has greatly benefited others. I celebrate that. There are also parts of my sensitivity that got me into trouble. I celebrate those pesky, inconvenient parts too because it is part of the whole, that is me. You can’t pick and choose. I am a whole person. If I discern what’s going on with you and say just the right thing at the right moment where you otherwise felt invisible, you don’t get to love that part but get angry with me when I see something sweet or hear about some injustice and it makes me cry. I feel deeply, period. I won’t apologize for that any longer.

As God has led me on this journey of healing and learning about myself, I have learned about more labels than I knew existed. One label as I mentioned before is that of being a highly sensitive person. I rolled my eyes and took tests that really just confirmed what I already knew of myself.

A few days ago, I watched a documentary on highly sensitive people. I wanted to see what the scientific field is currently saying about it. It was very interesting. As I watched, my son Jonathan came to mind and stayed there for the remainder of the film. I started to see, like another movie, moments from his life that totally point to him also being highly sensitive. He feels everything deeply. We delight when he is ecstatic. It is the cutest display of delight. Then, we cringe when he screams, growls and cries at what seems like the most minuscule thing, which again I don’t think is fair because what type of issues would a 2 year old have, tax problems? I don’t think so.

Anyway, realizing this about my son, that he truly fits the profile of a highly sensitive person is helpful. My prayer is that it will help me to help him as he grows, especially since I understand what being this way entails. I am also beginning to seriously suspect that my husband is highly sensitive as well. This is very interesting for me. I mentioned it to my oldest and she gave me a knowing, affirmative look and sort of grunt, hahaha.

All this to say, I don’t like labels, but I also thank God for them at times. They aren’t all negative. Sometimes, they’re very helpful.

Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

“Trigger” is a word I have had to come to grips with and just get used to. Just a short time ago, the word grated on my nerves. The word itself would illicit an eye roll that started way back in my head somewhere.

So many are “triggered” so often. I thank God for the truth taught in a book I read years ago called, The Four Agreements. It isn’t a Christian book (((gasp))) but God’s wisdom is littered throughout it. I mean, the Bible does say He is all in all so… Anyway, that book helped me in enormous ways because I am a highly sensitive person. It helped me to not take everything someone else says or does to heart and as a personal affront to the entirety of my person hood.

I read an article on a friend’s page entitled Don’t Tell Me God is Good and commiserated with the author. I commented to my friend that the post reminded me of the time I cried and screamed in anger towards God because I’d lost another baby. I have lost 7 total, but 5 happened within 9 months and I was really a mess. After yelling at Him and crying, I clearly felt His presence. It was as if He got down to my level and I heard Him say, “I’m Sorry”. That floored me and helped heal me in many ways. It also brought our relationship to a greater level of intimacy.

What that post brought to mind though was triggers. As I read it, I felt the author has more healing to experience in the area mentioned in the post. Don’t we all have areas we still have yet to experience healing in? When things trigger us, it points out a sore spot in us that is in need of healing, but instead of looking to God for freedom in that area, we often want others to change. Look at how many words we are being told we shouldn’t use today because it may trigger someone. People are confronted with attempted censorship every day on social media and in real life.

There’s a massive call to remove all words that could be possible triggers and nothing is being done to aid a person in healing from those triggers that are to me, very obviously their problem. It’s a call for you to stop triggering me so I can be comfortable and ignore my responsibility to obtain healing for my issues and traumas. This reminds me of another good post I read entitled, Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility.

I suppose what I am asking is that we take a moment when triggered and consider what lies we may be believing in that moment. What are we telling ourselves? Asking others to stop saying what triggers us is handing our responsibility over. It’s akin to asking someone else to fix you. Only God can and has done that. We need help to walk in the freedom that was so preciously paid for. We need healing.

By the way, a huge trigger for me that seems to bother me to no end is whispering. If someone speaks to me in a way that is barely audible, with just the right intention (perceived by me) behind it, oh my word, it does something to my insides and infuriates me to no end. I need healing, Lord.

Jona’s Emotions

My 2 year old son Jonathan is an emotional little guy. Actually, both of my boys are, but my focus is on Jona in this moment. If something doesn’t go his way, he is liable to scream and growl and cry real tears. This guy gets upset!

Because my husband and I both have come from backgrounds that have not taught us how to effectively deal with our emotions, we don’t know what we’re doing. That being said, I am grateful that we are not merely doing what was done in our family (of origin), with our children. We are forging a different path, in hopes of breaking cycles of abuse and dysfunction, and it is hard.

I am one who looks at a thing from every angle that I can. This often makes things a bit more complicated.

Yesterday, Jona got upset and yelled and my husband quickly got angry and told him to go upstairs (to cry). This boy can scream. Here’s what I see.

For my husband, he has had whatever type of day he has had, and the boy starts yelling and crying about something that to Jermaine is minuscule. It’s frustrating to no end.

For Jona, he is 2 years old. His vocabulary and cognitive reasoning abilities are very limited. He is trying to communicate his needs and desires and is often misunderstood. I mean, the baby talks funny. We don’t know what he is saying, but he is clearly saying something because he says it the same exact way every time. (This is one of the reasons we sign with our babies, to enhance our ability to communicate during these tougher phases.) So, Jona wants something or something goes wrong, no one understands, he gets frustrated and angry and naturally, blows up. Who wouldn’t feel the way he does? The fact that it is about his kindle being dead is irrelevant, he has a problem that for him, is very serious and very real and I for one, respect and honor that. Yes, he’s a child, but he’s a person, deserving honor and respect, which unfortunately is a foreign concept for many adults. Insert eye roll here.

When I see Jonathan reach his limit and cry, it is upsetting. He is loud and I just want to help him. One thing I talk to my husband about is how we as adults need to learn to stop making the child’s behavior about us. Parents take offense, get angry and yell, curse, punish, hit, or whatever, not realizing the impact of their actions on the child long term.

Not only are you not teaching the child how to deal with their strong emotions, but when you do any of what I mentioned above and send them away, you teach them that you are not available when they need your help, something is wrong with them and their emotions (insert shame here) and so much more. Then, we wonder why so many adults have no clue about how to process their emotions. You have a grown man who, when he feels angry, stuffs his feelings because he doesn’t know what else to do with them. How long does that work, until he makes himself sick or harms someone else and ends up in prison or dead?

I’m not saying I have the answers, I don’t. I know Who does though, and I go to Him and get help on how to help my son and family with these issues when they arise. With God’s help, we can change things for the better for ourselves and future generations. The abuse and neglect has to end here. I am tired of it.

Write More? Maybe

My 3 girls either write and/or draw every day. Watching their progress, and hearing about how this experience is going for them is making me want to write more too. I often feel I don’t have much to say, but I realize it doesn’t have to be some enormous epiphany that I write about, although these days seem to be filled with them. I am also noticing a trend lately. When I speak with friends and think I’m just chatting about things everyone knows about and that’s not the case. Those are things I could write about too. I also need to let go of an idea of needing to write a certain length of a blog post. I have all these “rules” in my head and am now realizing they are just stupid.

One epiphany that has come around again for me is how deeply entrenched I am in not being very comfortable with being on the receiving end. I can handle it easier if there’s a way for me to pay it back in time or even if I have given ahead of time, I can deal with that a little bit better. Receiving in a manner where it is appropriate to just receive, without any reciprocation needed, is very hard for me, especially if it is something that involves a process. The more time passes where I am on the receiving end, not giving at all (because it isn’t the time for giving or perhaps inappropriate), I feel more and more uncomfortable. I feel I am at a time in my life where God is working on this with me.

Another thing that comes to mind as a reason to not write so often is that I am perhaps afraid of sharing more of myself for fear of rejection or abandonment. I am naturally a more open and authentic person. I don’t care much for superficial conversations or relationships. I don’t like to make time for such things. But, I am at a time in my life where I am ready to be fully me, fully present, with no apologies. Anyone who leaves, great, I didn’t have to give them the boot, they can weed themselves out. This is how I am choosing to look at it.

All this to say, maybe I will write more often and share more of my life and what’s on my heart. We’ll see.

Nourishing Traditional Food

My friend Patrice Lanzner-Brown was right. One of the ways I love my family and really everyone, is to feed them food I have prepared.

I have been fussing at this entity we call hindsight lately, lol. (I am admittedly nutty in that way.) Looking back, I have no idea why I am just now, at 42 realizing that I have a passion for cooking and baking. I am one who takes great pleasure in the smallest of things. Feeding people good wholesome food, prepared with love, makes me downright giddy and teary eyed.

Right now as I type this, my heart is full. I love experimenting in the kitchen and am willing to try things I’ve never heard of (only to find out later it is a thing with a name). I enjoy learning from the results. We have a month old sourdough starter. Instead of looking up sourdough recipes, we decided to experiment and make up our own (again) and make a sourdough banana bread loaf. It is almost done and looks fantastic. I also got out a bag of apples I bought yesterday and peeled, cored and cut them to make a fermented apple sauce that will be ready in a few days. In the meantime, there’s a pint of fermented apple sauce for my family to enjoy and benefit from.

I also started the process of making more cultured butter for my family. My heart swelled with pride and joy to see my oldest take out some sourdough waffles we made an froze a few weeks ago. She gave them to my 2 sons, who happily gobbled them up with some maple syrup (which reminds me that we need to make more pancake syrup). It’s like a scene off some farm somewhere.

For me, food has to be prepared with real ingredients. This means I don’t do too much processed food. I enjoy making things from scratch that some never consider making. I am also big on making delicious fermented foods for optimal gut health. It pleases me to no end to bake a cake a bread, make fruit leather (like fruit roll ups) and more and have it be from fully soured dough for optimal digestion or fermented fruits and vegetables and see it all devoured happily.

I think I will eventually teach some of this to people around me. I tend to live in a bubble and think everyone knows all these things but I am finding more and more that this is not true. People have no idea that the oatmeal they are eating, thinking they are eating healthily, if not pre soaked, is actually not doing their body as much good as they presume.

I loved setting the record straight when my dear sister, upon seeing pictures of foods I prepared, assumed I had time on my hands that I surely don’t. She was shocked to learn how little actual laboring time I spent on the foods she saw pictured on my Facebook page. Anyone can prepare foods in a healthy manner and reap the benefits.

Anyway, I’ll stop here and just say I am happy to have finally realized how much I love preparing good, healthy food for others. I want to teach my children while young how to develop healthy eating habits. I hope they carry it with them and teach their children as well. And, I hope you’re eating well too.

Sacrificial Praise (& Worship)

God bless those who deal with pain day in and day out, with no definitive end in sight. I must say first, that I don’t believe this is God’s will for anyone. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world but he also said he has overcome the world. He didn’t say he, Holy Spirit and the Father were conspiring together, figuring who they would dole out what ailment to for this amazing “opportunity for growth” or something else that we like to make up when we don’t understand another’s suffering. If sickness and death were God’s pleasure, he’d be downright crazy to have sent Jesus to take care of it all. No, God is not crazy, and I don’t pretend to understand much beyond His being a good God and giving us the ability to heal.

That said, today marks 16 days of dealing with pain from back spasms. I’m not sure how I managed this, but I did and boy does it hurt.

At first it was a pain that I ignored. Then I took notice of it but still kept going as normal until the pain jolted me to respect its presence and had me crying because I couldn’t do much without feeling it.

Once I was in bed, I began to feel sorry for myself and even got angry. I am not good at sitting still, and frankly, I didn’t. I still managed to make a sourdough cake, sourdough pumpkin bread, apple cinnamon bread, lasagna, hummus, tuna dip, sourdough crackers and more. Again, I am not a good patient.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to a Christian talk show called Better Together. One of the women on the show reminded me of how, when we get to Heaven, there will be no more pain and suffering. The type of praise and worship we are able to give here on earth, the sacrificial, sweet smelling aroma, born of pain, trials and tribulation, will no longer be something we can offer our Heavenly Father once we are gone from this earth. That gave me another jolt, albeit a nicer jolt than the back spasms provided.

I suddenly had an opportunity! Instead of wallowing and being angry about the pain and having to be still, I could offer a sacrifice of praise to my dear Abba. No, I wasn’t thanking Him for the pain, that’s stupid and weird, plus He didn’t cause it. I could spend that time however, praising Him and loving on Him in spite of it all. It reminded me of the last miscarriage I had before giving birth to my youngest son, Jonathan.

I was literally contracting, and could feel when my baby left my body. In that moment, something changed as I stood before a crowd, leading worship with my daughter and my dad Russ, singing Great Are You Lord to my Abba. It felt amazing. By the time I got home, I had bled through everything and found the remains of my child. Thankfully, my pants were black so no one noticed.

That memory is bittersweet, obviously because I miscarried again, but it is a very sweet memory because I was making a statement and taking a stance that all of hell likely shuddered to witness. Yes, I was hurting, both physically and emotionally, but I was still worshiping my God right in the midst of it all and receiving a healing that I can’t begin to describe. And it was no coincidence that the son God named and promised me I would have, is called, Jonathan, “Yahweh has given”.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing to be able to be in pain to praise God. I know how to praise Him when I am not in any pain too. But now, when I feel the pain from these muscle spasms (which has greatly diminished, thank you Jesus), I will use it as an opportunity to worship. I won’t be able to worship this way when I get to Heaven, so for now, I am taking advantage of it.