Monthly Archives: June 2016

A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks – a different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more – whereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time – and also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks – a different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more – whereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time – and also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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When The Storms Rage

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The storms outside seem to curiously match the storms raging in my heart.

When the temperature is steadily near 100°F and you look up at the skies – noting  clouds and sun everywhere, from the direction you’re departing — to gaze in wonder at the darkness you see ahead.

You wonder how so much beauty is about to collide with so much darkness.
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Back to the temperature watching. You note the temperature gauge on the dash of your car says 101°, and you wonder what the dark clouds ahead of you means. You get to your destination, and it is sunny and bright outside. As you complete your purchases,  you note the atmosphere seems to be at war. Instead of the bright and sunny calm, you now see the darkness pushing it’s way through. You watch the trees swaying in the choppy wind. As you prepare to walk out the door, the rain gets dumped on the sidewalk in front of you. You decide that you enjoy the rain, and walk to the car calmly. You remark that you’ve never experienced such large drops of warm rain.

You realize that what you are observing in the atmosphere and surrounding locality is almost a mirror image of the emotions and struggles you seem to have within the depths of yourself. You shudder as you question what the storm brings next.

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So back to the rainy mess and storms raging outside the car that you’re finally safely inside. You start the car, and take a peek at the temperature gauge again. You believe your car (or perhaps the sun)  is also depressed – as you watch the numbers steadily fall. With amazement, you are captured by the fact that, just moments ago, the gauge said 101°, and now reads 74°F.  Yes, the war in the atmosphere, and the warm, but cooling rain blanketed the area, and the temperature dropped in kind – 27°, to be exact.

The crazy, and somewhat violent, unsure weather conditions – though the storm short in its existence – ushered in a peaceful calm – unlike the unruly heat bearing down on us moments before. It was initially an uncomfortable coolness because we were so used to the blazing sun. Our rain-soaked clothing made the cool feel cooler. But, as we adjusted, we recognized the comfort in the unexpected, but new situation.

I am realizing the similarities in my life right now. As I was pondering these things, a dear friend asked how I was doing. My response shocked her – but of I’m being honest here, it also shocked me. I had the following to say:

I’m okay, I guess. I’m just struggling. My heart is shattered, my faith is crumbling, and my life seems to be falling apart – but hey, it’s all good!

So, there you have it. My life – in pretty much all areas – is swaying around like some stormy weather and swirling in some choppy winds. I can only hope and pray to see a similar calm that followed this storm.

My life is so uncertain right now – with health concerns, spiritual concerns, sexuality concerns, marriage concerns, sexual and physical traumatic concerns, and the list goes on – these are simply some of the most pressing. Not all are with me personally – but closely related or surrounding my family.

With this upcoming week will come potential challenges that, honestly, I cannot even comprehend. What does all this mean? Nothing I can share yet. Mostly because I don’t know. As time and circumstances change, I’ll unpack the feelings and emotions that come along with the changing weather.

These changes will perhaps usher in a new season of life – a season with protected and safely calm winds swaying all around. The troubling parts may remain, but the hope is in my ability to successfully navigate the brewing storms with transparency and authenticity. You see, I aim to represent life with reality, not with rose colored glasses that say all is well with my soul. When life is troubling, and even seeming to spiral out of control – it us imperative to keep on fighting – to be real and allow the world to see that life isn’t always easy — but during those times, hope is the strongest force in the universe at times. If hope is lost, the will to live can just as easily fall to the wayside as well. That ultimately means that hope rests in our own hands. We must choose to always remember it still exists, even when it seems elusive.

My hope and prayer here is that other people can see strength in my story – even when I don’t feel it exists.
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Painfully Broken – When All You Know And Believe Comes Into Question

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*******Trigger Warning*******
This blog post will speak mostly of depression, but also suicidal thoughts. If this is a struggle for you, please reach out – but I also understand if you are unable to read further.
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I actually wrote this post a few days ago, and true to form, I’m in a slightly different, and much better place currently / mentally. It’s still on my heart to share because I am not alone. If I believe this, then there must be others who will stumble upon today’s blog post, and need to know there IS hope, even when the silence seems deafening. This is also a little longer than normal, so you may want to take it in parts!
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There are days and there are times that life seems shattered. Unbearable. It is almost as if nothing is real – like all I ever knew was a lie. In those moments, I feel so broken – where all my thought processes, beliefs, and even faith is so unsure. I question myself, trying to figure out who I even am. It’s that moment where the person staring back as I look at the mirror is a stranger. I often feel like a stranger in my own skin.

You might wonder how I handle those times. Simple – I don’t. Just kidding. It is imperative that I remember (like with roller coaster style depression) that the person I fear is lost or hiding – or why just plain feels unfamiliar – is really still there. Maybe, just maybe, the person looking back from the mirror is a culmination of all many of life’s experiences, all bundled into one. Maybe I don’t recognize those eyes staring back at me because I choose to avoid the reality packed away, deep inside.

I also mentioned my faith. Yes, it still exists. I still believe in God, and give Him credit where credit is due. However, I’m not going to lie. I have moments where I wonder if any of it is even real, or if it matters at all. I question a God who seems so passive sometimes. My daughter battled cancer for three out of her seven years of life. She has beautiful, innocent childlike faith. She still died. Based on the faith I have, He COULD have miraculously healed her – but he chose to silently not lift a finger. He sat by, unable to be bothered. But yet – all of this is so far from the truth.

You see, I simply must continuously commit to memory, and make a place in my heart for the knowledge that, before she was my daughter, she was His. I don’t know why some are healed – and I don’t believe I ever will on this side of Heaven. And I’m learning that this truly is okay.

On the days where hope is shattered, and where my heart is also – seemingly just broken, beyond repair — it is then that I must somehow remember the vital nature that hope still exists, even when I can’t see it.

Right now, I freely admit that I need help – that I’m not where I need or want to be emotionally. Of course, that comes and goes – and seems capable of changing moment by moment.

Please allow me to share a snippet or two from a post I made in a community that prides itself on being a safe place for ALL human beings – regardless of their status in life, marital situation, sexual orientation, or any defining characteristic they may identify with — all without expectation or requirement to even be okay. They welcome people, exactly where they are. They offer love and friendship, coupled with a grace that it’s so often times messy. Messy grace. Anyway, these are part of the words I shared openly in that safe place. Now I need to also share with you. Need may be a strong word, and that’s okay. This is a strong and messy situation – one I’m realizing I’m far from alone in.

I want to start by saying this is a safe place. That’s why I’m here – about to say what I have to say. What I don’t need or want is your pity. What I do need is your love. I need you to hear me. And those of you who pray – I need you to do that. Though, not gonna lie – not sure how I feel about that. Oh, I also need to tell you to stop reading now if the occasional “bad word” is going to offend you. I don’t intend many – but I also don’t pretend I will be perfect in that area right now. No one even has to reply – cause I just want to say these words. Feel these feelings and either find a way through it, or not.

Oh, and as a side note. I am a Christ follower. I do go to counseling / therapy, and my primary doc is aware of all that I’m about to say. I am not suicidal, but sure as shit, I am definitely having suicidal thoughts. (yes, also known by my medical team, and church leadership.) So, to say I’m overwhelmed – that would be an understatement of fairly epic proportions. I wish I could honestly tell you that I care anymore. I do but I don’t. I am so damn tired of people who don’t mean what they say, say what they mean, and have actions that match their words. I’m tired of trusting people and expecting their words to be honest and true. I’m tired of people telling me they’ll be here any time, and that being bullshit. I’m tired of life. I’m just done. I’m not talking about killing myself – I’m just feeling so over it all. I’m finally realizing that I can’t keep believing that it’s ever going to change. How I’m able to believe that for others, and not myself – I have no idea. But it’s true. My heart is shattered – just so broken. And I know it always will be. Here’s the God’s honest truth. I wish I wanted to be alive – that I wanted to live because life is good. But, friends, that’s just not the case. I want to live so I my death doesn’t cause other people pain. But it will, and I hate that. So, here’s I am. Living for others. But – I’m guessing that living for any reason beats dying for none. While my heart is shattered, my faith seems to be crumbling. I don’t say that lightly. I want to believe that my faith is as real as it every has been. But, if I’m being honest – that just isn’t true right now. My hearts desire is to fall in love with the heart of God again. I want to believe all the things I tell each of you (or anyone with ears) every day – that God is good, that He is still God, and that He’s in control (even when we’re not)… But I don’t know who I am anymore – let alone what I believe. I guess I still believe the things I always have, since coming to know Christ. I just don’t care. I have missed the previous 4 or 5 of the previous 6 weeks of church. Since I started faithfully attending church, this has never happened. At first, it really bothered me. Until it didn’t. The first 3 weeks, I was sick. I finally get over that mid week to find myself in the ER Friday night, a week and a half ago. 7 hours later, went home. Sick or some other valid reason, I didn’t attend. I think it really made me sad and miss the place — till I realized the place didn’t actually miss me back. I could count the fingers on less than a full hand, the number of people who carried enough to be the body of Christ – who reached out and asked if I was okay, or simply told me that they missed me. Yeah I know, it’s not all about me. Trust me, I know. I say that, but I care deeply. But I think I’ve just been walking a path where I’ve been slowly giving up. Praying for the faith and hope that says keep going. And clearly – whether I realize it or not – I’ve found that faith and hope time and time again. Cause I’m still here. I have breath in my lungs, and my heart still beats. See guys, I don’t really need anything. I guess I just wanted a safe place to write all this out – the safe haven this community is. What I don’t know is why. Why I felt compelled to share this. Please don’t feel pressured to reply. I mean, feel free – but ya don’t have to. I guess writing is therapeutic for me. Cause, fun

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So, as I mentioned before, I am not currently suicidal – and not having suicidal thoughts at the moment either. I’ll share more of recent / current events in the coming days.

To anyone who is hurting – and to anyone having suicidal thoughts – you ate not ever alone. Know this. Not ever do you need to walk this earth (as messed up as is on some days) alone. If you’re struggling, please reach out.  You can post here, or reach out via my contact me page. I may not be able to physically do anything – but I’m more than willing to listen – to hear you, and to simply – even virtually just sit with you in this pain.

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WORLDWIDE SUICIDE HOTLINES

Community Challenge – In Three Sentences Or Less

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Challenge time

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It’s about community – it’s importance, and how it makes a difference.

Here’s your challenge. Think of a person you respect. Tell them in three sentences or less things you love about them, and remind them of things they may struggle to remember on their own.

I welcome you to post your answers here in the comments – or feel free to connect via my contact me page and I’ll update this post with all of our community of answers. Comment or message me with as many people as you’d like. This is all about love.

The first person who came to mind is To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) founder, Jamie Tworkowski. Here are the things I wish he knew and could always hang onto:

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Jamie is a kind hearted person who encourages, shares hope and compassion, and loves people well. He is tremendously loved as a son, brother, uncle, friend, comrade, and one day a lifelong companion. He lives life authentically, but with vulnerability as he tells his own story of brokenness and triumph, pain mixed with hope, and sees value in all people – all the while reminding everyone that it’s okay to not be okay, to be honest, and that everyone has a story worth telling, and one that is full of love and hope, while also remembering that rescue is possible.

(See what I did there? I made about six sentences into three – all with the magic of breaking all sorts of grammar rules – so I beg you now — don’t think it necessary to remind me of this.)

I may share and highlight others as well – but wanted to give everyone a chance to #RememberTheLove.

If You Are Who You Follow

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If you are what you follow on social media, then I am

a gay, straight, lesbian, heterosexual, single, married, bipolar, possibly suicidal, mentally ill, happy, hopeful, loving, hated, bullied, loved, toddler, restaurant, pastors wife, pastor, executive pastor, youth ministry, worship leader, friend, caring, empathetic, waitress, friend with benefits, grown ass man, feminist preacher, apologetic pastor, agnostic, TV news anchor, weatherman, LGBTQ+ community, hurting, broken, exhausted, energetic and wide awake, husband, wife, Christian band, boxer, wrestler, asshole, sweetheart, photographer, mentally challenged, evangelist with a love of fishing, triangles, pencils, scary movies, music, songs, pickles, cake, bacon in any shape or size, chocolaty popcorn, and all things love.

So, as you can tell – I am very diverse.

I am a human being, you see. I am you, and you are me. We are us. We are a team. We are individuals. We are better together and we really must not ever be alone. We all need grace, compassion and love.

Let Them Know Us By Our Love

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This blog post comes not quite 24 hours after a deadly massacre in Florida. A horrific terrorist act. A news story that rocks our world, and unravels the very fabric of all we believe. Or at least it should. I will share my thoughts, and welcome yours in return.

I would like to mention that this is written from my own vantage point, and I will speak for myself – but with the bulk of this message being directed at those who call themselves, collectively, the church. Christians. Christ followers. People of faith. Those who love the Lord. Those who love the sinner and hate the sin. The body of Christ. This is for them. This is for you. This is for all who love and breathe – but ultimately, for those who embrace faith, and consider themselves followers of Jesus.

First, I’d say that, as Christ followers, this is one area, and with one community (the entire LGBTQ+ community as a whole) we get so many things wrong. Love. Let me explain from the vantage point of a married somewhat heterosexual female. I say it like that because I see beauty in so many places, and in so many people. I love all people. But yes, I’m married to a man. Moving on…

As a Christ follower, I so often want to apologize on behalf of Jesus Himself for all the Christians spewing hate in His name. This, friends, is not love.

As the body of Christ, we are expected to act as He acted. In and with LOVE. To ALL people, regardless of who they love, or are attracted to.

Those who claim or speak in the authority of Christ should NOT show disgust in those who sin differently than they do. Instead, we should sit with them in their pain. Perhaps when we stop judging, and start loving people as we’ve been shown unconditional love – then, and only then, will people truly be free. Free to live community faith in action. Free to hurt, but free to heal.

To drive this point home – I’ll stop those of you (just for a moment) who are itching to throw the ever so popular idea that God hates homosexuality too – and that their sin will surely keep them from Heaven. See, I AM NOT arguing that homosexuality is (or isn’t)  a sin. Nor am I saying that God doesn’t mention it as sin, I will allow you to come to a conclusion on your own. That decision is ultimately between you and God. No one else. Yes, you can look to the Bible for knowledge on this – but also for knowledge on often times, messy grace and the true picture of reckless love. Love in the face of danger. Sharing love, and allowing grace to mold lives and change worlds.

I suppose the final thought I want to ensure you don’t forget is the idea that yes, we are called to share the truth – lest any person perish. However, the truth shared with love is always where it’s at. You don’t have to agree with a person’s lifestyle to show them grace and to love them. As a gentle reminder – none of us are God. Neither you nor I were appointed judge, jury or executioner. For those in this community, or for anyone whose “sin” is different than our own.

With all this said – I’d like to implore you to allow this to be a heart check. Take a moment (and lots of moments moving forward) to love people the dance way you need love. BE the change in our world.

Allow your heart to break with all the hearts of those who lost their lives in Orlando during this act of violence so utterly horrible. Let this stand as an event in our Nation’s history where love truly does win. Do not take your situation (life and security) for granted. Love those who are different. Extend grace to all. Please pray for everyone involved – for those families and friends of all those who are mourning the lives of those they now miss. That the holes in their hearts will have comfort and peace, though broken and hurting. Pray, also for the injured, and for those still fighting for their lives. When you don’t know how to pray – let love speak.

To the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, please allow me to address you directly. I wish I could speak on behalf of everyone who puts on the hat that sports the title of “Christian” – but that I cannot do. As I mentioned previously, I believe this is something that we, the church, get very wrong a great percentage of the time. I want you to hear my words. I’m sorry. I hear you. I want to sit with you in your pain. I don’t have to know precisely how you feel to just love you where you are. That, I can offer you. I offer you the same messy grace, and the same heartfelt love that I’ve also been freely given. So here – please take my hand. Allow me to walk with you, and to do life with you. Together, we can make a difference in our world. Call it a pipe dream, or call it whatever you’d like – but know that my words are true, and my love for you is real. You are beautiful. Period. My love for you is like Christ’s love for me – it is real, and cannot be denied. Please know how truly valued you are, and that love is yours. Allow these words to wrap themselves around you like a friend giving you a hug. (Side note – I’m fairly certain that love makes the world go ’round.)

For anyone who is struggling in the aftermath of this tragedy, know that you are not alone. If you’d like to talk through it – I am here. I am only one person, and I’m no counselor or therapist. But, aside a human being, I am qualified to love you, and to help you see hope in a hopeless situation. Please feel free to reach out. Do not hesitate to connect via the “about me” page – or post directly in the comments. You are worth it, and your story matters. Today is a page (or maybe a defining chapter) In your story. But, this day is not the end of your story. You have a beautiful story – much of which is yet to be written. Please talk to someone if your pain feels unbearable. Do not attempt to walk through this – or any part of life – alone.

Much love, and many hugs to all who happen upon these words. Let’s do life, together, as authentic community. A community founded on love and operating with messy grace.

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