grief, RECOVERY

Side Effects of Tremendous Loss

Grief sucks.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

I’m going to go over a little bit of what happens when you have to say goodbye forever to someone you love. First, a bit of context.

Shock.

I lost my kid.

Well, I didn’t exactly lose him.

Horror.

I know where he is. I hardly ever go there. There’s something disturbing about standing on a bit of cold ground while your flesh and blood decomposes beneath your feet.

Unrelenting Pain.

Even more devastating is the crushing sensation in my chest when I drive up to the cemetery. It doesn’t just happen in that moment though. It comes unbidden in unsuspecting scenarios for the rest of your life.

I mean, you know the holidays will be hard. That’s expected. And birthdays. Dates of departure are devastating, but you know those days are coming and can kind of half-ass prepare for them.

It’s those other days, days when things are good. You’re happy and laughing and….

Guilt.

How the hell could you possibly laugh when your child is dead? What kind of monster are you, anyway? Thoughts like these come to your mind and even though you know they’re irrational, you think them anyway and you can’t help it.

And it hurts so bad. Worse, you know it always will. The lump that you keep choking back in your throat is always going to be there. You’re never not going to cry when you hear the song that YOU chose for the funeral because it was a favorite.

Hopelessness.

You can’t fix this. The very idea of that is overwhelming. You feel helpless because you ARE helpless. Looking down the road at life you wonder if you even want to go on at all. Several times you decide that you don’t.

Sometimes you can count on one hand the reasons to stay. I’ve been there.

A few years ago, a young man in the town next to mine committed suicide. It wasn’t long after that his mom laid across his grave and did the same.

Heartache.

I spent an entire day grieving for her, even though I didn’t know her. Or maybe I was grieving for me. I knew what drove her to it. I live it every day.

Isolation.

When it’s your kid who dies, you separate yourself from other mothers. The ones who have never lost a child. They don’t know. You don’t want them to ever know.

You can pick out your worst enemy on earth, and you won’t wish this on them.

This grief is something you hold close.

But you DO want to talk about your loss. You want to talk about WHO you lost.

It doesn’t take you long to realize that people are tired of hearing it. They’re also AFRAID to hear it.

It’s as if the whole world thinks that talking about death means it will come to call.

Maybe it does.

Cold Loneliness.

I always hear the gravel fly from under my truck tires on that final stretch to the stone. I remember walking that road a hundred times. I also remember always ending at the cemetery and not being able to walk back. Someone always had to come get me.

Numbness.

How can everything be so intense when I’m so numb?

It’s like standing under a tree hearing a leaf fall without being able to move to try to catch it.

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

Reality can’t be real when you bury your baby.

Insanity.

Looking back, I realize I’m lucky. I walked through the woods so many times with a gun in my hand. Utterly crazy. Hunters would come down from their stands and lead me out. They didn’t seem to mind that I interrupted their hunting. I don’t know for sure. We never talked. I only talked to Mikey.

One day I stumbled upon a skunk. I was carrying a .22 rifle that day. No matter how crazy a person gets, you always know you don’t want to smell like a skunk.

I realized it was either him or me. He fell over like a cartoon character. I walked around him, probably giving him more space than he needed.

It felt good to kill something.

Then I found the couch. It wasn’t hidden very well. I would have done a better job of it myself. Something like that, you don’t leave to chance.

We called those woods the “forty.” It was forty acres of good hunting land. Full of deer, squirrels, and mosquitoes. Apparently, it had the occasional skunk as well.

The first thing I saw when I came through the pine sapling thicket into the clearing was that couch.

 It had been in my living room just a month before when I found my son on it, face down and stiff. Already starting the rigor process.

Anger.

I unloaded my gun on the couch. Killed it dead, the way it killed my son. My thought process wasn’t lining up with reality. After I shot it, I laid on it and cried myself to sleep. That’s how they found me later.

The couch was burned and buried after that. I never saw it again. It’s a good thing. I would have killed it again.

Disbelief.

You should never have to find your child’s body. It should never be cold and stiff. Your child should not die. It’s a travesty. It’s an injustice. It’s the worst thing that can ever happen to a Mama.

I feel all of this again as I pull up to the cemetery.


Tinnitus.

My ears have been ringing since the day the keening started. The doctors call it tinnitus. I know it’s the echo of my own voice screaming for the life of my child.

Another side effect of a morphine overdose I didn’t take.

Flashbacks.

Call it PTSD or call it whatever. I have flashbacks. Who wouldn’t? Not as many as before, but they still come. Usually when I’m driving, which is inconvenient at best and life-altering at worst. I don’t drive to the cemetery much.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It triggers me.

Anxiety.

I doubt it will ever go away. Terror has a strong grip on me. I wake up at night with my heart pounding and all I can do is call out to Jesus. No one else can help.

I’m afraid when my kids are out of my sight and I’m afraid when they’re with me.

He died on my watch.

My watch is scarier now. I will never not check to see if my kids and grandkids are breathing. I always think about it.

All night long.

Insecurity.

As a Mom, you think there’s an instinctive way that you’ll know when your kids are in danger. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that instincts can fail you. I didn’t know. You don’t always know. I question my ability to be a parent and keep my children safe. I question my grandchildren’s safety when they’re with me.

Children can die. The headstone in front of me is proof of that.

Side Effects.

I’ve only gone over a few of them. I wish that life and death were an easier process, or maybe I don’t. What makes it so hard is also what makes it worth it.

Love comes with a potentially high price tag.

We don’t know how things are going to turn out. It would be less risky to never take a chance—refuse to love—but life wouldn’t be worth living.

It would be a simple choice to never have children or truly love another human being because of the chance you may have to bury them one day. To make that choice is to choose to live without the greatest gift of your life.

Even knowing what can happen, I will always choose to love. It’s hard to say it, and hard to know it, but it’s infinitely worth the pain.

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RECOVERY

Hell In A Handbasket

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

That’s where the whole world is headed.

I was standing in my bathtub hanging curtains that didn’t quite match my newly painted walls when I realized I’m scared. Don’t try to reason that out. It is what it is.

I don’t know what’s wrong with people today, but I know for sure something is. It’s possible that we’ve all just gone crazy. Maybe we’ve always been crazy, or selfish. 

Whatever it is, it’s getting the best of humanity.

I’ve never seen so much bickering before over things that don’t matter at all. The things that do matter are just being ignored.

Meth is killing our country.

It’s for sure not the only drug that is, but from all that I’ve read, it’s doing a hell of a lot of damage right now and there’s very little chance that those addicted can even recover. Think about that for a minute.

Mothers are killing their babies all over America.

What the hell?

Everybody’s killing everybody. And no one cares.

Australia almost burned down recently. Earthquakes and volcanoes are happening across the globe. So are terrorists and missiles.

Our children are being stolen and sold into slavery.

In some places, parents are willingly pimping them out for drugs and money.

America is full of resources, but people are starving, both here and abroad.

Refuse litters our streets. Hatred abounds. Racism is back in full swing.

Hell has come calling.

It seems there’s barely a shred of humanity left on this earth.

You don’t even have to be a believer to know that a day of reckoning is near.

RECOVERY

How do you handle life when everything goes wrong?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth getting out of bed.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Two flat tires.

That’s how my day started. I was driving to work on these fantastic Louisiana roads, and the best I can tell, I went in a pothole.

I’m not sure why it took out two of my tires on the sidewalls, but there were a couple of huge holes looking back at me. This is certainly not how I meant for my morning to go. I had higher hopes than that when I crawled out of bed.

It seems like bad luck comes in waves. First, I caught the hubs cheating. Okay, that’s awful—maybe not even comparable to a flat tire or two. In the end, that one will cost me a whole lot more.

This tire thing was just like icing on the cake.

For a few minutes, I thought about hurling myself into traffic and taking my chances with one of the eighteen wheelers barreling down the road. Luckily, I gathered my wits together and called a tire store instead. $421 dollars later, I was fixed up. They even gave me a ride to the office while they worked on my vehicle!

So, what DO you do when life gets crazy and overwhelming?

One answer (and not a very good one) is to isolate.

Isolating means to withdraw from other people and try to get through everything on your own.
It can also mean to withdraw from other people and AVOID dealing with anything.

Often when we isolate, we use distractions or substances to keep us from acknowledging our mountains and doing the work it takes to overcome. This causes more problems to pile up until our lives become completely unmanageable. That’s 12-step talk, for anyone who hasn’t been through it. Recovery is an amazing thing.

Isolation is NOT the preferred solution but it’s something I’ve tried and made bigger messes with before.

Another choice that you could make (and I’m guilty of this one as well) is VENT.

Everyone knows what venting is, but here’s an explanation anyway.

Venting is when you seek validation, approval, or sympathy by telling your side of a story (often with dramatic emphasis) on social media or to another person or group of people. This is my own definition, just like the definition for isolating, but it’s basically what venting boils down to.

Here are some ways that venting can be damaging:

  • Feelings often change, but once the spoken or written word is out there, it’s out there. You can apologize, but you can’t unsay it. Someone can forgive you, but they’re unlikely to forget.
  • You can hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe you mean to rage about someone and at the time, it doesn’t make you feel bad (even though it should). Collateral damage happens. That person may have children, parents, grandkids, or other individuals in their life that you just victimized unintentionally with your words. It hurts to hear bad things about people you love, whether it’s true or not. It isn’t fair to throw shade on everyone even if a certain person is shady and you want it known. Please think twice before venting!
  • Venting often damages the venter more than the ventee. I don’t think that’s proper terminology, but you get my meaning. It makes you look bad. JUST DON’T DO IT.

It’s okay to cry.

It may be hard to go through a bad time without crying. So, don’t. There’s a lot to be said for the cleansing and healing effects of a good, blubbering, crying session!

Get it out of your system.

Just don’t make it a long-term event. Cry, then stand up, wash your face, and move on with life!

Community.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

I find it useful to plug into a community of like-minded people when going through the rough times of life. Ideally, you already have a group like that. If you don’t, seek one out. Look for people that you know or know about who believe like you do, worship like you do, and who will hold you accountable for getting your life back on track.

The truth is it’s YOUR LIFE!

How you live and whether you end well is ultimately up to you. You can hang your head in defeat and quit trying, or you can shake it off and get back behind the wheel.

For me, the most important thing I can do is lean on God.

He’s my constant whether things are going good or not so great. He’s my shelter in a storm and the rock I’m standing on. No wind will blow me away, and no waters will drown my soul if I cling tightly to His hand.

My faith isn’t what gets me through; it’s the One I’m faithful to.

This is why two flat tires and an impending divorce didn’t defeat me today.

There will always be potholes. And there will always be God.

RECOVERY

Cheating Often Leads to Drastic Decisions

At least I didn’t cut my bangs.

Photo by Cata on Unsplash

I also didn’t burn all his stuff in the front yard, although the thought did cross my mind.

Radical things happen when I’m upset, but so far, I’ve avoided any major destructive action.

I just got out the paint.

Breakups are hard. It doesn’t matter if they’re “what’s best in the long run” or not. They’re freaking hard.

So much to consider.

Who gets what? What to do about this and that. Hiring a lawyer when you just found out you’ll be broke for the rest of your life. Yep, they’re hard all right.

Especially when you get to the age where you think all that’s left is to ride out the status quo until you skate into glory.

I’ll even venture a little further out on this limb and go ahead and say breakups suck even when you have quite a few under your belt.

More than a couple decades of life ought to be enough to prepare you for the devastation divorce brings. Sadly, it isn’t—especially when it all kind of came out of the blue.

I’m not saying I’m not ready to move on. Truth is, I’ve already cut the ties, both in my mind and elsewhere.

One day I was married and losing my mind because I discovered he was cheating on me. I was mourning the loss of trust and love. 

The next day I woke up DONE.

It happened just like that.

I thought we would work it out. I was searching for answers, reading everything I could get my hands on about how to “get over” your spouse cheating on you. Angry and hurt, I felt helpless and lost, even asking myself what I did (or didn’t do) to make him cheat.

And I prayed. I prayed for myself mostly, but I also prayed for him and for us. I looked EVERYWHERE for answers and there weren’t any to find.

So, I quit.

Maybe because of the silent treatment he was attempting to use to manipulate me into doing what he wanted me to do.

It had always worked before.

I’d get enough of it and apologize to him for everything I could think of that I’d ever done wrong in my life. I’d be so relieved and grateful when he would suddenly act as if nothing was wrong.

This time, the silence was nothing but a welcome relief from all the lies. He tried using the same worn out technique to control me AFTER he CHEATED on me!

It’s possible that he genuinely didn’t realize that I had proof of his infidelity. The lies were the same. I just didn’t believe him anymore.

He thought it was “business as usual.” I wondered how he could still try to manipulate me after what he did.

How do you even dare?

For the first time, I could see his disrespect was intentional. Sounds moronic, I know. I was just so used to making excuses for him that I believed them myself.

It’s so obvious now.

What a delicious game he played with me for so long! But to what end? What did he hope to gain? Did he set out just to hurt me? What would be the point of rendering our entire marriage obsolete?

Instead of ending up with a devoted wife, he will likely end up alone. If not alone, he will surely settle for less than he had.

I loved him.

And I trusted him. I wanted the best for him.

Then, I caught him cheating and I LET HIM GO!

And painted my bathroom.

Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash

Looks good too.

RECOVERY

A Closet to Myself

I want to thank you for cheating on me.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

All that glorious room!

I especially want to thank you for doing it in such a crappy way. Now there’s absolutely no chance that we could ever get past it.

At least as a couple…

I’m planning how I’m going to reorganize my clothes.

Oh, and the fact that you did it so openly, in such a humiliating and public way, means that although I can and do forgive you, I will NEVER take you back.

Thank you for including all YOUR friends in your lies. It makes me feel great to know who can be trusted. I feel awesome when I think that everyone knew but me.

Shoes on that shelf, boots on the other.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Knowing how many of the ones I called my friends were lied to behind my back and fell in with the “let’s fix that poor girl” plan infuriates me. I may be broken, but not the way you said.

My brokenness comes from the sorrow of losing a child, not the pettiness of a twisted relationship.

But I kept my head held high and pretended I didn’t know about the lies you told and how my own friends believed and validated your truth.

You did me a favor.

I can hang my caps on the right, scarves on the left.

I never realized how much time I spent tending to your life instead of my own, until I didn’t have to do it anymore.

I made sure your clothes were picked up off the floor, washed and folded them, put them away. I gave you the top bar because you’re taller than me. I always used to joke and ask if you knew you were way too tall for me.

I already moved all my shirts to the top. Color coordinated.

I made sure all your bills got paid on time, fielded phone calls, and reminded you to pick your phone and debit card off the restaurant table.

The credit rating that you now enjoy was a gift from yours truly. You’re welcome.

I also set up all your accounts, including your online accounts, and kept track of all your passwords because you kept forgetting them and refused to write them down. That’s what you had me for, you said.

My jeans will hang nicely on the bottom bar.

I can only surmise that you took the plane down in flames on purpose, realizing that I have access to EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT, including all the social media accounts you own, SINCE I SET THEM UP!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

I like to color coordinate.

Sometimes I had to tell you when you didn’t quite match, but I always tried to do that in a respectful way. I knew you were colorblind. It wasn’t really your fault.

I also made excuses for your behavior to my friends and family.

“He was abused when he was a kid,” or “He didn’t really mean it,” and “His bark is way worse than his bite.”

When you started getting physically aggressive, I found ways to blame myself for that, just like you did.

After all, I’m not the perfect wife.

I could probably cook more or clean better. I’ll always lose the comparison game you play, because you never explained the rules.

My clothes aren’t always the latest style, but they’re always my style.

I don’t know how many times it’s been pointed out that I’m “not from here,” so I’ll “never really fit in.”

Photo by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash

It’s true. It’s not just my clothes that are different.

I don’t place value on status, possessions, or money, and I couldn’t understand your obsession with all three.

So, when you tried to control me with money, it wasn’t ever going to work.

I could see it for what it was—a last ditch effort to gain the upper hand in a relationship that should’ve been a loving and giving partnership, not the competition you always tried to make it.

I hate shopping, but my clothes will fill this space nicely.

I’ll never forget the day you waved your hand across our living room and said, “I love what you’ve done in here. It looks like something from a magazine.”

I was stunned.

Before I could stammer my thanks, you pointed to my desk in the corner and my art on the wall and said, “We just need to get rid of everything like that.”

Everything of me.

You wanted a perfect, storybook cookie-cutter kind of wife, and you ended up with me.

It seemed like it became your main goal in life to squash everything about me that you loved at first—my openness, my artistic nature, my free spirit. To kill all my dreams so I wouldn’t try to outshine you.

Or maybe that’s not why you didn’t want me to shine.

If the light was on me, it couldn’t help but also fall on you.

You didn’t want to be seen.

Maybe you’re content in the dark, with someone else fighting your battles and matching your socks for the rest of your life.

Perhaps you want to crowd out anyone who might make it seem as if you aren’t living up to all YOU can be.

I don’t know.

I just know I have all this space now.

I’m sure that your old (and now new) girlfriend has zero expectations of you. You can just go through life half-ass forever, never striving to do better, be better, learn better, or reach beyond what you can see.

That’s okay with me.

I’m glad you cheated. I didn’t even have a decent space in the closet.

Now I have the whole thing.

RECOVERY

I Don't Love Coffee

An Introduction of Sorts

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

I realize that I’m not in the majority here, but there it is.

Being different is not a character flaw, although I used to think it was. It’s hard when you don’t fit into the norm (or whatever they’re calling the norm these days).

I realized a long time ago that there was a possibility that I didn’t think like other people. My way of looking at things is not always the same. Even when it pertains to the physical aspects of things.

Take color for example.

Have you ever wondered about color? I mean, how could you not have wondered? Does the green that I see when I see green look the same as the green that you see when you see green?

That kind of thing.

I mean, HOW DO WE KNOW?

I can’t see out of your eyes, and you can’t see out of mine.

Photo by Liam Welch on Unsplash

I believe that a great deal of life centers around our own perceptions of it, and that we are limited by our own realities.

I also believe that to a point, we create our own realities or live in realities that we allow others to create for us.

When we’re children, we haven’t been talked out of all our abilities yet. There are things we can see and do that are unexplained but still true. The following illustration is an excerpt out of a kid’s book I’m writing, but also a true story from my childhood:

“I see things that other people don’t see sometimes. Like that time the tree fell down….

There was a whole bunch of us kids outside playing in the yard. I guess I should have told you that my name is Gypsy, so you don’t get me confused with anybody else while I’m tellin’ my story.

It ain’t my real name, it’s just what people call me ever since I wore my Halloween costume to school. I told everybody’s fortune and I guess I got some stuff right. Mama sure doesn’t call me that, especially when she’s mad at me or shocked by something I say. My whole name rings out through the neighborhood then, and I don’t know anybody’s future but my own, and it ain’t good, nor one you’d be wantin’ to share.

Our neighborhood is just plumb full of kids—at least 17 of us live right here all together. I don’t know what keeps us from drowning or getting hit by a car, because it seems like there’s so many of us that we could stand to lose a few, and the odds are stacked against us. I guess we’re pretty safe though, cause we ain’t died yet, even though some of the boys have broken a bone or two, and Sally almost choked me to death once when I walked to the store with Mindy.

Anyway, it was Mindy and me sittin’ on the lawn chair, one of those long fold-out kinds that leaves a crisscross pattern on your butt if you sit down too long, and Big Jack and Dale were just running around aggravating us.

Big Jack is what we call my big brother, because Mindy has a brother named Jack too, but he’s younger than most of us so we call him Little Jack. Everybody does—practically the whole town—and I don’t even know if they realize why they call him that. We just made it up one day so we would know which Jack we were talking about.

We were just lying on that lawn chair, being mad at the boys but laughing at them too, when I looked up and said, “Y’all, we gotta move because that tree is fixin’ to fall!”

I really don’t even know why they listened to me because they sure didn’t make a habit of it, but Mindy and I both jumped up and Dale and Big Jack grabbed the chair and we took off running. No sooner than we got out of the way, we heard a tearing sound, and that tree uprooted itself and came down with a swoosh and a thud right where we’d been sitting five seconds before!

If anybody would have seen us at that moment, they’d have sworn they were looking at a bunch of ghosts, because I know for sure three of the four of us turned the whitest I’ve ever seen a person look. Then we all started yelling and running in to tell Mama, who said, “God must have told you to tell everybody to move,” and I know it’s true, because I never would have thought of it in time myself. That was one time that being a frog would be less of an advantage than being a bird, because we all could’ve been squashed like one. Mindy and I still talk about it every chance we get, but the boys try to act like it never even happened. I guess that’s because God didn’t tell THEM to get everybody out of the way or if He did, they weren’t listening.

That ain’t the only time something like that has happened, but I’ve figured out that the older I get, the more I talk myself out of listening. At times like those, it’s only grace that saves me because it sure ain’t because I’m doing what I’ve been told to do. I don’t know if God punishes you for not listening, but I figure that He just stops talking to you if He sees you ain’t paying attention anyway.”


That’s just one example of seeing something that no one else can see. If it’s possible as a child, surely it’s possible once you’re an adult!

We all have gifts and abilities that we’re born with. Whether we keep them to adulthood largely depends on whether we have the opportunity and the guts to use them.

To me, it seems as if the world is put together in bits of color.

photo by A Bridges

If I could be a true artist, I’d grab those bits of color with my paint brush and put them to canvas. I do the best I can with the abilities that I have.

I wish everyone could see the way I see.

I’m also different than most in how I show my feelings.

I cry over sappy things and serious ones. I cry the hardest over happy endings because I know in my heart that those rarely happen.

For a long while, I let myself become hardened and wouldn’t show anyone who I really was. It shamed me to have real emotion. Catastrophe has turned my world upside down though. Instead of hiding my tears from others, I cry with them through their own pain. Not usually on purpose—it just happens.

People with heartbreak seem to gravitate to me. It’s like they know they’re safe to cry with me. I find that one of the biggest blessings of my life, and one of the hardest burdens to carry. Grief was never a ministry I wanted.

I’ve found that the most imperfect things on this planet are often the most beautiful. That goes for people too. What a man (or woman) is on the outside doesn’t always correspond with who they are on the inside. A pretty face doesn’t mean a pretty heart.

It’s okay to be you. I’m good with being me.

It’s taken me a lot of years to become who I am. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived at the place I need to be. It’s still a journey. I’m good with the path I’m on though.

And I have my own style—the way I talk and dress—those things are all me!

There’s nothing wrong with fashions and trends, I’m just not a crowd follower. I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like.

And I don’t like coffee.  Not even a little bit.

RECOVERY

Today the World Became a Lesser Place

But it didn’t happen without a fight.

I didn’t know Brenda very well. I saw her only three times in my life, twice at church and once at her father’s funeral. But if you ask me how I can speak with authority on this, I have an easy answer. She was LOVED by so many people that I love.

It took quite a while for the cancer to take her body. It never beat her spirit. She fought a hard fight, and she did it her own way.

She was a warrior.

When you’re a kid and you have the whole world in front of you, death seems so impossible! If it’s even a thought in our minds, it’s fleeting. And even then, it’s about something besides US, like maybe a frog that that got run over and fried on the pavement. Never a human, never ourselves. We’re damn near invincible, or at least that’s what our hearts would have us believe.

I can imagine Brenda skipping down the sidewalk, blowing bubbles with gum that cost a nickel at the little mom and pop store up the road. Cancer never entered her mind. She believed in love, life, laughter, and possibilities. The very idea that she would one day leave her own children motherless wasn’t even a tiny consideration.

Photo by Anita Austvika on Unsplash

Yet now there is this gaping hole where Brenda used to be.

Even though she was equipped with guts and strength and FAITH so strong, there finally came a moment when she didn’t have enough of herself left to stand and fight the war that was waged against her body. She accepted the freedom that eternity offered. Her heart was right. Her mind was good. It was her body that failed her.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Even though everyone fought to keep her here, when it got closer to the end and pain wracked her small, exhausted body, her family prayed she’d just let go and stop the fight. She wasn’t going to win it. There was obviously a plan bigger than ours. A kingdom stood ready. Her king was waiting elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the value in the glass you’re looking through.

In fact, it would make more sense to hurl it to the floor and watch it shatter. To rail at God and ask Him, “Why?” This was no ordinary life you took this time, God! This one was full of hope, promise, and joy. She was a MOTHER, a DAUGHTER, a SISTER! She TRUSTED you! Her whole FAMILY believes in YOU.

I hear the faint sound of wind blowing. Beyond that, there’s only silence.

And Jesus walked on water.

He healed the sick, made the blind see, and turned water into wine. Yet Brenda slipped away from here.

UNHEALED.  

People do, you know.

They die.

And I know that even though the world is a lesser place, Brenda is free.

And if she ever skipped, she’s skipping now. If she blew bubbles, she’s blowing the biggest one ever! I also know she could probably catch that frog that’s hopping by if she wanted to. She’s safe now. It doesn’t hurt. CANCER didn’t win.

Photo by Andressa Voltolini on Unsplash

I just don’t know how to say all that to the ones I love, who loved her so much. They will grieve—pain is part of life in this broken world. It’s all just temporary.

Death will come for us too—then life and eternity!

I can hear my own footsteps as I walk through my silent house. I think about life, cancer, and death. My heart hurts, and there’s a lump in my throat. All the words I could say keep running through my head.

The last time I felt like this, I thought I was dead.

Today the world became a lesser place, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

RECOVERY

Lines to Fit In Somewhere

Random Nonsense I Found in a Notebook That Was Too Good Not to Publish

I looked at her and said, “You’re not a horrible person. You’re just not a very good one.”

Too bad I didn’t have the good sense to stop there.

Nope. I kept going, as if the words on my tongue were suddenly free from their self-imposed bondage.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“I have all kinds of faith that if you hang around me long enough, some of my natural coolness is bound to jump on you and make you at least decent–something a little past ‘vomit in your eye disgusting’ and leaning more toward “aggravating but tolerable’.”

Of course, the last thing I wanted was for her to hang around me any more than she already did.

I’m reasonably sure a bolt of lightning barely missed me as soon as I got those words out of my mouth. It didn’t seem to matter. I felt better for having said them anyway, as if a big weight had suddenly been lifted off my life!

I decided to just go ahead and pray that God really did have a sense of humor.

It seemed funny to me. Nevermind the underlying bitterness and anger I could barely conceal. I was gleefully happy and giggling like a schoolgirl as I walked all the way back to my sinkful of dirty dishes.

The look on her face was priceless!

Realizing I had finally rendered her speechless was a joyous moment in my life, and a pivotal event in our relationship. It was a very good day, if I do say so myself.

A very good day, indeed.

RECOVERY

We’ve Taught Our Kids to be Angry

I realize that I don’t stand in the majority on some of my views, and if my popularity depends on my jumping on someone else’s wagon, I’ll be the kid sitting alone at the lunchroom table. That’s okay with me. I don’t always think like everyone else thinks. 

The truth is that I care about people, and I care about personal responsibility. We went wrong somewhere down the line. I don’t know if it’s too late to straighten it out, but I’d like to find out.

We’ve taught our kids to be angry, but we haven’t taught them to be strong.

We’ve taught them to be entitled, but we didn’t teach them how to do without! Because let’s face it, we either don’t know or don’t remember how to do without, and all that this world has become in terms of modern conveniences has spoiled us to the point where we don’t know what it’s like to suffer even a little bit.

Hot? Turn the air conditioner on. Don’t want to climb stairs? Take the elevator. Who circles the parking lot for 10 minutes to find a spot up close, so you don’t have to walk 50 feet? Who doesn’t? And we teach our kids this stuff.

Everything is automated; instant. Then we wonder why there’s all this complaining, all this offense! It’s as if we have set the world on tilt by forgetting to teach that WITH HARD WORK COMES REWARD, even if it’s just the satisfaction of a job well done.

Things, like freedom, should not come so easily to us as individuals that we forget that they hold value, and that someone is still sacrificing for our basic rights and privileges.

We have failed as parents, as a society, and as a nation. The stark reality is that it’s very possible that our country will be devastated before our citizens–our children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and grandchildren–can be saved.

Instead of admitting where we’re at fault, and starting the process of putting this nation back together again, we are constantly pointing the finger at each other and pulling out this or that old hurt that we could have been past if the pot was not continuously stirred by a reckless media who feels no shame at endangering the lives of countless Americans, because it garners them the Almighty Dollar.

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Yep, we are being sold out for money. That’s what the truth is, from no matter which direction you come at it. You can always follow the money to find the source of the evil, and the MSM is making bank. Follow that money trail. It doesn’t take five minutes to figure out where it leads.

However, before we start THAT finger pointing, we must realize that we are the ones who feed off of that negativity–actually seek it out from day to day on social media and news networks who used to strive to print the truth but who now seem to paint the internet with false information in a gleeful and completely irresponsible way, to turn American opinion towards whatever issue benefits them the most.

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Attention is given to issues best left in the past while our citizens are dying in their cars every day, often with their children strapped in the backseat with a pretty pink or purple stuffed animal for a companion, from opioid addiction. Meth use is running rampant in our country and instead of an all-out war on that evil, we focus our attention on battles that have already rightly been fought for and won, as if we need to travel back in time and do it all again.

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While we are talking about drugs and money, it wouldn’t hurt to give some thought to that connection either. Do you think it’s an accident that America is in an addiction crisis? Come on, now. It’s time to wake up and smell the crack pipe! It may be painful to think that we may be pawns in a game that’s being played out behind the scenes, but the truth hurts. That’s something to be angry about!

I’m a woman, and I’m white, and I’ve been told all my life that my opinion doesn’t matter. There are countless others who, like me, have had their voices silenced and their ideas shot down. Maybe their gender is different, or their color is not the same—or perhaps the idea they’re presenting is even less conceivable than my ideas have been.

I wonder where this nation would be today if every voice was at least considered before being disregarded? Every idea is not grand, but every opinion is not wrong just because it is voiced by someone other than you!

I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I’ve done things that were shameful and that I regret. I hope that I have learned from those things and will not repeat those mistakes.

As a nation, we have the same opportunity. I can’t push God on you, although I can pray for you to turn to Him! I don’t have a voice that will reach your moral consciousness.

I’m not even interested or able to be political. I’m just thinking that if I can see all of this, I can’t be the only one. Even if everything I say isn’t agreed with, if you read this to the end then you have given me my voice.

Now use yours! And not just your voice. Stop worrying about being offended and start being concerned with what our children and grandchildren will be facing when we are gone! Because right now? It ain’t looking pretty.

Here’s a place to start: EQUIP YOUR CHILDREN! Begin by arming them with the truth as soon as they are old enough to hear it. Don’t let them grow up blind to what’s really going on. You aren’t protecting them. You’re killing them.

You can’t be scared all your life! It’s time to fight or die. We need to stand up and take our nation back. We need to fight the right fight. You may THINK that we need to prosecute all the drug addicts, and perhaps we do, but there’s way more to it than that. We need to stop the influx of drugs into our country.

We need to stop the pharmaceutical companies from making a profit off the deaths of our citizens. We’ve got to quit fighting battles that were won long ago. Quit letting the media that is controlled by big money feed us divisive information with intent to destroy. Listen to each other! Care for each other. Let God come back into our homes, and our schools.

Don’t buy everything the MSM tries to sell you! Do some research. Find out the truth. Teach your children how to do that. Teach them the rights that this country was built on, and how to live responsible lives. Show them how to stand up for themselves and others.

Our children’s lives and futures depend on us. It’s time we teach them to be strong, to be fierce, and to be equipped! I get that you think that you are protecting them, but you’re not. It’s time to tell them the truth. If you don’t, you’ll protect them to death.

RECOVERY

THE THIEF OF JOY

In this world of influence and social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison. Teddy Roosevelt told us a long time ago that “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and I believe that reality speaks for itself when you look at the increasing number of teen suicides since the invention of certain social apps that are being used as bullying tools. Here are a few truths to fight back against that old stealer of joy:

  • God created YOU to be YOU! He gave each of us a unique set of gifts and talents to be used for HIS glory. You are the only person who was designed to be exactly like you—so be that! And be that BEST YOU that you can be!
  • What you see on SOCIAL MEDIA isn’t real. Faces are airbrushed. Backgrounds are blurred. Vacations are faked. Waists are slimmed. Lots of things are made to appear one way when they are just the opposite! Isn’t it better to be authentic than to wear a mask for the rest of the world to see?
  • We ALL fall short of what we could be! It would be great if we all lived up to our potential, but clearly, we don’t. If someone is pointing out what they perceive to be YOUR shortcomings, it’s probably just to take attention off their own.
  • You may not really want what you think you want. Think about what it would REALLY mean for your life if you had the things THEY seem to have! What if you had that dream job? How much time would you have to spend away from your precious family? What if you had all their money? Would you really know who your friends were at the end of the day? How about that car? Okay, maybe it WOULD be cool if you had that CAR! Okay then! Quit wishing and start figuring out what it would take to earn the money to buy it!
Photo by Efren Barahona on Unsplash

Since you know that it is self-defeating, here are several things you can do to get out of the comparison trap and start to lead a more productive life:

a.  Work on being a better YOU! We could ALL use improvement, remember? You don’t have to make a huge goal. Just try to be better than you were yesterday! Stretch yourself a little further every day. Take more risks toward a better future!

b.  Tend to your health. Start eating better. Make one healthy food choice at a time. Take the stairs more often. Walk across the parking lot instead of parking as close to the door as possible. Drink more water.

c.  Practice humility and gratitude. You will be amazed at what a difference it makes in your life to just take the time to be grateful for all you have.

d.  Give others more of your time, energy, money, and resources. You will be blessed more than they will.

e.  Get rid of things cluttering up your life. Do you really need that porcelain figurine from 1976? Are you ever going to fit in those jeans again? I’m sorry to tell you that the answer to both of those questions is probably NO!

f.  Love more.

g.  Go to church.

h.  Pray and read your Bible (if you don’t have one, go get one).

i.  Journal. Writing your feelings down helps you sort them out and is extremely helpful when trying to work through situational anxiety.

j. Paint, draw, take photos, or do anything artistic! You will be so busy that you won’t have time to compare yourself to ANYBODY. Also, you will have accomplished something wonderful (no matter how it turns out)!

Hope these tips help the next time you’re tempted to compare yourself or your life to someone else! Remember, the most important thing that you can be is YOURSELF!