Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

Ugly Cry, or, My Awakening: The Tension Between Cultivating Joy and Feeling Heard

Lately, I have been feeling like a ping pong ball in my own head. I’m learning a lot about a lot of things, but the problem is they all seem to contradict each other. I am learning how to cultivate joy, but I am also learning how to give myself space to be sad, I am learning about how to let good things in, and bad things out, I am learning about how anger is a secondary emotion, and about whether or not acting it out in some way helps, I am learning about healing, and I am learning about how much hurt can hurt, and I am learning to love and trust myself, and I am learning all of my weak spots all at the same time. I read an article that talked about how ugly real-life awakenings are, and if that’s the truth, it makes a lot of goddamn sense.

I’m so pissed off about this awakening. I’m humiliated and angry and frustrated, oh and presently actually literally sick. I am so aware of every single one of my flaws and yet it seems like every day someone thinks of a new one to add, not that they are even meaning too. I’m as sensitive as a porcelain doll right now because I feel like I’m trying to become this new person and every single move I make could change the world or end it. And to be fair, I don’t blame them, I can’t stand being in my own head anymore than they can stand what a mess I am.

I’m bouncing between all of the things I’m learning at the highest extremes of each trying to figure out who I am and where I stand inside, and just knowing I don’t belong on any of the sides I see. I see flaws everywhere on everything and everyone especially myself, but I am also seeing beauty in a way I haven’t in a long time, and for the first time in a long time, when I see the flaws I am doing something about it, or at least trying to. Sometimes I feel literally on fire because I’m so angry when I see someone else get talked down to, when I see anyone being ganged up on or feeling isolated. I’ve become, possibly a little too much, intense about standing up for the people who feel alone in that particular way.

I want to be a crusader for the lonely, and the misfits. That’s how I see who Christ was, and that’s who I have always wanted to be. I want to heal broken hearts, I want to hold those I can’t heal in my figurative or literal arms, I want to wipe away tears, I want to scream as loud as I can with people who need space to be angry, I want to pull dreams out of people who are afraid to dream, I want to answer despair with hope, I want to dive into their mud and muck and I want them to breathe again.

The problem is, I’m not big enough yet. I feel like a three year old looking at my life and realizing I’m not a grown up, and I keep throwing tantrums that humble me beyond what I thought was possible. I am so deeply angry at fate for whatever it has dealt everyone who is in pain including myself. I don’t want just answers to my problems, I want my answers to be the answers for everyone. I want to revolutionize how the world does life right now, because people are hurting so freaking bad. So the problem is, again, I’m not big enough to do all the things I want to do.

My answer to this, that bothers some people around me, is to complain. To live the truth of my struggle instead of sucking it up and pretending everything is ok. There’s been several articles out lately about society keeps giving “self-care” advice to people who really just need HELP. A prophets/artists job in life is to state the truth, and I am living that curse right now. There are things in our society and culture that are seriously fucked up. There are things in our Church that are horrifying. There are things in our world that are disastrous. I am a ball of positivity sometimes and I love to see the good in people and in the world, but let me tell you, there are some awful things happening right now, and the only space for my positively right now is my all-consuming hunger for helping to change it all, so I write, and sometimes I hate my negative confusing messy scribbles, but I’m not writing them for me. I am writing them for the little girl who wishes she was dead, so she knows she’s not alone. I am writing them for the mom who can’t stand up another day, so she knows someone else is fighting the war with her, I am writing them for the people who think the Church hates them, so they know they matter too. There is beauty in the truth even when the truth is ugly.

I catch myself sometimes feeling like I am trying to excuse the fact that I’m having a hard time. When I do that, I try to just stop writing right there, because it gets insincere real quick. Sometimes, I have to just push through it to get to the other side, and sometimes the other side is excusing the fact that everyone in my situation is having a hard time. I try to write letters for those who are struggling, or write comforting words to them, or write about their struggle, but sometimes it seems like the most powerful way I am able to struggle with someone is to stand with them and say, “Yeah, this fucking sucks. I’m here.” I catch myself defending people from themselves, other people, even myself sometimes, saying, “What you have been through is really hard, it’s ok to have a hard time.”

And ok, that is partially selfish, because when I am sad that’s all I want-my loved ones to see that I’m struggling and accept me through it, but it’s not just selfish, because I think the whole world needs that. Mother Teresa said that the people in America were suffering more than the people starving in Calcutta because they are lonely. That hasn’t changed, if anything, it’s gotten worse, and I believe one reason why is that we have this standard of perfectionism that no one can ever attain, but everyone is expected to, so no one is accepted for who they really are because everyone is so desperately trying to keep their mask on. Even the women who share their makeup free selfies are sometimes hiding how insecure they really are about it, and how scary it is to put themselves out there.

The thing is, that cultivating joy and choosing the good and all of that, do matter. I am not great at them and I am practicing, and failing, a lot, but sometimes, when someone is going through something really hard, just choosing joy isn’t enough. Sometimes the whirlwind of problems are so much that choosing joy seems completely impossible, and the litany of different medical and physical and emotional things that could be wrong with you are so overwhelming that all you know is that you are all wrong. Everyone else is happy and you aren’t, so something is horribly wrong with you. I am here to tell you, it’s okay to have a hard time. It’s even okay to have a hard time if you are STILL having a hard time. Recovery from grief is not an easy process, recovery from abuse takes titanic strength, recovery from addiction takes insane amounts only effort, recovery from anger at fate for what your life looks like seems almost impossible. It is ok to struggle.

If you are reading this, and you are not having a hard time, try to remember a time when you felt completely helpless and powerless, and if that’s never happened in your life, thank God and the people who have made that happen for you. If, though, you are reading this and you are having a hard time, know, you are not alone. We are here for you, all of the other silent people longing to be heard, we are here for you and we love you. It is ok that you are having a hard time, you will see better days. Try to get there, cultivate joy where you can, but let our love hold you while you struggle to get there. You are loved, completely, accepted completely, somewhere, we just have to find the place where we belong. Until then, we love you.

This book is my very first published book! It is a compilation of poetry and short stories from my first blog that I kept up during college. It features The War which was my first published poem.

Click on the picture above or this link to buy it!

https://amzn.to/2DgeHcA

Prayer of the publican

Dear Jesus,

I have failed you time and time again. I have lost all hope that I could be your promised one. I want to believe that you could still use me, but I don’t know how. I mess up all the time, and in ways that have such huge consequences. God, money won’t fill me, stuff won’t fill me, my craving for You to love me, my fear that you don’t will destroy me. You tell me time and time again and I lose you in the rot and fog of every day life. I’ve become greedy, and jealous, angry and bitter, lazy and God I don’t know if there is anything redeemable about me left, but at the same time I cAnt believe that I am this bad. I don’t want to give in to despair, lord, save me. Rescue me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry.please. I repent,8 k ow not good enough but I do. I’m trying God. Please love me. Hold me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so lost without you. If you hide your face from me I can’t survive. I know I am sometimes greedy and sometimes I treat you like a bank, but will you love me anyway? Will you love me in my fear? Will you love me in my u gratefulness? Will you love me when I am blessed and I don’t feel it? Will you love me when I am lost? Will you love me when I am scared? Will you love me when I feel no hope? Will you save me from the darkness?

God rescue me.

Give Like no one else: Stay at Home Moms

As many of you know, we are doing Dave Ramsey baby steps. We are working so hard, and definitely struggling at this point. What has brought me a lot of hope in our movement forward is turning every single one of my struggles into a hope for the future.

In that vein, I thought I would start talking about those things on here, and the first thing I want to talk about is a way I want to “Give like no one else.”

I was doing my taxes a while back and we didn’t qualify for the child care credit. Why? Because I am our childcare so we don’t pay for it technically. But really? We DO pay for it. We pay a LOT. We paid my entire salary from a job I actually really enjoyed(although not at that place we will talk about that later), we paid in moving from one state to another, we paid in giving up our beautiful perfect apartment because we couldn’t afford to stay there.

The thing is, every stay at home mom is also paying in so many ways, especially in our culture. She is paying in buckets of humility as everyone around her makes jabs about how she doesn’t do enough, she tries to handle the family’s finances and see her own worthlessness in the money spectrum, she may see the other moms on facebook or tv and do her best to give up the longing to feel like a cool mom.

All of this doesn’t even start to touch the moms who would give anything to be a stay at home mom, but can’t and are paying for it in baby kisses, and missed memories. It’s one thing if they are doing something they love and are missing that time in exchange for something else, but many moms are going to work because they have no choice, being treated like crap, and feeling alone and overwhelmed.

All of this to say, my give like no one else for today is the You Are Worth It Stay at Home Mom Grant.

One day, when I make ridiculous amounts of money(I’m working on it people) I am going to fund stay at home moms with as much money as I can,and if I can it will be retroactive-meaning you will be able to get the grant for work you did in the past.

When I have the money, I’m going to have someone do an official breakdown of everything being a stay at home mom is worth, and then add a love tax, and I am going to give that to them for every single year they did it. Who receives it will be based on prayer, because sometimes the ones who need the most have the hardest time asking.

That’s my promise to you-one day stay at home moms, you will get to feel your worth. One day moms will get PAPER! 😉

The Tension Between Gratitude and Desire

Lately I’ve been having a struggle that seems so stupid to me sometimes, but other times it is enough to paralyze me with anxiety. I have been struggling with being grateful for what I have when I want more. I think maybe I feel like it is inherently ungrateful to want things. The reason I feel silly about it sometimes is that some of the things I want are very normal things, but what paralyzed me is that so many people don’t have what I have; and I feel like I should just be grateful for having that.

I grew up with death as a very active piece of my consciousness. My heart would stop, and we didn’t know why; and then we knew it had to do with food but not exactly how so. Because of that I was always conscious and terrified of death. I was afraid I was going to die pretty much every second of every day. It was my reaction to anything that went wrong, and often still is. An event that actually could cause death, or a death of someone I know, can send me into a tailspin that I can’t seem to recover from for weeks, or longer.

Then, I lost Emma, and then more babies. Losing her wrecked me; like nothing I had ever experienced. My faith crumbled into anger, grief and loneliness. When I got pregnant again, I sobbed for days in terror of what I was sure was another oncoming miscarriage, and a worse one because I was further along.

When Willow survived, I was ecstatic with joy., I still feel it when I look at her, the certainty that I was going to lose her and the absolute glory of holding her.

Then there was Sage, who I feared for for different reasons. I feared her being early, more than I feared her death. This time; there was a part of me that believed she would live. Her childbirth was the successful home birth I wanted, but I feel a twinge if sadness when I think about it because it still wasn’t what I expected.

I struggle with that. I feel like I should be so grateful I had such a great childbirth, and I healed from what happened with Willow and Sage was so healthy. It feels blasphemous almost to grieve the parts I struggled with in the face of what could have been.

I think that’s why I hate the cliche mom phrases about children in Africa not having whatever you are upset about having, or the first world problem jokes, because I am all too aware of how lucky I am to be holding these precious people in my life. I have no right to complain or grieve anything else I may be upset about.

At the same time, I believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He wants to fill them and give them abundance. It is a struggle for me to balance that belief with knowing just how much I’ve been given. I think sometimes I am not grateful enough; and other times I think that I am so grateful it hurts.

There are moments when I hold one of the babies and my entire body feels like it will explode in gratitude for them, other times they both pull on me at once and I want to scream, but I also shudder under powerful guilt for feeling that way.

Now, there are several things I am waiting on that I desire powerfully and all-consumingly, and I am so angry at myself for that sometimes because I feel like I should just be content, but at the same time I keep reminding myself my desires are normal and valid.

All I can do is pray that God sees my prayers of gratitude amidst my tears of desire.

Maybe today pray:

God I give you thanks for everything I have, hear me thanking you even when I cry out in the struggle.

Ash Wednesday:What Religious Abuse looks like Ten Years Later

I hate going back to what happened to make me struggle with things. Those of you who know me are probably rolling your eyes. I don’t blame you, because no matter how much I don’t want to talk about it, I do it often. Im still trying to figure out how to exist in a world that seems easier to other people than it is to to me, and I am a little slow on the uptake. Today’s deep dive into The History of Things That Make My Life Complicated, is a kind of abuse that sparked anxiety in me that I have not heard many talk about. That is, religious abuse.

So first of all, let’s talk about what I mean when I say religious abuse. There are a million different definitions for each type of abuse and this is no exception. My definition of religious abuse is anytime religion is used as a weapon, especially to manipulate the person. To clarify, I do think it can be done unintentionally, which I believe about other kinds of abuse as well, and I’ve written about that in the past, but the effect of the abuse stays the same the either way.

I don’t want to get into the exact specifics of what kind of religious abuse I experienced right now. What I do want to talk about is why it matters at all. Traditionally, it seems that a majority of people psychologically associate God with the authority figures who are meant to teach them about Him. What this means is that one’s parents, priest, nuns, Catholic school teachers, are all representatives of God, so psychologically we believe that God holds those traits. The problem with this is that when the representative of God is abusive, the victim starts to believe that God also is abusive, even if they wouldn’t phrase it that way.

In my experience, the most problematic issue that stems from this is a paralyzing confusion about who God is that leads to an inability to pursue a relationship with Him without intense self-examination and careful processing of the past. For example, if something in my life goes wrong, or might go wrong, I have a deep inner conviction that God is punishing me for something, and I have to work incredibly hard through prayer and self-analysis to convince myself that that is not what is happening. If someone mentions evil people, I am immediately sure that I am evil, and I have to re-process the conversation in my head and, so to speak, talk myself down off the ledge. If I miss a prayer for one day, then I become terrified that the entire day is going to go badly and I am going to die so that God can send me to Hell. Sometimes, if I am trying to decide whether or not to do something, my fear about what God does or does not want me to do is so paralyzing that I do nothing out of fear, or worse sometimes I end up choosing whichever option does NOT make me happy, just to be on the safe side.

This was much worse when I had no idea it was going on, and I have seen it in other people who eventually figure out why they are struggling with particular issues. It caused me to ruin chances I had of doing things I really loved, out of fear that God wouldn’t love me anymore if I did them. It caused me to not try to fulfill my dreams because God didn’t want me to have them. It caused me to stop doing things that bring me joy because it seemed like God was angry every time I did something that made me happy. It made me hate life because every single thing I did was so important because I was so afraid of Hell.

The interesting thing about this topic coming up around Lent for me, is that Lent was the focal point of some severe fear and trauma for me. I will never forget the year I was convinced the world was ending because JPII and Terri Schiavo died right before Easter. I will never forget my absolute panic on the way to Good Friday service because I thought that the whole world was going to go dark for Three Days of Darkness and we were going to go to Hell because we were not at home.

I am terrified of lent.

Every year I become convinced that God will rain every kind of suffering He can imagine down on me because “It’s that time of year,” but you know what? The last several years, I asked Him to show me who He was for Lent. He has rained graces down on me that I never could have imagined.

In 2017, I was convinced that my pregnancy was going to end in a still birth or miscarriage and I would maybe die, or if the baby made it, I would die and never get to hold her, because she was due in lent. The night of Ash Wednesday my terrifying pre-term labor got so bad, I really thought I was going to die, but instead I gave birth to an insanely healthy 31-week old baby. She needed some assistance, but nothing like what anyone had expected. She was a total spitfire, bit the doctor on her way into the world, and ripped out her oxygen tube because she didn’t need it anymore. My nurses were so kind to me, the priest who visited me revolutionized my faith life, my body recovered so rapidly that everyone was beyond shocked. I was tired, like anyone would be, but I was the happiest I had ever been. Later in lent, I lost my job, and it was the answer to almost a year f begging God to find me a way to be a stay at home mom. God heard my prayers-big, scary, terrifying, barely even hopeful prayers. I still can’t fathom sometimes how completely He heard me.

Last year was a little less spectacular, but still just as important. He gave me rest from anxiety during my pregnancy so much so that for a few weeks my hyperemesis gravidarum was almost imperceptible. I stayed pregnant until 40 weeks(past Easter this time) and she was perfect.

This year, I got cocky. I thought, oh I’ll do Lent the way everyone else does. God made it very clear to me, “Oh honey, you are not ready for that, I need to hold you for a little bit,” with me in tears on Fat Tuesday. So this year, I’m going to be little again, I’m going to ask God to show me who He is again, because I keep forgetting and doubting Him. But the nice thing is, it was His idea. 😉 So if you think you might need to, this lent, give up your pride. Ask God to take care of you, and show you what you need. He is so much more than we give Him credit for.

Fiction: Prologue

You guys, I just wrote this, and I am so proud of it. I’m going to be working it into a book, and I am really really excited for it.

A few months after my first miscarriage, I started having a burning desire to have a threesome. My husband and I were struggling with intimacy because sexuality represented unanswered prayers. It represented the little person who was missing from our lives. It represented the loss of all our hopes and dreams of what our family was going to be. It represented unity, but in despair.

For months and months I struggled with this, I prayed about it over and over and over. Finally, in prayer I believed I felt God telling me, “This is a decision you need to make. If it is a mistake, you need to make it.” I’m a huge perfectionist, and I have struggled with scrupulously my entire life, and I have had the joy of many things destroyed because of how religion was taught to me. This time, I believed God was telling me it was ok to be human for a second.

We had a friend of mine over. She was beautiful and free. She represented everything we weren’t. But we loved her. She had been our best friend forever, and she had ended up closed out of the friendship because of our marriage. I think a part of me thought this was how it always supposed to be. We had done a trial run of just me and her and it had been exhilarating and free, but I had felt sad afterwards, because my husband was not there. When it was her and the two of us, it was the whole world in one room. We were hot and heavy and compassionate and sensitive, we were caring and loving and sexy and passionate. We were tangled together and gazing at each other. We were everything.

We did it again and again and again.

I would like to say that we were evil for doing it, that it was misguided and a mistake, and that it was sinful. It would be so much easier. It may have been sinful, but even now writing it, my entire body feels full and alive. My blood runs warmer through my veins. I think of unity with all of mankind and what that would feel like. I think of the promise of community in heaven, and I long for a unity that feels that profound. I long for complete union and passion with every single human being in existence.

I used to joke in college about how I believed that heaven could be an even deeper unity with all of mankind, like sex, but even deeper. What I didn’t say was that I meant it. I believe that Communion is like sex. I believe that the Eucharist is actually God, and because I believe that I believe that He wanted to be literally a part of us. He wanted to LITERALLY be inside of us. Every Sunday, I go to communion and I believe in Him as my bridegroom. I have fights with Him throughout the week about how He handled things, I complain to Him when my feelings are hurt, I ask Him to hold me at night when I’m sad, and when I am at Church on Sundays, I believe that He is creating complete intimacy with me.

Someone said once that sex is the closest we can get to heavenly ecstasy in this life. Insofar as sex is the same kind of unity as Communion, I believe that. I believe that when we truly love someone there is a moment when we cannot get close enough to them, when we cannot get them close enough in to us. I believe that union is the answer.

I should clarify before I am denounced as a monstrous heretic and declared a false prophet that I am not advocating polygamy on earth. Personally, I believe that on earth there are far too many risks and complications to that kind of relationship. However, I have a very secret fantasy that in heaven there will be some sort of heavenly unity or act, either sex or something like it, that will bring about a kind of ecstasy like nothing we have ever known. I have been so carried away in sex before that I begged my husband to stop, so I wouldn’t die from the heart-pounding, breathless exhilaration. I like to think that heaven will be that, but without the fear.

What my Miscarriage Taught me About Being Christian

Rachel Hollis said, “Everything does NOT happen for a reason, but you can FIND a meaning in anything.” My first miscarriage is the first thing that came to mind. Every time I read “everything happens for a reason,” my heart hardens and grows colder, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I become a little bit nauseous.

Why? You ask.

If you are asking, it is because you haven’t experienced something that painful yet.

I am not saying that you have not been through something painful, or that you have never been hurt or understood pain. I am saying that there is a kind of pain, a brand, if you will, that defies reason. It is the kind of pain that your entire body revolts at the fact that it could possibly exist. It is the kind of pain that teaches you what it feels like to question everything.

For me, that was losing my baby girl. For you, it could be failing a test that was really important. For someone else, it could be actually dying. I am not judging levels of pain, but experience of it. It doesn’t matter how big or small the pain is, but what it does.

A couple of months ago, I read a Facebook status of mine from college. It was something about how everything is in God’s plan. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and about how much I have learned.

Christians. You. Can. Not. Say. That.

Not everything is in Gods plan, and that is very very very important.

Christians believe that death was NOT the original plan. Eve ate the apple and so did Adam and the snake screwed up too, but this was NOT the plan. This was ALLOWED, but it was not the plan.

God did not plan for us to watch babies die at the hands of the Nazi’s, or for us to suffer from any number of hormonal issues. He did not plan for us to shoot each other in malls, and schools, and churches. He did not plan for us to be too prideful to apologize to our friends, or to hold grudges. He did not plan for us to be sick for months on end.

God planned paradise for us. He planned a blissful life of lounging amidst a beautiful garden eating all the best the world has to offer. He planned a life of luxury and goodness to each other and ourselves. He planned a life of peace with Him and contentment with everyone else. He wanted us to swim in waterfalls of joy, not to sink in rivers of tears.

It took me a long time to realize this. I had to learn that these every day platitudes were wrong, or at least, not fully right. There were a million things along the way that helped me to learn it. I had to learn that God loves me, that God wants me to be happy(although that’s a daily struggle,) that God hates sadness as much as I do, and I had to let go of my pain enough to see a way forward through it.

That doesn’t mean I’m healed, I’m not convinced anyone ever is. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, no one is that either. It does mean that I have learned something from who I was and who I became later, and it means that I can bring some good about because of my miscarriage. I can be kinder, I can defend those who are being hurt, I can hold space for those who need it, I can tend to my own wounds.

Most importantly, I have learned two things.

1. Do not tell someone who is in pain that it is in God’s plan, because it may not be, also included in this is never ever say “everything happens for a reason.”

2. The second is a prayer I say now when I am angry at God for something that has happened. “This is not what He wanted either.” I repeat it like a mantra over and over until I can breathe and I can love Him again.

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