#VulnerabilityForTheWin

vulnerable [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]

adjective

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon

2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend

I tend to have a recurring conversation with many of you. Oh sure, the words & situations are different & personalized according to your lives. However, I hear the same frustrations, fears, insecurities from each of you. Followed by “I am the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way.” Many of these being the same fears, frustrations & insecurities that I myself have. During these confessions, I have come to the conclusion that we all believe we must suffer these alone.

Why do we refuse to be honest about where we are, what we are struggling with or ask for help? Is it because we fear the vulnerability that comes with sharing? Is it because we are all posting Instagram pictures of giant smiles & happy families? Or because our Facebook statuses always give the impression that we are riding unicorns to work as supermodels & are about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for solving world hunger?

Honey, let me let you in on a little secret – My unicorn stood me up, my supermodel contract was shredded & the only prize I’m winning is Kroger fuel points.

As much “fun” (very loose interpretation of that word!) as much fun as Facebook & Instagram are, I believe there is also a destruction that occurs within us by not being more open with our lives. When I get to work or church, my smile comes out. Not because I’m “faking” it per se, but because in that moment, I’m not crying. Now don’t think I cry all the times in between. I don’t. Mostly. Lol. But I don’t appear as if I am struggling either. Neither do you or you or you. So if my struggle is a little extra hard today & all the women around me are not sharing where they are with theirs, guess what? I feel like I’m the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way. I’m not saying we should walk around with tissues falling out of our oversized cardigan sweater which is covering our plaid pajamas & house slippers while we sorrowfully broadcast our woes.

What I am saying is this:

First of all: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT FEELS THIS WAY. Let me repeat that. Look in the mirror, point to yourself & repeat after me. “YOU are not the only one that feels this way!” I promise.

Secondly: Remember the overused cliche that says “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” Well, I hate to throw it at you again but it’s true. Your people need to know that being vulnerable & real is ok. Not just ok but acceptable & encouraged. Soooo…it’s your job to take the first step. I know. Sharing our weaknesses is hardly something fun. But it is a way to break that Super Hero Facebook status that only holds true when we have to keep it together.

Which brings me to my third thought. Why are we acting so together? Wait. Put that oversized cardigan & pajamas away. I’m not giving permission to sulk, quit life or slink into brooding. What I am giving you permission for is to be real with where you are at any given moment. So what if a song on the radio made you ugly cry on your way to work & now your makeup is running down your face? Wear those streaks with pride. Own your messy bun & yoga pants day because it’s been a week that would wear out a toddler. We put so much effort into appearing “together” we don’t realize the freedom we can feel by letting those cracks in our armors show our personal truths. Not just for you, but for your best friends, your sisters, your co workers…

And finally friends, let me ask you this: how much more powerful would my prayers be for you if I knew how deeply the situation was effecting your life? Or your heart? Not that I’m not praying when I say I am, but if it’s a casual request, I will likely throw a prayer out & move on. If it’s something I know is really agonizing someone, I usually keep it in my prayer bucket, follow up with them & keep encouraging them. Or what if someone could help you with a specific situation because you trusted them with the need, rather than not knowing at all or just knowing you were going through “something.” Maybe you really just need a night out so we can grab dinner or just a cup of coffee with an ear to listen? Or maybe you need a hug from someone that just loves you for who you are to them-a flawed, streaky makeup face, ugly crying beauty. By holding ourselves so tightly together we are unable to embrace the wonderful resources we have in each other.

My challenge to you is this: Try opening up. For real. Not just “I’ve got a lot going on.” But a real “I know I don’t trust people with all of my heart so I keep everyone at a safe distance & it makes me feel lonely most of the time.” (Yes. That’s mine for the day. Writing this blog is a HUGE exercise in my vulnerability. It’s a true love/hate relationship.) You don’t have to tell your pharmacist & oil change guy but when you speak with a friend, share your real heart & let them know it’s safe to share theirs.

Ok lovelies,

Love your uglies, let them show a bit.

Till next time…

Matilda Grace

Searching

Have you ever put your worldly possessions in one of those storage units that looks like a giant garage? Have you then ever tried to get back into that storage unit & look for one particular item among 100 boxes? Even labeled as accurately & precisely as you can possibly label each box, it is still virtually an impossible task. How do I know, you ask? Because I am currently standing in said storage unit.

When the lease was up in my apartment, I was unsure what my next direction was going to be so I moved in with my sister & her family. I didn’t need most of my things so I loaded everything into a storage unit & took only the essentials for what I thought was going to be a short term solution. Eight months later, I’m still there. What I thought was very temporary ended up being one of the most emotionally healthy moves I have ever made. I live with five people who love me every day. Just because! My niece & nephews hug me several times a day. Just because! I did not realize how much I needed to feel unconditionally embraced.

That however is not what this post is about.

It’s about the storage unit.

So. All of my “valuable” worldly possessions are boxed up & in this garage. My washer, my dryer, my couches, my dishes, my Christmas decorations, and probably 60% of my clothing & shoes. When I got up today, deciding to dive into the storage unit & dig out some of my clothing, I had no idea how impossible that would actually be. Trying to maneuver through a tight pathway in this cramped hot garage jammed full of boxes & furniture to uncover the actual crates that I need only to find they are supporting tight & precariously dangerous towers of dishes just so I can find that one sweater that I really miss or those perfect jeans or that super comfy sweatshirt.

I must admit it’s not going very well.

While I am tossing tote boxes over my head (like a beast!!) to put them back on top of the pile it hits me that this is kind of a blogging moment. So I stop. Grab my phone. And began this post.

You’re welcome. LOL.

It made me think about where my life is & how I’m living in someone else’s house with someone else’s family (disclaimer:it is my family, just not in the sense of my kid/spouse/etc…& I am beyond grateful to be here!) surrounded by someone else’s possessions because my life is in what I’m kindly referring to as a “transitional phase.” And I believe it is. But the truth is I have no idea what I’m doing. I work at a job that I don’t hate, but is also not a passion. I live in a place that has all four seasons, sometimes in one day. (And I’m a beachy kind of girl.) I have lost many people that I have loved dearly. I’m in the perfect place to completely start my life over. (By the way I’m 45 & I feel like I am the rom-com poster child for starting over. I even bought a little black car. With a turbo engine. It’s fun. Again we’re not here for that.) But, I definitely have some decisions to make about my life & the direction it’s going.

  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • Where do I go to be whatever that is?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Can I do it?
  • Am I brave enough?

That last one is probably the biggest. I think we all know the answer to that is: [Insert me shrugging my shoulders]

But how many of us are searching & digging & tossing boxes from the areas of our lives around because we’re simply existing? Doing the mundane job every Monday through Friday so that we can bring home a paycheck so we can purchase the car that drives us to said job so we can go to sleep & get up & do it all over again? How many of us are searching for that passion that we see in the movies or in some of our friends faces? How many of us are searching & digging through life trying to find that perfect thing that brings us comfort or success, whether that be a career or family or a husband or a new car or even a dangerous addiction or behavior?

What we fail to realize is this: We can’t find comfort in a sweatshirt or a car or a career or a spouse. The only answer that I have found is that I have to get that from my faith & trust that God has this.

No matter what.

All of the trials that I face, He’s there.

All of the addictions that you face. He’s there.

All of the indecision, the questions about direction, the lack of hope?? He’s there through all of that.

AND He’s also there through all of the happy moments. Like the new car, the new job, the new blog post, the new house, even a new relationship. See, He wants to be part of all of those details. We usually just forget to include Him in them. But sometimes He’s not just part of the details, He is the details. Sometimes He is the solution. Sometimes He is the only solution. So while I’m sitting here not finding my favorite sweatshirt or the perfect sweater, it comes to me that my comfort comes not in my searching for answers, but in my free surrender to trust that God has every step of my life totally figured out & wherever I am is where He is taking me & wants me to be. Even if that’s in my sisters house because he has me in a transitional place. Maybe I’m moving out of this crazy weather state. Maybe I’m staying right here. Who knows? He does. So as long as I trust that, I don’t have to search. I don’t have to dig.

I just have to trust.

Dear sweet friends, whatever it is that you’re going through, THE first & most essential way to get through it is to trust that God is there with you through it. And that He can handle whatever it is.

So wherever you have your “stuff”, whether it’s strewn across the front yard full of chaos & crazy, or maybe you have it jam packed in a closet that is bursting to pop open, or if you have it boxed up in the attic but you’re constantly going back up there to dig through it, now is the time to relinquish all of it. Put it in a garbage bag & let God take it. Put your trust and your crazy in His hands. I am no longer going to search for what I think my life should look like. I’m going to believe that my next step has been set into motion by heavenly forces that love me as unconditionally as my niece & nephews. With my trust in the right place, I can AND WILL move mountains!

Till next time-Love yourself, love your uglies & love your crazy. It makes you who you are.

Matilda Grace❤️

My Girls

Today is dedicated to my girl gang. My tribe. My sisterhood of un-sisters. The women I need every minute of every day. The first texts I send each day, the first texts I send when life hits the fan. The place where my soul finds sanity & even better, a little insanity. I’m going to talk about 3 today but the truth is, my life is filled with amazing beautiful women.
Today was the birthday of one of the most beautiful women I know. She has been one of my best friends for only about 3-4 years at this point. You’ve read about her in the past. She is funny, wild, crazy, thoughtful & caring. She’s one of the people that makes my heart smile. When we make plans, I can only anticipate what kind of trouble we will get into. Nothing major, but why we are allowed into any Target store together is beyond me. I always expect to be stopped at the door & denied access. Lol. She brings out my wild side. I love & miss that side. (Believe it or not, I can actually be fun to be around.) I hope you had a Happy Birthday Chrissy. I can’t imagine doing this crazy life without you in my corner. I love you for every single little thing you are.


Saturday is the birthday of one of the other most beautiful women I know. This woman brings me strength in other ways. She builds my faith by refocusing my crazy back on Jesus in the midst of trials. She calls me to check in when we haven’t spoken in a while. She has a sweet kindness about her that fills a room, yet a mischievous streak as long as the earth is round. Michelle, I hope you have a Happy Birthday. I also can’t imagine doing life without you & I love you for every single thing you are.


Sadly, life isn’t always about Birthday cake and balloons. Sometimes we have to participate in things for the good of others. “Take one for the team” so to speak. These things may be no big deal to us at all. They may be inconvenient or out of our way, or maybe, it is something that may be hard physically or emotionally. The past few days have been difficult for me in this area. I volunteered to help a friend. I would never have sat back & ignored her need, but by stepping up, it threw me into places I was emotionally unprepared.

Since her story is not mine to tell, I cannot give details of the circumstances. It was however, an emotional situation. A “before/after” moment in her life. Leading up to that exact moment, she struggled with the strength to follow through. Via text I encouraged her as best as I could. I suggested she reach out to a friend to spend some time with. I knew I would be with her for 24 hours but she needed to be with others that also could love and support her. She reluctantly complied and met a friend for coffee.

I knew I needed to push her away from me for the weekend for a couple of reasons. She needed to see that there are others out there that love her as much as I do. She needed that unconditional acceptance. The reality of what she was about to do was really beginning to sink in with her and she was scared. I also had to push her away for myself. Because I could see what little emotional strength she had left, & knowing that I was going to be spending a solid 24 hours giving as much emotional strength as I could muster, I knew I didn’t have much in my reserve, because I rarely do. So to deal with her being on the shaky ground she was on concerned me. We made it through, with a lot of tears but we also managed to have some laughs.

When I returned from this excursion, people thanked me for being with her.

So.

Many.

Thank you’s.

I don’t know how to accept rejection, help, praise, or even thanks. Yeah, I know. That sounds crazy. Is this your first day here? Well, read backwards. You’ll see I’m one step away. I met with my therapist and mentioned how uncomfortable I was with being praised for doing what I feel any friend should do for another friend. (The appointment was already set. I didn’t need to rush for one after my crazy kicked in) She asked why it made me angry. I said because I think everyone should be more aware of people’s needs and if we all worked to meet others’ needs, maybe the world wouldn’t be so awful. She asked why it was so strong in me. Ugh. (Cue my tears) The follow up questions are always the worst. It’s because my whole life, the people that should have built my trust foundation were busy tearing it down. So I don’t feel like anyone will be there to meet my needs. So I don’t ask. And that reiterates my lack of trust so the cycle continues.


Apparently the way to fix this self preservation (aka destructive behavior) is to change my behavior. Seems a bit odd. I have trust issues because of broken trusts but to fix it, I have to trust people.

So, bear with me. I may be extra needy while I work through this. While I act like I can do everything on my own & I’m super woman, I am not. I have needs. Often times going unmet because I’m afraid of asking for help & getting rejected. But I am going to be working on this so…

To my girl gang-I love you all more than words.


Till the next time…Love the uglies, yours and theirs.

Puzzle Pieces

Sometimes in life we develop unexplainable relationships. They may be someone with a different personality type than you normally gravitate towards. Or maybe it’s someone with a different lifestyle than you. Maybe there is an underlying background story between the two of you that just keeps it from making much sense to others.
So. What.

Kudos to us for taking on the abnormal. Not that our friends are abnormal. (You better be nice, they are reading this thinking the same about you. Haha.) The relationship is abnormal. From our norm. They may fit perfectly into someone else’s norm, but for you, they are a puzzle piece that you had to work into place. Now that they are there, the completed puzzle looks lovely.

My life has lots of these puzzle pieces. I don’t care what you do for a living, who you were or what your past consists of, what size your clothes are or even your favorite food. I love my friends because I have worked carefully to develop the relationships & I see my friends through their hearts.

So are we a bit abnormal? Yup.

I’m cool with that.

Let’s take for example the funky underlying backstory. When we were 19, Mark broke up with me to go hang out with an ex girlfriend. She was his first love & they were young (16) & dumb. He & I obviously got back together eventually. Fast forward to right after we were married, probably around 26, 27 years old & we are attending the same church as this ex, Jackie. She was tall & thin with long blonde hair. I am tall. Lol. That is literally where the similarities ended. We had a mutual friend who understood the awkwardness. But we had a women’s retreat & Jackie needed a room because hers had fallen through. Our mutual friend approached me & said “I know this could be extremely awkward & I don’t want to diminish your experience but I need to ask. Can Jackie stay in our room?” With great angst, I said “of course.”

Jackie & I stayed up all night. Not an exaggeration. We got zero sleep. We laughed & talked & became great & amazing friends. We did small groups together, met for lunch, even had cookouts together-with Mark & her husband. We shared everything, our pasts, our presents, our fears, our faith.

Our relationship made zero sense to anyone that knew the history. I should have hated her, right? She was his first love. He left me for her years later. Maybe I should have. Maybe for a while, I did. But when our friend asked me to swallow it so Jackie could attend the retreat, if I had allowed that underlying backstory to say “no” to that simple request, I’d have missed out on one of the most beautiful people I ever knew.

Jackie & her family have long since moved away & sadly, we lost touch after that. Our relationship remains one of my favorites because we always had fun & she stretched me to try new things. We would stay late after small groups & sing worship songs on stage at church late into the night. We roller bladed (ps, NEVER ask me to do this. I’m the WORST!). We discussed faith based topics & how we felt and their impact on us.

We talked about her history with Mark.

Not intimate details but enough that he no longer was an underlying backstory. He was just a backstory.

More than all of that, our relationship taught me one of my greatest lessons…

After God, all his glory, & the salvation of the cross, the greatest gift God gives us is each other. We are not our past. We are not the decisions we make. At any given moment we can make a smarter, wiser, or dumber decision that will change the course of our life’s path. By allowing those things to overshadow the actual person, we cannot see the person inside. There may be hurts that we have the bandaid to fix. There may be brokenness that we have the glue to repair. There may be a soul aching for the Jesus we have within. There may be a wall only we can scale. There may be a belly needing our soup. Or just maybe, they have these for us.

Maybe the best thing for a relationship is to discuss that elephant in the room. To bring that underlying backstory to the surface, in all of its awkwardness. Maybe not. Maybe it’s too raw yet. That’s ok too. Maybe the backstory is keeping a mini wall between us, but it’s not keeping us from developing OUR great story. And one day, it too, will just be part of our story. Maybe that awkward subject of “feelings” needs to be discussed. Maybe you just need to clear the air about a past hurt or a wall you’ve built.

If you are my friend, you are my friend regardless of anything else in life. Color, size, past or creed hold little bearing. I love you for being you, unconditionally with zero expectations. I do not ask you to be perfect, just be. Obviously, I will stick my nose into your business & tell you my opinion if I disagree with your choices, but I would hope the same from you.

So friends, new and old…I am grateful for you. I love you. I don’t care how different we are. That thing you think I may never understand, you are wrong. I would. That upbringing that left you scarred, I see it. The abuse you try to hide, I too lived it. The bad marriage you cover, been there, done that. The child filled with discontent and rage, I see ya sister. I love you still.

I love you AND your uglies.

Every. Single. Day.

Missing You..Year Two

Dearest Andrew,

(Technically, I am a day early but when the words hit, they hit & not sharing them when they are full of emotion seems to defeat the purpose-so I am sharing a few hours early.)

Here I am, another year past without you. Two eternally long years that have gone by in the blink of an eye. People say “You’ve made it so far! You’re so strong!” You & I both know it’s not really been living. It’s more survival, a bleak existence of sorts. When I hear how “strong” I am, how I’m an “inspiration,” I wonder what those same people would say if they were a fly on the wall when I am home. Alone, lying in bed after work because I have no reason to stay up, or crying into the pillow because I’m exhausted from trying to be the survivor they see, the one who still misses her best friend so deeply that every day is such an effort she wonders why she is even bothering.

After two years, I keep waiting for my emotions to catch up to the cliches. “Time heals all wounds.” “Give it time, you’ve been through a trauma.” Time, time, time. I’ve had enough of this time. I’ve had enough of the pain, the tears, the “normalcy” that everyone else but the few of us broken by your loss have been able to return to.

As I lie in bed, still awake, despite being here for hours, my face crusted with salt from crying all day, which is almost a permanent feeling at this point, I remember the memories of that last week. This has been going on like a rerun for weeks now. I occasionally venture back to other days with you. Funny moments. Our arguments, which were heated & filled with passion for our respective opinions. How we were never afraid to be honest, good or bad, happy or sad. Except about how we felt towards each other. We had a deal. We wouldn’t talk about that. Neither of us could handle that at the time. But we spoke every day. Often. We knew everything about each other…good, bad & ugly. We loved each other in spite of all of it, & kept showing up. To nurse old wounds, make each other laugh or just offer dinner. To watch movies, snuggled into the couch. To be the closest friends two crazy people could be. To give each other unconditional love & acceptance because that is what we each needed at the time.

I’m not naive enough to sit here and say we were going to be “besties forever,” but we were perfect for the time we were blessed enough to share for as long as we were blessed to share it.

Perfect.

Well, perfectly messy. Perfectly crazy. Perfectly not perfect. We both had baggage we brought to the table each day. Lots & lots of baggage. So much, I’m surprised there was room for us to be in the same building.

The day you went home to Jesus, you left yours here. I’m so glad you no longer have those heavy burdens. Unfortunately, I now carry more. I wonder if you look down at me with frustration. I wonder if you scream down from heaven “I’M BETTER NOW THAN I”VE EVER BEEN! Let me go, silly girl.” I can picture you shaking your head at me, calling me crazy. I’m reminded of the many times you would open your arms to hug me after I’d had an extra crappy day. That is the memory I rest in.

After all this time, 730 days without you now, I have come so far, yet not moved an inch. I dread the idea of coming out of my grief & functioning like “normal” because then you are officially gone, although my head knows you left 730 days ago. I dread the idea of staying in my grief because every day is torture. I live in a state of purgatory in between. Some days I think I get too distracted & forget to remember you. But I haven’t, you just weren’t at the center of the day. How can I love others so deeply but feel like my heart died with you? My entire existence is an oxymoron.


In these letters I always tell you what’s new in my life. Today, I miss you as much as I did 729 days ago & I suspect will still be the same 729 days from today. At this point, I have learned that being graceful is more than being like Jackie Kennedy & that loving is more than being a parent. They are both more of being like Jesus. And like you were. As hard as you may have tried not to be, you were the heart & hands of Christ in the manner you handled people. I thank you for reviving a place within me that needed to have the passion fueled for His people & for accepting me as I was to be your friend. Thank you for allowing me to walk beside you for the remainder of your days. And I know that despite the expanse between us, you will walk beside me the remainder of mine.

Much love sweet Andrew,

Matilda

Worn Out & Broken Down

One of the things about behaving as if you have your life pulled together, is that the people around you begin to believe you just might. Then the only person left with the truth is-you. You are the one left feeling empty, alone, & isolated, because they see you smiling & participating & working & taking care of yourself in all the ways that we are supposed to: showering, bathing, brushing our teeth. 
They don’t realize that when the doors are shut & the lights are off, you’re left alone with those thoughts that never go away, the trauma that you continue to see over & over, the pain that keeps your heart raw, & the feeling that no one is there for you. And it’s not really that you’re faking during the day because brushing your teeth & showering & going to work & participating in social events are all things that are important & fulfilling & necessary to survive. BUT there is still this wounded side of you that is so beaten & broken that you wonder why you get up in the morning or what IS the purpose of your life? And until we find that answer, we question every morning. We question every interaction. We lack trust. We feel abandoned. And I would love to sit here & tell you that after almost 2 years of introspection & retrospection & seeking God & forcing myself to be with friends & Bible studies & social events, I would love to be able to tell you that looking upward towards the heavens, the answer is instantly right there…but it’s not. God doesn’t send us a text with our purpose or plan. He doesn’t email or call & leave a lovely voicemail. God doesn’t put out a holiday newsletter with what is up for us for the next year so we are left to our own devices, with the ultimate choice being our own (short of a divine interruption) to continue participating in all of these expected behaviors. Do they get us anywhere? As far as I can tell, only to tomorrow. Are we thriving & living a full life. I have no idea, but I don’t feel like I am.

Today is my 2 yr Divorce-iversary!!! Yay me! Life is going so well!!! I am fed up at my job, I haven’t had a date in decades, I spend every evening alone… GO TEAM SINGLE MATILDA!! I spent the day sitting at my desk crying.

I hate this time of year. From dec 20-feb 20, I just want to crawl in a hole. But work has me extra crazy. As much as I like my job, I’m really struggling in there. I have been for over a year so add that to this season & I feel like I’m losing my freaking mind. I try to keep myself optimistic & cheery but inside I’m sad, lonely, scared & crying. Well, today I’m outwardly crying. I don’t like being around myself when I feel like this so I try to minimize exposure for others & try to shut down as much as possible.


One of my friends asked me to seek out what God has to say about my emotional insanity. I argued with her & said it always comes back to me feeling like the child waiting for some attention & then being walked right by. I can stay optimistic for a while. A long freaking while. Months & months. I can play cheerleader for everyone around me & remind them of His plans, His timing, His love & goodness. But every time, I feel like I get overlooked. I don’t want to ask him AGAIN why he ignores me. Why my prayers disappear into an abyss. Why he lets me down. Why he allows me to hurt so deeply that I don’t feel like I will ever feel again. Why I can’t trust because of people he allowed in my life. I just want to be held & taken care of for once. No fighting, no struggles, no worrying about the next step. I’m tired of living in limbo over Dylan & wondering if he will always be wanting to kill me, will I have to watch over my back forever? I’m tired of watching Mark travel the world with the women he let in to break up our marriage. I’m tired of relationships with my sisters being superficial because I can’t trust them to take my safety seriously & not tell my parents what is going on in my life or where I live. I’m tired of not truly being able to trust anyone, even those I’m closest with, even myself. When is it my turn to feel safe and loved?

She then asked why I felt God has let me down. I prayed for Mark and Dylan for years & years. Way before things reached the point of no return. I believed in the power of prayer to heal my precious baby, to remove the baggage his birth mother had left him with. I prayed constantly for the man I loved to recover from depression & anger. Not only did he not heal them, he allowed them to destroy me. I’m left hoping people give two shits enough to spend time with me. I’m left questioning every single relationship because the people I thought would always be safe for me have been ripped away. I live everyday with a lack of security, a lack of love & a lack of trust. Plus that doesn’t even consider my wonderful parents, who would probably have rather aborted me but she was Catholic so they were stuck.

I don’t believe in myself enough to trust that anyone can handle my broken, or would care enough to try. I don’t like feeling unhinged, so I don’t. And then when the dam breaks, I am so unhinged I can’t get back together for a week. So I shut away because everyone expects me to be crazy & silly but that side is shut off & what’s left is negative & overwhelmed. Sometimes I am Thomas. I need proof, I need a miracle, I need a huge display that God is hearing me, is handling things & does actually care about what I’m going through. In case you are curious, today, I’m still waiting.

But surprisingly, I’m still optimistic enough & faithful enough to believe that there is a purpose, & that there is meaning & truth behind the trauma & devastation I have faced. And I believe that one of these days it will be revealed. So until then, I do feel forgotten & abandoned & alone. ALL of the time. But I have faith that one day I won’t.

Just Another Day

Today would have been me & Mark’s 20th anniversary.

Needless to say it did not hold the celebration I had long ago anticipated for us. He did send me a lovely text message that said “20th.. .sorry I didn’t get there.”

There are days when I look back at the 20+ years we spent together & I think of how I’m so lucky to be out of a dysfunctional relationship with that narcissistic man. There are other days when I look back & I think of the silly little girl that fell in love with that goofy boy who made me laugh all the time, protected me & defended me even as the dumb kids we were. How that naive 18 year old girl knew exactly who she was supposed to grow old with. I miss those moments.


I have truly loved two men in my life. Both of them are now gone.
Sure, I have cared about others, but I’ve only really given my heart away twice. As I lay here in a king size bed, filled with pillows & a giant stuffed Mickey Mouse, I wonder if I’ll ever love like I have in the past. I wonder if I will ever trust another that way, in a way that allowed my heart to be shattered. Twice. Will I ever trust myself to not pick the wrong guy? Will I ever ask another man to take on the freight train full of baggage that I feel I carry around behind me every day? Sure, I’m working through most of that, by the grace of God & with a lot of therapy. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not something that he would have to know about, understand, and be willing to deal with in some manner at some point. Will any man with his right mind be willing to take on the potential danger that being in a relationship with me could pose to himself? I mean, I do have a restraining order against my own son.

I don’t have any answers for any of these questions. I don’t even know if I care. Do I get lonely? Yes. But I’m not willing to settle. I feel like at this point in my life I have fought too damn hard just to survive to be willing to fall for the first guy that walks by and smiles at me. Anybody that wants to spend any quality time with me is going to have to be worthy of that time.  He will have big shoes to fill, a heart to handle with gentleness, luggage to help sort, laughs to provide, oh, and most importantly, he must love Jesus because Jesus is the only reason I still breathe.


So while Mark sits in his high-rise apartment in the big city, with his wealthy girlfriend/homewrecker, I spent the day with my church family and my roommate. I had a wonderful service at church, hung out with my baby buddy Huey, gave away a lot of hugs and smiles & received many more. I had lunch with people that have become family. It was long, it was delicious and we laughed until my sides hurt over inappropriate conversations. I watched cheesy Christmas movies & my roommate and I began to put up the tree. So my day was not filled with the celebration of a 20 year marriage with the man that I fell in love with at 18, but it was definitely still filled with love from the people in my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful.


This new chapter of my life has taught me where to find my strength, it has taught me that I am worthy, and it has challenged & rattled me deep into my core. There have been many many days in the last four years where I did not think I had the strength to go on. And I have proven to myself and to many others that I carry an immense amount of strength within me. And I know that I get that strength from my faith. But I also know that it requires me to tap into it. Even on my worst day when I don’t have the energy to shower or interact, I pat myself on the back and say “good job girlie, at least you’re still here.” I’m not the girl that walked away from her husband four years ago. I’m not the girl whose best friend shot himself in front of her two years ago. Not the girl whose son robbed her. I’m not the girl whose mother emotionally abused her for 40 years, I’m not the girl whose father never wanted her, I’m not the girl that was molested by her grandpa, I’m not the girl that feels abandoned all the time. Oh wait, that last one, yes, that I still do. But I’m still a newer, tougher, stronger, more in touch, more alive girl.

So chin up Buttercups. This story isn’t over yet.

29 & Holding

There is this woman I know. She has fluffy white hair. Her cheeks are dimpled. Her eyes squinty from losing her vision. Her back is a little hunched from walking with a walker for several years. Her knees aren’t springy. Her ankles retain water. Her mind alert. Her wit sharp.

I have known and loved this woman since the day I was born.

She is my grandmother.

Two days ago I received a text informing me that she has been hospitalized. She is being treated for a Urinary Tract Infection and Congestive Heart Failure. They expected her to discharge yesterday.

She did not.

Her kidneys are slowing down.

Today the update was that family is flying in from around the country & in the morning her children will meet with hospice.

As my cousins & I sat around her hospital bed this evening, we joked about which one of us was her favorite. Clearly, I was the winner. We told stories of things we remember from our childhood. We laughed at our silliness & the fun we had always had when visiting “ma-maw” & “pa-paw” as children. (Don’t laugh. I told you I was a corn fed mid-Western white girl.)

But what my cousins or aunts or uncles don’t know is the value this woman has in my heart.

Was she perfect? Nope. She is a liar. If you ask her age, she will tell you 29. Since I was a child, this woman has been 29. Lying in that hospital bed tonight was not a 29 year old. Lying there was my 91 and 1/2 year old grandmother. And all I could think about was all the moments I have had with her, and all the moments I wish I could have with her.

When I talk about being sassy or ornery or stubborn, I always say I got it from my grandma. She’s Irish. We don’t have the ginger hair but we have that ornery and sometimes cantankerous wit.

My grandparents house had comic books, (stacks & stacks & stacks!!!) a creek with a bridge over it, blackberry bushes, tons of land and a cement turtle we would ride to wherever we were headed that day. We had adventures every time we were there, catching crawdads in the creek, eating blackberries and hiding from one another. If I was alone I would read comic after comic. I would sort them out so I would remember which ones were read and which I had yet to read. I would organize them so neatly only to have my cousins visit in between me and mess them up.

She had a clear glass cookie jar on the counter we would sneak cookies from. She had teaberry gum. Her bathroom smelled like old lady rose soap, one of my most favorite scents now. They lived just down the street from a natural spring so we would take milk jugs and fill them with water. It was so crisp and cold we would drink as much as possible before leaving.

When I was in junior high, my mother quit speaking to her. When I got my license, I would drive myself to their house and eat lunch or hang out with them. She introduced me to one of my favorite movies, Brigadoon. It’s silly. But now more than ever, it will be special.  I got a job at a mall that backed up to their yard and I would stop by before or after work. I loved visiting with them. Rarely was I alone. Someone else always popped in.

After I moved out of my parents house, I remember she said to me once that she didn’t know how to save me from them. What I didn’t realize at the time…

She had.

Looking back, the fond memories I have in my childhood include my cousins, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents (excluding the child molester), my sisters & friends. Many of those memories happened at her house. My life was hard at home but my grandparents house was my sanctuary. They were my sanctuary.

So ma-maw, my wish is to see your fiery grin, to hear your sharp witted retorts and to kiss your soft cheeks for another 91 years. But if it is time for you to go home, to go see pa-paw, you leave behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. You have deposited bits of your heart & spirit into each of your children, grandchildren & great grandchildren. We will carry on the feisty Irish spunk in your honor. But you will be sorely missed because you have carried us along this journey for the last 91 years.

I love you Ma-maw.

Just One Person

4e13e02dc9504559a8aad3f59ce4c618

A few weeks ago the hospital I work for sent out an email asking for volunteers. We were participating in “Make a Difference Day” today by working at a local food bank. I asked several work friends to join but it ended up just being me.

Once inside, the director of the food bank gave a tour, explaining the process, where the food comes from, threw a bunch of staggering statistics about hunger and sent us to begin the day. She mentioned that she often gets asked how helpful it really is for groups like us to show up once a year and give a few hours. She said extremely. We bagged apples & oranges for school kids. We made bags of oatmeal for their breakfasts. We sorted food. We made backpacks for the kids with assorted meals that were kid prep friendly. Afterwards, we all just left. Climbed in our cars and drove away to our food filled residences. Well, some of us did. I drove to work and put in a few hours.

After working a few hours, I went with another friend to see the movie “Priceless.” It was remarkable. It is based on true events about a man that fights to save two women in the sex slave industry. My friend and I both began crying during the previews so by the time the movie was over, I felt like I had been crying for hours. I guess I had. Without going into the movie and spoiling it for you, because you need to watch it, I began thinking that he was just one man. What can he really accomplish?

I was reminded of this morning’s speech from the food bank director. That every volunteer helps feed those hungry babies. That my 3 measly hours helped to ensure that 380 backpacks were ready for this week. And that is nowhere near the 1500 they need for the handful of schools they are serving. As hard as we worked for 3 hours this morning, we barely scratched the surface of the needs of this area’s children. The 60 of us could have worked 8 hours and had them ready for the week with a decent dent in the process, but it would have required 60 of us for 16-20 hours to really get them ahead of the game. We will never see the face of the child that is eating our oatmeal, or feeding themselves dinner because mom is working, or God forbid, doing something awful. So what was the point of our time?

106e3c7d7b7df5fe86003ce10d11bf78

Well, I felt better about myself momentarily. Up until I started writing this even. At this point, I just feel like a self righteous pious pig but stick around. I’m not done.

So am I just self righteous & pious? No.

Can one person make a difference? Yes.

All these posts, every word, every comma, every time I tell you that I love you, are attempts to make a difference. Every time I give a hug, volunteer my time, give advice (solicited or unsolicited), I am praying my heart for the broken is showing. Every time I cry in the car or silently in my bed or while I’m sitting at work because my friends are hurting, I beg God to help me be the light. To be HIS light. To bring healing to those in need. To open my eyes to the needs and pains of others so that He can use me~however needed.

Do I think I have it all together and that I know best? No. I do not claim to have it all together. I am far from perfect. I make mistakes. I am messy. I can be a disaster. But I am also listening. To you. To God. To my past. To your past. To what God wants you to know about you.

quote-choose-to-love

Am I making the difference I hope to be making? I sure as heck hope so. I don’t think I’ve saved the world. But the mini impacts we each have every day still have the ripple effect. Every ripple creates more and more impacts going further, touching more and more lives. I will never know the full extent of my words, the hugs I give, the prayers I pray, the grace I show, the love I give. But even if I never saw one tiny change, even knowing I will never see one precious face eating the orange I packed today, I’m still going to show up for these moments.

Wait, if we are sharing our hearts, we are changing lives. They are more than moments, aren’t they? They are life events. They are extravagant celebrations. They are beauty. They are in the most simple form, love. And I know without a doubt that LOVE can change the world. One person at a time.

The amazing thing about our hearts? The more we pour out of them, the fuller they become and the more they hold. Go out and share your beautiful hearts. Make the difference you were created to make because someone is waiting for your impact to make their difference. One person can change the world.

Love you bunches.

a4f3d28ffdbe6cf894de776516f90e71

The 35th Birthday

Today would have been Andrew’s birthday. I “celebrated” by going to work & having dinner with a friend. There were no balloons, no gifts, no cake. Not even a mention of it by anyone today except by me at dinner.

I have been what I referred to as a “wild card” this month. Mark’s birthday was earlier this month. Last Saturday was 18 months since Andrew died. And today was his birthday. There have been a lot of tears. I have been what I consider grouchy. And I have been loving & giving. I have gone to my room early many days because I just didn’t have anything left in me, not because I was tired.

I still wonder how the people left behind are supposed to carry on in life like everything is happy & lovely when we have such a gaping hole left in our hearts. Not that I am not happy. I have very happy times. I find humor in life. I give hugs. I love people. I enjoy experiences. But there is always that hole.

So Andrew, tell me. Is there life after death? Not your death, sweetheart. I know there is for those that have died. Up or down, our choice. But is there life after death for those of us left grieving? What exactly is the process?

coverphoto

The process for me has been a bit bland. I have forced myself to work everyday. Well, most days. I shower. I brush my teeth. I eat. I go to church. I volunteer. I go out with friends. I do the normal stuff I have always done. It’s in between those times that I find myself pondering what the next step should be. Is this the process? Is this what everyone does? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare ask. I’m ashamed of my hiding. I’m embarrassed that I prefer to lock myself away at times than to speak to people. I am self condemning myself for still missing Andrew, being sad, lonely, wishing I had answers.

Answers. How I wish I had the answers. After 18 months, I still have no understanding as to why that night played out the way it did. I have no answers to the questions that have gone unanswered for a year & a half. If anything, I have more.

What have I learned throughout the torture? Lots of things. Do we really need to discuss that again? Fine. I will share one. It’s a recurring theme so don’t roll your eyes when you read it. It’s Love. It’s simple really. Unconditional, pure & genuine love. Don’t miss the mark by ignoring the brokenness of the people around you. We have the capacity to change our worlds just by giving our hearts away. I know that by trying to live my life with this type of love, I have changed my own life, for the better. I hope I have changed the lives of those around me for the better, as well.

Some of you have heard this story. But last week, a co-worker (a person that I feel is fairly unhappy in life. Is it just work related? I don’t know.) was at my desk talking about how I just strolled to my car in the rain. (Remember last Summer, I posted about playing in the rain?) So I mentioned that it’s just water. No need to get upset about it. She began to talk about an umbrella her parents had bought her years ago. It had her initials engraved in the handle. It had broken a while back & she was wishing she had gotten a new one. She had such a light in her eyes over this umbrella. She ran back to her desk & emailed me a picture of it. At my lunch that day, I got on Amazon & ordered the umbrella. When I got it this week, I went to work, left it on her desk with no note. She came running to my desk with the umbrella & tears in her eyes. She said I should not have done that, she knew it was expensive. She was awestruck that I would have done something like that. She went back to her desk & emailed me another thank you. I said I could tell it was special to her so I thought she needed to have a replacement. She said I have the most generous heart & that it has been so so long since someone had done anything that nice for her. I began to cry just as my boss, also a long time friend, came around to my desk. She asked what was wrong. I showed her the email & I said “That is just so sad. What is wrong with us?” I emailed my co-worker back explaining that I was in tears, because I had missed it. Because there are people in my life that feel unloved, uncared for & have no idea how valuable they really are. I told her that we all need to be generous with our hearts all the time with all people. My boss told me that the price of the umbrella was brought up. She told them that if I felt something was needed for someone, I would never look at the price. She said that they are all better people for having me in their lives. I cried some more.

I don’t give away umbrellas for the compliments or the credit. I give away umbrellas because that is what the heart needed. I give because I love. I love because God loves. I try to be aware & cognizant of the needs of people around me. If I can fill the heart or soul, I do. God provides the finances, the words, the opportunities. Sometimes that means I buy umbrellas. Or dinners. Or refrigerators. Or groceries. Sometimes that means I tell brutal truths, give hugs, send text messages of encouragement or bible verses. But I always, always, ALWAYS show love, grace and hope. My heart hurts for the hurting. I guess because I know how broken feels.

I’m not broken anymore. I am healed. With a few cracks. I am like an old house, with layers & layers of paint that have begun to be stripped away. I know that underneath all those layers, I am a beautiful, strong & sturdy home for broken hearts. I have an open door for anyone in need.

Happy Birthday, Andrew. Enjoy your red velvet cake. Jesus is the best baker. Your smile is missing in my day. The world is missing your heart. That giant, kind, loving, broken heart. Much love sweet friend.

For the rest of you lovelies, watch for opportunities to share your heart. It always returns two fold. At least. Love you all.