$.02


My prayer is that this will help at least one person and that person may not be you… so look away, hide me, delete me, or ignore me if this makes you feel uncomfortable.

I was raised in San Diego. My family (immediate and generational) had some very strong convictions with the Baptist and Evangelical demonations denominations. I am a christian and this is a story about how I’m trying to live my life the exact opposite of my christian upbringing.

As a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend that follows Jesus, I have committed my life to these promises. I will share words like sex and drugs to my children and I will teach them to love Rock and Roll. I refuse to brush problems under the rug and I refuse to let time run its course over heart-wrenching trauma; making the wounds deeper and bandaid-covered gashes infected and seemingly irreparable. I won’t allow secrets to fester in the darkness. I will demand honesty and not be hypocritical with honoring that honesty. I will encourage myself and my children to dance, especially when the beat makes people think we’re going to hell. I will foster, and deeply grow, relationships with people. Not because of what I will gain or “what heaven will gain” but because I love all people as they were made in the image of Christ. I will show love and grace just as I’ve been shown grace and love. I will allow people to choose whatever path they desire and not write them off as a lost cause for choosing the “incorrect” path. I will NEVER shoot the wounded or maim the broken, nor will I spread their stories in the sharing of “prayer requests.” I will forever help people out of their shitty pits of manure, whether they placed themselves there or not. I will never give up in trying to find ways in helping the broken and the needy, even when I’m not enough to fix it all, because *fixing it all* is not my job anyway. I will give people grace, no matter how many chances I’ve given them in the past. I refuse to place myself on any higher ground or pedestal in my living and thinking, especially when it comes to my thoughts on God, Jesus and my relationship in and through that. I will never condemn or chastise. I will never hold a picket sign in condemnation of another soul or against a person’s actions. Unless it’s found in the bible, I will never claim I know how or what God is feeling or deciding. In everything and in all of who I am, I will mirror the Jesus I admire and follow. I will graciously love and help, heal and fight for, walk and share meals with the lost, the broken, the needy, widows and orphans, the abused, the down-trodden, people on the fringe, outcasts and the “losers.” Because when it comes down to it, we’re all in the same boat anyway. And if I can forgive a molesting uncle and rapists because of the forgiveness given to me, then there HAS to be hope for me and everyone else…

Published on: Sep 2, 2011

Christmas is upon us and I’m finding myself less than thrilled to get lost in the commercialism of it all. I’m actually disgusted by it. Every dumb commercial and poster begging for someone to “Buy NOW!” is starting to really get under my skin. A couple of weeks ago I started feeling like I didn’t want to take part in any sort of traditional holiday this year, to sort of rebel from the stupidity of it all.

It’s very strange what detachment disorder realization does to the brain.

Yes, I’m blaming my current state of X-maspathy on the healing I’ve been doing this year. It seems like in the midst of letting some things go, I’ve released everything I was clinging onto, traditions included, and now I’m bringing the important things back into my life. Slowly and methodically. Throughout the course of my life, it’s like I’ve been holding hundreds of balloons, attached to string. Some balloons have been released completely and some couldn’t escape the canopy mass. Realizing I had issues with detaching and attaching emotions, this year, I feel like I’ve completely let go of every string and now I’m frantically grasping at the “balloons” that are significant to me. Inadvertently, I’ve been writing things off in my life and it’s very uncomfortable and strange to search for what is missing and what I still want to keep.

I understand the significance of Christmas and in celebrating the birthday of Jesus. I am just confused on the lame decorations and reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing. I want to make sure I’m not on auto-pilot as a result of “what I’ve always known.” Maybe this change is also occurring because we don’t have money to buy anything to go under the tree. However, I think that if we did, I still wouldn’t want any of it. Maybe it’s because of my heightened need to help people more than consume *things*. All I know is that, compared to millions of people around the world, we are blessed. In their eyes, not American eyes, we are rich. Adding abundantly to that wealth while they suffer around us, sickens me.

We ended up buying a tree and put up the decorations. The tree was $17 and it is perfect. I LOVED going to the tree farm and looking for the saddest, most pathetic tree while families all around us scoped and measured and felt-up their “perfect” tree. I want to instill traditions in the life of our family, but I saw us heading down a slippery slope several weeks ago and I want to make sure we don’t get lost in the cut-throat consumerism of it all.

I’ve mentally stripped away the blind tradition and I’m replacing it with knowledgeable, meaningful values. Because we are trimming the fat that is Christmas tradition, we are able to help others around us as well. That feels good, pure and right, like we’re living the meaning of Christmas. 🙂

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!

My friend posted something on her facebook page the other day, about the Oprah show that she just watched. My friend mentioned how her heart breaks for “these women.” Since I only have preschool shows on during the day, I went to Oprah’s site and got the scoop. The topic for this particular show was on women who had been sexually abused at the hand of family members.

Growing up in with a strict, religious-focused mentality, really screwed me up. As a child and teenager, there were many things that were taboo topics in my family. The thinking was, if negative things were discussed, they’d be at the forefront of our minds and it would make us want to do those things. If we were talking about negative feelings, then we weren’t focusing on God or allowing Him to heal us. Total BS brainwashing. Especially when I had questions about sex, drugs and drinking as a pre-teen and then not knowing what to do or who to talk to after being molested by two family members and raped as a teenager. I’ve gone through HELL in my life because I’ve felt too afraid to speak up, too alone for anyone to care. Years of pain and trauma may have been avoided if I had been given the tools to deal with being molested when I was eight. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned to drugs, alcohol, stealing, running away, etc… maybe I wouldn’t have been molested, for years, by another family member. Maybe I wouldn’t have been raped.

Reading the summary of the Oprah show, the other day, reminded me that there is still SO much change that needs to happen in regard to sexual abuse survivors. In a way, I feel I’m now open to speaking about it so that must mean that everyone else is as well. I couldn’t believe the feedback I read while browsing through this particular site, as well as other sites. There are still so many women and men that are silent because they feel alone and afraid.

To me, it means that the voices of us survivors aren’t loud enough.

I want to be a loud advocate for victims/survivors but given the lack of confidence I have in myself and feeling like the help I have to offer has already been fulfilled by someone else and my story has already been told, it’s no wonder I’ve been dormant on this topic.

The reminder that there are still people too afraid to speak up or feeling like they are alone in their pain/abuse helps propel me, recharge me, to speak louder.

Why is sexual abuse such a taboo topic?!?

I’m sick of the muzzle, especially when it’s placed on by religion.

This year, I’ve finally found help: My church and their love for hurting, broken and weak people. My help has also come from finally tearing down the pride that had been fused to my DNA and talking to a counselor who showed me the depth of my PTSD and a variety of healing processes. So far, I’ve come across one book, Wounded Heart, that has been the most amazing help of all in getting me over my silenced shame and in understanding I’m not alone.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

It’s more than likely that if you aren’t a victim/survivor yourself, then you know of someone that has been sexually abused.

Our silence is deafening.

I have had severe writer’s block, for weeks, with this idea/post. I’m tired of it swimming around in my head. So, although it might be incomplete or disjointed, I’m publishing it now.

I had an epiphany last night. Oooo, I love those. I realized that if I would stop having expectations with other people, then they wouldn’t let me down. If I stopped expecting things from people or for them to act a certain way, then I wouldn’t be disappointed in them.

I realized that that must be what defines unconditional love. Then I realized that that is how I needed to start viewing myself. I judge myself quite severely.

For most of my life I’ve felt defined as a singer. Not as a person who loved to sing but as, just a singer. If I messed up in singing a song, I failed in who I was. It was a horrible place to put myself. If I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t fulfilling who I was meant to be. If I wasn’t at the top of my list of accomplishing “all things I want to do and places I want to go” with singing, then I wasn’t complete.

I feel closest to God when I’m singing on stage at church and most complete when I’m singing, anywhere. However, I was getting to the point, before and after singing, of being unnerved with how I did because it wasn’t the best.

Being ONLY a singer was killing the value that I should have placed within myself. Having unrealistic expectations was killing the unconditional love that I should have had for those around me.

Once I realized that my problem resided in the expectations I had on myself and others, I quickly learned how to dissolve the issue.

In this seemingly simple act of change, I’ve lifted another incredible burden off of my shoulders. The difference I feel, in singing (whether it’s at home for an hour or at church), is tremendous. I’m not held captive to the feeling of being a failure if I make a mistake because I’m not just a singer. I’m a person that loves to sing. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor… that just loves to sing. This change has also lifted a burden off of people around me, whether they knew they were carrying this burden or not. If my family and friends failed in my expectations for them, then they were failing me. Now that I’ve dissolved those expectations, I feel I’m now free to love unconditionally.

No expectations = Unconditional love.

I first heard about Invisible Children (IC) in 2004. I was living in Alabama at the time and since this was a hometown, San Diego, organization, I thought that I could only help from afar, by word-of-mouth.

Living in Colorado, I first got involved with Invisible Children in April 2006. The event was called Global Night Communte (GNC). I had been wanting, so desperately, to actually do something that I jumped at the chance to spend the night, in some strange downtown Denver park, with only my six year old son, Malakai, and our sleeping bags. I don’t feel I’m making a legitimate change in this world unless I can bring my family, my own children, with me in the plight. My children have such an amazing road of change before them. They learn best when actually experiencing change.

Me and Malakai, making an effort for change: IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Me and Malakai: IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Early morning rise in front of the State Capitol, IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

The second time I joined in an event with Invisible Children, it was for DisplaceMe in April 2007. This journey was a little more interesting, given the fact that I was now almost eight months pregnant with Cali and we would basically be hiking about a mile to our final location, while trying to balance water bottles and crackers, cardboard box “homes”, sleeping bags and my humongo belly. The numerous middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom to pee, a quarter of a mile away from our “home”, through a field of potholes, in the dark, was very humbling. This time my nephew, Clay, came along with me and Malakai.

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly).

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly): IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit.

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed "dinner", handed out when the organizers saw fit.

Our rationed "dinner", handed out when the organizers saw fit. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Invisible Children is doing again. On April 25, 2009, thousands of people in 9 countries and 100 cities take part in abducting themselves and calling attention to over 300 children abducted to fight in a murderous rebellion army.

If you have a heart to change the world. I highly suggest you start by watching this video**. Jase and I don’t have money to help out every organization we attach our heart to.

However, we DO have time.

We have a voice.

We have limbs / a country /vehicles / freedom to actually take action with.

We have our own children and other youth, that look up to us to lead by example.

We have our own children, and other impressionable youth, that won’t ever have to fear being abducted by gun-toting rebels who pierce into camps and rape, pillage and kill in the middle of the night, or day.

I dare you to watch this video**. I dare you to take action. I dare you to spread the word as far as you can.

Let’s teach our children, the next generation of leaders, about those that have become Invisible. Let’s help those who have no voice / no country / no freedom of their own.

Put your apathy on the back burner.

**Disclaimer: The video is amazing and life-changing in and of itself, but it’s full of graphic imagery/audio/photos surrounding the effects of war. In regard to younger viewers, do with that as you will.

What is it about the insatiable desire to just be known?

Does the dream of becoming famous stem from this inclination alone?

Look around at the plethora of community networks and you’ll see the pattern of just wanting our stories to be told. Photos and personal pages and blogs and message boards and comments, all for the single desire to feel as if we have a voice. To feel as if someone cares.

To live this life and feel like we were actually heard and maybe even appreciated is a consuming aspiration. I think the evidence speaks for itself in that, leaving a legacy, a memory, is so much more important than the trophies we have on our mantle or the money we have in the bank account or the position we want in *that* company or the vehicles we have parked in our driveway.

How much more brilliant would the people of this world be if we asked questions more or opened ourselves up a little more to share the experiences we’ve been through? I know life would have been so much easier if there were people that would have shared the hardships they went through as a teen, as a newlywed, as a new parent, as a new homeowner and shared how they came out of it. Or how they didn’t come out of it.

People learn through your experiences and your mistakes. Share them.
You want to leave a legacy? Then leave it. Ears are open all around.
Do you want knowledge? Then ask questions.

I learned a long time ago that a lot of comedians deal with depression and use laughter to cover that up. It was a sad realization to me but then I realized that it’s always been a coping mechanism for me as well. When feeling shy and awkward, I’d tell a joke and people would like me. I learned in junior high (being the outcast / caucasian minority) and in all three of my high schools that I could fit in better if I just made people laugh. It helped to have a crazy, funny, out-going dad and 3 crazy brothers. Laughter is what overwhelmed our meals and scarce family times. But music and laughter have been an integral part of me sustaining this life.

However, I’m finding that I seriously have an addiction to laughter. Oh sure, there are the times when I’d rather silently sit and study the world and people around me. But, for the most part, I find life so much easier to handle if laughter if sought out and shared.

I spent an entire weekend, laughing more than I have in years. I forgot how freeing and energizing it was to laugh.

I also notice that I’ve lost some inches around my waist. Oh yeah! There just aren’t enough, so, look out diet books!

I’m writing a new one: “Tell a Joke + Hear a Joke= Lose weight!”

Oh, which reminds me, Jase and I created an amazing book within the last couple of years. We had this amazing epiphany that when you don’t have money, you don’t eat. So… here is the title and the contents of the entire book:

Lose Weight By Giving Me Your Money

by Jase and Jen Smith

Give us all of your money. It will prevent you from over-eating. Giving us all of your money will also make you feel better because you will be losing weight AND helping the poor, at the same time. The End.

I think it’s pure genius.