Love


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

Besides my life path change in 1996, 2010 was the most defining year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year, things that I never would have believed were true. I learned that I’m judgmental. I learned that I am codependent. I learned that I cared more about trying to control the way people view me, rather than how I was treating my husband and my children. I learned that I cared much more deeply about the opinions of strangers and acquaintances than I did those that truly love me. I painfully learned that there are people that will judge me and dislike me, no matter how much I try to win their praise and adoration. I learned that I don’t need anyone’s praise or adoration. I learned that volunteering, at least at this point in time, in the children’s ministry and youth ministry caused me to be much too distant from my own flesh and blood. I’ve learned that what I do, does not define who I am. I learned that there are lots of people that I considered a friend that actively try to avoid / ignore me, rather than speak truth into my life. I’ve learned that I’m ok without their friendship, without their approval, without their false smile. I’ve learned that I’ve lived most of my life envying the accomplishments of many people. I learned that I froze in that envy, preventing me from pursuing my own dreams and changing my life for the better. I’ve learned that I can find value in my life without feeling like people “need” me. I’ve learned to (finally / really) start taking care of my mental and physical well-being and to keep it consistent.

I’m learning to be more like the moon. Reflecting the sun, rather than trying to be the sun.

It’s a long and difficult road, but I’m also learning how to keep my heart and mind clean because I want it to make a difference in the lives of those that I care about the most.

“First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

Confidence is a tricky thing. If you have too much, you’re arrogant and annoying and if you don’t have enough, you’re self-deprecating and annoying. The line in-between is thin and tough to find but I think I’m beginning to recognize it. I’ve wanted to swing as far away from arrogance, as possible, but it has left me constantly beating myself up and never being “good enough.” My *lip service* has always been that I’m good, just as I am, and people should be happy with that. I should be happy with that. But my counter-actions and feelings were a LOT stronger than those words. In everything I do; as a mom, a wife, a friend, a mentor, a daughter, a sister, and a singer, it’s never been good enough for me. Conversations could have improved, time spent with a teenager or my children or my husband could have been increased, singing a certain part could have been different and better, my house could look nicer. I was never happy with my end results. The more self-deprecating I was, the more withdrawn I became and the more off-key (vocally/emotionally/spiritually) I was. In everything I did and with everything I was, I was discontent and it’s a very depressing state of mind.

In the last several weeks, though, I’ve realized that this state of mind existed because I was placing my worth on my own unrealistic expectations. By doing that, I wasn’t allowing God to just *be* in/with/through me.

It’s a tough path to stay on but I’ve got a bounce back in my step and my shoulders are settling back a little more firmly and my head is lifting a lot higher. I’m feeling a new and strange sense of confidence that I’ve never had before and it’s exhilarating. I’m learning to tell the difference between confidence and arrogance and it’s such a freeing place to be. I’m learning how to give everything my all and then give it over to God and not dwell on it. No matter the outcome.

I’m not naive but I have a feeling that the episodes of beating myself up will slowly disappear, because I’ve already seen and felt a difference in the last few weeks.

So, there it is, I’m a change in progress and I’m gonna try and stop being so pathetic. 🙂

Written on 5/17/2010:

The last few months have been a blur. Busy, busy, busy. I’ve been in a really good mental and spiritual place and have even started getting into a routine to get into physical shape. Finally. My genes have allowed me to be lazy. I’m tall and (for the most part) slim and that has made it really easy for me to splurge with junk food and become nearly non-active. I’ve realized that it’s also contributed to my mental state and fatigue as well. Duh. 🙂 So, I’m starting slow with walking for 45-60 minutes, several times a week, and merging a couple of minutes of running in there. My goal is to be able to run (at least!) a half marathon one day. Writing that out made my stomach drop because I can barely run two blocks without feeling like I’m dying/hyperventilating.

Now, when I say I’ve been in a really good mental/spiritual place lately, it doesn’t mean that every day has been amazing and perfect. It means that my outlook on life; my comfortability with who I am and where I am in life, has been steadily accelerating to a healthy and positive place.

I got back, yesterday, from a weekend trip to the mountains, with other women from my church. In anxiety and fear, I almost decided not to go. Being at a church event, a “retreat” with 400 women that I don’t know, doesn’t necessarily cause me to jump for joy. I always feel transported back to junior high at these type of events. Consumed with feelings of inadequacy, awkwardness and embarrassment. Thankfully, God is placing people in my life that care enough about me to take my “no” and shove it back in my face. With love, of course. 🙂

I learned two things on this weekend trip. One, what people say about me is NOT a reflection of who I am, it’s a reflection of who THEY are. I needed to hear that SO bad. I am, and always have been, a people-pleaser. To the point that I am never “good enough” because I am always striving for the perfection in other’s eyes. The second thing that I learned is that an ipod, Truth through music, my voice, a snowstorm and a snow-covered valley at the top of a mountain can be more redeeming for a soul than anything I’ve ever imagined.

Written on 5/10/2010:

Jase, the kids and I had a perfect day yesterday, for Mother’s Day. We left our house around 1030am, to go on an extended walk, and returned 6 hours later! There were so many laughs and admirations for nature (and for each other) as we ventured to the park and enjoyed snacks, ate lunch at a nauseatingly-hot fast food establishment, and laughed/got freaked out by different animal parts/sea creatures in an asian market before stumbling on some delicious candy. We got the kids to try new things with mocha coconut Boba Tea (a favorite of mine and Jase’s) and found LOTS of books to borrow from the library. The two mile walk back home was rewarded with a strawberry shortcake dinner and reading two chapters of our new library book, The Secret Garden. Really it was a perfect day. The kids would complain every now and then as they got tired or overwhelmed with carrying their stack of books back home, from the library but I might just claim yesterday as my favorite Mother’s Day ever. The weather was even great. Sunny and cooled off by a gracious breeze. The day was so beautiful.

So why am I stuck in a rut again today? Why have I been feeling like this for months? I don’t want to put away that last load of clothes or clear the piles of paper off of the kitchen counter. I don’t want to vacuum up the floor or clean the toilets. I wonder about what I’m doing in life and where I’m spending my time and whether or not the things that consume my mind and my time are worth it.  Jase and I watched a movie last night. The movie was a live-taping of a comedian and really funny, I was even cry-laughing at some points, but I almost threw up when the sexual jokes started. I hate that I’m affected, negatively, by that. I hate that it affects the way I feel about myself, my body, and my trust in Jase. I hate that I can’t just laugh those things off or at least overlook them, unaffected.

Life, at the moment, is beautiful and tragic. It’s exhilarating, yet, in stasis.

I feel like I’m constantly switching from joyful and satisfied with life, to depressed and feeling as if my life has no purpose, no meaning. I feel worthless and unable to do anything right. At the moment, I question the time I spend mentoring teenagers and with one of the things that seems to sustain me: singing. I wonder if the passion and love I have for people means anything, does anything, helps at all. I’m having severe issues with trusting people and their words of affirmation and love. I’m severely dissatisfied with my health and my physical shape.

People have really been affecting me, negatively, lately. I sang, at church, a couple of weekends ago and I’m having a hard time letting go of some looks and smirks that seemed to be directed at me.

I’ve been doubting a lot of things lately… the love people have for me, the positive qualities I thought I once had, the difference that I make…

I’m fighting. Fighting back hard.

Days like yesterday continue to sustain me. However, these ruts/attacks, though few and far-between, are tough.

My last blog entry had me looking forward to helping out with the Downtown Rescue Mission again. Well, fear got in the way of that and I never went back. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

I was preparing to help my friend that night and, on a whim, I decided to reread the story of my childhood/teenage years, my testimony. I wrote it out, years ago, but some sort of curiosity took over and I read it, just hours before I was supposed to leave. That was a major mistake and it sent me into a downward spiral. Reading about being in numerous, frightening positions and being taken advantage of many times, made me feel stupid for preparing to put myself in a situation where, once again, I’d be in a room where the men to women ratio and the drug-free to on-drugs ratio was desperately uneven. Reading about those bad times and feeling like they had all happened yesterday, caused me to completely freeze up. I tried to fight off the fear but it only intensified. I tried to rationalize and it only retaliated, stronger and more convincing.

I was terrified and it enflamed me. I was crushed. I felt defeated. I felt like I was taking two steps backward from the healing and recovery that I felt I had just gone through.

Two weeks prior, I felt on top of the world with conquering a fear and feeling like I would never look back or take a step back and here I was, trembling with the possibility that I was about to make the stupidest decision to go help people. This fear got my mind racing at the endless possibility of having anxiety take over, preventing me from doing just about everything. Where would it stop? What would trigger this fear? How many situations will I put myself in, in the future, and then realize that I feel vulnerable and trapped and want out? It was in this moment of sheer terror that I was grateful (and pissed off that I was grateful) that I never went to Afghanistan. I can’t imagine having this fear and anxiety overtake me as I’m halfway across the world from everything that makes me feel safe.

This situation also got me learning much more about myself. I’m learning that I have boundaries. I can’t stand knowing that I have them but this has to be some sort of positive step in realizing this about myself. It’s caused me to figure out what frightened me about going back to the Rescue Mission and what situations, in the future, might cause this fear to rise.

I feel as though there’s a fine line with knowing too much about people and not knowing enough. I know that people can be cruel and that sometimes a certain type of person is more prone to cruelty than others. Obviously I can’t see their heart, so I discriminate toward the people that remind me of those that have harmed me. The lack of knowledge about people can easily be replaced by fear while having knowledge about people can instill fear as well. How do I combat this? It seems like a neverending cycle… At various points in my life this fear will cause me to freeze and hide, tremble and cower. What I’m learning is that the antonym of my fear is faith and hope. I can have all the love in the world but, in fear, that love is worthless. Without faith and hope, I would continually sit in my house and ponder the end of everything good.

While learning the boundaries of my emotional well-being, I’m also discovering what it takes to push past those boundaries. I’m learning what I’m prepared to conquer and what may still take time to overcome. There may be things in my life that I will never be able to do because fear is gripping so tight. There may be things I never would have dreamed to prevail over and I may effortlessly triumph. For now, I’m grateful to be learning more about what I can and can’t handle and I’m grateful to learn more about what faith in God actually means.

I’ve been treading water, keeping my head above drowning, for my entire life. Specifically, desperately, in the last year. I’m just now realizing that I’ve done nothing to bring me closer to shore, to where I want to be. I’ve completely worn myself out, staying in the same place. In faith, in action, I must press on. Beyond the boundary.

I have a huge heart for people that are hurting. Sometimes, I have more empathy than I can handle. The things I’ve seen in my life have filtered my love, though. Sadly, to the point of cynicism and mistrust in some cases.

Take last night, for example. My friend signed up to serve a meal at the Downtown Denver Rescue Mission and asked for some volunteers to go with her. Of course, given my love for people and serving others, I jumped at the chance. Concern began on the drive down there, wondering what I’d do with my purse. I couldn’t bring it with me. It’s a temptation to some of *them*. What would I do, hide it somewhere to be found or keep it on me to be stolen and traded for crack? (I mean, I should know… when I was a teenage runaway, living on the streets and smoking crack, I did the same thing with someone’s stolen purse and someone’s stolen wallet.) The other ladies I was with, were going to put their purses in the trunk. In my mind, that’s perfect for any schemers to see, plan and steal. So, I shoved mine under the driver’s seat. If someone was planning to break into the trunk and grab the purses, they’d most likely not be searching the rest of the car. (Grab and go.) So began my fear and anxiety. Walking toward the Rescue Mission, my reconnaissance mentality kicked on, making sure to have a clear head and my surroundings in check. After signing in, we walked downstairs and as soon as that door swung open and I had a view of faces, it flipped on. As if it was second nature and without a flinch, I removed my wedding ring, casually pushed it into my pocket and (knowing I was now “available”) I moved the ring from my right index finger onto my left ring finger. Not a flinch or facial expression. Dear God. That mentality was as crystal clear as if it was all yesterday. For the rest of the night, I wasn’t my usual self. No joking around, nearly no laughter. I kept eye contact to a minimum and if necessary, extremely quick and unemotional. I was in survival mode and I’m sure it showed. But I didn’t give a shit. I came there to do a job. A job I was still very determined to fulfill and very grateful being given an opportunity to help others even if I was surrounded by 80 homeless men, most likely all with mental issues and drug addictions. I wasn’t there to make any friends. The girl I came with was laughing and carrying conversations with some of the guys and I couldn’t help but look at her with sympathy. She had no idea that she was most likely a game to them. The *easiest* women were the targets, the first victims. I know this from experience. Could every single homeless man that we served last night, all 80 of them, be innocent, tame and pure in heart? Sure, it’s a possibility. But I’ve *lived* what homelessness and drugs can do to a human being. Knowing what I know, I wasn’t about to let my guard down until we were back in the car and on the way back home.

I accomplished my tasks with fervor and effectiveness. I slightly smiled and gave lots of “you’re welcome” and “thank you” responses. But last night taught me how much my past is still with me. When we left the building, there were people smoking crack about 50 feet from me. It was a very strange feeling to want to run away from them as fast and as far as possible BUT I also wanted to walk up to them and just chill out and hear their stories and show them that joy and peace was possible, without drugs.

Fear and love/passion do strange things to the human heart. I feel like I overcame something last night. Something I never knew existed. I’m hoping that the more I serve in this environment, the more trust I’ll gain to replace my fear. I’ll be back to do this again in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait.

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!!

I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genious, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplex and perfect God’s creativity graces us with it’s presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

At church this past Sunday, the pastor asked us about the voices we were listening to when it comes to what we believe about ourselves. It got me thinking that it would be interesting and probably helpful/healing to see the list written out. This is completely transparent, awkward to share and I know some would immediately say, “No way! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful!” However, I’ve heard it before. But I know me and the thoughts that I have, the opinion of who I am is louder. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the compliments and encouragement. It’s just that if I place my worth in those opinions, then what about the other opinionated people who think the opposite? Which person/voice should I be listening to in finding my value?

I don’t trust people very easily. The trust I have when people share “truth” about me is completely non-existent with strangers, doubtful with casual friends, falters with close friends, semi-existent with family and not nearly as strong as I want it to be with, Jase, the closest earthly person to me. These “voices” are in my head, which I trust over every other person, most of the time.

Some days, I feel the entire list on my shoulders. Some days, I only feel part of this list. Sometimes it’s whispered. Sometimes it’s screaming.

1. I’m ugly.

2. I’m weak.

3. My skin isn’t flawless.

4. I’m a failure.

5. I don’t exercise enough.

6. Without a college degree, I’m not valued, my opinions don’t matter.

7. My stomach isn’t flat enough.

8. I’ve got ugly stretch marks.

9. My chest is too small.

10. My stomach is flabby.

11. I don’t look good without make-up.

12. I’m not a good mom.

13. I’m not a good wife.

14. No one should like me.

15. I don’t deserve a loving husband.

16. My hands are ugly.

17. The veins behind my ears are hideous.

18. My nose isn’t shaped right.

19. My hair is ugly.

20. I weigh too much.

21. My chin is crooked.

22. My toes are ugly.

23. My eyebrows aren’t full enough.

24. No one cares about my opinion.

25. I’m alone.

26. I have no worth.

27. I’m too old.

28. I should be making money.

29. I’m used goods.

30. My past is what defines me.

31. I am not unique/original. I am a copy.

32. I’m not loving enough.

33. I am being used.

34. I am being talked about.

35. My singing is worthless.

36. My future will be short.

37. I will be victimized again.

38. My children will be victimized.

39. My husband doesn’t love me.

40. I’ve got nothing to offer.

MOST OF THE TIME, I tell this list to go to hell, from whence it came. Sometimes, I let this list linger on my mind, for too long.

Although, EVERY time this list comes to mind, I eventually end up clinging to the fact that I am loved. That I am unconditionally loved. No strings attached, I am loved for who I am, who I was and who I will be. Regardless of what I look like, what I do, don’t do: I am loved just as I am.

That voice is the sweetest of them all.

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