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Leaving Home

I’m sorry, but I must leave you now. We’ve been through so much together, seen so much. I’ve come to know you intimately as you’ve repeatedly come into my life coupled with the words “I love you”.

Hurt has become home somewhere along the way and I don’t know what it might be like to live without you. Yes, it hurts to hurt, but it also hurts not to. You are a familiar comfort, even as you attempt to prod my soul to seek better things.

So I must say goodbye. Because even as your pain reminds me I’m alive, I realize that leaving you is a wild adventure, full of the unknown. And I don’t care. I’m finally letting go.

I must say goodbye. Because the years in your shade are over and I’m ready to turn my face to the sun. As I wander into this wilderness, I trust that I will find respite from your constant chill.

I must say goodbye. I’m falling in love with a life free from you, a life without you in it. I’m giving up on you. For so long, you’ve been my security, walking in each time another walked out. But I can no longer live with you whispering that it is better to break my own heart than to risk the idea of possibly falling apart.

I’m saying goodbye because I deserve to love myself better, to understand myself more. It’s time for me to fight my demons, to choose myself and create a new, brave heart. I will lead me into battle against the army of my insecurities and I will fight until the walls of self-doubt crumble.

Farewell my beautiful home of hurt. You have served me well for a time, but I am choosing to start anew, with more of me… and far less of you.

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The Ocean at Dawn

The Ocean at dawn. The autumn leaves on a winding road. A majestic sunset. The end of an incredible book. Moments that take our breath away and bring tears to our eyes.

The yearning for it to last forever and the desire to linger, to wait, to soak in as much as we possibly can. It is so powerful, so sharp, so deep that it peirces every fiber of our body with longing. We want more. It reminds us that there has to be more. Maybe somewhere is life, exactly as it should be. It makes us ponder a paradise that we have never known, but somehow our hearts were created for.

And then it is gone, with only the longing left behind. And we pour contempt on our fragile hearts for wanting more, for wanting something transcendent and unexplainable. We deny ourselves the grand adventure, deny the dreams that were birthed with us.

We settle.

We convince ourselves that the desires so deep in our hearts were meant for the people who have their shit together. Not someone like us, with all our failings. Fear comes in like a wet blanket and smothers the fiery passion that forms the very nature of who we are.

And then, beauty draws us back, reminding us that it is worth pursuing, worth fighting for. Beauty is the core of our humanity. That is why we see it, we feel it, we bask in it, we NEED it.

And slowly it sinks in, little by little as our souls awaken. So often, it is harder to fight for ourselves than for anyone else. But it is imperative that we do so. We have become so accustomed to evaluating everyone and everything on their usefulness, on what they can DO…

But we repeatedly fail to realize that beauty is in the being. And that beauty, in and of itself, is a great and glorious good. We desperately need beauty in large, daily doses to bring us back to the reality that anything is possible, and that there is always something more, something bigger.

We need it to awaken our dreams and desires – not the shallow dreams of getting or attaining things- the dreams of wholly and fully embracing who we are. We can’t love with a whole heart if our heart is asleep. And beauty allows us to feel, to risk waking up, to risk wanting and desiring. It can make us whole if we allow it.

So, my dear friend, if you’re reading this, take a moment to embrace the beauty surrounding you, the beauty that is you, and accept that you were made for a great and glorious purpose and YOU are so loved.

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Still finding my ten.

Today’s gratitude moments were harder to come by…

Moments fraught with “how is this going to work?” and “am I making the right choice?” seemed far more common today.

Today was hard and messy. Today felt like failing more than anything. Today made me realize how much I don’t “have my shit together”. Today hurt. Basically from the moment I opened my eyes.

But even in the hard, messy moments, there was a certain beauty, a certain glory.

Standing up for myself was a positive moment. It wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t advocate for myself because my voice was weak. Today, I made sure my voice was heard.

Being honest with myself felt good. Sometimes I tend to fool myself into believing things are more than what is true. Getting a gut check this morning hurt a bit, but allowing myself to accept that raw hurt was a growth opportunity like no other.

Making a plan felt good. I started this morning with a few obstacles to overcome. Distraught and frantic, just hoping I could put it all together… Nothing a few goals and a plan can’t fix. At least I feel like I have the beginning of a path hewn now.

Changing direction felt good. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I’ve been doing that with my health journey for TWO YEARS now. It’s about time to remove the insanity from my world.

Realizing that no one else’s opinion truly, actually matters… That felt really good. So often I’m tempted to make decisions based on what other people might think or say… I try not to succumb to that often, but I do. I am human, after all. Today, just in one small area, I was able to take that risk and decide that I matter more.

Being honest with my friend felt good. Admitting that I was struggling, that things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Its easier to let people believe my life is all peaches and cream, but sometimes it just isn’t. Honestly let’s people support you. Honesty means they feel safe too. Honesty is always the best policy.

Trusting someone with my kids felt good. Knowing I have people in my life that will come through for me in a pinch is amazing. My people are amazing.

Teaching my boy about responsibility… Well, that didn’t feel good, but it was certainly necessary. Hard lessons are (hopefully) lessons well learned.

Having my girl volunteer to do laundry made me think maybe things were okay after all. Her empathetic side was showing, and I feel in love with it.

Being actively creative with no thought of results was beautiful. Being able to share that with both of my kids was priceless.

So, yes, although today was challenging, rising to the occasion certainly felt good.

And as Jaylah said ” Mom, this was the best weekend ever! No one else can say their mom caught on fire!”

So, I got that going for me. 🙂

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Ten minutes

One. Her diving into my bed head first, “Good morning mom!”

Two. “I don’t trust myself to crack the eggs. Can you just show me again?”

Three. Puppet shows with new friends just because.

Four. Him laughing, gut deep, unable to contain himself.

Five. Painting her hair pink because I can and it makes her so happy.

Six. “I made you a card because I love you so much”

Seven. Reading to them as they rest their heads on my shoulders, my fingers running through their hair.

Eight. Tickle wars that never end, but continue night after night. Our little tradition.

Nine. Laughing with and learning about some incredible ladies.

Ten. Slipping into fresh washed bedding and staring at the flames while listening to the rain pound down outside.

It was a good day.

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This is my church.

The smell of fresh-washed earth fills my nostrils, soft breezes caressing my cheek, chilly air electric with the anticipation of a new season.

The gray sky kisses the dark limbs of the tree branches where golden leaves are falling and leaving barren bones.

Muddy hearts meld as we talk long and deep. Heart meets hurts, hard meets soft and we become a glorious mess in the moment.

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Children’s chatter surrounds me, laughing loud and mixed with the sound of rustling trees and rushing creek water.

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Stilettos come off and my toes sink into the mud as the long grass dances around me.

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“Mama! Hold me!” I reach down and realize, THIS is where I belong, where I find God. This is my church.

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I imagine it’s me

I open the door, hoping that all the things I’ve heard are lies.

The creak is muffled by the sounds of sobbing. Some softly crying, some wailing, some frozen in fear, immobile and unable to understand what it happening.

“Mami! Papa!”

Repeatedly, those two words ring through my head. Different voices, different children. The same two important words.

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I imagine the pain it would take to drive me to risk this. I imagine the gangs, the violence, the hunger. I imagine debating in my head and on paper whether the risk was worth the potential reward. I imaging how terrible my life must be if I determine that is the case.

I imagine a situation where I was willing to risk their lives and mine to escape. A situation where I wanted a better life, but found myself torn from them, imprisoned and hoping for their safety.

I imagine Jaylah, 6 years old, not knowing where I was, not knowing why she was in trouble, cold and hungry and confused. I imagine her walking up to one of the adults, reaching up, needing a hug and being told that they are not allowed to touch her. I imagine her crying, scared and vulnerable.

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I imagine Jay… At 10 years old, I would most likely have told him why we were fleeing. I would have made it clear to him that this was dangerous, but it was far more dangerous to stay. He would be feeling responsible, like it was all his fault, snapping at his sister, angry that he could not protect her. He would be angry with me too. For putting him in this situation, for tearing our family apart. He would be devastated and trying to hold it all together like a little adult while his heart was tearing into pieces.

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I imagine the moment they are torn from my arms. “Mom! Mom! Where are you going? Why are they taking us? What’s happening, Mom?” I imagine my inability to answer as I am being detained.

And my heart breaks.

Yes, I have heard the defenses. Bill Clinton started it. (Are we 5 years old?) They are illegal, they shouldn’t have put their child in harm’s way (Maybe they ONLY had the choice between one harm or another). If a parent in the US commits a crime, they are separated from their children (but the government does absolutely everything in their power to keep that family together). They made a choice (which you couldn’t possibly imagine with all your privileges) .

Tell me anything you want to attempt to defend yourself and I will go back to this one question:

When did we lose our sense of humanity?

If you have a heart, weep for the children and parents.
If you do not have a heart, at least weep for the empty in your future.

I read that recently and thought it was a perfect depiction of where we are right now.

This is not a political issue, my friends. This is a heart issue. And this is NOT what the Jesus I know would have wanted.

No matter what your beliefs, no matter what your political affiliation, no matter what has happened in your life, I feel that in your heart, you KNOW the right thing. You know because you are a part of humanity.

 

“it is the obligation of every person born in a safer room

to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”

— Dina Nayeri

 

But for all those who believe the Bible, I have a bit more of a treat for you. Since the administration continues to use scripture out of context to defend the situation at the border, I thought I would share a little about the Bible I read. Pardon the sarcasm, but I am angry. Angry and heartbroken. And I think people need to hear truth.

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We call Abraham the Father of our Faith, somehow forgetting that he had to flee famine and poverty.

Moses was a refugee TWICE. Once for committing a crime in defense of his people, once when he was helping his people escape slavery and domination.

I look at the scriptures and I realize that Obed would be crying for his mama, his grandma. The story of Ruth would never have existed without the refugee status of Naomi.

Esther is upheld as a beautiful and strong woman, but we forget that she was a refugee, forced into her situation.

We love to hear the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, but neglect the part that God was with them even though they were displaced.

There would be nothing after Bethlehem because the refugees Joseph and Mary would not have been allowed to stray with their baby Jesus.

But let’s say that ONE refugee is okay (He is Jesus after all).

That still leaves us with no Peter. He fled due to religious persecution.

There would be no Aquila and Priscilla to take care of Paul as he traveled because they were forced to leave Rome for the color of their skin.

 

Oh wait, the stories aren’t enough… You want to know what the Scripture SAYS?

Okay, here are some verses for you to ponder.

“The LORD appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, “My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on—seeing that you have come your servant’s way.” They replied, “Do as you have said.” Gen. 18:1-5

“Hey Refugees/Foreigners/People I don’t know, please let me serve and help you! WTF kinda life is that? We need to take care of our own first!”

“The two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to greet them and, bowing low with his face to the ground, he said, “Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house to spend the night, and bathe your feet; then you may be on your way early.” But they said, “No, we will spend the night in the square.” But he urged them strongly, so they turned his way and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. They had not yet lain down, when the townspeople, the men of Sodom, young and old—all the people to the last man—gathered about the house. And they shouted to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may be intimate with them.” Gen. 19:1-5

“He made them some food and let them sleep at his house?!?! He didn’t even know these people. I mean, they could have been criminals.”

There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you. Exodus 12:49

You should treat people the same whether they are a citizen or a refugee? Surely that is not in the Bible.

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan. If you do mistreat them, I will heed their outcry as soon as they cry out to Me, and My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and your own wives shall become widows and your children orphans. Exodus 22:20-23

God says if you mistreat strangers, widows, orphans, he will be pissed. And bad things happen when God gets blazing angry! But, obviously, he favors us, so we can do whatever we want to people that aren’t like us.

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 23:9

Just in case you didn’t hear it the last few times. Don’t be mean to the people who flee to your country, because at some point in your ancestry, your family was fleeing something.

You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 19:10

“Wait, what?!? We are supposed to leave food or jobs or good things for people who are poor and foreign? That’s ridiculous.”

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

“Maybe if we avoid the fact that the word stranger is used the way we use refugee, we could ignore this, right?!?!”

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 23:22

“Crap, here it is AGAIN. But the Bible has to say things a few times in order for that to be what I follow. Two isn’t enough.”

If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority, and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live by your side. Leviticus 25:35.

“I’m running out of excuses on this.”

I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, “Hear out your fellow men, and decide justly between any man and a fellow Israelite or a stranger. Deut. 1:16

“Wait, we are even supposed to treat them fairly in court?”.

…but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing.—You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:18-19

“Whatever, using that powerful word ‘must’ to try to convey the importance… Oh wait, it an even stronger word in the original text… but let’s just ignore that.”

 

You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your kinsman. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land. Deut. 23:8

“Oh wait, even the people who treated us badly years and years ago?”

You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him. Deut. 23:16-17

“This is too much.” For real though… I think I have proven my point to some extent. But if not, here are a few more.

Cursed be he who subverts the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.—And all the people shall say, Amen. Deut. 27:19

Or if a foreigner who is not of Your people Israel comes from a distant land for the sake of Your name—for they shall hear about Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes to pray toward this House, oh, hear in Your heavenly abode and grant all that the foreigner asks You for. Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built. I Kings 8:41-43

Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; Aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; Defend the cause of the widow. Isaiah 1:17

No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, And untie the cords of the yoke. To let the oppressed go free; To break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, And to take the wretched poor into your home; When you see the naked, to clothe him, And not to ignore your own kin. Isaiah 58:6-7

No, if you really mend your ways and your actions; if you execute justice between one man and another; if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place; if you do not follow other gods, to your own hurt—then only will I let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers for all time. Jeremiah 7:5-7

Thus said the LORD: Do what is just and right; rescue from the defrauder him who is robbed; do not wrong the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow; commit no lawless act, and do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

Fathers and mothers have been humiliated within you; strangers have been cheated in your midst; orphans and widows have been wronged within you. Ezekiel 22:7

And the people of the land have practiced fraud and committed robbery; they have wronged the poor and needy, have defrauded the stranger without redress. Ezekiel 22:29

But [first] I will step forward to contend against you, and I will act as a relentless accuser against those who have no fear of Me: Who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, and who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the LORD of Hosts. Malachi 3:5

No sojourner spent the night in the open; I opened my doors to the road. Job 31:32

Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another. Zechariah 7:9-10

The LORD watches over the stranger; He gives courage to the orphan and widow, but makes the path of the wicked tortuous. Psalms 146:9

Here are some ways to help:

 

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) – https://m.facebook.com/donate/490507544717085/

The Texas Civil Rights Project is looking for people who can speak Spanish to translate for families as well as volunteers to assist with the legal intake process. Here’s their website: https://texascivilrightsproject.org

The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) tries to “prevent wrongful deportations by connecting refugee families to community support and emergency legal aid.” They’re currently looking for donations, volunteer attorneys, and interpreters. You can find them at: https://asylumadvocacy.org

The Florence Project and Refugee Rights Project provides free social and legal services to immigrants being detained in Arizona. They’re looking for donations and lawyers willing to take cases pro bono. You can visit them at: https://firrp.org

And finally, sign petitions. All of us can do this and it doesn’t cost a thing. Petitions allow us to make our collective voice heard by politicians as well as asylum seekers and other people living in fear of their families being torn apart by ICE.  Here are just a few that you can add your voice to.

https://action.aclu.org/petition/separating-families

https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-secretary-nielsen?source=da

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-family-separation

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/no_family_separation

https://www.dailykos.com/campaigns/petitions/add-your-name-to-dhs-secretary-nielsen-stop-separating-migrant-families-at-the-borde

 

 

 

 

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