Spiritual

How to Cook Up a Batch Religious Deconstruction (recipe for re-construction included)

Just like Grandma Used to Make (I’m kidding)

BY: JANA GREENE

Recipe for Spiritual Reconstruction:

Take one lifetime of Old Time Religion. Stir in two cups of Fear-Based Theology. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp of unintentional judginess, three tbsp of Obviously I’m Right, work through dough. Add additional The Bible CLEARLY Says! to taste.

While religious “dough” is trying to rise, but just kind of petering out, prepare in a shofar – I mean BOWL:

Two cups each of Chronic Pain and Debilitating Illness powder that has been sifted through a “name it and claim it” sieve for 40 years, but it’s still lumpy.

Add 4 tbsp frustration, and a dash of Must Not Be Worthy of Healing. Stir in a packet of What Will My Fundamentalist Friends Think. Cry about this step for approximately three more years.

Check ingredients in first bowl to make sure dough is indeed rising. But nope. It’s just sitting there in a big glop.

In yet another bowl, add one adult child who has come out as bisexual, which was NOT in the original recipe, so sayeth the Expectations Set Forth by the Church. Add a smidge of What Will My Fundamentalist Friends Think (if you have any left, which is doubtful. We go through it like gangbusters around here!)

Decide to add many dollups of Mother Love anyway (heck, dump in however much you have,) and set the kitchen timer to two more years on the “acceptance” setting. This is a wet ingredient, so thinning it out will just make it easier to spread. Use liberally.

Open up the pantry and see what else you have that might somehow make it more palatable.

Aww, shucks. All you have is a Costco-sized box a bag of Everything Else Life Can Throw At You. That stuff is SPICY. Always check the label…let’s see…it contains Mental Health Challenges, Losing Mobility, Family Estrangements, Crippling Anxiety, Bouts of Financial Struggle, Alcoholism, Codependency, Childhood Trauma, and 1000 grams of pure Shame Concentrate.

Going back to the bowl, taste the batter. See that it is bad. Mix all ingredients. See that it is WORSE.

While waiting for the timer, it’s important to assume that the Master Chef is angry and frustrated with you. Kind of like an astral Gordon Ramsey or something.

Assure yourself the whole Universe is against you, as is everyone you know and love who is following directions from a 2,000 year old book of recipes that several hundred fallible human people contributed to. Kind of like Gramma’s recipe box that had a hundred food-stained index recipe cards from her friends shoved into between the pages. Make sure to take everything out of context for best results.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and when timer sounds, decide on how much savory Self-Doubt to use. Seasonings come in “I’m a Worthless Sinner,” and “Searing Disappointment” flavors.

Ask yourself WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Am I just a shitty cook, or so I just have so few ingredients to work with, I’m having a hard time accepting the result?

And what if I’ve been forgetting the Main Ingredient all along?

Next (scary) step:

Decide you’re tired of fear-based faith, dust off your hands, open your heart, ask the Universe to help you see what is Truth, battle-weary, heavy-hearted, and feeling raw inside like dough that won’t rise.

Decide to put all judgement and Christian-ese down the garbage disposal. The Expectations of Other People went bad a long time ago and is really stinking up the place.

Decide to fold Unconditional Love into every single recipe. Never run out! Keep it on the top of every list so you always have enough.

Follow the example set by Jesus always…He is always cooking up something GOOD.

Next, march all three containers used previously out your back door. Gently set down all three, and leave them outside to think about what they’ve done.

Now – this is important – turn off the oven. Nobody is burning on my new watch!

You are not alone, Chef Self.

So join a “cooking” club – one that is comprised of other Seekers with open hearts who want to get at the meat of the Truth, and offer you endless sugar.

Flip the script. Read the instructions anew.

Take one bowl – the most chipped and beat up one you got, and butter it with kindness.

Then invite all your friends over to help you create a masterpiece.

All you will need is:

8 cups HOPE – brimming.
Five tbsp of self-forgiveness.
A heaping scoop of Studying what the Cookbook Really Calls For – reading between the lines.
A tbsp of of Learning to Love Yourself Too will hold it all together when you want to throw in the towel.

And last, but MOST importantly, add All the Jesus You Have, all day every day. All of it. Tip it over and smack the bottom of the box for every molecule of Jesus it’s got. Really pile it in on. Study his ways in the context given, and leave room for Holy Spirit in every dish.

Oh, and tell your friends that All the Jesus is just another measurement of LOVE. Get to know HIS way around the kitchen together.

These few ingredients are all you need, Junior Chef, to mix up a reconstruction of faith for the ages. And keep in mind:

If you feel like you have to keep Fear on hand “just in case,” know that God is not the store where you purchased Fear. That stuff is very in-organic.

If you’re grieving the losses of this hard life, pull up a chair and come sit by me. There is always plenty of room at Christ’s table. And mine. *Pulls out chair and pats the seat in a welcoming invitation.*

If you’re ambling around aimlesssly, your chef hat askew, join me. I’ll be celebrating that I finally understand, “It is for freedom you were set free.”

And if you’re deconstructing your faith, and If you’re being called “deceived,” “fallen” – or (and I’m okay with this one) – “ex-evangelical,” remind yourself that the Word of God is an actual person. As Master Chef, he wants to see you succeed.

And so do I. ❤️

Bon appetit!

Mental Health · Spiritual

The Importance of Having Bootstrap Buddies

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

If you were enticed to read this piece because the title sounds low-key fetishist, move along. I mean, nothing would surprise me anymore. This is no kinky boots I’m talking about…hardy har har.

I’m referring to the oft-quoted, stoic-to-a-fault narrative that when you’re hurting. You know – the old adage: “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps requires you handle it yourself. That’s the whole point of having bootstraps…self-sufficiency. Two little loops are supposed to save you from whatever mayhem you may be facing.

I was thinking about this yesterday because having a pity party is a very lonely experience. It necessitates solitude for proper misery. But as the only attendee, I got pretty sick of myself.

Which is exactly why I texted my dear friend. It was a high-pain day. I had been more or less bed-bound for four days previous. I still am, actually.

My therapist has taught me to consider my “days off” (days when I have no proverbial “spoons” – Google “Spoon Theory…”) as true days of rest. She encourages me to take that time to write, read, even binge watch something to take my mind off of things.

It’s a great idea and it was working great until yesterday. Yesterday was the day I was going to feel better and do better. Except that my body decided NOPE, it wasn’t the day.

The thing about chronic illness is that the world keeps going. You may have the best support circle, and still feel lonely sometimes. I’m losing myself in a days-long pajama binge of watching TikToks and writing mid-grade poetry. Everyone else is out doing All The Things. I’m happy that everyone else is doing All The Things. I just sometimes want to do them too, and resent having this lifestyle “forced” on me.

So rather than sink into a deeper funk, as I said, I finally texted my friend.

I think I said something like, “I’m not doing so well.” And she replied, “Need a hug? I’ll be right over.” This, as it turns out, was the perfect thing to say.

Usually, I rebuff my friends’ offers to come wallow with me. But I was in just the right mood to accept help, I guess.

Usually, I say “No, it’s okay. I’ll be alright.”

Usually, I would honestly rather isolate, because it takes too much mental and emotional energy to engage with another human.

Usually, I don’t reach out at all.

Usually, I pull myself up by my bootstraps (or just kick ’em off and run around barefoot.)

But not yesterday.

I called out to my Bootstrap Buddy and she took time out of doing All The Things in her busy life to come sit with me, hold me, and listen to my blathering about not being able to do All The Things, too.

The origin of the expression “pull yourself up by your bootstratps” is: To improve one’s situation through hard work and self-determination, rather than getting assistance from someone else. But upon researching the beginnings of the term – which seems to have become popular in the turn of the 20th century, it seems it was often made tongue-in-cheek; the idea being that pulling oneself up off the ground by one’s own bootstraps is actually a physical impossibility.

The original verbiage meant to “elevate” oneself. To literally leave the physical ground. It was a smart-ass comment about doing for oneself what is is only possible to do with help.

I don’t always have it in me to put in “hard work” and “self determination.” Sometimes I’m empty. in those times, it cannot be done; although we can fall on our faces trying, blinded by pride.

We all need that one person – or several people – who will get into the muck and mire to help pull our boots up, out of the mud. I’m fortunate to be married to one. But I also have friends willing to hold space for me in that place.

All the self-reliance and pride in the world cannot compete with being held and listened to when we are at a low point. There are times when lifting ourselves is a physical (or mental) impossibility.

Thank you for elevating me, and picking me up off the ground, my precious Buddies.

I’m so very grateful.

Mental Health · Poetry · Spiritual

Eggshells and Elephants

BY: JANA GREENE

I walked on eggshells the other day,

Someone put them there,

People who tend to take offense

Leave them everywhere.

I didn’t want to break their shells,

Though they were in my way,

Gentle footfalls were my intent,

But CRUNCH they went, anyway!

It’s tricky and risky, emotional biz,

To feel like you can’t say a word,

Because someone, somewhere will

Read and misconstrue

Everything they heard.

So keep dropping eggshells,

If you absolutely must,

Let them fall where they may,

If you are still afraid to trust,

But please don’t leave them on the ground,

There’s bigger stomping feet to pound.

The Elephant in the Living Room?

Yeah, he’s still around!

We can’t fix things we won’t talk about,

We can’t deal with what we deny exists,

So sweep those eggshells up off the carpet,

Invite that elephant to sit,

Lets talk about the hard stuff,

And make some headway, Sis.

Spiritual

Single Mamas? You’re Going to be Okay. ❤️

BY: JANA GREENE

Memories

It was 2005. The girls were barely 9 and 12. I had to leave my ex husband. We left nearly everything; I took my kids and the clothes we had on our backs, and just enough belongings – a very small storage unit – to start a new life.

My baby

I left heirlooms and photo albums, boxes of childhood stuff, meaningful – all of it. I went from stay at home mom to working four jobs at once just to feed and house my girls. I had no help of any kind, financially or emotionally.

Hula girl

I worked one of the jobs so that Lexi could take Hula lessons and Ash could pursue her interests. I fed them a lot of chicken nuggets, ramen noodles, and instant mashed potatoes, and happy meals. I myself lived on cigarettes and Diet Coke, and lost 80 pounds in a short amount of time.

I was so frazzled and scared, and had only four years sober at the time. It is by the grace of God I didn’t pick up a drink; I know this because I am not that strong – I had supernatural help.

Purple hair, don’t care


The pics from this time period came up in my memories and punched me in the gut, but almost in a good way. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I have memories of crying myself to sleep, but I also have the best memories of the times represented by these pictures.

Ohana


It was so hard. But those precious girls!
This is one reason my daughters and I are so close. We’ve been through some sh*t together. I wasn’t sure we’d survive it. But we did.

Firstborn


I’m writing this because I have so many friends going through single motherhood.

Mamas, you are doing an awesome %#@&$ job. You’re slaying it.

Even though you worry about your babies constantly.

Even though you feel like you’re missing the mark.

I just want to assure you that you’ll be okay.

You’re a strong-ass woman. You’re slaying it.

And your kids will be so proud of you one day.

God bless us, every one.

Poetry · Spiritual

A Prayer for This New World

Beautiful mural in West Jefferson, NC

By: JANA GREENE

God, we’re hanging on down here

Sometimes by a thread,

Give us this day heaping grace,

With our daily bread.

They say this is the “normal” now,

They say the world’s appalling,

But I still feel your presence

Even through the awkward falling.

Increase our awareness of your hand,

As you daily conquer death.

Help us to see your grand design,

Be our very hope and breath.

I see you in every smile

and on every radiant face,

In every city, state, and land,

In every natural, sacred place.

I see you in the broken,

The hurting and the lost,

I so badly want to be like you,

And love at any cost.

You can’t help but love us

Through all of your creation,

So let us go forth with joy,

And sweet, divine celebration.

The world’s a hot mess

That is true,

There’s no denying the pain,

But help us to live joyfully, God

So the world can know love again.

Blessed be, sweet readers.

ehlers danlos syndrome · Spiritual

Ehlers Danlos – The Syndrome That Kept Everyone Guessing

BY: JANA GREENE

It’s (still) Ehlers Danlos Awareness Month. I thought I would share some interesting things from growing up with it undiagnosed, in letter format, from the prospective of what I know now:

  • Dear Kindergarten-2nd grade teachers: We have been trying to correct the way I hold my pencil for a couple of years now. There’s nothing wrong with my handwriting – I just hold my pencil with pretzel fingers overlapped because that’s what feels natural and comfortable. Please stop trying to make “holding the pencil correctly” happen. It’s never gonna happen.

  • Dear OBs: There’s a reason why I keep going into preterm labor. It’s called “incompetent cervix” and is pretty much what it sounds like. I don’t have enough collagen to stabilize my womb. My babies will come FAST, and with life-threatening complications for me and them. Both of my babies had to be resuscitated at birth and I nearly died, both times. Knowing what was wrong with my body may have helped me have safer pregnancies.

  • Dear PE Teachers (every single last one of you…): I’m not faking the sprains and dislocations. I’m not sure how one would “fake” a dislocation, as you can clearly see my shoulder rolled in an awkward, unnatural position. Nothing like being forced to run the mile on the track when your hip has subluxed out of place! And also….When my mom writes me notes excusing me from PE, it’s because I get injured incredibly easy and I AM IN PAIN. Not “owie” pain….No. We are talking grown-ass man-would-cry PAIN. No, I don’t care about your class, because I dread EVERY morning having to participate in things that hurt me, and hurt me badly. I admit to having a bit of a disdain for PE teachers. Between getting yelled at because of injuries and given “F’s” in class, I’m not a fan.

  • Dear Fitness People: It’s not normal for my heart-rate to go up to 200 on moderate exercise. Being pushed to work harder and go faster is a recipe for disaster. I pass out. Everyone cannot do what you can do.

  • Dear Childhood friends: I cannot hold my fork like you do – it’s not bad manners, I promise. It’s the only way I can keep a grip on my fork.

  • Dear Healthcare workers: Just because you are not familiar with a syndrome or disease doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t profound. That is why me – and those like me – are so determined to spread awareness. People don’t know. People need to know.

  • Dear “Every Doctor I saw before I was 40”: Please do not hastily slap the “fibromyalgia” label on every sick person. While it is a very real thing, other illnesses can masquerade for it – conditions that require treatments. It took me almost 20 years to get a correct diagnosis.

EVERY SINGLE THING I experienced health-wise my whole life makes SENSE since the diagnosis. By the time I met Bob, I was at the END of my rope. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me, and half the doctors insinuated I was just crazy, which adds insult to injury. Please, doctors…PLEASE. Listen to your patients and pay attention to the symptoms.

If I still had no idea what was wrong with me, I don’t know where I’d be, ya’ll.

Because after decades of your shit dislocating and experiencing debilitating fatigue and repeated injuries, stroke-level blood pressure, a crappy immune system that refuses to cooperate consistently, horrible migraines that take you down for days…..you lose hope.

I was absolutely losing hope, and honestly, it made me want to drink. I only came out of this thing with sobriety intact because of the love of my good husband and the care of an incredible doctor.

At least I know what’s happening when I sublux or dislocate, or experience high pain. I am so fortunate to know, so that I know how to best deal with my chronic illness.

I wish the same for every person with a chronic illness.

We deserve no less.

Spiritual

When Mother’s Day is Over, I Celebrate it Still

Nearly fifteen years ago.

By: Jana Greene

To my daughters:

Thank you for making me a mom – it’s been my greatest and most challenging role.

When each of you were first born, you wouldn’t cry on your own. Because of my condition, your births were unsafely fast. Neonatal doctors were called in to resuscitate you, and it was then I had my first taste of sheer terror and first fervent Mama prayer.

Your cries were the sweetest sound.

When you were babies, I nursed you for what may be considered a “long” time, and I wore you in baby slings all the time.

We co-slept because it felt natural – it WAS natural – and I didn’t take one second for granted. “Remember this,” I would say to myself all the time. “Remember the way the nape I’d get neck smells. Remember how she plays with your hair while you’re breastfeeding. Remember these peals of laughter that sound like a thousand angels playing bells.”

When you were in your terrible twos (and then threes,) it became so apparent that you were your OWN people, not extensions of me at all (and boy am I glad of that!)

Peeling you off the floor of the grocery store, where you’d decided to tantrum hard core over God only knows what minor disappointment, I told myself to remember that, too. “Someday, you’ll look back in this and laugh,” I said to me. And without fail, when your tears were dry, you’d crawl up in my lap and say “I love you, Mommy.” And all was right with the world.

In your elementary school years, you were all about learning. Some of our best times were going to museums, and art festivals (and of COURSE cultural fairs!) Witnessing the unfolding of your minds was one of the greatest pleasures of my life. So bright! So eager to learn about the world.

Then you became ‘tweens and Lord have Mercy, Katie bar the door! All of the sudden, my mom confidence plummeted.

I no longer felt like I knew what I was doing at all, but I faked that I did.

You were morphing into beautiful, opinionated beings of light with penchants for drama.

And even in the midst of arguments, I still told myself, “Remember this…” When the squalls passed over, we were all three right as rain again.

These were the years I welcomed my Bonus Daughter, not by birth, but by grand design. I’m grateful. God must really love me or something.

In the blink of an eye, you girls were in high school. My babies not so much babies, but spitfires unafraid to assert themselves and their ideas.

Your ideas were certainly not my ideas, nor my beliefs yours. But oh my God how proud I was that you had that crazy zeal for life, and in your quest to figure it all out, we became actual friends.

There have been many moments of sheer terror in being a parent. And many, many more fervent prayers. And I still try not to take one moment for granted, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

Always my babies, now you are almost 26 and 29.

You’ve given me stretch marks and gray hair, and the greatest joy I’ve ever known.

When we spend time together, there is still a piece of my mama heart whispering, “Remember this.

Remember laughing so hard that we peed a little.

Remember her face when she accomplished that goal that she worked to hard to achieve.

Remember all of the difficult times, but especially remember the beautiful breakthroughs.”

I’m so very proud of you, always.

So, thanks for making me a Mom, my loves.

Spiritual

Motherhood: The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love (much like the Peace Corps, but more permanent)

I think the baby was 20 seconds from a meltdown in this picture, so I fed my kids Happy Meals for the fourth time that week.
We do what we gotta do, Moms!

By: Jana Greene

I’ve been looking through old pics because Mother’s Day makes me melancholy.

Part of it is the necessarily severed relationship with my own mother, and partly because my kids’ childhoods were a time I actually felt competent in a way I haven’t since.

When they were littles:

I could make their food with my body (for 4 1/2 years out of my life between the two of them. I was virtually the Dairy Queen!) It was the purest experience of my life.

I could hit up every library in Raleigh so they didn’t miss one single “Toddler Time” program in town.

I could teach them how to read and to ride their bikes.

I got endless snuggles.

I could wipe every year and kiss every booboo.

I got to choose their friends.

And celebrate their every accomplishment and victory.

But best of all, I got to see the world through their eyes.

And my arms were always full with children.

I figure the picture I’ve chosen for this blog is probably the most accurate candid shot, and utterly relatable to other moms who are willing to say the truth: Parenting is not easy.


All we see on social media is Insta-worthy, misty watercolored perfection. We use filters. We want the world to see how perfect our kids are; how stellar we are parenting.

The problem with that is that they aren’t perfect, and I’m not a perfect mother. (PS…perfection – even filtered – is an illusion.


I remember this picture because my friend was taking pictures at the preschool that morning and she snapped this one. I hated it at first. But now I kind of love it.

A harried, overwhelmed mother of two littles, trying to pick up one child from preschool while running late for the other’s dentist appointment.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself it will all be ok. I wish I could tell this young mom that one day she will be able to handle the chaos and unpredictability without alcohol. I wish I could tell her YOUR BABIES WILL BE OK. They will not escape childhood unscathed. And YOU will not escape it unscathed.

So I’m telling YOU, Mama. Your babies will be okay.

Y’all, what an odd time to be alive. We want to be seen in our best light all the time, and social media has set this expectation in stone.

But here’s the thing, Moms…

You ARE the light.

You’re doing a great job.

I know my kids have some unpleasant memories. After all, you never know what they’ll remember from childhood. They could recall in detail the time Mommy burnt Thanksgiving dinner and lay on the kitchen floor crying in a heap. Or when she yelled at them for the 10th time in a day. They may remember those near-perfect days in Disneyworld when they breakfasted with Snow White and got to pull the sorcerer’s stone out of Merlin’s rock outside the carousel, ride Big Thunder Mountain twice in a row, and eat churros while perusing Epcot.

It’s a crap shoot, really…. the memories they take away.

I still routinely find myself with the expression of the young mother I once was. Life is confounding and overwhelming.

But look what I have in my arms! Having them is having EVERYTHING. Big kids = big problems. But we still all hold on to each other.

I still celebrate all of their accomplishments and victories. I still hug them every chance I get.

I am still seeing the world through their eyes. They teach me as much as I ever taught them.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spiritual

Excuse Me, But Your Bloom is Showing

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

Excuse me, Miss.

But your bloom is showing!

Your insecurities

trampled

By a self-acceptant glowing.

They might not understand you,

They might say you are wrong,

But like a seedling breaking through,

It’s obvious you’re strong.

“You’ve CHANGED!” They’ll say,

“You have no right!”

But I say you have had to fight

For every drop of rain and sun,

And honey, you ain’t even DONE!

Those who used to know you

Will want to calculate your stock,

They’ll tell you that you’ll wither

‘Cause you found soil among the rocks.

Blossom, reach up for Creator,

Absorb that light, and then

Other little seedlings

Will find their bloom again.

Spiritual

Church in the Health Department

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

So tonight, I have wicked bad painsomnia. That’s (obviously) when you are in too much pain to sleep. In the past couple of weeks, I got some bad news, health-wise. It’s been intense. So I decided to share a little story with my readers, because I can’t sleep and maybe you can’t too. Or maybe in this hostile, uber-political, divisive world climate, you need an uplifting human interest story. I know I do.

Last week, I had to get my second Covid vaccine, and had to go two counties over to get it.

The town I went to has a small little Health Department. They take you in a room and give you the shot, and then they take you to another waiting room, where you are required to wait 20 minutes to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. You are shuffled into a large room with other people who are also doing their 20 minutes.

The others were strangers to me, of course. About 10 people total in this space. Two of them were having a “private” conversation behind me ( you couldn’t miss it – they were on the loud side, and it was silent otherwise.) The exchange turned to God, and miracles, and answered prayers.

Where I was sitting, I shot my own hand up to the sky. Just couldn’t help it. I felt the Spirit in the room and it only seemed right to acknowledge it. I don’t know if it was years of Pentecostal churching or what, but I couldn’t control my hands. They just raised. And behind me, a torrent of hollering and praising began, until several ladies joined in.

It was such a beautiful thing. I miss that about corporate worship. Finally, being ever-awkward, I simply stated, “God is GOOD!” To which a glorious, unanimous refrain came from every mouth in the room: “ALL THE TIME. “After a minute solid, the love in that room was palpable.

We were not denominations, or affiliations. Ages and races. Republicans and Democrats. Just a bunch of women with sore arms managing to raise them anyway to give God the glory for low-key miracles and ordinary, answered prayers. And I think that’s what Heaven will be like.

God is good ALL THE TIME. Even when our organs are failing and our hearts are breaking. I’m also convinced that a group of strangers finding out that they are actually “family” and sharing it together in a dingy, gray government building is LOVE.

And isn’t love good ALL THE TIME? I think so. ❤

Spiritual

New Challenges, Renewed Faith, New Me

BY: JANA GREENE

Life is for sharing. That’s my creed.

I’m horrible at holding cards close to my chest. I’m awful at stoically handling things “on my own,” privately. I get on my own nerves with my oversharing tendencies sometimes, but I don’t know any other way to get through this life without sharing experiences and gleaning the hope of others’ experiences.

When I was drinking, I was a closeted everything. I had secrets to keep. Nobody knew any of my business because I was protecting my right to cope the only way I knew how. When I got sober 20 years ago, I had to change my ways. I had to seek out others who were battling the same demons, and we held one another up. I never looked back from that lesson – that in order to live in the light, I must live communally.

So that’s why I’m sharing my life with all of you. I pray something I might say will make you feel less alone. This is particularly important in recovery…staying alcohol-free is not a solitary endeavor. I learn so very much from the people who share their journeys with me, and there’s no way I would have survived my circumstances alone.

So I’m going to be sharing a couple of new facets of my journey with ya’ll, dear readers.

Some of you know that I’ve undergone a faith renovation in the past five years or so; one which came about as a result of my dealing with chronic illness and pain. I’ve done some rigorous soul-searching and come away with my fundamentalism in tatters, but my love for Jesus astounding. So I will still be writing about that aspect and all the feelings, musings, and observations that entails.

But I am very recently having to deal with another pretty tremendous blow, and I need to write about my thoughts and fears don’t become a toxic sludge. I don’t know why sharing helps. It just does.

Without going through the litany of health issues I have – which are legion – the latest news is that my kidneys are failing. Failing. I hate that word….failing.

I feel like I am failing at a number of things lately, so it figures. I cannot undo the permanent damage, but I can possibly keep it from getting worse. There are a number of things that led up to this predicament, namely crazy bad diabetes. But there are several genetic factors contributing as well. It’s kind of a perfect storm.

I am having to change the way I do most everything, especially eat and exercise. Eating is my coping mechanism. Or it was.

It’s all connected. All of the systems in our bodies. Every part affects every other. Our faith walk, as it relates to our physical bodies. Connected.

Just like we are all connected.

So welcome to my raw, gaping wound. In the span of a week since I found out about this latest crisis, I have run the entire acceptance gamut. It’s still sore and upsetting. The only way I know for it to heal is to invite others to join me in making huge changes, venting my frustration, and getting by like I always do; with a little help from my friends.

Okay….maybe a lot of help.

I’ll be writing raw. I’ll be hashing this out with words as I try to figure things out.

If you’ve stuck with me for all these years as a faithful reader, I cannot thank you enough.

God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

When You’re Empty, Hunker Down With God

BY: Jana Greene

It’s the stone-cold middle of the night, or rather the wee hours of the morning. I’ve had a migraine for three days now, you see. It’s making sleep very difficult.

Last week was full of wonders and worries. I received some scary health news and it’s been difficult to digest. It’s given me a fresh excuse to entertain anxiety, and man oh man, am I anxious tonight.

On tap for this evening’s show is General Anxiety, hosted by Exhaustion. Primal Fear makes a cameo as well. Special guests include Low-Simmering Anger, and special guests Frustration and Depression threaten to make an appearance. All from the comfort of my own bed!

No wonder I can’t sleep.

I tell God about my worries. There is much mental hand-wringing and emotional gnashing of teeth. He already knows how I’m feeling but he is patient in listening to my ramblings. To him all my ramblings are valid, because I’m his child.

I would quiet my mind and try to meditate, only to hear the clamor of anxiety approach. I am hearing the far-away cacophony coming closer – all noise and discombobulated chaos. Horns, whistles, drums….all at once. And all on me.

I consider how very much my mental health IS like a one-man band. I’m handling several random instruments at once, playing none of them well, and oy vey! What a racket!

Music, I think to myself. I need music to calm my mind.

So, I popped in my earbuds and started with Tibetan “singing bowls” on Spotify. When I couldn’t get my Zen on with that, I listened to some chill music featuring sounds of nature. You know, like a massage therapist might play to help you relax.

But no. I was too wound to enjoy it.

I know! Georgian chants! My husband got me music at a little monastery outside of Atlanta years ago of monks reciting Georgian chants. Surely that will help get me out of my head and calm the savage migraine beast.

I tried. I gave it a good, long try. But still couldn’t disengage my mind.

So still, I felt yucky. I felt sick from worrying about my family and my health and my diagnosis. And a global pandemic. A world upside down,

“Why aren’t you soothing me, Lord?”

It was an honest question.

But by being with me, he IS soothing me.

I think he wants to BE with me, more than make it al about my obsessions and problems.

I want him to conjure up those pink clouds of blessed assurance. I want to feel delivered. But Instead of having immediate calm and zen fuzzies, I could feel him take my hand and hold it in his, where we sat and sat with each other, quiet as church mice.

And slowly, anti-climactically, I sense a peace come over me. But it’s not the peace of mended bodies, fixed families, answers, or dramatic miracles. Not the kind of peace you get from having crystal-clear resolution.

Nope, it’s a MUCH better peace.

It’s the peace of knowing my God – Creator of the cosmos – will come sit with me in my yuckiness. That’s the place he meets us.

And sometimes that has to be enough.

I can feel the Spirit over the din of the one-man band, and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

No chanting of monks, no singing bowls. Just the absolute assurance he is with me and in me and for me. He wants to sit with me in my funk, and he will lift me up out of it in due time.

You’re not alone either.

I pray God himself will come sit with you in the yuckiness, until that dramatic miracle comes.

God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

Filter Foibles: a hazard of modern mid-life

BY: JANA GREENE

Hi, my name is Jana and I’m addicted to filters.
WHEW! I feel better now.


I often say that filters are the poor girl’s facelift, and it’s true. I love me some filters. It can be good for the self esteem…or is it, really?


Every selfie or picture, I find myself honing in on the smile lines and sun damage, vitiligo, and age spots, and that’s all I see.


All I see is evidence that Father Time is stomping across my face wearing soccer cleats.


Aging is hard, y’all. And the EDS exacerbates it because my collagen is faulty amd mutated, and my skin is stretchy but doesn’t always pop back.

But I’m feeling spry and sassy today. I’m dressed, wearing makeup, and am out of the house. So after filtering the @&$%# out of the first pic, I decided to post one unfiltered next to it, because I earned every laugh line and wrinkle and inch of crepey neck and eyelid.

And while it’s fun to use technology to make ourselves look younger, it shouldn’t make us despair our unfiltered, real image as “women of a certain age.”


We’ve seen some shit and been through a half century of life experience. The tough times didn’t kill us – it made us stronger. And who cares if our faces reflect that?

I do, if I’m honest. But I’m working on self-acceptance.

Just some thoughts this Tuesday morning. ❤️

Spiritual

Boundaries and Boomerangs: A Few Thoughts on Codependency

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

One of my friends recently said something offhandedly that punched me right in the gut.

“I’m only as happy as my least happy child,” she waxed. Never before has anyone said something more relatable to me.

We live in strange times. Times that can either amp our codependency behaviors, or challenge us to fortify them.

Nobody tells you this, but lean in real close… the age of eighteen is not the “magic” age when your kids get their shit together. I don’t know who the hell came up with that number, but its arbitrary as all get-out. We are here for our kids no matter what their ages.

Children boomerang back. Mine is 28. Two out of three of our adult kids have had to move back home for a spell.

I’m very glad they have somewhere to bounce back to. I did not have a safe place to boomerang home as an adult. Nobody took care of me. I want better for my kids than I had, but I also want them to be fully independent.

Life is messy, ya’ll.

In preparing a room for her, I am also preparing my heart. Because the child who is moving back temporarily can push my buttons.. In all fairness, we both probably push one another’s buttons.

She is scrappy and feisty and “extra,”and I am scrappy and feisty and “extra”. And I don’t know how to “mom” grown children under my roof. I hate conflict, and the more adults you add to your home, the higher the conflict quotient.

Here are some ways in which I will protect my boundaries and actually enjoy the experience of having a grown child back at home:

I will not run interference between other family members.

This is HUGE for me. Keeping the entirety of peace in the house – even in a relatively peaceful family dynamic – is not my job. I will do my part, but I will not clean up after others, literally or figuratively. I hope my husband and daughter get along (as they mostly do), but I will not take ownership of their relationship.

I will set realistic expectations of myself, and of her.

As a disabled person, I sometimes need help. A lot of help. It is okay to ask for it and expect it. (Hear that, self? It is OKAY TO ASK FOR IT AND EXPECT IT.)

I will show grace and respect (and expect respect.)

It’s not the same world it was when most of us were in our 20’s. It’s much more expensive to live on one’s own. As she comes in for a landing, I will remember it’s not her destination flight that brought her home; just circumstances that will improve and allow her to spread her wings. I will try my best to be graceful and patient, while knowing this is temporary.

I will operate from a place of healthy boundaries. I’ve become accustomed to having my own space. And accustomed to meditating and self-care. These things did not come easy, and they did not come until my children flew the nest. I am protective of them.

I can be happy, even if nobody in my house is happy. I tend to calibrate my mood to whomever is feeling any type of way. This includes my husband.

I will not try to “fix”. I am present and available, but must remember it isn’t my job to “fix” anyone. Furthermore, it is an impossibility.

I will keep the faith. I will lean into God and have faith that whatever comes my way, He is only ever good. And I will have faith in my daughter, as I always have. We will get through the bumps in life as a family.

I will find the joy in this – and every – experience.

My daughter and I are exceedingly close. My daughters and I have been through a LOT together. We have legions of inside jokes, the same absurd and silly sense of humor. We talk about deep subjects, even when we don’t agree. We will make memories during this time that wouldn’t be made any other way. I will enjoy the ride!

I don’t know if these points will help you through a trying, temporary time, but writing them out is already helping me. My therapist has been helping me overcome co-dependency issues, and what better time to hone those skills?

I fell like this is not the only area of life I can avoid the potholes of co-dependency. Life is chock full of opportunities to stretch and grow.

I don’t know what age people actually get their shit together is, because I don’t have mine together yet!

And I pray God blesses you and gives you permission to not save the entire world. Because it isn’t yours to save. Life is hard and relationships are hard, and co-dependent behaviors whisper that they will help you get through it, but in reality only make it more difficult.

We are worth the effort of setting healthy boundaries and caring about ourselves and our peace as much as we care for others. I won’t forget that if you don’t!

God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

Shark Teeth and Shifting Focus

My husband holds my heart in his hand. Literally.

BY: Jana Greene

The big spiritual “thing” I’m doing is really something. And reader…I’m so glad you are sticking alongside me for the ride! I am currently reading Rob Bell’s “Everything is Spiritual,” which is a whole other blog post for another time.

I am also fortunate to be a part of a group of free-thinkers and like-minded Christ-following mystics, and we have been learning about Quantum life, the neuroplasticity of the human brain, the connectedness of each of us with every other, and other lite fare concepts. One of the ideas is that you choose your thoughts. Or at least, which ones to accept.

I have been a victim of my own thoughts all my life. I run on 100% emotions, and ergo…feelings sometime feel like facts. They are very convincing and super sneaky that way.

The idea is that I’m changing my focus from the myriad of negative, self-critical, panic-inducing thoughts I experience on the regular that result in self-flagellating and angst; and instead completely shift my thoughts on – oh, I don’t konw – things that DON’T suck.

On PURPOSE, even.

Part of this is becoming deliberate about practicing meditation and affirmations. Another part is changing my prayer life to be a type of constant conversation with God, and asking him specifically to increase my actual AWARENESS of the quantum world. My awareness of his innate goodness. The awareness of all the little ways God winks at us everywhere at every moment. Because he IS, you know. He is giving us signs and wonders, and “coincidences” and a cascade of pure, ridiculously grace-full LOVE. It’s all around us.

Which brings me to shark’s teeth.

My Beloved and I are enjoying a little weekend getaway at the beach. One of the things we love to do is go beach-combing, always with my ultimate goal being a glistening piece of sea glass or the tooth of a shark.

Any shark. I’m not picky.

The latter has proven to be extremely elusive. In 22 years of coastal living, I have only found one single shark tooth. So on our walk this morning, at this new beach, I felt sure I’d find some.

We roamed that beach for half an hour in 40 degree temperature. I had shark teeth on the brain. The beach here is littered with beautiful shells and various examples of flotsam and jetsam from the sea. Really cool stuff. I have found sea glass many times. But today, nary a shark chomper was to be found.

At this point, I am cold and sandy, with a crick in my neck from scanning the ground. In what can only be described as the Most First World Problem to ever “problem,” I was getting frustrated and perturbed.

But just before we call it, I looked down and saw what appeared to be a little heart…a shell heart. I picked it up and examined it, and it occurred to me that I almost missed it, so single-minded was I. I was only focusing on one thing, when around me is the whole big ocean, and a glorious, hazy sky, and the love of my entire life combing through shells alongside me.

I knew that the little heart was a portent.

I know because I asked for the awareness to see and know and be tuned in more to the Divine.

It sounds silly, but I absolutely knew it was a God-thing. And had I just walked in big circles on an endless beach, eyes downcast and mind focused only on one thing, I’d not have seen it.

Yes, I believe that we live among angels and that we are all connected to one another, and that the Creator of the cosmos would plant a little shell emoji on a wintery beach just to remind me where to keep my focus.

And I thought that was a pretty good analogy for where we put our focus, and how many things we miss by being single-minded. I’m the world’s worst about it.

But in asking our Source to increase my awareness of everything good and true, because I forget to look for it, what with all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth I inflict on myself.

Today, I hold a God wink in my pocket.

I hope you see a rainbow today.

I hope someone says kind words to you today, and I hope you give others kind words.

I hope you find a flower in frozen ground.

I hope a wave of the peace that passes understanding knocks you down into the Father’s lap.

I hope you see yourself for the magnificent bearer of love that you are.

And that things happen to you that confirm you are made of stardust.

I hope you find your seashell.

Oh, and lots of shark’s teeth too.

Spiritual

Better Space

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

My past and my present are as far away

As East is from the West.

Yesterday’s an illusion

Only my past address.

Don’t try to looking me there

You won’t find me in that place.

My heart’s moved on,

My head’s gone with it,

I’m in a better space.

Spiritual

Why Nationalism isn’t the Cure

By: Jana Greene

I know it’s hard.
I know people are pissing you off.
I know we are living in unprecedented times, and are thoroughly sick of doing so.
I know we are desperate for someone to fix it – all of it. Our local leaders, our politicians, our President…. somebody, anybody.
I know people are selfish and leaning left or right.
I know you are tired of America not being what it used to be (which for some people, is a good thing.)
But even the lawmakers and keepers don’t have the answers. They never did.
If who sits in leadership determines how you represent Christ, please consider that Nationalsim over compassion in history has been a recipe for disaster.
From Herod’s decrees to Germany in the 30’s, to even old Mom and Pop apple pie America led by The Greatest Generation, there were citizens of each who benefited from the actions of their leaders, and citizenry who found themself oppressed, or worse.
Don’t lose sight.
Don’t lose hope.
God has not given us a spirit of fear.
Yes, even Jesus got angry, righteously….as you may feel your anger is righteous.
But he kind of threw a justifiable tantrum and moved on with the business of loving people.
He didn’t stew on it for years.
The world is a #%@&$ MESS!
But it’s the world God so loved. Just as it is.
Just as we were.
We have all “had it up to here” at this point, but please try not to let it make you bitter.
The continual anger will get under your skin and fester, and like an infection, will mostly only affect you, not change the world. It will not affect the people you despise or the state of the country one whit.
Jesus was the Prince of Peace.
Surely we can shift our focus on all the ways our country and the world are effed up, to loving the least of these?
Just some Thursday morning thoughts.

Spiritual

God Winks Look Like Kindness

By: Jana Greene

I’m in a terrible mood.
Didn’t sleep last night.
Shoulder blown out.
Systemic pain off the charts.
Worried about many things.
The next two weeks is a constant treadmill of doctors visits and medical procedures.
But God…
But God keeps winking at me, in spite of it all.
My prayers have become less “God, show me you love me” to “God, increase my awareness that you love me, so I can love others.”
The checker at Trader Joe’s this morning could not have known that I’m having a rough time. It was the standard transaction, albeit friendly, as TJ is know for. But then he plopped this into my cart. I was dumbfounded.
“Just a little something to brighten your day,” he says. I can tell he is smiling even though he he is wearing a mask. His eyes are smiling.
The flowers are beautiful, and even my favorite color!
You see, God loves us with kind acts and nature.
I felt lighter leaving the store, and popped in a CD because Music is Life. And it was a long lost CD my daughter had made for us after her senior trip to NYC, which I chaperoned. Every song had memories attached to it.
Another God wink.
God, make me aware of your love, given in abundance. Every kindness perpetrated by others (whether they know it or not) is a message from our Source.
Every cell in every flower on every tree (or in every shopping cart) is filled with the blueprint of his love. He didn’t have to make them so beautiful, but he did.
He didn’t have to make himself flesh to jump into our pain and suffering so that we are never alone. But he does.
Papa God, increase our awareness.
Increase our capacity to show kindness.
Let us see you in the beauty of your creation, which is really impressive, by the way.
It’s good to know our moods don’t get in the way of his love for us.
Although my heart still has a remnant of heaviness for the people I love who are going through a difficult life season, my prayer is that God winks at them too.
Whatever you’re going through, I know how it feels to be convinced he is not in your corner, if he even exists at all. I get it!
But please know you are deeply loved.
And the fact that we – in all our messy, chaotic humanity – can be a part of that Vis-à-Vis loving one another?
Priceless.

Spiritual

Meditation is a Real Thing, Y’all…and it Works!

Give yourself the gift of learning to meditate. ❤️

By: Jana Greene

Y’all, I have to share. Just got back from having the shoulder MRI. It required dye and lidocaine injected directly into my shoulder capsule, which I thoroughly did not enjoy.

But the craziest thing happened during the 40 minute MRI. Keep in mind I’m extremely claustrophobic I HATE MRIS.

I’ve been learning how to truly meditate for the last few months, and have been regularly practicing meditation. I was dreading the MRI. Even with noise cancellation headphones, it’s loud af. And such a tight a space.

As I entered the machine, my upper body was smooshed very tight and held in place; I couldn’t move an inch, and I could feel by breath bouncing back on my face, the top was so near my head. I decided to keep my eyes closed the whole time for obvious reasons.

As the machine was turned on, I felt a slight panic attack setting it. But then I figured if ever there was an opportunity to meditate, it would be now.

And hons, it WORKED. I used the techniques and to my GREAT suprise, they worked. They worked SO a well that I very nearly fell asleep in the dern thing! Loudness and tight space notwithstanding. They didn’t even give me a Valium to get thru the test as they usually do. I checked out while the MRI was going.. I went to my happy places in my mind. I floated in space. I reminded myself that I was safe, and that I was getting plenty of air to breathe and was safe. And then I transcended for the first time. My mind – and thus energy – was at Frog Holler in the hot tub. It was in Myrtle Beach with my girls. It was in my husband’s arms. And that’s where I became super sleepy and relaxed.

I have never had meditation actually work using this practical application. For 40 minutes, I was at total peace, my mind visiting all my happy places. IT ACTUALLY WORKED! For the 1st time!

I’m really happy about that! I want to live a transcendent life; one where I am not so reactionary and high strung. The more I practice meditation, the easier it is to “check out” in my mind and experience peace.

Between my anxiety and claustrophobia and ADD / OCD tendencies, I never really believed it would work. Thought it was gooey.

But it DOES! It DOES work!

I’m so grateful. This experience could have been so much worse!

Spiritual

Self Reinvented – an anthem for mid-life sisters

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

If you’re a woman,

You’ll have to be the Mother of invention, the Sultana of Self-Worth.

And I’ll tell you why:

Nobody can validate you better than YOU.

I just turned fifty-two years old, and GOD I love it.

I glory in this mid-life thing (most days, anyway) and here’s why:

Because every outside force you can imagine

Is going to keep changing.

The “new normal” is a revolving thing.

Having the “look” is nothing compared to owning your self-worth.

And the ways you are changing?

Groundbreaking.

Be lady-like, we were always told.

At half a century and some change,

I feel emboldened, empowered, and not at all “small.”

You see, in our youths, we were told

To make ourselves small, so as not to be a bother.

To be selfless and only consider

Your feelings as afterthought.

We did the dainty girl things.

And that’s ok, I LOVE the dainty girl things, but….

It’s still dishearteningly a man’s world,

So we have to be strong, too.

And not the kind of strong

That can hoist a monster truck tire in the air.

Now we are strong enough to hoist each other up.

At this stage,

We are the kind of strong that you can only get from

Wading through the dregs,

Surviving some God-awful shit

And coming out the other side.

The kind of strong that stains your soul so deeply,

It rubs off on others.

The type of strong that isn’t sullied by the dewy, fresh hope of the young,

But is built upon heartache and victory both.

A strength that reinforces faith, not replaces it.

Cheer for yourself, my Queens,

With as much gusto as the cheerleaders in high school

May have put in making us awkward girls “less than.”

Be at the top of your own pyramid,

Without expecting the Strong Man at the bottom

Of the pyramid to catch you.

Have confidence in your own two feet.

Strut your stuff like you know your worth.

If you are dressed to the nines for a celebration,

Or schlepping off to the grocery store in gray sweats

And your hair in a messy bun,

because darling, you are WORKING that casual look.

Appreciate yourself for being comfortable in your own skin,

Because its easy for young women to feel good about themselves

In all their youthful glory.

It takes chutzpah to

Tell yourself the little things a man might say.

Your hair looks great.

You smell fantastic.

Your ass looks amazing in those jeans.

Except say it like you mean it.

After all, you have no ulterior motives when building yourself up.

Because you, my darling, are a phenomenon.

Millennials got nothing on your badassery.

Wrinkles cannot dim your strength, and

White hairs do not distract from it.

Shine on, you Crazy Diamond.

Shine on knowing that all that has gone into making you who you are

Has built one hell of a person.

Reinvent yourself if you need to, sister,

Become a Sultana of Self Worth,

Because you are a Wonder, my Love.

And time can’t take that away from you.

Because nobody can validate you better than you.