My concept of God as love means there’s no need to “smite my enemies.” Because our Source Is not on anyone’s “team;” he’s the owner and manager, working things to your benefit – but to theirs, also. We think people who have wronged us deserve wrath, and plead God to avenge us, only to demand forgiveness when we have wronged others. And it’s taken me years to accept that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” applies to every human, everywhere, who is lugging a body around on this plane of existence. More and more, I think this place is a University of sorts. We are here to learn how to love each other and how to love God, because obviously we still haven’t gotten the lesson. That’s okay. Everything in good time. Our Earth Suits (janky as mine may be) are vehicles and vehicles only. I forget that sometimes when they pain gets unbearable. And our assignment, I think, is to retain our kindness through the shitstorm, er, um…journey. Kindness does beautiful things to otherwise very negative people. If we do this leg of our journey and stay kind, that kindness chemically and spiritually changes a person. And if it doesn’t? You’ve ventured everything for love, and will have many more opportunities. We are all trying to figure out hard stuff here. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Love to all today!
Sometimes when I pray, I’m not even sure what to pray for anymore. But when God brings someone to my mind, that’s the impetus to pray for them.
I don’t mean giving God “instructions” on how to help someone, which I used to call “praying with specificity.” I replaced elaborate prayers with simple trust in God, because the most eloquent prayers are “help help help” and “thank you thank you thank you” (as my favorite author Anne Lamott opines.)
Reconstructing my faith has evolved how I speak with God.
I ask and then I try to listen. Because there is no wrong way to pray, and prayer is designed to be communication from one sentient being to a supreme being, no holds barred.
Once I saw a movie that recommended having a “War Room” – a physical place to go to pray where the reception is clearest to God and where mighty battles are fought in the heavenlies, waiting for our next words to change the outcome in supernatural realms.
So of course I decorated my closet with scripture and crosses aplenty. But all I managed to do was feel guilty that I wasn’t praying more (or right?) every damn time I had to grab a pair of shoes out of the closet.
Was I praying enough? What if I don’t and when I get to Heaven, God informs me that he really wanted to do this magnificent thing, but I was two beggings short of getting the outcome I desired.
See, that puts the onus on me. And the onus is not on me – it is on Love.
I don’t make a big show for myself now, prostrate in my literal prayer “closet,” striving, striving, striving to be the person “God created me to be.” Building a tower of Babylon with my puny, pleading words (which are beautiful to him, by the way, but his love is not dependent upon them.)
No. I mean that if you come to my mind during the course of my day, I am simply asking God to love on you in a way that’s tangible. God loves n us through one another, nature, laughter, and hugs from friends.
If you have a need or a heartbreak, I focus my intention on your hurt as best I can, and believe in advance that he is walking alongside you, no matter what event is anguishing you. Being a very visual person, I picture you in a cloud of love, total acceptance, resolution, and peace. I can’t describe it any better than that, but trust me, it’s better than that.
Just like us, the Holy Spirit craves connection. That’s all prayer really is.
And I ask him to increase your awareness of him in and around us. Because he is always at work in and around us, even when we aren’t begging for his favor. I pray he uses me in any capacity he sees fit to convey his great love.
“Broken lines, broken strings, Broken threads, broken springs, Broken idols, broken heads, People sleeping in broken beds Ain’t no use jiving Ain’t no use joking Everything is broken” –
-The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Our microwave finally pooped out. After 18+ years, it’s dead. Our stove isn’t heating up like it should. I have to be SO careful about what I eat and this makes food preparation that much more difficult.
We have had to replace our fridge / washer / dryer in just the past couple of years because they all died at once. We have three cars, only one with working A/C, and she had 200,000+ miles on it. We love that car. She’s a real trooper.
And I get the feeling like that’s ALL of us right now: Look at us all – an army of badasses. Damn if we aren’t all freaking troopers for making it through whatever shitshow the word is currently.
And all of that wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t broken too. Because today I am feeling very, very broken. Like literally all of my joints feel especially loose and painful. If my Earth Suit did it’s JOB to keep things stable and in place, that would be amazing.
I dislocated my thumb again today opening a Topo Chico, for example. What a stupid injury. My injuries are never, “She jumped out of a plane and survived!,” or “she went water skiing and now she is a human pretzel.” No. More like… the time I stepped out of the bed to go pee in the middle of the night and just torqued my right ankle, which snapped the bone. Then I walked around on that broken ankle for 11 days, too stubborn to get it checked out. By the time I got an X-ray, it was broken in TWO places, and surgical pins, plates, and rods were out in. But I digress.
The POINT is I can injure myself in the most asinine ways. Most things in life are made up of broken parts, and I’m eternally trying to learn how to process that reality.
We are all just walking eachother home,” is my new favorite observation.
Now whether we get “home” in a rust bucket (aka my actual body), or a well-appointed, nice and reliable sedan – a nice, tidy life that turned out great because you did “all the right things,” well, that’s for serendipity to hash out.
And that’s the cosmic irony, isn’t it? If our lives were neat and tidy, we’d have no real need for each other. We are only really here to learn how to love and accept love in return.
We need doctors who will help us manage our pain. We need microwave manufacturers. And we need friends, because there are 7 billion people on this planet and not one of us knows what we are doing. Not ONE. But maybe a few can show you the route home, and you can – in kind – do the same.
So, lean on to eachother like your life depends on it, because it does. Let’s spiritually exit the machinery that cranks out unrealistic expectations, and walk arm-in-arm, until we’re “home.”
I taught Bible studies, and taught Vacation Bible School. I helped launch a couple of Christian-based recovery groups in the city. I was on the Prayer Team, the Greeting Team, the Hospitality team.
Ten years ago, I started this blog – TheBeggarsBakery.com – with stars in my eyes and a mission on my heart. I was truly so serious about it; so sure that it was my “ministry.” It was BEFORE.
Before pain was the order of the day, every day.
Before the novelty of thinking I was a recovery expert wore off like Novocain after a root canal.
Before I realized I am not in control (at ALL.)
Before I knew there were so many shades of gray.
Before my grown children gave me gray hair.
And before churches tried to cast demons out of me, for being SICK.
I haven’t been comfortable with the blog’s name for a few years now. I don’t want people to think they have to be broken and begging for Divine Love. Although I wanted to tell others that my soul found “bread” in God, it sounded more and more dualistic and exclusive. As I learned I’m not a fundamentally flawed person desperate for approval – divine or otherwise – I didn’t want my writing to impress upon anyone else that THEY must be broken too.
My intentions were altruistic, I promise. There was a fire in my belly. And there is still. It was a controlled burn for many years, now it’s a brushfire – raging with the expectation that new growth, all green and fresh, will come up underneath. I’m counting on living to witness a full forest come up from underneath this burnt ground.
The Beggars Bakery fit me ten years ago. I felt like a beggar, frankly. My life was feeling like I was a mistake that just squeaked by. I was striving, striving, striving for approval – God’s, my husband’s, my family’s, my friends’. If I could JUST be a successful “ministry,” and maybe make a living at writing?
Alas, neither really panned out as I’d hoped. Especially not the “make a living” part. But with renewed strength, I can see my focus was wrong. I zigged when I should have zagged. I proselytized when I should have just loved.
I am already enough. So are you.
And I retained a love of Jesus but developed a disdain for the evangelical church. And once you see the Universal Christ, you cannot “unsee” him; it really screwed with my oh-so-sure faith walk but opened up something in me I denied for decades.
Don’t get me wrong: I will not start all over here. Because it’s like a spiritual time capsule, and each stage had merit. I don’t want to forget where I came from – there was much JOY! But I want to get to where I’m going, and that requires a little reinvention.
As a follower of Christ, as an empowered female in a new world, and as a mystic.
My very favorite song is Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” Every single word and note hits me RIGHT in the feels. The MYSTIC. When did we decide – as followers of Christ – to give our Mysticism away? When I was striving to earn God’s approval, I’d skip the word “mystic” when singing it aloud. WHAT? Was my faith so fragile as to offend God with a lyric? Oh my GOD, the LEGALITY.
It was the mere connotation that something mystical could be afoot in my staid, steady, the-Bible-is-literal manner that made the song scandalous. I sing “Into the Mystic” out loud now, and I know God is okay with it.
Just like yoga,
And some Eastern beliefs I was taught to fear.
Just like accepting other humans – fallible and seeking – for their truest selves.
Just like being okay with people just the way they are,
And giving up my staunch nationalistic views for one that assumes ALL are loved and valued by our Creator…
And being authentic, even when it means making a fool of myself.
It’s okay to do so. It’s imperative to growth, especially when the world is on fire.
I’m not sure what direction this blog will go.
I plan on writing about my faith reconstruction journey – all of it. The Fall. The burn. The sweet, fragrant undergrowth of new life shooting forth.
I will still write about recovery from alcoholism – it’s part and parcel of who I am.
I will probably vent frustrations about my worries and keep a safe place to express my anxiety.
So, if you’ve stuck by me all these years and faithfully read all of my work – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please consider staying with me. I’ve come to appreciate each of you so much.
I want to rock your gypsy soul Just like way back in the days of old,
With stars in my eyes and love in my heart,
Without a superhero cape, but with arms wide open,
I realize that times like these are where the rubber hits the road, faith-wise. I just wish I wasn’t working with bald tires and jacked up pattern of traffic cones to navigate life.
Metaphorically, of course. We all are burning rubber, and not getting very far. We are all weary and wrung-out, exhausted, divided, and furious.
Think of all the ways we have been divided over the past few years coinciding with Covid.
Think of your friends individually, and all the ways you differ in opinion to the detriment of your relationship… ways you had no idea were so different to yours. Maybe on things that are so close to your heart, you cannot BELIEVE a friend you formerly thought you had a lot in common with feels one way or another. How COULD they?? Ya think you know a person, right?
My daughter and I were having a conversation not long after the Super Bowl half-time show last winter. She was saying that she respected Eminem taking a knee at the performance. “But,” she said. “I have mixed feelings about Eminem. He’s problematic.”
“Everyone is problematic,” I said, because it’s true.
Now, my daughter and I do not agree on many, many issues. BIG ones. But we try to respect the other’s feelings, which is the most any of us can do, I think.
She was referring to the rapper’s controversial lyrics. But it occurred to me –
We really are ALL problematic.
Like… I KNOW I’m problematic. There is probably that one time I said something I didn’t think through before saying it; actually, probably hundreds of times. Or the view I held ten years ago that today makes me cringe. Or the way I handled those situations in the past that are not me, anymore.
What too often happens is that we throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. We end up discounting the whole person for their flaws or differences, but only the ones we ourselves have never struggled with. Because our own problematic ways may not be problematic to US, and therefore, we consider them unproblematic in sum.
The human brain just loves to categorize and label, and the human ego loves to judge others. It just jacks up our righteous-o-meters. It’s how we make sense of the world. It’s how we make sense of each other.
It tells us not to appreciate one aspect of a person, because they are “problematic.”
Nobody is asking “What would Jesus do?” anymore because we know good and damn well what he would do. We just don’t want to do it.
People over policy.
Relationship vs. religion. Friends over ideology. Love one another, for that is the greatest commandment.
Not one of us was designed to live in this environment – 24-hour news cycles, being bombarded with hostility, being micro-managed by the government. Not one of us was born to intake what we intake all day every day. Fodder for turning us against each other. It didn’t start at the beginning of Covid. It’s been brewing for years. Dualism has been around since the dawn of time.
My old beliefs aren’t ME, anymore. I’m a different person than I was three years ago. Or yesterday, for that matter.
Every day I’m learning, and I think that’s all we can expect from mere mortals – that we keep growing. Even when it contradicts what you’ve said and done most of your life. Growth is not linear. Keep reaching and forgive your mistakes, but also forgive the mistakes others have made _or are CURRENTLY making – on this road. We are all on the same route.
Differences we may have that divide us:
Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community vs. Discriminating against them.
Vaxxed vs. Un-vaxxed.
Dems vs. Pubs.
Blue States vs. Red States.
Depp vs. Heard (just making sure your’e paying attention, haha.)
Things we have in common:
We have an unbelievable capacity to love.
We are all experiencing the human condition in many ways that truly sucks.
We are all human.
I won’t finish this off with platitudes and a rousing round of kumbaya, but I will say we can do better. We MUST do better. We must share the road.
We must not pass the stranded in our race to be #1. This is a call for kindness, which I will try to heed myself, even in the midst of Problemville.
Hello. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, but I’m emotionally exhausted. Between late March and mid-May, we have been through the wringer. My beloved boy Catsby passed away unexpectedly on April 16th. My daughter Lexi Wehunt came by to do cat care and found his little body. He was just as special to her as to me, and it was totally unexpected for both of us. Bob and I were in Virginia for several days to help care for his mama, who was on hospice. I was shell shocked by losing Catsby. The following DAY – Easter – my wonderful Mother-in-law passed into glory. We knew it was coming, but you’re never “ready.” I came across this picture in my FB memories today. I miss her something terrible. Although we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, we had THE best talks about deep subject matter. Nobody loves Jesus like Janet Greene. When she’s stay with us, I‘d join her for morning coffee and we’d sit at the breakfast table until our legs went numb. We talked about EVERYTHING, and nothing was cuter than her giggle. I like to think we taught each-other a lot. Lessons neither of us knew we needed. I feel her spirit sometimes. I know in my heart of hearts that Catsby went a day ahead to be there for Nana and greet her. A mere two days later, I got word that my father had been bitten by a copperhead while walking his dog, Billy. We were literally on the drive back from VA when I found out. I told Bob “oh no,” and “this can’t be happening,” but those are things you say when loss threatens to swallow you up. I was a ball of dried tears and snot and exhaustion. My dad and I have not always had a relationship, and I treasure him in my life so much now. Please God let him be okay. And he WAS okay, eventually. But on the scale of Life Okay-ness, I’m struggling. Add in some chronic migraine action, struggles with renal failure, and unrelenting physical pain, stick a fork in me, I’m DONE. The past week I’ve been unable to eat well – My health is so shitty and it frustrates me to NO end. Except that I cannot be “done,” because it keeps going – everything keeps going, despite the fact that the whole damn world is on fire. I will snarkily tell God, “stop the world, I want to get off…” but it just keeps spinning anyhow (the NERVE of God!) Being human is HARD. But there are beautiful things happening too. I have to focus on my awareness of them consciously – otherwise I’ll go under. Things like kittens and good friends and laughter and soft blankets and inside jokes and nature – ALL of nature. I’m especially grateful for our Texas trip, which was amazing. It’s like life knew the bottom was fixing to drop out for us and granted us a beautiful experience. So I’m just sharing this in case you are doggy-paddling in life right now too. It behooves none of us to hide our struggles and I’m having a time of it. If you are too? I see you. I get you. I feel it too. God is saying, “Keep going, Kiddo!” But there’s a long trail behind me of my dragging ankles and exasperation. You know how a toddler throwing a tantrum will make himself “dead weight?” That’s me right now, heavy and heavy hearted. But I’m encouraging you from one of the worst months of my life. I’m not looking pretty while doing it either – random crying jags and depression naps have been the order of the day. Keep going, Kiddo. Go ahead and feel all the feelings without stuffing them, and I will too – probably in a most oversharing way. Sorry about that. But if ever there was a time to lean into one another, it’s now. Thanks for listening, and God bless you if you read this whole dang thing.
I used to tell people, “God can fix you.” But now I say, You’re not broken. You are not bad. You don’t need fixing. You need loving. Love put you back together,
On the day You breathed your first. You already have it on-board. God already inhabits you. In every loving gesture you express To humankind (or animal-kind.) In every breath, holiness. In every feeling of fresh hope, In every laugh, sacred joy. You are whole. You are not broken, No matter the evidence Stacked against you. Keep your head up! God is FOR you. You are loved.
This one’s for all the women who are orphans, grieving the loss of a mother – by death or estrangement.
This is for those for whom Mother’s Day is a real mixed-bag – a loaded occasion.
Hons, I get it.
It’s the weirdest of occasions for me.
I have no relationship with my own mother. It’s better that way for both of us, but I’ve yet to have a Mother’s Day that doesn’t feel like a scab is being pulled off – slowly. I will always love her. Always.
On Easter – just a few weeks ago – I lost the woman who has mothered me for the last 15 years. And there is a hole in my heart for her, still fresh. On Sunday morning, Bob and I will probably offhandedly say “we should call Mom,” because we have as long as I’ve known my husband, and then we will remember. She is never more that two thoughts away from us at all times anyway. We will just wish her Happy Mother’s Day, trans-dimensionally.
My own daughters of course celebrate with me in their ways – we go to lunch and I get a card, or the like. It’s all very traditional and, truth be told, routine. I am very close to my daughters, so marking an occasion with obligatory time spent on a certain day seems trite. I like to spend time with them any chance I get, not because Hallmark says there’s a special day they have to do it. It’s Mother’s Day, you know? They hired me for the most important job I’ll ever have – Mama – and I love them so hard it hurts. They are loving, beautiful beings, but they had the audacity to grow up, as it should be.
So maybe you aren’t a mom, and not by choice. Maybe you’ve lost them in utero, and you wonder how life could have been different. If that is the case, I can only imagine your heartache. I am hugging you with my soul.
Or perhaps your womb has ached for them to no avail. Life really likes to present us with alternate plans, without asking for our consent. And on the most important issues to our spirits. It indeed is unfair.
Perhaps you have mothered someone without reciprocated love in kind. And it hurts. We don’t always get the same type of love we invest in others returned. We must accept our roles and love just as hard anyway.
Maybe you dedicated your whole life to the tiny humans you created, and now can’t even figure out who you really are, because you were too busy meeting the needs of others to consider what you want. *Raises hand.*
Maybe there is a separation between you and your mother for boundary reasons, or mental health reasons, or recovery reasons; and people judge you for it. Nothing like a little salt in the wound.
Maybe your child is in active addiction and Mother’s Day is just a reminder that there is a chasm between the two of you, and your only prayer is that your kid survive another day. Flowers and cards be damned.
Maybe your mama has passed over and you miss her so terribly.
Here’s the truth. I wish I could mother the whole damn world….and if you’re motherless, that includes you.
I wish I could take every hurting person under my wings and mom them so hard, they’d never doubt they were wanted or loved.
But I’ve learned who needs that mothering most of all is myself. I’m learning to open those wings wide enough to wrap around myself too.
God bless each of you.
This mama is sending you so much love this sticky-wicket of a weekend.
And when the “official” day has passed and we can all breathe again, this Mama wishes you peace, acceptance, and the empowerment to re-parent yourself.
Happy Easter. I don’t want to be that person who bums everybody out with their posts of grief, but I have to tell you this Easter feels more like death than resurrection.
Death is present and lurking, but the joke’s on Death, because it’s defeated. It is finished. But Death – and about 8 billion other voices, if you give them credence – will tell you otherwise.
It is finished, even if we have to live in a broken world.
It’s is finished, meaning our suffering here is not part and parcel of who we are. We don’t take it with us. Only love travels that well.
It is finished, even when our hearts lurch with missing someone so badly it physically hurts.
It is finished, even though the sticky residue of suffering gums up the works, and the whole damn planet seems to have lost its collective mind.
I won’t ask, “Death, where is your sting?” because I call BS on that. It stings like Hell. It hurts like a mother-*. I’m not going to deny the pain of being human just to sell you on Pollyanna positivity. I’m certainly not going to sell you religion, which professes to have all the answers but I assure you, does not.
But Death, after the sting, is never the victor. Our spirits outlive Death. Nothing can keep us from the love of God. Not even ourselves.
He is risen, friends.
And I’m telling you that with a puffy frog-face from crying, unbrushed hair, balled fists, a heart full of questioning incredulousness, and deep pain. I’m writing this because maybe you’re hurting too.
Maybe you’re pissed off, and for good reason. Maybe you’re sick and feel hopeless. I just want to remind you that you are also risen.
Risen is by far more your identity than broken, or even dead.
Sometimes resurrection doesn’t look like glorious renderings of an ancient, empty tomb – beams of light streaming from within, all CBN Network-style.
Sometimes it looks just like you- in all your holy, grieving glory. Slogging through the messy inconveniences and crippling agonies of life, interspersed with great bursts of love and laughter. All of us redeemed ragamuffin kids of God, all of us made of stardust, mud, and love.
Yesterday, I lost my beloved furbaby, Catsby. It was sudden and unexpected, and we are in another state taking care of some emergency family business four hours away. My daughter found him and called us hysterical.
Yesterday was pure processing, or trying to. And last night…
I fell asleep crying. Woke up today crying. Feel like I’ll never be done crying. Feel like my whole heart is going to simply stop for trying to make sense of things.
Last night I had to fight the urge to drive to the vet four hours away that has his perfect little fuzzy body for cremation, all the way back to Wilmington.
I just wanted to hold him one last time and tell him how much I love him. To thank him for spending his life giving so much love and hilarity. I’d like to tell him what he means to me, but I tried to make that clear every day of his life.
I know he knew how loved he was. I know we gave him such a good life. We were nowhere NEAR ready to say goodbye.
So in saying goodbye to him, I wanted to share these things all about Catsby:
We got him because I fostered his litter of five kittens when he was a baby. It was delirious chaos and mayhem, and out of the five there was one shy little guy who I just connected with. I chose him because he chose me.
Catsby wasn’t like other cats. I know all cat people say this about their cats, and I used to roll my eyes whenever someone would insist that about their own, but ask anyone who knew him.
He was the Mac Daddy of pure, unadulterated love, and I never knew I could love a cat like this.
He was carried around, a LOT, his preferred mode of transport.
He was told he was a good boy approximately 150 times a day.
He had to be in somebody’s lap most of the time.
He was held and squeezed and the top of his little noggin was kissed no less than a million times in his lifetime. And he loved it.
He had a middle name – Zazzles – a nod to the cat in Big Bang Theory that Sheldon named “Zazzles” because “he’s SO zazzy.”
Catsby was SO zazzy. Big personality. Big love energy.
He loved to “spoon” – he’d come in every morning in bed and I’d sing him a dumb little song about what a good boy he is while he’d scrootch up next to me – couldn’t get close enough.
He got little bites of turkey and cheese when we made sandwiches, and I saved him the straws from some of my drinks because he LOVED to play “fetch.”
He loved water, so we got him a little kitty fountain. He loved it, as it befitted his taste for the finer things in life.
He loved to lay upside down and sun his fat, pink belly. No shame in his game. LOOK AT IT, he seemed to say. I wish I had that confidence about my own fat, pink belly. He knew he was majestic.
He greeted me at the door almost always – my own itty bitty kitty greeting committee. It’s going to be brutal walking through the door and not having him waiting for me.
He was a great outdoorsman (on the screened-in porch only, which he has no idea wasn’t the whole big, bad world (and nobody told him it wasn’t.)
He liked to sit on the barstool while I cooked and watch me, and sometimes I’d jokingly ask him if he wanted a sarsaparilla, because his little peanut head was all you could see of him over the bar and he looked somehow like an old-timey wild-west patron.
When I was having pain flares, he really pulled out all the stops – sitting with me in the pain all day so consistently and kindly. We watched many a true-crime series together, but I think he preferred watching 90-Day Fiancé episodes.
He could MacGyver his way into cabinets and figure out how to get to noms in the cleverest ways. He also liked to knock every single item off of ever single surface in every single room in the house, all while being told “no” whilst not breaking eye contact. My little fartknocker.
He didn’t mind his feet being touched, which is weird for a cat. I do so love some pink toe beans.
He followed me from room to room all day every day at the house; I didn’t even get to pee alone. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
He was the perfect boy for me….nice and codependent. Very go-with-the-flow, which I need, because I have absolutely no chill.
And I love him. So so much.
It is a sad time in many “life event” ways for us right now. Catsby’s passing is not even the most difficult thing we are going through right now. I cannot share more at this time, but please keep praying for us.
And hey, snuggle those furbabies a little extra today, for me. Time is so precious.
My gastroperesis is flaring so hard I’m barely able to keep any food down. This throws other medical issues into a hellish spiral.
My chronic pain has been ridiculous.
We have very difficult things to deal with in the family right now. Really hard things.
I’ve cried several times today, which is no small feat when you’re on antidepressants. It felt awful to cry, and then really good…cleansing.
And it seems a counter-intuitive measure to wallow around in pain and sadness, but every once in a while, you need a good wallow.
Today I will cry, and rest, and bitch about my woes to my ever-patient husband.
I will likely beat myself up for having to cancel plans with friends, and hate myself for feeling melancholy.
I will feel like I am not handling life well AT ALL. (While reminding myself that despite it all, knowing I’m doing my very best.)
At some point, to be transparent, I will feel guilty for even having this little nervy-B, guilty for unloading on my husband, and guilty for having the audacity to complain about this life, when I am truly blessed in so many ways.
I’m pretty sure I’m not done crying today. God, I hope not. There’s a long line of tears queued up in my spirit that need to be purged.
I hope that tomorrow, by some measured miracle, the world on fire won’t seem quite so much like utter doom.
Today I will wallow. I’ll sleep and watch Schitt’s Creek (it’s a balm to my soul), and talk with God about WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. And I’ll look forward to better days.
Because they are always on the way, you know – better ones.
The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) captured a dazzling snapshot of a large galaxy pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy, and my mental health is HERE for it.
It is helping my mental health because I am fascinated with all things galactic, and every time a new image is captured by Hubble, my worries seem to shrink. It’s impossible to be in wonder and see while nursing a grudge or fussing over a human problem.
Not that our problems aren’t real. Or important. They ARE important, even to the Being who came up with the crazy idea of eternity.
Infinite ness is not a concept we default to. We cannot wrap our minds around the concept of endlessness. But in a world where our troubles seem the most infinite thing we know, Hubble reminds me to zoom out.
Yes, I am hurting. My body aches. My heart grieves. The pandemic looms. The world’s a hot mess express.
Would you look at this economy?
This sociological crap-shoot we are calling “life.”
We become Chicken Littles, running in circles exclaiming, “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and then we like to proclaim anyone who doesn’t join our panic is Pollyanna about reality.
Okay…but ZOOM OUT. Pan the picture wider, then wider still.
Imagine yourself and all your pain, a tiny speck on a giant blue marble – just one of billions. Imagine this as an image on your iPhone, in hi-def, as most problems seem.
Now imagine that the same Creator who spins planets in orbit cares intimately about what you do. He cares about you not only as a marble-dweller, but a miracle of cells and thoughts and feelings.
Imagine that this Being of Love is intimate with your every heartache and just as concerned about the state of you as He is the state of the Multiverse.
Just zoom out of the picture, wider and wider. See how perfect the orbits are? Check out those stars. Wow! Each and every one a sun. Each and every molecule of the cosmos is worshipping just by existing.
Existence is worship.
We cannot reach the end of it, just like we cannot reach yet end of Love itself.
Just zoom out. It’s going to be okay.
God is zooming in on us. Let your heart marinate in the magnificence of this concept – a Love so endless, Hubble will never reach it.
Many of you know I struggle with multiple illnesses that can be very debilitating. I know there are some of you going through similar things.
I truly live one day at a time, but for the first time in a minute, I am feeling hopeful about the things I CAN do that are in my power. It’s time to step up my game. Instead of fighting just to survive, I’d like to fight to be as healthy as I can be.
Several really good things are coming up and I want to be at my best. GOOD THINGS. Some travel. Some reconnecting with people I love. It’s very easy to fall into defeatist thinking, but I need to re-center and here’s how I plan to go about it. Sometimes I need a plan!
Today I’m meeting with a nutritionist to find out everything I can do for the gastroperesis. That’s going to mean yet MORE changes. Although I’ve lost a lot of weight, it’s not the healthy way. I must absolutely be better about keeping my diabetes in check as well. I have to eat cleaner, which is hard because dammit, I reward myself with food – the head game relationship I have with it is LOADED, man.
Today, I make time for daily physical therapy (at home) to minimize my dislocations and injuries. There will always be injuries and mobility issues, but I have to do better. The last thing you feel like doing in pain is the exercises, but I have to push through to help keep he musculature strong to support each joint.
Today I will rest when my body says to rest. It’s also difficult with a genetically deficient immune system because I get sick often. My kidneys are not in good shape, although my last labs indicate they haven’t failed further recently. That is what we call a “praise report” right there.
Today I will make time to get quiet and still, because I suck at stillness but my spirit needs it. I will make time to show gratitude deliberately. I will be thankful for all the ways I’m blessed, but I will also be thankful “in advance” of getting healthier, BELIEVING for it. (Y’all remind me I said this later when I get discouraged.)
I will manage my pain as need be, realizing pain management is self care. This is sometimes difficult because I can no longer take Advil or Alieve, or any other anti-inflammatory; which is unfortunate because my conditions are inflammatory. (God, I do miss Advil something awful.
And here’s where I run into trouble: I just have to do all of THIS every single day. That’s overwhelming!
I need to run my health like I run my alcoholism recovery – one single day at a time. Don’t consider “forever,” just do one single good and loving thing towards my body and soul at a time. Just one thing. Then another. I’ll handle tomorrow TOMORROW.
Life is tough but I’m pretty scrappy. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. But today I start trying to do so with purpose, because I’m not going through all of this just to add more sick years to my life, but to ENJOY this juicy life.
This is one of those pieces that originated as pure pent-up anxiety that would only be assuaged by writing. It’s a little rambly!
By: JANA GREENE
On the way to the dentist, I passed a gentleman whose entire existence was contained in a shopping cart. My heart lurched heavy in my chest. I gave him what cash I had, which wasn’t much. “God bless you,” I said. But it rang hollow in my throat.
The rest of the drive, I thought about how many thousands of times I’ve told people that.
If God could bless him, he wouldn’t be living out of a shopping cart, would seem evidential, so I told God so, as if maybe he forgot this one straggler, and PLEASE COULD YOU GET ON THIS?
Like I can tell God about mercy.
See…this is where the deconstructing of religion has given me a great gift. A really wonky, welcome, serendipitous gift.
If for no other reason than it gave me permission to give voice to the GIANT chasm of inequity, I increasingly became aware of. I cared; I really did. But the sheer inequality didn’t shred my spirit.
My God is only ever Good, I believed on the surface. But I couldn’t reckon that with all the pain – personally and globally.
God will rescue you from suffering, is easy to say. But I kept getting sicker.
God has a PLAN. (Which is totally true, but not always helpful.)
His ways are not our ways. (No SHIT!)
You know those HGTV shows where they find a property and deem it worthy of saving even though it looks like a straight-up dumpster fire? My Spirit was a real fixer-upper. The rebuilding of my faith stripped away the pretty stucco facade of a neat and tidy belief system and turned it into a real shitshow. Wrecking balls. Bulldozers. Hard hats required. Flattened it into the ground. I was sure that was a wrap on my relationship with a Higher Power.
But SPOILER ALERT: I can’t do that. I’ve seen things. I’ve felt things. My heart of hearts knows things. I suspect yours does too.
It’s a gift to be able to question existence without feeling damned to Hell for it (eternal conscious torment is a topic for another day.) It stands to reason that the innate ability to question God is a gift he alone gives. If we don’t feel comfortable enough to approach the throne without fear, where’s the relationship?
Unfortunately, my “healthy fear” of God kept me from God, because deferring to somebody you’re terrified of is not a good model. Fear was the theme of my entire childhood, and a “healthy fear” of God kept me from some degree of meaningful spiritual growth. That’s just me.
So, it’s a work in progress. But as we say in the Program: “Progress, not Perfection.”
My soul is on a state-of-the-art foundation now…though there is still scaffolding all the way around (which I’m hoping is permanent, to hold my structure in ongoing work.) But the house is solid. Good bones, as they say. There’s still a bit of debris, which makes excellent confetti with which to celebrate LIFE and all the chaos that is part and parcel. The interior is shaping up, too; although it feels like it’s taking forever, it’s right on the Designer’s schedule. Open floor concept – very spacious.
I have no answer as to why some of us are born into one station or another. Why some of us are healthy and some will always be sick. Sickness is my sticky wicket. I don’t know why I’m having this whole, soul-lurching, discombobulating, radical spirit reckoning the past few years.
But I know it’s got me thinking things like: That gentleman living out of the shopping cart? He could BE God, for all I know…can you imagine if we ALL treated one another with the reverence we allow only God? What if we really saw God in every person. Oy vey, so much to think about.
I can only explain it as: God is only Love. When our souls’ sense that benevolent drenching in experience nature, that is God.
God + Love…there ya go. That’s my whole entire theology:
Shit happens, but God is Love.
(Now the rest of the blog will be me hashing out what that looks like; pull up a chair.)
When we are bothered for people less fortunate (whether we deem them at “fault” for it or not)…
When we declare grace over people (who we have decided are pushing their luck in the grace department.)
When we are enjoying the purely divine gift of music and the chords hit so hard that you hit repeat for a solid half-hour…
When babies smile at us in the grocery store checkout lines…
When a friend sends a heart emoji for no reason…
When your husband kisses you on the top of your head…
When are we allowed to get angry with God and ask him the hard questions without fear?
WHEN WE ARE HUMAN….
God is there. God is love.
WE ARE the mercy.
You are not a wayward straggler, but a sturdy and essential journeyman, who is going to get through this pandemic – and a million other very hard things – and come out laughing.
We don’t have to hustle for our worthiness. There is genuine GOD in you.
This time of year makes me reflect on the mind-blowing kindness and generosity that me and my little family were shown back in the day.
You see, this picture brings back SO many memories…some of them heart-wrenching.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for me, this one is worth a million. I hadn’t seen it in forever, but I remember taking it like it was yesterday!
I had just left the girls’ father and we were legally separated. The girls and I had nowhere to go, so a dear friend gave me a reduced rate to stay temporarily in Atlantic Towers (such a blessing.)
This photo was taken there. I loved that it had bright pink walls. I told the girls it was because we were so full of GIRL POWER, they painted them pink special for us.
At the time, I had a restraining order out on my ex (so you KNOW that added stress) and no money. I was receiving NO help. And I mean, NO help. Not even from my own family members. That was a brutal learning curve.
I went from one part time job to four jobs to feed my kids. I wrote freelance, worked for a realtor, became the receptionist at another company, and cleaned motel rooms on the weekends. When I was with my babies I worried how I would take care of them myself. When I was at work, I missed them terribly. Mommy guilt was only eclipsed by pure fear.
I had a new sobriety that was only three or four years old, and I was DESPERATELY trying to keep it and not start drinking again. (I did keep my date of sobriety which is Jan. 3, 2001.)
I’d left everything behind but a few sticks of furniture, the clothes on our backs, and the kids’ Barbie toys. Not much else.
I was truly starting over after 14 years in a bad marriage and struggling not to drink, after nearly killing myself with alcohol only a few short years prior.
My girls look happy in this picture, but it was a rough time for them too. My goal was to shield them from my own grown-up problems, and make it an adventure of sorts. They were the lights of my life then. (And they still are.)
At the time, I could not imagine how I would get through that difficult season. I lost 80 pounds from stress. I had been a stay at home mom all my daughters lives, and had ZERO IDEA what would happen to all of us.
But then a miracle happened…and the venue for said miracle was the Carolina and Kure Beach communities, whose members rallied around us that year in the early 2000’s.
And I mean they rallied!
It was Christmas time, which made everything harder, but the local fire station gifted my girls with toys from Santa. A dear friend bought them bicycles!. One friend kept my girls in donated clothes for a year. One amazing friend invited us over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and welcomed us as if we were all true family. Another helped us out with food for a while. One watched my girls for me when I worked. And another helped me keep the heat on one particularly cold month.) One practically adopted me and treated me like a daughter, and does still.
I did nothing to deserve any of that, but the magnitude of blessing still floors me.
I wasn’t FROM there, you see. I wasn’t a “local;” But they MADE me a local through kindness. Dozens of (then) strangers came out of the woodwork. I could do nothing for any of them, nothing. They just poured forth things we needed, acts of friendship, and so much support, and love. I’m happy to report I cherish them still today.
Meanwhile, I learned how to work my ass off and provide for my kids. I worked on my own issues. I put up strong, necessary boundaries. I learned how to forgive myself. And I managed to stay sober, all glory to God!)
So from one old snapshot for TBT came a tidal wave of gratitude today,, and with that, this very wordy, rambling post.
Now when I look at these 9 and 12 year old faces in the photo, I can rest easy knowing that these two grew up to be beautiful, funny, kind-hearted people. They grew up awesome, and the dark times only grew us closer.
They are 26 and 29 now. My world.
Boy, I wish I had truly trusted God when I was going through it! But my points are twofold:
When at your absolute darkest, keep going kiddo. You CAN do hard things, I promise. You can, and you will. And if you lean into Source, you’ll FLOURISH.
Community is so important. We are all made designed to need each other. Every single member of every community is precious.
And all you single mamas going through the midst of a nightmare like this, I promise it’s true for YOU and your babies, too!
These days I have new struggles, but I try to pay forward any and every kindness shown to me. I try to diversify my kindness portfolio, as it were. Love on everyone, I’m every circumstance. I fall short a LOT, but oh the joy in paying kindness forward!
But it seems important to remind you, if you’re hurting:
The kids really WILL be ok. You ARE stronger than you think. It’s OKAY to ask for help. It’s EVEN OKAY to accept help! God has not abandoned you There are wonderful, amazing things awaiting you in the other side of the mess you’re going through.
The bottom portion of this post is copied from a friend. The rest is my opining about it…I would love to see it be a conversation starter!
You see, whether you’re vaxxed or not, I don’t think less of you. Matter of fact, I suspect you’re doing the best you can and made decisions that are best for you and your family.
I think we are ALL just trying to make the best decisions about our health in an unprecedented age; NONE of us have ever been through a pandemic before.
So can we please stop calling people “sheep,” it’s condescending and unhelpful. Please stop insinuating that those who won’t get vaxxed don’t care about the rest of humanity. Please stop considering those who get vaxxed “idiots,”and those who refuse to get the jab “idiots.”
My God, the division is worse than anything a vaccination could do.
Sometimes it’s not about the government pulling one over on us (though admittedly, I don’t have the greatest respect for the government.) It’s about doing what we can safely do, with the incomplete and often unsubstantiated information we get from said government.
We have all become like bullies in a school yard purporting “my way or the highway,” haughtily sure than our way is the only “right” way.
I’ve had enough. If you are vaxxed, thank you. And if you are in vaxxed, I’m sure you had GOOD reasons for choosing that path. Yes, we are all responsible for each other in life, but calling one another names and puffing up with righteous indignity (on either side,) is a misuse of that responsibility and a damn, crying shame.
If you got the jab, I love you. We consider our options with seriousness too.
If you felt it wasn’t right for you, hey…I love you.
Can we please try to do better?
I feel like if this thing wipes out part of humanity, who would want to inherit the earth, given the gaslighting, blaming, and disdain we are showing one another?
Keep it a world worth continuing.
Keep it kind. (Or MAKE it kinder!)
“Yes I’m FULLY vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it – neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the 11 secret herbs and spices at KFC, or hot dogs, or other treatments, whether it’s for cancer, AIDS, pneumonia, or vaccines for infants or children. I also don’t know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains. I don’t know what’s in the ink for tattoos, vaping, Botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap or shampoo or even deodorants. I don’t know the long term effect of mobile phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands. In short … There are a lot of things I don’t know and never will. I just know one thing: life is short, very short, and I still want to do something other than just staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and find a little feeling of life “before.” As a child and as an adult I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, polio, chickenpox, and quite a few others; my parents and I trusted the science and never had to suffer through or transmit any of the said diseases. I’m vaccinated, not to please the government but:
To not die from Covid-19.
To not clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
To hug my loved ones
To try and spread the virus as little as possible.
To live my life.
To see and hug my family and friends
For Covid-19 to be an old memory.
To protect my family and others. Text copied, feel free to do the same!
I was noting to my husband last week that my readership has shrunk. It’s not a numbers game, don’t get me wrong. I would much rather have a small readership that is touched, entertained, enjoyed by several people than have a large readership but crank out mediocre content.
Here’s the thing, though. Life is chock full of mediocre content. Life sometimes IS mediocre content.
I was considering this when my husband replied with, “Well you don’t blog very often anymore.” Which is the gospel truth.
The past few years, I don’t post at all unless I’ve had some kind of epiphany to share, or I’m low on hormones and need to vent, or I have something inspiring to say. Why have I gotten into that habit? What about when I’m not feeling encouraging and just want a safe place where I can share my heart, even when my heart is boring and uninspired?
WRITE ANYWAY. That’s when I’m happiest.
I can’t always wait until I in crisis mode to write. It creates a jamb where there should be flow.
This blog is nothing like the one I started in 2012. I was of the “super Christian” persuasion then, full of quoting scripture and doling out pat advice about “trusting the Lord,” If I had a particularly awful day, I would write sweeping tales of how it’s all going to work out because God is in it. What would people THINK of me, if I was 100% authentic and open about doubting faith? It might throw a kink into my Pollyanna-esque style of writing. There’s nothing “super Christian” about that!
It’s true, in that I believe ultimately God IS working in our best interest.
But truth is also looking around you and admitting the world is whack.
I’m a much different writer than I was when I started this crazy thing. I’ll never forget gaining 45 followers the first day and being incredulous that anybody would want to hear what I have to say.
And then there was that one time I went legit viral and got a quarter million hits to ONE blog post. I thought I may actually get to make a living at writing, but the truth is, I make zero money from writing. It is its own reward and I’m okay with that now.
Ten years ago, when I started this blog, I was chronically sick but we couldn’t figure out why. It took many years, many doctors, and many bouts with depression to find out that I have genetic conditions that will affect me the rest of my life. It explained SO MUCH about me since I was born – the injuries, the illnesses. But there’s no cure, and I think it’s about the time I found out my diagnosis that the Pollyanna fell away, little by little.
My faith took a beating too, but came out victorious anyway, if not in an altogether different way.
I told myself in the beginning, I would write honest, or not write at all.
It’s writing honestly about the fact that I’m losing mobility and I’m in horrible health.
It’s being truthful about mental illness struggles, without wondering what everyone “thinks.”
It’s about grieving losses that I told myself I should be “over” by now, and making no apologies for it.
It’s about celebrating little victories and sharing kooky, dopey little stories.
My dream when I write is that somewhere out there, someone I love (or even a perfect stranger) will not feel so damn alone. Because life is HARD, peeps.
If writing is therapy, as I’ve always espoused, then I should probably practice it more often. It’s my way of un-smooshing all my feelings down. So I think I’m going to try to write a little each day. (The “general public” is made up of one sweet, unique soul at a time, anyway.)
I hope you glean a little somethin-somethin’ by reading The Beggar’s Bakery. I am so very glad you’re here, and honored you’d take the time to read my work.
On this – the eve of my blog’s 10th birthday – I am making a resolution to write more. Even if it’s sub-par prose. Even if it’s about vapid, inconsequential things. Especially if I’m struggling and hurting. Especially then.
Thank you SO much for being a part of my journey. God bless us, every one.