Spiritual

I Didn’t Drink Today

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Twenty-twenty

What a year!

It made me want to have a beer,

Or a bottle of chardonnay,

But still I didn’t drink today.

Pandemic has me all askew

What bigger temptation I ask of you

Than everything changing in work and play,

But still I didn’t drink today.

Then there was that crappy time

Election tensions ran so high

That we all lost our collective mind,

But still I didn’t drink.

Oh 2020, you’ve kicked my rear

It’s been the longest time, yet I fear

That 2021 might step up in rivalry,

But still I didn’t drink, you see.

What 2020 doesn’t know

Is that this isn’t my first rodeo.

I took my last drink in 2001,

Replaced it with faith (by the ton,)

And my addiction to drink was held at bay

By just not picking up TODAY.

Although I will have 20 years

Blessedly alcohol-free,

It’s still (forever) paid in installments

Of “One Day at a Time” for me.

I’m counting my blessings and as I prepare

To celebrate my 20th year,

Even as the world goes cray,

I keep it by just not drinking today.

  • By: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com

Spiritual

Five – A Blended Family Tale

I wrote this piece soon after my husband and I blended a family with three teenaged girls. What could possibly go wrong? 🙂 It all ended up just fine.

Five

Once upon an August day

I happened on a family,

A father and his lovely girl.

Familiar, at once, they were to me.

Two daughters I’d had all along

Bright and loving, brave and strong,

And somehow yet,

Somehow still…

Our hearts and lives had space to fill.

As time went by, soft  memories stacked

Like building blocks placed back-to-back,

Like traveling to places far away

And salty, swimming beachy days,

Talking together and movie nights

Laughter abundant (occasional fights),

All knowing each other deeper each day

And loving each other

Anyway.

Could it be that the whole five

Would find a way to survive

As not just two

And not just three

But as a God-shaped family?

So

Once upon an October day

We became that family,

A Dad, a Mom, three lovely girls

As it was always meant to be.

I gained a husband that day tis’ true,

And I’m blessed to be his wife,

But I gained a daughter, too –

Bright, loving, brave and strong

In my life.

  • By: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Don’t Blink, Mama

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

So you’ve joined the club of Motherhood,

You have a sweet baby at last.

Your body still groaning from birthing your child,

Don’t blink mama, it goes too fast.

When you wake for midnight feeds,

Bleary-eyed yourself,

Savor the world where only you two

Are the world, there’s  nobody else.

To every coo and cry and smile

You quickly become attuned.

Memorize those dimpled hands,

They’ll be holding a crayon too soon.

Before you have the time to think

Your baby’s a ‘terrible two.’

Hold tight, Mama, this too shall pass,

The trials always do.

Tantrums in the grocery store,

And before you can blink,

The Tooth Fairy is coming to call

It goes by faster than you think.

Milestones come rapid-fire,

Kindergarten’s here,

Drop her off at school and then

Go home and shed a tear.

The early years go by so fast

You scarcely have time to know

That your baby isn’t a baby now,

Who told you how fast she would grow?

Before you know it, she’s a tween

“Who IS this child?” you’ll say.

Buckle up, Mama, you’ll get through,

Tomorrow’s another day.

The next thing you know, she’s a teenager,

Full of angst and woe,

It will harken the days of the “terrible twos,”

Take heart, she has time to grow.

The early days of dimpled hands

And nursing by moonlight,

Those memories will see you through,

When parenting feels like a fight.

Oh to watch her find herself,

The pride in who she’s become!

Members of the Motherhood Club,

You’ve officially come undone.

The secret that nobody says

But I’ve found is very true,

Is that your baby is her very own person,

And not a extension of you.

You’ve nurtured, taught, and guided,

And now it’s her own turn,

To figure out this thing called life,

On her own (and very different) terms.

Now you’re a veteran parent,

Battle-scarred and rife

With sweet assurance that she still needs you

In her grown-up life.

Dynamics change, my friend, you see,

The stages never last,

But one day you’ll call your child ‘friend,’

Don’t blink, Mama. It goes so fast.

  • B: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Walking in Light

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

The sun is shining brighter now,

Streaming between the leaves in trees,

Making shadows on the ground,

From their bright canopies.

The ominous pit I’ve risen from,

Though only yesterday,

Now disappears beneath my feet,

And seems a lifetime away.

When you emerge from depression,

From darkness and spiritual pain,

A thousand points of light converge,

Into a single, blinding ray.

It is sometimes much easier

To stay within the cave,

To stay stagnant in the familiar,

Instead of be trusting and brave.

But life in despair

Isn’t really life at all,

Better to walk in the Light

Than live in fear of a fall.

So hold my hand and out we’ll go,

In the sunshine come what may,

We’ll no more miss the dark of night,

But live life in the light of day.

  • By: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

The Commodity of Grace

Grace is a funny thing.

It delights us when granted when we screw up.

And it pisses us off when applied to someone we feel is undeserving of it.

It slips out of the cuffs of condemnation,

It rises above the rules we think it should follow.

It holds accountable only itself.

It is pure.

Grace is golden when get extend it,

And humbling when we receive it.

It runs ram-shod over rules, and laws,

It cares not for protecting secrets,

Or making others pay.

It isn’t “fair” to us,

And thank God for that.

Grace is a thousand points of light,

A thousand Tiffany lamps,

Shining, bold, brightly colored.

It is a “do over,” for what is done,

And a fresh start for what is coming.

Grace is the Bail Bondsman who leaves the door open.

It is the Father who forgets that you tripped up at all.

It is free, but not cheap.

When all other avenues have been exhausted,

Grace chases shame out of the neighborhood.

The only commodity we are commanded to spend,

Grace builds up,

Shores up,

Holds up.

The byproduct of love,

Grace has unfathomable value,

Just like those for whom it is poured out.

Grace can be scandalous and offensive,

But it always makes it’s mark,

Washing the Spirit clean.

Trade it, give it, spend it,

Let it set you free.

It is for freedom we are set free by it,

Spread that stuff around.

  • By: Jana Greene – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Ballad of Mid-Life Sisterhood

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

Dear Mid-Life Sisters,

We live in a world that says,” fix yourselves!

And what you can’t fix, deplore!”

A world that tells us that age is the devil and

We’re not enough anymore.

We “should” be more vibrant,

Wrinkle-less, “hot,”

The world loves to tell us

What we are not.

And we agree with all the hype

When not reaching unrealistic goals,

We talk to ourselves in a way

We wouldn’t speak to another soul.

But here’s the truth, dear sisters,

We can write our narrative.

We can love ourselves much bigger

Than love the world is apt to give.

Girl, 

Heroism is rejecting all the hype that we are done,

And realizing that our imperfections

Are scars from battles WON.

So feel sexy, sisters,

Know your worth,

We’re fierce, able, and strong.

You still have the power, grace, and beauty

That you’ve had all along.

And when that inner voice says

You’re best days are on the wane,

Remember how much ass you’ve kicked,

You still have the whole world to gain!

Remember that no other being on Earth

Is quite as sassy and sage

As a woman empowered by self-acceptance

A woman of a certain age. 

  • By: Jana Greene – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Ode to (Returning) Joy

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

God,
I’ve been feeling so discouraged,
Two steps forward, one step back,
Feeling like my soul is tired,
Over extended, under attack.

Oh to have my joy back!
I know it is mine for the asking.
To gain it I must first surrender to you
The pain that my sadness is masking.
The tiredness, the sickness,
The constant striving,
On my own human power
It keeps me from thriving.
Oh, God, please be infused in me.
They way Holy Spirit desires to be.

I want to have my joy back –
That birthright you left in the empty tomb.
I want the peace – the good shalom –
You left me in that Upper Room.
The weary dark replaced instead with
Your open, welcoming arms,
The chronic illness bested by
Your protection from all harm.

Oh God, please inhabit me, my
Source of peace so close to me
That Holy Spirit breathes in me,
Breathe joy into me.

Remind me that two steps forward –
In spite of the one step back –
Still means that I am traveling
On the forward-moving track.

Oh to have my joy back!
I know it is mine for the asking.
Oh, God, please be infused in me.
The way Holy Spirit desires to be.

And all the days of my life I will be,

Yours.

  • Jana Greene – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Survivor’s Peace

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

I don’t want to be a survivor anymore,

Staggering through future’s door

Waiting for there to be more

Than just getting through.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s just not enough for me

To have made it through the dark melee

And be on the other side

Of the abuse I suffered as a child,

The alcoholism that reviled

Against me as I reconciled

The present with the past.

I waved the white flag banner high

And shook my fists at a broken sky

It is finished, and yet nigh

I’m still shaking wounded fists.

It is for freedom we’ve been set free

Not just scraping by you see,

Or living in fragility,

No slavery harness holds.

No more do I accept as fact

That giving up is giving back,

That white is white and black is black,

Redemption is complete in me.

I’m empowered by the force

That set the earth upon it’s course,

I’ll live no more with bleak remorse

But as one favored by the Source.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s for freedom I’ve been set free

Abundant and exceedingly

No more a slave to past.

I’m picking my mat up off the floor

And walking with surety through future’s door,

Head held high and in bondage no more!

More than a survivor.

  • By Jana Greene – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

Earth Suit

Art by @artistrybyjana on Etsy

A little background on this one. I have a variety of autoimmune, chronic pain, and depressed immunity problems. I wrote this to express what it’s like to have a janky “Earth Suit” because I was at a place of extreme frustration with my body. I think we can all relate to the frustrations that comes with our aging bodies. We are confined to these flesh prisons, which are both glorious and fallible. God bless us, every one.

Pink and soft, untainted,

Newborn awed by brand new life,

When I was born from Mother’s womb,

Cord cut by doctor’s knife.

God had poured my soul in it,

When only several cells,

Making a perfect vessel

In which my soul to dwell.

Customized for me alone,

This body built for play,

Face to show expression,

Hands to fold and pray.

A young and ceaseless wonder,

Against wear and tear prevailed,

This body perfect for childhood,

Exquisite in detail.

But content to be a child,

Growing up soon followed,

And before I could accept it,

A woman shared my suit.

Round and curvy and soft again,

I, this time, cut the cord,

I thought I would survive in it,

But it instead became my ward.

All the world could offer,

It greedily consumed.

Full the flesh that gave it weight,

Void the soul it roomed.

And though the days went slowly,

The years at light speed passed.

I came to see this Earth Suit

Was never made to last.

The vessel now shows wearing,

In time it will decay.

But the Spirit that inhabits it

Will never pass away.

When a soul has done it’s growing

Within the confines of it’s shell,

I will leave this strange foreign space

Ageless, free, and well.

What ticking clock can’t take from me,

What ocean cannot rust,

What thief can never steal from me,

What cannot turn to dust,

What grave and tomb cannot confine,

And moths extract a toll,

Awed now my eternal life,

The everlasting soul.

For the human body is but a shell,

A suit to wear on Earth,

The Human soul, after all,

Is the measure of true worth.

  • By: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com
Spiritual

I Hope You Know

Art available at @artistrybyjana on Etsy

By: Jana Greene

I hope you know it wasn’t you,
When all of it is said and through,
When damage from the floods recede,
I hope that you can still believe.

I hope you know I really tried
To reconcile the pain inside
And find a way to overcome
Before my pieces came un-done.

I was walking wounded then,
I didn’t have the tools to mend….
I tried to stick close to your side.
I failed, but Jesus knows I tried.

My instinct is to protect you, love.
I lost the strength to rise above
So I did the only thing I knew,
To protect my spirit, too.
And in time, I withdrew.

I hope you know it wasn’t you.

Afraid to open doors to ghosts
And raise the specters I fear most,
I faded off into the clear.
(I can only survive from over here.)

I’m still un-done in places, you see,
Where life has gotten the best of me,
But I love you all the same.
I hope you bear no fault or shame.

You mean the world to me still now.
I don’t know when or where or how
To make things better, so I pray
God smile upon your life today.

God show mercy on this soul
Whom I love and lost in whole,
When the pieces threaten to unbind,
Give peace to this anguished mind.

When memories keep on pushing through…
I hope you know it wasn’t you.

Spiritual

Announcing Poetry Jam Week

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

Greetings, Dear Reader.

The year 2020….amirite? What a crazy time to be alive in this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world. I find myself at a place of un-creativity, if there is such a word. I haven’t painted in weeks. I have written only minimally. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing my own press, which is that I’m past my prime as a writer and creator.

But I’m telling that press to hush.

The other day, I came across a folder titled “Poetry” in a box of mementos. It is full of poetry I’ve written over the span of about 30 years. I (literally) blew the dust off and started reading.

And soon, tears were rolling. And I was laughing (not necessarily in that order,) and I remembered why I love words so much. Words can destroy, but they can also heal, and do so mightily. What if I publish a poem every day for a week, I thought.

I’ve got everything from teenage angst to proper breakdowns; praises and wonder, to pain and sorrow. The craft is very versatile.

Poetry is a niche market within a niche market, if one gets paid to creative it and is a any good at it. I am not the paid poet, but I am a big fan of the poem. Because you see, writing poetry for poetry’s sake is pure. When I share it, I know full well that most people won’t read my work, and if they do…

WHAT IF THEY HATE IT?

What if I’ve made myself vulnerable to no earthly reward, and I suck at it?

What if nobody reads it at all? It’s not exactly a popular genre.

I decided I can live with one or all of these repercussions. Because words can destroy (and oh what a year, what with most of the words being negative in nature and destructive in intent.)

So what if one reader walks away with one morsel of soul-gleaning or relate-ability? That makes it worth the sharing.

(This one-woman poetry jam is a representation of my gooey emotional insides; please be gentle.)

I hope I don’t make a fool of myself, but isn’t that what writing from the soul requires? I cannot make a fool of myself if I keep all the words bottled up inside where it’s safe from ridicule or worse, indifference. But where is the adventure in that? Art is a sharing from a private world. Poetry can be the vehicle that transports others in to enjoy and/or suffer alongside the writer.

So check back in the coming days for a Beggar’s Bakery Poetry Jam. Thirty years is a long time to keep musings in a folder.

God bless us, everyone. And I hope you enjoy the offerings.

Spiritual

Ode to a Husband Married to a Chronically Ill Wife

By: Jana Greene

I married a good man. Well, actually, that doesn’t begin to describe him.

When most of us take our wedding vows, we mean the words about sticking by in sickness and “for poorer,” without really expecting that the ratio of health would increase nearly right out of the gate. You expect to one day be old and frail, and have one another to count on and love, even as our physical bodies crumble. But you don’t expect to be enrolled in a crash course in “sickness in health, but mostly sickness” when your wife is in her late 30’s.

There is a lot of “mostly sickness.”

Not once has he complained when we missed an event because I’m having a severe pain flare, or catch one of the dozens of viruses I come down with each year.

In my defense, I certainly did not expect it to be this way. But I’d been sickly all my life, and “clumsy,” and “accident prone,” and nobody knew it was because I was born with a genetic immune deficiency, or that my clumsiness was really my joints buckling, subluxing, and dislocating constantly. My parents didn’t know to look for reasons behind it all, and my doctors didn’t catch it because it was “a rare disease.” And certainly, every P.E. teacher I ever had thought I was lazy or faking, which totally adds insult to injury, literally.

I was in my early 40’s when a doctor who shall ALWAYS be so appreciated became like a bulldog about all my symptoms and didn’t let go until he figured it out. I KNOW how lucky I am in that respect as well. He provides such excellent care of his patients, because he actually DOES care.

I had married my husband at 37, riddled with health issues.

I carry a fair amount of guilt for not being the wife I truly believe he deserves. He deserves a wife to go hiking with; to go ziplining with. Or any of a hundred other activities that prove so challenging to me. But as I said, he doesn’t complain. He even says I’m worth it. I struggle with that one, but I’m working on accepting this precious gift God has given me in him.

Here’s what the past 48 hours have looked like: He brings me Gatorade when I’m dizzy from the POTs syndrome, which causes my blood pressure to dip dangerously low and then rise super high, within minutes. Normal things that bodies are supposed to do automatically – like regulate body temperature – malfunction. I get mystery fevers and outrageous drops in my temperature all day long. My body doesn’t regulate blood pressure effectively. My heart rate goes bananas for no reason, and it causes great anxiety. My husband will – without being asked – bring me blankets when he knows I’m dropping suddenly. He is in tune to me intimately. Many is the evening he watches TV by himself because I am simply too exhausted to continue the day. He will go get the table fan if I’m breaking out in a miserable fever. It’s like he knows me so well, he correctly anticipates my health needs.

And then there is injury care.

When my thumb dislocates, he brings me ice without being asked. This morning, I’m having severe back pain, and he suggested a pain patch and a TENS machine hookup, and patiently applied both so that I would be more comfortable. Ice is a HUGE part of my life – I am icing various parts of my body every single day. He gives excellent back rubs. He has seen me through 9 surgeries since we married 13 years ago.

And that crushing sense of guilt that this is his reality seeps up like groundwater more often than I’d like. How do I move past that? I appreciate him so much.

So this one is for you, My Beloved. You’re my knight in shining armor, and – as The Rolling Stones sing – you always come to my emotional (physical, mental, spiritual) rescue. I’m so grateful for you and ALL that you do with nary a complaint, even though I KNOW it’s often so difficult.

I’m a hot mess, but he makes me feel like a hot little number. And that takes some doin’ when you feel like your body is 150 years old at times.

I love you madly, Baby.

Thank you for being my person.

Spiritual

Pandemics and Elections and Anxiety, Oh My! A Mental Health Check-in

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

Mental health check-in time.

How are you faring this week?

Keeping it real, I’m struggling.

I spent the whole day in bed because of a migraine and a deep case of the blues. Just decided I was not adulting today, and that’s that.

Tomorrow I will try again; I’m going to try to get into things I enjoy (or typically enjoy, right now I’m MEH about everything.)

Coming back from vacation is always trying. Coming back to illness and election chaos and pandemic burn-out is proving to be more difficult still

I’ll hang in there if you will!

I’m leaning into God and trying to focus on the good things: Good friends, the assurance that God is all over it – all of it. Funny memes. Knowing this too shall pass.

How are you coping with these precarious times? I’d love to hear from my readers. ❤

God bless us and keep us, everyone.

Spiritual

Rising Above Election Chaos – a Call to (Hugging) Arms

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

I wish I had the faith in this nation that I used to have. Blind as it may have been.
2020 has made realists of us all, and not in a good way. I suspect that today will change everything. Also, not in a good way.
I want to believe that we will all remain friends no matter who “wins” (haha, as if there isn’t already one; the elections are rigged as Hell.) I can promise you, I will love you just the same no matter who you vote for, or even if you don’t vote at all. I will try my best not to let the results influence that love.
But I smell chaos and mayhem in our immediate future.
There will be gloating no matter who “wins.”
There will be brother turned against brother.
Everyone will feel their anger is righteous and justified.
Excuses will be made for those who riot and destroy, all in the name of politics.
“Neener neener” the cry of grown-ass adults who should know better.
And everyone everywhere will say “I told you so.”
And worse, more citizens may even take up arms against the “other side.” Property will be damaged or destroyed. (I am not negating the importance of the 2nd amendment, which I purport in the name of defense.)
So a bunch of horrible things could happen. But they don’t have to.
My fear – always – is that love itself will get lost in the shuffle of indignation. That’s what makes me the saddest.
We will forget about “personhood over policy.”
In a perfect world, the results of this election would make us look forward. We would accept them, even begrudgingly, and “who did you vote for” would again seem a rude and tasteless question to ask.
But I know in my heart of hearts that change SHOULD be made. Things have GOT to change.
But hate is never an effective impetus.
We can love people who think differently than us.
We can not respond to disappointment with violence.
Trading hate for hate is a shitty equalizer.
It is not, of course, a perfect world. But it IS the world God so loved.
2020 has proven a few things. We Americans will engage in risks that affect others in the name of being inconvenienced. We have no trouble painting in absolutes, and that wide stroke of the brush invites only division. From toilet paper to hand sanitizer, we are a selfish lot.
But we can do better. We MUST do better.
So no matter what happens today, let’s please not make things that much worse by the way we respond to what is sure to be bitter disappointment on one side or the other (or both.)
Love wins, ultimately. No many how many schlubs pass through the White House. Don’t let it ruin your day to day dealings with other humans.
Peace out, Loves.

Poetry · Spiritual

Why Should the Sky Appear Royal Blue?

This is the sky above our little cabin tonight.

Why should the sky appear royal blue

On this wild and wondrous eve?

The stars,

Diamonds against it,

A smattering of cosmic light

Against the rich, deep backdrop

Of endless, cerulean sky.

They so vividly spackle

The masterpiece

To which no man

Can assign value.

Upward look!

The ring of trees are framing it

In muted, hushed and mellow greens,

As if meticulously painted with soft cotton,

By the hand of a master artisan.

Gazing upon it,

It becomes clear

Why the sky should appear to be

Royal blue.

The sky is royal blue tonight

Because It is the canvas of the King.

– Jana Greene

Spiritual

An Ex-Evangelical Looks at Your Holy Ancestry (yes, YOURS)

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

So earlier today, I couldn’t get a signal on my phone to listen to a podcast while I was running to the pharmacy, so I turned on my old gospel station that I used to listen to all the time, and a preacher was talking, as preachers do.

The message was about being able to call on God in your darkest hour; no matter how hard things were hitting the fan, which I believe and we can surely appreciate this year. I was fine with his message for a long time, until – at the conclusion – he says with a quiver in his voice – “Beloved, if you are not yet a child of God…”

HOL’ UP.

It then occurred to me that THIS is why I left evangelical Christianity. In ONE sentence, “the veil was lifted,” as they are prone to say. The whole inequity of a supposed god who loves his kids, but will send them to the eternal, conscience torment if they don’t tow the line.

Christians often like to say they are accepting and tolerant of everyone, because “God loves everyone.” They share a message of love, but tend wrap it up with an ultimatum. (Even though monitoring repentance is the job of the Holy Spirit, and she doesn’t need an apprentice.)

THIS IS NOT LOVE.

It feels icky and insincere because it’s a counterfeit “love,” and the world sees right through it.

In the back of many Christian minds, there is “us” and “them.” Believers and non-believers. “Saved” and unsaved. Righteous and unrighteous. That was my thinking all my life.

In short, “Enlightened or deceived.”

Oh, the duality!

But Jesus turned all of that on its ear. The least are first. The broken are exalted. The “can’t seem to get their shit together” people were welcomed. It was upside-down hierarchy, which the self-appointed “Beloveds of his day absolutely abhorred.

It’s no wonder that Christ followers are leaving the church in droves. The message of Jesus is so radical, it’s downright offensive. The NERVE of him, including all! WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?

Um….

If you are reading this, I know the shit is hitting the fan. But you are God’s child.

I know you’ve been ostracized by the very people who purport to carry his message, but those who subscribe to the “us vs. them” mentality are just plain wrong. You are his child. He made you because he delights in you.

Salvation isn’t activated by any action on your part. I’m sorry, but you’re just not that powerful. The love of a supreme deity isn’t ours to ration or withold.

Your pedigree is magnificent!

When Jesus broke my heart for the broken, I had to deconstruct the faith I inherited and was afraid to question, and it was not always pretty. There were tears and doubting, and snotty tissues and dismantled pride.

What about all the rules? What about all the wrath and smiting? I was so well versed in regurgitating what I’d been taught, I missed the forest for the trees. Scripture is inspired by God but filtered by 2,000 years of dogma and politics, written by imperfect people.

But here is no “us” and “them.” One Love, man. And his love is so far-reaching and divine!

Beloveds, you are already his child. And there’s nothing you can do about it and no way to escape his confounding, overwhelming, grace-laden LOVE.

In my reconstructing my faith through the Spirit, I met a Jesus whose radical and scandalous love for this broken world is his actual brand. He is the Living Word. He turned the world upside down, and it wasn’t for rewarding the pious or following a set of rules. It was for the likes of me.

Because I am his child too.

Selah, friends.

Spiritual

“Making the Best of Things” and Other Challenges of Trusting

By: Jana Greene

Let’s talk about “making the best of things,” because if 2020 has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us that it’s going to be a major theme in our lives. (And it always has been, just not always so obviously so.)

This year is demanding that we pay attention.

As for myself, I have been slipping into this baseline tiresome-ness. I am starting to feel like nothing can surprise me anymore.

If, on my way to check the mailbox, a pterodactyl swooped down and picked me up, carried me to an active volcano and dropped me in, I’m not sure I would register surprise.

“Well,” I can imagine saying to myself. “I guess we are doing dinosaurs and liquid hot magma now. That’s 2020 for ya!” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Making the best of things” sounds like a platitude that you might have to dust off sparingly. Like maybe when you look back at your life, you’ll think of your overcoming those times – few, far between – and dodging other bullets of happenstance. I will admit I didn’t know how often adjusting my disposition would be required, but as it turns out, it’s the universal human experience. And as long as we have breath in our bodies, life is going to require it.

The truth is that making the best out of shitty situations is not likely to be a rare occurrence. It will either become a lifestyle or a liability – striving toward what is good, pure, and true – even in the face of pandemics, political chaos, and other hazards of life on Earth.

Dare I say …. it’s a choice?

When you think about the term “make the best of it,” do you hear it in a defeated tone? well, we will make the best of things” in a defeated tone? Does it harken feelings of settling? Sound like a cheap concession?

Because it’s a feeling that springboards off of disappointment, isn’t it?

But each occurrence of making the best becomes a springboard for the next instance of circumstances that require great faith to overcome. Life is full of those opportunities.

Bodies get sick.

Loved ones leave.

Finances give anxiety.

Our minds betray us.

Our spirits falter.

There will be times it will feel like you have to work harder than some others to see the best in things. But rise up.

But all God’s children got things that require overcoming. It’s the rule, not the exception.

It doesn’t mean that the pterodactyls won’t circle.

Or that we operate in denial that lava is hot.

This crappy thing that happened to you that seems like the end of the world? Making the best of things can look like upside-down gratitude, which is natural byproducts of acceptance. Self care nurtures a “make the best of it” mindset.

But trusting in God is a decision you will be challenged to make all the days of your life.

Because at the root of every inability to handle life on life’s terms is TRUST. Or perhaps lack thereof.

I cannot live transcendently if I’m not willing to trust that the story has a good and perfect conclusion – more importantly – that the Author is filling in the plot holes. Even when things make NO sense.

My challenge, should I choose to accept it, is to train myself to say it with hope. With determination. And with the assurance that this – whatever IT is – will too pass, but not without leaving me with hope and a kick-ass set of coping mechanisms.

There’s no need for a Polyanna mindset, only an open one. No denial required, only trust.

My prayer for you today is that you will be given grace in such measure that you take an active role in making the best of things in 2020 and beyond. Lets work to nurture our best selves, and live our BEST lives, no matter what life throws at us.

I’ll work on it if you will. ❤

Spiritual

The 12 MINUTES OF THIS MORNING (a little ditty about being overwhelmed online)

We are all over-saturated and overwhelmed

By: Jana Greene

Im telling you, we were not created to have so much information bombard us online. I was overwhelmed today by 10:30 by all that’s going on. So I cope like I always do – by writing. It’s really goofy but I didn’t get much sleep and I’m pretty punchy. Everybody sing along. It goes a little something like this:

THE 12 MINUTES OF THIS DAY:

On the first minute of this day
Life gave unto me
An argument on my wall about Trump.

On the second minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Two new crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the third minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the fourth minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy political candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the fifth minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the sixth minute of this day
This life gave unto me
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the seventh minutes of this day
Life gave unto me
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the eighth minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Eight mask refusals
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the ninth minute of his day
Life gave unto me
Nine Covid updates
Eight mask refusals
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the tenth minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Fires in California
Nine Covid updates
Eight mask refusals
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the eleventh minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Incoherent Biden
Fires in California
Nine Covid updates
Eight mask refusals
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

On the Twelfth minute of this day
Life gave unto me
Voting controversy
Incoherent Biden
Fires in California
Nine Covid updates
Eight mask refusals
Seven rapture warnings
Six Trolls a stirring
Five ads for Clorox wipes
Four political scandals
Three “weather systems to watch”
Two crappy candidates
And an argument on my wall about Trump.

Spiritual

Unraveling Loss and Looming Hope (and Patterns You Didn’t Expect)

By: Jana Greene

Hello, Dear Reader.

This is the 501st blog post on The Beggar’s Bakery. When I started the blog eight years ago, I was undergoing a season of loss. I would have hoped that by now, my posts would be more light and fluffy. More chipper. You would think, right? So many relationships in my life have grown since then. Some people I barely knew, I now know intimately. Other relationships have inexplicably imploded.

We aren’t living in a very chipper world right now, and my heart is heavy. So I’m writing, because it’s what I do when I don’t know what else to do.

Time is a big weaving loom, in a curious way. It is forever moving. You watch it work, and see an intricate pattern come to life before your eyes as if by magic. Tiny, easily-breakable threads that seem nothing on their own become a part of something bigger and better. You think the warm blanket you are looking forward to wrapping up in is a sure thing as the time chugs along. What a day that will be when the careful weaving becomes a finished product!

But sometimes there are glitches. Either by my own human error or the seemingly random equipment failure of outside forces, things get off kilter.

The threads – manifested as relationships woven as time passes – knot up. One wrong move and the pattern is ruined, and how in the world are you ever going to set it right?

Lately, I feel like I am desperately trying to force the pattern I chose back into being; tweaking this part of machinery or that, even though I have no idea how the thing even works.

I feel a little like the bumbling character Mr. Bean at the loom, awkwardly (and sometimes comically) breaking off the pieces I’m trying to fix; the whole fabric paying the price for my ineptitude. It is then that only making things worse as the beautiful tapestry I set out to make turns into the World’s Ugliest Sweater or World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn.

Interestingly, “loom” has two distinct meanings. First, a loom is a tool for weaving. Second, to loom is to appear or stand over someone in a threatening way. Even more succinctly, “loom” can mean “to come into view indistinctly, often threateningly.” I found that pretty ironic.

If there were ever a time of looming for the world, it is now. It would be bad enough if all we had to deal with was a world of inequity and deadly viruses; of isolation and economic worry.

But as these challenging things are going on, so too is the difficulty of sustaining relationships. Something as simple as one wrong stitch can throw the whole woven cloth into a big, knitted mess.

Even relationships that took years to craft, and so much precious thread and careful patterning, become a mess. Things come into view indistinctly. And nothing makes my heart sadder.

I think I speak for most of us when I saw that 2020 can go screw itself. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is hurting. It sure feels like time is standing over us in a threatening way.

This is not what I’d hoped things would look like 500 posts into this blog. Loss – that ugly Spector – once again at the forefront. Unraveling.

But as the loom of time spins out of control, I will keep trying to grab hold of that single thread that isn’t knotted. There is still time, right? All I can do is take responsibility for my part

If I’ve learned anything about God, it’s that he takes the shittiest circumstances and makes beautiful tapestries out of them. I’m counting on that happening again, continually. I’m counting on one day stepping back from the finished product and seeing the pattern intended for me. I know it will not be flawless. But it will be what it’s meant to be.

Five hundred posts ago, I thought I knew what to expect from friendships and other unpredictabilities of the passing of time.

But God, who designed time and space itself, is close to the broken-hearted. And sometimes that has to be enough.

I’ll keep weaving I’d you will.

Peace be with you and God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

When Love tells Depression, “That’s a Wrap!”

Hello, my beloved readers. Today I commemorate the 500th post on The Beggar’s Bakery! What a long, strange trip it’s been. Thank you for letting me share you thoughts and dreams with each and every one of you. Here’s to 500 more!

By: Jana Greene

To all my friends struggling mightily during this crazy, isolating, chaotic time, I see you.

For those of you also hurting so deep inside that you feel like you’ll implode from the sadness and confusion. I hear you.

My sweet friends wondering if things will always be this way, and despairing because there is no end in sight, I feel you.

Depression is a cold bitch who delights in despondency, but she will not have the last word.

Because as much as she feels like the strongest force around right now, she lies.

She is a house of cards, building upon one fear at a time on a foundation of sand. And she is helpless when the tides turn and again – always – wash her out.

Love will have the last word, as it spurs us all on toward hope.

Hope is the Comeback Kid, and Love it’s vehicle.

Hope nudges us to remember to reach out to others, even when all we really want to do is shut down.

And there Love gently guides us. It holds us. It comforts us through one another.

Love says “keep going” and eventually, one fine day, yells “that’s a wrap!” when despair finally backs down and we can laugh again.

And it will back down.

It will always bow down to Love.

It can’t help but bow down.

I’ll keep going if you will. Keep going with me.

And we will wait together for the tide that is surely turning again, just as it always has.

Just as it always will.

  • Jana Greene