Pages

UNDAUNTED
For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Through Shaded Glasses

Alright. I have to confess. As I write this, I am laughing.

I am back on my computer for the first time in a few hours, and I have read through the responses to "The Truth about Why." And I am laughing.

Wow. The responses run from people applauding my honesty, to folks who are thankful for someone who understands them, to others who have found hope in seeing that I have no given up, to folks who think I am writing from my pain to others' pain and think maybe it isn't constructive that way. By the way, this was the question I have been asking the Lord today. Is this useful? If so, I'll keep writing. If not, I need to close the laptop. It is a valid question.

Well, my responses are:
For those applauding my honesty, thank you. I appreciate your encouragement.
For those who are thankful for someone who understands, I understand that you don't need answers as much as a safe place. You are welcome here.
For those who have found hope, THAT is worth it all right there. Thank you.
As for writing from my pain to others' pain, yes, I do, but one simple question reverberates through me: "If you don't, who will?" These are people who keep quiet because they have been told what so many others have been told--"You need to get healed, then you can be useful."

My friend John only partially jokes when he asks how I am, and before I can answer, he says, "Remember, Jerri, you're fine, and if you aren't fine, you better get fine if you plan to come here because this is the church, and we don't want you ruining our fine-ness."

Yeah. Some took offense at that. Some totally understood what he meant. I'm obviously writing for the latter group. LOL

Am I writing out of my pain? Yes. I'm also writing about what is causing my pain, and that is something few folks talk about, especially Christians talking about the pain inflicted by the church. The fact is it far easier to simply walk out, let the gossip commence under the guise of well-meaning concerned souls, and never look back. If you think it is hard to look at a person and confront their painful behavior, try confronting the church sometime.

What seems to escape people is that God and I are sincerely fine, and Jesus had no problem confronting the religious leaders who were so busy living religiously that they forgot how to love righteously. People told Him to be quiet, too. In fact, it was suggested that He might be mentally or emotionally off and not exactly socially acceptable. He kept hanging out with the drunks and whores, and God was okay with it. In fact, Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father do. THAT is something to ponder. Think about that for a moment. God choosing the dregs of society--the obvious sinners--over the religious folks. God Himself hanging out with the folks most church goers try to avoid. Hmmm.....

Believe me. I have been pondering this. It is deep stuff.

I called a friend of mine one day and said, "Jesus said the drunks and prostitutes were going into heaven before the religious leaders. I like being at the front of the line. Just saying."

She paused for a moment and said, "Can I just suggest you give it 48 hours before implementing that plan?"

I told her not to worry. I hate the taste of liquor, so I would only be in the middle of the line anyway.

I'll give you a second to get it.....back with me now? At least those of you who were not wholly offended and just deleted me? :-)

I know. Some of y'all are thinking comments like that will keep me out of heaven altogether. If it makes you feel any better, no they won't. God has so many far bigger things to choose from that comments like that are like the teeny tiny fine print on the bottom of the contract's 81st page.

Believe it or not, I have a point. My point is this, people are going to see me through their filters. There are still people who read my blog who have read the good stuff about Christmas, which was obviously completely forgotten in the shadow of my last post, and still think we must just be putting on a brave front. I know because I get emails from them, and they are sweet, sincere emails. I think it is kind of those folks to pray for us and let us know they are praying for us and are concerned because you know what? Not many folks do that. Whether their perception is right or wrong, their hearts are in the right place, and Lord knows we need more of that in the world.

And, I know a few folks who ask how I am and if  I tell them I am struggling, they sort of lump that in the category of trying to figure out what to fix for supper. They have such an amazing view of me that they see this warrior who can take any giant that comes her way, and sometimes I wish they would see a kid in a big armor scared to death, but no. They see someone who can take anything that comes at her, and when I waiver, they are the first ones to say, "But, Jerri, we know who you are. You are..." It gets on my nerves sometimes, BUT when I get over my own want for someone to come to my rescue and getting annoyed because they aren't doing it, I am thankful...and humbled. Everyone should have fans like that.

Then there are the sweet folks who ride the roller coaster and see me with my hands up, screaming with excitement one minute and tossing my cookies the next. Somehow they handle it all. They handle the screaming, the crying, the explosive joy. They handle the questions, the anger, the doubts, and the hallelujahs. These people have got to be hand-picked by God for my life right now, and thank the Lord in Heaven they are. I couldn't do this journey without them. I don't think I would want to walk out my front door without them. These amazing people see this gifted writer who has a voice and who makes a difference, and of course, I'm supposed to write a book about this, and of course, it is going to change lives, and of course, I need to be writing in the midst of the maelstrom because who knows what life preservers are being thrown out among what looks like debris. That is what they see. This is what they know to be true.

My point being people will see with their personal vision. Some will see a heretic. Some will see a broken and bloody mess. Some will see a warrior. Some will see hope. Some will see a person on the path God set out for her knowing even when it is ugly, it is of Him and has purpose, and they know even a warrior gets weary.

Again, people saw Jesus as all of the above. How they saw Him wasn't His concern. His concern was when they saw Him, they saw the Father.

Not everyone is going to see me the way I want them to, but I am learning not to let that be my concern. My concern has to be whether people see the Father.

And if people are seeing a place of hope, a place of encouragement, a place of strength, or a place of belonging, they are seeing Him, and even if it is wrapped in ugly truth, that is the best I have to give.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Truth about Why

In the last few hours since I posted that I will be removing my blog from public view, I have received texts and emails asking why.

As a writer, I have tried to keep one simple goal before me--to offer something positive and hopeful to the reader. I always wanted the reader to "leave" in a better state than when he or she arrived.

In the last year and a half I have often wondered if any such thing was being offered, and I was often humbled by how even in my pain, God gave something, usually a place to feel safe, to feel understood. And beautiful people left me messages and sent me emails and shared their hearts and humbled me with the honor of showing me the scars and wounds, the vulnerable places, the places raw from life's battering, and I tried to touch gently, to be a balm in those places that hurt beyond words, to speak word healing where healing seemed beyond fathoming, and I prayed to never inflict more pain or to dismiss a scar or a wound as superficial when it was heart deep.

God knows I understand heart deep pain.

But now I wonder what I really have to offer.

When I wanted to pull down my blogs before, the Lord told me they were His words for His glory, that His word would not return to Him void. When I told Him I felt I had nothing to say, He simply said, "Tell the truth."

But the truth is ugly.

The truth is I am hurt and angry about Rob's parents who acted like I was dead for 10 1/2 months suddenly calling Christmas as though all were good and fine, and then having the audacity to tell me they love me when they openly chose to embrace Rob's other life. A bit of a slap in the face, I think. I was having a great day until they called, and honestly, I wish they would go back to acting like I was dead, too.

But I am trying desperately to take the high road, whatever that is, and really, I just want to tell them to fall of the planet (how is that for a non-four-letter word euphemism?). However, very godly people have made it a point to tell me that is not what a Christian does. Christians forgive and love anyway.

Yeah...and long exhale...

The truth is I wish I had not seen the card from Rob's mom in the mail today. On one hand it is very thoughtful of her, and I confess I am impressed because I have sent no birthday cards this year. On the other hand, it is no secret in Rob's family that she has never liked me, and seeing her name only reminds me I didn't...don't...belong. I am acutely aware that I don't belong anywhere. I really didn't need that as an exclamation mark.

BUT, I'm a Christian. I should give thanks in all things, and besides it was a nice gesture on her part. I should just be thankful.

It feels like being grateful for someone pouring alcohol on a gaping wound.

And the truth is I have received more than one lecture about how ungodly my attitude is and how I need to repent for my anger before I go to hell, and I have tried to take those slaps with grace, but I don't have any more grace. I would just as soon shut down my blogs and my Facebook page and disappear.

The truth is I am tired of cyberhugs and "thinking of you" and "I'm here if you need me" from people who can't find time to ask how my day is on a regular basis.

I told you the truth is ugly.

The truth is several people have made it clear they either feel I need to be "past this", whatever 'this' is or they are tired of hearing it, and one thing Rob taught me is my needing people makes me a burden, and being a burden, makes people leave. I've seen enough people leave in the last 18 months. It's easier to just not need.

The truth is I know there are more hurting people out there than I can count. I know they need to be found, and I know I have been brought through all I have so I can find them. And I ask the Lord how to do that. How do I find them? How do I give them a belonging place? How do I walk into their bedrooms where they are lying in bed because the world is too heavy to face today? How do I sit with them and let them know they really can tell me the deep hurts, the ugly ones, the scary ones, the ones that make their heads hang? How do I tell them I don't think they are broken beyond recognition or stupid for hurting the way they do?

And I know there are people out there who feel that way. I know there are people who feel like they belong nowhere. I know there are people who don't want to get out of bed today because they feel pointless. They are trying desperately to feel excited or happy about something--ANYTHING--but they feel nothing, and at some point they simply become too tired to "do life" or continue to go through the motions. They are tired of being the strong ones and just wish someone else would be strong for them. They are tired of being the one making all the decisions, taking the first step, and reaching out and wish someone would simply decide to take them to dinner, take the step to their front door, and reach out to them in a truly helpful way. I know they want someone to find them. They want the cavalry. They want someone who says, "I'm not afraid of the ugly," and camps out right in the middle of it with them.

I know.

Because that is what I want.

I also know truth is too much for some people, and truth makes husbands leave and friends find other friends...and only emphasizes the fact that one does not belong...

And the truth is...I already know that well enough. Knowing it better does not help.

The truth is I am weary beyond words. I have tried to walk this road with grace and integrity. I have fallen often and hard, but I have tried to be an encouragement for others. I have tried to seek out and offer the light in the dark places and hold out hope in the hard spots. I honestly have tried. But the truth is I don't know how God can use any of this ugly for anything and simply putting my heart in words for people to read and then beat with a stick or stab with their righteous Sword isn't my idea of a good time. I don't know if I am courageous enough or strong enough or determined enough to withstand that onslaught anymore.

If God can use this ugly mess, it is His mess, and they are His words, and even if it is hard and even if it does hurt, I will write. But can He really use this ugliness? Does it really make a difference? In all these ugly, angry, dark questions is there really life to be found?

The truth is...I don't know.

When There is Nothing

Unless there is a clear "word from God" change in plans, I am pulling my blog down from public view January 1st. I have no idea how long it will be down, but when--if--the time comes for me to write again, I hope I will find you here then. If not, thank you for your love, concern, and prayers through this journey. You bless me deep.

With sincerest gratitude,
Jerri

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Joy of Christmas

This morning I was talking to a friend about Christmas, and she asked how we are doing. I told her how totally joyous and full I feel this year and how it is so happy around here, and she asked why. :-)

(Funny how when we are miserable people "understand" but when we are happy folks ask why?)

I didn't have an answer right then, but on my way home from delivering some cookies, I had a chance to think about it. What was the joy? What was THIS?

I confess to you, it is not what I usually associate with Christmas.

For me Christmas has been a holiday of knowing no matter how hard I try I make someone unhappy. If there had been three sets of us to be at different parents' homes, maybe, but then, I'm sure I would have grated on someone's nerves. That happens when folks don't like you, and yes, I am fully aware of how unliked I was.*

The hardest part, though, wasn't extended family. The hardest part was right here at home.

Most of my memories of Christmas with Rob include sadness from feeling disconnected and simply wishing I felt loved by him. I know. Folks who know us...him...can say, "But he did love you." I know. I can't explain it. All I can tell you is I never felt connected to him, and it hurt, and I spent nearly 20 Christmases being in a room of people feeling totally alone, feeling like I couldn't get "it" right, knowing I was not what was wanted...and not liking Christmas.

But this year is different.

This year smile wrinkles are coming to live under my eyes, and there are creases where my cheeks sit higher and my smile is trying to catch up. When I breathe deep, it isn't to stuff down the tears but to exhale the overflow of contentedness and joy inside me because if I don't let it out somewhere, I am sure I will explode.

This year...this year is CHRISTMAS.

The Christ-mass.

The celebration of the love gift reaching beyond the lines to relationship healing, holding, and creating.

It is the unmerited gift of loving and letting someone love back...the wild wonder of belonging...of being wanted...of being...me...and that being enough.

But it really isn't about me. It's the life--the lives--surrounding me.

It's Christmas light looking with the kids.
Lunch with my friend Windi.
Checking in texts from Taylor.
Fabulous folks I enjoy at the Artisan when I volunteer.
A long family dinner at my Aunt Bobbie's.
Amelia hanging out in my kitchen while I bake 17 dozen cookies.
Tammy and Vicki sitting in my living room, chatting it up with the kids and me.
Time with Scott.
New friends made today that are just groovy as all get out.
My brother being here tomorrow.
Texts from my brother-in-law as he shopped for the kids and sent me pictures so I could feel the excitement and joy as though I were shopping with them.
Rae. 'Nuff said.
Kaylan's surprise visit before he heads to Afghanistan.
Sharilyn making aluminum hats to dance in the rain with my kids.
Blessed friends (Multiple Marys and Lisas, Leanna, Kenneth and Joy, Morgan, MaryKate, and the list even Santa can't rival) to smile and laugh with us...and cry sometimes too...
And....

The gift isn't a day...the gift is the LIFE...and I am surrounded by AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, DEEP LIVES, and because of them, my life is amazing, beautiful, and deep.

THAT is Christmas.

When I have a life THAT full, how can it be anything  but fabulous.

Yep....I *LOVE* this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beyond Happy

I wish I had words to tell you about my happy right now, but I don't, so let me just wrap it in a bundle and say I am forever overwhelmed by the amazing people who love me and the depth of that love and forever left humbled by my Father God's attention to my smallest prayer or the ways He holds what is dear to me as the dearest thing to Him.

Tonight I am more than happy. I am...full...

Wondrously, divinely, perfectly...full.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When the Generation Gap isn't so Big

She sits in the glider rocker by the Christmas tree. I sit across from her, firmly holding down my spot of floor. Around us sit three generations, some mine growing older, most younger growing up. Voices chatter around us despite the laps filled with plates laden with food.

But I hear nothing...only the words she doesn't speak.

The matriarch of the family for years now, she has buried three younger brothers. The middle one is my dad. The oldest and youngest a year apart, not enough years ago, and I see it. I feel it. Despite the full house, it is painfully empty.

"Aunt Bobbie," I call through the hubbub, "thank you for letting us invade your house again."

Her eyes twinkle with a sincere smile. "Oh, Sis, I'm glad to. We like having everybody here."

"But the ones who aren't here are hard."

The voices go instantly quiet, and somehow the room disappears, and it is the two of us...a generation apart...in the same place.

I know all too well the ones who are here are a joy. The ones who aren't here...are hard.

She nods. "Yes. I was just thinking about..."

And she talks, and I listen.

And the silence lets us.

She tells me about things she misses and plans they had. Her voice trails, and I fight the mist blurring her and say simply, "And it wasn't supposed to be like this."

She looks at me. Found. And I force a smile.

"No, Sis, it wasn't supposed to be like this."

"And some moments are just really hard." I say for us both.

"Yes, some moments are really hard."

"I had a day this week when I felt like I cried all day." I invite her in...into my day...to share her day...to let our days and tears merge...to take her hand from across the room...from across the generation gap.

We really are not that far apart in this same place together.

She nods, and her eyes wander thoughtfully. "Yeah, I had a day like that this week. I don't remember what day it was, but I cried a lot, too."

"Some days are like that."

She breathes in deep and looks down and away, memories tender. "Yeah, some days are."

"I understand," I say softer so the crack in my voice isn't obvious.

Her eyes look into mine again...into me again..."I know you do, Sis. I know you do."

And there is no gap...just two women in this place of being thankful for what is...missing what is not...emotionally fumbling in the tension between the two...comforted to be here...together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Searching for Survivors

I don't recognize the name. Third one today. I open it and begin to read. Before I am done, tears are slipping down my face, and my heart wants to reach through the internet  and hug long.

For people who don't know what to say, they say much. They say they understand. They say they are alone too. They say their hearts seek to be found.

My heart seeks to find them.

These beautiful people who don't have hands to hold when they put up a tree with familiar ornaments...without familiar presence and familiar faces. These moms and dads navigating the waters of parenting alone. The women finding wholeness in self when more than half of them has been laid to rest.

The ties that bind have come undone. The never ending circle has ended.

The house is empty. The bed is large. The hole is engulfing. The weight is heavy...to heavy...for hearts so fragile...so full of pain..so full of need...need to be loved...need to be needed.

And they want to know...

"What now?"

And I look to the Father and ask, "What now?"

Surely He did not bring us through the wilderness that we should leave others to wander alone and possibly die there. Surely He did not break our hearts so hard and deep to be so callous to the pieces of others' hearts that litter the ground around us. Surely...Surely...

And I look to the Father and ask, "How?"

I leave the email open and close my eyes. I sit in the quiet, let myself soak in the pain, let my heart remember the darkest places...and know there are others in the dark, others surviving in the wilderness. How do we find them before they give up?

"How do I offer a refuge? How do I build the village in the wilderness that becomes the portal out of the desert? How do we find the survivors before they become the fatalities?"

I am listening....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Journal Uncensored--God's Silence

(Journal entries from late November 2011)

I am overwhelmed. I am staring at God wondering how He tolerates me..and completely overcome by His love for me.

"He is jealous for me.
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
O, how He loves us so
O, how He loves us
O, how He loves us so"
(How He Loves by David Crowder)

I have felt--abandoned.

There is a difference between feeling unloved and abandoned.

I don't doubt God loves me, but I confess I feel for whatever reason, He has left me to simply endure or learn some hard lesson or--I don't know. I only know He is silent, and silence when my pain rages and He has power to act only feels like abandonment.

I have begged for help with all the things where I feel overwhelmed, and I know He has given me answers about some of them, but I get so overwhelmed by everything else. I don't know how to deal with it all, and some days are so full of so much that I simply dread facing them.

This week, especially yesterday, I have been so angry. All these promises, and I am seeing nothing.

And I can do nothing else.

I feel like a failure across the board, and I can't find answers. Don't know where else to look.

But God has promised good things? So where are they?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Someone Special

"Jerri," he says in that way that means he hopes I grasp the truth in his words, "we are all looking for someone special. Everyone who is single is looking for someone special. You are not the only one who finds the holidays to be hard because you don't have someone special."

I listen.

His sincerity warms my heart...even though I know he is totally wrong.

The truth is most people are not looking for someone special. They are looking to BE special. Most people are not looking for someone they can value, encourage, or love. Most of us are looking for someone who values us, picks the right Christmas gift, remembers our birthday, knows those special things about us, encourages us when we are down, calls at just the right time, surprises us with a card, and all those great mushy gushy love things that tell us we are worth the effort, we are important, we are noticed and valued in this world.

THAT is what most people want.

Now, some folks do like spoiling others. They like being the caller, the one who picks up that little something, the one who makes the effort, and the one who lets the other person know their life makes a difference.

In my case, I get to be both.

No. I am not dating anyone. There are no whispers of "forever" or even suggestions of dinner Friday night. However, I am deeply loved, and I am blessed with very lovely people.

I have multiple friends who send me emails or texts to whisper heart deep that they believe my life makes a difference, that THEIR life is better because of mine. They remember my birthday, my special numbers, hard days. They notice when my Facebook account disappears or when I am quiet too long...or when they ask how I am and I answer without giving an answer at all...and that tells them all they need to know. They know I have no favorite color but do have favorite cookies...and they have the recipe. They know the priceless gifts that money can't buy. They know how to pack seashells and Birch bark so they don't break, and they are gifted at picking just the right music video to post to my Facebook wall.

These lovely people share their hearts, and I try to hear the pieces, the parts that make them who they are, their favorite colors, cookies, movies, and memories. I send CDs, rum cakes, and state shaped pasta, cards with inside jokes, links to make them laugh, and pictures of whatever that "reminded me of you." And there is the treasure--the thoughts of them, the knowing them, the privilege of being allowed in. Their priceless lives that make such a huge difference to mine, and the lives that are worth the effort, MY effort to convey just how priceless they are.

No wonder everyone wants it. Too bad so few realize how good it feels to give it.

Me? Like I said, I'm blessed enough to get both. And, yes, THAT is VERY special.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pressing On...and Forgetting What is Behind

Each day He gave it to me. Each day I read it. Each day it felt like sandpaper on the raw places, the sin places still dripping with shame.

Finally, I could stand it no longer.

"Lord, what am I supposed to get out of this? That I am forgiven. That You have forgotten. That..."

The words failed me.

With a presence so strong, I felt Him sit beside me and put His hand on my hunched back. He said simply, "Forgetting what is behind...press on..."

Forgetting what is behind...forgetting what is behind...

Forgetting...
Forgetting the sin.
Forgetting the failures.
Forgetting the bodies.
Fogetting...what I had wanted.
Forgetting...want to mean to someone...and not.

I press on...
Press on to His promises.
Press on to the book He said to write.
Press on the to be the influence He promised I would be.
Press on to life and all its hope.

And I press on...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Journal Uncensored--Emotionally Unavailable

"I am emotionally damaged and emotionally unavailable."

His words roll around in my head like that annoying drippy faucet that can't be turned off. It's annoying and grates on my nerves...and is oddly comforting.

It is comforting to have a term, some kind of defined explanation. It is also wildly comforting in a mental/emotional "raft up" kind of way. Ironic how another emotionally unavailable person can release emotions of joyous contentment in my not being alone in this.

It also bothers me in deep ways I don't want to explain, in vulnerable ways that pull back the "all is fine" mask and reveals the all too raw places underneath.

Frankly, the whole thing makes me mad.

It makes me mad that I gave him power to do this. It makes me made that I still give him that power.

But how do I take it back?

Heather said she knows several women who think the way to get over one man is to get under another.

Just how much nameless sex does it take to stop feeling like your name is painfully easy to forget?

Or in some cases, before you stop feeling at all?

Since I seem to already be there, I think I can skip the whole sex debacle and be fairly confident I haven't missed anything.

I may not have all the answers, but one thing I do know, a man getting in my pants and a man getting behind my walls is not the same thing.

And ultimately, I want him behind my walls.

Ultimately, I want to trust again.

Ultimately, I want the wild ride of passion...about all of life...again.

Ultimately, I want to feel deeply, where right now I feel mostly numb.

Ultimately, I want to love fearlessly, knowing I can invest huge and watch it all walk away if someone decides I am not enough...or they aren't...

Ultimately, it isn't about a man finding his way behind my walls.
It's about my not wanting to be a prisoner inside them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Hope

The God who holds the promise of my future is more powerful
than the person who made the mistakes of my past.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From My Journal--Filling the Hole

At some point, you have to be willing to risk being you with all your gifts, all your potential, and all your passion.

Otherwise, you are choosing to create a hole that you should be filling.

My Journal Uncensored (Maybe You Can Relate)--Part 2

I started to write something on my blog about wanting to be a light for those needing a connection, hug, or some hope, but really this holiday season has left me with nothing to say, and maybe it would be better to see folks after the first of the year.

But then there are the emails and comments from people who found "a kindred spirit", hope, or inspiration in all the pain and ugly of the last 18 months. Whatever they found encouraged them to be brave, to believe for healing, to hope a bit longer.

I haven't the foggiest what it was.

To me it all just looks like a disaster scene from a nightmare. But I wonder, if something in that disaster scene inspired even one person, is there someone else being inspired? Is someone else finding hope?

I know what it is to be hopeless, begging for something--ANYthing--that gives a reason to believe there is healing, that it won't always hurt so much. I know the places God has placed those treasures for me, the places that make no sense to anyone else, the sentences and phrases that have no great truth but somehow mean everything. I understand the mystery of God that allows a fuzzy mold to become the life-saving antibiotic. Too many times I have wept with the relief of being known, of being found, because I saw the medicine when others only saw mold.

Who am I to decide if this mold has a greater purpose?

All I know is He said to write--even when it hurt deeply, even when it was ugly, even when it was more honest and transparent than I ever wanted to be...Even when I am the moldy one.

And so, the blog remains...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'd Love to Talk, but I'm Wrestling...

The post from earlier today and the next few days were written in my journal a week or so ago. I am not in the same place. Amazing to me how God finds me in my mental-encasing knot of "not working out the way I wanted", straightens the string, and transforms the picture so I see something totally new, but He does...and He did...

And I am fine...letting all the life-sucking ingredients go in, watching the life explosion come out.

But tonight, with my clock shining 11:11, I am contentedly wrestling, as though opening a giant present with a laughable amount of tape, knowing whatever I am wrestling to get to is good...because I'm not wrestling to hold on. I'm wrestling to take hold...

My Journal Uncensored (Maybe You Can Relate)--Part 1

(Journal date: November 27, 2011)

I spent a lot of the last two days in tears feeling...I don't know if "hopeless" is the word. I don't kno--stranded, like at sea, just floating, knowing I am getting closer to something but not sure what or when, just here.

I haven't been able to identify any real emotions other than sadness, and I wonder if I feel anything at all.

I have cried a lot.

Felt like just going to bed and not getting up until after my birthday. Then I realized that puts us six weeks from when Rob died. I cannot fathom.

And in the midst of feeling lost, I wrote the Christmas letter. I ended up taking out the part about me. I guess that isn't fair to the poeple who want to know about me, but there are some people I don't want to know anything about me. I think it is more than that, though. I think I never felt like I was "part of the group" with Rob and the kids, so why try to insert myself now.

In the letter, I wrote about Mom passing in 2010 and Rob's passing. I tried to be honoring to him, but I expect backlash. I expect someone to criticize it, tell me too much focus was put on Rob, need to be more honest, need to move on. Not sure what I am going to say if they do. I don't feel like explaining anything, not that I owe anyone an explanation, and who knows? Maybe if someone says anything, I will simply delete the message or hang up. I guess I will have to see.

I sent the notecard collage as a card. Pictures of Rob, the kids, them together, and one of me. I started not to put me in at all. However, for nine and a half months, it has been just the kids and me. It should be our family picture, but....But.

But, is it Rob's last year on the card, and it is hard beyond words. It is crazy surreal, and I find myself wandering through, trying to make sense of it, trying to find the truth, feeling like I failed, like it was all my fault. Maybe if I had done something different, maybe if I had understood...Maybe if I had understood who he really wanted to be and encouraged him there or supported him there, he would have been happy. Maybe he wouldn't have felt rejected. But then, I took him at his word, and there is really nowhere to go beyond that.

And it doesn't matter...except it does...because I failed before. How do I know I won't fail like that again?

I don't know, but then, the more I have read through the emails and texts from his computer and phone, the more I realize there is a lot I didn't know.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hard Questions Part 2

Hard Questions Part 1

"I've closed my Facebook accounts, and I'm pulling down my blogs. I don't think it is a good idea for me to write anymore."

She knew it wasn't a retreat or a step back or a temporary attempt to destress.

Writing isn't what I do. It's who I am. It's the core of me. It's breathing for my soul.

I wasn't walking out on writing. I was walking out on me.

She wanted to know why.

And I didn't want to tell her.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a writer. Before I could actually write letters, I took a pen, scribbled lines across a page, and "read" them into stories. I've written to work through my own trauma, to reveal others' trauma, to try to understand. I've written to offer truth...and find it for myself. I've written to release all I think and feel...and to hide in a world not this one because this world's thoughts were too dark and its feelings too painful...And I have desired, prayed...even begged...that my writing would offer hope, a way through...a view of God to people who desperately need to see Him.

I thought I knew what that meant...what it looked like...

I thought I knew what it meant being a "Christian writer", and that is what I have tried to be. I have tried to write with excellence--using the perfect starting sentence, checking it a dozen times to make sure the phraseology was just write, getting it within the acceptable word count. I have tried to use the right words, not be offensive, and let everyone feel good when they were done reading.

The problem is I don't write for perfection. I write out of Presence. I am not acceptable. I use the wrong topics, get too honest, and use the wrong words, and several Christians have made it a point to tell me how I offend them. Can't say I feel bad, though. Honestly, I find some Christians to be offensive, and I hope I knock their comfort zones sideways. Someone needs to, and no, that is not judgment. It is fact, and before anyone starts throwing rocks, read about Jesus' thoughts on white washed stones sometimes or religious rulers who were high on laws and lacking in love.

The fact is when it became obvious that marital separation was inevitable, I was sure I knew what it meant to be a Christian, and I really wanted a good relationship with God. After a year in hell, I can honestly say I have a solid relationship with God. It's the whole church defined "Christian" thing I am doubting.

What does a "Christian writer" do when she is no longer sure she can write "as a Christian"? When she is no longer sure what "being a Christian" is? When she no longer knows who she is?

Or maybe she does know, and she knows what it'll cost...

And she has to decide...does she walk away from who she is...or walk toward all she has asked to be...

Even if it leaves people not understanding and a lot of people asking why...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hard Questions Part 1

Her fingers slid into her hair just above and behind her ears, and the weight of her head rested on her palm, elbow on the table.

I know that look.

She paused. Her eyes penetrating. Her mouth did that...thing. In a flash she set up, pushed the dishes around, and said, "Let the chilli simmer. Get your coffee and sit down. We are going to talk about this."

Coffee in hand, I slid into the chair across from her. She leaned forward, elbows on the table, looked at me as though she could see right into my brain and read the electrical impulses shooting through it, and then she asked one question:

"Why?"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rattling Around

For the last two days
I have been trying to get comfortable
in my own skin
and instead just seem to rattle around in who I am.

If you understand what I mean, please know my heart goes out to you, and I am praying for you.

Jerri

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For Christmas...I Want Santa Claus

The season of anticipation is upon us. Christmas is just around the corner, and for the first time since I was a kid, I wish there were a Santa Claus.

This week has passed with each day finding me in tears at some point.

I thought last year would be the hard year. I had no idea how numb I was...until the numb wore off.

This year, I'm not numb. This year I'm wishing there were a Santa Claus.

One thing Rob and I did well was Christmas.

We picked an evening, went on a date, had dinner, and shopped for the children. On another day, we would split the children up, have parent child date night, and let them shop for each other. Then he would take them for a night with Dad, and they would shop for me.

We put the tree up together. I doled out the ornaments, and everyone else decorated the tree, each person putting the personal ornaments from the years before. The children shared putting up the Pooh Bear figurines, and Rob always put up the Star Trek Shuttle and the Fragile leg from A Christmas Story.

On Christmas Eve, we baked cookies and put them on a plate for Santa. A glass of milk sat by them so he could dip the cookies or simply swallow down the sugar. The children wrote letters to Santa, telling about their year, telling him thank you, wishing him well, and all the teeth lost during the year were laid nicely by the plate for Santa to take to the Tooth Fairy so she could have the night off.

When the children were asleep, Rob and I would watch It's a Wonderful Life and wrap gifts. He wore his green reindeer shirt I made him the year we got married and his Christ-moose socks with the big antlers and fuzzy red nose. We packed stockings, laughed a lot, and thanked God for the wonder of being parents.

He ate the cookies--leaving lots of crumbs--and drank the milk and wrote in elegant print a letter from Santa replying to the children's notes, thanking them for the goodies, and telling them how thoughtful it was to give the Tooth Fairy the night off.

On Christmas, the schedule altered some, but for the most part, we opened gifts, ate lunch, played with toys, played games, and enjoyed being a family...even last year.

But this year...

This year the kids really have nothing they want, and I don't want to shop alone anyway. We've decided not to put up the personal ornaments but buy all new ones. And I can't even think about Christmas Eve or letters to Santa that have no one to answer, and, yes, the kids knew it was their dad, which makes it even harder. I don't know when I will be alone to wrap presents, and I cannot watch It's a Wonderful Life without wishing Rob could have realized how amazing he was to us and how much he gave to us by simply being part of life.

And how do we even touch Christmas Day?

And this year, I wish there were a Santa Claus.

I wish I could wake up Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree, stockings filled, and lights shining...on the tree and in the darkness.
I wish there were boxes and bags of new things,
things we've never considered,
things that show us something new about ourselves and the life being rebuilt,
things that fill the air with laughter and our hearts with joy.

I wish...

I wish there were a Santa to take the weight of the day,
to fill it with life when it feels like everything about it this year just reminds us of death.

I wish he would fill the air with laughter and the smell of pumpkin pie.

I wish he would bring the perfect gifts,
the perfect people,
the perfect hugs,
the perfect stocking stuffers,
...the perfect heart fillers.

I wish he would bring the Christmas I can't even imagine this year.

I wish....

I wish there were a Santa Claus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gift of Presence

The holidays are coming, and this year, they are not being greeted with the usual excitement. This year the anticipation has been replaced by dread.

When holidays are about family get-togethers, seeing others open the gifts you gave and watching their faces beam with joy, laughing together, and enjoying everybody, when those people are gone, it is hard. Traditions are hard when the traditional people aren't there to enjoy them with you. It could be parents, spouse, children, or friends.

When lives change big, big holes are created where the treasures used to be.

In our home, we are very traditional. We have a huge tree, five-foot diameter at the base, and eight feet tall. We bought it a few years ago to hold all our ornaments. Our ornaments are ones we've been collecting since 1988. The first Christmas Rob and I dated, we bought an ornament and had it personalized with both our names. Every Christmas after that we either bought an ornament with our names or we each bought an ornament. Then we had our four-legged children because we weren't planning to have two-legged ones, and they each got an ornament. Then Anna got her ornament. Then Robert got his ornament. It took time, but we eventually removed all ornaments that were not personal either in name of memory. All we have are named ornaments or ornaments with stories. It is pretty neat actually. Every year we put up the ornaments and tell the stories and laugh all over again.

Except this year the stories are a bit more painful than funny, and the personal ornaments that brought such great joy only magnify the empty place of the person not here to put up his ornament...either here with us or at his house with the kids.

My parents are gone. There is no family get together.

All the things we loved--the PEOPLE--we loved aren't here, and the hole is huge.

So, we held a meeting.

The very real option of ditching the holidays and going on a trip was put on the table. The option to not up a tree was laid out there, too. The option to scratch what we had always done and start all over was dropped into the mix.

"Like what?"

"Like what what?"

"Like what like we've never done?"

"Like anything we want to do."

Quiet.

"I like the tree," I ventured. "I like to turn on the lights, listen to quiet music, and just be."

Two heads nod.

"But I can't put up the personal ornaments this year." My voice cracks without permission.

Two heads nod.

"We can get new ornaments," I suggest.

Two bodies come to attention.

"Really? We can do that?"

"Really. We can do that."

Today we did.

We went tropical with lime green, Caribbean blue, and hot pink. Streamers and viney looking straight ornaments in all colors, fancy pink butterflies, lime dragon flies, and blue flowers. It is our Christmas Carnival tree. A million miles from the stoic somber trees we usually see. None of the Christmas decorum for us. No, sirree. We are all about celebration...in the brightest sense of the word.

We shopped for our unit in Afghanistan while we were at it. Tomorrow we bake cookies and put a box of homemade, "You rock. Thank you for all you do!" in the mail.

And then...

I don't know.

But I have a feeling it will include laughter, a lot of cookies, some Kleenex, and Latin rhythms.

I wish I knew a way to make it better. I wish I knew a way to take away the ache. I wish...

But this is what I know. We won't always ache. We won't always feel like there is a hole...unless we choose to. We won't always...wish.

One day we will enjoy the new treasures, be comfortable in the new traditions, laugh to new jokes. One day the room won't be lit by the stings on the trees but the faces around us. One day we will see through the veil to rejoice in the lives that have filled our lives.

I already see them.

I don't know how God is incorporating them yet, but I see faces...all around me. I feel the new lives, the warmth of the knitting. It is good. It is very good.

And I choose to focus on THOSE gifts, the gifts of the present, the gifts of presence.

Do they "fix" things? No. They don't replace the loved ones we lost. But if we are going to be here, I sure am thankful for the gift of their presence.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Living Joyfully Free--interview with Lisa Buffaloe

I am on Living Joyfully Free with Lisa Buffaloe today! Come over as we talk about pain, healing, helping, and God's faithfulness in it all.

And if you can't drop by today, just drop by! Lisa is gracious to keep the interviews up so folks can listen when it works for them. Trust me, you'll want to hear ALL the interviews, too.

For Clarity--What I Believe

In the last 18 months I have said some things that have left people wondering what I believe, and evidently some folks are questioning my Christianity and faith. Fair enough. So I thought I would take a moment to share what I believe.

I believe:
-God is all-mighty, all-knowing, all-seeing Father and Creator.
-His love is deeper than we can fathom, and I know I had never seen it more clearly than I have in the last year and a half.
-The Bible is the inspired and infallible word of God. Unfortunately, the people who use it are not infallible.
-The Bible is God's way of reaching into a lost and hurting world and offering hope and salvation. Unfortunately, men too often use it to beat the hell out of people rather than lead them to heaven. God never intended for the Bible to be used as a weapon, but men are too often okay with making things with a special purpose multipurpose, and when that happens, people get hurt.
-The right verse at the right moment is life-giving. A verse given as a bandaid or demand to believe only inflicts more pain.
-God is not afraid of hard questions.
-Jesus came to save ANYone who accepts Him.
-There is one and only one God that manifests as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
-Being loved by God and being saved by Christ are not the same thing.
-Nothing is too big for God to forgive.
-God heals.
-God loves to talk to His children.
-No one is ever too far for God's hand to reach them.

And because I believe those things....

I believe wherever you are, whatever you've done, whatever is happening in your life...
God loves you and is pursuing you.

I am utterly and completely convinced,
whatever your need, whatever your sin, whatever your pain,
God can provide, forgive, and heal.

You have not fallen too far.
You have not sinned too big.
You have not waited too long.
You are not too screwed up, too dirty, too useless.

And wherever you are, whatever you've done, however you feel, I know the life you dreamed of, the peace you dreamed of, the hope you dreamed of...the love you dreamed of...it isn't just a dream.

It is the heart of God, and it is very real.

Hard to believe? Can be.

Am I still convinced it is true? Absolutely.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jeans and a Sweater

I push the door closed until I hear the quiet click. I don't even turn on the light. A few steps, and my hand finds my bed. I don't slip off my jeans or pull off my sweater. I pull the comforter back and lie down. One thump hits the floor. Then the other. I pull the cover over me--jeans, sweater, and all. I don't have the energy to take them off, and no one notices anyway.

It has been a long time since I dreaded going to bed. It has been a long time since I couldn't bring myself to undress...because there is no one to undress for.

Friends ask how I am. I shrug and say I am tired, not sleeping well.

I am telling the truth.

They suggest sleep aides, various sleep help. How do I explain this?

Oh, I can say sleeping alone is hard, and people nod because we all know how tormenting an unreleased sex drive can be. What people don't know is that the bed is so much more than sex.

The bed is where rest is found, and there is none here. I know when I lie down that within a few hours, someone will have a dream that bothered them, someone will suffer from insomnia for some unknown cause, or someone will have misty eyes from missing their dad.

The bed is a place for intimacy, and I am intimate with no one. When people ask how I am, I answer fine. If I cannot answer fine, I say nothing. In fact, if I cannot say I am fine, I avoid people altogether.

The bed is a place where the day is settled and dreams in the waking are rolled around, but I am too tired to settle anything, and my dream...? I chuckle to myself. It isn't going to bed in jeans and a sweater and it not mattering.

The bed is a place of knowing...knowing someone else...someone else knowing you. Vulnerability. Honesty. Letting someone see beyond the jeans and the sweater. And I wonder if I have enough trust in me to do that anymore...in bed or out. I try to swallow the reality that I don't think I do...and am terrified I never will.

The tears slip quietly and soak into the odd corner of the blanket where my head lies because it doesn't matter if I take up the whole bed.

Then I hear the voice through the door. His legs are cramping. Will I get him some ibuprofen? I barely have time to say I am on my way and wipe the wet from my face when I hear the emergency call. The toilet is clogged and backing up, and she thinks it may overflow, and how does the plunger work anyway?

I close my eyes tight squeezing back the hot tears and breathe deep suppressing the ability of the scream in my mind to escape from my mouth.

I pause. Compose. Toss back the covers.

Doesn't matter anyway. After all, who really expects to sleep in jeans and a sweater anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Be Merciful to Me, A Fool"--A Poem...My Prayer

Years ago I found this poem. When I found myself without words because I knew I had kept heaven from earth by my own foolish choices...was so undeserving of mercy...and yet in such desperate need of it...I would whisper these words...Even now there are times when shame of my own stupidity drowns eloquence and honor...and all I know to plead is, "Dear God, be merciful to this fool."

THE FOOL'S PRAYER
by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)
      HE royal feast was done; the King
      Sought some new sport to banish care,
      And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
      Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"
       
      The jester doffed his cap and bells,
      And stood the mocking court before;
      They could not see the bitter smile
      Behind the painted grin he wore.
       
      He bowed his head, and bent his knee
      Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
      His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!
       
      "No pity, Lord, could change the heart
      From red with wrong to white as wool;
      The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!
       
      "'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
      Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
      'T is by our follies that so long
      We hold the earth from heaven away.
       
      "These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
      Go crushing blossoms without end;
      These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
      Among the heart-strings of a friend.
       
      "The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
      Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
      The word we had not sense to say--
      Who knows how grandly it had rung!
       
      "Our faults no tenderness should ask.
      The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
      But for our blunders -- oh, in shame
      Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
       
      "Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
      Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
      That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!"
       
      The room was hushed; in silence rose
      The King, and sought his gardens cool,
      And walked apart, and murmured low,
      "Be merciful to me, a fool!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Am Second--Josh Hamilton

For His glory...everything else is detail...



Because Josh Hamilton knows there is nothing like being second....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I've Been Blessed Deep

I have been blessed with some amazing...AMAZING...friends, family, and friends who look like family. Steven Sauke is one of my little brothers by a different mother. He has blessed me immensely with words of encouragement, the most creative hugs I've ever seen, and his deep, faithful love. Today he blessed me with a blog. Please drop by his place to read the blog and see the blessing.

"Have You Considered my Servant Jerri?"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Real

She relays the information almost mechanically. Somewhere behind the words are the tears.

She is scared.

I am scared for her.

Her husband is sick. Very sick. Could die sick.

She doesn’t say it, but I hear it in what she doesn’t say. It’ll take a miracle.

I have nothing. I refuse to tell her somehow God will make it okay because it is not okay.

She is not okay.

I am not okay.

At that moment in time, nothing is okay.

And I have nothing. No words. No hug. No….anything.

Except, I do, and I walk myself right into the throne room of my Daddy and look into His face, and as she talks aloud, I talk silently.

“Surely You did not take me through that to leave me with nothing to help with. Surely that hell served no purpose. I need something. Her world is crumbling, and she needs somewhere to land, if only for a moment. Please, Daddy, give me something to give her.”

No booming voice. No big production. Just a quiet thought of what I would have wanted…what I still sometimes want.

“Are you busy?” I ask.

Well, she has some plans. Needs to take care of some things. Trying to fumble through life’s quicksand.

“Do you want to come over here?”

Not really. She needs to handle some stuff, tick things off her check list…feel some sense of control and enjoy the escape while doing it.

I understand.

“What is your favorite beer?”

Her voice says she is confused, but she tells me anyway.

I write it down.

“Okay. This is what we are going to do. I’m going to buy that beer and have some of it cold from now until we get to the other side of this. Whenever you need to, you come over here. We are going to sit on the deck. You can scream and rage about how unfair this is, about how this stinks, about how you don’t understand, about how it hurts more than you could EVER dream, about how you have no clue how you are going to get through, about how angry you are, about all those things you would never unleash to anyone else. My house and my deck is your safe place to say whatever you want, use whatever language you want, to drink however much you want. I will either take you home, or you can sleep in the guest room. Whatever. But this is where you can come and be real. There is no judgment, no answers, and no pressure to be better. Whatever you need to be—even if it is silent, you can be it here.”

I hear it in the silence. That inhale that comes in the silence of a breath caught between the smile of gratitude and the sobbing of being found.

“You really do understand, don’t you?”

I swallow the tears so words will come. “Yes. I really understand.”

Quiet comes, and we sit with phones to ears, hearts together.

“I need to get busy, so I’ll let you go," she finally says.

I tell her to have a good day, I love her, I’m praying, I’ll keep the beer cold.

“I love you, too.” That is the first smile I’ve heard in her voice…and it is real.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smore to God Than I Imagined

I just think God is so crazy cool.

I ask Him for something like one of those goofy 25 cent toys out of the machines at the store, and He shows up with Smore makings. Not only does He always out do what I ask for, He does it with creative flair that makes my heart all warm and marshmallow-y. Never saw God as a hopeless romantic before, but now, I seem Him like that all the time.

I think it is because I'm His favorite. :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It Really Is THAT Simple

Okay, I'm trying to think of a really cool alliteration for the title of this post because I don't want it to be bland or intimidating. I want it to be EXCITING because the Bible IS exciting. Learning God's Word, hearing His heart, understanding Him...THAT is wondrous stuff.

Unfortunately, I think people have made it hard. The truth is learning the Bible is easy. Really. I wouldn't lie about this.

I get asked fairly often how I know so much about the Bible. Let me say up front, I do not consider myself a Bible scholar. I don't get into the whole theological religiousity of it all. My Bible knowledge is not from a library of books or a college Bible program. I don't have time for all that.

I also don't have time or patience for hard reading programs. Really? Someone wants me to keep that paper that tells me to read all those disjointed chapters for a whole year? Thank you for thinking I am either that organized or I really care that much.

Nope. I need simple. So here it is. Jerri's super spiritual, only religious if you make it that way, don't need anything but a Bible reading program:

Three chapters a day.

Seriously. I learned tons about the Bible by simply reading it.

All I did was read three chapters a day. By reading three chapters a day, I could finish the Bible in a year, so I did.

About 22 or 23 years ago, I started reading the Bible through from beginning to end. I did that for three or four years in a row. It is like any material. If I expose myself to it enough times, my mind will retain it. I just kept reading it over and over.

I didn't read it to study it or for memorization purposes. I simply read it. Beginning to end.

The wonderful thing is I didn't have to figure out which day I was on or try to catch up. I could start any day of the year and simply read the next three chapters in the Bible. Doesn't get any simpler than that.

So now you know. I'm no Bible genius. I'm just a Bible reader. It really is that simple.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Merciful Firecrackers

You know one of the wondrous things about God is His amazing mercy.

He looks at us and says, "You are doing something stupid, and you know it is stupid, but you're still doing it. Obviously you need me to save you from yourself because that thing you think is a crackerjack is really an A-bomb in the making."

Then He gives us a hard slap on the wrist, and we whine about the slap on the wrist that saves us from the major explosion with potential to destroy us.

I am thankful for the slap on the wrist.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holy Laundry, Batman!

So many of us want to do great things,
but sometimes the greatest thing we can do is what needs to be done.

My beautiful friend Amelia sometimes struggles with feeling like enough, wanting to be holy, wanting to do something important...but is stuck doing laundry. But as she shares in her blog "Laundry for Life", sometimes doing laundry is holy enough.

"Sum of All Trials"--A Devotional


   I am honored that my devotional "Sum of All Trials" is the devotional for October 11th in the wonderful book:

The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter.

Other authors you may know:

Lisa Buffaloe
Marla Livers
Charles R. Swindoll
Marion C. Eukermann
Sue Bohlin
Al Speegle, Jr.
Gloria J. Wallace
...and so many more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Don't Do Dog and Pony Shows

When I considered shutting down my blogs, it wasn't for the reason folks might think.

I considered shutting them down for the same reason I closed my Facebook accounts, rarely responded to email, and reponded to texts either with short answers or evasive ones. I feel people see me, see us, through their own lenses and no matter what I say, they comment according to their view, even when it is totally wrong.

That leaves me with three options: 1. Don't respond, which upsets folks and gives them room to feel unloved and unappreciated. 2. Respond with some weak statement of gratitiude that I really don't feel but is politically correct and allows the person to feel she did some good. 3. Be honest and say, "You missed it. Here is how." I have tried this approach many times. ONE time the person said, "Thank you for sharing that. I had never considered it that way." The rest of the time I hear how I am unfair, ungrateful, angry, or to blame. After all, if I talked more, shared more, thanked more, was happy to take what I got more, did the dog and pony show more.

I don't do dog and pony shows.

The fact is a lot of comments aren't helpful. In fact, a lot of them are hurtful because it is obvious the person didn't really read what I had written or said.

Example: I went to a wedding a few weeks ago. Nice ceremony. Miserable experience. The children and I didn't know a lot of the people there, but we knew some. One spoke to us. The rest sat across the room, stared at us, and seemed to talk out of the side of their mouths. I said nothing, just waited until we could leave without looking like we were make some overly emotional exit. Didn't matter. The one person who spoke to us asked how we are. I told her great. She said, "Yeah. You look good." I assured her we are good and asked how she was. She answered. Awkward silence, "So y'all doing okay?" Mental sigh. Yep. Same conversationl few sentences, then back to, "So y'all are doing well?"

When she left, Robert said, "Mom, that is why I hate being around people. They don't see us. They see the pathetic broken Phillips family who is trying to survive anyway. I hate people."

I understand.

Later that night I received texts from folks asking if I was emotionally okay after the wedding. It was nice they remembered the wedding and considered it might be emotional. Fact is it wasn't...at all. It was just a wedding. Most were glad to hear it, but then I made the mistake of mentioning the irony of folks being all worried about the wedding being emotional when the next day was a year since my mom had died, but I was excited to spend the day with my friend Scott going to caves, the zoo, and the Riverwalk. Notice all I said about my mom is that it had been a year. Note the excitement about seeing Scott. The responses?

Cyberhugs, offers of wine or hard booze, kleenex handouts, and, "I wish I could be there with you. I would just hold on to you and let you be sad."

Um. I'm not sad. I don't need booze, but I am wondering about the suggestion to drink to overcome sadness. I don't need kleenex. I don't want hugs, and I don't want you hanging on me.

I tried to handle it with kindness, but what I wanted to say is, "Did you hear me at all? Did you actually read what I wrote? Have you considered addressing that codependency thing you've got going? I refuse to be broken so you can feel better about helping fix me. And you wonder why I don't try to talk to you."

Fact is, most folks think that is harsh...unless they are one of those people being suffocated by well-meaning huggers and kleenex holders, and if you are one of them, you are saying, "Oh, thank God someone gets it!"

I get it.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people do, and instead of dealing with those who want to tell me how hurtful my comments are or how ungrateful I am or how I need to see it from their perspective, I decided to say nothing and heard THAT was wrong, too. Seems the only right answer is to tell people what they want to hear.

And who does that help? Not me. Not others who are being suffocated. And while it may protect egos and comfort spots, it does not educate people to actually be helpful.

Fact is, a dog and pony show might be fun to watch and let the audience leave with a smile and a warm fuzzy, but the Truth sets a person free.

I've been a prisoner to the lie of biting my tongue, stuffing my feelings, living in others' faulty view of my family and me, and pretending to be grateful so I wouldn't get told how critical, ungrateful, and harsh I am or how I make someone feel unappreciated or whatever. To those who would accuse me of such, I can only say, I don't care about comfort zones, warm fuzzies, or egos. They are nothing more than lies that keep people imprisoned to the way things are and keep them from what things should be.

I refuse to settle for what is because I'm afraid of the cost of what should be.

And if I have to do a dog and pony show to maintain relationships with people who wear me out emotionally, mentally, or spiritually just so I don't look "bad", ungrateful, or angry and make the presentation of a nice Christian girl, well, I only have one answer:

I don't do dog and pony shows.

Looking for Me?

In the process of trying to get comfortable in my skin, I have moved again. I hope you come visit me at

I'm That Jerri

Blessings!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Courageous Enough

In the last few weeks I have considered closing this blog. Actually, I considered closing ALL my blogs, starting an anonymous one, and telling no one I know. In fact, I considered it as early as this morning.

However, something the Lord has been really drilling into me the last week or so, well, longer than that but intensely in my face about the last few weeks is courage.

Courage does not run.

Courage may want to vomit. Courage may be shaking from head to toe. Courage may be getting in the saddle when one's knees are so weak with fear one can barely lift to the saddle. BUT, courage does not run.

I do not run.

In April, I changed blogs and didn't give the new address because I didn't want Rob's family or some of his friends to find my new blog. I have tried to be very respectful of them because their loss is huge. However, I've also been trying to avoid the "he said, she said" stuff that can come when honesty is more than what one wants to hear. It wasn't worth the fight, so, I did what I had done for 19 years. I just kept quiet.

But here is the thing with that, God did not send me through hell to be quiet about it. He let me walk the road He did so I could tell about His faithfulness, so I could point out His goodness, so others could have hope, and just how in the world is anyone going to find hope for their own darkness if I am so afraid of rocking boats that I don't talk about how dark it really was...or how great He really is?

So let the boat rocking begin. I'm not afraid of being tossed out of the boat anymore. I know Who has called me, and I know Who holds my hand, and I know if I get tossed out of the boat, I'm fine. I'll just walk on water.

And, yes, I am courageous enough to believe that is exactly what He expects me to do.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From My Journal--Faith, Fear, and Faithfulness

Fear is my feeling that whatever comes will disrupt my "happy spot" or comfort zone. Probably will, but faith says I'll like it on the other side.

Sometimes I will not get the resolution I want to a situation, and it doesn't matter. My job is not to fix the situation or even make it better. My job is to respond is such a way that I am at peace with myself standing before the Lord and saying, "This is what I did. It was the best I knew at that moment. Show me if I was wrong and how to fix it for next time."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Possibly My Greatest Flaw

"Could it be my greatest flaw is fixating so much on my flaws
that I dismiss or ignore His perfect ability to love me and work in me
while working and loving perfectly through me?"
~from My Journal, Jerri Phillips~


Dear God, work in and love me as You know I need today. Show me Your heart for me and Your desire for me so I can be in agreement with you in action, thought, and word. And, Lord, work and love through me in Your perfection because Your perfection is omnipotent and greater than all my imperfections. Keep eye contact with me, and if I turn my eyes, pull them back to you, because I want to see YOU and all You want to do and not be distracted by all I know Jerri cannot do.

I love you so much. You are my heart, and I am overwhelmed by You.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Get in the Saddle Anyway

I have friends making courageous, in-the-face-of-crazy-big-fear decisions right now. On Facebook, I made The Duke my profile picture to let them know I know how courageous they are.

For all of you here who are
making courageous decisions
when careful ones would be easier...

I know you are courageous.
I see it.
It is more than what you are doing.
It is who you are.
And I am in speechless awe of you and your choice to live in faith, not fear.
Feel free to make it your profile picture, put it on your Facebook wall, your bedroom wall, or your fridge, wherever you need it to remind you that YOU ARE COURAGEOUS. And remember:

OBEDIENCE
WHILE SHAKING IN YOUR BOOTS
OR
WITH TEARS RUNNING DOWN YOUR FACE
IS STILL OBEDIENCE!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Forsaken by Leanna Ellis

o   

I am
not into Amish stories. I am not keen on vampires, BUT Forsaken by Leanna Ellis is one of the best books I've read. Full of truth. Powerful in its revelation of how easily death overcomes when life is absent...and the only antidote...how easily it can be missed...and found.

F
orsaken is a story of good versus evil, choices made, forgiveness given (to self and others), and life embraced. It isn't an Amish story or a vampire story. It is MY story...your story...and the story I choose to write by my own actions...and the faith it takes to trust God to somehow make the story beautiful...even when I feel Forsaken.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Difference

Lots of people can tell you the problems in the world.

What makes the difference is people who choose to find and be a solution.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Start with Me

I keep hearing people say to pray for rain. According to Deuteronomy 23 the reason for drought in any area of life is sin.

So we pray for for God to forgive our nation.

But look at the verse people keep quoting:

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It does not say "nation" or "country". It says "people". It is personal.

Seems to me if we want to see our land healed and abundance and prosperity restored we need to ask God to show us our personal sins, ask forgiveness for them, and truly "turn from their wicked ways".

It is easy for me to look in the mirror and think I'm not so bad, certainly not wicked, but it doesn't matter how I see me. It matters who God sees me, so when I go before Him to ask for forgiveness, first I ask Him what He sees, what He wants to change, what He desires to purify. Then I pray in agreement with Him, that what I am doing is sinful to HIM, that His heart is to forgive, and that He desires to purify me for His sake...and mine.

So I'm praying for rain in every area of my life, and I am praying for God to heal my city, my state, and my country. And I'm asking Him to start with me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Exactly

"I had a wondrously beautiful moment yesterday
when I realized things were never going to be
what I had wanted them to be...
but I wanted them to be what they had become."
~From my journal, August 2, 2011~

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Don't Understand

Isaiah 40:28-29
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

I used to think God was disgusted when I struggled or stumbled or failed. I used to think He stared at me with the attitude that if I just had enough faith or loved Him enough or was committed enough I wouldn't do those things or I would pull myself up and be strong enough or faithful enough...or good enough. I used to think He was totally appalled by my weakness.

Now I realize He sees my weakness as a chance to rush in and tell me through His fighting on my behalf and His rescuing me, sometimes even from myself, how much He loves me and adores me and wants me. He doesn't see me as a failure. He sees me as valuable beyond words.

It is true. How the God of the universe who is perfection incarnate and never waivers understands me, my weaknesses, and my failures...nope, I don't fathom it.

But I love it. :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Prayer for You Today

I pray it is a glorious day for you, wherever you are.

I pray...
...whatever is heavy on your heart would be lifted either by your choices, others' help, or God's mercy.
...your desire to be loved would be filled and that you would have the courage to love others.
...instead of complaining about a situation, you would have the boldness to be a solution.
...when today is over, you are able to look back on it...and smile.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Loving the Morning Clouds

I woke up early this morning and decided to watch the sunrise.

I made some coffee and headed to the deck where I hang with God in the mornings, turned my chair to the east, and waited.

But there was no peeking light coming over the houses and trees, and the sky never filled with morning colors. I waited....

Finally, I realized the usually bright colored clear sky was puffy and grey and filled with clouds, and I smiled.

One day those clouds are going to drop rain. I don't know if it is today. I'd love for it to be, but even if it isn't, I know one day those wonderful puffy grey clouds are going to be fat with rain and let it all down at my house.

They are going to pour out a slow, soaking rain of saturating proportions. It is going to last a few days at least, maybe more than a week. And the drop are going to fall, and it is going to smell good and feel good and be good.

I am still smiling writing this. I love the sunrise. I love the colors and the light slipping into the darkness. This morning, though, I am really loving clouds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Being Relevant

Dear God,

What do you look like in a hurting world?

You aren't a religious fanatic, but you aren't compliant or complacent aftraid to upset someone's comfort zone.

You love wrecklessly, forgive exuberantly, bless lavishly...but still have a clear code of right and wrong...and grace for when I choose the wrong one.

How do you want to live in me
so people see all those things in you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forever--Part 2

A lot of people think I'm...well, I've been told I can't think “forever” when just getting to know someone or on the first date or second date or...

Then when?

No one thinks that way. I should think in more manageable terms, like six months or a year, maybe two. Those are reasonable. No one thinks twenty years down the road.

Maybe they should. Maybe if they did the divorce rate wouldn't be so high. Maybe if Rob and I had, we wouldn't have ended up divorced.

Too often it is too easy to think about today.

Am I happy Today?
Does Today make me smile?
Did Today remember my favorite restaurant?
Were Today’s texts sweet and make me feel gooey?
Does Today kiss good?
Does Today fill my stomach with butterflies and emotions with warm fuzzies?
Did Today hurt my feelings?
Did Today forget my birthday?
Did Today not load the dishwasher well?
Today is very fickle, and if it is not watched carefully and controlled with diligence, it can steal forever with such subtlety that one never sees it disappear.

Still, I wholeheartedly agree that focusing on today is essential for forever.

If I wake up today and think about how to value the people in my life, how to value their lives, how to connect with them on a level that is more than passing hellos in the hall, I have embraced the first day of forever because forever is made up of a thousand todays.

But here is the danger.

The danger is letting tomorrow be the first day of forever.

Tomorrow we can do that special thing.
Tomorrow we can have family night.
Tomorrow I can light candles and put on soft music.
Tomorrow we can go to bed early and lock the door.
Tomorrow I can take her on that romantic trip.
Tomorrow...

...Until tomorrow
...when the joy and laughter of yesterday are so far past that it seems hopeless to find them again
...today is lonely and empty and life is found somewhere else
...and tomorrow looks no better
...and they wonder what happened, how it happened, and when it happened

It happened today when forever was some day out there that could be worried about tomorrow.

Today, I choose Forever.