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.

Monday, June 22, 2015

You Know that Kid that is so Far Gone He's Beyond Hope? That was me.

Dear Mommas and Daddies,

My name is Jerri Kelley Phillips. I'm a writer, a licensed pastor, a momma of two teenagers, a writer, sane, a contributing member of society, and a person with a "once was" life. I doubt you care. I don't blame you. None of that really means anything until you really know about the "once was" life.

Thirty years ago I was 16, and I was the kid you would never want your kid around. I drank a lot, to excess. I drank enough to be not feel, and sometimes it takes a lot of booze to reach numb. I also had a serious affinity for prescription medication, which most people call "an addiction". You know that numb I liked so much? I could reach it a lot faster and without suspicious odors with pills. That desire for numb, not only led me to the bottle of booze and the bottles of pills, but it also led me right into being suicidal and simply wanting out. So I got as "out" of it as I could. I hung out with the "bad crowd". My friends went to jail for a variety of reasons. Miracle of God we didn't all go to the morgue. I stayed out too late, dated gawd-awful boys, lied, and went to church every time the doors were open. I have sung Amazing Grace with an amazing hangover more times than I can honestly remember. I testified on Sunday night after testing God on Saturday night.

Did I mention I was your nightmare teenager?

Now, you are probably wondering why I'm telling you this. It's not because I need to boast of my wild escapades. I'd just as soon all of it were buried in history like my sins are buried in Christ, which is the real point.

This morning I spent time talking to a momma whose heart is broken because of choices her daughter is making, and, "She knows better."

I know this is not the only momma whose heart is broken right now by the choices of a child. I know there are mommas and daddies who are dumbstruck by the lives of their kids, wondering how in the world their child can live like that when he or she knows the truth. I am quite sure my momma and daddy asked the same thing.

I knew the truth. I knew everything I did was wrong. I did it anyway. I had my reasons just like your child has his/her reason.

And, like you, I'm sure my momma and daddy watched me and wondered if I would ever get my s-(stuff) together, if I'd ever come to my senses, if I'd ever come back to God. I know they had times when they were just done and couldn't take anymore, and I'm sure they had times when they thought it was hopeless. I know some of y'all have thought and felt that very thing even today. I don't know what Momma and Daddy would tell you. They have passed on, and I can't ask them, but as the prodigal, this is what I want you to know.

I'm not that person anymore. In fact, most folks who didn't know me then have a hard time believing I was ever like that. I'm who I am because someone didn't give up and didn't give in. I'm here, telling you God can still your reach your child because someone believed God could still reach me.

Now, no one condoned my actions. No one should have. No one told me, "Well, you walked to the front of a church and said a prayer, so you're okay." Nope. No one EVER told me I was okay.

But the people who really made a difference, the ones that "got to me", also didn't tell me how I was damned and a sinner and a pathetic mess and how I made God sick or how I was going to hell. And there were those. The ones that softened my heart were the ones who said, "This is so not okay, but I love you. I'm praying for you. I know God has good things for you when you are out of this." And, yes, there were a handful that said that.

Momma and Daddy, I know it is easy to see that child and feel ashamed by their actions. I know it is easy to be mortified that someone you raised right could be so wrong. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how it hurts your heart. I'm sorry for the hours you lie awake at night. I'm sorry for so much. But that child that looks hopeless isn't.

Trust me. Plenty of people thought I was hopeless, but I wasn't. I was hurting and confused, but not hopeless.

Your child maybe hurting and confused, but she isn't hopeless, and he's not out of God's reach.

God still has a plan.

Momma and Daddy, don't give up. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep loving.

Keep believing that God still has good things for that child when he or she is out of this. And they can still get out of this. The same God your praying to to reach them is the same God who heard and answered the prayers to reach me. He's still big enough. He's still loving enough. He's still in. And when you can't hope that kid will find God, trust God to find that kid. He can.

He did.

That's why I'm writing you this letter. To tell you I was that kid who was so lost in the dark that I was hopeless, except I wasn't, and neither is yours.

May God give you strength for the battle.

Praying for you and your prodigals,

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Sad Fact...or the Fact of Sadness

Today my brother and I took the kids to see Inside Out, the new Pixar movie. Let me just say, the trailer lies. It makes it look all cute and funny, and there are parts that are, but the movie as a whole is heavy and a bit dark. And yet, it is a good movie. It is a needed movie.

In the movie, Riley has been uprooted from her home in Minnesota to live in San Francisco due to her dad's work. Really, that is the whole thing about Riley. The real movie is about what happens inside Riley. The main characters are her emotions: Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness. In Riley's life, Joy has always had the controls. Riley is happy and easy going and...Joy-full. All the other emotions are good with this. However, after the move, there is a problem. Sadness starts touching things she shouldn't touch. Memories stop being happy and turn sad, and no one can figure out how to turn them back. Then--oh, my lands--the most horrible thing happens. Riley cries in front of people. So, the emotions do what people tend to do. They try to stop Sadness from touching things. They try to keep her busy reading books, stick her in a "box" which in this case is a circle, and keep her distracted. No matter what they do, though, Sadness keeps wandering around touching things, and Riley becomes...sad.

Now, I'm not going to give you all the details or powerful imagery because that is just cool detail by the writers. The powerful moment happens when Riley's imaginary friend realizes how much things have changed and consequently how much he's lost and will never have, and he begins to cry. Joy jumps right in to make him feel better, to see the bright side, to distract him with something else. Nothing helps. Then Sadness sits down by him, listens to his broken heart, and says, "That is sad. Your heart must heart" (I forget the exact words, sorry, but you get the point), and she hugs the friend while he sobs, and on the other side of the sobbing, he's better.

And Joy gets it.

Sometimes the only way to being better is through sadness.

Isn't sadness the right way to feel when things have changed so much and you realize what you had hoped for and dreamed of simply aren't going to happen? Isn't sadness the right response when all the things you loved are left behind and missing them is so great that instead of feeling joy when you remember them, it simply aches because you want them back?

In the movie, Joy and Sadness end up away from headquarters trying to find their way back...trying to find Riley's way back to being happy. It's no mistake the two are together, and it's no mistake they are both trying to make Riley happy again. You'll never have real joy for what you have until you feel the sadness for what you've lost.

If you go back and read my blogs or my journal, you'll see where I often talk about the importance of grieving. One cannot move forward unless one grieves. But until today, I didn't really understand what grieving really meant. I had in my mind that grieving meant addressing the anger and denial and coming to grips with the new reality. It does, and I did. But there is another vital part I needed. I needed to be sad.

One time I made the mistake of telling a person I considered a good friend at the time that I had been weepy for three straight days, and she informed me I needed to go get "happy pills". I asked, "You expect me to be coming out of all that has happened and be happy/" She replied, "Well, I just don't think you should be sad."

Except, sometimes, sad is exactly what a person should be.

And "happy" isn't a pill. It's a place where sadness does its job and lets the heart move on.

May you always choose to grieve--and be sad--well...