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God, If You’re Real

God, if you’re real
Then where are you
When right now
Somewhere in this world
There’s a child
Hopeless and alone
Feeling a heap of shame
That they inherited
Passed down
To them
Because parents do
What their parents did
Replaying
Distorted images
Struggling humans
Just fighting for the breath
To stay alive 9 to 5
No time to process the hint of pain
That chips away at our soul little by little
To pass it down old and stale.
And when the heart is beating
Faster than I can comprehend
I ask myself again
Where were you when
We started feeling like
This might be the end
And gradually began
To numb our pain with substance
More real than your presence today.
Where are you when my friend
She who works hard
At being loved
Can’t sleep at night
Because the dark hovers
Just a little too loudly
Over her bed
The bed she did not make
For herself.
But that someone violently made for her.
Forging memories never meant to be made.
It’s hard to be a testament
Of your elusive love
When I feel so far beyond
Your reach
The reach of something grand.
We sing, take comfort in
Recitations of peace
That keep evading those of us
Who can’t see the good
In secret places
Of our buried past
That you’re supposed to resurrect
Memories of salvation
Redemption that makes it all white as snow
And not just bloody races against time
Moments of silence
Where our thoughts refuse to stop telling us
Who we really are.  And why they did what they did.
God, most certain you’re real.
Because we keep killing ourselves
Trying to find you
Reconcile our struggles
With the outcome
And what we’re living for
Is resolve
Healing that I don’t see
In the lives of those who say they’ve been saved.
Where are you if you’re real
I think I feel you at the shrillest point
Of awareness
That our hearts and minds
Are just as fragile as the body
With which we struggle to co-exist.
Your love, the idea that you exist-a fair judge who would never prey
On vulnerabilities of children who just hope to believe
That this time there really is no condition, on being accepted
Moments that I cry out to feel you near
In the moment of thick loneliness
Where we all keep it inside
Because we’re afraid of being known.
Something much smaller
Miniscule hope that pales in comparison
To the looming darkness of my fear
That grips each moment of interaction with others
It doesn’t rescue me all at once
It longs for a complete salvation
The one in finality where you don’t just stop my tears
for a moment so that I don’t pull the trigger
On a better future now.
But where all the sins of even those who’ve sinned against me
And the tears they cried over their own darkness
Will forever be wiped away.

0

On Being a Crazy Parent Much Less for God

Cover of "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as...

Cover via Amazon

I often times wonder how different it is to be a dad as opposed to being a mom. What kind of a link do dads feel toward their children? How much of the link that mothers feel toward their children is just a product of socialization–the way we were raised to believe we should in turn raise our children? And how do those expectations of motherhood and fatherhood affect our level of sanity more than the actual work that we put into raising our children  in the right way or as best we know how?

Thanks to one of my relatives who shall remain unnamed, I just finished browsing the book: “Crazy for God.” The book perfectly and not so politically correctly describes in great depth the psyche of the author’s parents who were major proponents of the Fundamentalist movement. Having myself grown up in a home formed at the peak of some of those great fundamentalist revivals of which my parents were loyal participants, I inevitably relate to the some of satire eloquently penned by Frank Schaeffer, so much so that it seems we might have been best of friends or worst of enemies should we have grown up together in the same neighborhood.

I’ve often wondered, especially most recently since my children started using a more sophisticated part of their brain, putting two and two together to formulate their blaring judgment of me into sentences–how they might describe me should they grow up to be a writer and need to use my personality as fodder on paper–going into painful detail about my dedication or lack of dedication as a mom and ultimately my sanity as a person.

Then I came across the book by Schaeffer and resentfully revisited the dread that I might feel should my children ever see me for who I truly am.  The “crazy” light in which Schaeffer shed his mom included the following quote and reminded me of the glorified version of myself:

“Mom lived her life in tension between her unrealized ambition to be recognized for something important, refined, and cultured and her belief that God had called her to do Christian work that required her to sacrifice herself, not least her image of who she really felt she was when the cultural elites admired, or at least envied, mocked fundamentalism.”

The parts that stick out to me here are “unrealized ambition” and “belief that God had called her to do a Christian work.”  And everything in-between is enough indeed to inspire a child to call into question the sanity of his parents.

I’m not sure what Schaeffer’s conclusion was since I haven’t finished the book but forget the schizophrenic Christian part of being a fundamentalist on the fence, my days as a mom are definitely filled with regret over “unrealized ambition.”  I don’t think any parent-to-be truly understands the risk of living ocean front–that the view, the time spent walking on the beach, and the easy access to beautiful moments also make us vulnerable to floods that could rush in and exchange all of our belongings for debris once we’ve settled on having children.

Yes old things are washed away and everything is forced to become new but having children is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  It’s an emotional tsunami.  All of the unspoken dreams, those things that you’d held quietly in your heart because you still felt like life was slow pace, slow enough that you could catch up to it–All of the ideals that were never challenged by real life circumstances so you could just carelessly hold onto them without the fear of cynicism snatching them away–I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that having children is like an ugly forceps rebirth of self.

And the rebuilding of the thoughts, ambitions and dreams that twist and turn in God forsaken fashion as an initiation into a life of letting go of everything you’d been becoming up to the point that it was your children’s turn to become-could indeed drive one to insanity.

I’m not even sure if I’m in the rebuilding phase.  I’m still wandering around picking up the pieces of what I used to think was important–seeing what I can put back together from the past–trying to determine if there’s any intrinsic value in who I was before I realized what it’s like to be a parent.

And all that to say, “Thank you mom and dad for all you did to maintain some level of sanity in our household growing up, even though I’m sure you must have felt quite the crazy yourself at times.  Thank you for believing through the doubt and holding onto the pieces of everything that perhaps you’re still trying to put together.  Regardless of how your children gauge your level of sanity, as sure as there’s a God in heaven above, He’d reward you with an A for effort.  And fundamentalist or not, there is surely nothing that will keep my boat afloat if human frailty is not factored into the grading curve.”

Happy crazy parenting!!

3

Heroin in Charlotte, NC – HEROIN Socially Acceptable?

***Update***, many have found my blog recently by searching for some variant of “heroin in Charlotte”……readers, this is all the more reason to be vigilant about what you’re posting online.  It is being indexed and it has the power to lead someone down a narrow road or down the broad road to destruction.  If you’re looking for heroin, stop and look for help.  Read below and see that I can understand your desire to “get high.”  But find a healthy high, a God’s Holy Spirit High.  Don’t fill your veins with synthetic drugs…fill your heart with Jesus.  All cliché, but it won’t seem so innocent when you can’t find your way out and you’re too embarrassed to tell others that you have a problem.

‘where to get drugs’ is Googled 16,600,000 times per month.”

So, apparently, someone very important at one of the big medical centers in Charlotte, NC made a statement that there is a new trend of wealthy young adults getting hooked on heroine in the BEST neighborhoods in Charlotte.  (this is my interpretation from local news media).  Here’s the national news story.

First, let me say that I’m not shocked AT ALL.

Second, let me say that in a statement by ‘someone’ on the Fox Charlotte news station, it was said that law enforcement will not be dealing with this problem by hitting the streets to “arrest people.”  Of course, they’re not.  If it were the “poor” neighborhoods that were seeing a surge in heroine use, THEN they would start locking people up.  (But, that’s a different story altogether.)

I grew up in a house that definitely taught no drinking, no drugs (cigs were included).  My parents used to play this educational game with us.  They would cut up strips of white paper, offer us a cigarette and we were prompted to say “no.”  This actually worked for my siblings and me.  None of us are smokers now (not that I know of).  Unfortunately, “prescription drugs” were not covered.  They probably didn’t need to be, as “opiates,” “narcotics” were most likely not as readily available back then.

Ever since I had my first child and the hospital gave me a narcotic to relieve the pain after delivery….I’ve LOVED the way it makes me feel, so much so, that I tell everyone how much I love the high, so that they can make sure I don’t end up like “one of the upper lower middle class users” who find themselves checking into Carolina’s Medical Center because of a heroine overdose with Oxycontin having been their gateway drug.

I really hate to say this, and probably shouldn’t.  But, getting a narcotic prescription has been one of the fondest memories surrounding birthing babies.  See, I have no problem with acute pain.  I would show the doctors that I was really tough by having NO medication (no narcotics/no epidural) DURING the delivery and then AFTER the delivery, I’d ask for Vicodin or whatever flavor was on the menu at the time.  Then, I’d spend the rest of the time in the hospital and those first few days at home REALLY cherishing my new child who was keeping me up – day in and day out.

This is all somewhat of a rabbit trail post, but I’d venture to guess that part of postpartum depression could be attributed to coming down off that high when your prescription runs out after a few weeks.  When you’re high, you’re thinking, “Oh, I need to make another baby like RIGHT NOW….look at how cute he is.”  You stand there at night rocking the baby back and forth thinking to your sweet little motherly self about how that piercing cry is just a small foretaste of heaven.  NOTHING can bring you down.   Except running out of your drugs.

Well, in order to curb my love for that high, I’ve always listened to the still small voice that told me to throw it away before I got down to the bottom of the bottle.  So EVERY time I’ve had a prescription for a narcotic, I discipline myself to get rid of it early.
But what about those that have nothing better in their life to reel them in from their depths of despair?  What about those who will never, ever find anything close to that high in their everyday lives?  I can completely understand how they keep going until they realize they’ve taken their LAST feel good dose, and they need to hit the streets for more.

What about you?  How do you deal with your inclination toward “the dark side?”  How do you curb your appetite before it becomes an addiction?

****Sharing my story about the births of my four children and the ensuing enjoyment of the prescription medications are not meant to make light of drug use.  My intent is to shine light on how we’re all susceptible to finding ourselves addicted without the initial intention of long term drug use.

1

I can’t help it. I believe.

‘the power of God’ is Googled 110,000 times per month.’

So, here’s my bottom line on Christianity.  If the power of God cannot become as real to me today as it was to Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, I don’t want anything to do with it.  I’m not looking for fame, but I AM looking for that strong sense that what I’m doing is what God has gotten my attention to do.  I want to be able to tell others “I don’t care if you don’t believe that THIS is God’s calling on my life,”  “God spoke to me from a burning bush.”  You weren’t there, but I was.  This is NOT a metaphor for God’s burning desire that I follow Him.  God is real and so is His purpose for my life.  For some reason, I feel a strong desire to land a leading role in this drama called life.  I want a mission, a God breathed purpose that I know and feel so deeply, it compels me to run away just like Jonah, out of fear for my life.  I want to lay there awake at night thinking that I hear someone calling my name, only to figure out that it’s God, He’s been calling me all this time,  and He has plans for me.

Somehow, it seems like maybe God isn’t as real as He once was because our houses are too messy to invite Him in.  There are too many things to hide, too many bad habits that wouldn’t feel quite so innocent should Jesus be in our presence.  I miss the revival days, the days when everyone around me had this mysterious expectancy that God was going to show up and do something new, move in miraculous ways.  So they cleaned up, got their lives straight, asked for forgiveness for the way they’d been living, and they literally waited on God to show up.  It seems like now, we just settle for a little leaven that’s leavening the whole lump.  Our lives are dictated by our bank account balance, our Tivo and who makes it to the next round on American Idol.  No wonder we’re depressed, our purpose is not rooted, our roots don’t go deep enough to get watered, to thrive in the soil of God’s Word and what He says about our lives.

Now-a-days, preachers and pastors tend to make us feel better about how our lives are just ordinary, how we haven’t heard God speak in years, how our churches are measured by the number of people having fun, not the number of people turning their lives around and getting rid of the stuff that God actually despises.  If a preacher dare speak about how as a society we’re living in sin, he may as well kiss his congregation goodbye, because no one wants to think they need to get their life right, clean up shop and carry themselves in a new way.  This pastor will be accused of self righteousness and on the news you’ll hear about how he’s out of touch and bordering insanity.  A CEO is not the CEO of a company, because he’s perfect, he’s the CEO because it’s a position from which he has been designated to lead, to cast the vision, to measure the organization’s performance against standards that have been written down.  Why is it so hard for people to accept that pastors are not perfect?  They are not preaching to us because their own lives are perfect, they’re preaching to us because they’ve been designated to that role.  If you have a problem with how many pastors have fallen (into sin) and you use that as your excuse to stop “buying from that company,” it doesn’t mean you still don’t need what that company has to offer.  It’s just you trying to be superior, just like you’re accusing them of being.

Anyway, all a little off subject perhaps.  But you enjoy the next episode of housewives.  I want a life that’s set apart.  I hear a lot, “Well, you enjoy your fantasy world where you beg God to show up, but in the mean time, I need to put bread on the table.”  Yes, faith without works is dead.  But if you don’t have faith, your works mean absolutely NOTHING.  You’ll get tired, you’ll get weary, and you’ll show up on someone’s doorstep begging for more.

Food for thoughts:  What if we’re not cut out for a leading role?  “Tell them I am that I am. ”  This is between you and God.

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Landscaping on NO Budget

‘cheap landscaping’ is Googled around 6,000 times per month.

                                 TRANSPLANTING GRASS

BEFORE                                        AFTER
Township 4 Kannapolis-20130412-00173Township 4 Kannapolis-20130412-00177

So, last week I posted that I cleaned up the area next to my house, planted a foundation shrub and that I was disappointed with the results.  Well, once again, I decided to try to spruce it up a little more.  The area from the concrete to the white fence was initially weeds and rocks.  The “Before” picture above shows the dirt that I kind of broke up.  I scraped the rocks away first and then broke up the ground some, so that I could lay some grass on top.  Since I really do not have money to invest in “landscaping” I had to look around our acre of land and see if there was some grass I could take from somewhere else.  In our back yard, we have several trees where the grass grows in little pods.  I never mow there (too many sticks and acorns), so decided it would work for me to take the bright green pods of grass, dig them up one by one and put them in this area, so that it would look a little more manicured.

I went to the backyard and dug up little bits of grass.  My three-year-old and four-year-old went behind me as I dug up the grass, helped me load it into the wagon and we came back around to the front each time to see how much more we had to dig, after we placed what we had so far.  It was a little tricky, because they wanted to place the grass themselves and I would have preferred to be a little bit more meticulous with it, since it is already “scrappy” grass.  But oh well.  They were happy to help.  You can’t see it in this picture, but I also dug up some wild flowers and interspersed them in the grass.

Last year, the state came and helped us deepen our ditches next to the road and slanted them downhill so that our water would run off better.  I took the grass from that excavation, and outlined a half circle into the rock driveway, to give it some character, a place to park the cars.  This is how I got the idea to transplant some grass from the backyard to the front.

Tomorrow, I will fill in some of the dark spots you see.

Anyone ever used grass from their yard to transplant in another area?  Any other ideas for those of us who have NO LANDSCAPING BUDGET??

2

Larger Than Life

‘mid-life crisis’ is Googled approximately 135,000 times per month globally. Thanks for identifying it as a mid-life crisis, candidkay.com!

I always felt somewhere deep inside that I’d become someone larger than life.  That I’d succeed.  That I’d speak in confidence in front of groups of thousands about what I’ve learned and how what I’ve learned has turned the world around, at least my own little world where I used to be stuck in one place watching everyone else move around me.  When I was 10 years younger, I felt very wise.  Everything was really deep and I knew it was, so that is how I kept going.  That is how I justified my actions, because there was something deep, buried really deep inside each of us that will always remain a mystery and nothing is capable of prescribing our own disease away.  So I thought, this is me and this is you and we’re all doing the best that we can and there is something more, we just don’t know what it is yet.  But then as the years passed, that knowledge gave way to panic.  The this is me and this is you was no longer good enough because I wanted to be more than I was and I wanted them to be more than they were.  It got to the point where it seemed like everyone was wise, like the whole world was reflecting, creating art and making themselves stand out just by being average or even by being above.  And what is special when everything is.  So larger than life turned out to be life and I spend a lot of time reading other people’s stories about how they’ve made a difference because the difference I’ve tried to make was not at all what I thought and now my faith is on the back burner boiling away.  Eventually a dry pan, with darkening bottom, waiting to catch on fire, because I’m not putting anything else in, and I forgot it was there and that there was something we were all going to eat.  It was going to feed us.  Make a difference in the large scheme of things but we all still act so hungry, like we’ve never been fed and that even if you tried it’d never be enough.

0

Why I Don’t Like American Idol

‘American idol’ is Googled approximately FIVE MILLION times per month globally.

I have this really pitiful love/hate relationship with talent shows.  For American Idol in particular, it just happens to be that I’ve more than slightly passed the age limit to audition.  Was I ever really seriously considering auditioning?  If you consider it serious that I spent one to three nights out of a lifetime trying to decide which song would be best for me to showcase my lackluster talent so that the judges could overlook my limited vocal range, lack of vocal agility and inability to put out a sexy vibe.

My plan was to make it to the next level on mere lack of personality alone.

No, as usual, I was expecting them to recognize something in me that I could not even see in myself–a spark, a seed of talent that they would harvest, so that I could finally become a star, an unassuming artist in the long awaited, yet well deserved spotlight.

The sad truth is that I’ve never been able to take my love for music beyond a personal hobby or part time job.  I dream of teaming up with other musicians who can help me to make my dream a reality.  I fantasize about singing my songs for an audience who seems to get what I’m singing.  I long for the day I’ll believe other people when they say I’m “really good,” even though I know I’ll never be the best.

I’m Anna, and I’m NOT an American Idol.