If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~Bob Hope

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sometimes it feels just like I'm falling in the ocean

I have had this song in my head since the weekend.

I had intended to not let life get in the way of my writing again because honestly writing keeps on a somewhat even keel. Mostly because it's a release valve. But...if you have ever used a pressure cooker and played with the release valve, you know that sometimes the force of the steam is painful.

A week ago, I had one of those moments. It started on Wednesday. I went to my mom's group and stayed super productive and in the flow all day. I got most of my house packed. I scrawled poetry out of my brain as if the words were on fire. I jammed the Pandora Class of 93 Hip Hop station at ear-splitting volumes. It was in many ways a really great day. A great day that completely broke me.

Stupid poetry. Stupid life not cooperating with me. Stupid, stupid girl.

There has just been this cacophony of epiphany that really should be evidenced by the fact that I just constructed this sentence. The more I pack, the more I unpack. It's a beautiful messy horribly painful thing. Completely letting your entire life flash before you while simultaneously trying to stay in conscious contact with God and His will for me life. Trying to maintain sanity while to some degree losing all control. By the end of Wednesday, I had all but broken down.

Some days I have all the words and thoughts and every thing flows.

This is not one of those days.

Today, I am sitting here listening to "Into the Ocean" on repeat play trying to remember when it was that I stole the fizzy lifting drinks that kept me from getting the chocolate factory. Today, I am sitting here thinking about the wise words of a friend that it really doesn't matter what decision that you make, only that you make a decision. Today, I am so ready to not be stuck, to be on to my next adventure.I have been so blessed and highly favored over the past week that I feel a bit guilty at my self-indulgent existential crises this morning.

I hear the best way to keep from drowning is to stop struggling. To relax. To not panic.

"I want to swim away but don't know how, sometimes it feels like I am falling in the ocean." I have never even seen the ocean so I am only working with my imagination and stock footage from every surfing movie I have ever watched. The immensity of every thing going on in my life is so vast. This blog is just an iceberg in the ocean of my life. What I share is minute in comparison to the totality of things. It's hard to not drown a midst it all.

I don't have any wisdom or deeper truth or humorous pep infusion this morning. I just have this heavy ocean theme running through my head that is going to produce quite a nice playlist by bedtime. And the remembrance of these words, the final lines of one of my favorite books:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
(The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Til the Shackles Fall Off

The thing of it is a lot of times, I write what I am thinking or respond to something or am otherwise way too serious in some of these blog posts. Something I don't write enough about publicly is praise and gratitude and certainly not to the extent that I should. Last couple posts, may seem like I am not content. I am. I have been very chill the past couple of days. We all lose our cool sometimes, we all have days where we vent and thrash. It's all good as long as you don't live there.

It took me awhile to learn to channel my grumbling into gratitude but I am so very glad that I did. Oh I still have complaints but I very much try to not ride a downward spiral into the abyss of malcontent. Some days it is very easy to list a bazillion and a half reasons I am grateful. I am in the flow, everything is awesome, everything is coming up roses, there is a spring in my step. Easy...like Sunday morning (could not resist). Others I go to my standard I am having the shittiest soul sucking black hole of a day starters and even then it's debatable. My standard starters are: woke up this morning in a bed with food to eat, a roof over my head with clothes on my back and food in my cupboard. From there sometimes, the praises go up with ease. Other times, I really have to dig.

Peace in the storm is not something that Jenny accomplishes on her own. Never has been. I am not as strong as everyone gives me credit for in all honesty. Attaining the peace of God that passes understanding is a lot like the game Othello...a minute to learn, a lifetime to master. Yep, kids, it's that old Sunday School answer...Jesus. When he isn't busy building hot rods and turning water into wine, he is walking with me and talking with me and telling me that I am not alone. I have been thinking a lot about that tonight about how profoundly different that this journey would have been for me without my faith.

Deep in thought, this song came on the station that I am listening to tonight. I had never heard it before tonight. I have heard plenty of other songs with the same sentiment. But this, this was so appropriate to some of my trains of thought the past couple of days. Trains of thought that can best be summed up in words stolen from my 7 year old: sometimes you have to kick the devil in the crouch.

I have been hanging out in this prison, partially of my own design. I have been letting fear rule me in a lot of areas. I am so not about all that right now. I had a multitude of good girlfriend conversations this weekend. I think I shared that already. Thank God for all of them and their insights and wisdom. These shackles they chafe at times, who wants that?

As a point of reference, the song is referring to Acts 16:25-26:
25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.…

I am going to wear my crown and my big girl shoes and keep singing praises and doing my own little touchdown dances. I am going to keep rephrasing my tribulations in the form of a thankfulness. I am going to keep on keeping on. These prison walls will break off and these shackles will fall!

I challenge you to take a deep breath and rephrase your tribulations in the form of thankfulness. Write out your gratitudes. Find joy in the little things. Praise BOGO sales and the dollar menu and open wifi! Break free from prison with me!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oh baby, this one's from the heart...

I meant to post earlier in the day, but the day had other plans for me. It's been a busy sort of weekend and I am grateful for that.

I have no profound words about Valentine's Day.

Friday night, I went to dinner with a good, good friend of mine. I think it is the first time in awhile that we dined without my son in tow. So not only did I get to wear my big girl shoes, we got to have solid, uninterrupted girl talk. Driving back to her place, she posed a question to me that is still resonating with me tonight because of my answer.

In the blissful afterglow of good food, good conversation, and a good night sleep, I went to work yesterday in a strange state of contemplation. The cold kept people away so there was a lot of uninterrupted thought. In the afternoon, after my cohort clocked in we had another equally profound conversation. So with those two conversations rolling through my head I clocked out anxious to get on to my next adventure with the girl who is Statler to my Waldorf or is it the other way I can never remember.

Have you ever had a blossoming friendship that has moments that make you kind of go whoa, that's shit that my friends say, and by friends you mean people who have known you since you were a young blank slate, people that knew you before all the duct tape and white out and gesso and crack filler and staples and stuff. My friend of a scant 5 months totally got on my case about my lack of focus and my lack of writing. It wasn't even what we were talking about, she just stopped mid-sentence and exclaimed,"Oh my God, you haven't been writing have you! That's what's wrong with you."

What does any of this have to do with anything? Or with the subject line for that matter!


It remains to be seen.

I have got to focus. I have been in damage control for 27 months. That is a long time to not be alive. Held back by fear, deep fear and a completely shattered sense of self. I don't talk about a lot of things I should talk about in order to help myself. I am still in denial that my husband who swore he would love me forever would actually take my heart to pieces like this. I am not in denial about what is happening or delusional about anything. I realized that I need people to respect how deeply and mortally torn my heart is over my divorce.

I was never a girl who sat and dreamed about marriage. I could keep anyone and everyone at arms length. Anyone but him. I tried. Hell, I tried to not even meet him. Once, I did...I was hooked and I always believed that everything progressed the way it did and in the time frame it did because it was exactly what was supposed to happen to us. My husband changed me in ways that I never thought were possible. He made me a better, kinder woman not because of who he was but because of who he believed in.

Thank God I met him and he encouraged me in my faith. I imagine, if he could let himself, he would be proud of my progress and my propensity for praying prayers of surrender. All those times he prayed for me and he isn't even here to see that his prayers were answered. Some days when I see him I totally want to tell him that I am the lucky rabbit too and all the things that have happened for me because I got out of God's way.

But he doesn't talk to me at all. Not even about our son if he can help it.

It's truly sad.

I can't do what everyone wants right now. I can't move the way people want me to move. I can't date because I am not ready. So not ready and I don't know if I ever will be. I really need everyone to be okay with that. I am. I totally am because I had everything I ever wanted and a great deal that I never realized I needed with him as my friend and lover. It's not about me being stuck. It's about me needing to fully mourn a great loss.

It's not going to happen unless I focus.

I miss him terribly. And it's the election year more than Valentine's day that has me feeling the void of his presence in my life. It's walking out of sermons that he would label as "strength" and wishing he had been there to hear so we could discuss it further over lunch.

And I usually don't admit that I do miss him because then people get all negative about him. I know what he did. It's a fallen world and we all fall short of the glory. I chose to forgive. From what I can tell it is the road less taken in these cases and let me tell you it has made all the difference but since very few people have travel this road...the path is narrow and not as easy to travel.

The title today is from a Tom Waits song that has been on my heart tonight:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sometimes I get so tense but I can't speed up the time

My best Axl impression. I should have
made a GIF so you could see
me swaying.
Talked about bravery and courage...or my lack thereof the last couple of days and this morning I got hit with Psalm 27:14 being the YouVersion verse of the day. Normally, I would get excited and be all like that's my jam because well, Psalm 27 especially verses 13 and 14 have got me through a lot hard days. But today, not so much.

In the New Living Translation, the verse reads: Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Wait. Patiently. For. The. LORD. Be. Brave. AND. Courageous. Sigh. Couldn't the verse I am going to see a million times today be anything but this one?

As I have been packing and preparing for my move, I am finding that every box, every room, it unearths feelings that I thought I had dealt with. It stirs up emotion that led me on a half hour driving prayer this morning that would make you swear that Sam Kinison is my guardian angel. Patience. Meh.

By and large this chapter of my life has been going on for three long fucking years. It shatters me to the core of every belief that I have about prayer. And as I write this it isn't lost on me how peculiar it was to flip on the tele at 3am and the episode be about Daniel and how God heard his prayers but had to fight through things in the heavenlies to answer. What a strange coincidence, huh?

I get that. I do. Despite what my Baptist friends think, I do know and understand the Bible and Biblical principle. And I have, to play on Psalm 27 some more, I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I know God isn't a magic genie. I know that sometimes the answer is no because not everyone need a pony. I know the power and the presence and the oneness. Ah, but patience...

Right about now, someone usually brings up Job. I had the pleasure of a deep and meaningful study of Job last year. I know folks bring it up because we have that phrase in our vernacular, "the patience of Job" but if you were to read Job 26-31 these are hardly the words of a man patiently biding his time. All the back and forth between Job and Zophar and Eliphaz and Bildad and Elihu before finally the Lord booms out in his Samuel L Jackson voice leaving Job with only this:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
(Job 42:1-6 The Message)

Then BOOM! God restores Job. "So Job died, old and full of days." (42:17) I want to die old and full of days but friends, I feel so stuck right now. I want to believe so much that what lies ahead is greater than what lies behind, I do. But I can't seem to stop asking when, when, when, when. I have never prayed for patience nor would I ever put that sort of asking for trouble kind of prayer into the stratosphere. Although, my recent propensity for uttering "I want what You want" may be a bigger Pandora's box than I ever realized.

I do want what God wants. I get that His ways are not my ways. Maybe I need to spend less time grumbling with my Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad. Relax and enjoy and fight hard to live in day-tight compartments and be present in the present. Perhaps I could be more patient if I didn't have expectations about how this story should go.
When I was attending Grace UMC in Dayton, Bryan Palmer-Smith was at the helm. I always enjoyed his messages, especially his knack for admonishing us to "make that spiritual." I do that a lot. Biblical knowledge is worthless if you can't practically apply it. So, I am going to round this out with a little ditty called "Patience". I like to pretend as of late that God is singing this to me. Hey, if Cal Naughton Jr. can picture Jesus singing lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd, then Jenny can picture God using Axl to deliver this message.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

You need courage now If you're gonna persevere

So where yesterday had me all woohoo yes step out of the comfort zone. Today, I am in need of a cheerleader. Today, I am not so confident or determined or motivated. It's funny how the course of a day can play with you. It's funny how you can be totally chill and have something from every column hit you all at once.

Shortly after I wrote yesterday, I found out that the next court date in my divorce is four months away. If domestic relations court was held to the same standards as criminal and civil cases I could make a good case for cruel and unusual punishment. It's what it feels like at this point... punishment. Dealing with my divorce takes all the brave right out of me. My life has been at standstill and it sucks my hope reservoirs dry.

Once upon a time, the delay would have renewed my hope because once upon a time I really believed that none of this would happen. Once upon a time, I based all my decisions on the husband that I knew and not the horrible man he has become. I very much believed that my marriage would be restored and that I would get my happily ever after. I believed every word that he had ever said to me from day one and that intricate, well-woven story seemed so real that I couldn't imagine that he had ever been THAT dishonest with me and with such blatant disregard for me and the kids for that matter.

The awkward thing about needing a cheerleader is there isn't one available. Not the one I need, well, at least not in human form. I know the spiritual and worldly basis that I once stood. But I also know the peace of God and so it is with mixed emotions that I find myself moving on. I don't believe in a God that would give us all freewill but then turn around and hold me accountable for my husband's misguided execution of his own freewill.

That being said...four months. The responses to my sharing that have run the gamut. I don't think anyone really and truly understands the hell that I am in, that he has put me through. From the day he decided that he didn't want to be married he constantly browbeat and harassed me about how I was dragging this out, about how I needed to let go of him, about how I was making things difficult. I have endured mental, emotional and financial abuse that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The day I walked into court, the day that we should have been final, I had made my peace with all of it and I was ready to start the next chapter.

Then he pulled this shit.

I am sure I still need to step out of my comfort zone but I have no idea how. I am so wound up about mere survival anymore that I can't imagine where I would fit a ball into the mix that was full of courage and perseverance. The court system has so failed me and the boy at this point that I sincerely worry that any act of boldness on my part would be met with more heartache.

I keep saying I need ruby slippers but the irony in that is that once I get to the wizard he's just going to tell me that what I seek was in me all along. I don't feel very courageous today. Or smart. Or beautiful. Or determined. I feel like Scarecrow after the flying monkeys went a round with him. My stuffing is all widdershins and I am a bit embarrassed that it happened. And if most people knocked on my chest it would be the dark, hollow echo of an absent heart.

Luckily, I have frientors (friend/mentor) that have a great deal of wisdom for me to draw on at moments like this. My frientors are by no means cheerleaders. They ask the hard questions and force me to examine places I don't want to go to for various reasons. But one particular nugget of wisdom sticks out to me this morning...that my friends are there to do what I can't. Meaning that although I feel cowardly and like giving up, all my friends and family who are surrounding me and speaking courage and spunk into me are holding me up over the coals so that I don't get burned.

I do need courage. There's a lot in my head and heart that I want to accomplish. So, it's no coicidence that the song "Never Give Up" by Yolanda Adams would be on my radar this morning:
Sometimes life can place a stumbling block in your way
But you're gotta keep the faith
Bring what's deep inside your heart
Yeah your Heart to the light
And never give up
Don't ever give up on you 
I am the only one that I absolutely have to be with for the rest of my days and I really need to get myself back. But how. And don't say step outside of your comfort zone. It's much more complicated than that.

Monday, February 8, 2016

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.

Screenshot from my FB feed this morning.
The song "You Make Me Brave" by Bethel Music was in my memories on Facebook this morning. A great song that has gotten me through a lot of tough moments in life. A little bit further down the feed were the two posts on the left. Call me crazy, but I think there is a message for me today. Whaddya think?

Ah, my comfort zone, that well-worn groove, that towing the line, that treading water. I do try to experience new things and expand my horizons on a regular basis but admittedly, this past couple of years because of the divorce, I have been more inclined to play it safe in the grand scheme of things. Some of it is fear, fear of the vast unknown that lays ahead of me. Some of it, is rooted in anger. I have had periods of extreme anger at the trajectory of my life. If I had wanted to to be a single mother at 40, I would have never gotten married.  I never got married because I intended to be single again. A whole tsunami of disappointment and broken what-ifs. Then there is that whole me as a mom trying to provide a degree of stability for my kids, but who am I kidding at best I am a swinging bridge more than a fortress. 

For as much as stepping out of my comfort zone feels like stepping off the curb into the path of a speeding bus, it is unavoidable. Over the course of the next month, I will be moving. Every time I think I have made my peace with this, something comes along to disturb that. I love my house. I love my neighborhood. It's little things like being able to walk just about anywhere we would need to be. So far, there is only a couple of places that would be comparable but they don't seem to be "it". I am trying to not be picky but I also don't want to end up in suburban isolation. So I take a step...

Other steps are less clearly defined. Job, relationships, tattoos, and what to have for dinner, all have steps I need to take but to some degree are less easy for me to take because aside from my daughter, no one is going to give me a great inspirational speech about why I should get the tattoo I have wanted for years or whip me into a frenzy about ending my lifelong love affair with Little Debbie.

But the good news is that I don't walk alone. The exponential growth of my faith over the past ten years is one of the best steps out of my comfort zone that I have ever taken. I would have never imagined a version of me like that one that exists right now in this moment. And with all sincerity, today if I am not singing this song and belting out:You make me brave, You make me brave,No fear can hinder now the promises you made then I will most likely be quietly reminding myself of this...

There is one moment and it is now, and it is just me and God and all is well.

So here I go, I hear  the first step is a doozy.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Words, playing me deja vu, like a radio tune I swear I've heard before.

I have been up for awhile this morning. I had been trying to just chill and enjoy which became hard when barely into a guilty pleasure, turn of the century RomCom, my son came crawling in bed with me. Seven year old boys are not exactly known for their peace and balance. He had said he just wanted snuggle power, that he was not actually awake. That was well over an hour ago.

I had been really indulging in my coffee and movie, turning my brain off for some much needed nothingness. I woke up to a ton of questions. No, literally, I went to bed early so my phone was holding them from friends. I don't have much to offer in the way of guidance today but I can still listen.

I am in a place right now, where I serious just want to put "Come Undone" and a couple of other Duran Duran songs on a repeat play list and belt it out around my house. It's not in any negative way. Sigh, I have been on a certain trajectory in my life and suddenly I find myself questioning it. I have come to a place with it all that, and I may have said this is my last post, all I can pray anymore is,"God, I want what You want." It might seem like an indecisive, cop-out to some but those people would be so wrong.

I want what You want, in this case, is full surrender. It's not that I don't have any hopes or dreams or crazy notions. I do, believe me, I do. It is me being flexible to the will and flow of God without getting hung up on or set on things that might not be for my ultimate good. To some degree, it is a fantastic place to be and certainly not one I can say I have been in very often before. But it is also so extremely hard, but not necessarily for the reasons that you might expect.

In this letting go of all that no longer serves my unfolding good, I find myself letting go of certain beliefs I have held about certain relationships in my life. I haven't stopped believing what I had previously held, it's just that I have come to see how holding on so tightly, having such tunnel vision could be counterproductive to an abundant life. It is also counterproductive to maintaining friendships. People take my current exploration as some sort of Jenny going off the rails. The circle shrinks in response and I find myself lacking a group to hold discussions with and some things aren't meant for the general public.

I keep thinking about a dear friend of mine who often speaks about not putting God in a box. I feel wholly convicted that I am guilty of this. While it is entirely too early on a Saturday for an indepth theological pondering, I have been amazed at how as I let go of everything my faith deepens despite any sort of whispering undercurrent that I am falling away. It makes a lot of sense to because truthfully God in a box is about as useful a thing as a dick in a box.

Remix and redux. Restoration that is remix will never be as sustaining as a redux. Remixes just splice together the best parts over a new beat, a new time signature while ignoring a weak bridge or bad melody. Redux equals revival, new breath, new life, new adventures. I very much feel as if my soul is in a restoration period and I want to make sure that who I am and who I am supposed to be is strong and that I don't just end up a caricature of who everyone thinks I should be.

Maybe it's a similar tune but I am confident that I don't think that I have heard this tune before.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

'Cause there's this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow

So, yeah, I haven't written in four months. Well, written online because if memory serves I have burned through three notebooks and various scraps of paper. I had shied away from writing here because well, everyone keeps telling me to be careful what I post in public while I am going through this divorce.

Ah, this divorce, the gift that keeps on giving like a continual white elephant party. It has been 27 months since he said he didn't want to be married anymore. It has been 19 months since he filed for divorce. It has been 15 months since he moved in with that tranny looking thunderslut. It has been eight months since the bankruptcy he pushed me into was filed and four months since it discharged. It has been one week since our last court date. A court date the was supposed to end it all, once and for all, per his wish. But for some reason, the man who has constantly and repeated screamed at and bullied me that I am dragging things out and being difficult decided that he wants a trial. Thus, prolonging the agony.

It is the best word to describe this dreadful holding pattern.

But thank God for my friends and family who have been perpetually been handing me shovels while I dig through all this bullshit.

I know as I sit here that I need to push forward and get fully reconnected to purpose. I know that there are things that have been revealed to me in this cold season of my life that I need to use my talents and gifts to shed light on. I know everything right now and nothing at all and I am good with that.

I have been making playlists like a frenetic toddler with markers and a freshly painted wall. It might not seem like much but to me it signifies significant soul healing. My daughter is really the one who started that process with her sharing her favorite band with me. Having a job I love and a little more stability has helped as has the reemergence of an old dear friend and kissing and making up with my cousin.

I know very much during parts of this journey people thought me insane for constantly searching for the silver linings, looking at the sunny side. But here I am. Still standing. Better than I ever did. Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. Drinking coffee and throwing Elton John into casual conversation. I regret more that I lost myself in marriage than that I lost the marriage. It really is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all and what positive thinking and good girlfriends don't help, brown liquor smooths over.

My faith has helped as well but that is a series of post for the future because my faith has certainly made me well. Prayer and meditation and number of ordained and lay ministers that I count as friends and confidants. That aspect of my life, I really can not write about extemporaneously.

But yeah, in the past couple of months, my creative side has reemerged and so help me I will walk away from people or things that tell me I can not be who I am. Comfort over purpose is a death sentence I regret that I accepted.

The best is yet to come.