Strength – a poem for Carly

She dug further down in the deep of her heart
And the further she went, the more pain would impart
Past the rejection, past all the lies
For their protection, she casts off disguise

She sees it all
But is blind to her own strength
She sees it all…but her strength

      Upholding them
      Supporting them

      With the strength
      She has from above

In the very last days he spent on this earth
She would fight for the rights of the two she gave birth
Walking the tightrope, shaking with fear
Helping them say all he needed to hear

She sees it all
But is blind to her own strength
She sees it all… but her strength

      Upholding them
      Supporting them

      With the strength
      She has from above

The strength she has from above
From above
She fights with the strength
From above

With the strength from above

Southbound – a poem on child sex trafficking

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Southbound

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She used to be a sturdy branch, proud and blossom-bearing.

Now she is a piece of firewood, split with an ax and used to warm a man for a moment.

She stares from the backseat down a crowded freeway and ponders the irony of that word.

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Westbound

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Cut from her life-source, now unable to bear the weight of fear, it gets so heavy that it crushes young bones.

It leaves her whiskey-scented, terribly fragmented.

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At the Border

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She recalls the shaky voice of her Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Ray, “all things work together for good” and asks herself if this journey could be included in the glorious idea of  “all things”.

Good, at one point surrounded her; it is now a speck on a mountainside with no road leading to – or from – it.

Her one piece of ID is taken. Soon after, another piece is stolen, never to be returned. This one, much more sacred – a blend of body, mind and potential.

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Eastbound

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Her eyes watch the signs blur by and the pavement turn to gravel to dirt

An unsuspecting field her suite, flowing curtains made of wheat

A client tries, her eyes to meet as she lets them close, recalling a song her Mamma lulled, “turn your eyes upon Jesus”.

She waits for things of earth to grow strangely dim.

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Southbound

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Split with an ax by one more of hundreds.

Wholeness is a far-fetched dream of which she cannot afford to let go. There would be but one option left.

Stories of rescue, of raids and redemption resound with hope just palatable enough to grasp in her small hand.

She opens her eyes and discovers what was clenched in her hand: the corner of a stained sheet. Could have sworn she was in a field.

Knuckles turn white from this plight. If her spirit weakens any more, her hope will be reduced to a thread, spinning and taut.

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Southeast bound

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She hears a wrinkled woman humming a hymn & the words come back to her.

Its truth thickens the thread.

She recalls when that freeway used to be a free way,  summons the courage to imagine a listening, loving God and wonders if anyone is praying to him on her behalf.

And just in case they are not, she whispers, “I still believe in you. You are all I have. Free me. Please.”

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Southbound

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Choosing today…to trust

Today I’m choosing to trust in a God who orders my steps before I get there to take them…and who blesses his children no matter where they go if they’re desire is to follow Him. My God promises to provide for me no matter what, and cares more for me than I could ever know.

Today I’m choosing to trust in more than a paycheck or steady income. More than my own strength. More than a well-intentioned government. More than husband, and more than myself. More in my heavenly Father than in man. And it’s a good feeling.

chelan

a new name

his ankles and feet were severely deformed. guess he thought church folk would be more generous, so he had friends that towed him there. but he always stayed outside the entrance. everyone who went through that beautiful entrance, if they bothered to look his way, would see the top of his head, worn pants and the palms of his hands. he was out of place, without a name. he didn’t need one. appearance was his name.

Continue reading

1 peter 5:6,7,10

humble yourselves…that he may lift you up in due time.

cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

a new song: storm’s a-brewin’

this one’s for kids (or grown-ups), kinda big-band style. just click here, but come on back when you’re done! storm\’s a-brewin\’

braylon (5) helped me write it earlier this week just after we looked out our kitchen window & noticed the sky was changing fast. it does that a lot ’round these here parts!

oh – a few side notes: he wanted to say that after the line “in the mean time, i’ve got my umbrella” he voted for: “in the mean time, i’m holdin’ on to my fella”. cute, but it sounded a bit co-dependant to me. : ) i ended up with ‘i’m not alone’ cuz it could mean i have my family w/me, or better yet, i’ll always have God by my side. (and…vs.3 i have to give credit to pastor judah smith for inspiration. heard a sermon about change 6 mo. ago & it stuck).

eye to eye ~ the importance of showing love with your eyes

a cheerful look brings joy to the heart – Proverbs 13:30

braylon (5) was walking around a corner & decided he’d belly-push angel to the ground. ricky & i both just looked at him for 6 sec.s as angel cried. we were shocked he’d try this stunt after so many reminders. but i suppose we also did it as a way of showing our disappointment. what followed was interesting:

braylon’s look turned from satisfied to almost angry, ‘what. why are you staring at me? why is everybody staring at me?!’ he inquired. his lip started quivering. we looked a couple seconds longer & he exclaimed w/a tear dropping down his cheek, “why did you yell at me?!”

ricky & i exchanged a glance of revelation. we never said a word to him. it got me thinkin’.

an area in which i think i harbor a ton of pride, is my parenting. i think moms want to believe deep down that they’re the best. to be complimented as such by another mom is the ultimate up-lifter. conversely, to be called a bad mom or even if someone criticizes our discipling, this seems like the lowest, most degrading insult!

i had to face a weakness. i’m not the ‘bestest mom in the whole earth’ as bray would have me believe. there are things i can & should take more time to work on, but don’t. each day presents with it a new way to improve. it’s discouraging and challenging. i pray for the determination & the strength & the wisdom to become the best mom i can. like the wisdom my brain has soaked up from reading “how to really love your child’. dr. campbell wrote a whole chapter explaining ‘how to show love through eye contact’. with statements that seem so simple, i wonder why i need reminding. just take a look at a few excerpts:

The more a parent makes eye contact with his/her child as a means of expressing love, the more a child is nourished with love and the fuller is his emotional tank.

It is easy for parents to develop the terrible habit of using eye contact primarily when they want to make a strong point to a child, especially a negative one. We find that a child is most attentive when we look at him straight in the eye. We may do this mainly to give instructions or for reprimanding or criticizing. This is a disastrous mistake.

Remember that eye contact is one of the main sources of a child’s emotional nurturing. When a parent uses this powerful means of control at his disposal in a primarily negative way, a child cannot but see his parent in a primarily negative way. And though this may seem to have good results when a child is young, this child is obedient & docile because of fear. As he grows older, the fear gives way to anger, resentment, and depression.

An even worse habit parents may fall into is actually using the avoidance of eye contact as a punishment device. Consciously refusing to make eye contact with a child is usually more painful than corporal punishment. It can be devastating.

What we must understand at this point is that parents must use eye contact as a continuous love-giving route, and not merely as a means of discipline.

the Lord has gently shown me this week that I may not be the ‘most’ beautiful woman or the ‘bestest’ mom on the whole earth, but in me ~ is God’s image. in me ~ is the power to do all things. in me ~ resides beauty & strength (insert my girl, christina‘s song, ‘beautiful’ here).

seriously…i want God to help me use my eyes to communicate love, not disappointment! even yesterday, i started a new phrase to be a better example ~ i get up in my son’s face when i want to say something in love & i start with, ‘eye to eye’.

Lord, look at me in the eye & work out the kinks (psalm 139:23). forgive me. i need grace; new opportunities. show me how to show them that my love, too, is unconditional.

shoplift a heavy burden

it was a rush. my mind would go a hundred miles an hour (to keep up with my heart) as i walked the isles of the store. it could be any store…or house. it could be any thing. lipstick, underwear, a toy for my son, a ring, a birthday gift, a grape, a coke…you get the idea. my objective was to try & find a way to get out of that store without paying for it…without a soul noticing it was gone. it was kind of a ‘lets see how far i can push the limits’ game i played. the anxiety was actually exciting while i shopped. maybe since i never really went thru a drinkin’ & druggin’ phase, this was my version of a “high” i missed out on. the pinnacle was always at checkout. i thought if i got past checkout, i’d probably be safe…beyond suspicion. sometimes i’d use coy conversation & flattery to distract the cashier. i was dang good.

rolling cameras, electronic machines, magnetic strips, return policies ~ i thought i could beat them all. for example, if i got hungry, i’d head over to the protein bar section, open one up, eat it slowly while i ‘shopped’, as to not seem paranoid & then leave the wrapper on the bottom of the cart at check out. if they asked, i’d say, ‘oh, that’s just garbage’. a thief and a liar.

sometimes i’d be at home, bored w/an overdrawn bank account & have an intense desire to shop…or should i say, attain something new. once the urge got in my brain, it was like nothin’ could stop me. i’d take little items easy to hide in my purse. if i didn’t have the money (i read shoplifting rarely has to do with the lack of money), i’d think, ‘there’s got to be somethin’ around the house i can return. then w/that cash or credit, i can buy something else.’ i’d frantically search the house for items or search my purse for a good receipt & then look for an item listed on it. in essence, i used the socially acceptable & legal right to return things, so as to justify it. i’d take back all kinds of things i’d had for up to 9 months, clothes worn & washed countless times…i’d literally break things, un-stitch a hem to make it seem defective, even hot-glue a plastic price-tag loop back onto a garment so it looked never worn.

one time i even returned a dress jacket i gave to my husband for his birthday. it had a small rip in the armpit & i made it bigger, stating it was defective. originally i paid $29. @ fred meyer…& i got credit for it, but not before several cashiers looked at it with an ‘oh my god.’ examining me & then the botched receipt (another trick i was fond of ~ i’d make the purchase date illegible w/water stains or just just rip it). they had a small debate team meeting as i stood there with a long line of people behind me. yeah, it was embarrassing. am i really writing all this? my gosh, it still is. but at the time, all that was worth a $13. gift card to me so i could get something new. to this day i can’t believe it ‘worked’. in fact, to this day, i can’t believe i was never caught.

i watched a dr. phil called, ‘can’t stop stealing’. i completely related to this woman. only she’d been arrested 4 or 5 times & was still addicted. he basically used her kids’ innocence & the threat of prison to scare & shame her into accepting the gift of cognitive therapy he offered to pay for “in her own home town”.

it was far from a message of grace & forgiveness. now that’s a real gift.

i thought getting caught just one time would break me. the sheer humiliation of being hauled off in from of my toddler while he waits for his daddy to come for him…or the thought of being handcuffed in public…it still scares me. but that’s not what helped me stop. dr. phil’s guest made me feel less alone in my addiction, but that wasn’t it either.

i read that confessing something to God with your mouth – it cleanses & saves you. confessing it to someone close you can trust is what starts the healing process. i believed that. i finally told my husband last year, then later my mom, that i had struggled with this compulsion for several years. like food addicts who have to eat to live & are therefore continually faced w/temptation to overeat as they stand in front of their fridge, i had to shop for necessities & groceries weekly. the temptation was always there.

but after confessing to God & someone who could hold me immediately accountable, my urges to “lift” started…lifting. when i’m tempted to steal (yeah, i’m still tempted), i ask myself, ‘self, why!?! do u need that? what kind of example are u setting? would it be worth getting caught? do u think you’re more special or entitled than others who actually pay? get over your…self.’ or i’ll just say a simple prayer for the strength i need; recalling that there’s One who promises to supply all my needs, when i need them. sometimes i don’t do either, & end up taking something anyway. the last thing i can remember lifting was a birthday card that played ‘who let the dogs out’ when you opened it. angel had used it as entertainment while @ wal mart, even during self-check out. that was 3 or 4 months ago.

i’ve been thinkin’ about it lately. my reasons for doin’ it & for me, it comes down to three things ~ not trusting God nearly enough, refusing to die to my selfish desires, & clutching a perverted sense of self-entitlement.

today as i type this, i am nearly free of that issue. not because i tried hard, faithfully attended a 12-step klepto program, or was caught in the act. instead, thank God grace was poured out on me.

before it got worse, i was shown in my heart how confession & reliance {on strength greater than my own} can join forces to really change a person ~ from the inside out.