Friday, January 22, 2010

In the beginning part 2

Just one more thing about the early years. Just remember when you see that kid that doesn't fit in and seems different, that is unkempt with sad eyes, that was me. Love the kid and pray for that kid, b/c it just might be that you don't know what kind of terrible suffering the child is going through. You could be the one person who can impact and change the life of that child, if by no other way, but by praying.

I did forget one things that happened in the early years. My mother began going to a drug abuse recovery program when I was pretty young. I really grew up around that program. It was called PDAP and was mainly teenagers. I looked up to those kids immensely. I would hear them talk about doing drugs while they smoked cigarettes. I thought they were all so cool and I wanted to be just like them. This was not really the intention my mother had for allowing me to spend time with them. I heard all the drug stories and learned so much about drugs. It's not that they necessarily told me about it or tried to influence me, but they talked about them in front of me and I soaked it in like a sponge. I was just a little kids to them and didn't really fit it with them, but I figured out that if I did drugs then I could be in recovery and I would be cool and fit in; then I wouldn't just be some little kid. I think I decided after having hung around them for most of my middle child hood in 5th and 6th grade that I wanted to find a way to start doing drugs. I am sure that is not what my mother would have thought was going on. I forgot that I was also in gymnastics, Mary Lou Retton was my hero and I wanted to be in the Olympics.

From this point on there are some pretty gory details so buckle up. You may find out more about me than you want to. I have done some things I should be pretty ashamed of only I have been forgiven and redeemed so the shame is gone and I can tell the stories.

In 7th grade, Bell and AT&T were split into two different companies. My mom went with At&T which moved her work place from downtown Fort Worth to Irving. We moved north to Bedford. I really, really did not fit it there. There was so much money in Bedford. I guess kind of like Plano, only I was certified "white trash". I started off the year ok and was on the gymnastics team, but it did not take me long to gravitate toward the "stoners" and "headbangers". I had begun to get into metal music in 6th grade. I was also into new wave and a little punk. I saw my first real mo hawk at Bedford Junior high. It was on the head of a girl named Katie and I thought she was the coolest thing I had ever seen. The skaters/new wavers did not really welcome me so I ended up with the stoners. There is no way that I would have fit in with the "preppies" as we called them. I did not have the clothes, shoes or the look. I slowly gravitated more and more to the stoner crowd. For me 13 birthday my mom took me to see Kiss and WASP in concert. My wall quickly became covered with all kinds of posters of metal bands. The metal gave way to death metal (straight up satanic music). I started smoking cigarettes, pot and huffing spray paint. I got in with the older crowd and was introduced to heavier drugs pretty quickly. I was 13 the first time I tried Cocaine. At 13 I had sex by choice for the first time. The summer after 7th grade, I was sneaking the car out every night. One night I drank ??? who knows how much. I cannot really remember much after driving to Lake Grapevine. I know that one of the boys wrecked the car and I drank to black out. My mother found me unconscious on the floor of the bathroom and had to call an ambulance. I had alcohol poisoning. In the ER they were asking me what drugs I had done and if I could be pregnant. This is where my mother found out how bad things had gotten. I went to my first rehab shortly after that. I was in for about a month. I got out and continued to progress. I was skipping school a lot and taking any drugs that I came across with no thought to what might happen. Around this time the Crystal meth started. Things are a little fuzzy about some of these years. I do remember thinking I was cool and could fit in with all those kids in the drug abuse program now b/c I had been to rehab. I wasn't just the the kid anymore. I also remember thinking I was really fat (I weighed 115 pounds, but when I looked in the mirror I saw a fat person). I kept on doing drugs and being destructive; I ran away for a little while then ended up back in Psychiatric Institute for round 2. I had started cutting on myself and taking hand fulls of lithium pills. I played the game really well and was released to a halfway house. One night on the way to an AA meeting while staying in the halfway house, I stole a package of straight razors. When I got back to the place, I cut my wrist. They were not deep cuts, but I succeeded in being admitted back into the hospital. This time it was HCA Plano. I became more and more depressed and very violent. I was diagnosed with personality disorder. One night I took an earring and reopened the scars the had developed over the cuts. This hospital would give me Valium and Klonopin when I got upset and hit people so I got upset quite frequently. They would pin me down, drag me to the quiet room, put me in restraints and shoot me up with drugs. It was a fun game to me. My mother caught onto the game and had me transferred to Green Oaks. I spent about 6 months in Green Oaks. I did therapy and stuff. I don't have many memories that stick out to me from Green Oaks. I do remember one things. One girl mocked my scars and said her mom had sliced her arms all the way up to her elbow. Well, being the competitive person I am, I decided that when I got out I would out do her mother.

My mother ended up in Green Oaks; here is where she began to remember being abused by her father. This is where we started the journey toward dealing with all the secrets. She, at that point, was operating under the thinking that it had stopped when she was young.

At some point during this hospitalization, I began to realize that I had also been victim of this abuse. I believe I was about 14 to 15 in Green Oaks. This is the point that we cut ties with my mother's family. We have not seen them since. When my mother realized what had been happening to us, she divorced the whole family. I graduated Green Oaks and went back to the halfway house. In total, I was locked up for 2 1/2 years.

Somewhere, in all this (I can't place where it goes chronologically, but it seems like around 14 or15) I moved in with some people from the drug abuse program. We were supposed to be being sober. We were not. We ended up drinking and partying. We dealt X for a while and I did massive amounts of X. There was some weird witch crafty stuff going on too. My mom gave us money to help with groceries, but we spent it on drugs. I shop lifted the food we ate and the baby formula for their baby. Finally, I got caught and put into Juvenile until my mom could find a hospital for me to go into. It seems like this was right before the 2 1/2 year lock up stretch, but I can't remember for sure.

When I got free, I did pretty good for a little while. Then I hooked up with a girl I had met in Green Oaks. That was a pretty dark time of my life. I had sex pretty indiscriminately . I ended up feeling pretty used and worthless. I also decided I didn't want to be white. I hung around some pretty rough people (crack dealers). They had money and guns and I was a "white girl" so most of them like having me on theirs arms. I got infected with diseases that you don't really want to be infected with. I am damn lucky that I did not end up with HIV. That has to be God's grace. I tell you that really ugly part of my story for one reason. I had VD's many times and got one to the point that I was very, very ill; I am not supposed to be able to conceive children. I had pre-cancer at 17 and had to have surgery performed on my cervix. Yet, my great and glorious, gracious and forgiving God gave me 3 beautiful children.

I am not sure how long I was free, but the next place I went to was called Straight. It was a scary, scary place. They took a boot camp approach to recovery. My mom was at the end of her rope, though. We had moved to Irving by this time. Sometime between Bedford and Irving we also lived in Fort Worth again. Anyway, Straight was not a fun place. They basically used boot camp tactics to break a person down and the rebuilt the person in "recovery". We all sat in a room, in plastic chairs all day. We would be stood up and screamed at in the face over and over. One Fridays, they parents would come to parents meetings and stand us up and ridicule us for all we had done. The program required them tell us that if we didn't finish the program that they wouldn't be our parents anymore, that we wouldn't exist to them anymore. We were led around like dogs with our higher level person holding onto our belt loops. We weren't aloud to read anything but the Big Book (AA) or the Bible. We had to admit if we read even billboards or food boxes. At night we had to sleep in "host homes" which were home of the other parents who had children in Straight. When I finally got to Level 2 where we get to stay in our host home and have a new person to lead around, I escaped the first night. I ran off wearing boxers and a sweat shirt. The windows had alarms on them so you couldn't open them. I removed both pieces in a sheet and climbed out the window. I went to friends houses, none of whom would help me. I finally found someone to let me in. He told me if I slept with him and his cousin he would let me stay. (sorry for the awful stories, but if I am going to tell my story, I have to include these). I did (sex was ugly and cheap to me anyway, I didn't think I was worth saying no to anyone-I felt like I had been used up as it was.) They made me leave after the acts were performed. I felt so humiliated, used and alone. I had been being berated for months and told by my mother that she wouldn't be my mother if I quit the program. I didn't see that I had anywhere I could go. I walked to the grocery store and stole a package of razors, a pack of cigarettes and some white out. I then went behind at 7 11 and smoked and huffed the white out (it was all I could get my hands on). Then I began to slash my arms. I remember feeling so angry, alone and hopeless. I hated myself so deeply; I just wanted to hurt myself as much as I could. I slashed myself over and over and over on the front and back of my arms. I slashed my legs and put some small cuts on my face. I wish I had pictures of what I had done to myself. You would not believe the damage. I pulled my sleeves down over my arms and lay down to go to sleep. The next morning I woke up to the sun and realized I had no where to go so I called straight. They came and picked me up. When they called my mom to take me to the hospital they told her I had a gash on my arm. I was covered in blood, head to toe. My sweat shirt, boxers and shoes were stiff with blood. There was dried blood down my legs and every where else. She was not prepared for what she walked in on. When I got to the hospital, they had to rip the sweat shirt off of my arms. Then they took plastic brushes and scrubbed the wounds til they bled again. It was excruciating. I think I had to be held down, but the fuzz from the inside of the sweat shirt was fused with the scabs that had formed. There were huge pieces of subcutaneous flesh sticking out of the gashes. I had finally outdone the girl from Green Oaks mom. They then began to stitch me up without numbing the skin. There were to many cuts to be able to put lidocaine in them. I ended up with 90 stitches. Then it was back to Straight. I can remember how bad my arms ached for weeks and weeks. It wasn't the skin; it was a deep muscle ache. You can see the scars if you look at my arms. Children are usually the ones who notice and ask what happened. They were bright red for about 5 years. They are all white now; when I got my sleeve it was pretty painful to tattoo over them.

I forgot to mention that my brother was in straight too. He went in first, then mom put me in. After my arms healed and the stitches were removed, we both began to "misbehave" (that is what it was called when one stopped working the program). We were a pretty violent team. The boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other. One of us would start throwing chairs and hitting people then the other would start, so we could get the whole room in an uproar. Finally, they decided that we were uncontrollable so they shipped us and 3 other misbehavors off to the Straight in Florida.

I wasn't in Florida Straight too long b/c I hit a staff member and gave her a concussion so they committed me. I went into a place called Horizon for a bit (not sure how long). Then mom flew up withdrew me from Horizon and with drew my brother from Straight; we rode a bus back to Irving, TX. I had just had it. I was tired of being in pain and feeling empty. I saw not reason for my life or suffering. I planned all the way home on the bus to take the bottle of pills I knew that my mom had in her purse. I think my mom had it set up for me to go back into a hospital a couple days after we got back. We got home and went to bed. My intention had been to take the pills when she fell asleep. I fell asleep and woke up very annoyed at myself. It was still a couple hours before anyone got up so I went into the bath room cut my arms again and swallowed 170 Tegritol. God must have made me fall asleep that night b/c as it was that 2 hours almost killed me. I would not have been alive in the morning if I had taken them when I had intended to. They found me passed out and called an ambulance. I was already going in and out of consciousness. The paramedic kept waking me up so I bit his hand. I really just wanted him to let me go to sleep. At the hospital I ripped out several IVs and pulled the tubes out of my throat. They had to put me in restraints to pump charcoal into my stomach. One of the doctors decided that I was psychotic and put me on Haldol. (not a pleasant medication to take.) I was in a come in ICU at Parkland for a week. The doctors told my mother that I should have been dead, I should have had kidney failure, heart failure and should have been brain damaged. They did not know why I was okay, but I do. God had a plan and He was not ready for me to be gone. The Haldol caused me to have muscle spasms called a dystonic reaction. My neck would tense up and my eyes would roll back in my head. I wouldn't be able to move so I thought I had brain damage from the overdose and I was freaked about it. I hallucinated that the doctors and nurses performed a ritual on me so I could sell my soul to the devil. It was so real to me that I believed it really happened for a long time. My psychiatrist and mother set up an ambulance to transfer me to another psychiatric hospital and gave me medicine to counteract the Haldol reaction which had progressed to full blown seizures.

I am going to stop now. I will pick up from here later.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birthday blessing

This morning, as I woke up and ran, I pondered what a birthday means. Today was the day God chose to bring me into this world. He ordained the exact moment that I would take my first breath and He has ordained the moment I will take my last breath. He ordained who my parents would be. He looked from eternity and saw every agonizing abusive moment that I would endure and He rejoiced in it. He rejoiced b/c He also saw today and tomorrow and the rest of my days. He was not limited to seeing only the present or past. He knew what I would endure and who it would make me and how He use it to help so many people. I don't know how many people I have helped at this point in my life, but He has promised me that the day will come when my story is told in such a way over and over that people will find life, freedom, hope and trust in Him. I am not trying to make myself seem important or seem like I have some great "calling". What I am saying is that I am at peace with all that my life has been b/c I know He is my redeemer and He set a plan in motion before breath ever entered into me to bring me to a place where I could write His story in my life and be able to tell people my story. I am a bringer of the light, a carrier of hope. I am evidence and can testify that no matter how bad the beginning is, the end can be so beyond our comprehension. My name, Dawn, is a name He gave me. It is a name that He chose for me b/c it is who I am. He uses me to bring first light into darkness. He uses me to plow and pioneer a way for others. B/c my darkness was so dark, His light in me is so bright. I can rejoice in every part of my life b/c He has given it purpose and beauty. He has turned my mourning into dancing, and given me beauty for ashes; I can say, without hesitation, with every fiber of my being and with total sincerity and authenticity, "I would do it all again. I would change nothing (not one thing)." I am who I am today b/c of the path I have walked; the pain is part of that. Because things were so tough when I was young, I am resilient. I am like a cork in the water. You cannot keep me down. I will always float to the top. Knock me down and I will stand right back up. (I Pray that I will stand back up prepared to hug, bless and forgive.) I feel like so much of my life I have been treading water with 100 pounds weights on each leg. The weights are gone now, but I have gotten strong from carrying them. Now I can swim out and rescue (with God's help) those who are drowning. The strength gained from carrying all that weight for so long makes me able to carry others who cannot walk for themselves, yet.

This morning my devotion was really all about this concept. The scripture was

Romans 5:3-5
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I would have to say my life has been characterized by a great deal of tribulation. I would not be exaggerating to say that there are children and people who have not been able to survive some of the things that I have endured in my life. I can glory and rejoice in that tribulation b/c it developed in me perseverance. I am not one to give up. When I know that somethings needs to be done or God is telling me to do something, I will not give up; I will not let go. There is a strength and passion inside of me that will not be put under. Now, I cannot depend on that strength. I need God, but He has worked a tenacity in me that is fierce. That is a gift born out of the tribulation of my childhood and early adulthood. There is also a hope inside of me that nothing can put out. I hope and pray that my hope pours out onto people and touches them, impacts them, and infects them with hope. The tribulation also worked in me a fierce passion for life. I delight and rejoice in every day I am given. Life, for me is full of zest, adventure and excitement. I know that I, by all rights, should be dead many times over, so how could I waste a day I am given. Not that I feel forced to do anything b/c I missed out. I am just so grateful for each day I am given and I greet the day with eager anticipation. I am not sure that I would see life as so full of beauty and zest if I had not walked in the valley of death and sorrow for so long.

Today I rejoice that I was chosen to walk this path; I rejoice that God entrusted to me this story and calls me to share about His goodness, grace, and redemption. I rejoice that He redeemed my life from the pit (and is was a pit, maybe more like a sewer). I am grateful that my mother brought me into this world; I am grateful that she raised us the best she knew how; I am grateful that she prayed for me to know Jesus; I am grateful that she has helped me and impacted me more than I may ever really know. I am grateful that God has healed and restored our relationship so we can love each other. I am so grateful that my mother lives with us and that I get to see her every single day and that my children get to be so close to their grandmother (in a country where it is more common for there to be great distances between children, parents and grandchildren).

God has been so good to me. "If all the trees were pens and all the oceans ink, I could not write out all the ways He has been good to me ." (borrowed from the band Me Without You).

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So I got up this morning and had about 3 posts rolling around in my head. I actually have been rolling a couple of them around a couple days. I thought I would try to blog this morning before church, but there were too many people that needed my help getting ready so I am just now getting to writing out what is in my head.

I have gotten a lot of feedback the last couple of days from people about my blog. Verbal feedback that is. I am actually surprised to hear how many people actually read it. I mean, I know I have followers, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they keep current. Being the dork that I am, I just assume that b/c I haven't gotten any comments on the blog it means that people either aren't reading it or aren't really enjoying it. I know better than to make assumptions, but I do any way. I was surprised to hear that one friend in particular reads every post. I am thrilled, but surprised. It shouldn't matter to me, I know, whether people read or not (I stated that in a previous blog), but it was really encouraging to hear from a couple different people that they are reading and enjoying. I guess I am one to leave comments and give feedback, I automatically assume others are the same way. I can see that not everyone is that way. Enough of that.

So, this morning getting ready for church I was brought to tears thinking about how many friends I have. Now, I would have told you a year ago that I didn't really have any friends. I considered myself to have a lot of acquaintances, but not friends. Honestly, I have felt very alone for a lot of my life. My best friend is my husband and my children are a huge part of my life, so I didn't feel totally alone, but I didn't really feel like I had really great friends.

I realize now that I have tons and tons of friends; I just needed to change my perspective and look around at what was there. I also needed to start being a good friend and allowing people into my life, heart and world. So many people in my life have been there reaching out; I just seemed to isolate myself. I thought that people were distant from me, but I have been the distant one all along. I have had a lot of friends for a long time, but I couldn't see it. They have all been my friends on their side and from their perspective; it was my perspective that kept everyone at a distance. They were never really distant; I only perceived that they were distant. I can see it now; I can receive it now; I can believe it now; I have been healed so much and have become whole enough that I am not afraid to have friends anymore. I don't need to protect myself. As a matter of fact, I can reach out and be friends to others who may feel alone and isolated, who need me to reach out and bridge the gap.

I am so grateful that I can see it now. I am so grateful that I have so many great people in my life. I also see so many potential friends in my life that I just need to nurture. As I really pondered it this morning, I was struck with such a sense of blessing and gratitude.

I have friends that I have known since I met the Lord, from the first church I went to. I have friends that were in my home group at the Village. I have friends in my Celebrate Recovery group. I am making some really great friends at Providence Community and my Missional Community. I also see the potential to get to know and be friends with many others that I am just now getting to know at church . I have some really amazing friends I have met through the PTA and my daughters school; I see many potential friends there too. As I become more open and invested in making relationships that are not disposable, I can see so many friends coming out of the wood work. Friendship takes work, but the rewards are amazing. You cannot build lasting friendship, though, if you are in fight or flight mode. As long as I was waiting for the time when I needed to move on and cut ties, always felt so alone.

Most of my life I have kept everyone at distance. I used to say that there were really one 4 people in my life that were not disposable; that would be Larry, Ally, Stephen and Chloe. That is not the way God intended for us to live. We were created for community. The God-head three in one lives in community so how could we not need community. I guess I really just was afraid of being hurt and abandoned. I think I also feared that people would realize that I wasn't good enough. Really, I think my coping strategies led me to be more a shell of a person than a real person. I felt so empty, hollow and dead inside. So I wasn't a real person; it was like I was a replica of a person and I was afraid I'd be found out for being a replica. I had been so hurt and damaged that I put me to death inside of myself. I killed my heart.

Fortunately, God has brought me back to life. My heart of stone has been taken out and I have a heart of flesh. It bleeds and hurts and rejoices. That is the thing about numbing your heart so that it doesn't hurt any more; it also takes away your ability to feel good things and live life to the fullest. This process has been a long one for me, but a paradigm shift happened in my when I read the book Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. It spoke life to my heart; it removed the anesthetic so that I could feel again. If any of this resounds in you and you relate, please, please, please, get this book. It will change your life. God resuscitated my heart. One of the greatest quotes in it was ....

"The glory of God is man full alive."

Let that sink into your heart and let the fullness of its truth settle inside of you. If we are half dead and living in an anesthetized state of being, we cannot fully glorify God.

We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Weeping is painful, but it is part of life. If we numb and avoid that pain of life, we miss out of the rejoicing as well.

As I began to come back to life, I could feel the pain others felt, but I rejoiced in it. I remember the Sunday morning that I realized that God had really brought me back to life. (I had been alive in God; I was saved, but my heart was still numb and hard.) I was sitting in church and someone was speaking about needing to pray for a particular family in the church. Someone in the churches brother had been beaten to death by gang members. He was just a normal guy doing normal things on a normal day. He yelled at a car for driving too fast down his street and the kids got out and beat him to death for it. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach; my heart broke and I felt like it was bleeding all over every where. The pain was so intense over someone I didn't even know. I grieved and prayed for that family for several days. It was then I realized that I had really been brought to life and my heart softened and freed. It did not feel good; it was not comfortable, but I rejoiced in it b/c I knew that I was becoming what I was intended by God to be. I was no longer an empty replica. I was a real human. It was kind of like the tin man. Now I feel the pain of others and can weep with them, and I can also feel friendship all around me.

It is amazing. I tell this story hoping that someone else needs to read it; I hope that someone else can find their way out of anesthesia into fully alive.

I also realize sometimes we miss out of friends b/c we misunderstand what is going on. It's like the enemy isolates us by causing us to misinterpret. I have a really great friend now that I value greatly. I am so glad that we are friends and that our daughters are friends. For a couple years I assumed that she thought I was kind of weird and didn't really try to contact me much b/c she didn't want to. Well, come to find out she thought I would think she was boring. Probably we were both waiting for the other to call and make the effort. How silly that we are just now becoming good friends when we have known each other since our girls were in Kinder garden just b/c neither one of us knew what the other was thinking. We both wanted to be friends and weren't sure the other wanted to be friends. How many people do we miss out on knowing b/c we takes shyness or intimidation to mean the other person is not interested in knowing us.

And, yes, the person I am talking about totally knows I am talking about you. Thanks for being my friend. I'm sorry that I let it take so long to be your friend. (Cat!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the beginning.... the start of this path I'm on

Since we got back from Holiday break, it has been so hard to find time to write. I want to write every day; I know also that I have to put certain things in top priority in my life. That leads to other things being pushed to the bottom and many times being neglected b/c I run out of time. My life sometimes seems like a world wind. I have so many responsibilities and so many things I try to be faithful at that sometimes what I would like to do never happens. School with Stephen has to be priority number one; then there are things that I do at the school and church activities and mixed in comes cooking, cleaning (not a whole lot of that actually), grocery shopping, etc. I never seem to find time to sew or create; that breaks my heart, b/c I want to grow that area so badly. Writing I get some time to do. I am praying for God to help me order my days and remove the things that use up my time unnecessarily. I strive to see what I can remove and reorder to make time for responsibilities and for creativity and me.

I arose earlier than I have been arising this morning. I was very excited b/c I knew that meant I could get my exercise and prayer done earlier and have a few minutes to write before hitting the school with Stephen. As I pondered what I might like to talk about I settled on starting to tell my story. That is the real reason I actually started this blog. We're going way back to the beginning. Or what I know and remember.

I was born January 19, 1973 to Deborah Lynn Washburn and Jerry ? Ingersoll. I may not have been planned by them, but I was definitely planned by God. He saw every detail and minute of my life before I was ever conceived. From what I remember about what I have been told, they were married so that I would not have illegitimate stamped on my birth certificate. (Did they actually do that back then?) I think my mother was excited. She was a mess, but excited. I have seen pictures of her pregnant and she seems genuinely happy about it. My mother and father did not stay together too very long. By the time my brother came along almost 3 years later it was all but over.

So my mother started the very difficult journey of being a single mother. This is a difficult journey for anyone, but was further complicated for her in that she was carrying some very painful secrets that she would not even be aware of until I became a teenager. Having suffered many terrible and unmentionable things in her life, my mother became different people and locked those painful memories away deep inside of herself. Her denial of and even lack of awareness of her abuse caused her to suffer extreme clinical depression and also caused her to be unaware that her children were suffering similar abuses at the hands of her abusers and others. I can't remember much at all about the early years, but I know they were very dark for her. She was very depressed, overwhelmed and somewhat paranoid. I know that she did the very best she could to try to protect us and take care of us. She was just not well enough to raise us in a healthy environment. When she realized that she was incapable of being in a healthy relationship with a man, she just retreated from having any type of relationship in an effort to protect us. She had been raised by an alcoholic mother who got into abusive relationships. Her mothers boyfriends would beat on her mother and at times abuse my mother. She did not want us to grow up like that so she just avoided relationships. She would later realize to her horror that her family had been the ones we needed protecting from. She suffered under the weight of that guilt until the last year or so.

I can remember being very young in a house we lived in on Green street, somewhere in Fort Worth. It was so filthy that you couldn't see the floors. I can remember my brother playing with her glasses and them getting lost. My mother is blind without her glasses and I think not being able to see evokes a great deal of fear in her. I remember her yelling hysterically at my brother to find her glasses. She needed to go to work; there is no way she could drive anywhere without them. As an adult I can understand to fear and panic of knowing she had to go to work and could not without the glasses. I remember being spanked with the plastic tracks from the race track my brother had. I remember spilling Mercurochrome (Monkey blood) all over our wooden kitchen table. If you don't know what Mercurochrome, it is an antiseptic that we don't really use in the U S anymore. It was red and stained everything for days or even, in the case of the table, forever. I was orangy-pink for a few days. I remember a big white Alaskan Husky my cousin gave us; his name was Kemo. He was beautiful, but one day we let him out and he never came back. I am sure he was stolen; he was a gorgeous dog.

I have very few memories from my early years. I can remember some really key memories that had a part in shaping who I became and who I am today. I can remember a really nice lady who used to babysit us. Her name was Mrs. Miles and she had a daycare in her home. I remember lunch time. She made the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever tasted. It is so funny the things you remember vividly from child hood. Those grilled cheeses were perfectly golden with perfectly melted cheese; they were cut into triangles. She also made PBJ and fried bologna. I always ordered grilled cheese except for one time I ordered fried bologna. What I did not realize was that she put katsup on those. I have always hated condiments and still do to this day. I had to eat it and I never ordered it again. I also remember Cheetos, the table we ate on and coloring pictures that we would turn into paper airplanes. We would ask her to staple them, to which she would reply, "staples don't grow on trees," but would staple them any way. I went into detail with those memories b/c they are some of the few really good memories I can remember.

In first grade I had a teacher who was not very nice. I don't know why, but she just must have been really unhappy. I can't remember if she was mean to everyone or just me. I remember thinking it was just me, but I can't honestly tell you whether she was mean to me or just mean all around. She impacted my life more than any other teacher all the way until college. She thought that little girls should have their hair up in pony tails and was very vocal about it. Of course, my mother did not take time to put my hair up. As Ms. Watson, an enormous woman who wore a moo moo type dress every day, would pace the room pointing out all the girls who had their hair up like good little girls should, I knew she was talking about me not having my hair up. I can remember that the ruffle on the bottom of her dress would sway back and forth. One of the most devastating blows to my creativity and artistic nature happened in her classroom. We had all colored pictures. She held up my picture and said, "this picture looks like a kinder gardener colored it." She didn't say who's picture it was, but I knew it was mine. Then when I told my mother and she confronted Ms Watson, Ms Watson denied that is was picture. Two major issues in my life can be traced back to that teacher. I am not shirking my responsibility in these issues or passing the blame off on her. What I am saying is that, after praying and digging deep inside myself over some issues, I feel like I traced them back and this was the root from which they grew. The belief that I was not an artist and was not capable of being creative finds its beginnings here. Many other things over the years just confirmed the belief that it was not safe to be creative. The other issue, though silly, still had power over my life. I became obsessed with the appearance my children from their birth. I was especially obsessed with them ALWAYS having their hair neatly done. When the girls didn't even have enough hair to have real pony tails, you better believe they had tiny little pig tails going on. I did not let loose of that drive to protect my kids from being judged unworthy based on their appearance until my youngest was in 2nd grade. I do brush her hair now, but it does not have to be up every day now. She doesn't want it up, so I don't inflict my pain onto her hair choices. And, if you haven't read the blog entitled "I am an Artist??" read that one. It chronicles the journey and where I currently am with art and creativity.

Life was pretty hard in the early years; none of us could really explain, or even remember why things were hard, but I knew we were not like everyone else. I always felt like I had secrets to keep. I never felt like I fit it. I always felt dirty, unloved, unworthy and alone. I felt like no one liked me; I was depressed, empty, and hopeless. I can remember feeling the need to have something to look forward to every day. If I could have something to look forward to everyday then I had a reason to be alive that day. (Gymnastics to days a week, etc.)

We moved a lot. The house was always dirty. There was never enough money; sometimes the electricity and phone would get cut off. My brother was totally out of control; he started being hospitalized and heavily medicated at 8 years old; we got kicked out of apartments constantly due to his behavior. I had been sexually abused by several family members and some others outside of the family, but did not tell anyone. What I remembered was only the tip of the iceberg. Many things far worse were going on that I would not remember til later.

I can't really remember being in 2, 3, or 4th grade. I was at a school called Bishop Elementary, but there is like a veil over my memories of that era in my life. In 5th grade, some good things happened academically. I had always done pretty good in school; it was very easy for me. I didn't have to study; I just remembered things. While in 5th grade I took some kind of Math test that all the 5th and 6th graders took (6th was elementary). I got the highest score on that test of all the 5th and 6th graders in the school. I was also put into the Gifted and Talented program. I was in the first group of students to do the programs; it started in our district that year.

I had always been the good child and got no real recognition for it. My brother kept everything so stirred up that he was the center of attention. Now, that is my perspective. I am pretty sure if you asked him, he would say he was never as good as me and felt like I was perfect and he couldn't measure up to the standard I set academically. Who knows? It just goes to show there are ALWAYS to sides to everything. Our perspective is based on what we see and experience from our side, but on the other side of things it looks different and a different perspective emerges. It is always wise to assume that there are two sides to every story and that standing in the shoes of each side will give you a perspective that you can't see if you only stand on one side of an object.

I am out of time. This is pretty much everything important up to 6th grade. Next time, 7th grade, a turning point in my life.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It has been a few days since I wrote. I have thought about writing and really wanted to write each day, but it is much harder to find the time when school is in session. Home school takes a lot of time.

So I had to opportunity to operate in my gift of dance last night. It was amazing and wonderful. It has been about 7 years since I danced publicly. I used to dance in church several times a week and then I participated in a dance ministry that traveled to different churches. We taught worship through movement and ministered in the dance. I enjoyed it tremendously. When I begin to sing and worship, my body wants to participate so badly. There is almost nothing I enjoy more than worshiping God will my whole being: body, soul and spirit. I long to dance before God as David did with no regard to looking foolish. I lay dance down about 10 years ago and have only performed a couple times since. Dancing last night brought back to me one of the greatest lessons God taught me about dance. It was a wrenching lesson that I will never forget. Not long after the lesson, I lay dance down.

As I stated I used to do quite a bit of dance ministry. When I first began to dance, I had never been formally trained as dancer. I had done gymnastics for a few years, but that is it. When I began to dance, it was truly a gift God has given me. I would begin to worship and then dance. I could feel God presence so strongly when I danced. I would just get lost in the worship. Then people began to tell me how much it touched them to see me worship and I realized that God was not only ministering to me while I dance, but He was ministering to others also. He would well up in my and begin to pour out and onto others. I was very young in the Lord and I have to say pride, vanity and self was a real struggle for me. What began as a worship that flowed organically out of me, became an object of pride and searching for more approval. I am not saying God did not use it in me and in others still, but it changed. The purity was not lost, but somewhat contaminated. I did try to fight the thoughts of pride and ego, but it was definitely a struggle.

I have to rewind a minute and add a side note. Even reaching the place where I could worship had been a struggle. I still have yet to tell the story of how I met the Lord (someday I promise, I will. would make this post way too long). I can say I walked into a church 7 months pregnant, wearing a very short mini dress, Doc Martins, a leather jacket and a pink mo hawk. I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart that night. Everyone was pretty surprised; my mom was shocked. She was even more surprised that I kept coming. We had church on Fridays and Sundays; I was at every service, and to add more emphasis, I worked nights at Water burger so I showed up on Sunday morning after having worked all night long. Needless, to say mom was shocked. I can tell my from my side, I loved going to church. I could not wait to go every week. I was truly hungry to know more about this Jesus who loved me enough to die for me. From every body else's perspective, they couldn't understand why I kept showing up b/c I would come in and stand with my arms crossed. The praise and worship at this church was pretty wild. We would sing for a long time; there would be fast songs and then slow songs. For those who haven't been to a charismatic or "Spirit filled" church, things can get pretty wild. There were tambourines, flags, dancers, people laughing, running, and all kinds of wild things. I really loved it. I can remember the first night I attended what struck me was that everyone seemed genuinely happy. I had never in all my days known happy so I wanted some of what I saw in them. It was wild, but everyone just seemed like they were so happy worshiping God. As I watched, the first night, I can remember tears started streaming down my face. I never ever cried. People who knew me knew me as really hard. My mom hadn't seen my cry in many years. I remember being so mortified and annoyed that these tears kept coming out of my eyes. I kept wiping them away hoping that no one saw them. As I kept coming back, I can remember standing there during worship and seeing everyone worship. I wanted to worship, but I could only stand with my arms crossed. It's like something was sitting on my shoulder telling me, "You can't sing, if you start singing now, everyone will wonder why you are singing now, when you didn't sing before." Now I can look back and see how ridiculous that was to believe that lie, but it had power over me non-the-less. Then one day there was a something said, I can't remember if it was sermon or what, but it spoke to me. It was something about just taking a small step and God meeting us at that small step. The only thing I could do was tap my finger. I began to tap my finger on the chair in front of me to the music. It was such a small step, but boy did God meet me there. The tap became singing, then clapping; it wasn't long before I was dancing with all my might before him. I loved praising him and dancing with my whole being. It is so interesting to think about the girl who couldn't even bring herself to sing would become a dancer for Jesus.

So back to the lesson. From the finger tapping to dancing in a ministry all over the Metroplex, what a journey. So one day I was with my troupe visiting a church to minister when I ran into a friend. I had met him a few years before; his life had been very hard. I met him in the first church I attended. Prior to meeting him, He had attempted suicide. He did not die, but managed to blow open the side of his face. He was such a sweet guy who had had an extremely hard life. When I ran into him at the church we were ministering at, he had just been released out of jail. He was so excited to see me and asked me to call him so we could hang out. He reiterated to me several times that he was trying to get on track and needed some good friends. I said I would call him, hugged him and went back to what we were there to do. I was really busy at that point in my life doing "ministry". Being in the ministry made me feel so important and gave me an "identity". I did not make time to go see him b/c I was busy doing things that I thought were more important. I few weeks later, while hanging out drinking with friends he found b/c the "good" friends did not really have time for him, he fell out of a moving vehicle. He lived on life support for a short while, but he never came back from the accident. I remember so clearly realizing that my worship meant nothing when I could not even take a few minutes to love on someone God put into my path to love. He was so desperately looking for someone to care enough about him as a friend that they would take little time to be his friend and love him. I never forgot that lesson. My dance was so ugly before God with a heart that couldn't take time to love someone in need. I don't feel guilty now; I don't feel condemnation. He probably would have made the same choices. I just realized that no matter what I give God, without love it means nothing.

Dancing last night was such a wonderful experience. I love to dance; my heart has changed a lot in the last ten years. My hearts capacity to love has increased more than I can say. God has caused me to desire for love to motivate everything I do. I don't always operate that way, but every day I walk with Him I get closer. I am less concerned with pleasing man or even what they think of my dancing. God has brought my pride down several notches. I still have more than I should, but making daily progress. Even as I prepared to dance and prayed that God would show up and do what He would like, I dealt with some new areas relating to dance. Not being a trained dancer, sometimes I doubt my ability and worry that what I choreograph doesn't look good. When praying and dealing with that doubt, I came to the conclusion, that it is not about me at all. It doesn't really matter what I do; its about His Spirit and anointing me. I could stand in stork position while music plays and He could minister to people b/c it is not about me; it is about him. I didn't really worry about how it looked or what people thought. I just worshiped God and let God handle how it impacts the people watching. It was great. I hope that God opens more doors up for me to dance. I knew He told me it was time to pick it up again. We will see where things go from here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Avatar

We went to see The Avatar Saturday night. It was a really great movie. It was visually beautiful. Of course I have something to say about what I have taken from the movie b/c I always have something to say.

Their is one line that struck me and has rolled around in my head since we left the movie. I won't talk anymore about movie specifics so I don't ruin it for anyone who wants to see it.

The line that really stuck out to me was....

"It is impossible to pour into a cup that is already full" (paraphrased).

That really struck me. It is so true. When we already know all there is to know, then we cannot learn. We must realize there is always so much room for growth and change. The minute we stop changing and growing, we die. One of the greatest things about maturity is flexibility. We have to be flexible. When we are young in our spiritual walk or even young in a physical way, sometimes growth and flexibility can be difficult.

It seems that the more we learn, the more we are able to see how much more we have left to learn. In my experience the more wisdom someone has, the more humble it makes them. "Knowledge puffs up," says the word, but wisdom brings humility. Proverbs says, "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord." I think that is why Jesus said to "come to Him as one of these children." There is a sense that a child realizes that there is more to learn. When we are full, we cannot be open to what He wants to offer us. Proverbs 27:7 says, "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." Who has not realized this in the physical world? Isn't dessert so much sweeter when we are not stuffed to the gills with food. The same can be applied to our spiritual life. If we are full of our own desires and satisfied with material things, we aren't really very hungry for what the Lord might have for us. (I'm not saying the have material possessions is wrong. It is all where your heart is.) When we are really hungry for the Lord and what He has for us, we can look at trials and suffering and see them as sweet, b/c, though they may be bitter, they are a vehicle to draw us near to Him and to learn what He wants to teach us. When our cups are full, we have no room for Him to poor into us. We have to allow Him to help us become empty vessels. We must empty ourselves us bitterness, hurt, wounds, self sufficiency, and all of our wrong perspectives, priorities, and motives. We have to empty ourselves of the identity and definitions that the world or our lives have given us. We must be empty of our accomplishments and all the things we think make us something, b/c ,before Him, we are nothing. We have to be empty of our self will and let our dreams and desires be subject to His plans. Proverbs says, "commit your way to the Lord, and He will bring it to pass," and "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." We must seek Him to give us His dreams for us and then seek to see those fulfilled.

Speaking of emptying yourself, though, being an empty vessel does not mean that we all have to become the same vessel, empty of the individuality that He gave us. We are to empty of self, but retain who He created us to be. If he wanted us all to be the same, He wouldn't have put so much diversity in humanity. We all look different; we have different temperaments and gifts; we have different tastes, drives and dreams. I used to think that we were meant to be generic and that being a unique individual was"self". I have realized, now, that He made us all unique. He works through that uniqueness to accomplish his purposes in our lives and in the world. It's like we are all teabags. He pours the water into us, but a different flavor comes from each of us. We are meant to be empty vessels; I believe what we are to empty ourselves of is self will, self righteousness, self sufficiency, selfishness. When we are empty of those things, God can pour His Spirit through us and it comes out with the flavor He gave each of us uniquely.

If we realize that there is always something to learn, in every situation, then we can grow each and every day, in every situation we encounter. We can be open to all that there is to learn and life becomes an adventure. This takes some humility, but it is so worth it. When we write off anybody as having nothing to teach us, we are missing an opportunity to learn. From children, to older people, to less educated, more educated, the homeless person, the checker at Walmart, everyone has something to teach us. There is always something we can learn and always something we can teach. No matter how good at something we may be, someone else knows more than we do. And even someone who may know less than us, could have a new perspective or technique to teach us. As a make up artist, I have to be open to learning from other make up artist. We can learn from other parents, teachers, Christians, non-Christians. I read in one of the hundreds of books I have read over the last year, that truth is every where if we choose to see it. I may not agree totally with a religion or philosophy, but that does not mean that there is no truth we can take from it. Gandhi had much truth to teach us whether we believe every thing he believed or not. There is really no one who cannot teach us something. Being an empty vessel also involves realizing that there is always more to learn about anything in life.

So when we think we "know" and are unwilling to be teachable, we are stifling the potential for growth. "It is hard to pour into a vessel that is already full.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Racism and Elitism is Alive and well

I have become keenly aware that the sickness of racism is alive and well in the world. It really looks more like elitism, but it is just as ugly. Some of the most horrible atrocities and genocides of the world can be traced back to Elitism. The definition of the Elite may differ, but it can be traced through out history. Some might trace it clear back to Israel taking over the promised land. I cannot explain or justify that one, but God doesn't need me to defend Him or justify Him. After Christ, though, there is not excuse for the Elitism. The Elite hung Jesus on the Cross. I am grateful for that day in history. The truth is that He allowed them to put Him on the cross. Speaking of history, a good friend once pointed out to me the history is His Story. That has always stuck to me; He has been telling us a story.

Back to the roots of Elitism. The Holocaust was about the Elite; Rwanda was about the Elite; Serbia was about the Elite; The Religious wars were about the Elite;

We must wipe Elitism off of the face of the planet. We have to stop thinking that any one of us is better than the other. Nothing we have, can do or believe makes us any better than any one else. Jesus told us the law could be summed up in these two commands, "Love the Lord you God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." He did not say love love your neighbor if he is a Christian; He did not, as a matter of fact say if he is Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Non Denominational. He did not say love your neighbor if his skin is the same color as yours, if he makes the same amount of money as you; He did not say if he has as much stuff as you, if he dresses like you, if his children behave like you think they should. He did not say if your neighbor has tattoos like you do or if he has no tattoos like you do; He did not, to take it further, say if your neighbor treats you well; He did not say if your neighbor speaks the same language as you, has the same morals as you, or is an American Citizen (ouch!!!!). Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." It doesn't matter if the neighbor accepts the Gospel or rejects it; it doesn't matter if the neighbor is a stripper, prostitute, drug addict, thief, homeless person, Muslim, Leper, someone with a differing lifestyle choice or a Religious pharisee (that is the one I have trouble with, I can love a stinky homeless person or a prostitute faster than I can someone who is really religious and judgmental. I have to work to love them when I see it rearits ugly head. I think I would I would rather go live in a dump in Guatemala than have to interact daily with "the religious elite". God will not allow me, though, to write those types off. He won't allow me to hate them. He convicts me that, judging them and wishing ill of them is just as ugly as them misunderstanding me and thinking ill of me--double ouch!!!) We have to start loving our neighbors. Until we reach the place where more of us love our neighbors (especially the ones of us who know the Gospel) the world is hopeless and will never change. The people we interact with daily and live around are the very people God has placed in our lives. They are our neighbors. Love is the key to the whole thing. It is the key to the Kingdom; it is the key to life. LOVE IS THE WHOLE POINT. We are all missing it. O Lord, please fill me with Your love. Let the motivation of everything I do be love. Let the plumb line I measure everything be love. Let me love You so much that it overflows on every person that comes any where near me. Let me come to the place where love would flow out of me like a mighty river. What if could come to place that we stop worrying about ourselves, our rights, what we want; what if we could worry about loving and providing for the needs of others and let God take care of defending our rights, providing our needs and helping us want less stuff? "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God....made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant...."If we could start loving and being servants with no regard to our selves or what others think the world and the people of the world would be dramatically changed. God is able to take care of whether we get taken advantage of or not. Radical idea, yeah, revolutionary, that is what the Gospel is all about. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." It was so radical that Jesus and most of His followers were put to death over it. The "safe"Gospel we preach and follow is not the Kingdom. The Gospel we know is impudent and powerless in the face of "the Kingdom". I am not saying we don't know God and that many of us have had our lives transformed, but I am saying when we start really living the Kingdom the world will be impacted like we have never seen.

That was a rabbit trail, but vitally related. I have heard it said that, "what we believe about a situation, directly impacts what we do about it." If we don't believe that children are really starving all over the world, we don't have to do anything about it. If we believe that the situation in Africa is a result of civil war or immoral behavior, and therefore deserved, we don't have to do anything about it. If the Ghettos are results of lifestyle choices then it is okay to keep living outlandish lifestyles and never attempting to share resources to make the Ghettos better. Elitism. We have worked hard to earn what we have.

BULL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the language, but I think it was necessary. We have what we have b/c God gave it to us. He allowed us to be born here, to go to school, to be able to work hard; He gave us our houses, our jobs, everything we have He gave us. Why did He give us what we have? Have you ever stopped to ask God why He gave you what He gave you? Oh, what a horrible realization it will be when we get to Eternity and see the impact we could have had with our resources. I am reading a book that states that we could wipe out poverty with one generation if we only had the will. Compassion international asks the question, "What is the opposite of poverty?" The answer most people gave was "Rich." They pose the idea that the opposite of poverty is enough. What if we could all have just enough? What if I could let go of what was more than enough to give enough to others? Do we ever really think we have enough? When we get to where we thought would be enough, we want more.

What really spawned this post was some of the things that I have heard lately in regards to our neighborhood and school. First I must admit, that I was one of the ones I am talking about a few years ago. I did not see it until God showed me. So I cannot blame those who are blind to the truth and who believe this way, b/c if we can't see something we can't see it. We don't see until we see. I am sure that there are still many layers of elitism I need to deal with; I do the only thing I know to do; I cry out to the Author and Finisher of my faith and ask Him to show me and change me, but in the mean time I also must speak to truth and do what i can to push back the darkness. I have to challenge ignorance, blindness and injustice. I choose to look the Darkness in the face and say I will not let your voice be louder than my voice any longer. At some point in History a generation has to rise up and say, with hearts full of love, "no more." I will be one, if He would send me. Lord, let it be our generation. Seeing color has not really been an issue for me for a very long time. If I could have the choice, all of my children would marry a different race so I could have grand children who are all different colors. I have been elitist about economic status and some of the complications of living in a lower income area. I have to say that I have fallen in love with this neighborhood and school. I don't want to move anymore.

I love that my children go to a school that is only 29% white. Compared the next closest school that is 75% white. 46% of our school is economically disadvantage, compared to 8% of this neighboring school; In spite of the fact that a large portion of our students come from non English speaking home, our school has received an Exemplary Rating and an 8 from the great school rating. Our teachers work really hard to help children have an leg up and a chance to succeed at life. I love that my children go to a "real life school". I don't want them to grow up in a mainly upper middle class white environment. They know how to love and get along with children who are different colors, different cultures, and have different economic experiences. They don't see color; I don't think they even see money or lack of money. It makes me so sad when I hear people talk about our neighborhood going to pot. It just shows me the Elitism in their hearts and causes me to pray for them. How sad it is that so many children in our neighborhood are transferred to the "other" school. They are not getting a realistic life experience and they are not being equipped with the ability to get along with and learn from many different life experiences. This beautiful community and school is my ministry and calling. I love that God put me here and is now allowing our family to stay here. I love that I get to impact these children and love them. I love that He is allowing me to call out of them the creativity and artistic natures within them through CREATE (my after school program). What an amazing privilege to be able to give to some of the economically disadvantaged the opportunity to have artistic influence that their parents cannot afford to give them. As a matter of fact, I think we might be considered economically disadvantaged. It doesn't seem like it to me, b/c God always takes care of our needs, but in the scheme of things we fall into that category as well.

This is just a small glimpse of how racism and elitism is alive and well in the world today. Oh, that we could love one another, regardless.