31 December, 2020

I Belong

Sometimes anger just comes out. It's true. And sometimes it's in the most unlikely of times and for the weirdest reasons. Right now I'm sitting in my anger--so yep writing from my wounds not my scars, but I've just applied a big honking bandaid.

I'm from Georgia. I love that I'm from Georgia. I love Georgia and my second home of South Carolina and my extended family's home state of Virginia. But I've lived in Louisville for almost 13 years. It's the longest I've ever lived anywhere, and I've lived in this particular house for 10 1/2 years--longest I've ever lived in any house. So there are the facts and now comes the anger...

Several years ago, like maybe more than 10, (yes I hold onto things) someone said to me, "You'll probably never want a fleur-de-lis anything because you'll never really be from Louisville." Now I get it--there was wine involved when it was said--wine and probably whine--but it hurt. And it has haunted me and I'll be honest hurt me and has continued to hurt me. 

I hope you're not picturing me sitting around crying and thinking about this every day because I'm not. But it does pop up every once in a while and not always when I expect. 

Like today.

I was folding laundry which usually makes me happy. (That is a whole other issue and not one I need or want to address.) I reached into the basket and pulled out the shirt William gave me for Christmas. It's a t-shirt of the Louisville skyline. Suddenly I was so incredibly angry--not angry like "this stinks" but angry like totally pissed off and shaking and crying hot tears--angry tears. And suddenly I thought, "You don't get to tell me where I do and don't belong. You don't. And I'm not giving you that power anymore. Because you know where I belong? I belong wherever my family is. I belong with the people I love and who love me. I BELONG." 

Who knows? Maybe another day the pain will come back. Maybe another day I'll remember those words said to me all those years ago, and I'll be hurt again. I hope not, but if I do it's okay. Because you know what I am learning? (note I said am learning) I am learning to live into what Dr. Seuss said, ""Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Over the past 5 years I've really cut the list down of people I care what they think. Life will do that, but it doesn't mean there aren't times I forget and the pain and anger returns. 

And if that hurt from that statement comes back? You know what I'll do? I'll put on this shirt my son gave me, and I'll remind myself there are people who accept me and who make sure I know I belong. I'll put on that shirt, and I'll strut out the door. (I might wear my tiara too!)

I also know--this anger I am feeling, which I'll be honest feels pretty darn good right now, is also not healthy. Guess I know what we'll be talking about next week in therapy!

Happy New Year!

29 December, 2020

What If 2021's Not Better?

My social media feed has been filling up with posts like, "2021 has to be better," "time for

2020 to go" or "2020 can kiss my ass goodbye." Okay, I'm lying about the last one--I haven't seen that one time. But it kind of fits, right? 


I'm not putting that out there because you know what? 2021 might not be better. Keep reading, I'm not being doomsdayish; I'm being honest and I'm listening to the old adage, "Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me." I will not be fooled again.

When I think of 2018, I think of "The Summer of Suicide" and I am NOT saying that lightly or making a joke about it. It just was. Too many and too young. In December I said something to the effect of that I couldn't wait for 2018 to end because it could only get better and 2019 was going to be awesome.

Well, 2019 was different, but not sure "better" would be the word I would choose. I call 2019 the year of rehab and recovery and relationships broken and again way too many deaths of people I love. In December I again said something like, "I'm ready to see 2019 hit the road. 2020 has to be better." And we all know how that turned out.

So you get the picture...I'm not going to hang all my hopes on 2021--at least not the kind of hopes that promise rainbows and unicorns and pots of gold.

Here's the honest to gosh truth. All three years have been horrible for many reasons AND all three years have brought joy. All three years have given me gifts I will treasure forever. I promise you this isn't me trying to put lipstick on a pig. (I would NEVER waste good lipstick that way.) This is looking back and seeing where there was light and hope and grace and love even in the midst of the shit storm of the year.

Over the last three years, I have deepened relationships. I have forged relationships with people I never dreamed of knowing. I have taken personal and vocational risks. I have reconnected with people. I have grown. I have learned. I have loved, and I have been loved. Many of these things happened not in spite of but because of how hard the year was--because of the loss and pain.

So no, I'm not hanging all my earthly hopes on 2021 being the best ever or even better than the last 3, but I am 💯 certain in the hope--the absolute trust that God will continue to show up again in this messy, broken, beautiful world full of messy, broken, beautiful people.

08 December, 2020

Being Me, Being You

Eight years ago today (December 8, 2012), I was ordained to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood. It was a

long time coming.

I heard the call in 1997, but, I dragged my feet, and found every excuse not to open the door (I mean I couldn't open the door without the fear that one of the four children under 5 or one of the dogs would go running out!). And, to be perfectly honest, I thought God had lost God's ever-loving mind. (Well since it's God I should probably say all-inclusive ever-loving mind...)

Eventually, I did begin to actually consider it and to more intentionally engage with the discernment process (you can blame one of the children for that door opening when he opened his BIG MOUTH to our village vicar), I found even more reasons why this should never happen. Mostly I thought there was no freaking way I was good enough, holy enough, contemplative enough--just enough. Oh, and I found really good evidence to support my hypothesis. But then...

I was sitting in the kitchen of The Old Barn in Kelsall England and reading the story of David and Goliath. Something jumped out at me. Did you know that Saul strapped his armor on David before David was to go fight Goliath and DAVID TOOK IT OFF!!! Yep, you read that right. He would rather go fight Goliath without armor with only a slingshot because wait for it, "I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them." (1 Samuel 17:39) y'all this was David---like THE David. David fought Goliath being HIMSELF. At that moment I heard God say, "I'm not asking you to fill someone else's shoes. I'm asking you to be you. So put on those high heels and let's go!" (This is God so I guess she knew what he was getting into!)

I'd like to say that was the last time God had to remind me to just be me, but it wasn't. While in seminary I was an intern at a parish where there were two amazing scholarly preachers. I tried everything possible to be like them. I researched; I used a thesaurus; I prayed--it just wasn't going to happen.

The good news is they were also both humble and helpful. Each took the time to tell me to "Just STOP!" Each took the time to tell me to be me. One said, "The church doesn't need another preacher like me, it has me. The preacher needs you."

And then....

My beloved Grandmother, Gangan, was dying. I was yet to be ordained. As she was dying I crawled into the bed with her, and her last words to me were, "If you become a dowdy priest, I will haunt you."

So that's how I became a too loud, sometimes irreverant, high heel, short skirt, bright color wearing priest--or as I've been dubbed "The Patron Saint of Hot Messes" but it's also how I learned something else.

We are each created to be our own people. God created each one of us to be unique. God broke the mold on each one of us. There is not a prototype for humanity--no prototype for being a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a parent, a priest--and the list goes on... Yes--have mentors; yes, learn from others, but be you. The world needs you just as you are.

05 December, 2020

Hurt Pride and The Grinch

Yep, it's true. I got my feelings hurt--really hurt. And my pride--maybe that was worse. SOOO....I did what any slightly neurotic, trying to be a mature adult would do.

I took a bath. And now it's going to sound almost like If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

I took a bath and read another sappy Christmas kindle unlimited novel. While I was reading about how everything works out within a matter of days for these traumatized women, I thought about how I could be "traumatized" by what happened and it might keep me from continuing to help others. That made me think about The Grinch. which made me decide I needed to rewatch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but probably not the way we watched it in college--or maybe I should. Who knows? (Can you say Hooville?) 

Thinking about wanting to watch the show made me think AGAIN about how I got scammed and that I could a) turn into the grinch--pre his heart getting big or b) hope the person that scammed me could turn into the grinch post his heart getting big or c) I could just move on.

I went with c. (sort of)

So I got out of the bath and put on my big girl panties which translates to I put on my monogrammed leggings. Then I went downstairs and refilled the treat baskets for the delivery people. As I was refilling the basket I thought about how people have said, "What if just neighborhood people (they probably meant those pesky children that I adore) walk up and take some of the treats?" What if they do? Why do I care? If they're that hungry and/or thirsty, have at it. Which made me think AGAIN about the people who went to so much effort to get money from me. That was a lot of work--I hope it was worth it. Really I do.

Then I thought there is a very real possibility the people who broke into our cars last summer or people who have been going around our neighborhood breaking into cars might also be fortifying themselves with the treats I have set out. I remembered one time our cars got broken into the people brought everything back. So I thought about The Grinch again which made me think about the holidays. Thinking about holidays reminded me I still had sweet potatoes leftover from Thanksgiving.

Into the kitchen I went to make the sweet potatoes streusel my son loves. And you know what I did? I doubled the streusel part AND I didn't cook it in one of my advent dishes. Nope! I got out the mack daddy Christmas dish. Take that!!

Now I'm working on finding the perfect warm outfit to wear to go find an outside bar to watch college football with my husband, that is after I finish ordering Christmas gifts for the child assigned to our family. I'm going to be okay. The world is going to be okay (thankfully I'm not in charge of that). I'm going to keep giving when I can. The rest I'll leave up to God--I do believe God is in charge and the world will be reconciled.

Don't mean to be impatient God, but definitely would not mind you stepping up your timeline....

20 November, 2020

It's My Children's Fault I'm the Way I Am

I can be too much for people. I know it; I get it; I've said it here before. And, I'm probably not going to change it. Why? Because changing it almost killed my soul.

I've been told about my too big personality quite a few times starting early in life. But what no one told me was how to temper it. What I never learned was when to dial it back (some will say I still haven't learned that!) And I didn't learn that it was okay for not everyone to like me and I didn't have to change who I was--

Towards the end of 7th grade, a friend took me aside and told me, "People are really not liking you anymore because you are conceited. We don't want to be friends with you anymore." An example she gave was when another friend was correcting my spelling/vocabulary test and I said, "It's okay if I get one wrong, I know I got the bonus." I didn't challenge the conversation. I assumed I indeed was a flawed person that didn't deserve to have friends. 

What no one knew then was while I might have come across as conceited, I was really a very scared insecure little girl (not unlike many 7th grade girls). A very scared insecure little girl that just lost almost all her friends. (I've also just got to say, I feel for that young girl too. I mean she definitely drew the short straw on being the one who had to have that conversation!)

Now whether this is true or not, I believed being popular was very important to my mother. So I didn't tell her about what happened. I didn't want her to know I was now sitting by myself in the cafeteria and was no longer invited to the big slumber parties. I wonder if I had if she would have helped me figure it out? I'll never know. Instead, I wound up in the hospital with an eating disorder which we also did not talk about--to a 7th-grade girl that was further proof there was something very wrong with me. I drew myself in, watched people more intently, and tried to figure out how to fit in.

We moved right before my 10th-grade year. After saying I wanted to go down early and try out for cheerleading, I changed my mind. My mother had worked hard to find someone to help me. I was not honest with my mother that I was terrified and sad and lonely. So I just said, "I don't want to and I'm not." She told me she was embarrassed and disappointed in me. 

Before we get all morose let's be honest. There are probably many many young teenage girls who felt the same way. Most of us really were faking it until we made it. We were all trying on identities and figuring out who we were. Some of us left that insecurity back in high school or college--for some of us it took a few more years....

{Let me also have a little aside her to say there were some people I was completely my goofy over the top self with right from the beginning--maybe not always in public--for the most part Chris knew who he was marrying! And he helped me over and over to be who I am called to be--and yes, sometimes it even gets to be too much for him. Progress not perfection, right?}

Here's where I'm going with this sad depressing story---I could draw out my life and easily mark key incidents where I just accepted others views of me as not good enough and there are also key incidents when I let go of some insecurity and really started living into the loud, over the top, has no filter, slightly inappropriate person God created. Maybe someday I will share that timeline...probably not. (See?!?!?! I do have a filter!!!)

I've been talking on video a lot about parenting. I've made a lot of mistakes. And I've had some wins. I hope the mommy that spent hours worrying about what they were going to wear and whether we belonged to the "right" things is not the mommy they most remember. I suspect they remember parts of that. I KNOW they remember and are still at times horrified and even irritated (okay flat out pissed off) at some of my antics. Sometimes I will dial it back at their request (and because it's the right thing to do), but sometimes I don't. What I hope is that even when they are madder than a wet hen on a hot summer day, they see a person who is true to her values and herself. A person who doesn't let others define her or tell her she's not good enough.  I hope they no longer see the woman who became a pretzel trying to twist and turn into being who she believed (or was told) others wanted her to be.

The truth is I learned that from them.

A public thank you--maybe it'll save me a dollar or two in therapy...

16 November, 2020

Let's Talk about It

If we can talk about cancer and diabetes and all other diseases, why can't we talk about addiction and eating disorders? I think we can and should, and so I do. I know, just like I know I'm not for everyone, this openness is not for everyone. And that is okay. It doesn't make either of us better or worse. It just makes us different. But we are all beloved children of God worthy of dignity and respect no matter what. We have that in common, so I'll respect how you live your scars and wounds and treat you with all the dignity you deserve, please do the same for me.

I do, however, want to say this, and please know I mean it with every fiber of my being. To anyone I may have offended by the seemingly nonchalant way I talk about and/or write about eating disorders and addiction, I wholeheartedly apologize. Really I do. The last thing in the world I want to do is cause anyone who lives in either of these worlds any pain. Those of us who have residency here have enough of that.

I also don't want or need anyone's pity. Cause, see here's the thing, all your pity does is make you feel better about yourself. It makes you feel safe. Your pity builds walls up around you that give you a sense of security--security that you will never face what I and many others have faced. You desperately want those walls to hold strong. Most days I want that for you too, some days I don't. 

So keep your pity to yourself. I don't want it. I don't need it. Empathy, compassion, grace--I'll take an extra heaping of those. 

Here's my truth...

I started struggling with an eating disorder when I was in junior high school. There are days and weeks, occasionally a few months when I don't even think about it, and then something happens and it rears its ugly head. I have people to turn to, people who love me, people who understand, and people who hold me accountable. It's a war I continue to fight. I win lots of battles, and some I don't. The biggest battle I have won and the one I refuse to refight is the one that is about secrecy and shame, and so I write and talk about it. 

We have addiction in our family. Again, there are days I don't think about it and there are days I can't stop thinking about it. There are times I feel light and free and there are times I am consumed with fear and what-ifs. There are still roads I can't drive down, songs I can't listen to, and smells I can't stomach. Those are the wounds scabbing over--some turn to scars, others bleed again. Talking and writing about it helps soothe the ache and bandaids the festering wounds so they can join the others that have already become scars. 

The other thing that helps--remembering that I am not alone, remembering that all those who struggle or love someone who struggles are not alone. We are not alone and we as people are created in the image of God just like everyone else. These addictions (I do believe eating disorders are types of addictions) try to tell us we're not. They try to tell us we're not worthy, we're not enough, we're flawed beyond redemption. And they try to tell us those we love who struggle are not worthy and we are weak and naive to continue to engage and to believe it will ever be different. So I talk and I write because I will challenge every day for the rest of my life these untruths. We are not weak and naive; we are warriors--strong and brave.

I have cried and will cry again. I know that. But I will also laugh, and if laughing sometimes helps me get through the hard times, then it's what I'll do. And while I know not everyone appreciates my approach, it is how I choose to live. The years of secrecy and shame tried to kill my soul. This is the way I make sure it survives. This is the way I let it sing.

09 November, 2020

Godparents and Politics

We weren't perfect parents. We made lots of mistakes. We still make mistakes I don't have time to list them all...refer to my children if you have hours of time. But I will say one thing we did perfectly was choosing our children's Godparents. (and thankfully they said yes!)

The process, I'll admit, wasn't perfect. I have another close friend who was hurt she was never asked (we have since moved on with explanation and ultimately understanding). There were other people we could have chosen, but we chose the ones we chose, and I have never, not once, regretted any of the choices.

We had simple criteria.

  • We had to agree with one another 100%
  • They could not be family (of course they became family or were already family, but they couldn't be "traditional" family)
  • They had to be people of faith
  • They had to be a person we would want our children to turn to if they ever felt like they couldn't come to us, so we needed to trust them completely. We needed to trust their view of the world and their moral compass. 
  • They had to say yes.

Not only have all these people stepped up over and over and over throughout the years, but they have also brought their families into our family. We have continued to love each other, laugh with one another. They have prayed for us and for our children. They have witnessed their Godchildren soar, and they have seen them struggle, and they have NEVER stopped loving and praying for them. They have never given up on them or us. I am a better person because of all of them. Our children are better people. I would not change a single choice. I will love these people for the rest of my life. I trust them, and I know they are all people who care not only about our family but about all people. They are people I am proud to know, and I will NEVER say a false word against any of them for any reason. Now, wait for it.....

WE DID NOT ALL VOTE THE SAME IN THIS ELECTION! Please note, we did not consider political affiliation at all. (Refer back to simple criteria) And it's not because we didn't know...

This election did not change ONE ANSWER to any of the criteria we used to choose Godparents. This election and our choice of Godparents is a reminder to me that God is bigger than politics. God is in people and people are in politics, but the goodness of people--the divine image in each of us--that's where we connect and it is that connection we need to move forward. 

*Let me also note--not a one is misogynistic, homophobic, or racist. In fact, all strive to be a voice for the marginalized.