Linda

I planned to write this post earlier in the week–before everything I had to say would become past tense. There aren’t words to describe my sadness or express the pain I feel from this loss. It hurts more than words. I never imagined it. I still don’t believe it.

I wanted to tell you about someone who’s played such a significant role in my life for the past 28 years. I wanted her to know how much I loved her and exactly how much impact she has had on me. And I was hoping, while in the hospital, she would read it and know. But there just wasn’t enough time. Time ran out, and all I got to do was sit by her bed, hold her hand, and tell her I loved her and would see her later. It’s just not fair. I hope she knows.

I met Linda and her daughters (we are close in age) in the early 90’s when I was in 7th grade. She was my Sunday School teacher. She welcomed all the kids to her house and strangely, seemed to enjoy it. She had a swimming pool and would often have everyone over. She also had baptisms at her house. Talk about someone who let God use all of her and everything she had for His glory–but we will get to that later.

Linda was a fun-loving, gentle-spirited, peaceful, sweet soul. She greeted everyone as if they were the most important people in the world. And when you spoke to her, you had her full attention, and she genuinely cared. She always offered advice, wisdom, and prayers. And she’d even throw the word of God in there. She always looked on the bright side and tried to get you to see the direction of the light, and if you couldn’t, she would pray over you. And her prayers were really something. She didn’t use fancy words or have some deep, loud voice (obviously), but her voice was as peaceful and gentle as they get. And she would pray with such faith and confidence in what she asked God that you couldn’t help but feel better. She prayed as though she took on the burden with you and helped you carry it. You always knew you weren’t alone in your battles. She would always help you “take up your cross.”

Her house was a place of peace, a refuge, a place I’d often run to when my world was too much for me. (It was too much a lot of the time.) And she was always welcoming. There were times I was there more than her girls. lol. She’d greet you with a smile, tell you to have a seat on the dark green couch, and offer you a drink. And if you were there long enough, she’d ask you to stay for dinner.

Linda never judged me like a lot of other people at church (because I was quiet) and she never involved herself in gossip, church politics, or that holier-than-thou nonsense you’ll get with most people who attend church regularly. She was as real and genuine as they come. She was one of the only people who kept me believing that good people do exist. She had no agenda. And she was always respectful of my wishes not to be touched or hugged or anything. And that was a big deal to me when I was younger. It still is, but I’m a lot better about it now.

Sometimes when she had everyone over to swim, I would stay just to talk to her. I knew that whenever I was around her, we were most certainly in the presence of God. And I needed that. She would ask me lots of questions, encourage me, and always say a prayer. Now that I think about it, these last 28 years with me were a part-time job for her. lol. But that’s the way she was with everyone. If you needed her, you could count on her. If you were in any sort of need, and she could help, she most certainly would. I could write pages and pages of the many ways she’s been there for me and all the things she’s done. I am going to save a lot of that for later.

When I graduated high school, she asked me if she could have a party for me. That was such a nice and generous offer, but I declined. I felt weird about that. I didn’t understand why she wanted to do that. But she was just being herself. Instead, she and the girls took me to lunch at Fa-Rays one Sunday after church. I wasn’t comfortable with that, either, but you gotta let people be themselves–even if that means letting them buy you lunch. It was an extremely hot day, so I just ordered a salad. I didn’t even care if we ate. I just enjoyed spending my time with them.

Later that Summer, she asked me what I’d planned to do from there. I remember the night like it was yesterday. Morgan and all her friends had been swimming, and I was the last one left in the pool. They had all gone out front for some reason. The sun was almost completely down, and it was a peaceful evening. And I wasn’t at all expecting a serious conversation–especially one I had no answers for. I had no plan or a clue, and she was there in true Linda fashion, showing care and concern and offering encouragement. I went onto college a few times, and the rest is history.

Linda invited me to all the holiday/family gatherings with her entire extended family, and before I knew it, I was considered and treated like part of them. I remember a Thanksgiving (1999) at her mother’s house where I was warned that everyone naps. They sure did–on the dog bed in the middle of the living room! lol.

There were Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, weddings, baby showers, and family dinners. There were times I went over just to watch them make a mess of the living room while decorating the tree or wrapping presents. I just loved to be there and with them. I didn’t care about the details.

Every semester before classes start, we would talk about it, and she would assure me I would get through it. And she was always right. And every Sunday for years, we would go to lunch after church, often times just she and I cause the girls were at work. We ate so much Parasson’s and Pizza Hut that I’d swear we became Italian. lol. And thanks to the employees at Pizza Hut, we never spent a dime. We gave it all in tips.

There were always calls and visits and lunches or dinners. There were always Christmas cards and presents. (I saved every one of them, too.) There were always happy birthday wishes (our bdays are one day apart.)There were always visits just to catch up. And I loved every minute of it.

Linda encouraged me in my writing. She took genuine interest in my education and always wanted to hear all about it. And when I took writing classes, she insisted on reading my work and discussing it. I was always excited for her to read things and anxiously awaited her thoughts.

When I graduated college, she and the ladies from our “old lady” Sunday School class threw me a party at a nearby restaurant. They learned of my love for sewing (and that my grandma got me a sewing machine) and bought me everything you could ever want or need. And there was a cake! I can’t remember what the cake was called, but it was from Reeves and was delicious as always.

When I went to grad school, we continued lunches and dinners but not every week like before. And true to herself, Linda took genuine interest in me, my studies, and everything else going on in my life.

I could go on forever with the memories, but that won’t make any of you possibly understand how wonderful she was, how much pain I feel for losing her, or how much darker this world is without her. If you knew her, you were one of the lucky ones.

Linda, I wish you had gotten to see this before you went home. I hope you knew how much I loved you and how much you meant to me and how much I appreciated every single thing you ever did for me. I will never forget any of it. We had some really good times! (I will be writing stories about much of it.) And laughter. So much laughter. Thank you for your unconditional love and unending support and encouragement in all things. Thank you for taking me to the doctor at 5am when I tore my knee and again when I broke my foot. Thank you for coming to a comedy show once (and not shaming me for that craziness. lol.) Thank you for always welcoming me, caring, and offering wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for the many prayers. Thank you for the smiles. Thank you for being a constant source of peace and light in my life. Thank you for your strong faith and your example. It was easy to believe in a loving God because of you.

I know you weren’t confident in much but I know you could say one thing with full confidence when you arrived: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Thank you for 28 years of memories, sweet lady. And thank you for my second family.

And if you could, ask God to wrap his arms around us tightly. This pain is almost unbearable.

I’m sorry we didn’t get any more time. I just heard from you a few days ago. I never imagined that would be the last. I’m glad I got to stop by a month ago and visit. I enjoyed the excitement you had when you told me you finally finished reading my favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird.

I’m glad you’re no longer suffering and are finally where you’ve worked towards since I’ve known you. I have no doubt you have some of the greatest rewards in Heaven.

I will do my best to live a life that even resembles a fraction of yours. I will try to smile more, look in the direction of the light, and always remember where it comes from. And I’ll do my best to be there for the family the way you’ve been there for me. I will try to be nicer to strangers and people, in general.

And if you could, tell my grandma I said hello and I miss her. You two will get along just fine. Your birthdays are a day apart, too.

You were the absolute best, and my world will never be the same. Until we meet again, sweet lady!

Love always, Erica.

The frog’s petals

The last place I’d have ever expected to see a frog was in a rose bush. And not just in the bush but actually in one of the flowers. It was just hanging out, perfectly still on the petals. Being that I am a woman of significant size, one of my first thoughts was wondering how the rose was holding the frog and not falling towards earth or even bending a little. Granted, the frog was the size of the tip of my pinky, but still, that weight is significantly more than that of a rose petal. Neither seemed to mind.

That frog wasn’t worried it wouldn’t hold, and the rose didn’t seem to struggle. They had a very odd and unpredictable relationship.

I tried to touch the frog without actually touching it to see if it would move. I got the brilliant idea to blow on it and see what would happen. It jumped slightly, and I almost pissed my pants. I thought for sure if I did that again, it would jump in my mouth, and I’d vomit all over my best friend’s front yard. That didn’t stop me from doing it again like the overgrown child I am. I guess you could say I’m a slow learner in some ways. lol. (Thank God I found the sense to stop bothering the little frog.)

I can’t help but wonder how the frog got in there. Obviously, the stems are thorn-covered, painful, and dangerous if you fall in naked. (Another bush, another story, another time. lol) Aside from feeling perplexed about it’s arrival, since it was in a flower at the top of the bush a little over 3 feet high, I can’t help but wonder why the frog chose that place of all places. Was it worried about potential lawn mowers? Other prey of the wild? (What eats tiny frogs?) Was it trying to outsmart everyone and everything? I know I’d never look for a frog in a rose? Did it just want to rest in a place that had a good view? Was it drawn to the beauty and delicacy of the rose but intimidated by its thorns? Was it just wanting a soft, safe place to hide from the world until it built up enough strength and fear to come out? Did it just land there accidentally and decide to stay? Did it just need to rest a while?

And what about the rose? How do you think it felt to hold such a heavy load? Do you think the rose was surprised to make such a new and different friend? Do you think it felt like a failure because its prickles couldn’t keep the frog out? Or was it happy to have a different inhabitant appreciate its cool, light, soft, safe petals? Did the rose understand the needs of the frog? Did it feel a duty to shelter the frog for a time? Did it feel it’d been given a special assignment by God?

The rose stood tall, unwavering, undisturbed as though nothing was there. The frog was grateful. The friendship was none like I’d ever seen but it worked. The frog respected the rose and refrained from movement. The rose respected the frog and kept it safe until its departure.

My friendship with the person in whose yard they were found is a lot like this frog and rose. I am grateful for the reminder and in awe of it.

Sometimes we are the frogs. Sometimes we are the roses. And we should appreciate both at every turn.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2.

May God give us many chances to be the rose and humble us enough to remind us we are frogs. Amen.

bravery

What does it mean to be brave? I bet if you asked 100 different people, you’d get 100 different answers. And from the answers, you could tell a lot (or a little) about the person who gave it/them. Some might say bravery is serving in the military and sacrificing your liberties (and possibly life) for the country. Another person might say bravery is going on a blind date. And another might say its wearing white after Labor Day. Is that still a thing?

I think that’s all brave. And I wouldn’t do any of it. Well–maybe wear the white–but only because I often times lose track of days and months. You know how it is. For the first three months of a new year, you write the previous year on everything. And by the time you get in the habit, the year is coming to an end, and you gotta start dating shit for the next year. I know that can’t just be me.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines brave as “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.”

The 100 people above would define danger, pain, and courage differently as well.

Bravery is the dear friend who’s losing her life to pancreatic cancer but is as joyful as ever and stronger in her faith, not at all fearing the passing of this life or the beginning of the next.

Bravery is the friend who has a neurological disease that’s slowly robbing her of all functions and killing her slowly but she still greets everyone with a smile from her wheelchair.

Bravery is the friend who moved across the country from everyone and everything she knows to start a new life in search of peace, happiness, and unity with people of like minds and experiences.

Bravery is the friend who got rid of everything she owned, packed her car, and decided where ever she stopped, she’d plant new roots and start over.

Bravery is the friend who lives halfway around the world with 3 of her 4 children, fighting her soon-to-be ex husband for her life, all the while trying to stay sane and faithful in her own living hell as her mother’s body is overtaken by pancreatic cancer 12 plane hours away.

Bravery is the friend who moved away from everything and everyone she knows to get off drugs, stay off them, and enjoy the family she ran from.

Bravery is the man who pretends to hold it together for his wife as he watches her deteriorate from cancer.

Bravery is the friend who moved across the world to start college and pursue her dreams while her family is at war with each other.

Bravery is the friend who told his family he is gay and will not be marrying any woman in this life.

Bravery is the friend who hides his marriage from his employers who’d fire him for being gay.

Bravery is the friend who moves to a closet in the Bible-thumping south to be near his mother.

Bravery is the woman who admitted defeat and let her husband run around until they could go their separate ways.

Bravery is the friend who doesn’t tell an acquaintance who’s mourning the loss of her boyfriend that her beloved tried to rape her.

Bravery is the friend who put her job on the line to protect the truth from the lies of the powers that be.

Bravery is the friend who quit drinking and risked death in detox to enjoy his baby boy.

Bravery is learning how to live sober and having and feeling emotions.

Bravery is the friend who found a way to tell her mother she’s bisexual and has found happiness with another woman.

Bravery is the friend who buried one twin newborn while learning to care for the other.

Bravery is the friend who found new love after her newlywed husband passed away.

Bravery is the friend who can function as she mourns the loss of her only son who saved people from drowning in a boat accident on Lake Erie.

Bravery is the friend who cares for her elderly parents alone while the rest of her family is absorbed in their own lives.

Bravery is the friend who’s 57, never married, and hasn’t given up on love.

Bravery is the friend who has been abused, bullied, and mistreated all her life but refuses to be consumed by hatred.

Bravery is the friend who always wears a smile despite working with and for power-hungry assholes with control issues who don’t actually wear the pants in their families.

Bravery is the friend who risked the best friendship she ever had to admit the truth of her love and adoration, slightly hopeful, only to be completely destroyed by what she believed was her biggest fear.

Bravery is the best friend who didn’t feel the same but didn’t want to lose her or have anything change.

Bravery is the friend who freely discusses her mental health issues to ease the comfort of those who silently struggle.

Bravery is the friend in her early 40’s with 3 young children, 2 of which are extremely autistic.

Bravery is the friend who sits in a courtroom with her son who watches the fate of a man who sexually abused him.

Bravery is the friend who raised a daughter with no mother of her own.

Bravery is the girl who was impregnated by her father in high school.

Bravery is the 400 lb friend who blocks out the silent judgment and criticism in the gym everyday.

Bravery is the friend who continues to put one foot in front of the other while every part of her world burns to the ground.

Bravery is the friend who doesn’t worry where he, his wife, and their 6 kids will live once his landlord sells their home.

Bravery is the friend who chooses life and unbearable pain over death.

Bravery is any motherfucker who crosses me! ha!

Seriously–bravery: there’s a lot of it going on. In a world full of opinions, judgments, and make believe, it is brave to be exactly who you are, say what you feel, and do whatever makes you happy. We’ve all got this one life, and without the risks, what is there?

Be brave. Take some risks. Get hurt. Admire the wounds. And be proud of yourself. Life is hard, but it’s all we’ve got.

Hind Sight Truth

I’ve always said the most important jobs are parents, preachers, and those who care for the elderly and handicapped. And those are jobs I’ve never wanted in my life. I wanted to go to seminary but only for the mental challenge. I didn’t want to be responsible for the spiritual guidance of anyone–myself included. I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone or anything. Still don’t.

I never wanted any of these responsibilities because I know the importance of them and the amount of work they involve. It’s too much of a commitment: a lifetime. I wish more people understood these things. Based on my observations; they don’t. Or they are lazy. Or both. I don’t do commitments of any kind. If I don’t have the option of walking away then I can’t involve myself. It’s not who I am.

I’ve always admired the strength of people who take these jobs as seriously as they should; those who take the time and put in the work to raise genuinely good and compassionate humans; those who guide the spiritually poor to a place of victory and love; and those who care for so many elderly and handicapped who cannot care for themselves and have no one else to care for them. I also pray for these caregivers because one day I will be one of those elderly. And that is my cross to bear. That’s the going rate for complete freedom, you know. I feel for those who see it as imprisonment, for those who are lonely, who long for something more, for someone. I cannot imagine anything other than this life. I don’t believe in it.

Until recently, I never understood what it meant to be lonely. I’ve always loved living alone and not being forced to deal with anyone or anything I didn’t have to. Covid killed my vibe. I’ve had unidentifiable pains and I’m still waiting for growth. Aren’t they all growing pains? I loved living alone because I didn’t have to be if I didn’t want to. I’ve always had lots of friends and things to do. Covid killed that, too. My people–my entire world, hid from the virus and bought into the fear more than they should have. It was hard to believe and difficult to deal with, but I got used to it. And now that people are somewhat resuming their lives pre-2020, I don’t want to. I’ve got new habits. I require more alone time now. And I want my space. I need it for me.

I see I got off on a tangent here. My intention was to discuss these jobs and their importance, to shed the light on what they mean to others. Oh well. I’ll see where this goes like the rest of you.

My boss recently lost his father to Cancer. He was a young man in his late 70’s and lived a good life, I am told. He was surrounded by family and was able to take his final breaths in his own home, something he wanted from the moment he learned his fate. He got his wish, though much too late in my mind–being surrounded by family, I mean. We are all guilty of this.

Why do we always wait? Why do we ignore the importance of others in our lives until we are met with mortality? I ask this as I ignore everyone in my world. Life: It consumes us. We don’t make time for anything because time chooses our paths. It’s like going to Target so it can tell you what you need. Only not as fun–and sometimes–it costs us way more. Hind sight is always 20/20, and it seems as though we are blind until after the fact. I know I will still leave these thoughts and resume my solitude. Everything else is too much work, too much effort, and I don’t care to do any of it. I’m not even waving the white flag. That also requires too much effort. I am lying on it on the ground with no intention of ever getting up.

I think I’ve been in survival mode for so long that I don’t know anything else. Mindfulness has never been a strength of mine, and anxiety often takes the wheel of this crazy train on the rails to hell. Time is a demanding bitch, and “the man” is her boss, and I’m just along for the ride. Who decided this was the meaning of life? And why do we realize it’s not until we are either on our death beds or someone we love is?

The wisest thing my father ever said was people take time for granted because no one’s good at managing it. It was something along those lines, anyway. And if that isn’t a slap-in-the-face…

Perhaps that’s why I want nothing to do with the most important jobs in the world. And maybe that’s why many of those who have them aren’t good at them–or good enough. Mindfulness is the arch nemesis of Time, the world is the biggest distraction of them both, and we aren’t good with either.

A couple weeks ago, one of my coworkers passed away. He was only 35. He died in a car crash after a head on collision with another car. There were no survivors. There was no time to prepare for these losses, and the gatherings would be at a church or funeral home. Too late. Much too late.

A very dear friend, the mother of my other family, has pancreatic cancer and is currently in the hospital with complications. She has fought the good fight and has been victorious thus far. She could use all the prayers in the world. And her family is all over the map. I pray we can all gather while her soul is still with us; even more I pray for a miraculous healing that only God can manage. He brought Lazarus back from the grave and He can most certainly change this story.

My soul is dying with her, and I’m certain so are others close to her. I cry as I type this. Life isn’t fair. Not even for a minute. We are a people who are apparently slow learners, easily distracted, and blind until we’re looking through hind sight. May God have mercy on our souls. May God give us all strength to be the best stewards of our time, fully-focused and mindful, and not allow to world to control us any longer. May God give us peace that passes all understanding–a peace that can only come from above.

And God, if you’re listening, please give me a sign, some hope, and a reason to get up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21

Grandma Hazel

Tears are running down my face as I type this. 53 days. It’s been 53 days since my grandmother left us. It was the worst possible way to end one year and begin another. At 1:14 am on New Year’s Day, when mother’s phone rang, I already knew. Grandma was gone. It’s still hard to believe. Covid robbed us of more than enough. I’d give up another year of my life to have her back. I’ve never been so heartbroken. Crying never hurt so much, so deeply. My chest and back are killing me from the hysteria I’ve suppressed.

I’ll never forget the last time I spoke to her. It was New Year’s Eve. Someone in the hospital was kind enough to call me from her room and allow me to speak to her. She was drugged for comfort and couldn’t speak. I told her it was me and I was sorry I couldn’t visit, but they wouldn’t let me. I told her I loved her very much. In her moaning and grunting, I know she said “I love you more.” That’s what she always said to me. I said nothing more. I didn’t want to say goodbye–though I knew it was. I was slightly hopeful she’d get better, but I knew she wouldn’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye because I was afraid she knew, too, and I didn’t want her to be as sad as I was/am. And if she didn’t know, I didn’t want her to be scared. So I just left it with “I love you.”

I’ll always wonder if she knew that would be our last conversation, if she understood anything that was happening, and if she missed me, too. I’ll always wonder if she felt any pain, if she was also heartbroken, and if she was at peace in that last breath. I’ll make myself crazy over answers I’ll never have. Those are the ones that do it, ya know. It’s never the things we know that hurt us or break us down. It’s never the things we think we cannot recover from. It’s the unknown. It’s always the unknown.

Some people have said grandmother would not want me to be sad, so I shouldn’t be. They’ve said I should think of the good times and all the memories and they shall carry me through. While there may be truth to those statements, it’s difficult to find comfort in them. I shall try, I suppose, and days will pass, and eventually time will lessen the pain. I don’t think you ever heal from it. Even then, however, I bet it won’t be until I’ve lived longer without her than with her. That would put me to 80, and I hope to be back with all my loved ones by then.

It’s a lonely existence since the pandemic. All this time away from family and friends has left my mind to wander anywhere and everywhere. It’s left the huge hole in my heart wide open and the thoughts swirling in my head like water that never goes down the drain. It’s sad and extremely difficult but quiet and beautiful at the same time. It’s also dangerous. But she is with me. My grandmother: One of the toughest ladies I’ve ever known.

She raised four children on her own after husbands ran out on her. She traded skiing for adulthood and eventually, her piano for rent money. I know a part of her died as she watched a truck haul it away. She did what she had to do. She gave up the one thing in life that was hers and for herself for survival. That is a strength I’ll never (hopefully) know but one I admire with all of my being. She’s not the first and, sadly, probably won’t be the last. The tears are flowing like Niagara Falls now. I wish she were here. I wish I could buy her another piano and listen to her play it. I wish she could teach me. I let her borrow my keyboard when she was still living on her own, but she never played it. That part of her died when the truck drove away.

My grandmother had a sense of humor that couldn’t be matched. She wasn’t your average grandma. She wasn’t all sweet and baked cookies and shit. She wasn’t the grandma who came to your sporting events or wedding receptions. lol. She was a tired old lady who retired from being a bank teller and just wanted to sit in her chair and watch the Cleveland Indians. If you understood where she came from, understood her journey, you couldn’t feel mad about it. It certainly had nothing to do with her love for any of us. I wasn’t bitter. I loved her and made time for her, anyway.

Grandmother loved whiskey sours, country music, and giving back the insults. She was very quick with them, too. I’m sure her mother would’ve been proud. I certainly was. I also realized I may have inherited some of that directly from her. She loved to drink iced tea from her tall, gray Tupperware cup. She would put 2-3 ice cubes in it. No more. And no sugar ever swam in that cup. It was as bitter as I’m trying not to be that we’ve lost her. Grandmother also liked to drink Squirt and eat peanut butter toast. It had to be the crunchy kind. And fish. She loved fish sandwiches. And in the center of her dining room table was always a bowl of apples, bananas, and oranges. Some were plastic, some were wooden, and all were sometimes dusty. lol. I never saw that woman eat any fruit in her life–unless you count those peaches in a cup. Mom brought her plenty of those when she moved into the nursing home. I don’t count those. She was a different person then.

She raised four children alone. She worked hard her entire life. She retired as she deserved. And what Dementia didn’t take from us, Pneumonia and Covid did. But she loved us. And we loved her. And that’s all that matters. Because if you look at life long enough, you’ll see the rest is just noise.

As I wait for the memories to comfort me and time to lessen the pain, I will think of the funny insults, the way she looked at my shoes whenever I came to visit, and her love for ice cream and all things made of sugar. I will try to forget the unknown, the time I took for granted, and the regrets I have for not seeing her more when I could. The tears will continue to flow, and I will try my best not to suppress this deep sadness I have never known.

For those of you who’ve lost a loved one at any point from anything, take comfort in two promises:

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

Goodnight. Much love. God Bless.

Satan, Solomon, and Sinners

The times in which we are living are quite sad. I swore I’d never bring attention to it but I can’t help it. Look around. The devil is having his day, week, month, and year. People are using their free wills for evil. Humans are being trafficked and treated like possessions; children are being raped, abused, and killed; those sworn to protect are being disrespected and killed; cowardly thugs pick up guns instead of fists; and innocent people everywhere are victims. Too many don’t value life but care more about their own egos and reputations and other mindless bullshit that doesn’t matter in the end, anyway. Marriages aren’t being fought for and are quickly ending in divorces; spouses no longer respect each other and make a mockery of their vows by stepping out while still married. Their young children don’t know better and become excited about having two houses and possible future step-parents like the rest of their unfortunate friends. People value superficiality over depth; see half truths as honesty instead of lies; don’t hold themselves accountable nor do they want anyone to hold them accountable. People in power abuse it–some by taking advantage of others and some by not treating everyone equally. People are impatient, demanding, and entitled. They want what they want and now. They choose poison to quench their thirsts because they are too lazy to wait for the water to run. They make themselves try to fit where they don’t belong and put themselves in situations that are potentially troublesome or dangerous–all because they’re afraid to be their own company for a while. People consciously (or even subconsciously) believe in meritocracy rather than recognizing God’s blessings and looking around to see the rose color is from their glasses. People are making judgments and excuses rather than putting on the shoes of their neighbors and understanding their journeys, denying them grace and mercy. Society looks for a Savior in our President/future Presidents; believes all things/people are sent by God, and forgets the devil still exists and is free to do his work as we are all free to do ours. People push their agendas in the name of faith and religion, treat others any way other than the example Christ has given, and constantly use human error and God’s forgiveness as an excuse to continue down the path of hypocrisy. Churches have become greedy; preach prosperity gospels, and convince the masses who are too lazy to read for themselves that God will give them their desires if they tithe to their pastors.

Basically–the world is doomed. It’s a good thing for many that God made the covenant to never flood the earth again. He would’ve probably done so a few more times. And all the while–the world has become more sinful. People have become cold; division seems to be at an all-time high; no one values anything; everything pure and good and right and true has been mocked and beaten like Jesus before His Crucifixion; and all that is Holy is seen as a joke. The devil must be proud. Lots of people are doing his bidding. This is probably his “day” of rest.

It’s hard not to wonder where God is during all of this. It’s difficult to understand why He doesn’t stop some or all of this mess and save and protect innocent lives. We will never fully understand free will or the ways of God. But I can tell you this: this was not the plan of The Almighty. This was not what God wanted at all. And this was not was Jesus died for. What if the time of Jesus was now? Do you think he’d die for all these horrible people?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.

What the hell are we doing? Why aren’t we loving our neighbors? Why aren’t we looking out for each other? Why aren’t we holding each other accountable and encouraging/expecting change? To have life more abundantly–that was the point! Why aren’t we doing this?!!? God help us!

Solomon figured it out for us in Ecclesiastes. One of the richest, wisest men looked to everything and anything for the meaning of life, and he said:

“Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and obey His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

To fear God and obey His commandments…

May God bless the righteous–those who value what is good and right and true; those who revere what is Sacred and Holy; those who love their neighbors; take care of their parents; and show grace and mercy towards strangers and acquaintances; those who let the consciences be their guide; those who stand tall in their beliefs and live with integrity, faith, and the love of God in their hearts. May God bless the chosen ones who love above all else, show who Christ truly is, and continue to live in awe and fear of the One who created us.

May God have mercy on us all.

I am sweating like…

In my early 20’s, I’d give you a plethora of what a couple people called “Ericaisms” to fill in that blank. In doing so, often times at work (Target in Fairlawn), I was once called the crudest person ever by a poodle-haired lesbian who was too old to have existed yet. And it wasn’t even after a great comment!! This was after I said I’m sweatin like a cop waiting for Krispy Kreme to open. Come on!! I can do (and have done) better than that! I’ll save those similes and metaphors for those in my world–because if I’ve learned one thing–it’s that I am too much of a lot of things for many people! And while the rest don’t count, anyway–I’m getting picky about who I entertain. Mostly because people are pussies. And they believe in being politically correct. And they’re softer on the inside than I am on the outside–which I am working on–both making myself harder on the outside and random strangers and acquaintances who find me repulsive and obnoxious harder on the inside. It’s a win, win, and a public service, really. You can thank me later. Back to soft on the outside.

I am doing a Beachbody workout called 10 Rounds, and that shit has me regretting what I ate in 1986!! I’ve got sweating running down my second chin like a convict on parole as we speak. It’s (the workout) one of those things I think I do because I hate myself but love myself at the same time. It’s the most difficult 40 minutes of my day!! When I am done, I am usually crying and looking for pizza coupons. Not really. I’m panting like a dog and thanking God I survived–because the last damn way I wanna go is by exercise!! Unless, of course, the aerobics are in my bed…then maybe. But honestly, I’d like to just go peacefully in my sleep, after I’ve eaten a large pizza and a sheet cake. Perhaps if I do it, I will. No one would ever suspect that. It’s not quite like jumping off a bridge or hanging oneself from her loft railings, you know. (These thoughts would be lost on my therapist, so I will leave them here. You should, too. Thanks.) Pizza and cake. And martinis. “These are a few of my favorite things.” Like Julie Andrews–who’s as old as Jesus now. Not really–but she did just turn 85. Happy Belated Birthday, Diva!! Back to workout (maybe??)–

People who run say a runner’s high is the best there is! Clearly those people have never had surgery! I was once on Tramadol, an Epidural, Dilaudid, Morphine, and Percocet at the same time–and I can promise you, friends–that’s the best high there is!! (I’d love to do that again, but maybe not have another lung surgery. Maybe just a fancy dope party with some doctors and surgeons.) And second best is the performance high!! I miss the stage like kids at fat camp miss pizza and cake. OOOOHhhh…pizza and cake. I need some asap! Is fat camp a real thing? Like conversion camp? smh. That reminds me of a movie called But I’m A Cheerleader. It’s hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. Watch it if you haven’t. Just make sure no children are present. If these camps are real, the mentality if the ignorant is lost on me. Onward and Upward!!

In this workout, the hot trainer likes to do a lot of core exercises. I can think of a few core exercises I could show him, but we don’t need an audience, a camera, or other trainers. Well…maybe just one more. Kidding!! About all of this. Maybe I should stop this nonsense and pray. I welcome (and appreciate) the prayers of others, too, thanks. The workouts always end in core exercises, and more time for me to think about and regret my entire life. Do I think it’ll cure me of my love for pizza or cake? Absolutely not! Will I eat pizza later and regret that?? Absolutely! Insanity makes sense, you know. Plus if that whole YOLO nonsense is still a thing, I intend to die happy. And happiness, my friends, is not like sweating like any damn thing. Goodnight. Much love, pizza, and cake.

A discussion on a park bench

Many times along my reading/writing journey, I have come across the question “If you could talk to anyone from history, past or present, who would it be?” This week brought that question back to me.

Mother Teresa was always my answer; that has never changed. I even knew what I would want to talk about and how I thought the conversation might go. After reading plenty of her writings, I no longer know.

As someone who has had a lot of life experience and suffered much, I’ve always admired the life Mother Teresa chose for herself, the work she did, and her devotion to both. That requires a heart, discipline, and strength I cannot fathom. That is the most selfless and simplistic way to live. Perhaps that’s why it was so fulfilling for her.

I have always believed to help yourself crawl out of the darkness (if you can), it is best to help someone else. It’s easy to forget your troubles if you’re concerned with someone else’s–even if for only a short time.

I always pictured myself

Continue reading “A discussion on a park bench”

Mental vomit

It’s been a while. I can’t recall…maybe a year? Maybe longer? For quite some time I thought over and over about what I might write about, what I should focus on, what is running through my mind and weighing on my soul. There is so so so much. Then I think it’s a waste of time to articulate my thoughts on current affairs or the state of the world. I’d rather not be more depressed nor do I want to pass that along. That narrows it down a little.

For a while I’ve felt this pressure–to be intelligent, eloquent, raw in my honesty,  and open like a book. Then there’s the other side that wants to be a smartass, misses the stage, and wishes my therapist would stop telling me to go back to comedy.  (I think she should be giving me a copay at this point.) I love the comedy stage, miss it, and fear it at the same time. This PC world ain’t for me. I’ve always said people who are PC are little bitches who are afraid to say what they really think. Lucky for you and me, I’m not that bitch. (Is that really lucky, though? lol) I’m a bitch of a different color–kinda like that horse–only no ass. All titties over here–which I’m hoping will shrink some as I lose this weight. But yeah—you always know where I stand, that I really prefer to sit, and I love a good argument. lol.  Back to weight…

Continue reading “Mental vomit”

trials, blessings, and books

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written. I wasn’t sure I’d ever again–not because I am without thoughts but because I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel that great urge to articulate them again. And yet here I am, still deeply searching.

I always thought in order to write a post–good or bad–I must feel or think deeply about one thing. Just one. Because you can only think deeply about one thing at a time, right? And that thought or feeling has only one trigger? Yes?

Those ideas were destroyed today. As months have passed, many deep thoughts and feelings have come. And while they seemed to have gone, I’m now certain they were just hibernating or waiting to erupt like a volcano. And now they surface. I’d like to think I waited patiently.

A lot has happened since I last posted. Life’s been good. It’s also been extremely difficult in times of times of learning. Some of those lessons were even heart breaking, but the truth of God prevailed like never before, and I cannot recall a time I’ve been happier. I learned that happiness is not the absence of sadness. It’s the ability to focus on the good while riding out the bad. It’s truly believing that God works for the good of those who love him. It’s blindly putting one foot in front of the other, believing that whom you cannot see is doing all of the behind-the-scenes work to take care of you in ways you’d never thought necessary. It’s choosing to press forward with whatever little hope you’ve left in your grasp.

All the while, life keeps happening. People show you their true colors. You lose sight of the truth for a short time though it feels like forever. You put the weight of the world on your shoulders because you think it belongs there. You lose sight of yourself–where you’ve been, where you’re trying to go, and all you’ve been victorious with thus far. You grow weary and hopeless. You find yourself at the end of your extension cord which hangs perfectly from your loft railing to your tall dining room chairs. And though anger and darkness propel you to do something you once feared but fear no longer, God intervenes. And maybe you’re angry. Furious. In a rage you’ve never felt. But you’ve suddenly  grown just tired enough to sleep on it another night, and God speaks to you in your dreams. You grow fearful again–not only of sin but also yourself and your own mortality. You press on with the tiniest seed of hope—that mustard seed…and eventually it all makes sense. The growing pains subside, your vision returns to 20/20, and some things you’ve learned a few times have finally stuck. And your trust in God is where it should be. And you know Jesus did it. ALL of it. Because YOU are worth it. Please believe that because it’s true.

I wanted to tell of the lessons I’ve learned, the wisdom I’ve gained, and the many, many blessings that have been bestowed on me in the last seven months, but I will leave it with this:

“There are many more things Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

Keep pressing forward, friends. Don’t lose sight of yourself. God thinks you’re important. Believe him. He’s still writing books.

Goodnight. Much love. God bless.