Sunday, February 10, 2019


What does it mean to be authentic? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “not false or imitation; true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” I have always prided myself on living authentically, and I did … for the first 34 years of my life, that is. Some would say that, during those years, I put too much of myself out there for the world to see, but authenticity was vitally important to me. It backfired royally for me, though, and I was hurt in a way I had never fathomed was possible. As a result, I pulled myself into my shell and began living a very protected, very sheltered life. I gradually stopped blogging, stopped sharing my heart on social media, and eventually even stopped being real with friends. I was safe. No one could hurt me in the massive tortoise shell I had crept into.

What I didn’t count on, however, was the shrinking of my spirit. I met with my psychiatrist last week and told her that I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my anxiety, that it was getting stronger and stronger. As I described to her the types of situations that were making me more and more anxious, she said, “Oh, like social anxiety? You’re having social anxiety?” I was floored. She was right. Every situation, with a couple small exceptions, had to do with a fear of how people would perceive me and what they would do to me. Even now, typing this, I feel my chest tightening and tears welling up in my eyes.

I was struck again yesterday by how unauthentic I have become when I was describing to Jason a time in my life when I was ultimately happy, the happiest I have ever been. I recounted to him a weekend when my parents came down to California to visit, and my Dad told me that I seemed so happy and carefree that he didn’t even recognize me, and I was. I was blissfully happy because I knew that the people I was surrounded with loved me fully, completely, and unconditionally. And then they didn’t, and my world was crushed.

It’s been six years. Six years since I realized that unconditional love is not a thing. Six years since I realized that people who seem trustworthy can, and will, hurt me, and that the world is not a safe place. I haven’t been able to come back from that, partly because I didn’t realize how deeply I was retreating to protect myself. There have been several instances in the last month that have shown me how much hurt and heartache I still carry from that time in MoTown, and I need to address those. They hurt me to the depths of my soul, but I cannot let them continue to rob me of who I am, my authenticity, and my peace of mind.

I live in fear that if people see me for me, they won’t want to buy my baked goods. I am afraid that if my house is messy, if I mess up a recipe, if I’m too fat or too thin, if I talk to much, if I don’t talk enough, et cetera, et cetera, people will boycott me, and my business will fail. If my business fails, then I, too, will have failed, which, for some reason, seems to me to be a fate worse than death.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of living in fear. I’m done being someone I’m not, no matter how it affects my bottom line.

So, yes. I am a Democrat (*gasp*). I am an agnostic (going straight to hell). I own pets and operate a bakery (which is legal, by the way). I am a horrible, terrible, god-awful housekeeper (I don’t even own an iron!). I’m obese, and I’m not even really doing anything about it. (Touch my chocolate and see what happens. Just try it. I dare you.)

Oh, authenticity, how deeply have I missed you!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

This new world

I find myself more and more troubled as of late. Conversations I’ve had and things I’ve read just keep playing over and over in my head and my heart breaks. People are showing their true colors, or maybe I’m just finally seeing more clearly, and I don’t like what I see.
My entire life, I have equated being a Christian with being a Republican. There was no such thing as a Christian Democrat. Good people were against raises in minimum wage, against raises in taxes, against welfare, against marriage equality, against abortion, and pro-firearms and pro-military. It just was the way things were. I remember in High School somehow finding out that my drama director and his wife were Conservative Democrats, but they also claimed to be Christians, and I couldn’t wrap my head around that. How could that be? Weren’t the two contradictory?
I moved to Modesto in 2008 as an Evangelical Conservative Republican. Then I discovered the world. It was nasty, and messy, and gritty, and dirty, and suddenly the black and white lines I had so clearly drawn in my life weren’t quite as clear anymore. I wrestled with how someone who claimed to follow Christ could exhibit absolutely no compassion for the poor, or for those who were ill. I struggled with how people who had been pulled up from the gutters of life and forgiven for a multitude of sins could turn around and find others unworthy of grace. I wrestled with questions that I wasn’t supposed to ask, with the authority of Scripture, with male dominance, and with a discrepancy that was growing bigger and bigger between what I read of the life of Jesus and what I was seeing in the people around me.
Why would someone who sought to be just like Jesus, who Himself fed the hungry, healed the sick, and taught repeatedly to take care of the poor, be against welfare? Why would they be angry that they had less to put toward retirement, a bigger house, a new car, or a college education because of taxes, when Jesus said “Woe to the rich” and “Blessed are the poor”?
Then the refugee crisis came to light, and the Presidential race started, and along with them, more questions and heartache. Why would people who claimed to be pro-life, and vote Republican for that very reason, also be against helping the starving, dying Syrian refugees? How could someone who reads, believes, and preaches the parable of the Good Samaritan spew hatred toward Muslims? How can someone who cherishes the top two commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself” align themselves with a man who exemplifies hatred and bigotry?! I don’t understand it. I don’t want to accept it. I don’t like this new world I see.
I’m fully aware that the world itself has not changed. It is I who have changed. I left Oregon as an Evangelical Conservative Republican. I came back as a seeking Liberal Democrat. I left as a believer in Christianity. I came back clinging to God. I don’t like this new reality, and to be honest, I’m having a really tough time adjusting to it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Are we heading back down the mountain?

I do not find myself having much faith tonight. Or perhaps a better word would be trust. I trust God to know what is best. I do not trust that what is best will be the easy road.
Since I'm nervous about my ultrasound tomorrow, I can't sleep, despite the Ativan I took awhile ago. So I decided to get up, get something to eat, and dink around on the internet. Word of advice: Don't google "metastatic cancer" if you are a cancer survivor trying to sleep on the eve of an ultrasound of a mass on your right side. I'm scared sleepless! It doesn't help that hubby's scared too. It always throws me when he's scared. And my mom's nervous. And my mother-in-law is nervous. And the doctor didn't even say it was nothing to worry about this time around. She just said it could be a lot of things and then mentioned a couple benign things it could be.
I'm not sure why I'm working myself up so much. It's not going to change the outcome of the ultrasound. I just...I've learned over the past few years that God's plans for us do not always mean life is going to be a breeze. Many times, it's quite the opposite, and I just...I don't want to fight again quite yet. Okay, I don't really want to fight again at all. I like it here on life's mountaintop, living a cush life, with a great job, great kids, great marriage, all while residing in earthly paradise, surrounding by the beauty of the mountains and the stunning rivers and streams. I like the easy life, and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Not to mention that I like my hair, and I'd like to keep that for as long as possible too!
I think trying to wrap my mind around the worst case scenario is my way of trying to prevent myself from being hit by a truck, like last time, but it won't work. If I have cancer, the truck will come, whether I imagined what it would feel like to be hit or not.
I'm hoping I will chide myself tomorrow for getting worked up for nothing. I'm really, really hoping.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Help me!

I heard her cry for help, but I was too scared to answer it. “Help me.” She whispered in a voice so quiet and tortured that I could barely discern the words as they escaped her cracked and swollen lips. “What did you say?” I was scared. I didn’t want to be here and she looked scary. Her hair was matted and she shuffled her way down the hall, staring off in the distance with a vacant look, as if no one were home. And we were in an insane asylum after all. You never know what’s going on in people’s heads there. If I got too close, she could lash out at me and do some serious damage! I’d heard stories about places like this and I wasn’t about to become one! “Help me!” She whispered it again. “I don’t want to go to hell.”
The staff was walking up to us now and I was relieved. As they approached, I looked at her and said quickly “Me neither!” and walked away. I mean, honestly, I’m no shrink. She obviously had some serious problems and I wasn’t about to touch those with a ten foot pole! The staff walked her back to her room and I went into the dining room to do some more coloring.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. The staff checked on us every fifteen minutes, making sure we were safe in our beds where we were supposed to be, and every time I would start to dose, I would hear her hoarse whisper: “I don’t want to go to hell! Help me! Help me! Help me!”
I went home the next day. A half-hearted suicide attempt doesn’t earn you much time in an overcrowded psychward. Apparently, whatever was ailing my tortured floormate earned her much longer, because the rumor around the place was that she had been there two weeks already and that she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I had no intention of ever returning to that life-sucking place, and was fairly certain I would never run into her again and would forget about her soon enough.
That was not to be the case. I did not forget about her. She haunted my memories, burdening my heart every few weeks. Her tortured voice would play in my mind like it was yesterday. “I don’t want to go to hell!” and I would wonder what would cause someone to get to the point of desperation that poor woman encountered that dreadful October. What did someone do to her that she was filled with such fear? And I wished that I had told her about Jesus. I was fairly certain that if she had such a fear of hell, she had been painted a horrible picture of Jesus, and the thought filled me with anger. I knew what it was like to have been taught about the “wrong” Jesus, and how hard it was then to separate Truth from the lies we had been told. My heart ached for her and I wished that I could reach back into the past and save her for the wretchedness she must have experienced. I found myself praying repeatedly that God would send her someone to show her the love and forgiveness she so desperately needed.
Dear woman, wherever you are, may you know a life without fear. May you know that the person who instilled in you that debilitating fear of hell was wrong and that the blood of Jesus took ALL that away. Let Him cover you and cast away all your fears.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The sound of vacuuming

Has the sound of vacuuming ever filled your heart with joy? Yeah, it doesn't usually do it for me either, but this morning was different. This morning, as I was laying on my bed watching a sermon on tv, having missed church because I just didn't feel well yet again, the sound of the vacuum cleaner made its way up the stairs and suddenly I found myself smiling. You see, if finally dawned on me that I am blessed.
For the past five years, I have been fighting one illness after another, and sometimes more than one at a time, and as I have spent days on end in bed, my husband and kids have stepped up to the plate and carried the load that I used to carry, cooking and cleaning, running errands, etc. I cannot even begin to tell you how much guilt I have felt about this over the course of the last few years!
This morning, however, the reality of the matter hit me with the sound of the vacuum cleaner running. I am blessed. No, really. I mean this in all seriousness. I am honestly and truly blessed. For whatever reason, God has seen fit to allow me to be afflicted with some pretty serious medical conditions, but during that time, He has blessed me with a family that willingly and without complaint, will work together to care for the house, and care for me. (The kids do complain about the work sometimes, but they aren't complaining that I'm not working. They just don't want to have to work. They would do that if I was sick or not.)
I also just realized that I have been looking at my illnesses as just that, mine. But they aren't just mine. They are ours. They affect the whole family. I may be the one who is sick, but my illnesses will have a lifelong impact on all of us, and for me to try to pretend they won't is naive.
And with that, my brain is tired and foggy, so I must depart. Until later, my friends! My, it is good to be back into the vast world of blogging :-).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Seldom will you come across someone who has not cried out to God in anguish and heard nothing but crickets in return. I am no exception. I went through the agony of major depression and God proved Himself to me in a powerful way. I clung to Him and He pulled me through. When the people in my life I loved the most and held dearest turned their backs on me and threw me out of their lives, God covered me in His comfort and surrounded me in His love. When I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemo, my world was shattered and He proved to be my Rock. But when one final straw broke the back of my faith and in anger, hurt and rage, I DEMANDED that God PROVE Himself, I heard nothing but silence. For months, going on nearly a year now, I screamed and begged and pleaded at Him to prove Himself, to show me that He was real, because after all, if He was truly real, He wouldn't be so quiet! He would make Himself known, right? Right? What I hadn't realized was that He had already made Himself known, repeatedly, and because I was angry, I was refusing to see it. And the irony of it all? What I was angry about was done in His name, not by Him in the first place.
If God has proven Himself to us dozens of times in the past, why do we demand that He prove Himself again, as if this time is the "magical" time? This time, we will really believe! This time, we will really follow! Really? Maybe this time we need to really trust.
I was struck by a verse I've read probably a hundred times and never noticed before. Luke 1: 13 says: "But the angel said, 'Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer.'" The angel said this to Zechariah in his old age, I'm assuming well past Elizabeth's childbearing years. How many years do you think He and Elizabeth had prayed and prayed and cried out to God only to hear crickets in return. Yet, God was listening, but He was answering in His timing, not theirs, to accomplish His master plan.
So if you're crying out to God today and He's strangely silent in return, remember His faithfulness in the past and remember that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If you could count on Him then, you can count on Him now, no matter how you feel or what you here. Trust Him. He won't let you down.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Good vs. Evil

I like to view the world in black and white. It's easier that way. Lines are clearer. Life is simpler, but it's not reality. I like a world where people are either good or bad, where in a fight you are either right or wrong, but life just doesn't work that way.
I used to think "Christians" were right and "non-Christians" were wrong, Republicans were right and everyone else was wrong. Then I discovered that no two Christians believe exactly the same, that all politicians are corrupt (okay, okay. An overgeneralization...maybe.) Life taught me that people are broken, each and every one of us and that we will all mess up and that usually, within the same argument, all parties involved will behave poorly. Not always, but most of the time. Why? Because tempers flare. Emotions rage, and we react without thinking things through. Feelings get hurt. Words get said, and events are set into motion that we cannot undo. "How DARE they?!" We think and sometimes relationships are torn apart, never to be mended again. Yet if we were to take a step back, set aside our rights and our feelings for just a moment, and put ourselves in their shoes, in their lives for just a moment, we might get a better understanding of where they were coming from.
A year ago, I got my heart ripped out of my chest and stomped on repeatedly by people I loved dearly. It wasn't right and it should never have happened. No amount of putting myself in their shoes will ever make what they did right, but I can tell you this: After twelve months of pondering it and praying for them and the situation, I understand much better what they must have been going through. It wasn't right and neither was the way we reacted to the situation. Like fuel on a fire, we took a bad situation and made it worse, and Satan sat back and laughed while God's people devoured each other.
Months later, there are scars and wounds and some healing. Certain relationships have mended. Some are in the process and some may never get there. Only God knows. One of the many lessons I have taken from this situation, however, is that in every situation I encounter, it is vitally important to try to see things from the perspective of the other person. You never know what you may find.