Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Pax" lives matter...

They do!  That's why my job as a Flight attendant is important.  I'm trained to evacuate an entire aircraft in 90 seconds should there be a threat.  I'm trained to prepare every passenger for a water evacuation in less than 5 minutes.  On every takeoff and every landing, I sit in my jumpseat, rolling through my evacuation strategies and paying attention to every sound and smell and feel of that plane all while watching my passengers and the overhead bins to make sure there are no risks to anyone's safety...including my own.  I'm trained to resuscitate a passenger who is not breathing or having a heart attack along with a myriad of other health situations.  I'm there to make sure you get from point A to point B alive and well and I'm happy to serve you a snack and beverage in the process.  But let me remind you, in case you've forgotten, your safety is always at risk.  Every flight, every crew member, every landing, every passenger.  Your life and your safety is always at risk because we live in a world filled with terror and targets.

Enter 2017's newest fad of flight crew defense of irate and non-compliant passengers.

It seems instead of wishing and praying for delay-free days that don't cut into our layover time, we're praying we're not on the news.  How is this affecting your safety as a passenger on my plane?  Now, it seems an equally important part of my job entails that I don't get into an altercation and wind up on every Facebook newsfeed in the world.  It's as though that the flying public have forgotten what we're there for and what we're trained as well as Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that not only keep you safe but ensure operations run properly and you don't get a lovely ticket from the FAA for causing a disruption.  You cannot do whatever you want on an airplane and there are several reasons for that.  So know that a request you may think silly is probably actually a guideline we as Flight Crew have to follow so WE aren't given a lovely ticket from the FAA...because we get those too.  There are rules in place (mind you, some we as Flight Crew think are just as silly as you) but we know they're probably for our safety and so we don't argue, we just comply and do what we can to get you to comply.

Keep in mind now, I'm only an informer.  I am not an enforcer.  My job is to simply communicate to you, as a passenger, what I need you to do in order to do my job efficiently and safely.  I may tell you once, I may tell you 3 times, but I will not force you to comply with my request.  I will quickly communicate with my Captain whatever the disturbance and he will make the decision of what to do from that point.  But mind you, if he wants you off his plane, you will get off his plane.  There's no coming back from that, because if you're a disturbance on the ground, we aren't letting you get in the air...we like to let law enforcement handle the situation in these cases.  But please know that we are equipped to handle them in the air when necessary, so don't get crazy.

I write this not to excuse bad attitudes or police brutality, I just want to remind you that I became a Flight Attendant for a travel the world and share a smile with hundreds of strangers a day who all have places to go and people to see.  I am proud of my career and there was a time when I couldn't wait to get on my plane and see who I would meet or what amazing story I'd get to hear from a lovely passenger...but it seems that there is a growing group of flying public who's purpose on my plane is to win a lawsuit or become the next internet sensation who stuck it to that American carrier and its employees.  I hear my fellow Flight Attendants from all different carriers telling stories about passengers on just about every flight who just want to start a fight...We're losing our voice and you're losing your security.  We have ignorant passengers tweeting things like this...

Umm, he thinks it's time we allow passengers to break FARs and change our policy to convenience the 1 over the thousands or terrorism will be the least of our problems?  So, now instead of focusing on your safety and the security of an aircraft as per my job description, I should instead focus on keeping happy passengers who fail to comply with FAA guidelines?  Have you forgotten the millions of passengers on the hundreds of thousands of flights in the thousands of cities who have places to go?  You seem to have forgotten what our planes are for...getting all these people where they need to go ON TIME and without compromising safety and security.  And I think it's so convenient that the camera is only rolling during the part that makes you believe the passenger is in the right.  Don't be so ignorant!  There are always 2 sides to every story but we all jump on the bandwagon when the first story is released...bad Airline, bad Flight Crew.  No, there are levels to escalate a disruptive situation like the ones you've seen in the recent news and you're only getting part of the story.  Chances are you've flown before.  You know what's expected of you as a passenger and you know what will happen if you break the rules.

So next time you think you're the focus of my flight, please remember that you are 1 of 900 in a day and we're all tired and ready to get where we're going...try to mind your manners and do your part in helping us get our jobs done safely and efficiently.  We are not your welcome mat to wipe your dirty feet on.  If you can remember that, we'll all be happy and get to see the sun shine above the clouds.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The compromise of being a woman...

I'm going to say the thing you're not supposed to say.

I straddled the fence.  Pro-life vs. Pro-choice.  I was faced with a decision 5 months ago that will probably remain one of the most difficult I will as my child comes to life or watch as my child is put to death.  My heart bled with the pain of choosing such a fate for both of us because I knew that either way, my life would continue with or without this baby.  If I chose one, I would face every day with the heavy thought of the little life I wasted.  And if I chose the other, I would face the next part of my life with fear that the "perfect" life I wanted for myself would suffer and my dreams would only be a memory.

This is the harsh and selfish reality of an unplanned pregnancy for a "modern woman" who never intended on being a mother.  Because, in that moment of terror, I felt paralyzed with regret and disappointment.  All the plans I made would never be fulfilled.  Questions and fears of what being a single mother would mean and what that would take away from my future.  I made a mistake and this was the consequence.  Society has created a fear in women's minds that says we can't have children and still live the lives we desire.  A fear so great that we would rather end a life than let it join in with ours and search for a compromise.  I knew if I chose to end my pregnancy, I would always regret it.  I would carry a burden that would be everything that child's future could have been.  The sadness in knowing I took his dreams away, possibly even the same dreams I so desperately wanted for myself.  I would look at the world through different eyes and finding any happiness after that would most certainly be a struggle.  It happens everyday and somehow those women keep going, but I know in my heart, I would have felt a sting that would last throughout the rest of my life and I wasn't prepared to live that way...running, avoiding, building walls.  Life would have gone on as the picture of everything I wanted but would I have been truly happy?  The other side of the coin was almost as unsettling.  I thought I'd have to quit my job because how can I have a baby and fly around the world?  How irresponsible would that be of me to leave my child and continue my life as a Flight Attendant?  And forget about's hard enough without a child.  I felt failure and dread on a different level than ever before.  Crippling fear.

I felt all the judgment from the outside world and it weighed heavily on my undecided mind.

You're always supposed to want a baby.  Because of all the women out there who will never have their own.  So many women out there who've lost the choice.  And so many women out there who had their babies only to lose them.  The world is full of women who would give anything to see those 2 pink lines ringing in their new baby and to have the joy of bringing that baby into the world.  I know and love a few of those women, and I knew I'd forever live with their disappointment and hurt if I selfishly chose my life over my unborn child's.  

I know these opinions welcome attacks but I only speak from my experience.  From being a woman who consciously decides what I want for myself and my future.  From being the single female who very openly chose a "jet-setter" lifestyle over the "white picket fence" lifestyle.  From being the woman who fell on my knees when the test read positive, feeling numb and everything all at once.  In that moment, I asked myself the hard questions and I was sitting right in the middle.  This is not the ideal situation and I cannot imagine how hard things will get.  I talked about not wanting children because I wanted to live life my way but was that really true?  There was a big part of me that really questioned that and it was big enough to help me choose a side.  

When the fear settles and the thought of what this small life could become overshadows the regret, there's hope.  After the hope comes happiness.  That happiness becomes laden with beauty and excitement for the small person growing inside of you, because you hear his little heart and see his little toes.  Then, the picture you had of your life shifts to encompass this new little human and who he might be...the adventures he'll want to take, the voice he'll discover, his musical style, and all the love he'll have for you because you're his mama and you gave him life.  He deserves his future just as much as I deserve mine.  He was no longer a decision, he was my child.

The fear remains.  An ever present shadow always looming as a reminder of your mistakes and how the future will never look the same.  Everything will be more difficult and the stresses of life and your new responsibilities will hang over you.  But here I am, 20 weeks pregnant, experiencing this wonderful sort of metamorphosis of myself.  Finding the greatest joy in my little boy's strong kicks and dreaming about how funny he'll be.  I wonder more about his future than my own now.  I'm so curious to know him and watch as he blooms, into a happy and kind little person who grows into an outstanding boy to become a strong and loving man.  His big future is in my hands and it's up to me to show him right from wrong while letting him make his own decisions.  He has some pretty amazing people in his corner and for that I am forever grateful.  I know it will be the hardest but most rewarding thing I'll ever do.  And I'm proud of myself that I chose to add his life into mine.  To find a balance in my dreams without him and my dreams with him and to learn how to help him achieve his own dreams.  Not to lose myself but to grow into the role of his mother.  

Nine months isn't enough time to prepare for such an explosive change.  
Especially for the woman who had such solitary plans.  
But therein lies the challenge it seems she was always seeking...

One of life's greatest adventures.
The compromise of being a woman and becoming a mother. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Travel, baby.

30 and looking for my travel partner.  

That was my online dating profile.  The subject of most of my conversations.  I want adventure and experiences around the world.  That's why I became a flight see the world, one adventure at a time.  20 hours in Brazil, 16 hours in Sint Martiin, 12 hours in Vegas.  Scouting out the hippest hostels and airbnbs.  Pinterest boards full of 24 hours in Paris, Barcelona, and London pins.  My goal and the thing I crave the most is travel.  That will never change.

Sometimes though, life throws a curve ball and the plan immediately seeks an adjustment.  Questions of how to add this HUGE, mind-blowing, addition to your life...somehow implement this big change into your plans.  Because, you're still you and this not so little surprise actually gives you the one thing you've been searching for...a travel partner.  Just not in the shape of a 35 year old, tall, dark, and handsome male like you'd expected.

Now, all the dreams and plans and goals I had for myself include a little boy, who I hope really loves to fly.  I hope he has my sense of adventure and wants to chase the sun and watch the earth from above the clouds.  The pictures I had imagined of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower and on top of the Grand Canyon have the cutest little boy now.  Eating ice cream during a Gondola ride in Venice.  Pointing to Big Ben with eyes full of curiosity and excitement.  I want his little passport to be full and his little life to have meaning because I believe if he knows how big the world really is, he'll be less likely to get lost in a small mind.

If I'm being completely honest with you, I found pride in my freedom and choice to travel rather than settle down and start a family.  I've said it a hundred times before, "I would rather travel than get married and have kids."  And I want my son to know that it wasn't because I didn't want him, but that I was afraid I would have to give up my dreams.  Because society says you can't have both.  So I chose wanderlust and airports.  But life had different plans.  I know I'll still travel alone (I am a flight attendant) but having a child doesn't limit my abilities or opportunities...if anything, it makes me more excited to dream and plan.  Because I can give him the thing I want most now.  I can show him how beautiful the world is and watch as his little feet grow with each country he explores.  I can't wait for him to pick his favorite places and share stories of the funny reggae man he met at a market, in Curacao, who made up a song about him.

So, if you're a woman full of wanderlust, don't limit yourself in thinking that you can't have it all.  And if you're a mom who feels like giving up your dreams is the sacrifice you have to make for your family, don't limit yourself in thinking you too can't have it all.  There is a wonderful world out there and it's big enough for your dreams and your choices and your mistakes and your successes and your fears.

So spread your wings and fly.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

After shame

"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."  - Mr. Rogers

I've missed a lot of life lately.  I've been caught up in my sorrows and distracting myself with things and people who aren't necessarily good for me.  It's so easy for old patterns and habits to show up and start taking hold of you.  To let your impulses guide you because dealing with reality just seems too hard.  And before you know it, you've let so much time go by without reaching your goals and LIVING the life you deserve.  You let the regret sink in and, with each decision you make, you crawl deeper and deeper into a black hole.

Behind every smile there is a story.  I smile because it feels better to smile and think on good things than let myself get wrapped up in the pain I'm trying to break free from.  That, most days, feels as though it's chewing me to pieces.  This world we live in is full of hurt.  It's full of hate.  It's full of regret.  But, it's full of happiness and love too.  It's not always easy to choose the happy and find that glimmer of hope that, you can hardly remember, is waiting for you to grab onto and the life you imagined, where your biggest and greatest dreams are reality.  Those dreams sometimes get boxed up and put in the corner, either because other choices took their place or because mistakes were made and your once possible dreams become impossible.  The person you hoped you would be seems unreachable.  So we forget about them and we make room for the idea that life without them isn't so bad, after all.  

I recently walked away from someone who, I imagined, was a dream come true.  I ignored red flags and fell blindly in love with an idea that we were the perfect couple and that if we could just make it past a few bumps, all our dreams would come true.  But I had never had the dream of a man completing me and I can't tell you at what point I lost sight of MY dreams and let him (as I was told) take my sunshine away.  So I lost myself in an unsatisfying role that I had convinced myself was right for me and when everything came to an end, I spent months in what I thought was recovery...I wanted to heal but I was masking my reality with a lie.  Until now.

Looking back, I feel extremely blessed.  I hit career goals, took the my first "big girl" vacation, moved to Tampa, fell in love with a man and his daughter and realized I'm capable of nurturing my own family, and bought my first car.  As a girl, I always had the dream that my life would be incredible but I must admit, there were a few years that I had serious doubts in myself and my future.  But this year proved to me that I can have what I long as I don't settle.  As long as I live the life I'm purposed for.

As I'm right back where I started, I can't help but look back on where my life has taken me.  How I've gotten lost, taken wrong turns, made big mistakes, lost friends, lost self-respect, and caused myself heart ache.  I remember making promises to change my stars.  The person I was when I made that promise was desperate and completely off track.  I was living a life not worthy of the person I was meant to be.  I had come to a crossroad and I had a choice to make.  I could continue down the path I was headed or I could slam on the breaks and find a different path.  I was tired of feeling every choice I made was the wrong choice.  I was tired of kicking myself when I was down.  I couldn't recognize the person in the mirror and it was time to take responsibility for my mistakes and change everything.  EVERYTHING.

I'm trading the bad for the good.  This year was necessary.  It made 2016 a year full of possibilities.  Because of this year, 2016 will be an incredible year, I feel it in my soul.

Without the bad, I wouldn't recognize the good.  I wouldn't see the rainbow if it weren't for the rain.  Had my life been perfect, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I wouldn't be as strong or compassionate.  I wouldn't be working so hard for the good because I wouldn't have the bad to compare it to.  We would never understand the power of light if it weren't for darkness.

I know what it's like to have life hand you so much crap you just want it all to end...but you have to look in front of you, not behind you, and make the choice to have a better future.  Be grateful for where life has brought you and use each day to create the life you deserve.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm pretty sure you're not the ONLY people God loves...

God is slow to anger and quick to love...His love isn't selective, and it's not limited, it's unconditional.  Nothing we could ever do can separate us from His love.  Nothing.  Not unbelief, not sin, not doubt, not unholiness, not even atheism.  He loves us all equally.  And it's such a incredible thing that my fate doesn't rest in anyone's hands BUT His.

I came across a post recently, full of ignorance and hate and honestly, it all was so very silly and immature.  These people, who call themselves Christians, acted so impulsively in reaction to what another person had done or said against them and it only added to the fire.  It didn't show love, or patience, or generosity, or compassion, or kindness.  It showed NONE of the fruits of the spirit.  It was a bunch of hostile people ganging up on someone who had wronged them with an opinion.  Do you think that is going to bring people to know Jesus?  Do you think that is showing Christ's love?  Do you think you are building people up or tearing people down?

Christians have no idea the damage they do when they use scripture as a weapon to show people they're right.  Twisting scripture around to fit whatever scenario you want to defend like you're some victim is NOT Christlike.

When Jesus was being whipped and forced to carry a cross and stabbed in the side, he said something really loving and honorable because he was slow to anger and quick to love.  He was compassionate.  Instead of seeing how those soldiers had wronged him, he chose to quietly speak words of life over them, not curse them with hate and tell them they were all going to hell.

So you're verbally attacked.  Get over it.  I'm pretty sure that's what you signed up for..."It's not supposed to be easy" remember?
Being a Christian means living a life worthy of the name of Christ and more than anything, that means loving people no matter how much hell they deserve.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Weight of Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is an act of the will and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart."  
~ Corrie Ten Boom ~

There is this constant struggle between forgiveness and blame that overwhelms the heart in times of pain, and more often than not, blame gets the better of us.  "Hurting people often hurt other people as a result of their own pain..."  There is selfishness in blame and it comes with a heavy burden.  There is selflessness in forgiveness but sometimes it comes with an equally heavy burden.

Today was a day full of blame, full of sorrow, full of anger, full of regret and full of defeat.  It was a day a family remembered a life stolen, a man gave up his life,  and two separate families mourned the losses of their sons.  It was a day of sorrow and brokenness but it was also a day of compassion and forgiveness.

September 7, 2010 my cousin, Heath Jackson, was murdered in his home by intruder, Ricardo Strozier and today was the last hearing in the ongoing trial in which Strozier would be pleading guilty and receiving the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole .  I sat back in my chair wondering what it would feel like to see him walk through the courtroom door.  Would my eyes flood with tears?  Would I get hot with anger?  Just the thought of it made me sick and to prepare myself for the hours of reliving the darkness of that day with my family, broke my heart.  As he walked in, I felt sadness, not just for my family but Ricardo's family as well, for they were experiencing a brokenness comparable to ours.  As the proceedings started and the details of the crime against Heath were graphically argued, I couldn't believe my sweet and loving family was actually living this torment. Why Heath?  Everyone loved Heath!  I couldn't help but think that if this guy could have known Heath, he wouldn't have taken his life, he would have had a greater understanding and appreciation of life.  In place of this fantasy, I watched Kleenex boxes passed around and I listened to my family describe the impact of this senseless crime and the heartache it's caused, while telling stories of Heath focused intently on love, kindness, mercy, compassion, grace and forgiveness.  Heath's mother said, "In the beginning I thought the only justified punishment for Heath's murderer would be the death penalty, I wanted his family to hurt as bad as we hurt...however, as time went on my heart changed.  Because I realized, if my son could speak to me, he would ask me to show you the same love and compassion that our Lord has shown us."  She went on to quote Luke 6:37 "Forgive and you will be forgiven."

Today had a large impact on my life as I watched my own loved ones suffering and in their excruciating pain, stood before a man, who in most circumstances should have been treated with deserving disrespect, imparted love and grace far beyond what words could express.  I watched my family comfort the Strozier family.  These two conflicting families found solace in forgiveness today.  Heath's mother hugged Ricardo's mother and prayed with her, the very woman that raised the man that murdered her son.

Forgiveness doesn't mean we've forgotten Heath and the ultimate price that he paid that day.  It doesn't mean we are condoning the crimes committed by Ricardo Strozier.  It doesn't mean anger is completely gone and it doesn't mean the burden is lighter.  It means we've consciously made the decision to constantly release feelings of hate and resentment towards this person who doesn't deserve forgiveness, and even before he asked for it today in court.  Hate is corrosive and forgiveness enables healing.  And when given the choice to live a life of retaliation or compassion, we choose to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

To everything there is a season...

Life is hard.  Things get thrown at us and we either duck or get hit.  I've done more getting hit than ducking and while I'm thankful for every lesson learned, I am more than ready for something good to come my way.  I know, I always gets worse before it gets better, but I'm telling you, if it gets much worse, there won't be anything left to get better.  I've had the abusive narcissistic boyfriend, the horrific breakup, the DUI, the flunking out of school, the traumatic family situation, the crazy girl gang fight, the walking home barefoot, the stalker, the terrifying event that comes with a stalker, the back of a cop car, the creepy bartender drug catastrophe, the homeless week, the eviction, the selling possessions for food, the hush-hush job, and so much more that I'm not even ready to share.

I just kept falling further and further into this unimaginable life and I lost myself, really lost my grip on life.  I didn't know who I was or what I was doing anymore.  I quit working out, it took an act of God to make me quit crying and I hated to look in the mirror.  I've been in some deep holes, but this one, it was the deepest darkest place I had ever experienced.  Friends urged me to see a doctor and get some help, but I couldn't make that decision.  I knew there was something seriously wrong, but I have never been one to actually DEAL with a scary situation like this.  I'm a huge "avoider."  I will avoid bad things like this until I can't anymore, and that's exactly what I did.

If it weren't for my parents and close friends, I don't know where I would be.  If it weren't for God, I know exactly where I would be.  I wouldn't be alive, I know that full well, my life reflected exactly what I had made it, a life without God.  Anyway, this isn't a blog about getting my life right with God, although I did, this is about tomorrows, new days, fresh starts, turning old habits and patterns into change and success.  The seasons change and with them comes new, bright and exciting seasons...seasons full of hope and life and chances and growth.  But what is so hard to grasp during the dark times is every season gives hope, life, chances and growth.  I never saw the possibility in my struggle until I realized the struggle is actually part of it.
"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint..."  Romans 5
If in the beginning we could experience the end, would that make life easier?  More often than not I think I can't do something, like I won't make it, and more often than not I get to watch myself jump up and down with excitement as I accomplish whatever it was I thought I couldn't.  All throughout life, we measure our success by what we learn and overcome, but the hardest thing to realize is that we possess the strength needed to do the impossible.  I can't count the number of times I've succeeded, the number of times I've fulfilled a dream or accomplished a goal or even triumphed something I failed in the past.  But knowing my success has never made life less scary.  I have proven to myself time and time again that I can do anything I put my mind to and it never gets easier...

It does, however, keep me from quitting.

Because I've seen so many seasons come and go and so many struggles turn into success, I know I have a fighting chance.  I've seen another year come and go and not without incredible struggle.  In fact, this past year has been the hardest yet.  I'm hoping this new year will bring much hope, life, chances and growth...and maybe throw in a few extras too!  Here's hoping 2013 to be a year of blessings, success, love, family, accomplishment and fortune for us all!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Puritanism on Steroids

There has always been war, violence, homosexuality, natural disasters, prostitution, fornication, and none of these things are going away any time soon. So why do Christians rant and go on and on about the “end times,” fire and brimstone, hell, or as they love to refer to it, “The Lake of Fire?” It is not like things are getting worse so quickly that you have to scare everyone to death by standing on a box on the corner yelling at the top of your lungs, “You are all going to Hell!” This technique might have worked forty years ago, but today, people are not fascinated by being the “yellee,” and it certainly does not give anyone warm and fuzzy feelings inside either. I do not recall anywhere in the New Testament a Jesus that carried signs that said, “repent or go to hell,” I think he seemed like a nice guy that helped people instead of scaring them into salvation. At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, has become corrupt, humiliating, and grotesque; this change has led to such disunity and because of this confusion the religion seems to be hurting people more than helping. From sins to dogmas, the Anointed Ones to politics, boycotts to censorship, and discipleship to scare tactics, let’s learn just how ridiculous the “church” has become.

Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas, with the help of the Wesley’s, founded Pentecostalism with the idea that sanctification comes from salvation and is followed by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism is a charismatic movement that began in 1900 and the term is derived from Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The revival of the Azusa Street Mission began in 1906 and laid the foundation for the type of church Pentecostals would agree could set them apart from the rest. For the next three years this movement swept across the globe filling churches with loud, sweating, charismatic believers and changed the way Christians participated in religion forever. The idea is to accept Jesus as the son of God (salvation), and therefore committing to a life of faith and holiness (sanctification), while also acknowledging The Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), and receiving the gift of speaking in tongues. Pentecostals believe in exorcism, speaking in tongues, faith healing, and in general seek supernatural experiences. However, throughout the decades, the attractiveness of this movement has worn off and many believe that it is a religion full of manipulation, greed, and hypocrisy.

Many believers only believe what is taught to them from their pastors, since their pastors are never wrong, and they have no interest in researching that belief, causing more and more Christians to be lazy and ignorant. These Christians are so quick to believe everything they hear their pastor say and most of these pastors have no clue what they are teaching, mostly because it is something they have heard from another pastor who heard it from another pastor. Some examples of the ignorance these pastors teach is the belief that the water that Jesus turned into wine was, in fact not wine, but grape juice. They also say in order to keep ourselves clean and blameless we should not watch bad movies, listen to bad music or hang around with bad people. It has something to do with being “unequally yoked” which is in the second book of Corinthians, but I believe it is taken completely out of context in many ways, although Paul may have been a little nuts when he wrote the book. Another verse taken to the extreme is in the book of John claiming Christians should be “In the world and not of the world.” Pastors have declared that this verse is saying bars, alcohol, and smoking are all sins, when nothing in the Bible has stated such a claim.

Christians have become so accustomed to listening and living and not KNOWING and living, two very different things. They don’t care to research because they take sermon notes, sing all the songs, go to the alter, but not once do they question the truth of what they’re being taught. Because of this, it is very hard for them to let go of any preconceived ideas, therefore these ideas are not easily debated in any situation. In fact, many Christians can’t debate their religion at all, simply because they don’t research the ideas. Some read only the Bible because they think there is no need in reading any self-help books or books that oppose their beliefs because they do not like the idea of subjecting themselves to any discouragement that would tempt them to disbelieve. Some believers only hang around with other believers because they fear becoming like the world causing them to fail as so called disciples of Christ. People should know their options and should feel threatened by a religion that takes those options away and this is why some consider Pentecostalism to be a cult. This is where the issue of dogmas as absolute truth comes into view.

Pentecostals ask no questions once they have been given instruction, this leads to incompetence and manipulation. There is very little doctrinal unity among Pentecostals and Dogmas are a great reason why. Many pastors use their pulpit as a pedestal and the members of the congregation do their part to make it that way by simply not learning their options. An example of this is the creation of “sins” from ones own convictions. Some agree that consuming alcohol is a sin, while it is not stated in the bible as such, it is only a sin because one person thought it to be wrong for him and assumed it was wrong for everyone else. Another way pastors use their position to manipulate the congregation is by the use of “God given” prophecies. This instills one of two extremes into his congregation, fear or hope. The fear of the threatening prophecy to come true or the hope that the encouraging prophecy will and it gives them the need to do whatever it takes for things to work in their favor. Tithing is another way pastors manipulate, claiming that members who tithe will have better finances than those that do not or even that those that do not tithe will have hardship. The very book these pastors teach from never mentions giving in fear, but in joy, going directly against what the pastor’s intentions may be. This introduces us to the issue of false teachings.

Boycotts in past years have been a great opportunity for change but in recent years, specifically in the 90’s boycotts became more of a censoring tool than a need for change. They are now being organized to impose morals and beliefs on the freedoms and liberties of others. Just because Pentecostals think something is bad, this automatically gives them the right to ban it within their large group of followers. They have proven very effective until the boycott of Disney in 1996 because of the creation of Gay Day. Ultimately all this did for followers was cause them to miss out on all the fun the rest of the world was having while Disney still made record numbers in costumers and sales. One of the biggest problems with Christians that I have mentioned so far is their lack of research. Emails are forwarded, letters mailed, petitions signed all without one question of its truth. Just because something sounds bad and everyone else is “making a difference” by doing it, automatically it is right for them to pass the information along to the next bird brained Christian.

Have you ever received one of those silly emails saying “If you believe in God, pass this on to twenty people. If you do not, you are ashamed of him?” Like God really cares that I send twenty of my closest friends an email like that. I am sure he would rather me be learning more about what I believe so that I could effectively share it rather than take up space while I stay away from the “bad” people that will turn me against my religion. Pentecostals are so quick to hear information and pass it on like lives depend on it. Take tracts for example, a small piece of paper given to non Christians as a witnessing tool. Some look like 100 dollar bills, some like cartoons, but all are a complete joke. While working at Starbucks for three years, I received countless witnessing tracts, and most of them were from rude, ill, and impatient customers. Why would someone that had just been so irritable with me try to share his religion with me? Did he honestly think I would give him the time of day after the way he treated me? Did he even care or was he just doing his “God-given duty?” He made no connection with me whatsoever, which ,I think got him the opposite result he was aiming for. It was probably wrong of me, but I threw his silly shred of nonsense directly into the trash, which is what I am certain happened to the rest of them if he was the one handing them out to anyone with a heart. This deals with the issue of discipleship without relationship.

A person cannot understand true Christianity if presented with it this way, and will not know what it truly has to offer them, and even because of that experience he may never open up to the religion. A big part of Christianity is being like Christ. A Jesus that shared his time, generosity, care, fed the hungry, walked with the lowest of society. That is what true Christianity should mirror, an image of love and selflessness, not the monster so many have reflected. True Christianity can be a great thing for people, when it focuses on the things Jesus himself focused on; love, kindness, generosity, patience, peace, faithfulness. All of these things make up a virtuous person, and if the world of Christianity did their job the way it was meant to be done, I guarantee so many people around the world would be less bitter, cynical, and reluctant towards the people and religion itself. However, Pentecostals have placed this religion in a horrible position, and one that will take a very long time to fix, if even fixable. If it is possible for one person like Nelson Mandela to change the world in such a positive way, then certainly it is possible for thousands of hateful Christians to change the world in a negative way. How many people and how much time will it take to fix what these people have broken?

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Friends - (noun) A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Simple, right?!  According to women, yes.  According to men, not so simple.  Can men and women really just be FRIENDS or is "What If" always lurking over your shoulder?

Some of my greatest friends have been male.  They give the most genuine advice, keep my secrets, send the sweetest "Good Morning" texts, give the best hugs, and seem to be available whenever I need them.  Is this because somewhere in their brains, they think our friendship will lead to more?  Sources say.................


Most women will answer this question quickly without the possibility of sexual attraction.  But this answer is most commonly concluded one-sided after digging deeper, they realize there is always the possibility that their male friends are sexually attracted to them and would act on that attraction if given the opportunity.  This doesn't mean they won't sit around patting your head and calling you "buddy" while secretly hoping that one day they'll get their shot at a more intimately involved relationship.  

Research done by The University of Wisconsin, where more than 400 heterosexual adults between 18 and 52 participated, reports males to be more attracted to their female friend than females attracted to their male friend regardless of relationship status.  Their findings implicated attraction between friends more common than not, concluding that men and women rarely have platonic relationships.

So is there a way to continue your greatest friendship just the way it is without having to worry about warding off an attraction from your best bud?  According to eHow, there are 5 simple steps to achieve this lasting platonic relationship.

Step 1:  Avoid stepping over any sexual boundaries.
Step 2:  Don't let others ruin it by implying your friendship is more than it seems.
Step 3:  Don't treat him like your girlfriends and don't treat her like your guy friends.
Step 4:  Maintain high opinions of each other.
Step 5:  Appreciate what you have and respect it.

Keeping a platonic friendship can be done but it goes without saying that it can always move into something less platonic.  I like to reference "FRIENDS" when thinking of platonic friendships, but the only people who never wanted each other were Ross and Monica.......and technically, Ross was Monica's first kiss. (The One Where The Stripper Cries)  So I guess, no matter what you are in someone's life, you can always be more.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Take My Hand

"There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark."
 - Helen Keller

Sometimes, I think we experience heartache and pain not only because it makes us stronger but because it reminds us to be reminds us that we all fall short and we ALL need grace and at some point, we let go of pride and admit that we can't do it alone.  It's at this point, I believe people are sent to help us and show us that we aren't alone, reminding us that just because we've failed, this doesn't mean we can't start again. (God will never leave you, nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5)

I picture disaster, houses ripped apart, people crying, clouds hanging over a sunken, once beautiful, neighborhood.  And I picture myself standing right in the middle of the chaos with a lifeless expression in consumed confusion, hearing my heart beat slow while I try to organize my thoughts and show some sign of mobility.  How many other people are here, in this exact place, experiencing this exact moment?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding - in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Prov. 3:5-6

I believe when we realize our struggles develop perseverance and strength, we can look through the darkness and see some tiny glimmer of light - it may be far, FAR, ahead and nearly inconceivable - but something in us says it's there...when storms are raging through our lives and nothing seems to be going the way we planned, we're broken and it feels as though we're falling deeper and deeper into a hole; that is when hope takes over and grace reminds us that "sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Ps. 30:5

I've lost many battles in these recent years, and I've experienced more heartache than I thought possible, and I've had much pain. But it's in these moments of despair and brokenness, I remember how I overcame the time before, and the time before that, and the time before that...and I know that this too shall pass.

What I've learned of my heartache and pain is this; through the ruin, I gain more heart.  Through the storm, I am changed.  Through the brokenness, I am strong.  Through the destruction, I have a new beginning.  It's grace that guides me and raises me to a higher know that life is more than it seems and though I may suffer, mercy is new every morning.

  "We are full of joy even when we suffer.  Because we know that our suffering gives us  perseverance.  Perseverance produces character.  Character produces hope.  And hope will never disappoint." Romans 5:3-5

Nothing that happens in our lives is accidental.  Everything happens for a reason and though it may not make sense, I trust that God has a plan for me and for you - He has a hope and a future for us all and through every victory and every loss, he puts them all in place and they shapes us into the person we were meant to be. (Jeremiah 29:11)

"I believe that it may happen that one will succeed, and one must not begin to despair, even though defeated here and there; and even though one sometimes feels a kind of decay, though things go differently from the expected, it is necessary to take heart again and new courage.  For the great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.  And great things are not something accidental, but must certainly be willed."  - Vincent Van Gogh

Remember, with each new day, we receive grace - grace is not given so that we can sit back and glory in our success or happiness, it's given so that we can share it with others.  To receive grace is to receive a gift that is not truly ours to take...let it be a reminder of yesterday's struggle to compel us to share it with others for tomorrow's purpose.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chasing Tails

Who do we blame when things don't go as planned?  When life as we know it gets turned upside down and what we were once certain of is no longer stable - Life is at a standstill and we can no longer see which way to go.  We ask questions and wonder what we could have done differently, if there was any way to avoid (what we feel is) the end.  Whatever has ended.  Be it a life, love, job, health, get the point. 

Some people blame themselves, some blame others, some blame God and some blame the devil.

You've heard the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and I'm sure if you ask anyone who's gone through a trying time, they will answer to said saying's truth.  It may have taken them time to feel the strength but they feel it, eventually.  Is this life one big test?  When we're children, this end of life comes as our dog chews up our favorite toy.  When we're teenagers, it comes when our parents take away the car.  When we're adults, it's when we lose the love of our lives (real or not).  For some, it's when they lose a child or their home or a loved one.

All throughout life, we deal with these trials that seem so life altering and we can't make sense of them.  It doesn't seem fair and we look for excuses or people to blame.  But what if this is how life is meant to be lived...from one "get back on the horse" to another.  Do we ever stop falling off the damn horse?  It's hard not to look at it this way, but eventually we all's like a mean game of know, when you pretend you're throwing the stick but you never actually do.  Eventually your dog realizes the stick isn't going anywhere.  What's the point?  Why are we even here?

I can't answer that.

But there's always that moment when that stick goes flying...your feet dig into the ground and the dirt flies out from under you...and in that moment, as you're in pursuit, you see the possibilities and it gives you excitement and hope that what's flying above your head at that moment will soon be in your grasp; and when it is, you'll close your eyes in satisfaction that you never gave up.

"Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
when you think everything's okay and everything's going right.
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
you think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face."

Every choice, every mistake, every success, every obstacle, every loss, every gain, every pain, every joy, every lesson, every single moment in life has lead me here.  To this place of solace, of rememberance, of fulfillment...the above experiences never cease, but I've learned to appreciate the tears just as much as I can appreciate the laughter and I can be thankful for the mistakes as much as I am for the success.  With life comes the ability to understand that we may never understand, that sometimes the ignorance is what we have to go through to get to the good part. 

I've learned some tough lessons in life.  I've made some really big mistakes.  And I will make more and learn more, but I think that's what makes us human.  Broken hearts, hurtful words, dissappointment, angry thoughts, lustful moments, spiteful actions, regret - these make us appreciate the contrary so much more, as sick as it sounds...having the worst of something causes us to cherish the best of it even more when we have it.

It won't always make sense.  It won't always be fun.  It can't always go right.  It shouldn't always be easy.  It doesn't always give us what we want. 

But will.

And those are the moments we live to see.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are you living a life not worthy of you?

Anything is possible when you strip yourself of limits and boundaries and force yourself into a life you didn't think you could have.

I'm a naive girl from a small town who grew up in a Pentecostal church with a loving family and they still baby me like I'm 15 years old...I was an angel until I turned 21 - most everything I did was legal but I stepped into a world I wasn't prepared for and to this day I find myself still paying for those mistakes.  After making all the right choices, praying everyday, "saving myself" for all those years and behaving like a good little girl, I found this alter ego that I never knew existed (obviously because I had never looked for it) and explored a world I would have been ashamed to have known about in previous years.  After many a lesson learned and many broken hearts and many unwise decisions, I reached a dead end and it seemed as though my "brakes" had been torn to shreds after so many attempts to stop, and I barreled myself off a cliff ---- so to speak (or literally actually.)

 The thought came to me that this destructive behavior might have been because I was afraid of my capabilities.  I made bad choices because I feared opportunity.  This is something we all know as "settling for less" and don't judge me and act like you've never done it.  I thought that if I kept letting myself pick someone who wasn't good enough that I wouldn't be forced to better myself and I would live a pointless life with a job that was mediocre, have children that would be brainless and small minded, and die and old woman thinking that the life I lived was easy and comfortable.  And that's when I violently woke up, completely out of breath, in realization of the harm I was causing myself. This utter shock jolted me back into reality and I reminding myself of some very important words from a friend..."The life you've been living is not worthy of who you are."  And it was then and there that I decided to change.

Not a small alteration...a metamorphosis, a transformation, a rebirth.  The kind of change that would bring the complete opposite of the life I had settled for.  And this change HAD to happen fast.  So I planned and set a date -- By this day of this month of this year I will be living a completely different life.  However, things weren't happening fast enough for me - I needed this change IMMEDIATELY!  Hence, why I moved 8 hours away in 5 days and started a job 3 days later.  A month into my move, I am happier, healthier and having more fun and more success than I thought possible for myself.

It's amazing to me how the world can open up to you when you stop limiting yourself and walk head first, straight into the dark, trusting in God to see your efforts and open doors.  I couldn't see how things would work out, I just knew that no matter what, because I was putting so much faith in myself and stepping right in the middle of what could have been nothing short of disaster, that things would have to be better than they were before.

Strength comes from watching yourself succeed time and time again when adversity tries to knock you down.  I have a strength I've never seen in myself today and everyday I prove just once again that I am capable, I am strong, I am an over-comer, I am a dreamer whose dreams won't stay that way.  Anything is possible when you change your vision and become the "who" your life is worthy of.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happiness or Denial??

Reading over all my old blogs about life and love, I realize that just within the last 6 months I've changed tremendously...that's why I love keeping a blog, I can visually see myself change.  I remember years ago, goals and dreams I had for myself - usually pertaining to music or traveling - and they haven't really changed much.  Over the past few years, I've added a few, but one that seems to be common with my fellow females still isn't in the cards.  Marriage or motherhood.  I can remember a friend of mine 7 years back (we were 18) saying she just wanted to be a wife and many had goals to have a husband and 3 kids with a charming little house with a white picket fence before they were 22.  I always thought I'd be on my way to settling down by the time I was 25 but I have never said I had goals of being a wife and mother.

I thought I'd have a career, maybe a serious relationship, but kids?????

If that's your goal/dream, I'm not discrediting you, everyone is different...I think my lack of desire for this specific goal may have something to do with the fact that I had my first boyfriend at 21 and have had a series of trial and error since, mostly error...but I like to think that it comes from being happy with myself and possibly the idea that I'm just not ready to share my life with someone else.  There are things I want to do and I enjoy having no one to answer to.  Sure sometimes it would be easier to have the assurance that I'll be having dinner with someone I really like or never having the feeling of loneliness.  But really, I enjoy my space and independence more than just to give it up for some mundane half-romance that lasts until one of us gets bored and decides to act like the other doesn't matter anymore.  I know, I day someone will come along and blah blah blah.  But what kind of person would I be if I just continued to settle for the wrong one over and over again?!?!  So whatever has been in charge of my dating in previous years, be it my head or my heart, no longer has control.  I'm deciding to do things very differently and it starts with saying "No" when I see something I don't like and finding the strength to walk away then and there.  No more of this "what if" because too many times I've listened to a girlfriend use this excuse to stay with some POS abusive idiot...and I'll be damned if I let myself use that excuse for any other useless sack of flesh walking around, parading his ability to satisfy or complete a woman with little to no experience in doing so. 

Example #1.  No more lying, cheating, drunk, overly aggresive, narcissistic, un-educated, arrogant, lazy, pathetic, ego-centric, loser males.

Example #2.  No more "maybe she is just his roomate and she's completely demented", "he's sweet after he smokes", "I haven't heard from him in 2 days, maybe he'll call tomorrow", "well, I did forget to wash his work shirt (while he's throwing all his clothes across the room and yelling at me)", "He said she was his sister"...

No relationship is perfect, but it isn't supposed to be occupied by complete and utter denial.

I'd rather be single and happy, spending time with good friends, reading a book in a quiet place, having my favorite wine while watching my favorite movie - all alone - than spend my time feeling like I'm not complete unless I'm in constant pursuit of someone to share all those things with, who really isn't all that I deserve.  Life is an adventure and for some that adventure only happens while they're living it with someone special or finding someone special to help them get over the last someone special...what if you're meant to be happy alone?  I'm not afraid of being alone, of living my life from one adventure to the next with no one to share it with...the fun in that is never knowing where life will take you or who you'll meet or how you'll get there - there's comfort in figuring out age and success on my own.  I'm not saying I want to be the cat lady, I'm simply saying that in order for my life to feel complete I DO NOT need to be married with children.

I could enjoy a life having the knowledge that in the end, I didn't settle for a cliche just to excuse myself from a life of the unknown.

***Disclaimer...if I do ever end up married with children, that does not make me a hypocrite, it makes me someone who after saying no to many men finally found one that was better than she had ever dreamed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Me in a Song...

A very close friend of mine wrote a blog not too long ago about her song.  This isn't just a song she enjoys, it's a song she feels connects with her very being - describes her in a way words can't.  After weeks of trying to find my song, I gave up.  Out of nowhere, my ears and heart sync together in my dark room and I'm taken back to that moment, when I asked myself, "What song do I identify with the most?"  It has been on my yoga playlist for months and it's always been my favorite...the one I always start with, lying on my back with my hands and feet stretched far from my core.  I think, because it calms my breathing and with it's consistent lulls, it focuses my attention on nothing.

Last night I decided to put it on repeat and my thoughts quickly reminded me of Lauren's blog while I was in my downward dog position and it hit me!  Thomas Newman's "Any Other Name" is definitely my song.  It's emotional and seductive.  It approaches suspense then quickly calms itself back into the radiance of bliss.  The eerie, wind-like strings are my thoughts, much deeper than they seem.  The piano rises and falls, drives and defers like my ambitions and apprehensions.  It is meandering and complex like my frustrations, subtle and intricate like my feelings.  The piano's bass notes are anchored like my self-worth, but reinforced with prominence like my personality.  The seemingly aimless chords, feeling a bit irregular, coalesce together to create a vision of perfection and grace.

If I could take the form of a song, I would gladly have this one...on repeat. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Civil Wars are not married! Seriously?!?! After watching countless videos and listening to "Barton Hollow" on repeat, I surely thought their chemistry (not to mention the way they look at each other) matched that of any married duo...however, I was wrong. They met at a songwriting session in Nashville in 2008 and became popular in 2009 when their single "Poison and Wine" played on an episode of Grey's Anatomy - and they're just a duo, not a couple, at least not with each other. In a world where production and American Idol seem to be the representation of the music industry, out pops a scene that eludes this generalization of preconceived ideas and very quietly reaches up to you and intimately puts it's sound in your ear. It's not flashy or rude, it's very polite and humble.

I love concerts. Loud, bright, sweaty concerts. You don't know the artist personally, you've just listened to their albums over and over and you know you're no different than the other 50,000 people there. You get lost in the excitement and lose the longing for the music. That's not at all how I picture a concert with The Civil Wars...I see dim lights, people clutching their chests, with their eyes closed taking in every strum and harmonic melody, no one speaking a word as to not miss a note. Stripped and raw, simple and intimate.

This "revolution" of sound is brilliant, it's always been around, but somehow it finds it's way out through the most heavenly artists, with the most pure and virtuous do two people find themselves together this way? The mixture of their voices seems almost genetically matched and yet they're not family.

Joy Williams, as a solo artist, is one of my musical inspirations...her style, eerie and moving, seems to be something I've created since I started my music journey (when I have the tools, but my current keyboard is not so useful) - I look forward to the day when my music match finds me.........please be soon. :)