Confessions June 6, 2017

In a world where social media is now part of our every day lives, it has become so easy to post perfectly filtered pictures of precious moments. Where I am often temped to post the good and wonderful moments, carefully filtering out some very real pain and struggle.

What you see is not necessarily what you get.  Folks assume my life is grand because I choose to post the ‘grander’ moments.

This can also create the deadly trap of comparison.  I can create a life that appears to be all sunshine and rainbows.  It just ain’t so!

Life is hard!  Times get tough.  I struggle with terrible depression, especially thru the cold dark days of winter.  Where even the sky feels heavy and lower than usual.  What I post may not always show that reality.

Also, the internet ie: social media has created what must be a phenomenon of false, brazen courage, where we can hide behind a screen armed with a typewriter and almost no filter.   Where we suddenly believe everyone or perhaps a particular someone needs to hear our opinions.

This can work both ways.  It seems to me it is mostly weighing towards the side of mean-spiritedness.  Where I am right, you are wrong!  ‘This is my strong opinion, whether you want it or not.’

Oh how easy it is to be the wizard behind the curtain, pulling strings and typing things that often leave another wounded or angry.  We are not building others up, instead we are placing them in a position of being wrong instead of simply allowing space for thinking differently.

So many of us have lost tolerance, acceptance and love.  What could be used as a tool to unite us, is now being used to further divide.

There is a nifty acronym I’d seen a few years back, using the word T.H.I.N.K.

Before I speak, or craft brilliant bridge burners via my keyboard,  let me stop and THINK:

think

Stopping and thinking before hitting “post” often allows for emotions to settle.

God made me a natural encourager.  I also have strong opinions.  He has been teaching me how to discern if my opinion was even asked for or if & when I am called to share it.

We are living in times where we as members of the human race are tolerating & encourageing divisiveness. Instead of allowing our beautiful uniqueness to pull us together, we are allowing it to drive us apart.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Daily I can ask myself “how important is it?”  Does my need to be right over ride what is right? This often looks like humbly remaining silent on things that simply won’t matter in 5 years, a year or even next month?

God knows we need more love today.

I have found that love doesn’t always ‘feel’ like the easy choice, but it is a choice nonetheless.

Like my mom always said ” if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

 

 

 

Overworked & Worth it All

Overworked is not a reference I typically use.  I go for the more descriptive and dramatic words like “exhausted” when I am feeling overworked.

I’ve been a single mom most of my life.  Raising 3 sons almost completely by myself. Along with the exhaustion of single parenting, of bearing the burden of a task clearly designed for 2, I also chose to be a stay at home, work from home parent.  Thrust suddenly into single parenting when my husband left, I started my own online retail business as well as an in home daycare.  There were many nights I was up til 2 am packaging and shipping products, while the children slept.   Then up at 7 am to start it all over again.

Chauffeur, disciplinarian, hug & kiss giver, bread-winner, home maker, mom, dad, ( I claim both mothers and fathers day by the way!)  appointment maker, appointment keeper, homework nazi, project overseer, clean teeth checker, laundry maiden, tooth fairy, faith leader, manner teacher, “yes, please, thank you, God bless you!”Chief executive boo boo kisser, fever checking, doctor calling, on call in case school calls, driving instructor (God help me!), “Sure I’ll jump on the trampoline with you(get the poise pads)”fun participator, grocery shopping, dinner planning, sandwich maker, lunch packer, not too much time on electronics watcher, story reader,  faith leader, mother tucker in-er, etc.  You get the idea.  #DomesticGoddess ha

I need a nap just recalling it all!

With the beautiful, yet busy days of small children well behind me now ( you start calling them beautiful after they are behind you) I am enjoying the evolution of changing relationships with my 2 oldest being grown and out on their own.

2017-01-19-11-19-35

My God has been gently preparing me for new chapters.  Old dreams and desires fires are being rekindled to where I have time and energy to pursue them once again.  I dream about them often (when I take a much-needed nap) and many are beginning to come true.

Yes, I was overworked.  Yes, I prayed for help in a tangible human being to show up, but that was not the plan.  It has only been by the grace of God that I was able to run this race set before me.  He was and continues to be the Ultimate Provider of all my needs and the needs of my sons.

There were many many days of sneaking off to the bathroom to cry in private because I didn’t understand and I raged against His plan.  Many nights I’d cry myself to sleep in the isolation that can be single parenting.

Through it all I have come to know God.  Perhaps that is the most important part of the Plan?    Perhaps all the exhaustion and feeling overworked were in fact the perfect amount?  For it was there I learned of my great need, my terrific lack.  To humble myself and cry out “God, help me!”

This post has taken a trajectory away from ‘overworked’ necessarily so. It reminds me of the perfect Plan and that it was worth it all to bring me to the Foot of the Cross & relationship with Christ Jesus.

via Daily Prompt: Overworked

Invited

Oh how I’ve longed to be invited.  The birthday parties in elementary school.  The dances in junior high.  Fancy dinner parties.  A date.  Church. Etc.

We all long to be seen and to be known and to be loved for who we really are, but how can we been seen and known and loved for who we really are when it seems so few of us even know who we really are?

I sought my identity in the throes of the world. It offered so many choices. It swore I could be anything I wanted to be.

Who I was got lost inside those persuasive and attractive lies.

Wearing a mask that grew into an identity that exhausted me in keeping up the facade.

Only learning who I was when the mask was torn off and I surrendered fractured pieces to God.

Now I find my identity in who He says I am.

And suddenly I am on the greatest guest list on both sides of eternity!

Invited to a future and a hope, designed & purposed for me.invited

via Daily Prompt: Invitation

My Truth

Lately, I have been thinking about how I could write something that people would want to read.  I am a story teller.  God has given me what continues to be an amazing story. A story that matters.

In thinking about what it is I know, that someone else may not know,  and even more so, would want to read about, and I keep coming back to this: ‘Write what you know.’

What I know is my own story.

For instance, the places I have fallen and those I still stumble over daily.   The victories I celebrate.  How far I have come. How scary the road ahead can seem when I take my eyes off of Jesus. How I struggle in my faith walk. and the things I wrestle with.  Facing the reality of youth mispent. Buried dreams and heart desires that have now caught fire and feel overwhelmingly attainable.  Reignited passions. And hope.  Hope of what my life might look like beyond an empty nest.

These are the things I write about in my personal journal.   Many familiar, most I am blindly finding my way through.

For me it feels like putting myself out there in the only way I know how, which is in the telling of the story God has given to me.   My truth.

It’s always scary to be vulnerable and risk rejection.  But for me, it is now scarier not to!

Funny how middle age has a way of scaring a life in to you!

My hope is that this will be a bright light to dispell the darkness, both in my own heart story and yours.  That courage will replace the false evidence that fear so willingly produces to accuse and paralyze us.  You know, those lies designed to keep us from realizing our God given potential and purpose.

So, this is my table.  I am inviting you in. It has A LOT of crumbs on it & just ignore that stack of papers (I’ll get to them). I require kindness, encouragement, and truth with grace and love.

There are plenty of mis-matched chairs, please pull one up and let’s talk.

Pam 7/14/16

 

Via Tenth Avenue North

Shortly after I had met Jesus Christ,  I began feeling  a strong conviction, like never before to be all in or all out.  Conviction that I was walking with one foot very firmly planted in the world and only occasionally dipping my baby toe in the Kingdom pools when it suited me.

It was 2010 when I made the decision to be all in.  It was then I became very intentional about listening to christian music.  I fasted completely from secular music for quite some time.

WJTL in Lancaster, PA. was the station I started listening too.  The music and song lyrics were ministering to me powerfully as I began this commited journey with Jesus.

One song in particular was “You are More” by Tenth Avenue North. It  seemed to tell my story.

       “There’s a girl in the corner,  With tear stains on her eyes. From the places she’s wandered, and        the shame she can’t hide.. She says ‘How did I get here?  I’m not who I once was..”

Being a rock n roller in my previous life, I had been to a ton of concerts. Imagine my surprise when I began hearing on the radio that christian bands played concerts too.  Low and behold “Tenth Avenue North” would be coming to Hershey in the fall and I wanted to go!

I mentioned going to the concert to several of my bible study friends and as folks often do, they all seemed excited until it was time to buy tickets.   Then it was crickets.

No one would commit to going and the day of the concert had arrived.  I had not purchased a ticket.  I had no one to go with and I was admitedly pissed about it.

That Friday afternoon, at 2:15 pm, I was outside  pulling weeds to prep my gardens for winter.  Down on my knees in the dirt I was having it out with God.  I told him:  “Look Lord, I really wanted to go see that band tonight and not one person would commit to going with me. Now the day is here, I don’t have anyone to go with, no money to buy a ticket and I’m tired of complaining about it.  I don’t even know if I could still buy tickets? I;m releasing it too you because I can’t hold it anymore!  If it is your will that I should be at the concert tonight, well you are going to have to make a way.”

With that, I released it as tears of surrender ran down my cheeks.

For the next hour, I didn’t even think about the concert, my disappoint in my friends or anything else.  I just pulled weeds.

At 3:15 I washed my hands and headed out to the bus stop to meet my youngest son.  Each day I would stop at the mailbox, grab the mail and walk to greet him.  As I reached in the mailbox, my cell phone rang.  I pulled the phone out of my back pocket and saw the name.

It was someone I didn’t really want to talk too, so I immediatly thought of my response when he would ask “Hey are you busy?”  “uh, yeah, I am.  I am on my way to get Thomas from the school bus.”  And here was my out.  So I answered the call.

“Hello?”  playing inquisitive,  “Hey Miss Pamela, How are you, do you have a minute?”  Uh yeah, I am good, busy. Heading to the bus stop. Whats up?”

Phil began telling me about how he had received an email earlier that morning and that he had a buddy that worked for Hershey Entertainment.. The friend had a chance to get tickets.  There was a concert that night.. three bands, “I don’t know if you have ever heard of Third Day, but they are playing and a couple of other bands…and anyway, my friend got 4 tickets for tonight. I am sorry it is so last minute.  He and I are going, and you may have 2 tickets so it won’t be awkward… you can bring a friend.  No strings attached.”

I stopped walking and was fully engaged in listening as tears began streaming down my face.  I realized Phil was talking about the  concert that Tenth Avenue North would be playing that night in Hershey.

While Phil explained why it was so late in the day that he was calling, he said that he felt God told him to “Invite Pam Cruz” when he got the email that morning, but he didn’t want to call me.   Then  after my name was brought to his mind repeatedly that day, he decided he’d better call and invite me.  Thats when I shared with him  my prayer of surrender that I’d prayed only an hour earlier out in the garden.

God had began answering my prayer before I even prayed it.  Tenth Ave

That night when I got to the concert.  We were in the club level seating and I sat in the second row worshipping God with thousands of others in utter awe!  I had no idea such a thing existed!  People with their hands up high publicly praising the King of Kings!

Tenth Avenue North was ah-ma-zing! I was giddy of course! I wept.  I laughed.  I clapped and praised God.

After Tenth Avenue North was finished playing,  I could have left. I was content!  Then I ran into a friend of mine who had been volunteering as a runner for the  radio station.  She shared excitedly  “I was just in catering and I saw Mac Powell.”  To which I responded  “Who is Mac Powell?”

That answered prayer has changed so much in my life.    Stay tuned there is so much more to this amazing God story.

Third day Pam 3

Why Not Believer

Right On Time

While pulling into my driveway last Saturday after returning from brunch with a friend,  I noticed a whole lot of bird activity in my neighbors tree.  Upon closer inspection, I realized the birds were Robins.

“Look at all those Robins” I said as I pointed them out. “I love seeing Robins at this time of year.  It gives me hope.  Gosh, they are really early this year”  I excitedly observed.

To which my friend responded  “I was actually thinking that they were very late.”

We were both looking at the same scene, yet we saw it thru two very different lenses. After sharing our contrasting arguements, we shared a pretty darn good laugh!

As someone who has suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder for the last 20 years,  I needed to see the hope of warmer days coming sooner than later. Hence my seeing the Robins as ‘early.’   She, on the other hand was just curiously wondering why they, the Robins hadn’t flown south for the winter yet.

Clearly these birds were NOT going anywhere.  I didn’t see one suitcase!

Sure, I could have easily ‘Googled’ it,  certain to discover a perfectly logical or scientific explanation as to why Robins are still here in south central Pennsylvania in the middle of January.  As a self proclaimed science geek, normally I would welcome devouring this sort of information.

Not this time.

This time, I chose to cling to my ‘glass half full’ optimism that I’ll need to carry me through the impending winter,  towards the hope and warmth of spring.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

The Robins’ aren’t late!  They’re right on time!

Now where is my sunscreen?

22 Nov. 4, 2015

Twenty two years ago tonight,  I was sitting in my comfortable little home in Baltimore.   My then 12-year-old son was upstairs sleeping.  I was about 6 months pregnant. As I rested my tired pregnant body on the couch,  Connor, our dog was sleeping at my feet and our cat “Budweiser”  was curled up on the floor.   What a perfect little, warm and fuzzy picture.

Around 10 pm,  my husband walked thru the room and said “I’m going down to the studio to paint.”  He had his recording studio and art studio in our basement.  Often, when he was having a ‘not so great day,’  he would go down and create music or paint at his easel.

Rewind about 6 months.  My marriage was not doing well, in fact it was so ‘not well’ that we had decided to separate.  My husband had been looking for apartments and purchasing furniture in preparation to move out.  I was not feeling so great.  After a long bought with bronchitis, pneumonia and several courses of antibiotics, I found out I was pregnant.

No, it wasn’t the hollywood happy scene where the guy takes the girl in his arms and tells her that everything is going to be ‘alright.’  The same scene where he looks at her lovingly and is beyond thrilled that she will be bearing his child.  No, this wasn’t like that.

This felt like a crisis.   We were in the throes of heavy, almost daily drinking.  Daily drug use and weekly bingeing on cocaine.  Thousands of dollars of cocaine.  I had been on the pill for a very long time, yet the pregnancy test was positive and I was positive I couldn’t go thru with this un-planned pregnancy.    There was no way this baby would be ok after the way I’d been abusing my body.

How could I bring a baby into this world in the condition I was in?

I couldn’t imagine it.  Yet my husband and I both decided to give our marriage another try.

Back to that evening,  when my husband descended the basement staircase 22 years,  I had no idea that everything was going to change.

Looking back now, it seems that was the night that the thousands of times as a drunk I’d cried “God, please help me” that He was about to do just that.

Around 11 pm I was dozing off and I’d decided to go to bed.  I opened the basement door to say goodnight. “Hey, I’m heading up to bed, see you in a little. Goodnight.” I got no reply.   Again, I called his name and repeated “I’m going to bed.”  Again, only silence.

After the third or fourth time, I called a bit louder thinking maybe he had his head phones on and I began walking down the steps.  As I turned the corner, I could see all the way to the back door.  I could see, he was gone.

He had snuck out to go drink and buy drugs.  He didn’t say goodbye because he knew I wouldn’t be ok with it.  It wasn’t the first time. Yet everytime I’d wishe it would be the last. I had hoped this new baby would change things.

I locked the door and I remember thinking to myself “I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. I’m gonna need a beer to help me sleep.”  Back in the kitchen, I removed a frosted mug from the freezer, pulled an icy cold beer from the fridge  Poured the entire can into the mug.  I  turned off the lights, locked the house and went up to bed.

Sitting the mug of beer on my dresser, I turned on the t.v., put my pajamas on, pulled the blankets back and then sat on the edge of my bed.  Reaching over I grabbed the beer to chug it down.  There I sat with my big pregnant belly, beer in my hand, and the glow of the television behind the beer. I can see it as if it were last night.

I was preparing to  feel the warmth of alcohol pouring down my throat with hopes it would also numb my pain, when I very clearly heard a voice suggesting “you don’t need that. Go dump it in the toilet.”  I agreed out loud ” You’re right, I don’t need this.”  Not even thinking, I got up, walked to the bathroom, dumped the beer into the toilet, and flushed.   There i stood watching it swirl and foam and disappear.

I sat the empty mug on the tank lid, turned around and crawled into bed.

As I got under the covers, I remember saying to a God I hadn’t ever really known before “You are going to have to help me sleep tonight, Please help me get a good nights sleep and not worry, or wonder where my husband is.”  Then I dozed off saying the first line of the serenity prayer “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” over and over and over…

Tonight, 22 years later. I am sober.  I am also quite emotional as I reflect on what my life looked like then.  It is truly only by the grace of God that the compulsion to drink was removed in that moment when I heard a voice simply suggesting another way and I responded with an o.k.

My husband got sober as well. Unfortunately, his sobriety didn’t last very long and we were divorced a few years later.  Miraculously, a beautiful, perfect and healthy baby was born a few months later.  This miracle child who brought so much joy into so many lives is now in college.

My journey in recovery has also been a great journey of recovering.  Recovering years lost, identity misplaced,  plans thwarted, purpose and passion and dreams, all being restored!     Its been really hard at times, but it has been worth it all!

Tonight, in the quiet of my peaceful and humble home, I am thankful to God for another day sober.  There is not a day that goes by that it does not hit me mightily that I am sober.  22 years, one day at a time.