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Posts tagged “God

The Ties that Bind

Disclaimer: All are welcome here, and welcome to read my blog posts, I welcome you with open arms. That said, I’m a bold speaker and a truth-teller. I don’t sugar coat things and I don’t play games. I say things like they are and make no apologies for anything I say. If you’re a family member and happen to be offended at something I write here, I suggest you either stay away from my blog, or perhaps learn how to respect other people’s rights, which include the right to express their thoughts, ideas, feelings, notions, and anything else they feel like expressing. Remember, this is my personal space. I’m entitled to write about my personal life, and anything that involves my personal experiences, including my experiences with “family”.

Also, do keep in mind that I speak on family members as an outsider sometimes. As a studying psychologist and counselor, it’s my job to study family structures, family units, and the many intra-personal relationships within families, and that includes wonderful families and family members and it also includes toxic relationships and toxic family members. When I write about “toxic families”, for instance, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m talking about my own. Many times, I’m speaking about families from a therapeutic perspective. Afterall, I’ve studied family relationships for a decade now, academically via psychology and counseling.

That said, there have been a number of times that a specific family member (you know who you are) literally stalks my blog, and if I so much as write the word “family”, she sends me raging, angry texts- lashing out at me, hatefully. *Newsflash* I’m allowed to post my life experiences and feelings that involve families, along with my own family. You’re not the gatekeeper and you’re not my personal warden. Back the hell up and respect my autonomy. I’m a writer. You’re allowed to create your own blog posts and say whatever you like there. But you’re not going to silence me, and you’re not going to control me. Due to the fact that I was sexually abused as a child- BY A FAMILY MEMBER- that forced me to be in my own little boat. I wasn’t allowed to have the same relationships that my other family members had, so from the time I was 9 years old, I’ve been a loner- even among my own family.

I’ll never reveal the secrets and private things that my brother, John, shared with me many years ago. But he too suffered some of the same things that I did as a child, unfortunately. As tragic as that was for us, it bonded us in a special way, and I thank God that he and I were in our own boat. When he passed away in January (four months ago), I feel like I lost the last true family member I had. He loved me unconditionally, and he’s the only one who did (besides my Dad). They were the only ones, though. Everybody else loves me conditionally. (Meaning, sometimes.) When John passed on, he was the last of the Mohicans. He was the last one. Now I’m on my own.

Disclaimer over.

I dreamed of my sister again. She’s almost always cold and distant in my dreams; much like in real life. We haven’t spoken in more than 5 years, and that’s an absolute tragedy. As Pentecostal Christians, we were raised to understand the importance of forgiveness.  There are so many scriptures in the Bible about forgiveness, and Jesus clearly states that if you don’t forgive your brethren (and that includes sisters), there’s no place for you in Heaven. As a matter of fact, Jesus makes it crystal clear that if you say you love God, but hate your brother (or again, sister) and refuse to forgive her, then you’re a murderer. That’s a pretty serious charge! I honestly don’t know how any “Christian” can go on in her life, making a deliberate choice to not forgive, but instead, harbour hatred in her stone cold heart but still try to call herself a Christian. You’re a fraud. Jesus said so.

Whosoever hateth his brother (or sister) is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.   –1 John 3:15

Understandably, not everyone has the capability to forgive. They really don’t. They’re shallow and selfish and have no depth for the long roots that forgiveness needs. See, it starts in childhood. As I said before, because I was molested, I had no choice but to forgive. I had to. I had to go on living in the same house with everybody else, and despite my anger or hatred at what was done to me, I had to suck it up, forgive, and still try and have “healthy relationships” with everyone (including my offender) regardless. Needless to say, being sexually abused will change your relationships with every single family member, how could it not? For the longest time, I couldn’t even say the words “sexually abused”- it terrified me. I had no idea why it happened to me, out of everyone in the house, it was me.

For years, I told no one. But being sexually abused by a family member and then having to carry on daily with all of the other family members- as if it never happened- it created fractures within my core. You see, I never knew these things until I began studying psychology. I began to understand why I was clinically depressed at age 10, and at age 11, my Mom had to take me to the doctor because my stomach was in knots, and I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t eat or sleep. That deadly secret was so toxic- so heavy and destructive- that it threatened to destroy my entire family if I told anyone.

So I carried that burden alone. For years. All the while, I was being destroyed on the inside. I began having breakdowns in my 20’s, because it was all just too much for me to bear. Again, thank God for my schooling and psych. studies. I learned exactly why I was having breakdowns. I was labeled “crazy” by other family members and was pretty much branded as being “mentally ill”. I actually bought what they sold me for many years. I believed it too. After my 5th year studying psychology, I began my new course which was “Abnormal Psychology”. I learned that my fragmentations and mental breakdowns were absolutely appropriate for what I went through. There’s just no way that you’re going to be molested as a child by a family member, and continue living with that family member year after year, having to interact with that family member- along with everyone else- and be “normal”. It’s just not going to happen.

What is going to happen is you’re going to start breaking up from the inside out. Clinical depression is just the beginning. There’s also the rage and anger- and that’s appropriate as well. There’s shame and guilt that’s heaped on you in huge mountains that you’re forced to carry- day in, day out. As the years roll on, you begin to feel highly abnormal- like a circus freak. It’s so damaging. The majority of all women who were sexually abused as a child- especially by a family member- end up mere statistics. Alcoholism is basically a prerequisite. I too tried to drown out my pain with alcohol for a number of years.

But most women who’ve gone through what I’ve gone through end up so damaged, they’re either suicidal or a complete basket case. I consider myself a living, breathing, miracle. I was so tired of that disease (disease = being sexually abused as a child) controlling me and confounding me and destroying me…I knew that I needed to do something that I had never done before…I needed to address it. As I said, for a number of years, I couldn’t even pray about it and ask God for help. I was so scared of even saying it out loud- even to God! But I knew that as long as it lay in the back closet of my being, I would continue to be consumed by it. I needed to address it, so that I could move beyond it. 

You might think, “Well, for somebody who’s moved beyond it, you sure do mention it a lot,” but you see, secrets keep people sick. Let me say that again, “SECRETS KEEP PEOPLE SICK’. By broadcasting it, addressing it, and discussing it openly, I took its power away. I began to gain control over IT, rather than it continuing to control, me.

I stopped drinking hard liquor, stopped smoking weed, quit smoking cigarettes, and stopped taking prescribed medications all around the same time. They were smokescreens. And they only complicated things in the end. Instead, I faced the biggest demon I’ve ever known, and I stared that awful evil right in its disgusting little face, and I took my life back. 

I can’t speak for others, and I can only attest to my own experiences, but I was tired of going to therapy and psychiatrists and psychologists and other professionals who weren’t helping me much. I began to understand that all of the breakdowns and emotional problems that I’d had in my life were a direct correlation of having been sexually abused as a child. I wasn’t “mentally ill”, I was trying to live through devastation and tragedy and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had gone through my own war, and I began to learn how to live- for the first time in my life- rather than just survive.

Shortly after having these epiphanies, and after removing substances (alcohol, weed, cigarettes, etc.) from my life, I enrolled in college. What better (and really, who better) major could I select than Behavioral Sciences? So, I began studying psychology and the brain, and coping mechanisms, and psychological perspectives, and learned how to have healthy relationships. I learned all sorts of things about family structures, family dynamics, etc.

I began to learn and truly understand that when a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, the entire family is sick. Being yelled at or hurt by an intoxicated parent creates distorted filters. Abusive behavioral patterns are passed down from parent to child, so that when the children grow up, their own filters of perception are distorted. This is why drug and alcohol counselors teach people that addiction is a family disease. The entire family is sick- as a whole- so that the relationships between the family members can be, and often are, toxic. Rather than forming close bonds, and protecting one another in love, anger becomes the base that relationships are built upon.

When a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, their methods of communication will be anger-based as well. When family members are getting along, they’re tolerating one another more than truly forming loving bonds. The children learn to communicate angrily, and as a result, when problems arise between family members, there’s little to no “healthy conflict resolution”, because it was never learned. Instead, they freeze up in anger, against one another. This is why toxic families (such as this example) who never receive any type of group or family therapy, never truly learn how to communicate in a healthy manner. They don’t even know they’re toxic! But yet they are, because anger was integrated into their family unit from childhood.

I am SO grateful for my psych. training. I began to understand why the communication patterns are the way they are in my own family. It all began to make sense.

Because addiction was such a huge part of my life growing up- having been raised by an alcoholic parent- I knew I needed to get a formal education regarding substance abuse. So, while I was studying Behavioral Sciences, I also received my CPC/Certification in Substance Abuse. (It tacked an additional year onto my associates degree, but it was well worth it.) I graduated with honours and transferred over to a 4 year university and began working on my bachelor’s in psychology. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I transferred a final time to my Master’s program, which is where I am now. I’m just over a year shy of receiving my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. Eleven long years!

I can’t thank God enough for the training I’ve received. I quite literally became my own therapist, and client. 🙂

People who aren’t educated in family system theories will hear an individual say “toxic family” and naturally, they become judgmental and heated- emotionally charged and angry. However, when you’ve had an entire decade of mental health training- particularly in abnormal psychology and toxic families 101, it becomes a general study. There’s no bias or judgment or anything along those lines. You classify it for what it is because it fits the criteria, such as being raised by an alcoholic parent. (And that’s just one point, among many.) That’s not to say that it’s not an altogether loving, wholesome family, etc. but it’s liberating to be able to see it for what it is and then say, “Alright, so this is what was handed to us. How can we be the best that we can be, together?

And this is where the heartbreak lies, yet again, between my sister and me. I’m more than capable of moving past any hurt, any anger, anything. As I said, I had to learn how to do that 40 years ago- for the sake of my family. it is literally NOTHING for me to forgive. Absolutely nothing. It takes less than a second to do! You simply have to choose it, and once you choose to forgive, truly, every bit of anger and hurt and blame and everything else evaporates- completely. As if it was never there. That’s how powerful forgiveness is!

God forgives us, so we must forgive others. If God forgives you, and you don’t forgive others, you’re a thief. You’re literally stealing His grace. God’s grace is a gift- it’s true. But you don’t get that gift if you choose UNforgiveness. It doesn’t work like that.

…and you’re running out of time.

For what it’s worth, sister, I forgive you. I’ve been standing on this bridge for 5 and 1/2 years, waiting for you to take those steps of courage. Thankfully, you didn’t suffer the things I did as a child. So you’ve never had to forgive somebody “against your will”. I did that for you. I forgave my offender for you, and everybody else in my family., so we could continue being a family. I had a choice to make. I could choose to either report my offender’s actions to the authorities and watch our family be ripped apart and deposited into foster homes (as my offender told me would happen, if I ever told), or I could remain silent and say nothing, so we could all remain a family.  We know what I chose, because we stayed together as a family, but that came at a heavy price, and I’m the one who paid it. Me. Not you. You were protected and given a large room with a  lock on your door. Must’ve been nice. I, however, had no lock on my door, and was repeatedly molested while you were in your locked room.

So you see, I paid a heavy price to keep our family together.

I do hope you find it in your heart to choose love over hatred, and forgiveness over unforgiveness. You see, I kept our family together, as I said, and as it’s now obvious to those who never knew my story. (And they never knew it because I’ve kept the details private for all of these years.) But those details are mine- they belong to me- and I’m the one who gets to share them or not. Nobody else can choose that- because it didn’t happen to them or you.

I kept our family together all of those years, and I had to sacrifice a lot to endure what I did, year after year. But you, are continuing to rip our family apart. And isn’t it funny that I was blamed for that instead! Ha! I dare say…

For every year that you continue to not forgive me, or speak to me, and continue pretending that I’m dead, is another lash upon our mother’s back. YOU- are keeping this family separated. I love my family- very much. I’ve longed to patch things up and move the crap on already. You remember, on the way back from our camping trip, after our blow out, I begged you. I said, “Let’s work this out, man. Let’s not do this. Let’s forgive each other and move past this. Let’s say we’re sorry and and move on! if we don’t patch this up, we’re going to go back to Jeffersonville and probably not speak for months. Let’s not do that! Let’s not be silent like this!”

And you looked at me, icily, and said, “My silence is serving me well.”  And you looked away from me, and that’s the last time you spoke to me- ever.

Let me ask you, is your silence still serving you? Are you at peace with your unforgiveness and iciness? Really?

Who in the hell stays mad at somebody for almost 6 years?! That….is insanity. And that is a deliberate perpetuation of sickness and toxicity. I truly hope that God fills your heart with His warmth and love and grace. I really do. And I’ll tell you- I’m terrified for you. Because you can’t take that crap into Heaven.

As long as you continue to choose silence, you continue to keep our family apart. What’s that about the 99? Remember? Not good enough.

I just needed to get some things off my chest. Needed to open the windows and let the dust fly out. You may wonder why I’m choosing to address you openly like this. Well, I’ll tell you. Because you’ve single-handedly murdered our relationship. You’ve suicided yourself. You said yourself; you chose silence over forgiveness.

And that’s your right. You do have the right to remain silent. You get to be as silent as the grave, in fact. But you don’t get to choose silence for me. You murdered your relationship to me, but I never murdered our relationship. I’ve been standing on this damn bridge for almost 6 years, waiting for you. But I can’t do your work. I can’t take your steps for you. You have to do that.

Just so you know, I’ll continue standing on this bridge with the hope that someday, you’ll have the courage and the guts to back up that “Christian claim”- because that’s what Christians do- they forgive one another. That’s all I’ll say on this matter. (For now). But again, I may or may not write you again in the future, and again, it’s my right to do so. Like I said, you can be as silent as you want, but it’s not within your rights to silence me. I get to talk (write) alllllll I want to. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you have the right to exit and go about your business. But I have the right to talk/write to you all I want- you don’t have any authority when it comes to my rights and choices here. My rights are mine.  /end

Ahhhh… the rain is pouring down! There’s a beautiful thunderstorm outside- lightning crashing. It’s supposed to rain for the next four days and that makes me blissfully happy. 🙂 Nothing makes me happier than a torrential thunderstorm. Life is good now. I’m in a good place in my life. I just purchased a new 13 x 19 professional photo printer along with professional photo paper. I’ve had it for more than six weeks now and there it sits- in its box. I haven’t quite gotten around to setting it up yet. I will at some point, hopefully soon. I’m not ready yet. As long as I’m still in school, I’m not quite ready to dedicate 100% of my time to starting my photo business, but I’ll work my way in that direction down the road a ways. One more year of school, and I’ll be done for good.

I used to think that I was in school because I wanted to help others- especially other women who’ve lived through the same things I’ve lived through. Now I know that I was in school to learn how to be a mentally strong and healthy human being. I’m finally free from those chains that kept me bound for so long. 

 

And it’s about time… ❤

 

Jacksonville, Texas- just down the road from my grandparent’s house- Helios film- 44-2.country-road

 


When Praying Isn’t Enough

Yep. I said it.

So recently, there’s been a family-type situation in which a new mom has been keeping the kid away from the new dad and it absolutely sucks. Really badly. She’s playing dirty and not even trying to hide it. She basically tossed the dad out of her life (in record time, I might add) and replaced him with a new guy. She won’t let her x have any visitation whatsoever (even axe murderers in prison get to see their kids, do they not?) and so she’s just really doing some dumb stuff right now to make him suffer. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon, as a certain female I was raised with did the same thing to her kid. She was pretty hell-bent on destroying her x so she poisoned her kid against him. It was so evil. Accused him of molesting their kid…the whole shebang. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon either and it really is the first thing evil moms do when they want to punish their exes so they can keep the kid all to themselves. It’s a form of Munchausen Syndrome, actually. Moms who abuse their kids so they can swoop in to save them later. It’s sick.

Anywho, back to my original rant. So this new mom is doing her (very bad) thing, and another person came in and commented on a FB post: “Really, we just need to pray for them both and show them both the love of God.”

Um….NO. Just NO.

First of all, if somebody is being an evil bastard, where does it say that we need to toss flowers at their feet and hold hands and sing Kumbayah with ’em and all of that? I don’t think so. My Bible is full of Scriptures that talk about “the evildoer” (in Proverbs) and “the wicked” and all sorts of other references for people who do evil *&^% and none of it says that we’re supposed to encourage their evil deeds by “showing them the love of God”. Nah, man.

There ARE Scriptures, however, that says something about “The Lord will show himself merciful to those who are merciful and He’ll show Himself froward to the froward” and so on.  (II Sam. 22:27 and Psalm 18:26)

When I was younger and much more naive, I used to think the best course of action for virtually everything was to pray. Pray pray pray! Pray if you’re happy, pray if you’re sad. And pray especially when you have problems. But now that I’m maturing a bit, I see how that can sometimes be a copout. Don’t get me wrong, praying is wonderful. It’s lovely and necessary. But too many people will use prayer as a hopeful remedy rather than a supplemental act.

I think it’s absolutely irresponsible to tell somebody that what they need is “to pray” (only), rather than rolling up their sleeves and getting to work! It’s lazy. if we simply prayed (again, only) for every problem we have, we’ll have so many more problems as a result, because we’ll inadvertently be shoving our own responsibilities over onto God, expecting Him to do it all.

Yes, God is a big God and He can and will fulfill our needs, but He gave us hands to work with, a brain to think with, feet to run with, and mouths to speak with! He also gave us common sense to know when we need to get off of our butts and DO SOMETHING rather than telling everybody to simply “pray”.

/rant

My two week break is almost over and I’ll be hitting the books again soon. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of my little vacation. There’s almost nothing I love more than to kick back with a new adventure game and lose myself in another world. Escapism at its finest! Sheer bliss. 🙂

Until we meet again, WP. x

Lensbaby Composer/Canon Rebel/winterscape- in black and white
cold


Bathed in Light: Jesus’ Love

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m watching The Dark Crystal and thinking about nabbing another bowl of Pistachio Almond Ice cream. Party for one. 🙂

I’m in a particularly jovial mood- a bit celebratory. For weeks, I’d been super depressed- lost in the post-breakup haze that always accompanies splitting up with the mate. I knew I would have my bad days here or there, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be so bad. My heart was just wrecked.

Two days ago, in the twilight hours of pre-dawn, I fell on the bedroom floor and just wailed. I hadn’t let myself cry after Josh left (except for once) and finally, the damn burst; I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I cried and cried and prayed and really just got all of the ick out. I read Isaiah 26 (out loud) and really felt the Lord there in the room with me. After I anointed myself and finished reading the Bible, the cloud passed over me; I could feel it lifting physically, not just in my spirit, and afterwards I felt so light. The chains fell off of me and it’s been that way since. The heartbreak and sorrow were just too heavy for me and I knew that I wouldn’t make any type of progress until I let it all out, and let it all go.

So I did. It’s funny…to the hungry, desperate soul, even bitterness is sweet, and I was just soooo desperate to feel Jesus’ love. My heart has been restocked with sweet love and I feel a warm glow swimming around inside.

I have one of these too. >>>>>>> 🙂

Oh…and these little guys don’t hurt either:

DoeyandVirgilCarl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4 film lens/Canon Rebel 

We have two new housemates! Our dog, Chance, is crazy about them: He gives them baths and is a great guard dog. Brianna named the male kitty Virgil (from Dante’s Inferno), and Brian named the female Do Re Mi Fa So La To Do, but we call her Doey for short.

They’re absolutely adorable and I’m madly in love with them.

(Time to hit the hay.)
Good night morning, world.

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.”  -Isaiah 26: 9


When Love Comes Walking In

It’s such an awesome thing; when life has given you a big crap sandwich for a bit, and then you see two people madly in love and you just have to smile and be in awe and think- I remember that. :0 )

In this case, it’s my son, Brian, and his little lady- Mandy Tator Tots:

cute1

cute2

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And then when I was driving home tonight, and saying, “God, I know you have a great plan for me. It’s painful, it’s hard right now. But I know you have my best interest at heart.”

And then I looked up and saw this!

rageagainstherain

“Yeah. I’ve got you, kid,” He said…and smiled.


“My Death Needs to Mean Something”

Those were the words that were found in Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note that was posted on all of her social media accounts shortly after her death. Leelah chose to commit suicide because she felt that the life she was given to live was too painful to bear. Ultimately, she was not allowed to be who she wanted to be.

Leelah Alcorn was born Joshua Alcorn. She was born into a moderately strict religious home in which the gender you are born with is the gender you are expected to die with. Leelah took a great risk sharing her conflicting feelings with her parents as a young teenager. I too am a Christian and come from a tightly-woven Pentecostal family. In families like ours, “gender reassignment surgery” (or the like) would be asking for a one-way ticket to Exile Island where you would be expected to live out the rest of your days with spiritual leprosy as a complete and utter outcast. Sadly, this is the perspective of many Christians today.

Leelah was hoping to find love and acceptance and most importantly understanding when she told her parents that she’d felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body since the age of 4. If your own parents can’t accept you for who you are, then who can? She was shocked and heartbroken to be met with resistance, denial, and total rejection. Her parents told her it was “just a stage she was going through” and that “God doesn’t make mistakes”. They immediately banned Leelah from all social media for the next 5 months, taking away her cellphone and laptop. They also deleted her Facebook account and restricted her social activities to church-related group activities mostly, and when Leelah wasn’t being conditioned in such ways, she was restricted to her bedroom. They also forced her into Christian-based “reparative therapy”, which is, in short, a  “corrective therapy” for homosexuals and and people who identify as transgender.

I couldn’t imagine, as a Christian, somebody forcing me to go to “transgender therapy” where I would be told that I would have to be made into the opposite sex- including sexual reassignment surgery. I can only imagine how Leelah must have felt: She was made to feel like a leper in her own home, school, community, and church.

Leelah pre-scheduled her suicide note to post to her social media outlets following her death with one final request, “Fix Society. Please.” On the early morning of December 28, 2014, she walked four miles in the cold to interstate 71 and at approximately 2:17 a.m., she stepped out into the highway and into the path of a tractor trailer.

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah AlcornMJ

Her family’s rejection of her chosen identity was more than she could bear. It breaks my heart that her mother still lives in denial- still choosing to call her Joshua instead. Even after Leelah’s suicide note had been posted, having begged other parents to never reject their children’s rights- including their right to choose their own gender- her mother posted this message to her Facebook account:

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to Heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

They rejected Leelah in life, and they reject her in death. That’s beyond heartbreaking to me.

Jesus’ Words have forever transformed my heart and life. When a group of men had gathered around a woman to stone her (having accused her of adultery)- each having a handful of stones- Jesus looked at them and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

One by one, they all dropped their stones. Jesus said to the woman, “Go thy way and sin no more.” He forgave her and loved her. Completely. One of my friend’s once said something to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “The sound of forgiveness is the sound of a stone dropping.” I love that. And although Leelah’s life choices weren’t a “sin” to her, the fact remains in many religions, a transgender lifestyle is viewed as sinful. I think we should stop expecting other people to “live up to our expectations” but rather deal with our own insufficiencies and our inabilities to accept his or her alternative lifestyle. After all, our lifestyle is “alternative” in their eyes.

I do not “support” suicide, but I most certainly respect any person willing to die for his or her cause. Leelah didn’t commit suicide because she was “so depressed”. Not really. She committed suicide because she felt that she had a cause worth fighting and dying for. Soldiers do that every day. Who’s to say that any person’s cause is more important than another’s?

So for Leelah, I’ll do what I can so that she didn’t die in vain. As a parent, I’ve let my kids know (and they all know this already) that I will support them always– no matter who they choose to be. True love is all-encompassing and non-conditional. If my children choose different genders, religions, whatever- I will love them just the same. It’s not my “job” as their parent to love them, it’s my privilege. I only wish Leelah would have received the same support from her parents. She may have chosen to stick around…

It saddens me that Leelah’s parents are wanting to put Joshua Alcorn on her tombstone, instead of Leelah Alcorn. I have just gone and signed the online petition so that her parents might honor Leelah and give her her chosen name for her tombstone. Already, there are over 200,000 people who have signed the petition. If you too think that Leelah should have the right to her own name on her tombstone, you can go here and sign the petition. I think it’s what Leelah would have wanted.

To any parents out there who may read this and defiantly cling to your strong Christian roots- I admire you. I cling to mine too! But let’s do what Jesus wants us to do above all else, and that is to love others- just as they are; not who you think they need to be:

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1st John 4: 7-8

” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

-John 13:34

In memory of Leelah Alcorn (Nov. 15, 1997- Dec. 28, 2014)
Leelah Alcorn

If you’d like to support Leelah’s right to have her name on her tombstone, you can sign this petition (and/or reblog this post).

Thanks for viewing! x


No Greater Love

-John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I used to think that Scripture was about Jesus dying on the Cross (only). Now I have a deeper understanding of it. I think now, in order to truly love one another, we have to die to ourselves- even if just a little bit. it takes strength and courage to be selfless. In the world we live in today, self promotion is a way of life: Facebook, Twitter, blogs.

I’ve been hit pretty hard lately and have had to scrape myself up off of the floor. I can’t write about it here as I want to protect the nature of the matter and the persons involved, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with to date. My soul really felt as if it could have just perished. But yesterday, and the day before, I awoke with a whirlwind surrounding me. I could feel the Lord circling me with His strength. His breath was rushing through me- the Holy Ghost- which I’m a big believer in was rushing through me like cold water- there’s really nothing like it. It’s like having goosebumps on the inside. Two mornings ago it was so strong it actually pulled me out of sleep and yesterday it was the same thing.  This morning I  woke up and it’s been the same thing- so very strongly. When it’s this strong, I know that I’m feeling the prayers of others who are praying for me.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know who that person is. 🙂

When we pray for other people, we nail ourselves to the Cross, as it were. As we take on their burdens, we also take on death and die to “self”, becoming crucified with Christ. I know now that this is what that Scripture means. When we pray for others, we’re laying down our lives for them- standing in the gap.

So Y, this is a special thank you to you, because I know your prayers have broken through! I’m strengthened and feel so much stronger. My spirit is revived and I can literally feel your prayers and I’m rejoicing. Thank you my friend. ♥

I’m dedicating this pic to you! Rain on glass. (Yes, I was actually driving in the rain when I captured this shot. I know, “bad me!” But it was worth the efforts!) it was nothing special at first, but then I defocused the lens and it turned into this beautiful, impressionistic work of art of the traffic in front of me. Hope you likey! 🙂

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/SOOTC- straight out of the camera
rainMJ


The Fine Art of Picking up Strange Black Men

 

I remember driving in Lousiville, Ky one night. It was summer, loud, stereos were bumping- it was a Saturday night and I was out and about in the bad side of town trying to track down my BFF at the time, Olivia; a large black woman with a brood of kids and grandchildren she’d raised. Olivia is pure gold in my eyes. We met in a homeless shelter. I had been standing along the wall “people watching” and suddenly, a burst of music rolled into the room: Olivia was laughing and dancing and spinning around- completely entertained- with a boom box on her shoulder. She was larger than life! I smiled and knew I had to meet her. 

We talked after some time and realized we immediately liked each other. We spent the next few weeks hanging out together and passing time- smoking weed out back with many of the residents there. One day, I returned to the shelter and Olivia was gone. They told me she’d gotten her own place.  So is the life at a homeless shelter; people come and go- you have to get used to that. Some you see later, some you never see again. It teaches you to love people hard while you have them and let go quickly. That was worked into me many years ago. 

As life would have it, I ended up moving into her neighborhood just a few weeks later. For the next three years we were virtually inseparable. She helped me through some very dark times and I gleaned so many good things from her. I have a very special love for that woman. And a high respect. 

After some time, we both moved out and we lost contact with each other. I had made up my mind on that particular Saturday night that I would track her down. Very much like a gypsy or nomad, I’ve traveled as a wanderer in this world. Nothing has held me back. Being poor certainly hasn’t. If anything, it’s been a catalyst.

But on that night, I set out in my car purposefully driving to the bad end of town. I knew Olivia had moved to the next state over in Kentucky, so I cross the bridge and drove into downtown Louisville. It was a hot, muggy night.

As I headed deeper into the back parts of the city, I popped open an beer, lit up a smoke and turned up the radio. (Back in those days, it was standard to find me driving with a beer nestled in between my legs- a joint or two always close by. A lot has changed since then!)

People stood out on the corners, openly dealing drugs. They knew others knew what they were doing- didn’t care. Cops rarely bothered the little fish anyway. As I was pulling up to a red light, I saw a black guy standing on the corner. I don’t know what grabbed me about him, but something did. Let’s say, it was destiny.

“Hey, you need a ride, man?” I asked him.

“Yeah, yeah…” he said and he hopped in the car.

Now this isn’t the wisest of things to do, no doubt- pick up a black guy I don’t know in the bad part of town. But at that time, I really didn’t care. I was governed by my instincts and driven with a purpose. I had no idea what my purpose was half the time, but I new that I needed to do what I was doing and that’s all I knew.

“Where ya going to, man?”

“My mother’s house,” he said. 

We chitchatted briefly and he told me his story. He had been excommunicated from his family some years before. They had given up on him and pretty much cast him out. I felt really bad for the guy. He went on to tell me that he had only just decided to go and see his mother on that very night, and was in fact pondering the decision when I picked him up. I felt honoured that he would include me in that. Totally. 

We bonded immediately. I may have even smoked a joint with him. It’s no big secret that I was a total stoner back then. I smoked 1 to 3 joints every day for 18 years. As a matter of fact, “stoner” is putting it mildly. My Dad had the best stuff for miles and everybody knew it. He was known for that and so I never lacked for good weed. It’s no wonder I ended up being an artist in life. Weed does that. I know everybody thinks it’s so “bad” and it’s a gateway drug and all kinds of other things that they’ve been taught to believe, but I will always be an advocate for marijuana and a person’s right to smoke it. I just don’t smoke it myself anymore and haven’t for years but I’m strongly for it, if the person and the circumstances are agreeable- let’s put it that way. 

Moving right along, we eventually made it to his mother’s house. I thought we would say our goodbyes right there but he invited me to come along. Wow. He hasn’t seen his mom in years, and is hoping to be reintegrated back into the family unit and now he’s going to bring a stoned white girl with him who picked him up on the corner. Ok!

We stood outside on the porch and I stole a few glances in his direction. Even stoned, I could see a lot. He was hopeful and meek. I really like that guy. That took guts.

The door opened and a small woman stood before us, small in stature but full of expression and total shock. My mind plays it as if it’s in slow motion- her mouth, open with shock- she was yelling and mumbling and screaming to somebody else that their man had come back. I don’t remember his name now. It was 18 years ago.

She ushered us inside and we followed her to a back room where a woman lay in bed. I sat down quietly on the side of a chair and tried to disappear. I could hardly believe I was there and I felt a bit like I was in a movie. The woman in bed was his mother, who immediately cried upon seeing her son. They embraced and he crawled right up next to her and they just held each other and cried together. 

I have absolutely no idea how we got on the subject but they found out that I sang and was a songwriter. What happened next can only be described as something so bizarre that it now seems more like a dream than a memory, but I sang. I sang A Capella, a song that I had written, a song about Jesus. Four strangers sat in the room there- eyes fixed on me- in a semi-petrified state, mouths slightly open. They felt honoured that I would sing for them. I was honoured that they let me.  

I sang from my heart and sang especially for that mother and son. It was one of those rare moments in life that you know has been brought together- orchestrated by God even- that will never happen again: A true once in a lifetime moment. 

The mother cried again and thanked me repeatedly for bringing back her son. I was especially emotional because at that time, I was separated from my own two children who the system had taken from me years before. It brought me great comfort that I could reunite a mom with her son like that, and I cried too.

I hugged them all and made my way back to my car alone. I smiled all the way home.

“You’re awesome, God,” I said, smiling, tears still in my eyes.

He smiled too.

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Up with the Chickens

 

 

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Ohio River/foggy morning/Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass f/4- natural lighting/5.19.13

I awoke this morning to find our home enshrouded in thick fog. How could I not go out and grab a few shots? I drove down to the local marina with a fresh cup of coffee. I have plans today to do one lesson in each course: Public Speaking, Earth Science, and Health Psychology (no small feat), but when I put my mind to something, I don’t let go. 

Mornings like these are my favourites: the world is so still- everybody’s sleeping and completely unaware of the fog. For the past several days, I’ve been getting up early and hitting my PC and BS- that’s not short for computer and “BS” – it’s short for “prayer closet and Bible study”. When I start my days with these things and in this order, everything falls into the right places in my day. My mind is renewed, as is my faith, strength, and hope- challenges become “doable” and I have a promise of success already- I just need to do the work.

When I was praying this morning, I felt the Lord wrap his arms around me and give me a big hug. I know that I’m loved, terrifically; I don’t worry about things.

So I’m off to put a huge dent in my schoolwork.
It’s going to be a beautiful day. :0)

 

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 


Sheltered by These Stones

Sanctify me
From the dark and stormy seas
That try to keep
Me
From fighting the good fight

From fighting
The good fight

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Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 timothy 6:12


Angel Above You

It’s time for some church up in here! [Spoken in my native southern Texas accent.]

Josh and I took Brianna and Brian down to the river last night. There are three distinct areas we like to hang out at. 1) The creek bed, which runs along the flood wall. 2) The fossil beds- a perfect place to study brachiopods, trilobites, and other fossils which are embedded in the rock layers. 3) The “beach”. This is a part of the river that mimics an actual beach; complete with rolling tides, tons of driftwood, and plenty of sand. We love it there, and that’s the region we chose to frequent last night.

I’ll add another post later this with more family/river pics (including Brianna’s “sand bath”- hair included) but for now, I want to add a few inspirational pics.

I found this particular pic to be very interesting and curious. I shoot in manual- always- so when it’s getting dark, you really have to know your stuff (ISO/shutter speed/aperture/exposure compensation/white balance, etc.) because when shooting in manual, your lighting is always changing from second to second, continuously, even in broad daylight. Shooting at and after dusk is especially tricky because the focus takes longer to “catch”. This is what happened last night when I captured Josh blowing on the fire. Just as I clicked on the shutter, a stray ember popped up from the fire, shooting up and behind his shoulder (you can still see its trail) and formed a perfect cross above him. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the pic in the LCD immediately afterwards. (This pic hasn’t been “shopped”, or Photoshopped.)

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I’m sure the specifics of the fire could be explained away scientifically, but I prefer to know and believe that God works in strange and beautiful ways. Even with fire. He lets us know His eyes are always on His Children, and those who love and believe in Him.

From a photographical standpoint, I shot this with a slowed shutter. (1/8 of a sec.) To non-photographers, that means that “time” was slowed down, and the camera picks up what the human eye cannot. In the blink of an eye, this cross was there and gone, but the camera’s “pause” allowed it to be captured. (It’s a good self reminder to pause more in life; we’ll see more crosses.)

S A L T   O F   T H E   E A R T H

ImageMy daughter, Brianna/50 MM 1.8 II/manual focus/manual exposure/natural lighting

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

-Matthew 5: 13-16