About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

State of Chaos

Have you ever seen the State farm ad, State of Chaos? Poor, poor, Dwayne, while most of his neighborhood is fleeing from an out of control robot monster taking over the street, a couple well meaning, but seriously over chatty neighbors are commentating on the destruction of Dwayne’s life as everything he owns is torn apart.  We have all lived through times like this and quite honestly felt as if we served as the commentary for those who have nothing better to do than chat about how our lives are falling apart. Life is harsh and can be unpredictable. No mater how hard we try, plan or even push ourselves, everything we thought was meant to be in our lives can crumble, leaving us with the pieces.

Have you ever felt as if life was coming at you from every side? Seriously, you know those kinds of days, maybe even weeks, when everything that CAN, WILL come against you? Lights go out because you forgot to pay the bill, you swallowed a swig of sour milk with your stale donut, stubbed your toe into the bed post or your computer crashed right before you hit “save”. We have all had those kinds of days. No one is immune. Sometimes life goes sideways. Actually it may even turn upside down at the same time. What once made sense to you is now a bunch of mumbled nonsense. The best part of it all, well that’s finding out there’s no interpreter on sight to explain what has happened in the last 3o seconds.  Life is a big experiment, sometimes we add the right combination of elements and sometimes we cross the absolutely best parts of ourselves with the worst of situations. So how do we handle being sideways and upside down at the same time? Well, it’s a bit tricky but it can be done.

The one thing I have learned in my life, from growing up with diabetes, to living through breast cancer, is this: life is not easy. You can invest your time, your heart and your family into a life long mortgage and still lose it all, have it pulled right out from under your feet, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But what I also know is sometimes we have to lose it all to find ourselves. I have learned this lesson many times in my life thinking I was investing in the right people, the perfect idea, or even in a fool proof plan yet time and time again I end up sideways looking at myself through some odd shaped carnival mirror realizing I have been painted as a clown. 

Now for many of us this is not where we want to be, part of a circus, playing the role of the clown, being laughed at by spectators. True it’s not the ideal job description is it?  Let’s face it being the ring master or one of the lead acts seems like prime time, far better to be walking that tight rope, receiving applause than painting your face and having people laugh at you on a daily basis.  Who wants to feel alone and undiscovered? Yet, there is one truth I know is absolute, learning to laugh at yourself, to put yourself last, being part of the bigger picture, and not the center of it is a big part of becoming selfless and putting yourself on the track to bigger and yes better opportunities. Once you can step back and accept where you are standing, sitting, heck even twisted up like a pretzel stuffed into a box for the time being, you can begin navigating a way through the craziness. Lets face it life is a 3 ring circus anyway you look at it. Some days we are the spectators, others we are part of the act, maybe even the road crew.  We may not always get the chance to play the part we want, or snag the seat we thought we could but either way we are all part of the show in some way or another. What it comes down to is how are you personally going to adapt to the circumstances you have been ushered into sideways, upside down or right side up?

Like Dwayne, our lives can seem out of control. We can feel like everything we own has been destroyed, everyone we keep close has gone missing and every plan we have ever made has been torn to shreds’. But the truth is this: sometimes we need to start over, begin again, start from scratch and allow God’s hand to navigate each of one of us through the chaos surrounding our lives. Living for ourselves is easy, but surrendering our own suffering to the hands of another is not so easy. Being in charge seems simpler than allowing a guide we want nothing to do with to show us the back roads, to help us find our way, especially when it means acknowledging our way is not working. 

The weight of our problems are not big enough to slip through His hands, we just need to reach out and take His direction and He will catch us, all our fears, insecurities and all. The one lesson I have been taught over and over again is this: if God can put the stars in the sky, if He can count every hair on my head, then my state of chaos is certainly not too big for God to mend. Sure I may not be able to see every plan God has for me. I am so far from perfect, full of dents, dings and the Lord knows scars, but all the pieces pulled together paint a completely different picture than the one I thought was being painted on my torn canvas.

Seriously how are we going to change the world if we can’t change ourselves friends? We can’t give up, but we can take a new path, find gratefulness in the journey, no matter how rough it can be. No one wants a front seat to pain, to sorrow and to unfulfilled dreams yet sometimes we have to sit through the first act, filled with agony, maybe even bad acting to be able to experience the joy and happiness of the second act in our lives. There’s always another story, another side to the coin, another way to see the circumstances. It’s all a choice friends; it’s all in how you see the story end, not how it begins. Things happen in our lives that keep us from reaching our goals, but God never stops us from reaching His goals! When we can’t see through the door in front of us, when the curtain won’t come down, or even go up, when we feel let down..again, when the cancer comes, when the job goes, when the day just can’t get any worse… our HOPE survives, endures and breathes life back into the desperate canvas we see in front of us.  How can I say this? Well, while the commentary in the background may be keeping count of our failures, the forgiveness of grace does not. Life is put in motion from the moment we take our first breath, yet life does not truly begin until we learn to let go, to accept our failures, embrace the ups with the downs and find grace where we stand… sideways, upside down or standing straight up. No matter where the day leads you, into a state of chaos or part of three ring circus, remember friend, you are right where you need to be today.  So I have to ask you, which path are you going to choose… the one worn and tried or the path less traveled waiting just ahead? 


Friday, October 28, 2011

When the Darkness Rises

What a beautiful mess we are in God’s sight, beautiful in our imperfection and fears. I know I am not strong enough to rise above each and every struggle I face; at least not alone anyway. Lately I have been reaching deeper than ever before into my faith, believing my anxious heart can see past the unsure moment of now, knowing I have nothing to fear despite the voices of uncertainty closing in on me. Nothing can separate His love from my life, even when I doubt Him; He is there with me, holding my life in His hands even when I am running full speed in the other direction.

The world’s dreams slip like water through my hands on a daily basis but does that mean I am empty, that I have nothing left to hold on to? Sure I have been to the darkest of places too many times to mention. Sometimes I can see the darkness coming; sometimes it sneaks up on me. Either way I am generally frozen as the sky begins to grow dark and the clouds roll in full of worry, fear, despair and chains eager to tie me down to my own insecurities and failures. When the darkness sets in it can seem as if there is no light in sight, we may feel as if we have been abandoned, left to the wolves, dropped into an endless dark ocean, even a flash flood, all alone without a life preserver. Life can take all we know and turn it not only upside down but sideways. We can fall into each pothole, trip over each fallen branch, each rock in the road as we stumble through the endless darkness of night.

Sometimes, when life takes a sharp twisted turn down an unknown road, full of cries in the dark, winds whipping across our faces in agony and vines reaching out to pull us further into the dead of night we tend to freeze, to close our eyes and hope it will all just go away. But what happens when we finally open our eyes and nothing has changed? Do we fall deeper into the darkness, do we give up or do we fight our way through it? Change will come, night will pass and the Sun will rise, no doubt. The rain falls, yet the sun still rises and shines down on our faces does it not? We can lose count of the nights, the cold icy sleepless nights we spend out here in the wilderness. It can seem as if the pain is here to stay, permanently attached to our hearts but the truth in my life, in the faith I hold to is when we are hurt He hurts, when we cry He cries, His mercy reaches to lift us up from the pits of despair, wrapping His warmth all around us through the cold dark night.

God hears us; we are His children, we are apart of His heart. His hand is always there for me, even when I cannot see it personally, I can feel it touching me, I can feel His love surrounding me despite the deep dark empty space I am way too aware of around me . I am always in need of His grace, but no matter what the day brings, my faith is found in this grace, this mercy and this love. My hope is never-ending because I know I am never alone! Don’t give up friends, stay the course, wipe the dirt off your face and know that these tears flowing from inside your heart is the courage of your soul pouring out!

Go ahead, grab up those sticks and branches of what you see as failures in your life and stir a fire within your being. Let it stretch up into the darkness of your night, dance and sing; let your voice rise above the fear surrounding you. Go ahead let the lord of darkness know the Lord of Light is coming for you and His light will chase the fear, the despair and the eeriness of night away. Joy comes in the morning light as mercy comes running, and it is then we can see what we thought was unbearable, what was so freighting has passed.

The truth is we all come undone, fall apart, but God’s embrace, the touch of His grace pulls all those broken pieces back together again. Sure they may not all be in the same place we had them, but the truth is sometimes it’s the revelation of brokenness that creates a whole new work of art in our lives. Sometimes these dark, dusty, back roads full of things that go bump in the night is actually our Father working ahead of us, reinforcing the path in front of us, making it wider, paving and setting the road for us to travel down with Him.

So when the darkness rises again and it will let me assure you, I know fear will slip her way into my heart, but I am also fervently aware peace will overcome the shadows of fear and despair because I am not defined by the mistakes I make, I am made new each and every morning by the same grace within me. Did He not calm the seas, say Peace be still? So then why do we doubt He can calm our own chaotic lives, fill us with His grace, and bring the waters of fear and despair to a peaceful calm? Maybe now is the time to stretch our arms toward His grace, maybe this is the hour He will heal our broken hearts, calm our worrisome and fearful souls awakening our hearts, shining light through the darkness of our deepest night? All we have to do let go of all our expectations and believe, taking that first step of faith knowing He can make all things new! Does this mean everyday we will rise above flying across the sky, strong and courageous? Well courageous yes,  strong not always but the one thing I have come to know without doubt is our struggles here on earth define each one of us; mold us into men and women of strength, of real true courage. We are made for more than the brokenness life brings us and even when the demons of night come to steal our hope, it's never truly taken from us is it?  Looking back at the old road I was traveling before the night fell, I can tell you I am grateful for the darkness I have had to face, because with the rise of the Sun, a new day has begun and I can see all the new possibilities He has carved out for me.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One of Dr. Finklestein’s Experiments Gone Wrong

Have you ever asked yourself how people with what you may feel are hideous scars, deep, penetrating reminders of something gone wrong, face the mirror? I ask myself this question everyday as I catch my breath and a glimpse of my own scars out of the side of my eyes. I see where the beast came and ran her claws through me, scratched, dug and caused not just my body but my heart to bleed. I see the devastation she brought to my physical body, the loss, the pain and her name tattooed into my chest, a reminder she has marked me for all my days of my life here on this earth. At times I wonder if I am little more than the remnants of one of Dr. Finklestein’s experiments gone wrong. I can honestly say I have felt many times as if I am Sally from Nightmare before Christmas sewing her arm back on time and time again, always with a smile, yet still locked up in a tower trying to escape, as Dr. Finklestein keeps her hidden away from the town below.

I have spent many a night on my knees, pouring out my fears, honest tears and hopelessness to the Lord wanting to escape this tower of terror I have felt myself trapped inside. The difference between God and Dr. Finklestein is that He has not locked me away, in a tower all alone, truthfully God sees a work of timeless art, beauty beyond measure, and a life forged from broken glass becoming perfectly designed stained glass in the fire. This broken road breast cancer intended for my life, has become a brightly lit detour leading me to freedom. In all this time I have had breast cancer burning her name across my chest she has never once taken my hope, my faith or my belief that life still waits for me outside this tower, this dark town that she wants to tie me down to is not my fate.

Morning still comes, despite the darkness night brought. The suffering of the beast’s grip can be at times almost overwhelming, but during those times I have learned to push the pedal down, close my eyes and keep my hands on the wheel. I may be broken, I may be disfigured and I may look to the eye upon first glance as hopelessly un-mend-able but I am not Humpty Dumpty. The king’s men may not have been able to put him back together again but my God, my King has made me whole again despite the broken pieces dumped at His feet. Sure to the naked eye, to the mirror in front of me I may still seem broken, torn apart and ruggedly stitched back together, but by God’s grace I have been glued and sewn back together, reconstructed into a beautiful, living, soul. I have been touched by His grace, given life in spite of the beast’s death roar. He has taken my lifeless, deflated spirit and breathed new life back into me, shown His light, taken me by the hand and faced the mirror with me, side by side, hand in hand.

Yes I am the face of cancer’s brutality, she has striped me of my breast, pulled out each and every strand of my hair, the very ones God took the time to count each and every day, left me watching my own tear drops fall but my hope is in the Father who has restored my life. I am a survivor today not because of my own doing, but by the grace residing inside this demolished, worn out, broken, cut upon, stitched back together again body. By God’s grace I have been rescued from the gates of death and fear, I am a life scared by breast cancer, but I am also a woman whose life has been rescued from the clutches of despair, reclaimed and placed back on solid ground by His love and mercy.

My faith runs deep through my veins, despite the fact I have had to cry out from the ashes. I may have fallen flat on my face, I may not have the once perfect canvas I did in my 20’s but I have this amazingly, designed, scared, chiseled out work of art of for a life I see facing me back in the mirror all these years after the C word came kicking my door down. Sure the sting of pain still likes to sear through my body, reminding me the beast has marked me, still I have faith, I trust in my Lord, the one who sees beauty inside my soul despite what they world may see as they look imaging what my scared physical body must look like.

Friends, I have been weary and afraid, I have felt the weight of this world, felt robbed of my outward beauty, of the life I had planned but I have felt God’s hand heal me, touch my body, my heart and fill my spirit with hope. I have been renewed despite the shape I am in, despite Dr. Finklestein’s experiment gone sideways. Sure to the world I may seem nothing more than a stitched up rag doll, but to my Father I am beautiful, I have been perfectly and wonderful made, delivered from the clutches of despair and given a second chance, scars, stitches and all, to live life out loud, not just as a survivor, but as a brighter soul ready to live life gloriously in the light of day. Heart ache has tried to make my heart her home, time and time again, but no matter what I trust each brush stoke my Creator makes across this canvas is part of a bigger picture. I may not have the insight right here and now to understand why He has chosen blue and not yellow hues but all the same I am humbled and amazed by His love, burning like a fire inside my heart. How is this possible, because He has made me whole from the inside out, where I go, is where He is and I am never alone, ever!


Thursday, September 15, 2011



Today I want to share a part of me I rarely open up to anyone. True I am an open book on any given day at any given time just ask my family, they will give you a resounding yep. I tend to hold nothing back especially when it comes to my battle with breast cancer. I embrace my scars, my battle wounds and I do not apologize for any one of them. I have pretty much been one of those gals who wears her heart on her sleeve from the get go. Honestly from the time I was a little girl I would speak my mind, mostly to my parents dismay. As a teenager I had my heart broken more times than I can shake a stick at. As I became a woman I found I tended not just to open the windows to my heart , nope instead I couldn’t seem to stop myself from throwing open the front door, making myself a welcome mate for anyone I allowed my heart to warm up to.

Now I bet you are wondering how this has anything to do with breast cancer right. Well, let me clue you in, those of us with soft, tender hearts on our sleeves tend to find ourselves trying to please everyone else around us. We may be surrounded by folks fully capable of carrying the trash to the curb yet we will take the trash out literally , dragging it, pushing it out the door as our stitches pop one at a time, all the while assuring everyone around us how wonderful we are. Seriously, those with the kindest hearts, with the least available to give, tend to be the ones giving everything while being over looked the most, judged without mercy and left bandaging up our hearts alone.

I am opening up about this today because in the last few weeks I have had the chance to speak heart to heart with several of my sisters in arms as I like to call them. Some are fellow sister survivors, some in remission and others still in the middle of the fight but all with one thing in common: breast cancer. We share two common cords of heart break, loneliness and abandonment. Now I bet you are asking yourself how can this be? Christina, alone, abandoned, heart broken? Well yes actually, I have been and at times I still can be. I’m a straight shooter so first let me say I am just like you; I am human not wonder woman. I do not have some fancy invisible red or bright pink cape that only those around me see, enabling me to overcome anything and everything coming my way. I may seem fearless, never afraid of the dark and the things that go bump but the truth is the wolves still come to my door each and every night. Cancer fighters, survivors are just as human, just as likely to hurt, to worry and to need to overcome life’s hurdles as you are. We have just as many bad days as anyone else, in fact maybe even a few more than average if you really think about it. Seriously just being able to say mastectomy, chemo and tram flap in one sentence without blinking is either a sign we have lost our minds or that we have a great sense of humor. Your laid back, beautiful, lazy sunny afternoon may be our sick beyond description, hurl and wipe your face kind of day. These types of miserable afternoons are generally kept hidden, in the back ground, with an excuse me and a smile, followed by pulling back the old tattered cape and wishing this obnoxious beast would just leave us alone! Most would have no clue how our day has careened into the wrong lane of on coming traffic because our smiles never fade, our hope always endures despite how hard, and how bad our good day is going.

I am not alone in this conversation, feeling I need to balance the world of cancer and all her struggles squarely on top of my shoulders alone. I recently chatted with friends who like me feel bad , as if we are sinning to a degree if we let the cat out of the bag, trying to balance it all so no one has to really feel our fear, our hurt and the sometimes frightening image reflected in our own mirrors. We tend to tip toe around the subject, apologizing to one another for opening the front door and spilling the beans not wanting to impose on anyone. There is no way, as mothers we are going to fail at anything right? We can ride a bike, cape whipping in the wind behind us, holding the world up on our shoulders, just like Atlas without blinking right? Sure we can, handle bars are for sissies anyway, go on tie that cape a little tighter, we may be able to actually fly if we try hard enough. Come on Brother, Sister Guilt, give me an amen! You can bet your bottom dollar as Wonder Women we are not going to admit Super Man may be stronger than we are! The real down and dirty truth is those fighting cancer, especially women, no matter how strong they are, still need help building a refuge no matter how good we are at making our house a home.

The thing is this, we all have been told to just call if we need help, to ask but have you ever just stopped to think that call will never come from the ones who need help the most? Reason says pick up the phone, call ask for a meal, ask for someone to sit by your side as the chemo flows through your veins, but then your invisible cape gets in the way and you decide not to be a bother. You are Wonder Woman after all, you have a shiny invisible cape everyone else see but you, your heart remembers how strong you’re suppose to be and how grateful you have been told you need to be because after all your cancer isn’t as bad as so and so’s. For whatever reason folks tend to compare one cancer experience with another even if they themselves have NEVER had cancer! It’s as if they need to hand out first, second and third place medals, raise the flag, play someone else’s anthem and put you in a box for all to see. Can I just say this is not sound advice! This trivializes the pain, the fear and amplifies the anguish of cancer’s deep reaching claws. Cancer is an ordeal for everyone involved, everyone feels the torment, but sadly sometime it’s the woman living, coping with, fighting, and raging against the beast we call breast cancer who finds herself left in the dust picking her self up all alone.

You’ve heard the old saying, “I am women hear me roar right”? Well the thing is so many of us mothers, wives, daughters and grandmothers still think we can roar, but when we open our lungs up to let it rip, all we hear is a squeak. Do not get me wrong, no matter how much cancer takes from us we are still strong, tough and even if we have to crawl to the fight we are in all or nothing. It’s just many times those women we see as pillars of strength are the very same who struggle alone in the depth of their souls with the agony, affliction, distress, grief and misery of cancer’s suffering just so those they love do not have to feel the ache of the beast’s sorrow. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried out to my Lord above to take the wheel! How many times I have felt I was on the edge of the abyss without a rope to pull me back. I have felt alone, without a chance in earth, hell or heaven of making it out alive. I have cried out inside as I have listened to folks with good intentions go on about how excited they are to rejoice with me because I’m going to meet Jesus first! Oh yes, these are the times those of us living with cancer stamped across our foreheads want to scream, pull out what is left of our hair and run down the street tearing our clothes off, shouting the sky is falling!

So what can you do? Well, let me shine a little light, even if is with my half filled lighter in the dark, on this issue. Take charge of your actions, do not trivialize the pain, don’t try and bury it, don’t make light of someone else’s life or death struggle and don’t compare one battle with another, because seriously those of us fighting are all part of the same war! Get involved, pick up a phone, call and just listen. Don’t just offer to help, instead pick up the kids from school, take them with your family for the day, cook a meal and just bring it by. Be there for those you love, those who you know love you, those who would never leave or abandon you on the battlefield. Step up, unpack your bags and stay for a while, think twice before going awol when your needed the most! And most of all join the fight against breast cancer by planting your feet right where you are. If we are going to drag each other through hell and back head first, fearless, then let’s be sure we are holding one another’s hand, side by side, not pushing one another through a door too small, into a ditch too deep or over the edge of a cliff too wide. Don’t just offer shelter, help gather the supplies needed to build one, be part of the solution, not the problem, lend an ear not an answer, provide some comfort, act on your promises and help your friend retire that old worn out, torn invisible cape. Believe me you will both be glad you did!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Stand up, Hook up, Shuffle to the Door

I was reminded about a week ago of just how unpredictable life can be. We are never fully ready for the storm, no matter how much we prepare or how hard we brace for the first wave. In the end all we can really do is sit back and pray for the best. Once we have checked our to do list off, prepared our homes, our lives and our families for the worst to come what can we do except huddle together, holding each other’s hands and close our eyes?

We can pray, we can believe in spite of the winds, the distance between us and the ground below, the chaos building up inside of us and the gunfire all around us that God has a plan. I have to say I have always had a way of asking God in my own are you kidding attitude kind of way what He was up to in my life, why this, why now and yes even why me? I have spent many days looking over my own plans, my escape route, and my emergency evacuation blueprints and simply shook my head wondering what was wrong with my way of doing things?

Why couldn’t life just turn out the way I dreamed, the way I wanted, the way I planed it to, why did it have to go awry in such an extreme way? Well the one thing I have come to realize is sometimes we are not meant to know the whys till years later. Sometimes taking a leap of faith is the best course of action, even if it does make sense. Granted the gap between here and there may very well be wide enough to make us cringe and back away! Believe me I have had confusion and disorder reign supreme in my life over the last 5 years! I can’t tell you how many times the turbulent rain and winds from the raging storm just outside my door has blow through my windows leaving my life in disarray, a complete mess in need a bull dozer to clean up the turmoil left behind.

I have muddled and rummaged through what was left of my life, scrambled to save the shambles, tried to piece back together the disorder and turn down the racket of cancer’s havoc. I am telling you with un-abandoned certainty cancer has kicked my butt more times than I can shake a stick at. Seriously take a look around at my life, I have lost a breast, I have more scars than I want to acknowledge, bold and ugly from side to side, top to bottom all from cuts, deep and brutal. I have a disfigured body in a perfectly perfect image kind of world. Where having an immaculate body, impeccable; unblemished, uninjured; scathless, intact practically super human perfect body is the driving appetite, thirst and aspiration so many of us diet, starve and push our bodies to become. I would say sadly, but the truth is I am not disgruntled about my less then perfect body anymore. I may not always find myself attractive, beautiful or the image of how my dream life should have turned out but I am comfortable in the skin I am in!

So what happened to my glass of red wine, strawberry eating, nice romantic life filled with dancing by candle light? Where did my once young, beautiful, two breasted chest go? I’ll tell you where, out the door into the war zone I was dropped into with the hurricane strength winds that blew through my life 5 years ago leaving a path of destruction, areas of major devastation in need of a disaster relief area plan! If you ask me I will tell you at times I am convinced I am trapped inside a movie life scenario watching everything I am, everything I once longed to be tipped upside down, shaken till my pockets were completely emptied and swept out to sea by cancer’s chaos. So as I begin readying myself for the next battle, for the new storm surge on the horizon I am reminded of God’s plan for my life. A plan I fought many times, yet found refuge in. I am not fearless in the face of this beast and her constantly reaching claws, but I am brave in the faith I hold inside my heart.

Next week I will undergo my 11th surgery within the last 5 years. Why, well I have recently suffered a few complications. Now don’t worry too much I am still in remission, but my body has undergone so much while fighting this beast, weathering her storm over and over again that it has just buckled under the stress a bit. We all have battle wounds, no matter how big or small they are and mine have come calling. If I told you I was undauntedly fearless I would be lying to you because I am apprehensive, but as any good soldier knows you still have to press on. My dad has always said there are no promises in combat and so I understand that each and every time I go into battle, ready myself for conflict with this beast I am not guaranteed anything! What I do know is I have a plan, not my plan, but God’s on my side. No matter what comes tomorrow when the new day begins, when the sun shines once again I will still be in God’s hands, under His watchful eyes and within His perfect design. He knows tomorrow‘s forecast, He knows if the battle plan will be victorious so for today I will prepare, bracing for the storm ahead and gather with my family knowing we have done everything possible to prepare for the mission ahead. All I have left to do now is rest in His grace and wait for the Jumpmaster to say, “Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door “...


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Learning to LOVE the Skin We’re in (Dents and All)

What is the first word which comes to your mind when you think of a car wreck? How about destruction, devastation, crippling, marred, out of commission, shot to pieces? Any of the above ring a bell? Well the truth is being diagnosed with breast cancer is basically like a car wreck. Maybe you didn’t see it coming or you may have indeed had notice but the fact is you are still sliding into this situation, this pile up of crushed hopes and dreams in slow motion helpless to stop any of the careening chaos ahead.

Breast Cancer, two words that slice through your heart, bringing devastation and hardship beyond any nightmare Freddy on Elm Street could ever cook up! A three alarm fire has erupted, and you are tied down at the very center of its flames! Being suddenly thrown into the Big C can take away your ability to respond or cope with anything else. You may feel impaired, on the ropes, out of gas, paralyzed, and just plain afraid, anxious, frightened and apprehensive. By the time the Big C has had her way with you and your body I can tell you from my own experience in the drivers seat life can become very turbulent. So let’s get real for a few seconds, past all the “I am hope” spiel; having your breast whacked off then thrown into the incinerator is just ludicrous certainly not a walk in the park. Once you get past the idea of saying goodbye to your boobie you are well on your way to placing an expander inside your chest, a technology wonder of wonders, where a breast used to be. Finally after letting your boobie go you're under the influence of replacing what once was.  Stretching your skin till you scream just to fit your brand new, better than ever, first class, absolute perfection of an implant that will make you whole again right? Presto, you are complete with a sparkling, bouncy, very perky one sided boobie, but what does this really mean anyway? A new boobie, is what! Can I get a hallelujah and pass the potatoes? Alright the truth, the  deep down and dirty, nitty gritty gravy sopping truth is this: Your new boobie is nothing like the real thing, there is nothing remotely familiar about out of the box boobie, it’s not a bigger and better boob, and it won't make you feel whole or complete just because it's shaped like a breast. Any salesman trying to offer you perfection wrapped up in misery is not worth your time. My advice is to be sure you begin moving briskly towards the door and the opposite direction of a dotted line until you have faced your inner mirrior. A new boobie is great, but in order to be whole, to feel complete you have to accept the new you, dents, dings and scars. Before you jump in feet first you MUST be comfortable in your own skin, missing boobie and all.

Truth is I lost my boobie, my hair, eye lashes, and eye brows at 32 years old. Sure everything came back better than ever, without any help I might add, with the exception of my boobie! Learning to love the skin I am in has been a process. Being comfortable with who I am, as a one boobed, thirty something woman has been an adventure let me tell you! I have stood in the mirror many times, tracing over my long, somewhat faded scars stretched across my chest, across both breasts and down under my arm. I have felt the fear of disfigurement, as if a crater had been dug out into my body, leaving me less of a woman so many mornings it wold make your head spin  facing the bathroom mirror. I would not be honest if I didn't tell you I have sunk to the bottom of my shower, with tears in my eyes, asking God how this could be fair anywhere , in any universe He had control over. I have felt disgusting, grotesque, hideous, homely, repulsive, ugly, unattractive as if I am defect, tarnished and corroded.

I have looked at my life as a car wreck many times, surveyed the dents and the dings, contemplated having my life towed off to the junk yard, scraped and left for worthless parts but the real honest to goodness truth is I am not hopeless, I am not a heap of trash or a pile of rusty old lifeless scrap metal. Sure my life has been interrupted by the Big C but it was not relinquished because cancer interrupted my life for a few unsolicited messages! What my life was and could have been was shaken to the core, tossed around and left for the buzzards. Life after the Big C has been a day to day, stop and go, hit the breaks, running low on gas, push, pull and tow kind of journey but the thing is this friends the life I lead now is right where I need to be, where I landed, on my feet, in God’s hands, with a wider view of life’s ups and downs and yes a few more puzzle pieces to snap in place along the road, but full of life, full of joy even in a make shift, rusted old car!  I may have some extra dents I hadn’t planned on, but just like Mater in Cars 2, when he is offered a chance to fix what the world sees as imperfections, I am OK with keeping my dents perfectly in place. Sure I may be a simple tow truck, rusted and banged up, full of unsightly dents, one head light missing with a dilapidated old fender and no hood but just like Mater, “You can’t touch my dents”. I may not have made every dent with Lightening McQueen but I sure did get every one of these unsymmetrical, unappealing, yet radiant, life changing dents along this journey, this adventure of sorts in the company of so many wonderful companions and compatriots.

Together we have created these radiant, ravishing, extremely beautiful imperfect dents in life, they are truly memorable memories, remembrances that inspire us, challenge us to rise above our own idea of perfection allowing our lives to become a narrative, a story, a tragedy turned into good fortune, a blessing, a miracle handing us  triumph over the defeat of a Big C's diagnosis. We no longer have to give in, succumb, surrender, and yield to defeat just because we have a new dent on the exterior canvas of life. Instead, I challenge you to embrace the “dents” life brings your way, whether cancer creates them or not. Stop for just one second and realize them dents are valuable friend! Just like our old friend Mater, go ahead love those dents, be crazy about ‘em, be crazy for ‘em, be crazy over ‘em, be mad about ‘em, go nuts over ‘em , be stuck on ‘em, be wild about ‘em and cherish each dent you have acquired because when all is said and done, each one indeed has made you uniquely you!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dealing with Cancer Bullies

We have all been affected by bullies, in one way or another. Unfortunately it’s part of the growing up process, a problem we all face. Sadly bullying has become an increasingly wide spread problem even amongst adults especially with advances in technology. As a child I dealt with bullies, those who didn’t like me personally for one reason or another, but mostly by those who felt threatened by my inner joy in the face of trying circumstances. I hate to say this but bullying, at least the kind I grew up with before the age of texting, emails and facebook was one of those terrible ways we learned to deal with confrontation, to develop a thicker skin so to speak. But in today’s world the problem is we have no refuge from bullies, they are everywhere, and they have access to every part of our lives, not just an opportune meeting behind the school dumpster anymore but far greater and damaging means. Bullies terrorize the lives of those they see as weak; they are merciless, pitiless, stone-hearted, harsh, heartless, unsparing, callous, beastly, cold-blooded, ruthless, unkind and calculating. Come to think about it in many ways bullies and cancer are cut from the same clothe.

Let’s face it many of us have been bullied all our lives while for others we might in our adult lives be dealing with a bully situation for the very first time. However or by whatever means you have found yourself the target of a bully with a bright red and white target on your back, it’s disheartening. No one likes to feel cornered or bruised emotionally especially not so someone else can feel superior; it’s just not a fun situation to find yourself in. Yet as grown adults we still wake up feeling we are hiding, praying not to find ourselves shoved into those old Jr. High school lockers yet again.

Why do adults decide to bully other adults? Well it’s as simple as feeling inadequate to having a God complex. Either way, bullies must express their distain for anyone they fear can dethrone them. I like to think of it as a power struggle. On one side you have an arrogant king, who has everything worldly a man could desire sitting so far above his people he has lost touch with reality, just a difference of opinion and it’s off with your head. On the other end of the spectrum you have a lowly servant, with no real worldly treasure, yet he has everything, understanding the reality of his own situation choosing to embrace the hardships he bares with love, joy and goodness in his heart. Some how, these bullies we encounter have become callus, indifferent to anyone but themselves and seeing our lives filled with hopeful perspective, they become enraged.

Reality check: as adults, living with any form of cancer, you will at one time or another deal with what I call the dreaded Cancer Bullies. Now, you have your typical bullies, your creepy cyber bullies and then you have the cancer bully. These particular bullies well they are the type who gain a sense of accomplishment by attacking not just the weak, but the sick. Cancer bullies are not your standard, everyday bully. Nope, these kinds of bullies carry a special crude kind of meanness, a vial, cruelty only a few possess or would dare to display for the world to see. Cancer bullies strike not only at opportune moment when you are weak, but when they feel they can robe your spirit of whatever hope you have left!

I know this because I have dealt with my fair share of them since my breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve been told everything from how my illness is an unpleasant thing to have to hear about, to being reminded how they are praying for my bias, cold and unchristian, heart and soul. Yep it has even gone as far as to make it crystal clear I need to let God work through and change my horrible perspective on life.  The truth is I am not perfect, I struggle and yes I fail miserably many times but why is it folks like this feel compelled to squash you like an ant? The real kicker is most of the time they are acting out everything they are accusing you of, giving themselves hall passes while they write you up for their own infringements. Certainly you would think these types would at least stay in the shadows, having enough sense not to be caught in the act right? Nope, sadly it’s the complete opposite! Cancer bullies believe so fervently in their mission that they in fact thrive on the pain and drama they themselves create while blaming you for the root of it. What is most shocking though is how they enjoy not only your pain but also the pain your family feels helplessly watching each one of their harsh blows to your head. If they could carry around a trophy, proclaiming to the world one minute they are a victim and next take credit for being the victimizer you can bet your bottom dollar they would without a second thought. Let’s face it they are villains circling the wagons from the outside while staging an attack from the inside. Many times, bullies come from your inner circle, triumphantly handing you one final blow as they gleefully dance around your mangled spirit left as a spectacle for everyone to see. Honestly it’s all very sad, and no one ever wins. In fact even the bullies don’t win because they have to keep up their game of thrones, reinvent scare tactics, reinforce malicious fear mongering, perfecting the finger wave all while planning new and greater ways of launching their diabolical plans of wrath upon you. In short and they must throw anyone but themselves under the out of control train they have left barreling down the tracks unmanned.

I sometime get the feeling bullies are trying to save their own souls while sucking the life out of mine to be completely honest. In many ways they are vampires, soulless, cold, very real and even deadlier than any storybook character you can bring to mind. Calling those of us out on the carpet who have been dealt the Big C is not enough, no these bullies have to troll, looking for small infractions, moments of weakness ,belittling those who are physically ill. And why, well your guess is honestly as good as mine but in my opinion I believe they are simply compelled to do so, they must save you from yourself. After all it’s for your own good, a spiritual right they have mastered, completely tearing apart anything good, brave, seemly and wholesome about you. And why, truthfully it’s all in the mind set. Many times it’s because these bullies feel they are entitled, as if they are honestly saving your soul by beating you into submission. For many cancer bullies it’s along the lines of feeding a bad habit, needing to fuel their addiction to power simply by shoving those meeker, inferior folks into lockers.

If you have ever faced a cancer bully, then I do not really have to tell you they are apathetic, blind to joy, deaf to hope, indifferent to love, and soulless fiends. Bullies absorb strife in much the same way we express joy. But my challenge to you my friends today is this: if you are staring down a bully, if this very situation has wrapped you up inside tight DO NOT stand for it any longer! Break free from cancer and her consorts, their chains of brutal, numb bitterness are no more than an indulgent exaggerated reaction to their own fear of mortality. Think of cancer bullies and their schemes in the terms of a fixation, a fixed idea, hang-up, mania, a neurosis, completely irrational obsession and a preoccupation with overhauling your life while trying to stabilize their own!

My advice is this: It’s way past time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid! Do not allow cancer bullies, or for that matter any kind of bully a place in your life. You can try to ignore these bullies’ unsubtle attempts at debugging your life, blaming you for their own secrets and troubles or you can take a stand, say enough is enough and begin healing your own wounded spirit. Maybe it’s time to divert the Bully Plan and begin building up, mending, recovering, repairing and reinstating the get-up-and-go, go, the lifeblood, liveliness, sparkle , vitality, energy, enthusiasm and excitement you once subscribed to before signing the Bully Pact. Forcing you into their misguided, surely not for your good kind of agreement through belligerent means is not healthy for either party. The audacity of a Cancer Bully is incredulous, the way they intimidate, break, damage, destroy, and cause hurt is intrusive, detrimental, damaging and toxic to your recovery. Go ahead hand back, return, send back to sender the insanity of a Cancer Bullies quarrelsome undesirable endowment of trouble with a capital T! It’s just not worth the drama of finding your hope hacked to pieces every morning!

Go ahead; buckle up, because cancer is a bumpy ride. No matter what spin you take on the beast’s ship of insanity, it’s going to go through rough, choppy waters, it’s just a matter of whether you are going to sail aboard a sinking ship or find a way to make it across, alive and well. The bottom line my friends, you don’t have to go through this passage alone, the heading does not have to wreck your life upon the rocks and by all means you no longer have to endure fear of those who can not let go of the steering wheel. Go on reinforce your walls, reintroduce yourself to the water, strengthen your heart for the journey and begin recalling the reasons you have hidden HOPE deep within your soul to begin with! Breaking free from Cancer Bullies is like taking a breath of fresh air. Think of it as capsizing at first, the fear is almost enough to take you down into the dark, deep depths of despair or like needing a breathing apparatus just to navigate through the shallow end of a pool. But what happens after you have come up for air, you see land, and you know you yourself have the strength inside to make it to shore. Instead of being over come, suffocating and thrashing around in the Bully’s end of the ocean embrace the hope you have inside your spirit, latch onto your inner faith , the strength of your joy and the resounding love of your heart and you will find peace again.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Loving Me Through It All

Breast cancer is not one of those types of diagnosis’s you just breeze through. Honestly no matter how old you are breast cancer is a shock, but when you are in your early 30’s it is like facing one of those creepy, scary clowns from your childhood nightmares. Tears, fear and the overwhelming idea of leaving those you love behind way to early has a way of crushing your once fiery spirit, crashing into your heart, mind and spirit on a daily basis. Even with the best of a diagnosis, breast cancer can feel like a giant pink elephant sitting on your chest stealing each and every free breath you have left inside of your dreams.

Martina McBride’s song, I’m gonna love you through it all, is one of those songs written perfectly reaching the intended target, and breaking through our walls of strength. Those of us for whom this song touches, living through this beast crashing into our lives head on, causes an unexpected pause we nerve saw coming. The reality of this life we lead brings an understanding of each and every one of her powerful words as if they are our own. We need no interpretation, no further emotion to see ourselves in Martina’s musical storytelling of the Big C. I sat down for the first time this morning and listened to this song and found myself surrounded by a puddle of tears. This woman was singing about me, this was my life in song, words spelling out my journey, my fears, my hidden worries and the hope I cling to.

Life since the Big C came to town five years ago has not been easy, in fact it’s been pretty painful, downright devastating and at times completely overwhelming, almost as if I have become a sinking stone, drowning in the unknown. But I am one of the fortunate ones; I have not had to go this road, this journey into the darkness, alone. I have had my faith, my belief in a God who is compassionate, not cruel, loving, and not spiteful. I have felt His deep understanding ignite Hope inside the deepest darkest caverns of my soul and seen His mercy guide me through this labyrinth of fear and doubt without stealing my joy away from me. But you know what else I have had as well? I have had a husband who has stood by my side through it all, a man who has loved me regardless of my physical loss or of this mark seared across my chest. Johnny has never left my side. He has felt the fear, the worry, grappled with the unknown, wondering if the future we planned together would be ripped away from him yet he has loved me through it all, stood by me without a second thought.

I stand in awe of this man whose name I carry. I love him beyond any words I could express. He is kind, quiet and strong. He holds my heart close to his, never letting go, never thinking of dropping it, nor  has he once considered breaking my sensitive, sometimes tormented heart. Johnny would never allow my fragile heart to shatter into a thousand pieces. He would never leave me to defend myself against this beast alone. I know without a doubt whatsoever Johnny would never leave me stranded or consider placing our love on the hard, cold floor,walking away and closing the door on tomorrow . I will tell you what Johnny is, he’s steady, taking my fear on as his own allowing me to stay focused on today so I can stand strong, not sink into a pit of helplessness tomorrow. I have never once been alone with Johnny by my side. When I have been weak, he has been strong. When I have been unable to take one more step, Johnny has taken my hand and pulled me closer to him, navigating the road before us. I am honest enough to admit I have had experienced days along the way when I felt I could not do this anymore, when I did not want to face one more surgery, one more treatment, once more day with the words breast cancer stamped across it. Yet my husband of 15 years has never left me to face this beast alone, he has continued to love me through it all, each and every day.

Johnny has been my biggest source of inspiration, my comfort and my hero. When I have been weary, he has been bold, carrying me through the wilderness, never leaving my side. Even when the night has fallen or when the beasts around us have stirred Johnny has been my refuge. When I have been scared to death he has shown no fear! The truth is I am not the same girl he married all those years ago, but I am the woman he has loved through it all. I may not be perfect, I may have a misshapen body after all these years, I may not even have 2 breasts for him to caress anymore and the truth is one day we may have to face a unpaved, bumpier road where I am no longer able to fight this beast. But do you know what I have, what I know, no matter what is before us, there’s no doubt this road will never be too long or too narrow for the two of us to travel together.

The bottom line is this my friends: tomorrow could confirm all my worst fears, breast cancer could veer her ugly head once again, throw us into the abyss of fear and worry, but there is one truth cemented into my heart, one truth beyond a shadow of a doubt: Johnny will be by my side, loving me just as I am, loving the parts of me that have been left, and letting go of the ones which have been torn away. No matter what the Big C takes from me, from us, Johnny has loved me, held me, taken me to our bed with desire in his eyes. How can I ask for more? I am the lucky one, I am blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined and today, this very morning, I am loved by a man who is not perfect but who is perfectly mine.


Friday, July 22, 2011

The Magic, Memories and my Family!

Have you ever watched one of those Disney ads and had chills run down your back? Just the idea of sharing a day full of magic with your family, spinning inside the Mad Hatter’s tea cups, possibly coasting down Space Mountain into the unknown or even flying high above Fantasyland on Dumbo’s back is enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes. Who knows maybe for you it’s the Disney memories from when you where younger holding your dad’s hand while meeting Mickey, or the first time you walked through those magical gates with your own children’s hands in yours seeing Cinderella’s Castle before you or maybe you have dreams of finally taking those first steps inside the Magic Kingdom and walking down Maine Street, USA. Whatever thoughts or memories come to mind during the most magical place on earth’s 30 second ads, they certainly grab your attention don’t they? Suddenly you find yourself daydreaming about Princesses, Pirates, lands far away, and having your family right along side of you for each and every new and incredible adventure.

For me, the idea of a Disney Family Vacation doesn’t just bring the excitement of a magical adventure into larger than life lands filled  with rides and journeys into our imaginations; the truth in a nut shell is the real excitement for us is the journey itself to WDW. A trip which brings my family, myself, my husband, my children and my parents together making memories we have been allowed to gather, granted wishes for one more year enabling us to share and imprint upon our hearts precious memories gifted to us and given in joy, inspired each year to create ….TOGETHER.

Last month, my parents took all of us to Walt Disney World in Florida for a 10 day trip to mark my Life Day; five years from the date we thought we were celebrating my goodbye trip. I have to tell you this was the most amazing trip we have had since we first starting making this Disney pilgrimage of sorts in 2006. The theme this year, The Magic, Memories and You, along with the brilliant Castle display, hit home for each and every one of us as we planned our family adventures through all four parks. For the six of us, myself, my husband Johnny, our boys, Joshua and Micah and my parents Bobby and Patty, coming back to Walt Disney World is an indescribable, renewal of hope and life, filled with passion, joy and adventure. A larger than life mile stone, filled with internal fireworks, an emotional slide show of memories, a time to celebrate the life we have been given together, moments of real magic, memoires and for us, HOPE!

Many of you know looking back at 2006, that summer marked both a dark and yet beautiful time for my family and I. Three months into chemo with another three before me my folks gave us a weeks notice and then swept each of us off and away on a grander than grand Disney Vacation. We had the time of our lives, my bald head and all. The memories will forever stay with me, with the boys, with Johnny and with my parents. Why? Those days spent traveling around Epcots’ World Showcase, catching a ride on Aladdin’s magic carpets, meeting Sorcerer Mickey, trekking through Africa will stay with us forever but the friendships we made that summer are what really make our memories, our desire to come back to this magical place so strong.

If you have never taken the time to get to know many of the wonderful cast members at Walt Disney World, then I have to be honest you are missing the greatest part of what Disney has to offer. These folks are the ones who bring the magic to life! In 2006 we met several wonderful cast members, Luis, who is still currently at the Garden Grill inside Epcot has come to be part of our family. From the first time he came to our table he took us under his wings, loving, caring and amazingly attentive. We left that day, feeling as if we were not just there on a vacation , but as if we were now apart of the Disney family. As we spent our last night in the Magic Kingdom that year I watched as folks hurried out the exits, racing for the buses with not a care in the world but to get back to a soft warm bed. I stood there taking it all in, the stores on Maine Street lit up, Mickey balloons in the hands of little ones, skipping happily along, and music piping into the streets as the Castle was sending everyone home with her goodnight kiss. I felt as if time had slowed down for me, giving me a last glimpse at what this cancer of mine was fighting to take a way from me….life.

I fought back the tears as best as I could seeing my boys hop, skip and smile out of the corner Emporium, they were so happy. For the first time in such a long, long time they were unaware breast cancer was anywhere within striking distance. I was suddenly thrown out of my time warp and the tears would not be held back! Out of nowhere the ‘what if’s ‘came running into play. I was so afraid in those moments, fearful I would not live to see my children grow into men, to bring my own grandchildren to Walt Disney World, to see the magic through their eyes for the first time or to experience the magic of this wonderful place again. I fell apart right there on Maine Street, USA, with Cinderella’s Castle behind me and my family beside me. That night a promise was made, if I was to be taken down by this beast we call breast cancer; my beautiful, selfless, loving parents would bring the boys back so they could once again let the fear and worry of the Big C go. But my mom being the wonderful woman she is took it a little farther as she pulled me into her arms, wiping my tears away…she promised no matter what, even if it was for just one day a year we would return together, all six of us, to mark each and very year I had taken back from the beast!

This June we stayed at the Pop Century, ate like kings and queens, played in the parks till the wee hours of the night, had dinner with our friend Luis and met his beautiful family. This was the highlight of our visit. Each time we come back to WDW the boys ask every night when we will see Luis. This year we had the honor of sitting down at the Garden Grill to share a meal with our dear friend Luis and the privilege of being waited on by his own son Filipe who went above and beyond to make our meal one we will always remember. This same man has opened his heat to our family, making us part of his very own. In 2007 when we returned, Luis recognized me, after a full of year of 1000’s of guests through his door he knew me. I did not look the same a year later, after all my bald head had hair and I had grown lashes and brows again so to say I looked like a different person is an understatement, yet Luis knew me right away. He stood there in tears, and then hugged me, telling me how he and his family had been praying for me all this time. I can not even begin to explain how big of an impact this memory has on me each time I think back on the Garden Grill and Luis. All this time later Luis and his family keep in touch with us, checking in on me and my health, and welcoming us into their lives as if we have been family all our lives. There is a Hawaiian saying, one which Disney themselves made a household phrase in their movie Lilo and Stitch, “Ohana, means family, family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. “ Luis has put the very meaning of the word Ohana into action everyday in both his commitment and love of his job and his guests. The truth is without this experience, without Luis and the depth of his commitment to his guests, to those passing through his door every night at the Garden Grill we may not have been as quick to return to Walt Disney World as we are today Let’s face it we could have chosen another destination, a less expensive place to vacation, but because of this Luis’ care and concern, this cast member’s willingness to open his heart, freely offering his kindness to our family as if we were his own , Disney World is our number one destination.

And so as I close my thoughts I my one wish is for you all to know how grateful I am to be here today, able to share my stories, and my love of Disney. Some folks are not as quick to be happy for your happiness, and some may find reasons to personally begrudge you or your family special memories as I have shared here with you but I hope deep down someday they will come to understand why we as a family have chosen Walt Disney World each and every year since 2006. For my family and I it’s about the simple pleasure of ensuring a memory that will not fade away, laying down another mile stone, and a marker of Hope, to create more memories together and to come home to our Disney family. We make this pilgrimage as I like to call it not only to have fun but to let our worries go for a time, to inspire our imaginations and to imprint our family legacy of Hope upon both our hearts and souls, to refresh our spirits and to appreciate these moments we share together right here, right now! At the same time we are very aware these moments we share today, partake in together in the present are more than just times in our lives, they are moments, memories we will remember when all our material things have gone by the way side or when we have watched a loved one pass from this world to the next. These memories we have created will continue on, we will them pass on, knowing they are apart of us, who we are, who we were at one time and this hope continuing to bur inside of our hearts will stay strong for as long as we have the Magic, the Memories and each other!

~ Christina

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dealing with Perfect People and the God Complex

Have you ever thought about having super powers? Maybe supersonic speed, invisibility, x-ray vision, oh the possibilities are endless aren’t they? Now what would you do with your life if suddenly God handed you these extraordinary powers?  Have you ever thought about how amazing it would be to be able to heal someone with just a single touch or to be able to love them so unconditionally you had the power to banish fear and insecurity from a loved one’s life? Sadly, there are a few out there who would reject these abilities, reaching instead for power, ungodly and abusive in nature, seeking to destroy what they themselves cannot  obtain. What are these powers they seek to destroy? Well my friend, these powers are sometimes looked upon as ordinary, but they are so much more than that. True LOVE and COMPASSION are two of the greatest super powers we as human beings can ever obtain. For this reason alone, the Bible says, “and the greatest of these is love.”

My next question probably hits a little closer to home than dreaming about out of this world super powers. Have you ever been around someone who has an authority complex? Maybe they unnecessarily feel they have God -like powers, being sinless, acting on your behalf to save you from yourself? You know exactly the kind of folks I am talking about don’t you? Sure they seem harmless at first but over time and given just enough room they will pop your bubble as quickly as you can say huba buba!  

You may first notice this behavior when they mistreat someone you know recovering from an illness or injury, maybe they over step themselves using a small amount of knowledge as a weapon against the injured. Possibly you notice how these folks make demands of others yet seem to require little of themselves, neglecting the real needs of those who need them the most.  

Honestly it must be tiring looking over folks shoulders, making lists, checking them twice,  putting on robes of spotlessness just back from being bleached, climbing up into a broken judges seat and looking down on everyone else from the chambers of hypocrisy.  All I have to say is I want whatever energy drink they are drinking! Seriously where can I get my hands on one? Alright on a really serious note I just can’t imagine being so bold as to believe I could sit on God’s jury! I have to give it to the folks who have the audacity to ask God if He will give them power of folks in a way which derails His love and grace though, it takes guts! Seriously, what kind of super power is that? Doesn’t the Bible say they shall know you are Christians by your love? Is love not the first fruit of the spirit? And if they shall know you by your love, would not compassion be the foundation of a spirit led life?

I know what I am about to say makes many uneasy, opens a can of worms we would love to see disappear but who am I to stand by and watch the innocent be led into a den of lions, led to the slaughter just for their entertainment? How can I look myself in the mirror if I knowing stand by watching all the gory details, the lies of the slanderous and malicious to emerge without challenge?

I am coming today from a perspective not unlike many of you, from my own experiences with those who have falsely sought to gain access into my life through judgment, acting the parts of judge, jury and executioner. These types of people may even be loved ones who under dire circumstances keep lists of your transgressions, frailties, and your weakness only to manipulate and bend them into their own tablets of thou shall not’s!  Sadly, this self righteous game of thrones is a stark reality for most of us at some point or another in our lives, especially if you have dealt with any kind of long term illness. The truth is, I have kept this a  hidden place, a door I rarely share with or open to anyone, that is until today. Being under the thumb of a self righteous, all knowing, all seeing, emotional and spiritual abuser who lives each day with the hopes of bringing to light any dirty little secret they feel you may have can be downright exhausting. I am out of breath just  trying to spite it all out! Living in the light but feeling the need to cower in the shadows because some half crazed, dangerous kryptonite carrying, gold plated caped, God complexed abusive personality is insane! I still have yet to understand how these super power types believe they are invincible, sitting in pious judgment, looking for each and every rock they can possibly find and turn over all while praying to bring shame down on your head or any other poor soul they happened upon. 

You yourself may be in this very same situation at this very moment so let me fill you in on a little secret right about now: It’s NOT you! You are not the problem; you are not undeserving of love or of God’s grace.  God tells us to come just as we are, not washed up, hands neatly folded, hair brushed, laces tied and cheeks rosy with a smile on our face clones!  No, the down and dirty secret these spiritual sounding trapped inside legalism, guilt performance and begrudging folks don’t want you to know is this: God loves us in our  torn, worn out jeans, dirty faces, unwashed hair, smelly shoes and all! The real problem I have found when facing these types of people is that they are so insecure in themselves they have to tear you apart limb by limb in order to build themselves up! Sadly, these few need to imply you are lost, fallen so far from grace, that only” they” can intercede upon your behalf!

Listen up here friends, if you never take my advice ever again listen to me on this one: Do not put one tiny toe inside their stinking, pungent, sinking dingy! I repeat, back away from the dock, grab your running shoes and run as fast as you possibly can in the other direction! I am warning you if you buy this rotten load of a fish tale hook, line and sinker than these “ I have arrived” before you folks will have you on the brink of suicide, feeling incapable, worthless and unworthy of God’s love.  I know because I have been there, questioning my own sanity, my own relationship with God and my own strength all while battling the Big C. I have been to the brink of exhaustion, had guilt heaped upon my head, scolded for not going above and beyond to the point of death all while they themselves have scoffed the idea God would ask them to do the same!  I bet you have been asked to go beyond what is humanly possible, to believe, just like I have, God would ask us to give our lives away to feed these ludicrous egos. From a personal perspective injuries inflicted by those we know and love are crushing especially when they administer these wounds in the Name of God. Do not believe for one second this is the will of God! The truth is these kinds of demands are outright Godless requests, made in His name for the benefit of men and their own selfish nature!

Of course if you listen to the words of these few who come in sheep’s clothing, they can most certainly confuse you. If you slow down, using the super power of discernment you can actually watch them conspiring to siege your free will, convincing you they can save you and you’re spiritually lacking life all while handing over the keys to a great big bridge they have for sale too! Unfortunately if you do not agree with their dominate, I am right, sign the deal and just surrender to my total authority point of view  you  lose their approval and are shunned. By all means they will guilt you into surrendering your free will. By the time these super powered manipulation inspired authority figures use spiritual means to gratify their desires of importance, power, or intimacy it can be just as tormenting as having your nails peeled off during an interrogation! I can certainly tell you I would much rather live in the muddy, flea infested trenches, dealing with cancer and her consorts, battling hand to hand in combat than live my life under the microscope of anyone who feels they know my heart better than the God I serve does!

Oppression and domination are two of the key components a spiritual and emotional abuser will flaunt in your face on a daily basis, especially if they see you as weak. The real honest to God truth my friends is your weakness is actually strength, strength which has been forged, made strong by the refiner’s fire!  Do not be deceived by those who come to destroy you, hold your nose to the ground just because they feel they have the power to do so! I encourage you my friends to hold your ground, to cling to what is just, to what you know is right, and not to be swayed by those who cannot produce righteous fruit, full of unconditional love and true compassion.  Remember God does not require anything from us to come before Him, so if someone is preaching that you must obey their laws first, then you are in the presence of a false teacher! 

I know this post today is one of the strongest I have ever written, but there comes a time in one’s life when you must stand for what is not only just, but what is right! I myself serve a loving God; yes He is just, allowing me to fall and pull myself back up again but like a kind, loving Father He does not take delight in my failures, taunting me, abusing my spirit for His own gain. I have spent too much time around those who speak in God’s name yet know nothing of His true love, of His plans for our lives. Real Christianity in its truest form does not paint a picture of God sitting in a judge’s chamber handing out condemnation with each strike of His gavel!

 I challenge each and every one of you my friends and family not to become victims of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Flee from those who come to steal your joy, who present you with legalistic misinterpretations of God’s word! Truly guilt and spiritual enslavement is the only outcome of such appalling positions of power.  Look closely at the fruit in their lives, what do you see? Is there strife, anguish, hatred, anger, lack of self control, lack of compassion and complete chaos? If these traits are the only fruits hanging upon a leader’s tree, then it is time to walk away, to stop inhaling the pungent smell of rotten fruit! If you do not see Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control than you need to pack your bags and run for the hills! 

My words to you today are to break free from those chains, the lock and key binding you to this zealot, religious, crippling kryptonite. Remember there are always villains in this world wearing super powered capes crusading as super heroes but real love comes from a deeper source, a spring of grace, living inside of each of us, giving to us the power to heal and to bring hope into the lives of those we love.   

As I close this chapter of my life today, I choose to live free from oppression. I choose love, grace and infinite forgiveness.  I am absolutely comfortable with my less than perfect, dented fender, rusted out door, multi- colored Hippie van. When push comes to shove I am perfectly happy with staying as far away from the perfect people parking zone as possible. I know I am not perfect by any means! I mess up constantly, I am human after all, not blameless or sinless but imperfectly saved!  I know my God is real; He lives within my heart, guiding me through the darkness, out of the shadows, not chasing me into the dungeons of despair. Besides, Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So the real honest to God truth, is this: when all is said and done at the end of the day I know without a doubt my Lord is not compiling a list of my failures, instead He is working on a Christina –can- do- list and you know what, I am alright with that!