A homeless heart.

The way I see it is we are all one paycheck away from homeless, one lost job from a tent, one mental breakdown from a tarp and one life shattering moment from a cart holding all that is left.

Every morning on my way to work, I see the same homeless person, pushing a shopping cart with all the possessions they own and hold dear to them. And, each time I picture myself. When I see a tent hidden behind a bush, or a tarp made into a tent tucked away, I can imagine myself hiding inside. The dirty clothes, the dirty faces, the shameful eyes looking down at their shoes with holes, it is all me. I feel all of it and I do not know why. For as long as I can remember, I have always felt as though I will be homeless at some point.

Maybe it’s because when I was 17, I left home one-night, dead set to get away from the toxicity my home life had become. It was probably the most unplanned, unprepared for and simultaneously the wisest decision I have ever made. Back then there were no cell phones, I left without food, without setting up a place to stay and not a single person to call for help or even a dollar to my name.

And even then, being alone, unprepared, and without much of anything I was better off on the street than at home. My memory from that time is shoddy at best which is a blessing in disguise. The memory that remains is that I found places to stay, I got a job, graduated high school and that although it was the loneliest I had ever been, I was not truly alone because it’s by the grace of God that I’ve never been without a home again.

Failure and struggle makes me curious, people with a past intrigue me immensely. When I see a homeless person I want to know their story. Much like a kindergartner at carpet time, I want to sit crisscross applesauce with my hands under my chin and take in their entire life story. Because I know it isn’t always alcohol, drugs, crime and laziness that cost them a warm place to sleep, a suuportive loving family, a warm meal, or a sense of peace within their mind or within four walls.

It wasn’t any of those that cost me my own home, my own family or my safety. A few years back I wanted to collect and take blankets to the homeless, because when they were cold, I felt cold. When they were wet, I felt wet. But no one understood that or would help me with the project, because it was dangerous for a woman to do alone. And, knowing that kept me from doing it, but that feeling of wanting them to be seen, feel heard and know there was zero judgment has never left my heart.

Once when I was pregnant with my daughter, a man who appeared homeless, was stuck in the middle of a crosswalk in his wheelchair. One of his wheels was caught in a small pothole and he only had one leg to propel him forward. My father was a double amputee, and my heart went out to this man. There was no one else around, so I put my car in park, got out and walked over to him and offered to push him the rest of the way.

He told me to get away from him, he told me he did not need nor want my help. And, with all he had, he made it across all by himself. Sitting in my car I remember crying, in part I am sure because I was pregnant, but also in part because he reminded me of my father. I remember sitting there wondering how my desire to help could make him angry, why was his pride so prevalent? The truth though was that my pride was prevalent as well as were my assumptions. I assumed he needed assistance because of what I saw, I assumed he couldn’t do it because of how I would have felt if I were in the same situation. And, I was wrong. My heart was in the right place but I was wrong.

Maybe homeless is better than home for some. Maybe homeless is safer. Maybe they lost their home, when they lost the people inside those four walls that made it a home in the first place. Maybe they couldn’t bring themselves to walk back through a door that their child would never run to again. Or a spouse that would never be there to greet them. Maybe it was too hard, too much and they gave up. I can understand that, I could see that, I can feel that. Hard takes on different forms to different people, and what is hard for me, may not seem as hard to someone else and vice versa – but it is still hard.

Homeless doesn’t mean worthless, it doesn’t mean hopeless and it surely does not mean unlovable. Maybe for them it just means wild, liberated, free and possibly daring for some. I’ve heard so many times that a homeless person is well off, that they have a home and a family but that they choose to roam instead. I can’t imagine what that would feel like to have a family member choose to be homeless, dirty, hungry, unsafe and alone.

I’m not blind to the fact that a majority of homeless people are lacking the mental health and medical care they need and that those situations alone are the leading factor to becoming a sole tenant in a tent, a tarp and a shopping cart. That most are not in their right mind, and that yes some are even dangerous, and some are struggling addicts. I’m not blinded by the severity and the statistics. My heart just reminds me that we have no idea what made them walk out that door, or that there was ever a door to begin with for them. Yet, people treat homeless people like garbage solely because sometimes they smell bad, look bad or act poorly. And, that breaks my heart.

The way I see it is we are all one paycheck away from homeless, one lost job from a tent, one mental breakdown from a tarp and one life shattering moment from a cart holding all that is left. The only difference is how we are able to handle those situations with the resources we’re given. And, that should be enough to change judgment into compassion, because one day that could be me, you or someone you love.

The truth sets you free

It’s time to be real. To be honest. To lay it bare.

Fear. Shame. We all have it and shy away from anyone who may hurt us by exposing us. The people in our life can be split in half right down the middle by two types; those who love us anyway and those who love to hold us back.

When I sit and ponder my life and my purpose, I know it well within the deepest core of my soul – that I’m supposed to write. But, I also tell myself that I am disqualified, undeserving and a fraud. Someone will surely expose the events in my life that hold the most disappointment – and I will be publicly reminded of my worthlessness and be humiliated.

Each time I began to write the excitement floods in, maybe this will be the piece that hits someone, maybe this will be the one that goes viral. It ignites my soul and once the piece is done – it feels phenomenal. But fear still visits.

When we succumb to fear we give in and find other ways to sabotage ourselves by disguising our fear in a respectful manner. Posing it as something outside our control.

Korie Robertson’s advice to her children, shared by Sadie Robertson.

People read my words and tell me that it makes them feel good too. Shame reminds me that there are parts of my life I’m not prepared to share, and if I continue down this path, I must be prepared for battle. I let fear consume me like a kudzu vine, and kill the dream.

It is a harsh reality when you must own up to the fact that you are not courageous enough to be fearless. That in the face of challenge, adversity and judgment, I was a coward. Can we be real for a minute? Do you understand the amount of courage it would take to write my story? …for me to say to the world I’ve messed up and I am strong enough to stand proud regardless. About everything.

Do you understand that if I write my story, if I share my truth, the world will need to know my faults, my hardships, and my demons before they could understand my triumphs? Do you realize that in order to be accurate in my personal accounts, I would have to bare my weaknesses and give my enemies permission to use them against me?

To write my story, I’d have to go back to where I first got stuck. I’d have to tell you the why’s and how’s before the gratefulness of the now’s!

How many times I’ve been married and broke my vows. How many times I’ve been divorced. How I met a criminal who almost killed me. How I met a man who was kind and good, and I hurt him. How I cheated. How I lied. How I got fired. How I stole. How I almost loved a lost man so much that trying to save him, almost caused the loss of myself, and put my children in indirect danger.

How I have a daughter I did not raise, and that I fear I’ve failed. How I have a father that couldn’t and wouldn’t choose to love me, and a mother who’s addictions replaced her desire to want me. How to this very day there is a man who daily attempts to break me. I’d have to share about the time I was on assistance. The times we had no money & no food.

You’d learn that I have a brother who’s an addict, in and out of prison for the past 20 years. And, I’d have to tell you about the time I attempted suicide, and woke up angry at God that it didn’t work. And, how each and every one of these instances were the broken ground on which a more firm, stable and loving foundation was formed – and where I found Jesus met me each time.

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The answer Mack was given when he asks Papa why she brought him back to the Shack where Missy died.

Do you know how much power is in all this truth? And how much courage it took to even write these truths down? And, guess how much fear I feel having now released it? None.

Sharing my stories, will be painfully honest, and to be honest it will have to be dark at times, and I have to be willing to share these stories with people I love, people who’s respect I would want to keep, and whose judgment I am now ready for. Because their judgement has no bearing on me any longer.

I choose to share my truth with complete strangers who may attempt to tear me apart but won’t succeed. Because there is one person, the same person who built me for struggle, who built me to share my story, who gifted me the desire and ability to write out my inner most personal feelings in a way that enraptures people’s souls.

Today, for the first time in my life, I can say wholeheartedly that with God within me, and above me, that anything below can never break me. Because the truth is there is one person who knows my story, one person who loves me anyways and the only person who can justly judge me, and it’s not the person who sells the story, it was the person who co-wrote it beside me. God.

God didn’t answer my prayers to change my circumstances, because he needed me to be in those trenches, to be in the lions den to allow me to escape unscathed. And, the first step is facing the fear of those lions, facing the fear that they may bite, they may intimidate and they could easily devour me – but God protects me. My faith has to be stronger than my fear.

This is my story of a past that built me. A beautiful story mixed with that of a tattered reputation and an inspiring redemption. No one can tell my story for me, but me.

And, I AM READY.

Ditch the Shame.

I dare you to be honest with someone who hurt you, who let you down or disappointed you. I dare you to be vulnerable, to be strong and to be brave.You are strong enough. You are smart enough.



So many people are stuck in this “show” life. They are always “on”, they always have it figured out and they are always “fine.” They are the quiet, strong type, but to me, strong is not quiet. Strong is loud. Strong is honest. Strength is raw and original. We are failing by setting the example or standard that silence is a sign of strength.

We need to get to a point where people quit hiding, where they quit trying to appear perfect and are okay wearing their heart on their sleeves, and their minds on their lips – to be vulnerable and invest in the people they want a return investment from.

Why should you always be the one to call, to text, to check in, why should you invest in someone who does not see the same value in you? We want that deep down non-judgmental connection, a real and honest friend, and that takes vulnerability and openness. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to be or do that. I think most people mean well but they waiver in making it a conscious decision and choice.

The saddest part is that we see you, as you are, not as you pretend to be. Your hiding translates as distrust, dishonesty, misrepresentation and a low level of value and worth to us as your friend. You’re inability and unwillingness to reach out, to lay yourself bare, freeing yourself of judgment and any worry of shame is not only holding you back, it’s impeding every one of your relationships.

No one wants to be friends with someone who pretends to have it all figured out. We all know that no one has it all figured out, so who are you trying to fool anyway?

Real. Honest. Open. That’s we want. We want your good days and bad days, not your false cover up stories and forced smiles. We want your tough days full of struggle and barely surviving, not your self proclaimed smooth sailing over calm waters.

Tell me the moment that built you. The exact moment you had nothing left to hide, where you had no choice but to ditch the shame that had suffocated you up to that point. Tell me the exact second you looked up from your lowest point, and felt the most unloved and unworthy, and let me love you anyway. Let someone love you because of that defining moment. That’s brave. That’s beautiful. That’s you.

We want to talk about your gains and losses, your failures, your heart break and how you fell flat on your face. Not how tough you are about hiding your failures, or how you have no fears and don’t need any help.

Life is rough. On those particularly rough days, life makes no sense. It is meant to be that way in order to mold us, develop us, process us and force us to grow. We need that. We can’t hide behind fear forever. The smile behind the tears will fade and lessen at some point. How can we expect to move mountains when our shoulders are formed by false strength?

It takes strength to say phrases like: “I’m not okay. I’m scared. I’m sad. I don’t have it figured out. I hurt. You hurt me. I’m disappointed in myself, or in you.” Be Strong.

It takes courage to say, “I messed up, I’m sorry. I don’t know how I feel or what I want.” It’s hard to say “I need you.” Be Brave.

I would much rather hear “you know what, I have had a horrible day and I’m gonna go home and take a bubble bath, or I’m gonna call my best friend or I’m gonna enjoy a glass of wine and try again tomorrow.” I’d rather hear that than “I’m fine” and knowing that you’re going to go home and cry alone and not process or release any of what’s bothering you in any type of a healthy environment.

We as human beings need interaction we need to be heard and to feel validated and vindicated and appreciated. We need love, it’s what feeds our souls. Why would you purposely want to deprive yourself of what we all need as individuals to grow and be happy?

Being positive doesn’t mean pretending everything is great. It means acknowledging that it isn’t, appreciating the lesson and knowing circumstances will improve. Don’t believe that sharing failure is a sign of weakness, because those afraid to fail are among the weakest. If your idea of acceptance is gained by pretending your life is perfect, you’ll have an endless battle with yourself. Only fools can look in the mirror and argue with the secrets staring back at them.

With all this said, I dare you. I dare you to have courage. I dare you to dust off and pull out that skeleton in your closet and share it. I dare you to admit a mistake, to share your past and tell someone you’re not perfect. I dare you to not fear shame, because once you release it to someone who accepts it, shame can no longer exist. I dare you to call someone and say, I need help, I’m not okay and I need to talk. I dare you to be honest with someone who hurt you, who let you down or disappointed you. I dare you to be vulnerable, to be strong and to be brave.

You are strong enough. You are smart enough. You are deserving and so greatly loved enough. I dare you to love yourself enough to be loved as a whole, all the tiny imperfect pieces that created you.

What ever happened to…

Respecting our elders.
General kindness and courtesy.
Minding your own business.
Giving the benefit of the doubt.
The Golden Rule.
Not judging a book by its cover.
Owning and Rectifying our mistakes.
Getting to know someone ourselves.

Growing up it was expected that I lived by this list of expectations. If there wasn’t enough of something for everyone to go around, I’d go without. Whispering was rude. Inviting myself anywhere was never okay. Excluding someone intentionally was not acceptable. Gossiping was bad manners. I was raised with sayings like: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” “Be kind to strangers, and to those who appear to have less than you. For those who appear to have less, their hearts have more.” And, my personal favorite “Pretty is as pretty does.”

While walking into work, I hurried past an elderly woman who was being helped by what I am guessing was her daughter to the door. Once to the door, I stopped and held the door for them. The look of surprise on her face in that moment was incredible. Here I was a young able bodied woman quickly passing her by. In her mind, I was just going to blow through that door and leave her in my dust, possibly like others had done before. But, I didn’t, and I never would. Her smile, and exasperated thank you, affected me in two ways – it made me feel good to have helped her and sad that her faith in humanity had shattered so greatly that this act of general kindness was abnormal. 

The simple rules we were raised by seem irrelevant and non-existent to many. Offering a helping hand is too much to ask to those whose hands are full of selfishness. Making time for our children, and our families, is too demanding on a schedule filled by personal appointments that reek of empty moments that will amount to nothing when the hands of time can’t be rewound.

It is as if we have all lost sight of what is most important. We’ve lost the desire to care, to show compassion, to go above and beyond for a friend in need – to allow room for our loved ones and friends to make mistakes. We have created such an uptight and demanding society full of worthless objects and sentiments void of any real volume or validity. 

Living in a small town people here think they know someone because they have heard about them. They chastise and make a mockery of those whose lives are not their own, and whose choices do not affect their lives. They volley conversations about personal matters and misfortunes as general topics for enjoyment. Making remarks such as “Oh did you hear about so and so?” “Oh here look at this picture, or mugshot, can you believe it?”   Why is this acceptable? Why are we blindly passing judgment? Who do we think we are?

We have become obsessed and consumed with not only finding out but revealing everyone’s skeletons hidden in their closet – that we forget our closet has a few of our own. Are we the mean girls and bullies from high school, hanging posters with peoples pictures and labeled mistakes for enjoyment? Why is the benefit of the doubt and the golden rule being tossed away in a gutter without any real remorse or understanding for what we truly are losing.

How many people do you know of, verses know? People whom you don’t like or associate with, solely because of what you’ve heard of them? Who is really missing out there, you or them? In my opinion – you are at a loss and they are at a gain. Personally, I would not want the company of a person who wishes me well, but not that well. Or a friend who would rather calculate my value beginning with my past. If today you are a kind to me, and a good friend to me – I care not what you did yesterday or a year ago. 

Life is about making a difference, sharing a voice, loving, caring, and raising our children to do the same. When someone falls, you help them up. You don’t stare, point and laugh. What is that teaching our children?

Our society cares more about the why, than the who. We share judgment before giving the benefit of the doubt. We condemn and chastise rather than commend and praise. Our conversations are overflowing with condescending overtones instead of respectful dialogue. For what? What do we benefit from this? A rise out of someone, a battle of wits and distorted temporary feeling of superiority? If that is what you want, go for it honey! But, I am not interested.

I say we, because I know I am not innocent. I too fall have fallen victim at times. However, I’ve made mistakes, I have, both on a small scale and a large scale. But, I will never choose to dislike someone because someone else does, or told me to. Others misfortunes will never be a gain in my eyes, and it is my choice to not pass judgment where compassion could prevail. I dare you to do the same, and to get to know someone for who they are to you – and not their past or their mistakes that were made yesterday or the ones they will make tomorrow.  Mistakes are made from trying and they provide a lesson learned, and an experience gained. 

Pride means nothing without humility. A little respect and compassion goes a long way.

If I could have a word with you

One of the most vital parts of being a parent is making mistakes. Mistakes are what causes growth and results in lessons and ultimately change. On a daily basis I make mistakes and there are times I lay awake at night reviewing those, and how I made them, why I made them – and how to not make that same mistake again. Quite possibly I am about to give you more credit than deserved, because I am hopeful you lay awake at night and feel some sort of anything for the abandonment of your child. You do feel bad right? Maybe cry when no one is around because you make the same mistake day in and day out. You get angry at yourself for not calling, writing, asking for photographs, or knowing how his day is, right? You do realize the irreparable damage you have caused your child, right?

We have never been introduced, which is difficult, given the lack of involvement you have in your child’s life. I’ve seen you at one baseball game, when you moved back for a month, ten months ago, only to abandon your child, again. Since that time you called at Christmas, and not since. There are times; I desire nothing more than to shake some sense into you, and ask if you realize what you are doing, what you are losing? This is your child, my god! However, I feel as though that would fall upon deaf ears, and a cold heart. I’m not nice like everyone else, I don’t give you credit for being a good friend, or continue to bite my tongue for the sake of graciousness. You are messing up, you are wrong, and lack in any accountability what-so-over. But, my opinion won’t change you, will it?

nerfInstead I want to let you know something’s you don’t know about your child, and his life. Since you left again, he had his first school dance, where he didn’t dance at all, but had a blast. He loves dress shirts and ties, and really wants a three piece suit. He played football, and basketball for the first time. The other day he started baseball; and is showing strength in pitching. At practice the other day, he got hit in the head with a ball; don’t worry though his dad was there. He is terrified of getting hit with the ball by the way. He is having a nerf birthday party, which he is very excited about. There will be a nerf battle, and we ordered this great nerf gun cake, and his friends and family will be there, all of his family but you of course. Do you even know that tomorrow is his birthday? That he is turning nine? Will you even call him? Well, in case you don’t we are taking him to see the Oregon Ducks play a baseball game, he has no idea – and will be ecstatic! He even gets to meet the players, how awesome is that?

See, I may be  just dad’s girlfriend, but I have to wonder if I worry more about this little boy than you do. Sure, I have only been in his life for a year, the shortest amount of anyone but I can tell you this, in a years’ time he already asked me three times, if he can call me mom…because he doesn’t have one.  In fact he is making this board for his room right now, one of those tri-fold poster boards that you use for science projects – you know? Any how, he is putting pictures of his family on it, and he said “I’m going to put my dad and you in the middle and then us kids under that and on both sides.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Where is he putting a picture of you? Or, did the role of mom – not create a picture of you in his mind? That breaks my heart as a parent.  We share a home, a life, and are building a relationship every day, and there are hard days, mainly due to you. But, I don’t give up, and move away because when he moved into this home, he became my child too, and he moved into my heart. When he comes home from school, we help him with his spelling words, his multiplication facts – which he struggles with, and I try to show him I am woman he can trust, that won’t just leave one day. I grew up without a mother, and it something no child should experience.

Yes, he has constants in his life, Grandma, Aunts, and friends that have filled a void since you left fulfilling any piece of the role of mom – but you and I both know – no one can fill that role and void but you. He will always hold out hope that one day you will pull your head from wherever it is stuffed and realize the mistake you are making. Meanwhile, tomorrow I will spend the day with your child, and every time his fathers phone rings, I will hope that you are calling and that you don’t call at the same time. I hope you call because he so desires you to remember him, and what easier day for a parent to remember their child, then the day they were born. And, a part of me hopes you don’t call because in a sense it is easier for him to not be reminded that you exist, and get hopeful you’ll call again, or maybe come for a visit – only to be left sitting on the curb – with a broken heart.

He is a sweet boy, damn it! So naive in this world still; he is funny, extremely goofy and wants nothing more than to please. While snuggling with his dad last night, his dad said “You are almost too big to snuggle” and your child responded with, “I still fit in your lap” which was true. How long has it been, since he sat in yours? You never realize what you have until it’s gone, and you are losing a connection with your son.  You already lost a wonderful man, a giving man, a man who selflessly busts his ass to provide for your son, without the help emotionally, financially, morally or otherwise from you. He nurses the scrapes, attends every practice, every game, school conferences, plans birthday parties, etc…because he takes his role as a parent, seriously. When are you going to? Because, honestly every day you don’t, is a day you will regret down the road – and when your child is grown that void, will fill with questions of self-worth for himself and distaste for the woman who gave birth to him.