The Sale is for Dinner – Planing The Weekly Dinner Menu!

Years ago, sitting at a friends house, she was commenting on how expensive groceries had become. I think of that moment often these days. Because, I have never seen groceries so expensive in my life!

She was trying to get idea’s of what to make for her family for dinner, and I was sitting their with the store ad, rattling off things that were on sale.

“But I need dinner idea’s” She exclaimed.

“These are dinner Idea’s! Groceries are expensive, we need to be planning our menu around the sales!”

She was flabbergasted! “I never thought of that!!!”

That moment was about 25 years ago. Small kids in our homes, back at a time when meals were served on the dinning room table… Although it was getting harder to make that happen.

So fast forward to today, as groceries are skyrocketing out of control and this is what I have started to do… once again.

And I thought, what better way to share what and why I bought at the grocery store.

Planning the menu starts with a few rules we had to adopt.

  1. We no longer each what we are in the mood for.
  2. Cook or eat what expires the soonest in the fridge.
  3. Shop the sales.
  4. Portion your meals ahead of time.
  5. Get Creative.

These few rules have almost eliminated our food waste out on our homestead. So much so, the chickens are actually upset they only get a small bucket of scraps a week. You know, the peels and cores of produce. And ironically enough, it helps us maintain a healthy weight. We aren’t going back for seconds. We are saving the remainder for an entire future meal. Think lunch is done! Which saves me time!

This week I went to Safeway (aka Vons) and spent 55.11.

My before sale total was 101.44

Meaning I saved 46%

We bought 1 bag of tortilla chips.. and those become Nachos with a can of Black beans from another sale and that chicken from one of the girls that screamed so loud …. just kidding.. But it was chicken from one of our girls. I like to make personal nachos instead of a whole sheet pan.. then I know exactly how much I eat… and I can plan the portion by the size container I use. Sometimes I am just not that hungry. The chips were on sale. Or we wouldn’t have purchased them.

Chicken was on sale .99 a pound. This was whole chicken which I didn’t need… but it was also Drumsticks and thighs… so I grabbed a family pack of each and came home and we divided them up into 3 meals. 2 of the meals will be family BBQ events… and the other meal will be between us. Warm Oregon nights out at the BBQ are my favorite! The total for the chicken was 8.33… for 3 meals… not bad at all. Those are in the freezer waiting for a BBQ day.

Cheese was onsale, 1.97 a pack but a limit of 4.. we bought 4 of different kinds of cheeses we normally wouldn’t buy. With the intention of charchuterie boards… and special homemade crackers or using them in a few recipes we have wanted to try. This is the perfect time to do that. They are normally 2.99 a piece.

Yogurt was on sale for .17 a piece for the first 6 so we bought our old fashioned favorite flavors.. we looked for the farthest away expiration dates… and snuck em in the back of the fridge. Perfect for the time I can’t find a sale on milk to tide us over… or before they expire in April… either way… My homemade yogurt is .14 a serving.. there’s is .17..and a treat.

I also saw that milk was on sale again for .97 a half gallon so I picked up a few of those.. searching for the longest shelf life.. which was March 10th. We are golden on yogurt!

Except we came home and brainstormed and discovered we could literally make lemon yogurt by using the lemon curd I made and froze this winter. Bonus!!!! And now I need to make lime curd. Haha – It literally never ends… We are always making and trying new things.

We found, in the discount meat section, 30% Rib steak and picked them up. We came home and portioned them up into 2 meals worth of amazing looking steaks… They were 18.57 and we got them for 11.23. So just over 5.00 for a nice steak for the both of us to share.

We used rain-checks we got the week before for the Oscar Meyer Bologna and Salami. It just reminds me of being a kid… They were on-sale for 2.49 but they didn’t have any.. so one simple rain-check let me pick them up the next week when they 3.50 a piece.

We went on a Friday when the store usually has additional specials and picked up cabbage for 10 pounds for 5.00… looking ahead at the calendar I knew St. Paddy’s day was coming.. and cabbage keeps for a very long time, so I got enough to play with and enough for corned beef and cabbage dinner. The corned beef is in the freezer from an earlier sale.

We splurged on some citrus… which I wouldn’t do again if I had the chance.. It wasn’t really good quality when we got it home. But we got Clementine’s 3 pounds for 5.00. Blood Oranges for 2.99 and Cara Cara Oranges because we both never heard of them for 2.99 also. All 3 of them are not of good quality. Edible… but old.

And because we shop there periodically, we got 4 cents off cilantro and and 5.00 off our shopping total. Have I ever mentioned how I store the cilantro to make it last a long time?

But here’s the deal… your shopping will look different. I go for the sales and have been doing it for awhile that I now have a collection of sale meats in the freezer where I grab from to make a meal. So I essentially am never paying full price for a meal. And I try and keep our meals under 5-10.00 each.

If I needed them I would have picked up onions and carrots and potatoes since they were also on sale with the cabbage. Then I could have made a delicious soup or stew… or even a roast chicken one night.. which I already posted on how I can get 4 meals out of 1 bird… and a lot of broth for that upcoming soup.

I came home and made some bread for the future sandwiches with that bologna! Yummy We stuck a the other packs in the freezer, till we needed them.

We almost came home with steaks.. they were 3.99 a pound… But we bought them a few weeks ago at 2.99 a pound on another one of their sales.. and they only had one package.. .and it didn’t look to great. So… thinking back, I should have gotten a rain-check just to hold on to in-case we changed our minds. But we didn’t need it. Someone else can have it.

The biggest savings for us is simply planning meals ahead of time and being flexible with the sales that come out. That and the garden that I never planted this year. God brought us Mustard greens… So I head out and harvest a few a day for the hubby’s sandwiches. BONUS! There was so much I found out in that yard as I was cleaning it up for spring planting.

We really enjoyed those nachos!

And I actually am looking forward to next weeks specials… To see what creativity it brings out.

The Savings and Meals Out Of One Whole Chicken – On Sale!

I am perusing through the new grocery add and while groceries are becoming increasingly more expensive as the days go on… I though I would write about the beauty of the whole chicken.

It was years into my adult hood that I finally tackled the whole chicken. I literally thought it was massively complicated. It couldn’t possibly be as easy as rubbing some olive oil on it and slapping a little salt and pepper on it and calling it good as I threw it in the oven… Right?

There had to be something far more complicated in the whole ordeal then that!

But here is the deal… There really isn’t!

It is actually THAT easy!

And the benefits I get out of one whole chicken.. is mind blowing! Like, saving money, entirely mind blowing! So follow along my journey into the life of one dead whole grocery store chicken.

I used to buy them regular price for .79 a pound. But, that is now an unheard of sale price. And I remember .49 a pound being a buy now price. Today, the sale price is .99 a pound in my area and that is a steal of a deal. Considering some states don’t even have chicken in the supermarkets.

Literally, there is no chicken in some supermarkets. So lets use every bit we can with it.

Inside the bird usually comes a small bag of giblets. You can do what you want with those. If it has the neck then save that. The other stuff is your choice.

I know, you are freaking out on touching the thing and looking inside of it. Just keep going. It gets easier. Pretty soon you will be bouncing it in the sink as you make it sing ‘winner winner chicken dinner’ as you family confirms you’re crazy.

Just me? I doubt it.

For me, I slather it with olive oil and salt and pepper, place the wings behind it’s head as if it is sitting on the beach relaxing, and throw it in the oven. You can see all the times and instructions for this in many online recipes.

The following meals are for a family of 2. Because we are… a family of 2 now. So alter it for you. We also portion control our meals… because, well, I work hard at not being totally overweight and portioning our meals from the start, helps me NOT to overeat, and helps me have enough food for other meals. So here we go.. The oven timer has beeped….

Dinner #1

Cut chicken breasts off and serve for dinner. Add fried potatoes or some rice and some veggies.. This meal literally costs you a few dollars.

Dinner #2

Cut off the drumsticks and wings and serve with the same as above. And this meal is cheaper then #1 if you are using leftovers.

Dinner #3 (if you don’t have time to do this… throw the entire carcass in the freezer till you do. Don’t forget to add the neck to this part. Trust me.. Don’t throw this out. That carcass in my house is worth over 30.00!!)

Throw the entire carcass into a LARGE pot of water and bring to a boil. low simmer for the day or several hours. Before dinner make some homemade flour tortillas (Cost is about 60 cents for about 18 tortillas). strain the hot priceless broth, saving the bones and meat in a separate bowl from the broth. Put the broth aside. Pick through the meat and throw the bones away. There is usually enough extra meat for a taco night and a 4th meal. Grab the left over rice and veggies if there are any and serve it as tacos or burrito.

Dinner #3 is actually my favorite. Especially if I add some taco seasoning to the chicken meat.

Dinner #4

This is where I veer… Depending on how much meat was left over… I either have another Taco night … Or I make a soup with some of the broth adding some frozen or canned veggies and such rice or noodles and beans of some sort. Adding beans to the mix brings in more protein and complements the chicken.

I was always so scared of soups. I literally only cooked what I could bring out of the freezer and heat up.. You know those dinner in a bag meals? That was my specialty!

I am actually ashamed to admit I didn’t know how to really cook till much later in life.

Convenience was literally my friend…. Or so I thought. I actually look back and realize I paid handsomely for that convenience. Not anymore!

You will have broth left over. You either freeze it… or can it.. or use it within 5 days of making it. That’s my rule, yours can be different. That broth you have sitting there is pure GOLD! It is better then any broth you can find in the store, hands down. I either make a soup or stew with it, use it in place of water when making rice, or can it up in the pressure canner and put it on the shelf for when a recipe calls for some.

Meaning I no longer buy chicken broth of any kind. Those little cubes of bullion… nope… Cartons of broth? Nope… This stuff I just made from trash bones from my chicken has now just paid me a dividend.

The beauty of this sale is you can buy 2. (I know I hate rations.. I mean limits) So buy one for tonight and one for the freezer for a few weeks out.

Once your family smells the fresh out of the oven of a roasted chicken… it just is such a warm and fuzzy smell. To me that is. I do however, see the smile on my mans face when he walks through the door and smells it cooking. It’s a good old fashioned warm loving home smile! And I cherish that smile.

This is just one of the sales I hope to get this week… If you haven’t tackled the whole chicken.. please, don’t wait to try this. It truly is such a cheap way to eat. I will admit, the first few times I cut up a chicken it looked like I slaughtered it with a chain saw and threw it out for the wolves to finish. It was still delicious! But the more I did it… I got the hang of it. And my family never laughed at me or made fun of me. They were proud of me for trying to make meals cheaper and healthier. So rest assured…. just like I did… You will also.. learn the beauty of Roasting a Whole Chicken!

Ok, and here is the old fashioned name.. whole fryer… don’t be put off by the name.. whole fryer and whole chicken are the same thing.

Word of the Year – Perfect and How I Found Me!

Reflecting on the past year is something I have always come to do.  I usually spend the week between Christmas and the New Year contemplating what was, what is, and what will be. 

I spend the week intentionally being introverted.  Something I have really come to love in these last few years.   I go over my to-do list and read through my planner and see just how much I did and didn’t accomplish.  Because honestly, without looking back I would just be moving forward, I would miss the tucked away moments in a busy world where the truth nuggets lay.

It’s also where I choose my word of the year. 

Perfect.

I am perfect for me. 

I am not a perfect person.

But I am perfect for me.

I am perfect for my man.

And here is the beauty of the word…  As an adjective it’s absolute; complete. 

I am enough! 

But use it as a verb and it changes.

Perfect my skills

Taking time to perfect knowledge on what interests me.

Learn how to perfect my use of tools I own.

Perfect my knowledge in areas of interest.  

It’s actually a perfect word for me this year.  (Pun totally intended!) 

So after the week of reflecting on my year I have learned quite a bit about myself.  2021 was the year of Refinement.  You may remember seeing my fiery Facebook Cover Photo.  It reminded me all year to burn what wasn’t working.  Don’t be afraid to walk away and change it up and stop playing the get a-long game so we all can get a-long.  I spent more time saying “No” to invites that took me away from the things I wanted to do and less time doing things I didn’t fully desire to do.

I had to come to the simple understanding that I had to say no to things, to free up time to say yes, to what I really wanted to do. 

So while I said no, I said yes, to me.  And what I found was the old version of me that dreamed and planned and made it all happen.  She didn’t just talk about it.  She didn’t worry about what someone else would think about her, or how they would talk behind her back.  She literally adopted the phrase, “You do you boo” and started planning her dreams into reality.  Pretty soon, my To-Do list shrunk and I started to free space inside my mind.  Space that allowed me to dream further into the future on where I wanted to go. 

I even have my own song! 

Hang on while I dance to it before we continue.

Now, let me explain the song in my own words…

I found I love me. 

The me when I am alone with myself is enough. 

She is happy and funny and she doesn’t need to prove that she is worthy to even be liked. 

I found this girl that is beautiful and sweet waiting for me in the pile of rubble around me. 

I found I love following my own lead… Taking myself places and learning what interests me.

I actually fell in love with her when we were kids.  She was myself before I lost myself.

I’m not giving her up this time.

I plan to care for her and hold her heart as if it’s my own.

Because, it is.

I’m dancing in the light because I lost this girl and while I hold her tight I never want to let her go.

We share the same favorite songs.

When I think I look like a mess, she whispers back to me I am perfect.  And I listen to her.

I found a woman that is stronger then I knew she could be.

She shares my dreams and hopes and the most amazing man.

She carries more than just my secrets and desires, she carries my heart.

She reminds me of who I was and who I am again.

She helps me be a kid, and fight against all the odds.  While laughing along the way.

I know, this time I will be alright.  I found me again.

As I look in the mirror I have faith in what I see.

Faith that as I have leaned on God for so long that He was faithful in protecting me and restoring me to who He wants me to be.  He led me back to the girl He so amazingly knit me in to being, showing me that she was perfect in His eyes. 

While I don’t deserve this.. I am ever so grateful for the journey I have been on. 

Here is the Perfect song: 

I know it’s bold of me to choose the word perfect.  Many will mistake it as if I am calling myself a perfect person without faults.  Which is farthest from the truth.  (Insert my laughter here). This journey I have been on, the one that led me into a huge pit of hell and doubt and despair.  The journey that had me literally reading, as a last ditch effort, about how the brain works and processes information and if it can be reprogrammed, so I could pull myself out of this huge hole that I allowed myself to be thrown into… This journey led me back to finding the me that God created!  The little 6 year old girl that chose happiness and joy and was so naive that when someone insulted her she just thought they were a little weird like she was.  This girl was the missing link to finding the true version of me. 

So, where does that lead me into the New Year?  Exactly where I need to be.  Finally on the right path!  I finally fit!  I am moving forward with the dreams and desires that I have had all the way back to that 6 year old little girl… and I am not stopping to make sure everyone else approves. 

Because frankly, the only ones I consult are God, and my amazing Husband! 

Here is one last motivation for your journey….

For those of you that don’t know me or haven’t even seen a moment of my struggling journey I leave you with this:  Through a weird course of events I was knocked off my axis.  To the point where I didn’t know who I was.  I was literally lost.  I know God, and I clung to him.  And slowly, with the help of some sweet friends I quietly asked to help me remind me of who they knew ME to be.  And they did.  I studied countless books and researched endlessly on how to fight to find myself again.  I was lost.  God wasn’t.  But my brain turned towards the negatives.  Like people hated me!  Or I wasn’t good enough.  Or no one liked me.  But I knew God loved me.  I was happy, but I was miserable constantly fighting the negative thoughts in my world.  That was not who I remembered me to be.   I will be honest, It took years, and I am still working!  Years of constant work, reminding, help, and encouragement (mostly through scriptures) to one day wake up and realize, I was staring back in the mirror at the funny, happy, goofy, little girl that wanted nothing else but to laugh at life and herself and find the beauty in the odd world around her. 

I might even start another rock collection! 

If this is you… I just want you to know, that finding that person, the one you lost, is totally possible!  Don’t give up!

My Ride-a-long With The Police… It Broke My Heart.

I think the #1 question most of my family and friends have been asking me in the last few days has been:

What was the ride-a-long like?

Probably because I posted a photo of my feet standing on a street corner and they were all wondering why I was standing on a street corner!  To which I add, it’s not appropriate or safe for ride-a-longs to go everywhere the officers go.  It was for my safety!

I replied with “I need to finish thinking about it and I’ll write it all out”. 

Honestly, I was still processing it. 

To lay a quick back story, I was a dispatcher for a large agency and a small one.  I am trained to take these calls and in the training, I spent a lot of time in the passenger seat of patrol cars learning what they go through, so I could better help the officer’s when I was inside the ‘dungeon’. 

Just about every 6 months I would go out, mostly on my own time.  And when I met and married my husband I would go out every 4-6 months with him.  Those were some of the best dates we ever had, with amazing food eaten in some very dark alleys blacked out while we caught up on reports. 

So I am familiar with this line of work.  This morning in question I sat across at the lunch table and said, “I’ve got to be honest.  I am a little scared going tonight. “ 

He was shocked and I continued to explain.  “The last time I rode-a-long was 5 years ago.  Before all this vitriol hatred towards officers and I wonder if you are like the frog in water and just slowly growing used to the hot water.  Here I am a fresh frog, I’m a little scared to be thrown into the pot of water.”

He got it.  My frozen dispatcher heart had thawed over these years and I was actually scared of what I would see given the recent hatred towards officers in the news.

Yet, I wanted to know how to better help my officer during these challenging times in this career.  So, while he gave me the ‘out’ I politely declined and off we went. 

Our shift was the evening of a major holiday.  So, in a way, it wasn’t a real shift.  Most everything was closed!  But here is what I learned. 

Briefing was a small event, mostly of the Sgt checking in on everyone from a horrible few calls the night before.  There was small talk as they checked out vehicles and wrote out their forms.  The nightly instructions were given to them as they headed to the streets.

They loaded up their vehicles with their gear, checked all the lights and siren and signed in to all the different computer programs.  It’s a process!  Then they were off, scattering through the city heading to their beats.  Some finished up reports, others snagged the calls they already had waiting, they hit the roads. 

The calls started immediately and while the holiday made it not as busy, the calls still came in.  It was also freezing, and snowing, so there was that. 

Here is what grabbed my heart – The hatred!  The out and out hatred that was screamed out at the officers as they were doing their jobs.  Literally, not involved citizens are screaming “F*ck the Police” as they drive by.      Let me paint this picture, (Since I can’t share the actual real stuff, let’s see if I can paint it in a different way.)

Someone left Ice cream out in their shopping cart as they get into their car and you see them driving away.  You waive to them, as you point towards the ice cream in the cart.  It’s 90 degree’s outside and it’s going to melt.  The driver stops and as you explain to them they forgot their ice cream some complete stranger drives by and scream they “F*cking hate you!”

But knowing they don’t know the real story, you help the person that forgot their ice cream load it up and continue safely on their way.  And then it happens again:

You see someone with their coffee cup on the roof of their car.  They are getting ready to drive away and you motion to them to let them know they left their coffee cup on their roof.  They didn’t realize it, and at first they were upset you were looking at them.  You tried to explain to them and they weren’t getting it.  Till you reached up and handed them the coffee cup.  An awkward smile and an explanation later you are helping them get back on their way… when a not-involved citizen drives bye and yells again, “I f*cking hate you!”

They have no clue what you were doing, or the love for coffee that you have.  You dismiss it and head to your next call. 

Except this irrational behavior of the hatred for police doesn’t go unnoticed.  Yes, It’s the uniform that they are yelling at, but any officer will tell you, there is no such thing as an off duty officer.  This has got to be taking its toll on them. 

And I wish I could say it was just a few places.  Keep in mind I have been riding along for well over 20 years now and this was not what I experienced even 5 years ago.  The underlying hatred for officers as they walked up to people that literally called them to respond, struck me hard.  The first time I observed it I wrote it off as a stressful event.  The second time, holidays are stressful.  The entire night had a theme to it and it wasn’t a nice one.  By the end of the night I couldn’t make excuses for the citizens any longer. 

Through the whole night I never once heard anyone say thank you.  I am sure it was because it was cold outside, and a holiday.  Yet, all night I heard every single officer that showed up on the calls with us ask how they could help them, if they were ok, and go above and beyond in helping them solve the issues they had.  Every single one!

Here’s my final example.   Again, I’m not sharing details… but the tone/degree of what they have to deal with:

The caller wants to make Hot Cocoa so they grab a bag of marshmallows.  Someone else at the location wants those marshmallows so they grab the bag and lock it in a container.  This is something they do often, because they love marshmallows that much!  Tensions rise and the caller then calls 911 for help.  Yet, when help shows up they proceed to yell at you and treat you  as if you are the mean one’s and picking on the caller for showing up when they called you.  You attempt to reason with all parties involved but no one will listen.  All parties there are set on fighting for their rights for the marshmallows.  So you look at the registered owner of the marshmallows and ask if there is another way to get in?  There isn’t.

Can we force the box open for you?  Someone suggested.  And it’s denied.

Let me stop here and say, even though they know they fight over these marshmallows often, it has never dawned on the owner to hide a key somewhere close so they don’t have to bother anyone else.  The closest key to the locked box of marshmallows is 30 minutes away! 

So you wait. 

Can we call for help from the marshmallow makers?  Another suggests?  And it’s met with a NO.  This person actually works for the marshmallow company and knows there is nothing that can be done.

(When I go on Ride-a-longs I hold a very blank look on my face.  Always.  My internal facial expression was showing a puzzled look.  Think of, you called them to help you and yet you are declining all forms of help!)

Suggestions are flying and everything is being met with a hard no. 

Till there is a moment of hope when the marshmallow box is unlocked by the one with the key.  And one of you slowly makes it so the box can’t get closed again.  Except now, the caller and other person are freaking out and screaming and marshmallows are flying and even though they called you for help they are refusing to let you help and are now fighting with you…  As you stand there, trying to calm them all down.  The marshmallows are being crushed.

R.I.P said Marshmallows.

You might read that and think, how silly to write that.  But if you were on the call, that literally is the best way to explain what the officers were going through when they respond to all the calls that night. 

Someone calls 911 for an emergency, and then when officers arrive they are met with pure hatred for merely showing up to the location they were called to.  By the exact person that called them!  It was the theme of the night.

Through-out the entire night I saw officers heading to the calls.  Educating themselves on the call they were responding to.  Talking with the caller and assessing their concerns.  Trying to get enough information where they could find a way to help all the parties involved.  They showed care, compassion and a true willingness to help all the involved parties.  They offered help and services and they were constantly denied. I was warmed by the compassion they were showing to the citizens. 

My heart broke by the pure selfish hatred I was seeing from the other parties and even the non-involved citizens. 

To answer my friends who asked: What thoughts did you have?  I say this:  It was bad.  If I was a frog I would say the water is unbearable.  Yet, our officers are still holding the line.  They are still responding and still trying to help.   We as a society are losing our human dignity.  Our family structure is crumbling and we are yelling at the rescuers that are trying to offer us ways to save it.  Citizens don’t want to listen, they want to blame, and the officers are the easy target.  Personal responsibility is a thing of the past.  Morality is slipping away.  The healthcare system is not working.  The judicial system is broken.  To quote a dear Law Enforcement friend, “The damn is full of holes and we are just using our fingers to plug the leaks… but we are running out of fingers and the holes keep coming”.  You might not relate to this because you don’t hate police, but you are still a part of this society.  It is still your issue.   

To my fellow LEOW’s:  Our Officers need us way more now than ever before.  Be the bright light in their day.  Find ways to create a world of outside activities that bring joy and laughter into the home.  Now, more than ever do we need to find ways to build a healthy loving community around them.   And build up your support system around you.   The ride is a bumpy one, you are going to need the help.   

I am praying for you all. 

Refinement – My Word of the Year!

I take each year quite seriously. I plan, design and execute the years in a way that will make me a better person in some way.

This year feels as if it is the beginning to an end.

The grand finale to a long decade journey of losing myself and finding myself. And this post is actually just for me…. A documentation you might say that I can look back on to see…. That I made it!

My prior posts have adequately explained former situations so I won’t go into much detail. This post is more like a proclamation of what moving forward looks like to me.

If you ever saw the movie Dressmaker (free with Amazon Prime) then you most likely recognize the photo. The lead in the movie has grown up in this town and they were cruel to her. She goes back to take care of her mother while she is in search for who she really is.

In short, she finds out the truth… and on her way out of town… she lights it on fire and burns it to the ground.

She has essentially refined her past through fire. Cleaned up all the loose ends and found her true self.

I loved the movie.

No I am not going to lite things in my world on literal fire. But I am going to figuratively use this process.

The definition of Refinement is:

The process of removing impurities

or unwanted elements from a substance

Miriam-Webster

The process of removing impurities or unwanted elements from a substance

Let’s break this down to fit my life…

‘Substance’ is me. My life is the substance that needs to be refined.

‘Impurities and unwanted elements’ are the things that occur around me or to me that are unhealthy for me or unnecessary to reach my goals in any way.

‘Process of removing’ will be how I clean up my life and keep it on the correct path to come.

What’s this all mean?

It’s quite simple: You do you, and I’ll do me!

I am removing everything in my life on how other’s think I should be living my life and taking the steering wheel back. I am tired of holding myself back so as I don’t upset someone else. I’m tired of people telling me they can’t be like me when I have never asked them to be! Only to have them heap their shame on me months later because they aren’t, get this… Like me! I am tired of carrying words that hurt me around as if I am supposed to own them!

I won’t allow other’s shame to be put on me in the form of comments on what I should or shouldn’t be doing. When in reality, I have lived the last few years listening to people make excuses after excuses about the way they live and how there is no way out for them and then heap shame on me when they see me accomplish the start of my dreams.. I am done holding ‘me’ back.

Me working my ass off is not a bad thing. It’s me being me!

I am far from perfect, but I continue to strive to be a better person! Every day!

This is my life. No one else can have this life. But me…. if you make a comment to me about how I do things as if it’s a bad thing and not something you can achieve, be prepared for it to be hit right back into your ballpark. Let me…. be me!

I look at this way.. I can be this person:

Or I can choose to be happy.

I can choose to laugh.

I can choose to dance.

I can choose to be the best version of me out there.

I can choose to constantly be learning new things.

I can choose JOY!

I can choose not to care what people think and hop on a scooter and live the only life I have. In my true authentic way.

I need a scooter…

and red tennis shoes..

but I have something to strive for here!

Look at her smile!

No more dumping shame on me.

How about we each work on being the best version of us we can be. And learn to support each other during the process?

You know. The version of you that is authentic and nothing like anyone else! Don’t say your in unless you are willing to do the hard work! I’m not even joking!

Crazy sounding, I know. So how about this:

You do you and I’ll do me!

Looking Back at Happiness

Over the last several years I really started to look back at who I was before I moved to my community. Something just felt off, and honestly, I wasn’t liking who I was becoming.

It felt as if something was drastically missing in my world and this last year I actually intentionally withdrew from a lot of things I did… So I could focus on finding the happiness I once had.

What was it? How did I have it? and where did it go?

I remember laughing a lot more then I currently did. I remember the jokes I used to throw around and the funny quirks I used to say. How I would dance for no other reason then to dance.. Anywhere.

But most of all, I remember smiling! A lot!

So, what happened?

It brings back a song by casting crowns….

This video depicts the slow fade as infidelity and the loss of a marriage… But stick with me for a minute… Is there really a difference when you are looking at the fade of one’s happiness? Look at the lyrics:

It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings Be careful little feet where you go For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid When you give yourself away People never crumble in a day It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

What if the slow fade of giving myself away was the moment I started hiding my happiness and changing the way I dressed in my attempt to fit in?

What if I slowly started changing myself in an attempt to be liked, or accepted?

What if this darkness I feel pulling the strings is really that… an evil that has pulled others into its web and has come for me?

What if I admit I actually hate fleece! And the only reason I wear it is because it keeps me warm.

I didn’t crumble in a day. It took a decade of me, trying to fit in, till I realized I missed me!

I miss the true form of happiness that comes from the inside. I miss the authentic version of me that brings on the laughter that is followed by a nose snort. I miss being real and the not holding back me.

I miss me!

So this is what I did this last year. I Looked back at who I was and where and when the happiness left. Covid actually made it really easy to disengage from society.

It wasn’t all at once. It was literally a slow fading… piece by piece. Me giving myself away to the pressure to fit in.

People would comment on how I wore makeup. And to fit in I stopped! Not many wear make up in my area. I used to love to go into town and have someone do my makeup and show me the new products on the market. I loved samples! But I don’t know anyone here that’s actually gone and had their makeup done by a professional! So I gave up trying. Slow Fade….

People would say I was overdressed or comment on my clothing and I literally changed the way I dressed. I loved my high heels and my cute pants all dressed to the 9’s! I now have a closet full of jeans and t-shirts and I miss my Ralph Lauren clothing. Slow Fade….

People actually said I was too happy when I talked. And you guessed it, I toned it down! Slow Fade…

I changed myself because I wanted to fit in. I was told simply by wearing the clothes I was wearing I was bragging! I was a show off. So I turned the dial on me down, in an effort to fit in. Slow Fade…

By doing so, I changed the person that God made me to be.

The only thing I didn’t change was my hair! Not for a lack of them trying however. The first 2 years of living here I couldn’t find a stylist that could create the hair I had to save my life. The photo’s prove it! I now drive 90 minutes to a town that has this amazing lady that not only does my hair perfectly as the real me desires… but she is awesome! Well worth the drive!

God made us in His image. He made some of us to stand out and some of us to melt into the wallpaper. I’m not a wallpaper kind of gal! Far from it. And I know, I’m not for everyone. In fact, very few people in my area understand me. And even some that think they do…. honestly, don’t. But if God made me and wearing a cute necklace while doing farm chores makes me happy…. then darn it, I’m wearing that necklace!

I don’t have the right to change who God made me to be!

But neither do the people that made all those comments about me and who I was. It was my fault for changing myself. But I can’t help but wonder why people would judge me so harshly for who I was and not just accept me for simply being me?

Or what about me made them set out to tell me to tone it down? Yes, there words. I was told in many ‘confidential’ conversations that I needed to change who I was. That my friends is not Godly, but evil!

Years before I realized, that evil people took great joy out of sucking the happiness from joyful people. Now, here me out. I am not saying that these people that said these things were evil in anyway. I am saying somewhere in this community are people that have evil tendencies that take immense joy in causing happy people to also be miserable.

This I know for a fact. I have seen it. The conversations that lead to putting someone else down for simply being their real authentic self has got to stop!

No one has the right to change you. No one!

And we have got to be bold enough to embrace the version of us that God made us to be and not back down from it. Don’t try to be someone that ‘fits in’. Be someone that is unique and different and embrace that about yourself. Even if it means you will never fit in.

I allowed people to change me by the judgement they placed on me. Judgement that was not Godly at all! That was my mistake!

Huge!!!!

God doesn’t care if I wear make up or jeans. He doesn’t care if I have short hair or long hair. He doesn’t care if I wear flip flops or Bandolino’s!

What God care’s about is my character and how I shine Jesus for other’s to see. He cares about my walk with Him and how I love others. And I can not love others effectively if I don’t love myself in the way He made me to be.

Which brings me to my new year… Because loving others doesn’t mean I allow myself to be used by others. It means I value myself to be used by God!

There is a huge difference in that!

2020 The Year I Wanted To Quit But Didn’t. And What I Learned.

This is the week I step back clean up stuff from 2020 while contemplating what I want to focus on for the coming year.

It’s the week I set aside for me. To hold myself up and look at what I accomplished and judge myself with my critical eye… Did I do what I set out to do for the year? And what do I need to work on going forward?

2020 was the year that threw us all the curve balls and then as we tried to juggle them all at once….

It bit us in the ass.

And I mean seriously!

I won’t go into detail, because we all were affected. And when I mean all.. I mean ALL!!!

2020 gave us it’s best shots!

And I am happy to report I am still standing.

It’s actually a little odd however, when I sit back and look at what happened through the year. In December I declared the word for the year was #Unleashed.

To me this was the year I was going to go for it! Say the yes’s and see where that took me! Not stop and not give up and keep moving towards where I felt I was being led.

And I did that!

Even though I wanted to give up several times.

And it would have been so much easier to have folded in the towel and just walked away!

So so so much easier!

But I didn’t. I held on and while at times I could be found in tears or screaming at a random piece of wood that did nothing to me… I didn’t give up.

It was the year I literally documented an entire build of a house all filmed, edited and uploaded by me! It was also the year I had to think outside the box. Because when the pandemic hit and the lock-downs started all my internet uploading spots CLOSED and I was no longer allowed on campuses to use the internet!

So, since I am not quitting, I gathered my stuff up and packed a lunch and learned how to upload my video’s while sitting in my car, in the parking lot and using the wifi of said college in a safe social responsible way.

Win!

2020 was the year I was so looking forward to actually shopping and buying furniture for the newly built home. We finally get residency and 2 hours later received word our state was locking down. Furniture stores are now closed and no word in sight of when they will come back up. I wait the 2 weeks and it now turns into 4 weeks.

This is where my not quitting, finding a way attitude kicked in and I called the lumber yard and asked if they still delivered and promptly called them back with a large order when they said ‘yes’.

See, Parr Lumber doesn’t have the quitting attitude either!

They dropped off lumber the next week and I proceeded to build all my furniture!

Piece by piece!

Most everyone on my facebook feed was complaining about reruns and I was wishing I could just rest for a bit.

My build list was extensive. Garage shelving all 40 ft of it, Recycle Center, Master Bedroom bed, Maggie Graces bed/night stand, Office furniture, Dining room table, coffee table, side tables and a list of items to refinish in between it all!

I’m actually shocked I finished it all and then some!

The year also taught me how vicious some people in our community could actually be. My heart hurt as I saw people ruthlessly tear each other apart. Such needless pain that I noticed myself pulling away from a community that I so desperately wanted to be a part of. I found I no longer wanted to assimilate in to their culture. As the months drifted on I noticed myself finding other ways to connect with people that had the same values as me which led me further away from my community. People that cared for one another no matter what there last name was. Or where they were born.

It was a harsh lesson to learn. But one I didn’t say ‘no’ to. I allowed the painful process to work it’s way through my heart and into my soul. As it reached my soul I knew I was done! A line had been drawn in myself that would forever keep me from desiring to belong.

It was apparent, I would never fit in no matter how good or bad of a person I was. One is not judged on their content of character here, but by their last name. One is not judged by there pure motives or knowledge, but the generations they have lived here. One is not judged by their good, honest, works or integrity, but simply by their genetic line, no matter how mean or ruthless they are.

It became clear I was battling Tribalism.

I might go deeper into Tribalism at a later date. But for now, it was a tremendous eye opener and one I allowed myself to delve deeper into. Studying and really looking in to the way it works in the community I reside in was actually mesmerizing… Till you see all the people it literally tears apart and the line of bodies it leaves in its wake. And the people that just… don’t… care.

It broke my heart.

If you are a local and reading this… don’t suddenly call me and want to get together for coffee.. because I see right through you. We’ll meet at some cute local place and sometime during coffee you’ll bring up this post and want to know exactly all the details…

Ya, I’m literally done. I make my own Latte’s at home now.

I spend my time on my land or out on the trails with God and His pure beauty designing a new life and what exactly that will look like.

2020 was also the year we lost our beloved Maggie Grace to a massive seizure. Living so far away from actual help by the time we drove her in to a town with a vet that was open her body had given up.

It might sound like 2020 had nothing good to offer, but that would be a lie. I learned through Maggie’s passing that she left a legacy that is literally saving lives still after her passing. And that is worth celebrating! She also chose Joy every day she was alive even to her last day! So that right there is a huge lesson us humans can learn from!

So what does this year coming forward have in store for me? I am actually excited to proceed further from this point on. Although I am sure many will be shocked with this new insight I have and how I will be moving forward with life. But for me… we will leave more for later this week.

I am so excited!

Our Crumbling Communication System in The Age of Technology

2020 is the year we no longer question.

Quite frankly, I am just sitting back and letting it roll through, analyzing all the data and learning opportunities of where I can improve upon, that it surely is bringing.

I live in Tillamook County. And this month brought mass fires through our state. Tillamook didn’t escape this disaster as it did with the Murder Hornets and the Meth Alligators.

I should probably stop now and remind you my sense of humor will not be hidden even in these horrid times for so many that have lost so much. We all cope in different ways. This is mine.

Carrying on:

I have been noticing something odd in the last few years and it has to do with our communication system. The way in which we pass information to others and get the word out of disaster or such…. Is not as it used to be.

Let’s first remember, the original telephone service in short was genius in how it was created. It was well thought out and created in a way that even if we lost power… our phones will still work. Hence the reason I still actually have an old fashioned free AT&T phone I have owned for 35+ years. I can plug it into a phone jack and it will still make a call.

Even if I don’t have actual phone service. If there is a line connecting it to the actual phone company it will work to, at least, call 911 if I was to have an emergency. Or it used to.

That’s not guaranteed anymore.

Let me stop here and remind you that I was a 911 dispatcher for a decade and I have taken many calls from home phones that didn’t have service that were dire emergencies. This was of course… before our phone system was changed.

So many in this day don’t have home phone’s. They opt for cell phone’s only and there is even issues in this day and age with that. Recently, in the last year I have noticed more and more complaining about poor service. People switching carriers in an attempt to get better service, only to find it didn’t solve their issue. I am starting to believe it’s our cell towers. And not just in this area. I have spotty service in bigger cities that I have traveled to and hear of others complaining of the same. Are our towers overloaded? Old? Questions that I would love to have answers to.

First, let’s start with the old fashioned home phone. I have Centurylink. An old system that was only offered up in the part of the hill I live on. We get horrible service most of the time. But we don’t complain because we get service. The phone line carries our home phone service and internet service. It is, one step above dial up. I might add you don’t use this phone line to talk about private issues as it has been known to create a ‘partyline’ effect with your neighbors phone service. I know things I don’t want to know about my neighbors. We will stop at that!

Because they know the same about me till we all figured it out.

In regards to the internet, bring a book when you want to surf… because while you wait for a webpage to load you will need something to do. And zoom meetings are not possible. Trust me.. They are painful.

However, during this last disaster we were the only one’s that had service. The old antiquated lines were still delivering us phone and internet service. Not so for the people 2 miles away in town. The people in town, who had Spectrum phone and internet service had nothing. They still had cell service and could switch over to that, but with so many on it, I was hearing of complaints of being kicked off and timing out.

The people in the town further to the east of us had no cell service available to them. They had no internet, no phone, and with the lack of cell tower signal reaching them (a decision they voted against having when towers were first being installed) they had no cell service or data signals.

Keep in mind, in the olden days our phone system was set up to work, even when the power was out. The original designers of our system knew that if they created a system that we were going to become dependent on, wanted a system that wouldn’t fail us. Now, we have people that even if they had power would still have no phone service. Meaning, no way to get word out to the houses on the next block that a massive fire was coming their way.

No way for the 911 system to send an emergency phone alert to people in an entire town to ‘flee now’… That fire was at their door.

Here’s where we talk about cell phones. Many lost power. Power was being shut off to prevent the lines from arching and starting fires. Cell phone batteries were dying and there was no way to charge them. So even if a massive text alert went out.. which in some area’s they did. It couldn’t be relied upon to reach everyone. Because many people had no way to charge their phones.

It truly was a recipe for disaster as I was reading the accounts of what happened.

But you might be thinking a scanner would be a good option. And you would be correct.. in some area’s. But here’s the deal on that. Many agencies have gone to a frequency that isn’t picked up on the household scanner… It’s not so in my area. But the night of the wicked wind’s was evident that the scanner also was not a reliable source.

I live in an area that doesn’t have good reception for the scanner. Tillamook county is long and skinny and even with all the special frequencies programmed in, there are sections of the county I can not get. Like I can’t here dispatch… but if the officer is talking on the south frequency I can hear him. So over the air on the actual scanner I get part of the conversation… but not all. So I often listen to the scanner through the scanner app on my phone.

Which is great as long as I have power to keep the phone charged…. Right?

As I sat up listening to the activity going on the scanner became totally quiet. It was then I went to the Facebook scanner groups for our county and learned, there is a power outage that feeds the scanner into the app.

We are all, in my part of the county, in the dark of any activity going on. With the exception of the one’s that have actual scanners and back up power that were relaying the information through Facebook to us.

There are fires 14 miles to the south of me and 25 miles to the north. I stayed up, peering out the windows for a possible red glow that would be my only warning unless I had someone call me or message me.

But what about the community that didn’t have cell, internet, or home phone and now no scanner due to their mountains?

The next day while checking on family in my immediate area I realized they had no clue as to what was going on. That was the moment we set up the old fashioned phone tree. I would check with them twice a day and give them the information I had through their cell phone’s. They would relay it to the people in their area. It wasn’t perfect, but at least it was easing some anxiety as the fires were being put out and the town of Lincoln City was being saved.

That little town that had no way of communicating… would need to have had someone leave the area to get the information to bring it back. I have yet to hear of someone that had phone service in that area… I am sure someone there did… I will keep looking.

I sit here, in the age of technology with the super highway that we all have become so dependent on and wonder how we can fix these holes that we have obviously found.

Agencies took to their Facebook and websites to share the most up to date information… But did they realize that many in the community had no way to check the sites? and did they realize that their own websites couldn’t handle the traffic it was getting and we were getting error codes?

I would like to point out that I never got an error code with Facebook. It was able to handle the traffic.

My reason for pointing this out is to find a way to fix as many of these issue’s as possible.

For instances, we have learned that Facebook is more stable then a small town’s website. Instead of pointing people to the website for information… maybe we have learned that posting it directly to Facebook and the website would be the best option?

I commend the actual agencies that were posting their updates as often as they did on their Facebook site’s. People were able to like and follow the page and get direct updates delivered as a notification to their phone via Facebook. It was amazing to watch.

Personally as individuals, I feel we are the one’s ultimately responsible for our safety. With that in mind I have keep a battery pack charged in my purse at all times. It will fully charge my phone 2.5 times before it needs to be recharged.

I rarely, if ever let the car gas tank go below 1/2 a tank. This way I can deliver information to the area’s that are shut off if needed. The gas line’s were long with people trying to fill up.

I have extra batteries for the scanner. Because at least I can get half the conversation when they are in my area.

I am learning and taking note of which phone service people in my area have, and their secondary cell/home numbers area in written form so I can access them at anytime with or without power or service.

I think it should be noted that in an emergency we should limit our cell phone usage to emergency use only. To free the tower to the responder’s that were having issue’s getting their messages received and sent.

And honestly, I am thinking the old way of having a phone tree/ neighborhood delivering system is the way to go.

We need to remember, that during an emergency, not all neighbors will be notified and know what to do. It really is up to us individually to find ways to help get the word out in the best way possible for each of us. That will look totally different to you as it does to me.

In short, I saw our first responder’s do the most amazing job with what they had to work with. Which in my county was limited! I think our technology failed us all. We have come to know, love and depend upon it. Those of us that had the services can’t imagine what it was like for people without it. They literally had no clue as to if they were being evacuated or they were safe. Maybe it’s time to step back, analyze the different area’s in our county and the different services and how they were working and finding ways to create redundancy, so everyone is informed and can make the best choice for themselves. Back ups to our back ups. So when a disaster strikes…. people won’t be left in the dark.

And through this all I never once heard a HAM radio operator surface with what was going on…. I will have to check with my HAM friends and see what there take is on this.

When I was young my mother always had me memorize Aunt Jean’s phone number. “If anything ever happens to you or us and we get seperated and you can’t call home… call Aunt Jean.” She lived several hours away from all of us at the time and if we all have an emergency at the same time… well then… we were in trouble.

But that leads me to wonder…. Do you all have an Aunt Jean? Someone out of the area that you can make contact with so everyone that calls her can learn you all are safe?

There is something to be said about preparedness and plans isn’t there?

I’m pretty sure my parent’s were prepper’s and never told me.

Welcome To My Battlefield – Armor Up… This is War!

When I wrote my last article I was set on it being a single stand-alone article.  I wasn’t going to write anything further.  I was sharing my heart and the victory that can come from the hard internal work and that was it.

When I hit the ‘publish’ button I knew it wasn’t the last article.  Somewhere inside of me I heard ‘you need to share what it looks like on your battlefield.’

I sat there for 20 minutes praying about whether or not I even wanted to share the actual article on my feed.  Or just leave it floating in the internet clouds like so many things I write.  I never planned to write a visual description of one of my personal battlefields.

But here we are…

I am about to let you in on what exactly my battlefield looks like.  I have several.  This is just one of many.  Sometimes they are single battles, but don’t let it catch you off guard if during this tour, another battle from a field in the distance comes and fires a shot in the middle of an attack.

It’s been known to happen.

Often.

Here is where I give you all the warnings.  We are in the middle of a war and all war’s require armor.  Since this is my personal war… the armor is specifically designed to fight my enemies… and this is the training I went through to get prepared.

I read.

And read some more.

Once I realized what was going on internally, that I was literally under attack I headed for the bookshelves.  I read anything I could get my hand on that remotely spoke to me.  I started with ‘I Declare War’.

I actually read books on fighting wars and then moved on to books about how the brain works.  How we can reprogram our brain and the thought patterns by working on what we let it think about.

I then read massive books on motivation and building myself up… and moved straight on to books about leadership.. and what a good leader is.  Physical books and audio books.

I then read more personal motivational books.  And every day I would turn on YouTube and flood the first part of my day with positive motivational ‘I can do it’ type video’s.  I turned up the volume and let it sink in.

I sought out self-help, motivational, life-coaches online and subscribed to them online so they would flood my social media feeds every time I logged on.

This is what I learned:

The brain can be reprogrammed.  We aren’t stuck with what we continue to dwell on.  But reprogramming is HARD work.  For every 1 negative thought, I need 5-10 to just even it out.

Read that again….

Because, for every negative thought you allow yourself to think…. Just to cancel that thought out… you need 10 positive thoughts!

Meaning if I was going to be victorious over any single battle I was going to need massive positivity.

I read books on leadership, because I needed to be the commander of my battles.  I needed to be the one that took charge and led us onto the battlefield and over the victory line.  I can’t do that without knowledge of what a good leader looks like and how they act.

Because it took me so long to realize I was actually at war there were several casualties already left on the field.  So I had to work double time to carry then off the field.  Tend to their welfare and nurse them back to health.. and for some.. I had to be willing to let them go.  Cry the tears for them… and say the proper good-bye’s.

I had to mourn the losses… while still fighting the fight.

Which meant.. I had to get stronger.  FAST!!!

The story of this battle we are visiting is as follows:

While going through my divorce my sister chose not to speak with me.  I have been removed from her world.  Without reason.

This is the carnage so far…

Because I don’t know the reason as to why she no longer talks to me my brain is left to wonder.  This is dangerous territory…. Remember the 1 negative 10 positive rule:

What did I do that would cause my own sister not to want to help me?  Be with me?  Comfort me?  Did she ever love me?  Was she just tolerating me?  Did I say the wrong thing?  Can family be this thin?  Forgettable?  I thought family was for life?  Why isn’t it for life?  How can blood be so thin? How can blood disown blood?  If my own sister can do this to me will other’s?  How can I trust again?  Did I give her the wrong gift at Christmas?  Did I say something wrong?  Did I copy her hairstyle?  Does she hate how I talk?  Do I remind her of failure?  Why doesn’t she care enough to check on me?  Am I unlovable?  Is it that easy to throw me away?  Am I discard-able?  Will everyone discard me?  Why should I even bother?  Why do I care?  Should I care?  How do I stop caring?  Why does it seem so easy for her to erase me?  Am I erasable from the rest of the world?  Good lord, does everyone think this way of me?  Do they all just tolerate me?  I don’t want to be a bother to anyone!  What can I do to earn people’s affection?  How can I help me to like me?  Will everyone leave me?  If I show my problems will people just leave me?  What did I do?  What can I do differently to make her like me?  Did she hate me my whole life?  Growing up flases before my eye’s.,, Maybe if i wouldn’t have wanted to play with her barbies she would have liked me or loved me?  All those times I rescued her during her surgeries… was she just using me?  I thought I knew her?  This isn’t what I thought I knew.  Was she just playing me?  Is everyone just playing me then?  Using me?  How do I act in a crowd now?  How do I build a relationship?  Why bother trying to build a relationship if the other can dissolve me so quickly?  Why am I having such a hard time with this?  Why can’t I write her off?  What did I do?  How can I fix this?  ….

Standby for a moment.. while I battle a few things internally here.  Here’s a pretty picture of a Dalia to look at while you wait:

20180908_162904

Let’s continue:

This is where I remind you to stay alert.  Shot’s come from all side’s.

Don’t worry, I got your 6 here.

The carnage is everywhere.  I am left not knowing and my brain is trying to process information so it can seek healing… or enough information to begin the closure process.

As we step onto the battle field we realize we have Confidence in the corner hiding.  She can’t understand so many things that have been ripped away from her.  Her once solid foundation if now damaged from the attacks and she doesn’t know how to rebuild.

We grab the back of her jacket and drag her off the battlefield.  The good news is she is still alive…. The bad news is she will be carrying the scars for years.  It’s a good leaders job to guide her through the healing process.  For now, we just get her off the field.

It isn’t too much farther onto the field that we find Esteem.  She is barely breathing with a slight pulse.  She is weighted down with so much baggage entangled in her heart that we aren’t sure she is salvageable.. But as her commander we recite the motto… ‘No soldier left behind’.  We grab her by the feet and drag her back to safety.  Her head bouncing on a few rocks as we duck the bullets overhead.  We leave her just off the edge of the battle field under a bush hiding from everyone around.  We mark her location and are determined to get her back.  For the moment we hear screams…

We’re going back in….

Doubt is in the middle of the field.  She has no cover and she is crying.  We can hear her cry’s as she slowly advances… ‘is this even worth it’

The bullet “It’s all your fault” is launched over her head following right behind it with “you are worthless”.

The good news is she is still advancing.  The bad is she is slow… inefficient and on the verge of giving up.  We grab her face between our hands and pull her up to meet our eyes….

Another bullet “Why even bother” flies between us both.  It almost grazed us.

Strongly we look into her face and say, “You got this.  Hang on and keep going this is worth it!  I promise you!!!  DON’T GIVE UP!!!”

We feel her perk up as we let her go…

we have no idea why we told her those words.  Our promise was full of hopes and dreams and unicorn sprinkles.  But it was all we had at the moment.  Because off to the right of us is Trust.  And she is laying face down.

Is she breathing?

We rush to her side.  Bullets launched in mass as we approach her.

“Just give up” “No one loves you” “Your own sister didn’t even love you”

And then it comes.  A missile from another battle field…. “Your ugly and worthless”  “No one will ever love you”  But this battlefield shot the wrong missile’s.  We’ve already won over these missile’s…. We pick them up and look them straight in the face and with mass determination and scream with clarity!

“I am not ugly!!! I am not worthless!!! I am LOVED!!!  I am the daughter of the ONE TRUE KING!!!!!”  and we throw it off the battlefield.  Our divorce battle should know better then to attempt an attack from the past!

We reach Trust.  She is not breathing.  She isn’t moving.  We stop and weep over her.  The carnage is too much to bare.  How do we rebuild all of this?  How do we rebuild Trust?

We find the strength and hoist her frail body up and over our shoulder as we call out to God for help!  We turn and slowly, as if you are in a movie (cue the music) fling her over your shoulder as we aim our weapon towards the enemy… and we continue to fire…. as we advance.

We advance.

Because that is what leaders and survivors do!

We full on advance… as we fire the shots!

“God chose me!!!”  “He loves me”  “He knows every hair on my head, have you read Luke 12:7?  I am worth more then sparrows!!!”  “Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds, I am more valuable then they are!” “Joshua 1:9 be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid The Lord is with me!!”

We keep advancing, “You messed with the wrong woman!”

We carefully put Trust down at our side… Steady your feet, slightly bend your knees… lean forward, inhale, aim and fire….

“Psalm 27” We warrior scream… “You deploy your army against me… My heart will not be afraid’ though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident. The Lord is my light and my salvation.  I am not afraid!!!  God alone is my Fortress!  He protects me!”  We recite not from memory not in order but from the heart… We make the words  our own and as we empty our final clip you slay the last demon “I am loved!!! I am worthy!!!  I am the daughter of the one true King and He alone is ALL I NEED!”

As the last enemy falls to the ground we slowly holster our weapon.  Wipe the tears from our drenched cheeks and drop to wrap our arms around Trust.  She is gone.  But We.  We are not.

 

With our tears falling freely, we allow yourself to grieve the lost of her once innocent ability to trust.  The trust one only has for your sister.

Slowly we wrap her tight in our arms and stand.  Turning back toward home we carry her lifeless body as we whisper to her.  “No soldier left behind!”  We begin our walk to bringing her home.

We know this battle isn’t over.  They will regroup and set up a new plan.  And we will once again arm ourselves.. there is no time to waist.  We must go right into training for the next attack.  We can’t stand to lose another warrior.

With Trust firmly in your arms you tap Doubt on the shoulder.. “We won!  It’s time for debriefing”  She lowers her weapon, kisses Trust on the forehead and walks beside you.

You motion to the bush where Esteem is laying.  Doubt reaches in and lifts her over her shoulder.  You both continue.

As you reach base camp you prepare for the proper mourning of Trust.  You must allow everyone the chance to mourn over her loss.  But you know it can’t be to long that they get weak.

Confidence is waiting at the door.  She has rested enough to gain a bit of strength.  She see’s Trust’s lifeless body and quickly rushes to grab her.

The evening is spent going over what happened and were they could have gone wrong.. they know the next battle will be tougher without Trust by there side but they immediately go into researching how to rebuild her.

It’s at this moment, when the battlefield is the quietest that if you listen closely, you can hear it…

They follow their leader… Gently, softly ever so faint you hear each one of them whispering….

“I’ve got this”  “My hope is in You Lord” “I will follow You!” “I am enough in this world”  “I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me” “I am beautiful!”  “I did nothing wrong”  “Life is worth Living!”  “They hated You before they hated me” “You are worth following!”….

They know… they have to counterbalance each negative shot that hit them through the battle with 10 positives…

They recite continuously, reminding themselves that they are worthy and chosen.  And in the moment a negative thought attempts to sneak past the walls…. they aim up and take fire with quick positive rounds in rapid succession.

The enemy is real.  The battles while they may be inside our heads are battles that are to be fought.  We are made for more in this world… if we truly believed that, we would be living it out-loud with our own personal full on victory cry!

My battlefield is different then yours.  As yours is different then anyone else’s.  The words you use to build yourself up will be unique to you.  The weapons you use must be hand made, sought out and internalized for them to work.  This isn’t the time to shoot a half-hearted barely believed statement over the bow… The enemy wants that.

The enemy wants you to think that it’s everyone’s fault.  Your fault.  That people are worthless.  It wants you to give up.

But you know this is your battle.  The damage that is done to you seeps into every aspect of your life, infecting others in ways you never intend.  So to keep the external carnage low, you must do the internal work.

It’s as you are doing the internal work you will find that God is sending you people along the path to pick you up and help you rebuild.  Allow them.  Allow them in and around you to love on you.  But don’t stop doing the work.  It is your job to continue the fight so they don’t become carnage in your battlefield.

Together, through community you will find healing.

Together, through community you will be able to help others.

This is the time to do the work.  Seek the books, listen to the podcasts, watch the video’s and fill yourself with such amazing positivity that when the arrows come flying…. you can catch them with your bare hands.

Soldier on…. To victory!

At this moment I would like to give  you insight.  Just before I started the proof read I went downstairs and asked my husband to drop what he was doing and find me a battlefield scene on YouTube.  My only request was it had to be a scene where someone was fighting and carrying a solider while fighting… He knew nothing else of what I was writing… He sent me the clip above a few moments later.  And as I watched it I marveled over how amazing our God truly is… that he provided the most perfect video as to what our actual battles look like.  

I am off to spend the day with my man and fill my mind with positive thoughts of just how far I have come…. and how much strength I have gained from all the work it has taken.  Don’t give up!  

 

 

Being At War And Why I Choose To Be Victorious!

This week my husband walks in the door to me being honest with him when he asks how I am.  “I am in a battle at the moment”  I begin.

I go on to open my heart and tell him about a long battle within my family.  He knows of this battle and all the details.  What he doesn’t know is that I am once again struggling with it.  It is one where I have no clue what I did and have come to terms with the fact that, I, never will.

But this time is different.  This time I am choosing not to be silent.  This time I am choosing not to roll over and make peace so everyone else can have happiness as I am victimized all over again.

This time I am standing in the kitchen explaining to my adorable husband words that I have NEVER spoken before.  “I am the victim in this!  I refuse to be victimized any further.  This isn’t my fault and I’m done!”

You see, in 2005 when I got the courage to leave the man that was abusing me in ways I never shared to anyone (but my now amazing husband and my therapist), my sister chose to not speak to me.

At all.

Ever again.  Unless we were in a family function to make it appear as if there was nothing wrong.  and we were only in a family function twice in these 15 years.

At this moment most of you are shaking your head because you never heard of me having a sister.

I did have a sister.  She was THE most beautiful person I had ever met.  She could do no wrong in my world.  I idolized her and wanted to be her and I sold my soul to follow her every whim.  All the way up to 2005, when my existence was wiped clean from her world.  I no longer existed.

I wasn’t given the decency of a phone call or a coffee date to talk over what I had done.  I wasn’t offered a chance to defend myself.  I was never told what it was.  I was officially not a part of her world.  I wasn’t even left a post-it-note!

I was crushed.

To my core.

I was in a full fledged dangerous divorce while at the same time suffering the death of my sister.  The only problem was, she was still physically alive!

And I was slowly dying inside.

Not knowing what I did was eating at me.  Sure, you can say the cliche comments of ‘better without her’.. and ‘her loss’.. But it was my loss also, and my mothers loss even more.  My mother who tried everything to heal the strife… but learned early on there would be no healing.

For 35 years I followed my older sister.  Doing what she did and literally idolizing her.  Without her, I was lost.  Who was I?  How should I do my hair?  How should I dress?    What appliances do I purchase?  What are my hobbies?

Who am I?

What did I do that was so bad that my own sister no longer wanted to associate with me?

It tormented me!

So 2 years ago I read a book that floored me.  Levi Lusko wrote I Delcare War.. a book on the thoughts that we have that we need to declare war on… Fighting the demons in our life that are holding us back from being our true selves.  Fighting the world and what it wants us to think of ourselves.. and fighting the lies we continue to tell ourselves.

So here I am.. I have a ton of demons that are pounding at my door… all of which I am determined to win and be victorious over.  But this isn’t a simple 30 minute sitcom.  This is real life and the struggles and battles take time.  And my email flashes with a new book he just wrote… perfect timing Levi… How did you know!!!?

 

For 13 years I felt stuck.. not realizing I was literally at war with the world around me.  The thoughts that I was bad… the demons whispering in my heart that I was the cause.. this is all my fault. Had I remained in the prior marriage and just took the abuse I would have the love of my sister.

That there is ludicrous!  Crazy talk!  And it’s not from God at all!

So, I did the work.  The daily work of reprogramming my brain, the thoughts that flood into my mind… I did the work. Not just in this area.. but so many more areas…

And I reminded myself that this was not my fault!!!! There is something more to it then I know and I just prayed for her.  I would be here if she wanted to talk.  But I was no longer seeking for the why’s anymore!  This was not my issue to fix.

Fast forward to this week, standing in the kitchen, in a full fledged battle… only this time I am not a puddle on the floor.  There are no tears coming down my face.  There is a righteous anger as I am flooded with the thoughts that God chose me.  I am his.  I am wanted.  I am strong.  I did not cause this battle, but I will be victorious!

And as my therapist taught me 15 years ago… I ask myself the question, “What will I do if this (a situation) happens?”

“I won’t back down.  I won’t be silent and pretend only to be victimized over and over again.  I am owed an explanation as to what has really happened.  I refuse to have third party family members keeping the peace and relaying information for the mere fact she refuses to answer my phone call.  It’s not fair to them and it’s not right!  I will always do what I feel is the correct thing to do.  But I will be standing up for me!!!  Because I did nothing wrong!”

These words were coming out of me!!!!

The me that over the last 2 years has done the work at fighting the demons and the world that I should just take it.  That I was the cause and how dare I not roll over and just die!!!!

Levi Lusko’s book I declare War hit me hard!  You know a book is good when you can remember exactly what you were doing when you were listening to it.  And for this one, it takes me back to weeding the side of the studio!

You see, so many time’s Christians read those versus about pray about it and let God handle it.. and trust him and while yes… 100% God will take care of you… I totally agree… There is also the human side of me that wants to see “what does that look like?”

As Christians I want someone to be brave enough to step up and say… This IS my battle and I am going to soldier on till I am victorious!!!!  That’s what that book did for me.  It showed me the battlefield and what the weapons were that were being used against me… So I could arm myself up and go to war.

Literally, go to war!

 

Looking back I find it interesting that the one person God removed from my world was the one person that I literally idolized.  It wasn’t until she was totally removed from my world that years later I was truly able to find myself.  Who I am.  What do I like.  What is my style.  And there is one thing I must say…. I am beautiful!  I am loved and loving and I love who God made me to be!  And I love to laugh!  I love to crack weird jokes to get a room to look at me as if I am odd.. for the mere fact of seeing them smile!

Bonus points if it’s a tense situation!

I am not done with my battles.  But I am more determined then ever to soldier on to victory for a God that made me in His image.  A God that loves me and thinks I am special enough to call His!

What does it look like being at war?

It looks like this…..

20200229_094650

Ok… I still don’t have good fashion sense when it comes to shoes… I am working on that one.. I can’t win them all!

That my friends is enough for me!

Remember:

Demolish strong holds and take thoughts captive.

Being willing to raise your voice.

Keep showing up and don’t give up!

Fight to be who God made you to be!