Wednesday, December 20, 2023

To My Mom

To My Mom:

As I sit here and ponder on this story, the emotions needed to explore this may be too much. I’m just not sure; the door is yellow, which means enter, but be cautious in this journey. As you know, red doors are the only ones off limits right now for me. 

I’m still sitting here, thinking about where to start. This story is much more difficult than the last. It seems there is a stop sign ahead, and I’m going to pay attention to it. I’m going to stop; it looks like an all way stop. I’m looking in all directions and seeing lots of thoughts and emotions at all the stop signs, a traffic jam of emotions. I want and need to write this out. A trusted member of my community has encouraged me to take it slowly and just let the story develop. I need to examine how each of these thoughts and emotions speaks to me. This is a more natural therapeutic process. Thank you, trusted friend. 

The last story took so much out of me, but I want to press forward. I have waved these emotions on in different directions, and we will see them deeper in the story. I think they were just warning me of what was to come, and I’m okay with that. The door is still cracked, and I can escape if I need to. Always have an escape plan. 

So, I’m sitting here at this all way stop, and I’ve been courteous and waved all the thoughts and emotions on. I’m the only one left here at the stop sign, and it’s my turn to go. So here we go, “To My Mom.”  

It’s been two weeks now, and I realize why I haven’t written any words down. I spotted a red door emotion at one of those stop signs. It has been in the forefront of my mind since waving all those emotions and thoughts through. Those thoughts and emotions are very real and a part of this story, but not right now.

I got out of my car at the all way stop and walked right up to the car window, just like I did when I was eighteen years old. I punched out all the windows in the car, including the back glass and the windshield and told him to leave and never come back. I threw everything he had in the yard and never saw him again. That evil man had one goal for me and that was death. I guess he finally saw the evil in my eyes. If he had spoken one word to me that day, I would be in prison today. 

That’s the thing most abusers don’t get; we all grow up. At some point, we will be able to defend ourselves. He thought the torture he inflected on me would have been enough for me to submit to his every word. But not that day! I hope you can feel and sense the (powerful) emotions expressed here.  

It has to stay away right now. 

That’s one of the beautiful things of discovering and exploring these emotions; they are complex and so many are woven together. No matter the door you label them in, they have a way of making it to the front of our thoughts and can even rule our emotions. So, with that said, we are moving forward with this story. “To My Mom.”

To My Mom: Sometimes, I can’t understand why. Why did you decide to have me if you knew you couldn’t care for me? Why would you have me if you knew? Maybe you just had a dream of a family full of love, peace, and happiness. The dream trumped all rationale. 

To My Mom: Your choices in men were the worst. You picked the ones who hated me. You picked the ones who wanted nothing but death for me. Even my own dad killed himself. So, death seems to be the curse that has followed me on this journey of life. You chose four people to be a father to me and none were more than ashes to me. 

To My Mom: I look at the few pictures that I have of me when I was a child. I must admit, they make me smile and warm my heart. I can think there was a time that it may have been okay. There may have been a time that I was loved, hugged, and taken care of. The latter part of my childhood seems to erase all of that. It’s like going from a beautiful sunny day to an all-out deep, dark storm. 

To My Mom: Some say, “beauty comes from pain.” Some say, “beauty comes out of the ashes when you walk through a fire.” I get this, Mom. It is true. If we all had perfect childhoods, then who helps those who don’t? Who can direct them to the right places to get the help they need? 

To My Mom: Our relationship never developed until the last two weeks of your life. I spent every night in the hospital with you watching you die. The cancer had finally won. You just wanted to know I was there, and I was. I felt like I loved you the way you loved me when I was just two weeks old. The love that is unconditional and has no borders. It was difficult watching you die, and my heart aches every day not to have your presence on this earth, as you were my mom. 

To My Mom: When I look at pictures of you now, you are but a memory, just like we all will be one day. A picture on a wall for a few years at least, and then we are forgotten. In years to come, our plight is unknown to those who come behind us. Mom, all I can hope is someday someone will be browsing and stumble upon this story. I hope they read it, and it encourages them; I hope they can see that beauty comes from pain and hope rises. 

To My Mom: I truly love you! I forgive you! I’m asking myself if that is enough. I’m approaching that all way stop, and the thoughts and emotions that have stopped here have moved on. I believe that’s what love and forgiveness bring, a life full of flowing happiness, a life that is beautiful. Thank you, Mom, for being there and for doing the best you could do. It had to be scary and heartbreaking at the same time. I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I am loved. 

I know through writing this story that you love me, and I believe you forgave me for not being the best son I could have been. Even in the best times, I was not so good. You know in your heart as a mom that I was doing my best. I love you, Mom. I miss you!

To My Mom: Beauty from pain, broken to life, beauty from ashes, amazing grace. Yes! You gave that to me. I love you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

To My Dad

 To My Dad:

This is a continuation of my “to my” stories. This one may be abstract because I can’t see the person I’m talking about; I can’t see him as a daddy at all. I can’t see him as a man whom I was born after; I can’t even see him as a person. Memories are the foundational development of who we are as humans. This story has come to me after more than two years, visiting a wonderful therapist. 

If you read some of my backstories, you will see that I have been constantly growing into who I am at age sixty-one. Who would have thought? Some have asked me why I go to therapy. Why don’t you just let it go? Why put yourself through this? What is your end goal here? My answer is simple; I want freedom, and I want peace in every area of my life. Each story I write releases a part of me that has been in chains for years. I have to release these stories.

I want to leave a legacy in words for those who will come after me. I want those who have fallen to my plight to be encouraged that there is hope. You can live a life full of peace and happiness and a life full of love. It is possible to not know where you came from, but to know there is hope. There is love that is born out of not knowing who loved you first. So with that, here it goes, “to my dad.” 

To My Dad: I knew you but never knew you! You never gave me a chance to know you. You left me too soon. Before I could understand who you were, you left me. You left me! I am feeling anger and sadness in writing this. 

To My Dad: What hurts me the most is I don’t remember ever saying the word, “daddy.” That may have been the very first word out of my mouth. The first word I learned may have been “daddy.” I’m just not sure. I have no memory of those early years.

To My Dad: I needed a protector later in my childhood, and you were already gone. I was being tortured, and you were nowhere to be found. Where were you? I needed you so much, but you were never there. I was beaten and left for dead more than once; I needed you! Why did you leave me? 

To My Dad: When I cried, you were not there to comfort me. I was in tears, and you were already gone. You never saw me cry, never saw my tears, never heard my voice of helplessness. In the darkness, I needed my daddy, but you were gone. I can’t say you didn’t care, but you just couldn’t give what I needed. All I needed was to be loved. That’s all I ever wanted. 

To My Dad: You never saw me play ball at the park; you never saw me off to school; you never met my teachers; and you never helped me with my homework. I know you had something that you could have imparted to me, but I missed all of that because you left too soon. 

To My Dad: You would have been a great granddaddy! My grandchildren would have loved to have known you, but they don’t even know your name. They never ask who their great granddaddy is. This is so sad, and it makes me cry when I think about it. They would have loved your presence and your love that you could have shared with them.

To My Dad: I hope that at some point in your life you called on the God of hope to help you through the struggles you were having. Now I know they were so heavy on you that life itself escaped you. The struggle ultimately took your life and part of mine as well. 

To My Dad: I never got a hug from you; I never got a kiss from you; I never got a “I love you” from you. I think that’s why it made me want to love my girls even more. I missed all of this because you decided it was just too much for you. It seems selfish, but I wasn’t in your struggle as an active player. 

To My Dad: I needed rescuing, and you were already gone. What was I to do and feel beside your casket at the age of twelve? They had already removed me at age five, in and out of this torturous life. Seven years had gone by, and I cried every night since you left me with this evil step. I dare don’t call him father as he had no father qualities. This man was so evil and wanted nothing but death for me and my siblings. The system was and is broken, as it put me in and out of human danger until I was old enough to protect myself. 

To My Dad: I will never be sure why, but one thing is certain, you gave me life, and for that I am thankful. It has not been an easy road, but it has been a road none the less. I am thankful that at some point you actually loved my mom. I am thankful that at some point you may have said, “I love you,” and kissed me. I am thankful that God placed you on this planet to have a part in my life. I am thankful that you may have cared for me at some point in my life. You may not have been the best father, but you are still my father. Today If I could speak to you, I would tell you I love you and forgive you.

To My Dad: I can see now that there was so much on you that you felt you had no choice but to end it all. That seems to follow me in my life, but I’m determined not to follow you, as I love this life way too much. There is so much more to give. I want to bring hope, joy, and love to my grandchildren, my daughters, my son-in-loves, and my wonderful love of over forty years now, my sweet Lisa. 

To My Dad: So, when I visit your grave these days, I just say, “thank you.” Thank you for creating me; thank you for the part you played in my life. Thank you with tears. I miss you, Daddy, and I truly love you!

Friday, December 1, 2023

I Love You!

 I Love You!

Through my journey to open emotional doors locked away for many years, I have stumbled on a host of lost and forgotten doors. 

It’s the holiday season, and I wanted to write about a season of love that took place in the summer of 2005. It’s not a love like you are thinking about but a new love that I was shown. Love is not something you say but something you do. That’s the whole point of this story.  

Now would be a good time to explain the doors of emotions that have evolved over the past few years. They are all labeled in my mind. Some are locked, some are doubled locked, and each door is painted a color, green, yellow, and red. You have guessed it right; green is go, open, and explore; yellow is cautiously go but be ready to back out if needed; and red is no, not now, do not enter. I can walk by each door visually in my mind and my soul, spirit, and human emotion can let me know how to explore each of these safely. 

The door we are cracking today has a backstory that is totally red, but the front story is green, so I feel safe in opening this very positive door. It’s the point and time I learned to say to another human, “I love you!”

I’ve always told my wife, my girls, and some family members that I love them, and I meant it; I truly loved them. Something happened in the summer of 2005 that would change me and prepare me for the next event that is behind a red door that happened in the summer of 2006. That door is labeled, “Silence, Do Not Enter!” Just writing this makes me want to explore that door, but I know I’m not ready even after seventeen years have passed. So, I’m going to stay on track with this open green door, which is life changing for me. It has been screaming at me for weeks now to say it’s time to write, “I love you.”

I woke up this morning at about 2:30 am, and the story was coming together. In 2005, I traveled to St. Louis to meet up with a team of people who were changing America. I remember walking into the office and asking to speak with my contact, Pastor Jami. She greeted me at the door, and we sat and talked for what seemed like hours. We discussed joining together to meet the needs of the lost and forgotten people of this world. My mission was to bring people hope, comfort, and peace and to bring them to a knowledge of Jesus and His wonderful grace. I then got to meet with her husband, Pastor Jeff. We sat and talked even more. I left with the hope that we could work together in the future. 

I’m not really sure how it came to be, but I got a phone call from Jami, and she said she thought we could work together for a ministry event in the summer of 2005. I was so excited about this. This story is not about the event that would soon take place but about the people involved with the event. 

It’s not relevant what the ministry was but that we changed the lives of those we ministered to in a unique way. We can call it bringing Jesus to the water with love. This is safe for me, staying away from that red door we just mentioned. 

I flew back to St Louis to plan for the event, and I had checked into the motel. Jami called to tell me they would pick me up from the motel, and she invited me to stay with them for the duration of my trip. I was resistant, as I really didn’t know them that well, but it seemed like I had known them for years. I arrived at their mountaintop house and was treated like the rest of the family. I felt the love just pouring out of them. Jeff asked if I liked steak, and of course, I said, “Yes.” He said that we were going to make some fantastic ones. He salted the steaks, and it looked like it snowed on top of them. They led me to the room I would be staying in for the next few days. This home was so beautiful. They were a family of love and compassion, and hope just poured out of them. That’s what I remember the most. 

The steaks were delicious, and the meal was outstanding. Jami said, “Get ready, because Lost is coming on, and we don’t want to miss that.” So, we all went downstairs and sat on the couch and comfy chairs and watched Lost. I had never seen it, but I was instantly a fan. 

The next day, I explored the inner city with their ministry. The goal for that day was if you see a need then do everything in your power to meet that need. Whatever it was, meet the need. I had never seen anything like that, ever. 

Jeff and I were walking near his office and gunshots rang out. I asked if we were okay, and he assured me we were safe. This is the start of my experience of what love is and how it would change me. 

Later that evening, people were milling around the campus for a ministry event. A very nice man walked up to Jeff and asked him for money. Jeff’s reply changed me forever. He said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but I have the love of Christ. Would you like that instead?” 

The man replied, “Yes, of course!” He then looked at me and said, “George, share Jesus with this man.” It sounds like a story from the Bible, but I promise you I said, "Would you like to know Jesus as your savior?” And he said, “Yes.” So, I led him to Jesus. 

This is how it was with Jeff and Jami. They seemed to bring love with them wherever they went. I was blessed to hear Jeff preach a powerful message on the power of the Holy Spirit that evening. I even went up front and grabbed some anointing oil, which I still have today, and it never seems to run out. I have used it often in tough times and in times of need. 

I would be remiss to leave out the most important part of my journey. We returned to their home that evening, and I got on my knees to pray in my room. It wasn’t long into my prayer that the robe of Jesus passed right by my eyes, and I met the Holy Spirit of God in that place. I met the Spirit in a way that truly changed me forever. Love had a new meaning, but I wasn’t sure what was happening in that moment. It was well with my soul. 

Later that week, I visited another ministry and heard Jeff give his personal testimony of how God saved him from a life of drugs and a life of destruction. I could not believe my ears. God is truly greater than I could ever imagine. I felt like I was walking around with Paul of the Bible. During one of our conversations, Jeff told me I had put God in a tiny box. "He is much bigger than that, George,” he said. I totally agreed! 

It was time for me to go home, and they took me to the airport to drop me off. We sat out in the parking lot of the airport, and they wanted to pray with me. I leaned forward from the back seat, and they laid hands on my head and started praying for me. This was all new to me; I felt something so new, so full of love, and so beautiful. After the prayer, we got out of the car, and it happened. Jeff grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I love you, friend.” Then Jami came around from the left, went under my arm, and gave me the biggest hug ever and said, “I love you!” I must say, I felt a bit uneasy. Telling people I loved them seemed strange to me. 

On the long plane ride home, I had the urge to tell people I met and made eye contact with that I loved them. Thanks to Jeff and Jami, I learned that I loved them, and I loved people, regardless of their position in life. Love trumps all things. That’s what they taught me, along with the Holy Spirt of God, to love all people. All I have to give is the Love of Christ. 

Seventeen years ago, I met some amazing people who taught me to love humans without a lens and without a filter. This season, don’t judge, love. Love unconditionally; love where the spirit leads you; love where your faith leads you; and love deeper than you ever have. Love is not something you just say, but something you do.


Still Running

Still Running I recently turn sixty-two. There is something about getting older that makes you think about your life. Some days, I wake up...