The Dark

It is not the dark allowed by a slow sunset that scares me. It is the dark allowed by ominous clouds that allows no sunlight, no moonlight, and no stars that scares me to my core.

It overshadows me like the blackest ink….. a thick, sticky, seeping darkness that covers my world. It is that darkness, that black ink, that highlights the scarlet in my life. The darkness covers all the colors of the rainbow – except for scarlet. It is as if the scarlet was placed in wax – never penetrated, only magnified.

This darkness brings whirlwinds of words that have been spoken, deeds that have been done, pain, and sorrow. The winds whisper, they beat me, they chafe me. I can not shield myself from them, only succumb to the coarseness as they rip through my world. The darkness only allows for glimpses of scarlet, as I am thrown off balance by the winds.

Will I survive. Should I survive. Do I deserve to survive. They are not questions, they are statements. Statements written in scarlet, written by own hands and hands of others.

Who decides survival? Who decides who is worthy of survival? What is survival if it does not ever lead to life? What is life if it is lived in black and scarlet? Theses are my questions as wind burn stings my skin and pierces my heart.

Yet, I am to walk as though there is illumination. Smile and say that my wind burned skin is actually sun kissed, and my shattered heart is beautiful stained glass. It is expected that I stand tall and proud as the darkness blankets the winds that pick up stones and sling them at my tattered self. It is expected that I proclaim judgement on myself for the sake of others peace. There is no room for regret, remorse, or hurt. Those feelings allow light to penetrate through the darkness, and those who write in scarlet pour the ink as well……

It is this darkness that shrouds my life. It lives and breathes with the names depression and anxiety. It identifies as functioning bipolar.

Over the Bridge

It’s been one week since my feet were buried in the beautiful sands of Sullivan’s Island. . .

One week of work. One week of family. One week of normal. It seems like it has been months. I adore the beach. Well, water in general, as anyone who has read my posts know. Mesmerizing is the only word I can think of to describe water in my life. Water soothes my soul……

There were many places and things that caught my attention last weekend. The sand, the food, the people, the water……but my favorite was the bridge.

I was drawn to the lines, the sheer massiveness, the beauty of this bridge. Every time we crossed it I reached my hands out of the window…..I don’t know why. Touching it at any rate of speed would be dangerous. I just reached for it. Like a kid trying to touch the clouds.

I told my hubby that I had to get pictures of it. So, one morning, I put the phone faced up on the dashboard and hit the button until we had passed over it.

Doesn’t it remind you of a harp? It is so beautiful.

I attributed my fascination with it to my obsessive personality – and always looking for aesthetically pleasing objects – and carried on through my week. I didn’t tell anyone about my love of the bridge or even show them the pictures. I don’t know why.

This morning I was reminded of my bridge. Maybe I was fascinated by it because that’s where I am in my life right now….crossing my own “life bridge”. It’s a massive bridge, connecting my past to what will soon be my future. Who knows what lies on the other side? I don’t. However, I know that both sides are important, and my travel across the bridge won’t last forever.

It’s been a hard bridge to cross though.

Hopefully, I will begin to see the beauty of my “life bridge”. Knowing that it is: stable, though suspended; short, though seemingly long; and strong, though the supports seem like thin strings……..

A Mountain Girls Mind

It’s blackberry winter here in our lovely mountains. For those of you who may not know what that means, the blackberry bushes are blooming, and there’s a slight “cold spell” right now. It’s typical mid to late May weather, but the “old timers” will tell you they knew it was coming……

My favorite part of spring and summer are the blooms. Specifically honeysuckle. I would plant them inside if I could. Honeysuckle, just like blackberry bushes, will overtake any plant they are around.

Yet they smell sooooo good!

Honeysuckles are also beautiful. They are sweet as well (if you don’t know how to taste a honeysuckle, message me! EVERYONE needs to know that one!). As much as I love them, they are hard to control. I have used the analogy before that this was a bad thing…..

Something so beautiful that overwhelms your life without you wanting it to …..

However, today, as I stepped out of my car and inhaled the sweet perfume of honeysuckles baking in the sun, I realized something. Maybe they are like God in our life. . .

Stay with me here ……

If I prune the bushes, or spray them with weed killer, or chop them down, honeysuckles will not thrive.

It’s my choice if they are allowed to overwhelm things.

Isn’t it the same with God in our lives? If we are always cutting Him out, dousing His fire, and constantly telling Him where and when HE can BE…….people only see His beauty where WE want them to. If we allow him to grow in our lives, cover our sins with His precious blood, and thrive in all areas, people can smell Him on you before they even SEE Him in you!

Listen, I’m the last person to say I am perfect. To me, God is awesome. I stand in awe of Him – I want – need – to be inspired by Him.

Today I was……

Unfinished business

As I submerged my head into the water and let it cover my face, I closed my eyes tight and blew all the breath out of my lungs. Gently easing myself back out of that peaceful place, I took a breath and wiped my eyes…. Almost without missing a heartbeat, my mind was racing again;

There are so many things to accomplish.

As a sigh gently escapes, my heart hurts. Here I am again; how many tabs can my brain keep open without it finally crashing…. Searching for a focus point, all I can see is my unfinished bathroom.

So, funny story about my bathroom…. My wonderful father-in-law began the process of remodeling the bathroom when he first moved on with us. He removed the pink and rose trellised paper, only to find he had scored and removed ONLY the paper. This left scored, sand colored, construction paper-esq, sticky glue paper – as I so lovingly have called it. He ended up becoming very ill, and passing, before we could even think about finishing the project. Last year – approximately two years after the beginning of this “remodel” – I decided it was time to get rid of that nasty glue paper and get ready to paint!

I researched for weeks……

DIY wallpaper removal became my hunt on Pinterest. Then, I would research the methods on trusty Google. I finally decided on a process, picked a day (much to the dismay of my hubby), and began spraying and scraping. I will say the method was efficient. I was convinced, this was gonna be a cinch. Two hours into it and I was tired; I had fallen off of the counter holding a shelf, I was overwhelmed by vinegar fumes, and I began begging my two boys for help. Reluctantly, my 17 and 11 year olds came in and began to spray and scrape with me. Now, I’m not saying my bathroom is immense by any means, but it’s good sized…..and there was a TON of wallpaper. Eventually the three of us made amazing progress, and I let everyone rest. As I was taking that much needed break, I began to realize I had uncovered some pretty wretched looking dry wall.

There was putty, there were scrapes in the wall from where “someone” “accidentally” gashed the scraper into the dry wall, and there were seams. Lots of seams. Not to mention…..it was green.

I almost cried. . . Maybe I actually did.

This couldn’t be real. I sat defeated as my hubby walked in from work. He smiled and said “yeah, it looks….great. Looks like that solution worked well. How do you feel since you fell of the sink?”

I knew then that I was through for the day.

And that was it. It has been a year. There is still glue paper on the top part of one half of a wall. There is some above the shower as well. I look at it everyday and shake my head.

This day? It made me cry. So. Much. Unfinished. Business.

It’s just like my life. . .

Every time I think I have made progress on something, a new layer is peeled off and what is underneath is uglier that what I began with! I have stripped myself of many things as of late. The reason? I felt ugly in them. Someone or something had happened to make me feel ugly in them. So I stripped them out of my life. Only this time, there was no research. I just violently pushed them out of my life. There was no plan for what came next, there didn’t have to be. I just needed to get that ugly layer off and out…..

****Snap**** BACK TO REALITY****

Someone recently told me I need to “reinvent myself”.

I also need to finish taking some of this nasty glue paper down…..

Reinvent. My breathing has returned to normal, and there is calm for just a moment. I just need to take off what’s left of the nastiness, sand some rough spots, and get a fresh coat of paint…….

Will it be easy? Will I actually “be” a finished product?

Who knows. For now, I’m just an unfinished room……full of unfinished business…..

On the First Day of _____ Grade

As the water flows, bumping over rocks and logs, careening around curves, and gliding through unencumbered paths, my heart sighs.

I long to be enveloped by it…..

My soul longs to feel it; to let it embrace my skin, the coolness permeate my nerves, it’s constant movement reminding me of its presence…….

As early as I can remember, I have been drawn to water. The saying goes that I “was born in March, and was in the water by June”. Even now, at 39, when I drive by the river, I ache to be in the water. I can feel in my soul the calming effect it has on me …..

Just watching the cascade entrances me…..

I can remember the way the water felt as our boat cut through the glassiness of the lake when I was a child. My young self, bathing suit on, life jacket zipped, with my hand held over the side of our boat….. Even though at times it stung, the color was beautiful and I could not focus my attention anywhere else. I was lost in those emerald green waters….

Today, as I drove around, completing my weekend chores, my window was down and the late summer air flowed through my car. I stretched my arm out of the window, and let the wind take my mind back to my childhood.

Isn’t it coincidental that the flowing air reels me back the same way the water does?

Oh, but it is not. My childhood was infused with creeks, lakes, and oceans. . . The scent of warm hay, summer nights, and fall evenings. . . Warm air blowing through long brown hair, cooler air coming through the windows of my daddy’s truck during after school errands, and freezing air making my cheeks red as we sled down the old logging road. . .

As my fingers play in the flowing air, I reach for those memories.

I smile, and sigh. Oh, to be young again!To tell my little self to hold onto every moment like it was my last….. Now, as a mom of three marvelous kids, I tell older self this very advice.

So, tomorrow, as I – and many other fabulous mom and dads – send their kids off to their first day of school (be it kindergarten or their senior year), listen to this advice :

Take just a moment. Hug them, smell their hair, cup their face in your hands, and tell them “Be good, be kind, be smart”.

Because these are the days that we get to pour into their hearts and souls. We get to encourage them, direct them, and fill their memory banks with amazing memories. . .

Teach them to hold onto the wind, embrace the water, and climb every mountain…….

Moments….

This morning I am taking just a little time for myself…..before the liveliness of life begins….

We are in the beginning stages of football season. This is the time when my family is engrossed in plays, strategies, and trying to find matching socks. (We don’t use socks in the summer, thank you very much!) Although we have had spring and summer work outs, camps, and many practices, it is now game time. The ante has been upped, and we are all in! We will have late night dinners from fast food restaurants, lunches where nothing but football is discussed, and we will eat breakfast in the car. Every analogy I use will be football related. My wardrobe is strictly red, black, and gray. I will dress in layers to accommodate the late summer/early fall weather. There will be at least two bags packed in my car at all times, with clothes, equipment, and just in case items…..

My house will not be decorated in fall florals. I will not be seen weeding my poor flower garden, or making a burn pile. As a matter of fact, my grass might get pretty darn high…

maybe I could use that as a decoration!

Oooohhhh! Scary abandoned house…..

In all seriousness, every bit of this is truth. The hubs and I work full time jobs. We are blessed that he has a schedule that allows him to get everyone to practice, and that my schedule allows me to get everyone to the games! We are busy…..we will forget to call you back, we will forget we have plans with you, and we will inundate your social media feeds with our kiddos.

As I relax and am writing this, I am laughing at myself. We are not alone. Many parents are in the boat with us! They understand the struggle, the mentality, and the joys that come with this marvelous season …..

Then there are those who don’t.

I have been asked, numerous times, why we do this. So here is the “Jenni, the extended version” answer:

When Zeb was sick with meningitis, we didn’t know if he’d ever play again. The joy that he has now, just by putting on that jersey, melts my heart. As he stands on the sidelines, or runs out for a play, he is being watched by tiny future football players….. They wave at him, give him thumbs ups, and ask for pictures with him at the end of the game. He doesn’t give up. When we spoke about it last night he said “If I give up, what am I teaching the boys?” At 17, he has wisdom some men can’t comprehend. I’m not saying football, alone, is what taught him that. However, growing up playing every year, facing challenges, over coming obstacles, and being part of a brotherhood, has taught him to know he is more than the stats on a piece of paper. . .

Judah? At the age of 5 his helmet was bigger than he was. He was full of tenacity, and longed to be like his big brother. Now? At the age of 11, he is taller than me and is still full of that same tenacity. He gains wisdom from his brother, who tells him on a daily basis “I want you to be better than me.” The bonding between brothers brings me to tears, and as Zeb helps coach Judah’s team, they become a force to be reckoned with. Conversations regarding attitude, gratitude, and diligence fill our home. They are brothers, they are friends, they are a team. . .

So, I – we – do this for the moments. The moments of anger and tears where we – as parents – teach our boys how to process what they feel. The moments of joy and celebration where we savor every smile, every hug, every congratulatory word. Moments that are here and gone, just like our breath.

Judge me if you’d like…..frown when I show up late or seem a little frazzled…..roll your eyes as I, once again, show you highlights of my weekend….

I don’t care. . .

Because, you see, this mommas heart walks out onto the field every Friday and Saturday night. I’m a football mom, loud and proud! This season will be over just as quickly as it started, and I’ll never get back those moments. As my senior takes the field every Friday night, I will breathe in the air, listen to the crowd, and yell until my voice goes out. Then, I’ll wake up on Saturday, and as my baby takes the field…..I’ll do it again…….

This is Me – Jenni D.

The sky was on fire tonight and the warm breeze reminded me of the beach. There were clouds that were dark yet strikingly gorgeous as the setting sun cast a glow around them. There was a woman in the grocery store that was wearing a perfume that a former coworker wore. Why does that throw me into a swarm?

Why I am so keenly aware of every scent, every color, every sound, every feeling that I come in contact with? My mind whirls in a constant state of cognizance. It is never a simple task, my daily living. Each sense registers a deposit on my memory bank. It is hypervigilance in overdrive. There is never a still, quiet, unaromatic moment. At times, I feel like a prisoner at a county fair, unable to escape the persistent overbearing environment.

Even in loneliness I swim the waters of overdrive. My mind pushes itself unwillingly into an ocean of words, thoughts, what if’s, what should have, what may be…..Conversations I should have, but haven’t – things I need to do, should do, want to do – why am I like this? – why can’t I be normal? – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

It never ends.

When peace surrounds my being, my soul rests – but not my thoughts. They tramp through the serenity like soldiers on a mission. The spears of fear and insecurity slice through the blank pristine space of peace, leaving open wounds that are too numerous for me to cover quickly. Words, words, words ….. memories, sights, sounds, odors……why didn’t I, who didn’t I, what didn’t I …… Tranquillity wanes and the tornado picks me up – once again.

Explain what you are feeling, they say. What is on your mind, they ask. How can we help you, they pry.

You can’t. I can’t. God will ….. eventually.

Or maybe he won’t.

“He made me this way!”, I scream to myself; convincing the dead to live takes power. Power my loud voice – my over dramatic voice – my commanding voice – has not the depths of. “He knit me together! My name is written on His palm! I am an heir to the throne!” Every scripture, every perfect Christian proclamation, every thing my momma and daddy ever spoke over me – can’t muscle through the swamp of timidity.

I cry out “God! Where are you?” Once again, I’m keenly aware of the silence and the way it sounds……

It’s not a voice I hear, it’s not a aroma, it’s not a sweetness on my tongue that pulls me out – or back in ….. it is simply a feeling. Warmth that is intrinsic to my soul. It starts in my feet, and soon my face is flushed. I know you, Holy Spirit. I know you.

I once said the Holy Spirit dances over me, around me, with me. Now, it simply sustains me. It is my constant. Unwavering, as I spin in my own self inflicted – in my own matrix. The Holy Spirit simply is.

There is no peace in my mind. There is no complete and total relaxation. Which means, there will not be stagnancy.

Yes, I talk a lot. Yes, I have a story about anything and everything you could throw at me. Yes, I see shadows, and shapes in the clouds, and the colors of the woods, and the insane way that river water makes even the ugliest pebbles beautiful…….. Yes. That is simply who I am. One day, I will be confident enough to say “love me or leave me. I am who I am because He is the great I AM”, and I will stand unwavering in that proclamation. Until then, this is me. Jenni D.