The Wrong Fork In The Road (poem)

Ever wonder what the hell you were thinking
What led you down that road
What made you take the fork one way
When that wasn’t the way to go
You knew you weren’t getting lost
But you knew you should have stayed away
A bad decision without a moments thought
Haunted you the rest of your days
Try as you might to move on and forget
That road creeps up from behind
Without a warning you are taken back
To the wrong-way-fork in you mind
You can’t outrun the memories
As they randomly steal light from your path
As you look back and wonder what you were thinking
In that split second of your past
How would right now be different
How much would that ancient moment change today
If you hadn’t taken the wrong fork in the road
If you had only played it safe

By:  Carrie Leigh
01.13.14

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Getting ready for a showdown

It was a quiet week while my husbands ex-wife was in jail.  There were no frantic calls or texts from her asking to borrow money.  There was no pleading to run to the grocery store for her.  There were no hateful, angry text messages from her. It was quiet.  It was blissful.  It was short-lived.
This morning I got a robo-call from Vinelink letting me know that she had been released from jail.  My heart sank.  The quiet had come to an end.  I knew it was just a matter of time before I heard from her, and that matter of time was all too short.  Less than a half-hour after the Vinelink robo-call my phone rang.  It was her.  I ignored it.  Then she texted me 5 times.  I have yet to read them.  I have no urge to read them.  I already know what they’ll say.
I know that eventually I will have to talk to her.  I also know that eventually I will have to forgive her.  If I don’t forgive her then I am no better than my father’s family that still to this day hasn’t forgiven him for the things he did.  I have condemned my father’s family for their behavior, and would be a hypocrite if I followed in their unforgiving footsteps.
Right now I am too raw though.  The hurt and disappointment is still too fresh.  If I were to talk to her right now then I know what would happen.  I would stroke her child-like ego, remind her that we are family (in a weird, twisted, Jerry-Springer-way), and everything would go back to the way it was before she went to jail a week ago.  Nothing would have changed.
But things need to change.  Things must change.  If nothing changes then I will continue to be her enabler.  If nothing changes then she won’t learn from her mistakes.  If nothing changes then everything remains exactly as it was.
I was talking to a friend at church yesterday about this whole situation and told him that I am really struggling with my anger over all of this.  He looked at me and his words landing like a ton of bricks in my lap.  “Carrie, who is your anger really only affecting?”  Me.  By remaining angry at her then I am still allowing her to control my life and my feelings.
I’ve been treating her temper and mental instability with kid gloves for so long that the prospect of taking those gloves off is terrifying.  But nothing will change unless I am willing and ready to make the change.  And the change starts with me.  God brought her to this situation, and thus brought me to this situation, for a reason.  It’s not a time for me to back down.  Metaphorically speaking she is the Goliath to my David.
One day at a time . . .
One prayer at a time . . .
One trusting step with God at a time will get me through this and bring me out stronger on the other side.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Until next time . . .

Reaching for forgiveness

For the last several days I have been struggling to let go of the anger and disappointment that I feel regarding what recently came to light regarding my husband’s ex-wife (and mother of his daughter, and babysitter of our son).  I feel betrayed, used, taken-advantage-of, and so very hurt.  This morning I woke up and had nothing pressing that needed to be done.  I enjoyed a couple of obligation-free hours and spent some time getting lost in a well-read fiction book.  I also took some time getting caught up on my reading plans and devotionals on the youversion app.  One of those was the Casting Crowns – The Overflow Devotion.  The devotional reading of day 2 really hit me hard . . .

East to West

God is illogical. When it comes to forgiveness, he makes no sense to our finite and fleshy minds. When I forgive someone, what that person did to me hovers in the back of my mind. I can’t help but react based on my memory of what happened. How can God, whose memory is perfect, be any different? It’s hard to fathom how God forgives without condition and without end.

But that’s human logic. If we forget what God says in his Word, we make assumptions: “I’m not really sure what God’s love is, but this is what my dad’s love is like, so that must be what God’s love is like. Since forgiveness looks like this at work or at school, this must be how God forgives.”

God says he dropped our sins into his sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:19; Isaiah 43:25). No one else forgets our sin. A sea of forgetfulness doesn’t make sense when everyone else is ready to throw us into a mud puddle of remembrance. The world reminds us of our failure and rubs our noses in it. But Jesus gives peace not as the world does (John 14:27), and peace and forgiveness are inextricably linked.

The most liberating truth in all of Scripture is that we are liberated. God is not bound by human logic. He is not like our spouse or co-worker. He is not like our teacher, friend, or significant other. When God says he forgives us, he is speaking the truth because he is truth (Titus 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). When God says he forgives, he isn’t talking about a sappy, sentimental moment in which we talked him into being good to us. He is referring to a sovereign decree of his will to extend grace to an undeserving person.

He did this by killing his Son.

That’s a blunt statement, but it’s true. John 3:16 states God gave his Son. At the same time, Jesus, who is God, laid down his life (John 10:17-18). Why? So he could offer us the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus became sin for us. Gnaw on that one. That’s how serious God is about forgiveness.

With no equivocation, God says: “I am choosing not to count your sin against you anymore—not because you’re a good person or because you’re doing more good than bad—but because my Son paid the debt for your sin. It is finished. Transaction complete. All you have to do is believe me and give me your whole life and I’ll place your sin upon my Son and credit his righteousness to you. I’m doing every bit of this. You’re doing nothing. Even the faith you demonstrate will be my gift to you. Now live like your sin is gone—because it is. As far as the east is from the west.”

I know I need to forgive my husband’s ex-wife.  I know that I need to let it go from my mind and not hold it against her in the future.  The past is the past, and a person can not be expected to find their way down a new path if they are constantly being dragged back down the old path.  That applies as much to me as it does to her.  But why is forgiveness so difficult?  Will I ever be able to trust her again?  And does forgiving her also require me to trust her?  She hurt me and my family.  My natural instinct is to want her to hurt and be as angry and disappointed as those are that were affected by her actions.  But that just brings me down to the level that she is at right now.

God was able to forgive me for everything I did (and still sometime do) that go against Him.  He doesn’t remind me of who I used to be.  If guilt resurfaces then it is me who drags it up.  God forgave me and let it go.  He is concerned only with who I am today and who I will become tomorrow.  That is what I need to strive to do with Donna, or else it would be too easy to become consumed by the anger and disappointment in my heart.  It would be too easy to always consider her the addict that stole from me and lied to me.  It would be too easy to question why God allowed her to behave the way she did, and why He let me get dragged into her downward spiral.

Only God knows who she will become tomorrow, but it is not my place to drag her yesterdays into her tomorrows.  It is also not my place to question how God acts in the lives of others.  God’s plan for Donna is between God and Donna.  God’s plan for me is between God and me.  Forgiveness is not easy in finding its way into my heart, but it will come in God’s time.

Everything is in his hands, and we must always look to him.

Until next time . . .

Defragging the mental hard drive

I’m sitting as a desk that a few days ago was considered trash by its former owner, that is until my husband saw it and gave a renewed life in our home.  I am sitting in a chair that once held someone else’s butt, and a trip to a thrift store and five-dollars later and it now holds my butt.  I am typing on a computer that was a craigslist purchase from someone who refurbed what someone else threw away.  Nothing that is directly involved with this post started with me.

But then again, does anything ever really start with me?

I can claim that the idea is the only thing that originated with me, but is that even true?  God knows every single hair on my head and every thought inside of it.  Does he have everything I will ever write all planned out?  Does he just dole them out to me like rations?  We each have a gift that is given to us by God to use for the advancement of his kingdom.  Is writing the gift he gave me, or is it just something he gave me to pass the time?

As you can see this post has no real direction.  I don’t know where the word will lead.  All I know is that I was sitting on my couch a little while ago and my fingers got that familiar feeling.  As a writer do you know the feeling that I am talking about?  It’s that feeling that you just have to get a pen in your hand or get your fingers on a keyboard.  It’s that feeling that you have to create words on a page in front of you.  It’s that feeling that you have to get words out of your head or you will go crazy keeping them prisoner.  It’s that feeling that you have to write as much as you have to breathe just to survive.  Do you know that feeling?

Some days the words pour out in a great terrifying and exhilarating rush.  They come almost faster that you can get them written down.  By the time you are done you are left exhausted and energized.  You really have no idea what you just wrote and to go back and read it leaves you amazed that your brain was able to produce such a piece of art.  And then there are the days where pulling the words out of your head is the hardest thing you have ever done.  You have to coax them with patience and love and meaningless writing just to get the juices flowing.  You sit in front of a blank page with the pen staring back at you, waiting.  Or you look at the flashing cursor on your screen as it mocks you because the words just aren’t there.  The cursor and the ink pen have a job to do and sometimes it feels like the tools that we love, the tools that help bring forth our art, are more our enemies than anything else.

I once saw a meme on Facebook that depicted the perfect writing tool for a person such as you and me.  I don’t know about you but it seems that I always get great ideas for a short story or poem while I am laying bed about to fall asleep.  This meme showed a person lying in bed, asleep, while wearing a cap with an arm that came out of the top that held a pen.  That pen wrote down every idea that the sleeping writer had.  No more lost ideas.  How wonderful would that be?  To wake up in the morning and see what my sleeping brain produced.  It would be scary and exciting all at the same time.  I know what kind of dreams I have at night, so I wonder what kind of things my pen would write down for me to discover in the morning.  I wonder if it would be a bit like automatic writing during a séance.

Why was I given this desire to always write?  It was never something that I had to try to do.  I discovered when I was young that I could put words together in an interesting order that (usually) held a readers interest.  I took Creative Writing in high school because I thought I might learn something new, but instead breezed through the class by writing my assignments in my Experimental Psychology class the hour before they were due.  I loved that class.  It was my second favorite class in the four years that I walked the hallowed halls of my high school . . . second only to my band classes.

I have a fear of public speaking, but right here I can say anything.  I can write anything.  Do you know why?  Because you have absolutely no idea who I am.  I could be the girl standing in front of you at the grocery store, or the woman who cut you off as you drove down the highway to work this morning.  I could be anyone.  I could be the midday girl on your favorite country radio station.  If you don’t listen to country music on the radio though, then I guess I am not that girl.  The truth is that right here, right now I can be anyone that I want to be.  I am completely anonymous, which is liberating for the woman who is terrified of public speaking and makes her living talking into a microphone to roughly 50,000 people a day.  But there is anonymity there also.  I stand in my studio all alone when doing my airshift.  I am not talking to people.  I am talking to a microphone.  And right now I am writing for no one in particular.  I am writing to empty all of the bits and pieces from my head that have collected over the last few days.  I am defragging my mental hard drive, if you will.  That is why this post is like a billboard for a-d-d.

So as I sit at my salvaged desk, in my thrift store chair, and type on my craigslist laptop I still don’t know where the words come from.  I know why they come.  The words come because if they didn’t I wouldn’t be able to survive.  Or would I?  If it weren’t writing would it be something else?  Would I be passionate about kitting, baking cupcakes, discovering a cure for chronic stupidity, or finding the fastest route to the bathroom when in crowded places?  Everybody is passionate about something, and we are all passionate about that thing for very different reasons.  You can find two or three people who share a passion for, say, donut holes, but each of those people have a different reason behind their donut hole passion.  Maybe one person just has a raging sweet tooth (that would be me), and another person wants to be a pastry chef, and the other person is trying to overcome a fear of foods that resemble golf balls.

We each come to our talent, our God-given gift for different reasons.  My passion is rooted in introversion.  The words, thoughts and feeling have to come out somehow, but sometimes my mouth just can’t get them out.  But my fingers always can.  Writing is my second voice.  What fuels your writing?  What are you passionate about, and why?

Last year I wrote a book.  I bought a purple spiral notebook and decided that I would write a novel just to see if I could do it, to see if I could actually finish it.  Seven months, two purple spiral notebooks, countless ink pens, anger, joy, frustration, happiness, discouragement, a few pep talks later I finished it.  I published it on Amazon exactly one year ago today.  It never did become a best-seller.  As a matter of fact, it barely sold at all.  I figured up my royalties today and they came to just under $17.00.  But the point of that project was not to make money.  It was to set a goal for myself and see if I could actually follow through, and I did.  I learned a lot about myself last year, things that most people learn as they are growing up.  But lacking in self-confidence while growing up, keeping my writing a secret, and too many people telling me that I couldn’t do something eventually convinced me that they were right.  I learned last year though that I could do it.  I could set a goal for myself that some people thought was crazy and unattainable, and I could make it a reality for myself.

Immediately after I finished my book I decided to write another, but a year later I still have yet to purchase another spiral notebook.  I think it’s not that I don’t want to write another book.  It’s that I already know I can do it if I want to.  I don’t have to prove it to myself again.

I grew sunflowers last summer.  I have always been the kind of person that can’t even keep a houseplant alive, but I decided to undertake a flower garden.  They got big and beautiful and bright, happy yellow.  Another accomplishment.  Will I grow sunflowers again this summer?  I don’t know.  Maybe, if for no other reason than the front of my bland apartment could use the cheerfulness of Mammoth Sunflowers.  This summer my goal is to maintain an entire vegetable garden for a season.  My peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers may die but I am going to give it shot.

I do have a writing goal for this year, too.  I want to be published in a literary magazine.  It doesn’t have to be a hugely popular one.  I just want to be published in one that pays in contributor’s copies.  I want to see my name and one of my poems in print for no other reason than to say that I was able to do it.

Setting those goals for myself reminds me that I can do things for myself, and that I don’t live solely for everybody else.  There are people in my life who try to take everything from me because they feel that they are entitled to it, but those people can’t take the words that live inside of me.  They can’t take my goals and dreams.  They can’t take everything from me.  Maybe that is why I write, so that I still always have something left for myself.  I can choose to share it with you, but ultimately it will always belong to me.

Mental hard drive defragged . . . for now.

Until next time . . .

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

No place for revenge

Originally written January 1, 2015 . . . 9:00 p.m.

I am sitting alone in my living room as I write this. I am alone not because my husband and son decided to take an evening drive to chase trains, as is their usual habit, but because of my husbands ex-wife. My husband and son have gone to spend the night at my mother-in-law’s house because tomorrow she will be babysitting my son. That is a job that my husband and I have paid his ex-wife to do for the last couple of years, but tomorrow he and I go back to work after our holiday time off, and we are without a babysitter for our son. So tomorrow our son gets to spend the day with his grandmother. He is super exited about it. I, on the other hand, am praying for the anger in my heart to go away and for the ability to be able to find forgiveness.

On Monday I got a call from my husband’s former mother-in-law. She asked if I had heard from Donna, her daughter and my husband’s ex-wife. When I told her that I hadn’t she let me know that Donna had been arrested that morning for (allegedly) stealing her uncle’s credit card and running up SEVERAL thousand dollars worth of charges. She also let me know what that money was (allegedly) spent on, and let me just say that it wasn’t spent on bills or necessities for the kids or anything else legal. She also let me know that it was time to find new child care. Obviously!

While on the phone with Donna’s mother I was saddened to hear that Donna’s children had to witness their mother getting arrested. No child should ever have to see that, but Donna has never been one to worry about anybody except herself (sorry, that was my anger speaking). After I got off the phone and was able to process what I had just found out I got angry. It is anger that I am having a difficult time letting go of. All that keeps going through my head is all the times Donna called me begging to borrow money to put gas in her out-of-work-brother’s truck or to buy groceries or to pay bills. There was ALWAYS something that she needed money for and I had become her bank.

In the back of my mind I think I always knew what the money was going for, but I didn’t want to think that Donna would lie to me since she knew what I had gone through with my father and his struggle with drug addiction. Donna also has no control over her temper, and when she is told “no” by someone she completely flies off the handle in an uncontrollable fit of rage. I wish I were exaggerating on that, but over the years she has said some of the most hateful things to me just because I wasn’t able to do what she wanted when she wanted it. It just got easier to give her the money and keep her shut up.

I was her enabler. Does that make me as bad as what she was spending my money on? I sure feel like it does. I feel like I may as well have been going directly to her dealer and buying it myself, because then she wouldn’t have had to lie to me, and I wouldn’t have spent so long lying to myself.

Donna had her pre-trial that afternoon and her bond was set. Her mother was hoping to be able to bail her out, but thus far has been able to raise the funds to do so. My current opinion . . . that is for the best. At least in jail Donna can’t do anymore harm to herself or anyone else.

But I have a guilty confession . . . I hope that she gets the maximum amount of jail time for what she did. I hope her children get taken away from her and that she loses everything that means anything to her. But since this is her first felony offense she will probably get off with a pretty hefty probation and, maybe, mandatory drug treatment. That’s it . . . basically a judicial slap on the hand and she won’t learn her lesson.

I told you that I am struggling with anger right now.

Periodically I review sermon notes from previous weeks. Tonight I was going through the notes on a series we just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago about betrayal. Ironic, right? Was the Lord trying to prepare me? One set of the notes from December 7th really stood out to me tonight. It was about playing God . . . it was about revenge. The realities about revenge . . . it is deceptive, destructive, and it is playing God. It is God’s place to see that people are punished for the things they do. It is not our place. When we take revenge into our own hands then we are trying to be God.

Matthew 5:44 says “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It is not our place to revenge the wrongs done to us. God knows what has been done to us and he has our back.

Psalm 40:1-2, “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.” We need only to give it to God, and trust him. Seeking revenge ourselves only takes our focus from God and gives it to the person who hurt us. Nothing should take our focus from God.

Romans 12:17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” When we seek revenge it leads to famine of the soul. It leaves us empty because we are seeking revenge and not seeking God. We are to do what is right by God, and he will take care of us through everything.

Romans 12:19-21 “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So despite the fact that every part of me right now wants to see that Donna gets the punishment that I feel she deserves that is not my job. She is already being punished by God. She has issues with anxiety when she is in large groups of people, and the jail in my town is not the 2-to-a-cell type. It’s bunches and bunches of people all together in one BIG cell. She is away from her children for an undetermined length of time. She is facing felony charges, and she is going through drug withdrawals while in jail.

So as I sit here in my jammies in front of my computer in the comfort of my own home the worst thing I am struggling with right now is what will I do for child care. I am on vacation all next week, so that gives me a week to get something new arranged for my song. There is always an upside to every situation. In this one . . . the Lord was watching out for me in his timing. My husband was off at the beginning of the week and I am off all next week. I have complete faith that the Lord will direct me where to go for Nathan’s new childcare. I also have faith that the Lord will have my back whenever Donna gets out of jail and the inevitable showdown comes regarding her loss off babysitting income from me.

God can handle everything in our lives. We just have to trust him completely.

So now my biggest task is setting aside the anger I have toward Donna. She is in a very bad place in her life mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She needs prayer to make it through the days and trials (figuratively and literally) ahead of her. I can’t pray for her if I am focusing on my anger and my desire for retribution. I must turn it over to God. I must take it out of my hands and put it in His. It is time (it is beyond time) for me to trust Him completely.

Until next time . . .