The Man I work for…

sunrise promise

Riding off into the sunrise

Heading toward the day’s surprise

Working for men so broken

Hurts hidden if left unspoken

 

Cages contain

Consequences

Of choices remain

Just a history of pain

 

Incurred

Caused

Lives ended

Lives paused

 

Such

Dark deeds

Done in passion

Or greed

 

I arrive

With

Judgement suspended

With

Grace extended

By the Man I work for

Put here to teach

To reach a place of forgiveness for crimes for wrongs for pains received, self deceived, pain progression, passion, obsession. Pain perceived pain given, pain as a means of living, the cycle goes on the pain is spread.

Until

hearts stop

and forgive instead

 

 

Well… that might be the darkest poem I’ve ever written about a sunrise…. dark but hopeful.

Maybe that’s why sunrises remind me of my work.

Work with men who look to needles, alcohol, pills, to drown pain. Men who have done such dark things to be able to keep drowning the pain. Men who have done such dark things while they were drowning. Sometimes it is a challenge for me to forgive them, even when they are earnestly seeking God’s grace. I find it easy to suspend judgement and to work closely trying to help the guys get a better future.  I know that God will forgive just as he has forgiven me. Maybe I don’t feel like I have the right to forgive them, because they haven’t harmed me. Maybe that’s why I have trouble forgiving myself, because all the harm I had done to others I don’t have the right to forgive myself. It’s something I struggle with.

The really funny thing is that when someone has done me wrong I forgive easily. The harm that was done to me still makes me angry, but I have forgiven my abuser and pray for him often.

The guys I work with have shown me about healing and recovery and about the sunrise and promise of new beginnings, and truly they are helping me as much if not more than I am helping them….

 

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

dark sun

 

Dark Clouds of Night

Foreboding sight

Through this dark lense

My vision sends

Fearful view

My sight askew

Dark  filter makes perception

untrue

But even in Darkness the light shines

through

with this Dark vision

Start

Unfiltered life

Rise above past strife

See beauty clear

See life without fear

Sun so dark through pain’s perception

Unfiltered

Becomes beauty’s perfection

bright sun

Ok… admittedly this is obviously another cloud poem, but when I was playing with the filter on my phone I noticed how this bright sun in the middle of the clouds over this pasture looked almost like midnight with a bright moon.  (ok I probably have well over 1000 pictures of the sun in the clouds but I should get credit for not writing a poem for each one right?)

The brightness of the light almost looks crystallized and cold and in the dark version and it just reminded me of my view of the world when I refused to feel anything. The light was always there waiting for me, I just couldn’t see it for what it was.

The unfiltered light has an intensity that could only burn from truth (well as true as a digitized image taken on the third latest i-phone can be).

Truth is such an amazing healer, and like many remedies there is sometimes more pain before there is relief… In my case the truth shed light on that dark lense in my heart, His light is so intense that it shattered the lense (and broke me down to nothing). And now hopefully, His light can grow in me to provide a beacon for other broken and dark souls.

I was healed as in

Matthew 4:16

..the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

And hopefully I can light a path for others

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven

Dark Sun

#WELCOME HOMELESS

How did I get there? That was the question, I never thought I’d find myself in a situation like this. Standing at a street light holding my sign… needing the help of strangers. I tried to stay positive I pushed the corners of my mouth up into a semblance of a smile and did my best imitation of a human.

Before walking out to my spot I had found a friend who had found a nice church group by the South 1st Street Bridge, he swallowed down a bite of the taco they gave him, “Hey man, go get some, they’re giving it away, no hassle and they’re not preaching at you.”

I went and got in line and they had so much food, enough to feed everyone, “What would you like?” asked a smiling face at the taco truck. Something in her eyes, the giving, she looked at me like I was human, and seeing all that food, I broke down.

I tried to hold it together but some tears rolled down my cheeks. “Do you have bacon and cheese?”

She looked deeper in my face and then carefully looked around, she slipped two tacos in my hands, “Now go get some coffee sir, it’ll help take the chill off.” She held my gaze for a brief moment, I couldn’t respond, for fear of sobbing right there for the heart of this woman. I looked away and focused on my feet so that I could force out a, “God bless you ma’am.” before the emotion could hijack my words.

Some folks were gathering near a table so I took my hot coffee and tacos (well what was left of them as I had wolfed through all of one and was trying to savor the second) over to see what was going on.

There was a man talking about homelessness and how God could help people to get out of homelessness. He was talking about a book he wrote and he was really into it. It was nice to see his passion and someone who cared so much. I listened to him for a while but then I knew I needed to get to my spot so I could take advantage of the rush hour traffic and get at more people.

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So there I was, college education, even a master’s but at a the corner of Caesar Chavez and South 1st, with my sign, at least my belly was full and the warmth of the coffee would probably hold on until the sun came up and warmed us all. I started on one side of the street and had a little bit of success with the folks stopped at the light but I realized that I could reach more by standing in the median. I tried to hold my sign high, and with pride, and like I said the corners of my mouth pushed up in the brightest smile I could muster and forced eye contact with the drivers.

So many drivers just looked away, pretended they couldn’t see me, but I noticed their quick glances, sideways looks at something (not someone) they didn’t want to believe was real. Others would at least smile and wave, and the warmth I felt was from more than the coffee, those smiles, those waves, made me feel human at least, it felt good to be noticed.

But the good ones, the ones I really needed were those that rolled windows down to exchange a “hello” at least or a “good morning.” Those quick kind words were worth more to me than any money I could hope to get, but the transactions that passed through those open windows were also very much what I needed.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, there were some honks, some middle fingers, some scowling dirty looks, as if I was there by choice, as if I didn’t have to be there by the street, cars rushing by depending on the kindness of strangers. One man decided to go past mere gestures or looks.

It was right after I was chatting with four twenty something girls, they had all the windows down and music was pumping to the outside world. I looked inside and saw all four girls dancing, I started grooving to their music and walked up. They giggled and laughed as they saw me dance up to the car. Some good mornings passed and they asked what I was doing, “Stop light dance party,” I replied as I reached back in time to my high school days of doing the wave.

“That’s so cool that you’re so happy,” came through the music from the back seat as they laughed and then a quick transaction through the window right before the light turned green.

The next car slowed despite the green light and the dark tinted window of the shiny new truck rolled down. The first thing out the window was anger, “What the #$%# do you think you’re doing?”

“Sir?” I was a little startled by the sudden shift in moods.

“Bothering people, out here begging for help…. it’s disgusting.”

The traffic was backing up behind him, for some reason it made me nervous that traffic was getting held up. “I’m sorry sir, I understand, may God bless you on your journey.” Cars were starting to honk behind him.

“God bless me? I go to church for my blessing! #$#^  you, you piece of trash, get off the street!” I had to jump back quickly away from the car as he squealed off. The cars behind went past as sluggishly as I was recovering from the verbal assault.

A little shaken but still needing people the corners of my mouth were a little heavier as I lifted them to what hopefully looked like a smile. Honestly though, it wasn’t long before a real smile was there because so many folks stopped and smiled and waved and gave what they could through their windows, sometimes just a kind word, but those who witnessed what the man had said were extra kind.

Then after the light changed again and a fresh batch of strangers was before me it was back to the routine. Eye contact, smile, lift sign, wave… sometimes smiles and waves returned sometimes not… sometimes more cursing, sometimes just indifference.

After a couple hours traffic thinned and I knew it was time to take my sign and leave. I walked back to where the tacos were and several people thanked me for being there, my friend who told me about the tacos in the first place especially, “Thanks man, it means a lot that you all came out here for us.”

You see I wasn’t panhandling for money, but for awareness. My sign a tool of the young folks on social media a hashtag… indicating #WELCOME HOMELESS.

IMG_1342

The man I heard talk was Alan Graham who founded Community First Village to help people get themselves out of homelessness. This event was attended by volunteers, formerly homeless folks, as well as some folks still trying to work out of homelessness.

 

The transactions that occurred through the windows were me handing little business cards detailing the book that Alan had just written about the need we all have to be connected to God, as well as some stories of homelessness and recovery. The conversations you just read were all real, even the angry man, and honestly my heart broke for him. Regardless of his opinion, that much anger makes me worry for a person and I pray for him. Part of me wanted to curse back at him and meet his anger with some vengeful and eloquent cursing of my own (I am a talented and creative cusser from my time in the Army: recovering cusser of course) but something about his anger moved me to grace rather than anger. For all those who didn’t understand our message I hope they find what can help them find some joy.

At any rate the story isn’t exactly over there, I decided that I wanted to continue spreading the message. I was at the Lady Bird Lake running trail already, and I wasn’t ready to go to work yet.

IMG_1344

I ran the trail with my sign. I ran past most of the folks who participated and they all cheered, I ran past the corner I had occupied, and throughout the whole trail I got smiles, thumbs up, and peace signs (there may have been some who wanted to flip the bird but they didn’t have a car to protect them from real life). I was thinking along the trail about homelessness and the times I’ve been less than a paycheck away from losing my place, the times I’ve slept in my truck because of choices  I’d made (the same sort of choices that put me a week out of getting kicked out of apartments) and was too embarrassed to ask family for help.

I thought about the angry people and how pleased I was that I responded in grace and not anger, then I was nearly done with my run and I saw my vehicle parked. Heat flashed on the back of my neck…. I realized I still don’t know anything.

IMG_1348

I walked up to my jeep that cost more than lots of people will see in a few years if not decades of working, the jeep that would take me back to my heated and air conditioned apartment for a hot shower before going to my challenging, rewarding, and well paying job. I realized that it was easy for me to respond to anger with grace because I wasn’t hungry and in desperate need of food or shelter, because I hadn’t faced the same anger and rejection every morning as I tried to survive the streets of the city. I once again was faced with my hypocrisy.  I was a tourist of homelessness, I was trying to help, but I still hadn’t really experienced anything.

I got a new respect for my friends out at the Community First Village and a greater respect for Alan who started the whole thing. I still haven’t read his book, but it’s on my list, I’ve gotta get through “The Shack” and then I’ll be nose deep in Welcome Homeless.

So, hypocrite? Yes, did I make a huge difference? No, but neither of those aspects of this day will stop me from trying. The only false thing about this story was that my smile was forced, the entire time I was out there I was so filled with the love I have for God and His gift of confidence to me to get out and try that I was beaming and probably almost glowing with joy.

The bible verses that really stick to me on these times are obvious,

John 21:17– Feed my sheep.

and

Matthew 25:40– Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.

Water Under the Bridge

sunset bridge

Under the bridge the water will flow                                                                                                   Like pains that the heart learned to let go

Above the bridge                                                                                                                                          Sunflare                                                                                                                                                           Brilliantly it glows

Shining guidance                                                                                                                                        to repair                                                                                                                                                           Resiliency in shadows

Water under the bridge                                                                                                                               letting go of shame                                                                                                                               Toward a new sunset                                                                                                                                    walking free from blame

Bright future and dark past hanging in the air                                                                                  Stuck                                                                                                                                                             Held fast between hope and despair

In each moment, each breath

There hangs a choice, a question                                                                                                        a test

Go back? Upstream?                                                                                                                              Back to familiar pains, relief

Or let go?  To the light?                                                                                                                                  Forward, feeling joy  even through  grief

To stop

To start

Another chance to  view

To stop

To start

As something made brand new

 

O.k. so even though there are clouds in this photo you will be thankful to see not a single stanza or rhyme about clouds so  showing my range right? (I did tinker with a little bit of cloudy present between future and past, clouds like pain, never meant to last… sorry I couldn’t help it!)

At any rate when I saw this sunset after dropping off my kids at their mom’s it made me think of the thousands of choices we have every day…. then the thousands of wrong choices I’ve made…. and the tens of right choices (nearly tens)…

Every moment of our life is a chance and I really love that thought because it means I don’t have to be defined by the wrong I’ve done, I can start writing a new definition with every passing breath.

The one big choice we can make is defined by 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!

I wonder should I have a distinction between my poems and me talking about my poems… I was hoping that the poetry would sort of let you know when it’s over, even though I don’t let it speak for itself. Either way thanks for stopping by, there are so may broken people out there (one is in here… in my head) but there is so much healing available. Don’t be afraid to be broken, because then you can be built back up!

 

Broke Down Blossom

discardedcolor

Blossom down                                                                                                                                   Landing on                                                                                                                                         Forgotten ground

Just like love lost                                                                                                                                      A heart tossed

Aside                                                                                                                                                   Shoved by                                                                                                                                             Pride

Hearts held back                                                                                                                                     Hearts weak hearts slack

A small room, where damage lives                                                                                                       A small piece that I could never give

Like a blossom dropped from the dozen                                                                                         Like a piece stopped, held frozen

But in it danger dwells                                                                                                                              And the need only swells

I grasp at the stems

Desperate for  control                                                                                                                       Fists clenching my soul

Bloody briars sting my skin                                                                                                           Exposing liar’s sin within

I am the weak the broken flower

Need takes over, stealing power

I give in                                                                                                                                                       She gave up

In love she left

discarded

The blossom on the floor

 

I can’t tell if that poem is happy or sad… both maybe?

I think I have always worshiped women… The statement by itself sounds amazing I suppose, who wouldn’t want to be worshiped? Well, it’s how that worship is put into practice that is the problem. I loose myself… I pour myself into the worship… only I hold a tiny little bit back.

That tiny little bit is the part of my heart/mind that clings to my victim attitude, that holds to old habits, and that whispers in my ear at night, “You’re gonna loose her.”

 

Fear made me worry, worry turned to anxiety, anxiety turned to acting out, and soon I had created the exact situation I feared so much…

Welp, I’m done doing that, (o.k. I’m getting ready to start being done…) I’m working on a true and pure love, a love that can only come from/through God and it feels pretty peaceful. How?

Million dollar question baby!

Probably the biggest thing is to trust God. I’ve seen some amazing movement in my life and I had a revelation that was/is mind blowing the other day. I’ll share it with you sometime (look at me building suspense!) when I can think of how to tell the story without sounding bat *poopie crazy. (I’m also trying not to curse these days, which requires heroic effort and vocabularic control)

For now I try to remember what love should be and the following helps me to stay focused on exactly that.

1 John 4:18-19

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
 We love because he first loved us.
*I’m also trying not to curse these days, which requires heroic effort and vocabularic control

My Version of Humble….

*

youversion

 

As you may have been relieved to notice I haven’t posted much lately. Nope, not so much as a hacked out haiku about a flippin’ fluffy white cloud, or a prosaic personal story about growth, redemption, or what an ahole I’ve been (or am being)… etc.

For any interested it’s because I’m learning a new skill; web development… Yep as a huge fan of Spider-Man growing up it was bound to happen (see what I did there?). It is so amazing to be a man of a certain age trying to learn something brand new. Frustration and Satisfaction frequently  trade places.

It does remind me though, of my teaching days when I just couldn’t get why a kid just couldn’t get what I was teaching. If only back then I would have been trying to learn something new. You see I’ve never heard teachers gravitating toward a subject he or she hated or even one that didn’t come naturally to us. So, it is easy to forget the frustration and difficulty of learning something new.

But I digress, so you have not been assaulted by my alliteration lately because rather than write poetry or prose I have been writing in languages new and unique; html, css, javascript, js node… and  a few others. (and y’all… there’s no spell check!)

I have, however, still been making time for some quick (if questionable) witticisms on facebook and one theme I began was “Stayin’ Humble.” Where I describe a recent or current success and then back it up with a silly slip, facetious failure, or foolish faux pas (whoa, the alliteration can build up and then come rushing out, if you don’t have an outlet!)

Today one occurred to me that relates exactly to new learning and really any journey and it relates to my Bible app

(which I have meaning to tell y’all about because I love it!) So I decided to take a moment to put some words down and hit the old publish button (was that redundant?) and see what y’all thought.

My hubris to humble (yup) post for today was as follows (or close to as follows)

“Yesterday while redoing some of my old assignments I’m realizing that I’m actually getting pretty good at web development, it’s easy sometimes to get lost in the moment of trying to keep up with all the new learning and then forget to look back to where you started so you can appreciate the journey thus far. It gave me some reassurance to my process. So, I’m feeling pretty good about that, but then today I realized that the Online Bible Study I’ve been doing on vanity for the past 4 days is for women, so Stayin’ Humble (although feeling really beautiful on the inside for some reason).”

So, like I said I thought I was writing about my progress in class, but probably also really writing about my progress in recovery (whoa…. subconscious life learning and reflection… BAM!) In the case of my recovery (and really everywhere else) I don’t have to search for ways to be humble because my real humility comes from knowing that all of the good in my life comes from God, and the knowledge that when I try to work my gifts I mess up, (like accidentally jamming my pinky up my nose while washing my face) but when I get out of God’s way amazing things can happen.

Like the scripture on the ring that I always wear now….

 

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. Phillipians 4:15

 

*The above image is from the youversion bible app, download the app at youversion.com or from the app store or wherever you android users get stuff for your phones…

Heart!

Attack!

goals

Broken

Battered

Disarrayed

Tattered

Stepped on

Dis-repped on

Projected pain

Falling rain

On hearts around

Heart Attacks

the circle attracts

 

Beating fast or slow

with pressure

High or low

Medicated

Dedicated

to something new

Damage?

Done!

Healing from the Son

Of man I weep

Promises to keep

A heart can heal

A heart that feels

True love again

 

Happy Valentimes day!

Wow what a journey, I started this about 7 months ago, honestly to get the attention of someone who walked away from my deceits, mistreats, and lies.

Then I thought I was writing for someone out there, some unknown hurt soldier trying to carry on… carry on through the pain. I was right, except that soldier was me. I started writing based on 25 Bible verses sent to me from someone who introduced me to God’s grace, and it was a good thing to because only God has enough grace for me. I gotta give props to the blog that I um… borrowed these from

25 Encouraging Bible Verses for Stress

I went outside the lines a couple times but today is the entry that uses the last verse from her post. Honestly I’m a little afraid to venture out alone, I’m certainly not done with blogging, but I’ll have to find inspiration and a starting point elsewhere (a rose is a rose is a rose?) I’m a little afraid of letting go of what I thought I was writing for also… but then I remember that He who loves me is bigger than any fear and that I can put my trust in him. God bless!

Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

*yes I know I wrote “valentimes day” it amuses me to mispronounce it   🙂

 

 

 

Your name….

 

heather

Cries out but on my lips it dies

You led me to find a different prize

Always my heart will carry the wound

Of the harm I’ve done, love done too soon

 

My deeds betrayed a heart so dark

Your pure love a gift, that first little spark

Showing  with light that I was him

Who needed change from deep within

 

You left me, go heal your scars

Leaving my love to give afar

I wish you could see His light you’ve stirred

A life with Him that would never occurred

 

The last gift I have for you is  peace

a silent, unspoken, heartbroken release….

 

Well today is tough for me. Even though I don’t feel like I deserve to feel sorry for myself and I guess really I’m not. I was on the brink of sending something anonymously to a past love who I really just want to show some appreciation to for all that she showed me and gave to me.

I didn’t respect and care for that love and to contact her would just cause pain. I had a gift ordered on Amazon… ready to ship… with a cute little note. I realized I was doing it for me and not for her (well mostly for her but also for me I guess…. it’s confusing) before clicking the checkout button I decided to email a friend about it… more than a friend and accountability partner who is also my sponsor in recovery. Waiting for me was an email from him with the following quotation…

Let nothing disturb you.

Nothing dismay you.

All things past.

But God never changes.

Whoever has God lacks nothing.

If you have only God,

You have more than enough.

-Teresa Avila

Wow, how wonderful the way God works, he lifted me out by moving my buddy, and he saved the woman (my ex) from a painful reminder of my actions.

So rather than send something to here I decided to assault y’all with my questionable poetry….. at least this one’s not about clouds right?

I think I will always struggle with love, I will always worry that I am not good enough to receive love….. ouch wow, I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted that before.

The crazy thing is….. I’m not, nothing I ever do will be good enough for Our Father to love me… but he does anyway.

In fact He did something amazing for us all because of that love…

 

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

Lines of Power

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Lines of power

Divided

Colored sky

Partition

Provided

Infects mind’s eye

 

People

Separated

Deprecated

Kept always apart

Not allowed to see

Beauty of a Whole

Heart

 

People

Categorized

Compromised

Safely keeping mine near

Prejudice fed

on ignorance and fear

 

Truth

A light so

Bright Beautiful

Blurring the lines

Showing Shadows

In power

As stronger it shines

No more dreading

 

Now

Shedding

Lies of Power

 

Yep, another cloud picture that inspired a little poem of questionable worth. I think we have to be careful of power (only through our weakness can we find strength) and we should be careful about the power that comes from fear. Fear can actually help us to do great things but (if I can quote Mr. Ollivander from Harry Potter, which I think I can)  great but terrible things…

I’m reminded of Romans 12:16 (o.k. I did a google search for community bible verses but “I’m reminded of” has a nicer ring to it don’t you think?)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 

Ground Hog Day in Texas…

.groundhog

Explained….

First of all we are actually supposed to go by Bee Cave Bob, the Armadillo who predicts the weather for Texas. Having said that there are some criteria for those who need to interpret the result of either mammalian measure of weather, be it furred or armoured.

When the groundhog sees his (or her, it is 2017, can’t we get a female groundhog by now?) shadow for the rest of the country it means 6 more weeks of winter.  However in Texas this isn’t the case.

In Texas it means 6 more days of winter (not necessarily in a row.) But, that’s only if we’ve had a winter yet by Ground Hog Day (Armadillo Day? I don’t see Bill Murray cracking wise driving with an armored bunny.) If we haven’t had winter yet when the groundhog sees a shadow (I avoided the gender pronoun, look at me keeping up with the times!) then that means that Winter will start for Texas (not necessarily right away) and there will probably be a few days of winter but not more days since we haven’t had any days of winter at all yet. Make sense?

In either case it will mean that we will have some winter days for a few days, then some spring days (anywhere from 1 to 16) and then one real day of winter (temps below 45) then probably a day of summer mixed with some fall days for some reason.

This will, of course continue and Texas will gradually warm up and level off late February (right around my birthday) unless it gets really cold and icy like it did in 2013.  Otherwise it will warm up until everyone thinks it’s safe to move our plants back outside then we’ll get three days of hard freeze, either in early March, or late April, or basically whenever it happens.

After that it’s not just summer, but summer on the sun with temps between 100 and 130, until a norther comes in with its billowing black clouds, pelting sleet, and freezing rain sometime in June like that time I was trying to drop off the trailer at my in laws and nearly froze in my t shirt and shorts (y’all remember right?)

It’s pretty simple really but if you’re not from Texas it might be hard to understand at first so I hope this explanation helped.

O.k. seriously though I decided to be a little silly for this post since I’ve been heavy and dark lately. We obviously have no control over the weather in Texas or anywhere else so it’s easy to accept unpredictable and difficult to understand patterns. In fact here in Texas we joke about it quite often and try to laugh it off. If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change…

Our lives are like that also, only sometimes we decide whether our life is fair or unfair or just etc. That part isn’t up to us. God’s work is like the weather (I guess the weather is God’s work?), we can’t predict it, nor can we always (or sometimes ever) understand it. Because I’m learning to trust God in all that he does I am starting to see his work in me. It hasn’t always been easy, sometimes it feels like that icy day in February when my sister called me to tell me, “daddy passed away.”

Sometimes it feels like the warm spring sun on my face as I look up at a beautiful sunset and listen to my kids laughing at the lake. I trust God though, and I remember he works all things for my good, even when my mistakes have cast such a shadow I wish I could hide for 6 months or so… or since I’m in Texas… 6 days?

Romans 8:28  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”