For the love of donuts 

I told you before that my mom worked in a donut shop when I was a kid.  I did a lot of my growing up sleeping on flour sacks in the back of the shop.  It’s one of my best childhood memories.   Owning that donut shop was what I had planned on- but it was closed down and the building has been turned into several different businesses.  Currently it is painted a putrid lime green and in the windows there are tires and shiny rims.    Still, whenever I pass this building I immediately think back to the donut shop.  I can see the “regulars,” smell the fresh coffee and taste the powdered sugar with every breath I take. Oh how I loved that donut shop.   These memories have been branded deep inside of me.  More than anything else, it’s how my momma connected to the customers.  Everyone loved her.  She had a way (still does) to make everyone feel like her best friend.   I’m pretty sure some of these customers came in just to see her; donuts and coffee were just a bonus. 

I also remember the color of the paper that lined the racks. At different times of the day the paper under the donuts would change to show they were fresh. Like in the wee hours of the morning it might have been yellow, late morning maybe pink and in the afternoon, white.  Customers knew how old the donuts were this way.  Anyway… At the end of the paper change the “old” donuts were thrown away.  My momma decided to place them in a clean garbage bag and set them outside the back door for the homeless folks.   She didn’t think I saw this, but I did. I didn’t get it all. 

Yesterday morning I had to run some errands and while making a quick stop at Walmart for a bag of catfood, Lelly called to asked me if I could get her some donuts. While I was talking to her while walking through the parking lot I noticed a homeless woman sitting with her sleeping bag up against the wall near the pop machines.  I’d seen her a few times before but like so many, I walked past. It wasn’t my problem. 

Inside Walmart I packed the 15lbs. of catfood on my hip like a lumpy toddler and the next aisle over I reached for a box of assorted donuts, tucking them between me and the catfood. Then I reached for another.   Two aisles over I grabbed a single serving bottle of whole milk and preceded to the check-out. I asked the cashier to place the milk and one box of donuts in a bag by themselves, and she did.  I took the bag to the homeless woman and when I handed to her, I saw her face for the first time.  She wasn’t what I expected.  From a distance she looked- homeless ….but when I took the time to get closer, she looked human.  I handed her the little gray plastic sack and wished her a, “Merry Christmas,” then I walked away.  The sensation that filled my chest was that of the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes. 

I debated on whether to share this story because I don’t think people should talk about what they do for others.  Truth is, I’ve always been bitter towards homeless people.  I’d turn my head and ignore them as I walked past. I mean, it’s their fault they were in the situation they were in, not mine and …come on now, they could get a job..they were choosing this lifestyle. They want handouts. Right!!???     This is what I usually think.  I’m not proud of my thought process, I’m just being honest.  Those people with signs asking for food- erk me. I’d see them in one area of town and later the same day is see them again, in another part of town.  They made me bitter because they only wanted money not work, not food.

So I bought donuts. I really don’t know why I did it but after doing so I debated whether to tell anyone about it because I didn’t want people to think that I was looking for pats on the back.  You know?  That’s not what this post is about.   This post is about doing more than handing someone a donut, it’s about serving another person.  It’s about being human in a world knee deep with shit.   This woman wasn’t panhandling; she didn’t have a sign–  for the most part she was invisible, but I saw her. I really saw her. I hope one day the homeless woman finds herself in different circumstances and I also hope that she knows that it wasn’t me serving her, it was her serving me and it all started with my love for donuts.

**thank you momma for loving people the way you do. I saw you. 

Day 79 – EF5

Sometimes the seasons fade into one another seamlessly just as smoothly as autumn cools into a colder winter that melts into a warm spring that blossoms into a hot summer. 
And sometimes the seasons don’t seem to blend into one another at all- fall crashes down into a frozen winter that floods spring out and goes straight into a scorching summer.

Life is like that; the seasons I mean.   Looking back it seems as though every 10 years were seasons in time; some harsh, some mild.  Many of my life’s  seasons were as predictable as day and night while others hit hard like an EF5 tornado at 3am.
No one is ever prepared for an EF5- even if they see it coming.

My 20’s and 30’s were pretty turbulent. Most of those decades was spent picking up scattered pieces of my life only to have another storm come along and tear them from my hands again.  The absolute worst time of my life has been times where my children were involved.

John and I share two kids, Tate and Kayla.   Right before our divorce was final John got down on his knees with his arms wrapped around my waist, his face buried in my stomach.  He cried and begged me to split the kids up… he wanted Kayla to stay with me because she was a little girl and he wanted to keep our son, Tate.  He said it wasn’t fair that I was leaving and taking both kids.   Fair?  I’d never given “fair” a thought where my babies were concerned.  They were mine but still my heart broke for John.  I had known him since I was 12- I didn’t hate him but I also didn’t love him like a wife should love a husband.  I fell in love with him with a 16 years old heart and at age 21 I realized that although my love was sincerely felt, it had changed with the seasons of my life.  I wasn’t 16 anymore.     I agreed to allow John to keep Tate while Kayla stayed with me. Every weekend the kids would be together either at my house or John’s and over time John and I became good friends.

The night before I moved out I was downstairs going through toys and books trying to separate them fairly for the kids.  So many times I’d pick something up and hold it to my nose and inhale my son’s scent deep into my soul. My heart was so broken.  I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing by leaving him behind.  I never wanted him to think his mommy abandoned him or didn’t love him-  God knows I never wanted to let him stay.   I tried to convince myself it was the best thing; the best thing for John, the best thing for Tate and maybe the best thing for me too.  John had me pretty convinced that I couldn’t take care of two kids on my own and I didn’t want them to have to go without.   How easily he could manipulate me. 

Throughout Tate’s childhood I tried to be a good mom.  I went to a lot of his football games but not all, and I should have.  I didn’t go to nearly enough of his wrestling meets either.  I couldn’t afford the best gifts or vacations but I never failed to love him.  Many times I didn’t even know he had a game or a meet-  he didn’t tell me because kids don’t tell their parents things like that (like they should) and neither did John.   I won’t lie, many times I was selfish and I didn’t think about what I was doing or how it might affect my kids.  I can’t blame anyone but myself for mistakes I’ve made regardless of my reasons. 

A couple of year ago the pain I had caused my son, that he hid deep within, came to surface and he bawled me out while I was a 1000 miles away on vacation. While speaking over the phone he called me by my first name and told me how horrible of a person I was, how rotten of a mother I’d alwayds been.. and he hung up leaving me broken in the sand. He then removed himself from my cell plan and changed his number. EF5.

On weekends I’d see him at church but he’d sit far in front of me and never look back. EF5.
Once I learned his new cell number I’d send him an occasional text to tell him I loved him. He’d not reply. EF5.
Over the next few months every one of my friends would turn their back on me…. and I’d get thrown out of the church that I taught at, served at, prayed and worshipped at. EF5. EF5. EF5.
What I was being punished for was adultry… and leagally, I had been separated for two years. The problem was, I started seeing someone (my current husband) before my divorce was final. Truthfully it would have been over a lot sooner if I could have afforded an attorney, but being that my good friend and I did it ourselves, it took a lot longer.
It was at this point in my life that I felt at my lowest.
Eventually the EF5’s would hit so hard that most nights while in the shower I’d fall to my knees weeping silently. Not because I wanted to weep silently but because I was too broken for sound. This was a time in my life I turned to God heavily. Through my sobbing I’d cry out to Him, begging for my son back. I’d pray saying that I didn’t understand any of it but it was His will.. not mine, and I’d ask for strength to get through it. One song verse in particular I held tight to.. I’d sing it in my head and out loud whenever I felt beaten down. “My heart will sing, no other name, Jesus. Jesus.” Over and over I’d sing, as though hypnotized by the lyrics. Sometimes when I needed so desperately to be near my son, I’d pull a shirt he had left behind, out from a zip lock bag (that I had placed it in to preserve its scent) and I’d hold it to my nose and inhale him deep into my soul. The same pain I’d felt 18 years earlier still pulsing in my veins..I’d sob. I’d never forgiven myself – how could I expect my son to??

This past weekend as my family and I stood singing praises to our Lord, those same lyrics were put upon the screen. In an instant every broken moment I had faced over the years flickered through my mind; I realized just how many prayers God had answered. I had been given new friends, I was now happily married and I was standing in a new church, singing the lyrics to the song that gave me strength- with my son 6″ to my left.

Last night I received a text from Tate. All it said was to listen to Aloe Blacc, “Mama hold my hand.” I immediately went to YouTube and found the song. As the tears I tried to hold back, fell silently down my cheeks the love I didn’t know my son felt for me, consumed me …like an EF5.

God is good.
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Day 65 – I’m Never Alone

Wherever I go
There you are
Whether I’m close
Or off somewhere far
When life has light
Or when it’s dark
I’m never alone.

Wherever I go
You let me be
You hold my soul
But my will is free
As I chose my paths
You patiently wait for me
I’m never alone.

You knit me together
In my mother’s womb
You watched me grow
You let me bloom
I’ll walk my walk
I’ll stand, I’ll fall
You’ll be there
Through it all
I’m never alone.

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Call of Duty

Im pretty sure that somewhere in a previous post I mentioned being a firefighter… if I didn’t then I’m telling you now.  I’m very petite so realistically I was never going to run into a burning structure and drag out a 175 lb man… but I was trained to.  I did complete drill school and I did it without any special treatment.  I drug hoses, caught hydrants, carried ladders, climbed up and down ladders, went through walls, cut roofs, climbed over joists, held down a 5″ hose full of pressure, saved a dummy, learned first responder life stabilization, tied knots, donned ppe, skillfully used the jaws of life, peeled a roof off of a car,  changed out SCBA… I did it in the day, I also did it blind folded.  I can also tell you all the scientific specifics where fires are concerned.  I passed every test, every challenge with flying colors!! 

A handful of times I have used my training since my time with the department.  Once I responded to a wreck on the interstate.  Once I responded to a dad who was screaming on the side of the road for help. His little boy had stopped breathing.
And today, I saved a choking man’s life.

I was debating with myself as to whether or not in should blog about it. I don’t feel like I did anything anyone else wouldn’t do.  It’s hard for me to get it sometimes,  how not everyone can just respond without thought.  That’s what I do- I just respond. It’s second nature for me therefore when I am privileged in being able to use my acquired skills I don’t see myself as any kind of hero-  it was my responsibility. 

While visiting my mother today I heard a horrible noise just outside her door. She asked me what it was and I told her it sound as though someone was getting sick or choking….
My mom freaked out and shouted for me to open the door. Before she finished her sentence I was already in her hallway.  A man across from her was standing in his doorway and he was choking.  I immediately ran up behind him and performed the Heimlich.  With the second thrust his airway was clear.   I rubbed his back and kept telling him he was ok-  he kept thanking me and saying, “God bless you.”

God did bless me.  He blessed me with the ears to hear him, the skills to respond without hesitation and the bedside manner to console him after. God blessed me by allowing me to serve Him.

I don’t know what you believe but as a Christian I believe that God puts you where He wants you, when He wants you there.  You see, I had planned to visit my mom today but later today. I wanted to finish my homework first-  but for some reason I couldn’t focus so I went ahead and went to my moms early this morning.  If I hadn’t been there when I was, I wouldn’t have been able to help the choking man.  He might have died.  Not another person heard him.  I am blessed- very much so.

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-Willow

Life is Significant—-ALL life is Significant.

Today new classes started. These are class numbers 13 and 14 with aprox. 4 more to go before reaching my degree. My degree has changed three times since I began, mostly due to falling in love with one topic or another.  I began this journey with the intentions on becoming a youth minister- then I realized, I don’t want to deal with kids already in church. I don’t want to deal with only Jesus seeking kids- you know?  The world is full of kids that believe in something else entirely- and that’s ok, I’m not here to question or judge them for their beliefs or non-beliefs for that matter.   As I went through two different psych classes, I turned away from youth ministry and toward, well, psychology.  Something about those neurotransmitters really grabbed my attention.  I realized that people… kids more specifically, are screwed up, not only because of how they are raised (or not raised) but also because their brains won’t allow them to make the right decisions even if they know better.  Somewhere during these two classes I also realized that I didn’t want to go into psychology either.  I didn’t want to sit and analyze the shit out of anyone else…but yet, I  wanted to help- but how?

My heart, my love, has always been in the crime world.  If there was a tv show, a movie or a book about crime, I have devoured it.  Before taking the psych classes I presumed that drug addicts, thieves, murderers, rapist and so on– they were trash that basically got what they deserved.  In all honesty, sometimes I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the crazy shit other people do. The reasons ‘why,’ well, they aren’t always meant for me to understand but still, I try.   Someone once told me that I saw my world with, “rose colored glasses,” but that simply isn’t true.  I don’t sugarcoat my world or paint it with pretty hues. I know it’s a nasty place with nasty people but does that mean I am to tiptoe about, always looking over my shoulder, living in fear that something could happen to me?  Screw that–  I want to see the good in people and I know in my heart of hearts that all people have some good in them.  No one was born evil with the intentions to do evil things.  No one.  That, my friend, is the core reason of my choice to study criminal justice.  Now do I want to go out there and defend a criminal– hell no I don’t because I’d be a crappy attorney. People who commit crime do deserve to serve their time, and even be put to death if that’s what was determined for them.   I could not defend a person who without a doubt, committed a heinous crime intentionally. Ill leave that to the men and women without a conscious…  I do however want to work with juveniles already in the system who carry horrific label on their heads. I know I can’t save them all, I don’t want to either. That would be unrealistic and heartbreaking day after day. Some people just do not want to be helped out.     I’m not certain of a job title at this point, and truthfully, I don’t need one – I’m kinda of walking in the dark here, in faith that God will place me where He wants me to be.  God knows that I have a hard time with understanding the reasons ‘why’- so I am confident He will place me in a job that will allow me to accept the crime and love the person without having to understand why they did what they did.  In my current opinion, the only person who needs to understand “why” is the juvenile who committed the crime just so they don’t act a fool and do the same crap again.  I want to provide tools and education to them. Things they can use to better themselves.  I guess basically, I just want to be the person that they trust to help them to know that no matter where they’ve been, they can leave it all behind because there’s new places to go—lots of new places.  I want those kids to know that their labels don’t matter to me, it’s their life that is important to me.  Make sense?

Science, shmience. This is a God world.

I never really know what I am going to write about.  I mean, sometimes I sit down and pick up where I left off, but usually when I sit down, I do so without a plan.  Letting my fingers tap out whatever my Ritalin charged brain is thinking at the time. Like now. I had planned to finish up my story about living in Austin but, it’s just not there. Today I’m thinking about the sky….. and God.

God never ceases to amaze me with His mastery.  He is the master craftsman behind this beautiful world, there simply cannot be any other explanations. Too many things run perfectly, with details so intricate that there’s just no way science can duplicate it.  Look at our bodies for example. We grow from two different people from two microscopic cells that keep multiplying, dividing, dying and regenerating the entire time we are alive.  Scientifically speaking, the female body should not be able to carry a child. But God speaking,  the female body adapts to the child’s growth by rearranging organs and bones so that the baby can grow.  I could really grasp the concept of this absolute miracle with the conception and birth of my first child, Tate.  My son is now 24, married, and will someday have his first child.  That just amazes me.  I grew him; inside my womb two cells danced and twirled until he was perfect and ready to be born.  He was born two months too soon but his little body (with God’s intervention) adapted quickly to the shock of an early birth and he went home the very next day!!!  That alone, is beyond science.

Another example is found in my momma’s heart problem.  The arteries going to her heart were damaged.  Matter of fact she presented with mild chest pain that sent her in for some test that revealed some minor blockage.  But ‘as a precaution’ the doc wanted to throw in some stints to open her up.   As she lay on the table getting stinted, the doc took x-rays to later put into her file.  After the procedure the doc brought me into a small room with a couch and a whiteboard. He handed me the x-ray.  As he spoke and played Pictionary, I just stared at the x-ray in complete bewilderment.  My mother was stinted with two stints to open up her 100% complete blockage – a blockage that SHOULD have killed her. That’s not what shocked me.  I expected that kind of news. What sent my head spinning was how her body repaired itself.  That’s right– it repaired itself!!!   The x-ray of the heart showed the two tiny stints and the blood rushing through the newly opened artery but what it also showed was two more brand new veins.  She was not born with these two veins.  These new veins were pretending to be arteries. They grew from the bottom of the blocked artery and they eventually attached themselves into the top of her suffocating heart. These new arteries kept my mother’s heart fed with just enough blood to keep her alive and did so long enough for test to be ran and long enough for stints to be placed inside.  Only God could create this scenario.

Outside of the human body there is a huge mass of dirt in which we all share- that’s one way to look at it.  Another way to look at it is with unfiltered lenses.  Do you not find it simply amazing that we live in a perfect ecosystem? Our world sits perfectly in space. It rotates perfectly so we can have the perfect amount of light and darkness. It tilts so that we can have seasons that allow for death and regrowth.   Our world gives us floods, fires, hurricanes and erupting volcanoes.  All beautifully breathtaking, yet instantly heartbreaking.  Science might be able to explain it, but it cannot duplicate it.

Atmosphere.  Seems like sciGodWondersence has it all figured out, doesn’t it?  Our atmosphere isn’t something we think about too often. I mean, why would we? It doesn’t seem to be too impressive. It’s clear and still, unless you look closer.  Our atmosphere not only gives us the air we need to sustain life, it also gives us our climate and weather, all while protecting us from the elements of space- to sustain life.  For a small example, look at air.  As I said, air can sit seemingly still or it can turn into a wind that carries pollen and seeds, it carries clouds that dump rain.  Air does everything humanly impossible, it sustains our ecosystem.  Air can also dance within itself, mixing hot and cold until it becomes fierce and twisted.  Yes its damaging, and yes it can kill but is it not amazing at the same time?

I love the sky.  For hours I could lie back on a blanket, in a field and stare up at the heavens.  During the day I could  make cloud pictures and at night, stargaze, and never once become bored.   I have a good eye and without difficulty I can find beauty in things most do not see. Without a doubt, I am artistic and talented but no matter how hard I try, I cannot capture the exquisiteness of the heavens on film, it’s impossible and the times are too numerous that I have wished for a camera as perfect as the ones God provided me with, my eyes and brain.

Speaking of the brain- wow.  What a topic and one that I probably shouldn’t get started on. That’s because I’m ADHD and on Ritalin at the moment… I could write a book as long as, “Sironia, Texas,” by Madison Cooper, which possesses no less than 1,100,000 words!!  (Google it if you don’t believe me)  So, yeah, I’m THAT able to write able the brain and ain’t nobody got time for that!!