Wednesday, May 28, 2008

**I Lost My Cherry**

Me and my kids started a Memorial Day tradition a couple years back to all get away together. Usually that meant that we would pack up and go to the free beach house that my boss let us take for a weekend in VA Beach. Last year we invited some of the families in our neighborhood and we took a bunch of us and had a blast.
This year we headed to the woods. We still went with families from our neighborhood. Our troop totaled 14 all together. What a fun time. I was more than a little kirked out about the woods and camping. I had never camped in my whole life before last weekend. I was expecting snakes, bugs, mosquitoes, and tons of dirt. I was really pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Let me tell you all about it.
I am going to refer to this trip as a trip of ‘firsts’ for me. Although I didn’t sleep in a tent, I got the full spectrum of camping mojo. My cabin was a 12 X 12 structure of logs. A set of bunk beds and a double bed. Two small windows with calico curtains. Two electrical outlets. The outlets came in handy for the coffee pot that I had to bring with me for morning coffee. And best of all…..a front porch with a swing. There was no running water in my cabin…therefore that meant that I had to make the trek to the bathroom in the middle of the night thru the woods in my flannel man jammies.
We had 3 sites for all of us. The site with the pop up trailer was home base. That was where all the food and the cooking went on. My cabin was the designated coffee spot. So each morning I would wake up before anyone else and make pot after pot of coffee ….not unlike my part time job at Wawa. All the parents and the hard core coffee teens would meander my way and get their fill. We’d linger over cups of coffee and listen to the birds. Watch the squirrels. And otherwise process the day before and the upcoming events. It was awesome. It was awesome to have the sense of such a large extended family sitting and talking and waking up. All of us with smiles. I miss this part the very most.
One of the most memorable experiences of the trip was the karaoke that we did at the central pavilion. I actually got talked into singing “Follow Me” by Uncle Kracker with my daughter Bekkah. We did this complete with hand actions and dancing around. Laughing thru the whole thing. What an experience to share with my kid! That same night, the Marine (Chris), sang “Here Without You” by Three Doors Down. He gave a wonderful verbal honor to all those over seas that are there without their family, wives, parents, and friends. He cried and sang with his whole heart. As a veteran of 2 tours in Iraq his heart was not here in the US, but with his friends in Iraq. He shared that his platoon had lost ½ it’s men in an ambush attack last year. He was still in mourning. Every veteran and relative of a veteran hugged this Marine when he set the microphone down. Every American eye in the pavilion was filled with tears. There was a reverent moment of silence for all those lost. Past, Present, Future. I stood there watching my son, Zech who wants to go in the Navy. And my adopted son, Shane who will join the Marines. I stood there with my eyes wide open knowing that in the years to come I will stand not only as a parent but as an American to honor my son and adopted son for their service and quite possibly for their lives.
I did connect with myself too. Ya know, every time I go away for a break I am so sure that I’m about to lose my sanity. And for the past two years….I realize half way thru the trip that I am not as bad off as I thought. I do have some ‘clean up’ to do with my kids. I have decided to keep my P/T job so that I can save up to take them camping again before school starts next fall. And I have decided to let some relationships go and try to foster yet more that have been simmering in the background. I guess all in all I am OK. Somewhere along the line I got into some of my “magical thinking”. My magical thinking is that process of bargaining with God without him knowing it and without me knowing it until it’s done and over with.
I had this thought that if my kids are in church. If I am in church. If I am working my recovery program. If I am doing all that I can do to make this life better for me and my kids. Then God surely would be taking up the slack. I know that God does take up the slack but that is not my magic wand excuse for not taking care of the stuff that is smoldering in the background. Wow. I really do need to change some stuff in my life before it gets away from me.
Anyway, that is that. I am no longer a camping virgin. I lost my cherry to the Chesapeake Shoreline and a troop of 14. What a blast!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Camping Virgin

Above you will see the whole crew. Top row: Zech, The Marine (Chris), Glenn, Ken, Chris
Bottom: Shane, Me, Mikayla, Sarah Holding Baby Josiah, Meagan, Sarah, Rosie, Bekkah.
As you can see...we had a real community camping trip. I have heard it said that "it takes a village to raise a child" but it goes much deeper than that. When you get all those different families together and they function it is nothing less than magic. We were poetry in motion.

This is all the kids before the departed on a 4 hr canoe trip. The only adult on the trip was The Marine (Chris), who more than lead them all (some of these kids had never been in a canoe) forward and back.

This was home base. Rosie, the Camping Goddess more than created the perfect environment for us all...she created a community and a family.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting Packed.....Yuck!!

Getting Ready To Depart To The Wilderness. The Kia Is Totally Full.
Not A Bit Of Room. Except For Body Space!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dena's Surgery

My friend Dena had her surgery scheduled this morning for removal of the mass in her lower lung. The Dr opened Dena up and examined the lung with the scope. At this point they could not do the surgery because the cancer has already breeched the lung cavity. Surgical removal is not an option now.

Dena will now endure radiation and chemo. Please pray with me for Dena. Pray for strength and healing that only God can provide. Pray for peace for Dena's husband Paul as he stands with the love of his life to fight this.

My Chance To Reconnect With Me

I really can't believe how excited I am getting about this camping trip. What started out as just 7 of us and our crew has more than doubled in size. We have enlisted a Marine that served in Iraq for 2 tours of duty and is more than able to help with the details. How cool is that? We have several teenagers ranging in age 13 to 17.

I have always chose to head to the beach for vacations. I love the water and the sun and the surf. I love the smell of the salt water. I have always equated the rage and unpreditability of the ocean with the strength of God. I love being near it. It is a force that is much bigger than I. This year I am on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. I hope to still get the benefit of the 'sea' as I can just hop in my car and drive for 15 minutes. But more than that....I just need to unplug. I must get centered within myself. I have to find some serinity within that has gone missing. I need to connect with my kids. I need to connect with pieces of me lost.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

**Who We Are**

I have had a couple of really interesting conversations lately. All having to do with “who we are”. As a Christian in recovery I’d like to think that I know who I am. What stuff I’m made of. I know my character defects. I know my strengths and my gifts and my talents. I know how to get safe and stay safe. I also know how close to the edge I can walk without falling off. But knowing all of these things about me brings me to my next interesting thought. Actually a question. If I know all about me. Why I do things the way I do. What is behind the behavior and what is propelling me to react or act to what is going on around me or inside me. And I am comfortable with that, meaning I really like who I am….why do I tend to hide and protect that person that I am created to be?? Why do I hide behind a wall? Why do I try to conceal certain parts of me from others that should be accepting of me?

My daughter Bekkah has been going thru a difficult time lately. About 5 wks ago she fessed up to cutting herself. This cutting phenomenon is a really tough thing for me to understand. Why would you cut into your skin to feel better? It just doesn’t make sense to me. It is just really weird. Anyway, Bekkah is back in counseling and trying to work thru her pain and issues. Part of the therapy has been for her to journal daily. I think that the journaling helps her to sort thru. It helps her to feel and release. She writes the most amazing poems. Her timing and sense of wording is incredible. She has a gift. My Bek shared these writings with me late last night.
Bek and I talked a lot about “who she is”. She said to me, “I don’t know who I am…why am I here”?? She is in pain and confused about a lot of stuff in her high school life. The relationships that she has with friends. Her boyfriend. Life in general is kicking Bekkah’s ass. We discussed “who she is” and some healthy things that she can do to take some power back into her life that has been stripped away by circumstances and relationships. Bekkah showed me another ‘side of her’ last night.

I think it’s all about self preservation and our longing to be accepted and loved. For Bek, I can speak love into her life and heart. I can encourage her that she is a wonderful girl created by God. I can encourage my kids as I always have to ‘think for themselves’ and to always remember that there is a God that loves them. And I can lay down the mindset and the standards that I set in my own life and heart for people to be accepted by me. I can keep walking this road of recovery and of Christ in the hopes that someday we will be free to be who we are. In the hope that Bek will be free to be who she is. Where I will be free to be who I am. And not worry about the way others perceive me. Someday.

I need people in my life like cut gemstones. Multi-faceted. I need the kind of people that every time you look at them….you see something else. They are always a surprise. Always interesting. That is the way that we were created to be. We are a masterpiece created by the Master's hands. We are not junk or mistakes. We are pieces of art.

So I have decided that no matter what, I need to keep walking in all my weirdness and unorthodoxy and be who I am. If I am constantly in a place emotionally where I feel as tho I have to keep my lid on, I am squelching God’s creation. I am masking who He created and hiding it. It can be scary as shit to open myself up and be transparent. But at this point in my life….what the hell am I waiting for? I think it’s harder to be what others want you to be than it is for me to just be who I am.

Monday, May 19, 2008

4 Days Until I Hit The Wilderness....


Everyone loves 'Smores. Especially me....

I'm looking forward to meeting these critters....

Canoe rides are NOT on my agenda this weekend. Snakes can swim better than I can!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On being a mom

This Mothers Day was the worst Mothers Day I have ever had. My kids didn't get me a card. My mom didn't either. I cried all day Sunday and most of Monday lamenting my broken heart and shattered expectations. I couldn't understand how my 3 kids could ever be so neglectful or selfish as to not even try to honor me. I am a great mom. I am loyal. Fun. Loving. I piss them off and get on thier butts but that IS part of my job as a mom too. I don't require much. I'm not high maintenace at all. Sometimes I am happy with a gratuitous pat on the head.

I'm working 2 jobs trying to make this thing called life happen for all of us. To keep a roof over our head. To keep the power on and the cars running. I'm tired. I'm spent. I was devastated to say the least.

Then I saw this picture above. It's of a grieving mom. Holding the body of her daughter that was buried under the rubble left by the earthquake in China. To really look at this picture...really look and get yourself in the pic. China has a one child law. This mom is most likly holding her ONLY child. She grieves.

And it makes me kinda put my Mothers Day into perspective. I have my children. All of them with me. All of them I am able to kiss goodnight. I have my grandson Josiah. I am able to kiss his little boy head anytime I desire.

My heart may still be a little bruised with the carelessness of my kids. But my arms are not empty. God bless these moms. Comfort the hearts that weep for thier sons and daughters.

Camping Countdown

I have never been camping before. I just don't like the dirt. The smoke. No hair dryer. No electricity. And making the trek to the potty and hot shower doesn't interest me in the least. Yuk.

This year however a girlfriend of mine has reserved a cabin at a summer retreat for me and my kids. My friend Rosie and her husband (who is currently serving in the mid east) go camping every year and to help her uphold this Memorial Day Tradition....I will go and support her.

My kids and her kids are very stoked about the trip. Both of our kids are in thier teens and more than able to entertain themselves with fishing, crabbing, swimming, and chasing the oppisite sex.

Me and Rosie?? We're gonna chill. Relax. Talk. And totally unplug from the lives that keep us so crazy. The resort is only 45 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and on the rim of the Chesapeake Bay. I really need this get away. 7 days to go!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Season Of Crazies & Dena My Friend

Lately with the onset of getting another job to keep my family afloat financially I have developed a huge case of the crazies. Stress of flying home from my full time job to change into my Wawa uniform and throwing my hair up for work in food service. Running into my house grabbing a few bites to eat before running right back out the door. Stopping only to grab my newborn grandson for a few precious minutes and kisses. Maybe pat my Jack The Dog on the head and a scratch him behind the ears. While at work I make numerous phone calls home because I miss my kids. I want to be home. I want to be with them. They are why I am working this stupid job. And I have to make a trade off somewhere. But what price must be paid in order for me to make this happen?

There has been no time for church. No time for fun. I want to drink. A LOT. I want to completely numb out the pain/stress/fear/loneliness/exhaustion. I want to drown myself in a vat of wine and never emerge. It’s that bad. I have no time for friends. No time for sleep. No time for my own sanity. And on top of that I realized this morning that I am pissed at God for allowing my ex husband to get $22K dollars behind on child support while I struggle to meet my obligations and try to raise my kids without any help from that piece of shit I call their father.

All this will pass. Each season of my life shifts and changes. And I somehow make it thru. Sometimes yearning for the season to pass quickly so that I can move onto the next. This season of the crazies will pass. All in His timing.

I want to tell you about my friend Dena who is in a season of her own. Dena is in a season of her life where there is nothing but blind faith and hope.

I met Dena at a wine tasting last year. Funny thing is that we lived right down the street from each other for 2 years and we never knew each other. I moved away and we bumped into each other at this wine tasting. Funny thing is….is I have to wonder if God the creator and orchestrator of life planned for us to meet all along. When life and circumstances and we get in the way… He goes to plan B. I have to believe that there is a reason and a season for all. No matter what that is. He has a plan.

Dena and her husband Paul are some of the most authentic people I have ever known. They are from the mid-west and there is no pretentiousness about them that I have ever seen. They are ‘what-you- see is- what –you- get- kind of people’. The kind of folks that you meet and you are truly richer for knowing them. The kind of people that remain friends with you for years. They are true.

My lovely friend Dena was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer recently. Dena is meeting this season in her life like she has met all else. Straight on with authenticity. She is sharing her story online. Reaching out to others. She is magnificently walking every step with nothing less than total class and dignity. She is working all this out with her eyes wide open to the struggle and fight ahead of her and Paul. She knows that she is far from alone. Dena inspires me.

As a believer in Jesus Christ the first thing that struck me about this battle that Dena is fighting was the concern and fear that she didn’t know Jesus. I was afraid that she didn’t have Him on her side. That she wasn’t secure in His hands. That she was alone. Where was her hope? Did she have faith? But, I know that she has made peace with this season. She has reconciled herself to the fight before her. That kind of integrity and grace can only come from the Father. I know that Dena knows Jesus. I have heard the faith. I have heard the hope. I have witnessed the courage and strength that doesn’t come from this world. Dena is walking straight on with that faith like she does everything else….with authenticity.

One of Dena and Paul’s favorite songs is The Boondocks by Little Big Town. This song is posted here as tribute to them and the fight ahead of them. I want to ask you guys out there that read my blog to please stand in the gap for my sister Dena. Pray that she is strong thru this season. Pray for healing and restoration. Pray for my friend to be healed. We are specifically praying that this cancer has not spread outside the lung cavity. Dena is starting treatment by having the lower lobe of her lung removed surgically on 5/21/08. Then we will know more. This is where faith comes in.

Let me just close this with the promise of further updates on Dena. And to Dena I want to say that you are one classy broad girlfriend. You are not standing alone. I love you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Juggalo Mom

My song gave me a song for Mothers Day...

What a fine boy my son is!!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Arrogance is defined as: offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
YUK! Well, a very trusted mentor spoke into my life recently and told me that I had an attitude and that I was arrogant. OUCH! I told her that I was NOT arrogant. Then she proceeded to speak the words of a prophetess.
I have come to realize that I expect too much from people in recovery ministries. I hear that someone is serving in a recovery ministry and I assume that the person is healty. Wrong. I have walked in assumptions and expectations of the people that I serve with in ministry.
So as a result of this, I have become arrogant with what I have. With my recovery. My wisdom. My insight. And what it does is piss people off. Instead of presenting with a spirit of love and gentleness....what I offer is wrapped up in a pretty little package of arrogance that sounds like this in my head:
"What are you kidding me? You don't know this? I thought you'd be able to deal with this better than this"...among other thoughts. Not nice of me. My arrogance has pushed people away from me rather than draw them closer. Not only that but I am being labeled as rebellious, self promoting, and carnal.
I also am a prophetess. I have the ability to see into and beyond. People don't like that. It's un-nerving to say the least. I have kept this gifting a secret for quite some time. But there are those that see it. They know it. This further makes them more uncomfortable with me. I mean...hey they stoned the prophets didn't they??
I was in a very deep recovery program for years. Then I served on the leadership. The program was confrontive, in your face, and it worked. It had and still is the standard by which I measure recovery by. It's not a fair standard.
I have to lose my expectations of those around me that aren't 'recovered' enough. What is wrong with me that I have replaced grace with expectations? Why have I allowed this into my life? Where is the gentleness, patience, grace, and love that should be flowing from me?
Did I say 'OUCH'??

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Springsteen & Pony Bottles

My kids don't or can't appreciate Bruce Springsteen. I remember the first time I ever heard songs like 'The River' and 'Thunder Road'. The lyrics will live in me for the rest of my life. I hear the music and I am transported back to the wind blowing in my hair as we rode in my best friends black Trans Am with the Pheonix on the hood and drinking pony bottles of beer. Cruisin'. Yeah those were the 80's!

Today I stumbled accross this tune this morining on my way to work and I hit the repeat button. Bruce carried me away on my travel time to the office. It pretty much sums up where Tara is at emotionally. There are lyrics here that say:

"You Can't Shut Out The Risk And The Pain, Without Losing The Love That Remains"

So true. Sing if Bruce. And take me away!

This time period that I remember is when we would line up for hours to get gas and the unemployment rate was very high. Minimum wage was the going rate of pay and we were in what was called a recession. Springsteen wrote about life and the economy and the hopelessness of that time like no other. When I hear him I think of the landscape around me growing up outside of Scranton, PA. Factories were closing thier doors. Massive layoffs. There was no such thing as 'keeping it green' and taking care of the Earth. Black smoke would billow from those foundaries that still functioned.

I have heard over and over again that people think that we are in a recession. I have yet to see that. What I see is a massive slow down. Caution. This mindset of the country is different than what I grew up in. Let's hear it for learning from the past.

Let's hear it for pony bottles and Trans Am's! And letting the wind blow back your hair!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

>Turn It Over< >Step 3<

We made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God
This is a tough step for no other reason other than it requires trust. For most of us coming into recovery trust is a very hard thing to do. We have trusted and we have been hurt. We have trusted and we have been betrayed. We have trusted and our bodies have been used or broken. We have trusted others to the point that there is really nothing left to give. As for me…I couldn’t even trust myself.
I remember praying these words:
“God, I want to trust you. But I can’t yet. Is saying that I want to trust you enough for now? Can you work with that?”
And do you know something? It was enough. I can tell you that when I got to this step I had to realize that there was a God that loved me. I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t know it, I mean really know it in my heart. I wanted to believe it. But there was nothing solid for me to grasp. But I prayed these words with my mouth and with the longing in my heart. I prayed with expectancy that if he was God, then He would be able to make it real.
The lack and loss of trust didn’t really come from the incest by my father. Although it damaged me beyond belief. The deepest harm that caused the inability to trust was created by my mother. I could never count on her to keep her word. She was absent. She was disconnected from me. She always said words and made promises and then she’d shift again and the bottom dropped out. I never knew what it meant to be stable. As a child growing up very poor I never knew what it was to be provided for. I never knew safety. I never learned reliance.
I took all those feelings into adulthood with me. I married two men who ultimately lived out the same pattern I had as a child. I had married men like my mother. I married men who could not keep their word. I married liars. I married men that undermined what little confidence I had in myself. I became so bound up in expecting disappointment that I lost all my ability to trust. I just went thru my life expecting that it was not going to get any better. All trust was broken. Shattered by affairs. Damaged by drained bank accounts. There was nothing left to give. I was empty.
Getting to step 3 was pivotal awakening for me. I had admitted I was powerless. I admitted that my life was unmanageable. I realized that I could not fix it. I even stepped up and admitted that I further damaged it myself. But even realizing all that could not change the fact that there had to be something greater and bigger out there. I had to get to the place where I knew that there was a God and that he loved me. I had to accept that He loved me. He loved ME. I had to believe that I mattered to Him. That He sees me. He hears me. He wants me. He desired me. I had to get thru all those barriers before I could trust Him.