Thursday, January 19, 2017

Beyond The Battles

As promised you guys...a brand new blog, site, and look. Same me though.
Take a look:
And be sure to "follow" so you get a snazzy email whenever I post. Also, let me know what you think!

See you there!

Friday, January 13, 2017

City Girl

A common conversation I have these days...
"So where you living now?"
"But where in Atlanta?"
"Capitol View."
"Where is that?!"
"Southwest Atlanta."
"But where?"
"A few miles from downtown. In Atlanta."
"OH, you mean you actually live in Atlanta!"
"Yes. That's what I mean."

Is that a common problem for people who live in or near big cities or is just one of those Atlanta things? You know, like the 5,000 roads named "Peachtree" or "What'll you have?" or all of those things that make Atlanta...well, Atlanta.

If someone who lives in Decatur is asked where they live, they'll say Atlanta. If someone from Newnan is asked the same question, they may likely give the same answer. It kind of depends. Those originally from Newnan (for real known as "Newnan-ites") will tell you they are from Newnan and damned proud of it.

Anyway, yes, I live in Atlanta now.

And today I got my library card which makes me feel really "official"!

How I got here is a long, crazy story which I will tell. I'll probably backdate it just in case anyone is ever crazy enough to read my entire blog. But let's just say, it's been a crazy season. I'd actually been thinking of moving to this area for a while. A friend of mine said recently "What if God orchestrated all of this just to get you here?" and I thought "Damn! Weren't there easier ways?!" But now that the dust is settling, I'm really enjoying it. 

There are so many events to go to like Open Mics and Terminus Collective meetings as well as the And Campaign. My new favorite coffee shop (which I loved before but it was so far away!) is Community Grounds and the library is about a half a mile walk. The MARTA station is within walking distance and I may be the only person on the planet who likes MARTA. Possibly because I can read while getting to my destination (I highly discourage reading and driving) and possibly because it makes me feel like a city girl. I appreciate good staging and public transportation is definitely a city girl kind of thing to do.

I still like Newnan and I miss it a bit. But I have good friends really close and this seems like a good start for new adventures. A friend of mine recently challenged me to think of this season as a blank canvas. And this seems like a good place to start creating something...perhaps not new, but definitely different. 

Keeping It Reel

Hey you guys! Holy Shmoly, it's 2017!

Yea, I know...I'm still trying to figure out how we got here too! 2016 was a crazy year that saw a nasty election cycle and-more importantly-the loss of so many of our favorite celebrities.

I'm only slightly not joking. When you lose Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince and Carrie Fisher (not to mention her Mom, Debbie Reynolds) in one year...well, Donald Trump becoming President almost seems inevitable. 

And for those of you lecturing us on personalizing and hating on 2016, I have things to say...but that's for another post.This post is about a new series coming up as well as a few things happening with the blog. So, here goes that.

For those who somehow don't know..I love stories. I love people's stories and telling stories and plays and musicals and movies. And after watching a couple of great movies the past couple of nights and thinking through how relevant they are and about how much I love the word "trudge", I decided to write a series using some of my favorite movie clips. We'll call it a nod to the awards season kicking off. Is this a good time to bring up Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes?

Oh...well, then okay...

The awards season ends with the Oscars (because the Tony's aren't apparently a part of a red headed step child...when everyone knows the Tony's are the best and everyone is just bitter. Umm, maybe I'm projecting) so we'll do one or two posts a week. I've already written the first one. You can read it here: Trudging

We're calling it "Keeping It Reel" and yes, I know it's cheesy but guess what?
I like cheesy!!!

Anyway, I'm doing something new (actually I'm doing several things new but we'll get to those in a minute) and I'm offering others the chance to chance to guest blog! So, if you want to write a guest post for Keeping It Reel, comment below or shoot me an email at and I'll send you the guidelines. I'm super excited for this! It's the first time I've invited other people contribute to my blog! Which reminds me...

It's possible there are too many gifs in this post but I can't resist David Tennant. I mean, look at him.

Along with several other things going on lately, I've really been trying to up my writing game. I've got the chance to guest post on some blogs. I've been reading books on writing. And I downloaded Grammarly. Only, when I downloaded Grammarly, I found out it's not compatible with Blogger but it is compatible with Wordpress. I'd already had conversations about moving the blog to Wordpress but this reignited the thought. And then I thought, if I'm upping my game and I'm moving to Wordpress...maybe this is a good time to re-brand the blog. I started the blog way back when I worked at OM USA (missions organization) to tell our partners about the work we were doing in missions, stories of us as a family, etc. The first title was "The Battles Belong To The Lord" which was great but felt super spiritual and I didn't feel like I could write about anything but super spiritual issues in a really serious kind of way. At some point, possibly when I started working at Wellspring Living, I became more aware of my role as an advocate and the blog took on a new identity but I kept the title. I was still writing about our family and adventures as well...I was still writing for our family. However, these days, even when I'm writing about my family I am not necessarily writing for them. Embree and Trey are grown...I mean raising a family and protecting the country grown! Embree is a Grable now and loving it. So, if I'm moving the blog and re-branding the blog, it seems like a good time to give the blog a new title. So, I'm taking suggestions from friends and fellow bloggers and brainstorming my own ideas. I'm making a list and checking it twice..and then again and again and again...I want to keep "Battles" in it somewhere because it seems a shame to have such a great last name and not use it but I'm also willing to give it up. I want the blog to represent who I am and I want to make sure that even if the word "battle" is in it, there is also hope and a sense of adventure. Above all, I want the blog to be about stories and advocacy and standing with the marginalized and against injustice. A friend of mine wrote today "You aren't battling just to win but to bring change and hope" and I actually teared up because in that one sentence she described everything I want not only my blog but my life to be. So, those changes are coming soon and you will certainly know when because I will probably be shouting it from the roof tops. 

As a reminder, if you are interested in posting in the Keeping It Reel series or if you have a suggestion on the new title...shoot me an email or post in comments.

Until next time, one more gif for the road?

 Game on!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Keeping It Reel: Trudging

Oh my Lord ya'll! Anyone else trudging this week?

"Trudging? The slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in his life except he impulse to simply soldier on..."
 I'll admit it seems a little early in the year to be trudging already...but, let's be real, many-possibly even most-of us are still recuperating from 2016. Sorry 2017. We wanted to give you a chance. To look at you with fresh eyes and renewed hearts...but 2016 got it's last licks in and, well, to be honest, you haven't started on the brightest of notes. We're trying to be positive but the current state of affairs just makes it difficult.

I'm not just talking about political affairs...although, if you know me, you know the victory of Donald Trump has thrown me for an absolute loop and I have trouble just turning on the television. His careless remarks about international affairs give me anxiety attacks not just for my country but for my son. His cabinet appointees signal to me and a great many people I know that we are about to see our country moving backward from the progress we've made when it comes to women's rights, immigration, LGBTQ rights, race relations, etc. Make America Great Again was not and has never been about making this country great for all people but a select few. And for those people to prosper, it seems others must suffer. I-of course-could be wrong, but those are my current fears.

I'm also talking about a lack of trust in our government and media no matter which side you are on...there is too much bias, too much disinformation, and too many pointing fingers. And our society, as is often the way of things, follows the mood. So we are locked in two extremes with any movement towards the middle being seen as weakness and surrender. We can't or won't listen to one another, consider each others view points. Media releasing unsubstantiated information causes us to lose trust in the organizations that should be feeding us information but they aren't actually out to inform us anymore...they just want the ratings. The government isn't working for us anymore but against each other. It's a cage match to the death! Republican vs Democrat! Only one will come out of the ring alive!

In this atmosphere there is no "and". 

  • I can't be supportive of law enforcement and against the unjust killings of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott and so many others. I participated in a march this Summer because I believed it was important...and my "friend" count on Facebook dropped dramatically. Without a word, people that I thought I knew, that knew me, people that I cared about...those relationships are broken. 
  • I can't be pro-life and Democrat.
  • I can't be pro-LGBTQ equality and Christian.
  • I can't be pro-Kirby and pro-Richt (had to throw in football joke...)
I was talking to a family member recently who told me her son was going to bring her to see my daughter's baby but decided it would be in the best interest to wait until "things died down" after the inauguration. My feelings were so hurt. I told her that first of all I wouldn't be there and second of all I wouldn't have brought up politics.She told me "I know, but he would" and I realized that if he did, I couldn't be trusted not to engage. And I am passionate. And, well, loud. We've always disagreed on politics, I'm the only Democrat in my family. And we've had debates. But now, it's impacting our relationships. It's hurting our family.

So we are carrying all of that...and all the personal stuff. Illness, job loss, hurting marriages...and a sense of isolation. We could just give up. Stay in bed all day. Watch British dramas to escape reality and push away the pain and hopelessness (wait...I think that's just me). Stuff our face with ice cream (yeah, that one is pretty universal). But instead, we trudge.
"...still trudging does represent pride, resolve and faith in the good Lord almighty. Please Christ rescue me from my current tribula-OW!"
Trudging is a good thing. It means we carry on...we continue in despair perhaps but we move towards hope. At least, that's the idea. If you are trudging towards something other than hope, a splinter will do you good. It gives you a minute to stop and look around. You might see things with a new eye or you might find new possibilities. Your situation could very well be dire. You could be living in one of the most divisive times in our country's history. You could be jobless, homeless, and about to turn 44 years old (oh wait...I think that's just me again) It might give you a minute to think about your life (put some clothes on...), evaluate relationships, or take a rest. But regardless, take a minute to remov.e the splinter. And keep trudging. Because faith tells us to. And, believe it or not, I believe that our steps will quicken and we'll walk. And I think that as a people, if we see someone who is trudging, we slow our steps until theirs quicken. And I think that if we see someone limping, we offer to help them. Together we trudge, walk or run towards hope, faith and justice. 

No matter what 2017, our families, the government, or the media throw at us. We do it together.

Today I am trudging. 
Tomorrow might be different. I hope so. 
But I refuse to stop. I refuse to quit.

Trudge on...
And reach for the stars.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Supporting Our Troops" Means Seeing Them-And Their Families

My son spent Thanksgiving half a world away from his family. Make no mistake, he made a choice two years ago that determined he would spend a good portion of his holidays far away from his family. Make no mistake, I was not a huge fan of the choice. Like pretty much every mother on the planet, I want my children close and able to communicate with me at all times. My son's choice offered neither of those. But I am proud of him. 

My son choice to serve his country. No one made him. He was raised that his life was about more than just day to day. He believed in something. He went for it. He joined the United States Marine Corps. He went through 13 weeks of some of the most strenuous training in the world. He went through more training. He was sent thousands of miles away...and then a few more thousand when he was sent on deployment. I miss him so,so much. His sister misses him so much. His niece hasn't met him yet. I carry my phone everywhere, at all times because he might have access to internet at some point. If my phone goes off at 1 AM, I check it. If it goes off at 5 AM, I check it. 

It is important that you know that I know that my son made this choice. It is important that you know that I know that even though my son is serving his country...which-presumably-is your country (sidenote: if there are people outside the United States reading this, that is flipping awesome, but some of this might not apply to you!)...that you don't actually owe me anything. Or any other military family for that matter.

But can I ask that you at least see me...acknowledge me...try to understand? I had no idea how lonely being a military family was until my son joined the Marine Corps. And I don't think my situation is unique. I think it is the norm. In a country which prides itself on "supporting the troops", I am not sure the troops or their families are that supported. 

And here is the thing, I get it. Before you think I'm being judgmental, I was not exactly super supportive either...I ate hotdogs on 4th of July and felt emotions stir as I watched the fireworks. I think at the beginning of the "war on terror" I had a flag and a yellow ribbon. When Trey decided to join, I didn't know that you don't call a Marine a Soldier and vice versa (PS I know now and am compelled to correct you. Sorry.) If my son had not joined the Marine Corps and I'd heard the stories I've heard the past two years, I would have been sad, said a quick prayer and gone about my business. So maybe my plea is born out of selfishness. But maybe it's born out of relationships, which is what usually changes my mind about things (see also, LGBTQ issues, Immigration and Refugee issues, etc). Because I understand the loneliness and I see others struggling with it...because I am aware of the suicide rate among veterans, because I now know that military family exhaustion is a thing.

I also know that supporting military families is sometimes as easy as saying "we see you". I was at a friend's house when Trey got online Thanksgiving Day. After I talked to him, I shared the picture he sent me and a status. My friend shared it with a post. He said "We see you." And it made me cry.

Later that week, that same sweet family went on their annual Christmas ornament shopping trip (they get a new ornament every year.) I'd shared the story of how my kids had gotten new nutcrackers every Christmas and while they were out, they saw this nutcracker. They bought it for me. The daughter told me I had to pick a good place to put it. I asked for her help...she went to my bedroom, asked me what side I slept on and placed the nutcracker on that bedside table so it was "the first thing I see when I wake up". She said that so Trey was the first thing I thought of, but I don't need a nutcracker for that. 

Instead, when I see it, I think of the friends and family who think of my son, ask how he is (or where he is for that matter), send him messages on Facebook, or buy things to put in his care packages. I think of the friend who came to help me move and stayed until almost midnight. And while she is my friend, she did it because she recognized my son's service. It made her sacrifice mean even more to me. It reminds me that sometimes I am not as lonely as I feel. That people see...they don't owe me that...but they do it anyway.

I think if we all start doing that, if we see veterans and know they are in a hard place and let them know we know. If we see that Mom and her kids and know that their husband/dad is on deployment so we invite them to dinner or we take the kids so the Mom can go have coffee (or judgement!) If we make supporting our troops about more than fireworks and hating on athletes who take a knee in protest...if we turn it into positive action...then I think we are going to see less suicides, less divorce in military families, improved morale...

And whether or not we owe it to them...shouldn't we do it anyway?

This was a work in progress for a couple of weeks. I wrestled with it a lot. I'm still not sure I am happy with it. However, it needed to be published today for this reason...this addendum.

On December 7th, a pilot flying patrol was forced to eject when his F-18 went down off the coasts of Japan. On December 9th, the Marine Corps officially announced that Captain James Frederick, 32 years old, had not survived the crash. He leaves behind a young son and a baby on the way. The Wingman Foundation, a reputable organization, is taking donations on his family's behalf. The family will recieve 100% of what you give. You can give here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reminder: "I disagree" and "I hope you die" Are Not The Same Thing

Ya'll...we need to have a talk. Because somehow "freedom of speech" in the age of social media has led to an entirely new definition of the term. Somehow, now, if you disagree with me then you can hide behind your computer and say the most awful things imaginable and congratulate yourself on your use of the First Amendment.

Let's be clear...
"I disagree with your opinion"
"I hope you die"
are not the same thing.

And whether you like it or not...
This is not what the Framers meant 
when they wrote:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Framers wrote the Declaration shouting to the King and the world that they would no longer be ruled by an oppressive government. They wrote the Bill of Rights as a way to protect citizens from being oppressed. Somehow, in today's culture, we have moved from the ideology of a "freedom from" to an ideology of "freedom to". Our freedom of speech was never meant to give us the right to say anything without consequences but to guarantee us the right to question and even criticize our government without fear of imprisonment or worse. 

Furthermore, thanks to the cultural shift from "freedom from" to "freedom to" we find ourselves in a place where the freedom to do something and the right to do something are not the same thing. Does this Twitter Troll have the freedom to call me names? Absolutely. Does he have the right? No, no he doesn't. We see the same thing over and over in our society today. "Freedom of Speech" being used to demean people, culture, etc. Media objectifying women. Attacking people when they disagree with us...or disagree with a leader we support. We have the freedom to do so but we do not have the right. We never have the right to strip someone of their humanity, their dignity, their imago dei. No matter what freedoms we think we have to do so...we simply do not have the right. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Next To Normal

Because I am a glutton for emotional masochist if you will...I actually watched Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, talked to my Mom, and then caught up on This Is Us in the same day. I then ate my feelings. I should have colored but old habits die hard.

I haven't talked to my Mom in months. The last time was on her birthday. It was a short conversation. It ended when my Mom said "I don't have anything else to say". Since the last time she and I talked, the show I was directing came and went, my granddaughter was born, I became homeless, a church that I had only heard of in passing paid to fix my car and friends who cared offered me a place to stay. She didn't ask me about Trey, who has been on deployment. She didn't ask about Embree, how her marriage was, about the baby. We talked about her being sick (cold). When she asked how I was, I wasn't sure what all she knew so I said "better". She caught that and asked so I downplayed all of it. Then I offered her information about the kids, Avi, etc.

My Mom never offers up "I miss you".
I say it, then she says it...but with a caveat...she doesn't miss the now me. She misses the 16 year old me, the 18 year old me, maybe even the 22 year old me. She misses the me when she felt better. When she says she misses me then always references it back to those times, what she means is she misses her. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand. I miss her too.

I want to be hurt...I am hurt, but logic tells me that's ridiculous because she doesn't mean it. I want to be mad. But who is there to be mad at? Can you be mad at mental illness? Can you personalize it and kick the shit out of it for taking away your Mom? Can you scream at it? Yell? Reason with it? Would it care if you could? Or would you just be wasting your breath?

There's this line in the musical Next To Normal during a song that shows her trying to get her meds back on track where she says "I don't feel like myself. I mean, I don't feel anything" And the doctor notes in her file "Patient stable."

I'm glad my Mom is stable. But I miss her. There are so many things I wish, that I regret. I think at one time my Mom may have made the effort but the meds and the illness made it too much to fight for...and to be honest, I stopped fighting too. It's hard to fight a battle you can't win, especially when there are so many others to be fought.

I hope she knows I love her though. I think she does

I think I'm going to have some pie.