Monday, December 3, 2018

Chasing down a red backpack

December 2, 2018


We are running early for church. We NEVER run early. I should have known right then that God was up to something. We gathered our stuff and loaded up the minivan. We decided to stop at our bank before church to make a deposit in the ATM. 
That's when I saw him. I was driving towards Great Bridge and he was walking away on the other side. A quick look to the rear view mirror, red back pack. A guy in dirty winter wear , walking in the rain with a red back pack. 

Inside my head, I heard the still small voice. Turn around and see what he needs. No, I thought, I need to head to the bank. We got to the bank and Bryan hops out to make the deposit. Here I sit in the driver's seat. Wrestling with God while Cora sits happily unaware in the back seat. God is all over me telling me to double back and find the red back pack. 
Bryan hops in the car. I tell him, we are doubling back. God wants me to go find the red back pack guy. Bryan says he did not see him. I sigh. I saw him. 

We turn out and go back down Cedar Rd. I drive 35 in a 45 praying silently that he has gone off into the town homes on the right. Nope. I look up about a mile and he is just passing a church. Guess what? God has a sense of humor. There is a safe spot to pull off and he has just arrived at it. I pull over and hit the hazards and turn to Bryan. I say, get out and ask him what he needs. He laughs and says, I thought God told YOU to do that. :) I delegate again and he asks the guy if he needs anything. 

The man is shaking, wet, looks exhausted and is the age of my oldest son. These are the ones that tear me up inside. 

Bryan hollers over his shoulder, he needs a ride to Chesapeake Square Mall. I almost say, dang we are headed to South Norfolk...totally out of the way. But Bryan beats me to it. The young man does not know where South Norfolk is. I then come up with a genius plan....or God did! 

Bryan, tell him get in front and we will drive to church. You drop me and Cora off and take him on to Chesapeake Square Mall. We have always chatted about this ...if we pick someone up. One adult stays with Cora in the back and to keep an eye on the situation. One of us is up front with the homeless person. 
I reach over and put out my hand and introduce myself, he timidly shakes my hand and tells me his name is George. I introduce him to Cora and Bryan. He will not look me in the eye. 

I hit the hazards and tell him where we are going, how long it will take and the plan. I also ask if he is hungry. He smells of alcohol and I know he is shaking and feeling like crap. He declines food. I wait a bit and I ask George, what brings you out here to Great Bridge. He replies: I was detained for drunk and disorderly conduct.  I sigh. I say well you are in good company...I have been there before. He looks straight ahead. I am thankful he told me the truth and I now know we are completely safe. Just coming fresh from jail...he has nothing on him. I am sure if he had any weapon of any kind...it was removed from his possession at intake. I then offer him my cup of coffee...I had made an extra for after church. He gets a smile on his face and says YES. He says it is good. For a minute I know I am going to miss having that second cup. Then God slaps me in the back of the head. 

He smells of sweat, stress, alcohol, dirt, and many other things. I want to turn around and take him home. I want to wash all his clothing and let him take a hot shower. But I don't want to get arrested for kidnapping. I continue to church. 
As we turn in I notice our sign...it says The Shelter. :) He is probably freaking out thinking I am dropping HIM off at a shelter. I tell him, here we are. I pull to a stop and kindly ask him to hand me our checkbook out of the door next to him. He fumbles and does what I ask. Then I open the door and tell him I hope his day gets better. He says he hopes so too. I pause. I say, May I make you a plate of food to go? We have a whole spread in there and I know you might be hungry later. He says , yes please. 

Cora and I go inside and I make him a to go plate. I run it back out to the car and he again fumbles to get the car window down. I want to hug him. But again, I don't want to push it. I hand him the container and tell him and Bryan to be careful and goodbye. 

I go in and teach the children Sunday School. The whole time thinking of George. 
Bryan arrives a bit later and tells me he dropped him off, prayed with him, he gave him some cash and that George looked like he was going to cry. Then off he went. 

We finish class and agree that a collection of items for the homeless would be great, and instead of decorating a tree in the classroom with ornaments, we will use gloves, hats, scarves and blankets. The kids like that. 

We go about our day picking up donations for the homeless and I keep thinking about George. 

We sit down at dinner later and I am thinking, he should be here eating with us now. A good hot meal and a shower would have done him good. He mentioned his Mother briefly to Bryan and as a mother myself I think what would it be like to have a boy on the streets. I am pretty sure he has an addiction to alcohol.  But he is a human. 

I am at peace with losing my wrestling match with God. I am glad to have chased down the red backpack. Bryan said when we pulled up he looked like he had been crying. Can you imagine being far from your place and walking on a public street, dirty and wet and crying. He had fresh cuts on his face and his knuckles looked like they had been dragged over bricks. I only caught his eyes once, when I handed him the food. I saw Jesus in those eyes and it broke my heart. 

The homeless are just like us. Hurt, broken and wanting love. I can only hope that George felt like a human being when we invited him into our car. He did more for my heart than we were ever able to do for him. 

God Bless George and you better believe I will be on the watch for that red backpack when I am out and about. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Why don't you just shout it from the roof tops????

So, I read this great blog called: Juggling the Jenkins. One day on her facebook page the chick says: Looking for submissions...Submit your story of recovery and I will put it on my facebook page and then in a small book she is putting together from all the stories she receives. Proceeds from the book will go to... So I did it. I sat down and banged out my heart for about 15 minutes. Did a quick spell check and sent that sucker to her. Here is THE STORY! 
One day I open up my email and there it is. I'm gonna post up your entry tomorrow. Well, the alcoholic in me is all " yerp, that's right! you are gonna be famous". . . bahahahahahaha
The anxiety-ridden side of me is like "yeah dumbo you just told the NATION that you are a drunk! "
Then the alcoholic and the anxiety ridden side get in a fight because it's a recovering alchoholic to be exact and I stand back and let them duke it out all the while laughing at myself...which I do  a LOT!

So it posted. And it got shared. And it got liked. And it got comments. And I am stoked.
I think I have NEVER been anything but transparent about my recovery. That made accountability quite easy. Tell everyone...then everyone can hold you to it. I don't do family secrets. Can't stand 'em.

So I am basically sharing the post so you can give this gal Tiffany mad props for letting gals like me share my LIFE story all while giving others HOPE!

Plus SHE wrote a real book. I think you should get it! yerp. Here is the link: High Achiever: The Shocking True Story of One Addict’s Double Life

Friday, February 9, 2018

I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will- our dive into home educating with Charlotte Mason

I have been home educating Cora for about 3 years now. I tried unschooling, I tried replicating school at home, I tried Heart of Dakota curriculum. ALL bored her to tears. Then I stumbled upon a book called For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.  In this book, which I annihilated with a highlighter, she speaks of a woman named Charlotte Mason. I remember my first year of homeschooling. I wrote that name down on a list to "research" . That list sat for 2 years. Then I did research. I found a woman who thought that nature study was important. Being out doors was important. 


My favorite quote (well , one of many) is: 
Never be within doors when you can rightly be without--Charlotte Mason

So off I went in search of everything I could find. I went to a large conference in KY. I purchased books, like the Charlotte Mason Companion and listened to pod casts from A Delectable Education and quite frankly I fell in love. With short lessons and a 1/2 school day I was hooked. Our morning is spent in lessons of Ancient History, Literature, Shakespeare, Math, Grammar, etc. Then our afternoons are filled with occupations and handicrafts such as "chores" and paper folding, painting and Nature Study. Nothing is longer than 30 minutes and Cora loves it. Actually, Cora is thriving. I am not supposed to brag...but the other day she recited a bit of her favorite poem from Robert Frost, completely from memory. I cried. She laughed at me. I cried some more. Here is the poem: Birches by Robert Frost. I cry when she shouts out, " I am getting it Mom! " when she does her math. Perhaps I need to invest in some tissues for the schoolroom :) 
But the biggest challenge has been doing a daily nature study, which requires us to go outside for at least a good bit of the afternoon. Cora is not the problem. I am. I have been very lazy and we started off our first term with , ahem, indoor nature study. We observed the squirrels in our yard, we have tracked the growth of an avocado plant that Bryan has grown. I just did not want to go OUT. I am a bit of a hermit crab...:) 

BUT I became bold this second term and with a challenge put out from my Charlotte Mason study group, I looked to see how I could integrate MORE outside time and nature study for the family. I chose to take 1/2 days on Wednesday for Cora and I (and Dad too if the job permits) to go "tromping" in the woods, the shores or the mountains. 
Our first Wednesday was a flop, she woke with a stomach ache and a head ache...
But our second Wednesday I let her determine the time we would leave, what to bring (binoculars, Swiss army knife, bug spray, snacks and canteens) and where we would go. 
She chose Northwest River Park.  So off we went. 


Two hours later, and a back pack less heavy since we ate all our snacks and drank most of our water we exited the woods of NWRP happy and laughing. We had ambled through about 3 miles of trails. We saw deer tracks, duckweed, danced in mud puddles, sat on perilous logs over the river (she did) , climbed ridges and shouted "I'm the queen of the forest" (again Cora) and came down so fast that she nearly took out a small tree or two. I showed her to slow down and LOOK down. Moss. My favorite joy as a child, I would pull it up and play with it like carpet for my tiny figurines. I showed her how springy it is, she lay her head on it and proclaimed "I love it, I need a pillow made from Memory Moss!". We decided that all the cool squirrels must have Memory Moss pillows and beds. Later we found a bigger patch and she laid right down on the trail and put her head upon it. I thought, "I hope no one walks up on us, with her laying prostrate on the ground and me standing over her with a large walking stick!" 


She could not get enough of it and laughed when she stood up with leaves in her hair. I tried to remove them, but she said, Leave them there. Get it! :) 

We made our way to the Northwest River and the wind must have been blowing about 40 mph. Cora and I went to check out a tree with a large hole chipped out. As she climbed she said I knew there was a reason to climb this tree. There are more holes up here Mom. Sure enough, there were. Someone was building a condo! We admired the river for a while, walked on the dock and decided to turn back to try another route on the map. 

Onward we moved to another trail, where we found a large tree cut down. The stump still intact. I told her find out how old that tree is. She sat down to count the rings, 61 years old! She laid across the trunk and played with the saw dust that surrounded it and said how good it felt. I remember many days of playing with sawdust under my Dad's saw horses as he created things out of wood. Sawdust is still one of my favorite smells. 
Some of the items we collected and will identify and sketch. All were found on the ground. 


We mucked through a path that she swore was a shortcut and emerged right where she said we would. We both had walking sticks but she stuck a sprout of bamboo in the top of hers and proclaimed she was queen of the forest again! Today we are going to use my wood burning tool and put the initials of the park we visited in our walking sticks...a tradition I hope to continue many more Wednesdays. I left the park tired, exhilarated and hungry for more time in nature. She declared it a good day. I wistfully thought of me being 60, with a full crown of grey hair, long and lean from many miles of Wednesdays...with her by my side as adult. Still holding onto our Wednesdays. It would be wonderful if that came to fruition. I truly hope it does. I would love for her to have a place to "go" to remember me when I am gone. 


But for today, I will thank God for the gift of two golden hours in the woods with my daughter...67 degrees and sunny right in the middle of February. Yes God. Thank you for that. 

Until next Wednesday...get out there, find some mud and leave your tracks....get it? LEAVE your tracks :) 
xoxo,
Tracy

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jesus wrecked my date night...

Sometimes in the our household all the stars fall in line. The dogs are fed. Everyone has been out. The guinea pigs and rabbits are resting. The hermit crabs are well "hermiting". The tortoise is doing his usual thing with his pet rock and the girl...well....she spends the night out! YES! The holy grail of parenting...the sleepover. Then you add this....the company Christmas dinner and BOOM you have a DATE night. 


I do my makeup, my hair, dress like an adult...Bryan puts on some extra essential oils and changes his shoes (more on that later) and out the door we roll! 

Last night was THAT night! I even thought ahead to bring our two angel tree kid wish lists so we could do a little retail therapy later after dinner! 


So we had a GREAT dinner at the local Japanese Steak House. We saw new babies and old friends. We ate. We laughed. We ate. I met new people. "Peopleing" is hard sometimes for me, as I sometimes experience social anxiety. Back in the old days drinking made that go away...but now I have to adult and do it dry....:) God helps that by holding me strongly on the back and gently pushing me out of my comfort zone :) 


So you are wondering where Jesus came in like a wrecking ball? Well, just wait, meanwhile try to burn that image out of your mind....


I told you we ate and I totally cleared my plate. I had purposely not eaten all day so I could , ahem, take it all in! I literally was food drunk when I pushed away from the table! At about 8:30 we decided that it was time to pack out and make our way home. Bryan muttered something about Dairy Queen...and I just chuckled. 



So out the door we went. As we were buckling up a young man with a backpack went walking by. Then he backed up and motioned at the window. I instantly went to reach for my wallet but paused. He asked if we had any spare change, he was looking to purchase a cold weather sleeping bag. 

I instantly took him off guard and said, you are not going to believe this, but I have a sleeping bag in my trunk. Would you want to look at it? He said, yes mam. Right here I am going to quit with the quotes. I hate quotation marks and can't seem to handle them...just like my liquor! :) 

I jumped out and Bryan popped the trunk. The bag turned out to be too lightweight. I pressed on and said do you need a new shirt? How about some socks? He was in shock. He mentioned toiletries and tears came to my eyes. I had NO Homeless kits left. I gave them all out on my TN trip and had not reloaded the car yet. Here is where Jesus steps in....
I had a roll of TP and asked if he needed this...he said, no mam, I go into places to use the restroom. I dug some more to make sure that I did not have anything. Oh, would you like a liter of water!? Yes, I will take that. 

Then I turned around and asked him his name. Enter Jesus. No I can't remember his name. But I introduced myself. He said he was not a bad person, it was a generational thing. His father had started out this way and now he was on the streets. I looked at his face. He was Zac's age. Zac is my son and 27. He said he was on probation and getting things straight. He said again, I am not a bad person. I stopped him right there and said, Honey, I too have been a "bad person" , we all have been bad. I told him, it's the ones that say they have done no wrong that we need to worry about. He laughed. His smile was glorious. 

Jesus is about to let the wrecking ball drop. 


I asked him, Can I give you a hug. He opened his arms wide open and gave me the biggest hug. Then he hugged Bryan and he said I feel like we are family....and Bryan said something about we are family...but that was when the wrecking ball hit my chest and the ugly cry was starting to come. 

I tried to gather myself and told him, let me see how much money I have so you can get that bag you need and some other stuff, and my husband said, no, I have it. Bryan had done some work for his parents and they always give him some money. 

He handed that boy a $50. His face was perplexed. He said, the sleeping bag costs $49.95. That is exactly what I need! Bryan handed him another bill and said, for tax....take it. He said he really appreciated it. We chatted a bit more and then he said goodbye. 

He mentioned that he had a tent set up by the church. I know Ward's Corner pretty well and knew exactly which church he was talking about. 

Sure enough when we eventually pulled out of the lot I saw him, walking with a little pep in his step to that very church. I wish I was better with names. It takes me about 4 times to meet you before I get them. But I do remember his daughters name. He told us he had a 3 year old girl, named Havilah. I told him it was a beautiful name. He said the girls mother had chosen it from the Bible. 


I am still wrecked reading this. Normally , when I roll along encountering the homeless, I am alone and hold it together until I pull away. This time, as I sat outside a restaurant that I had just eaten about $30 in food. I could not imagine what ALL that money could have gone to, how many lives it could have changed. There were probably about 40+ people inside. 

I know we all need fun sometimes, and it's nice to celebrate the season with others. But for me, the Lord has broken me to pieces and wrecked my date night by giving me the eyes to see, the heart that breaks for what breaks His heart. I pray for that every night. 

So yes, Jesus wrecked my date night. In a good way. I got a reality check. A tiny Bible slap that while we have so much, some have so little. It's our job to even the score. 

On the way home I looked in the mirror at the Tracy that had just had an ugly cry. Makeup wrecked, eyes puffy, heart hurting. All ideas of shopping late night went out the window. 


I love me some Courtney Love :) 



Instead we went home to our warm home, let the dogs in and out, locked our doors and laid in bed eating ice cream quietly. Well as quiet as you can with two little dogs watching your every move! I could not help but think of people who were sleeping outside, while I was nestled in my bed. 

I hope Jesus keeps wrecking my life. 

God Bless 

Tracy

PS I said I would talk about Bryan changing shoes to go out. Scroll back up to the top. See that plaid shirt. Yep. plaid. Guess what shoes he wore out and I did NOT notice until we were walking back in our front door last night AFTER the festivities....here is a picture of the shoes!  ( #WifeFail ) :) 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

We'll leave the light on for ya....or not.

Church. Open Doors. Lights. Shades. Locks. Words all running thru my mind. Add in Motel 6 and there ya have the title of this blog. 

I will explain all this hopefully in this quick post. I got hit this morning with the idea of churches being open to all, available and a safe place. 
Then I thought a little harder, as the coffee kicked in and thought. Am I, as a Christian, open to all, available and a safe place? 

ouch. 

Case in point. I have been known to stop for homeless. pets. people. anyone. Give them all I got. The hat off my head. The bible off the seat. You name it. 
The other day traveling thru Downtown Great Bridge. We saw a man in a white button up shirt and tie walking toward the ATM. As we did our banking , he turned and started back the way he came. When we finished up our drive thru biz...we found him once again walking on this sweltering day. 


Bryan: let's pick him up. He needs help. 
Me: NO! we can't put him in the back seat with Cora. 
Cora: huh? 
Bryan: why not? 
Me: He could be a serial killer...or something along that line...


Don't quote me. But the convo did go like that. somewhat. All the while Bryan is braking and driving, braking and driving. In the end he gave in to my NO and kept going. 


Why did Tracy not let that man in the car. Why will Tracy stop in busy intersections and pray with homeless and give them her last dime, but not let Mr. Whitebread America in the car. Do I not trust a button up shirt , tie wearing guy? I do have a certain aversion to middle age, slightly graying men who dress business like. What the hell is that? I come from a blue collar family. That could be it. I ain't scared of " the man" . that's not it. Perhaps that is the general population that looks me up and down and says harrumph at my tattoos etc. who the hell knows. What I do know is that at that moment. I was not a "church" . We are all walking churches if we have Jesus in our hearts. All people, whether walking in button up shirts and ties OR in full biker regalia OR in rags are children of the God most High. So. Mission failed. So much for the Golden Rule...treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. BAM! 


My church was closed. I had locked the door. I had drawn the shades and worse off...when the doorbell rang. I ran and hid behind the couch and told the other people in the house to shhhhhhh, they might hear us! 



What the What? 
Being a Christian does not mean you have "Christian" hours. Like on Sunday between the hours of 10am- noonish. You are open 24 / 7 . . . you are a bit like an IHOP. You are serving it hot 24 hours a day. Rain, shine, running late, good hair day, bad hair day, step in dog poop day. You serve God. When you serve God, you serve others. You love others. You help others. You just do. There is no blinking neon sign in your eyes that states. I am a Christian now...hurry up. Closing in 5 minutes. :) 


Your light is always on. I seriously used to laugh at the bracelets that said WWJD? But now, I find my inner Tracy saying...what would Jesus do? Would he lock the doors, pull the shades and keep driving. Would he say, but I have to pee really really bad and I ain't got time for this. 

NO he would not. He would stop. He would ask: Did you need any help? And then he would listen. 

Don't forget to listen today. 


Remember to leave the light on . . . :) 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Excuse me....how do you get to Normal from here?

It seems that our family has never just been in the normal range. There always seems to be something going haywire. But I have noted over my last 4 1/2 decades of living that neither is anyone's family ....normal that is.



What is normal.

pinterest? heavens no.

Straight A students with crest white smiles? negative

Mom's with make up just right and clothing from this decade? Never

Normal is a house that is a home. Hairballs in the corner. Rings around the tub from dirty tired children that played outside all day.

Normal is one sock that never gets matched but we don't give up hope and keep it around. Normal is sand in your trunk that you never got around to vacuuming out from two summers ago.

Normal is the ring of the doorbell and the crash of bikes hitting the driveway as friends arrive at the exact moment you sit down to eat....the kids can play in a bit.

Normal is an empty guinea pig water bottle and a dryer that cut off hours ago and a sink full of dishes.


Dear Fly Lady: kiss my butt. I will not be subscribing to your jibberish anymore. you are way too OCD for me. please. clean the toilet EVERY day. maybe when my kids are gone and their kids are not over visiting or I am not out busy spending their inheritance.

Normal is can we meet for coffee? and a quick email of no. busy today with Mom's group. How about tomorrow? nope therapy. and by the way THERAPY IS NORMAL. heck I even do check-ins on fb from my therapists office. It's way more healthier to chat about your problems than to eat them....or stuff them....or worse. take them out on your loved ones.

Normal is caller ID being a GIFT from GOD. thank you Ma Bell for that one!

Normal is embezzling from the grocery fund to buy dog food. ugh. but hey, payday is tomorrow.

Normal is a Mom with two twenty four year old kids. One eight year old and then one 15 year old who is from a hard place and can't live with us right now.

You see for  a while there I got caught up in the why can't we be normal game....I have spent half my life trying with all my being to be NOT NORMAL....and it turns out. we are normal.

Normal is loving God. Normal is loving others. Normal is loving me. a lot more than I have been for the past few years. Loving someone from a hard place is overwhelming, exhausting and hard. Being the daughter of an alcoholic I am a bit of a perfectionist....it's time to let loose threads lie where they are. Let the dirt sit on the floor. Cook a microwave meal. Skip the Load of laundry. Sit with God instead.

Time to dig into the word. Love Tracy and well. just be normal.


so you go. you try it. maybe even leave me a comment and tell me what your normal is. I am sure your normal fits you quite well.

have a great one....till next time.

Friday, October 23, 2015

to do the IMPOSSIBLE....by making it possible

dear daughter,
yes you. the one who does not want to be my daughter anymore. I get it. I truly do. The neglect and the abuse you were raised in . . . well they make this easy for you. It's easy for you not to trust me and Dad with making decisions for you. It's easy for you to not trust that we love you or care for you or would give our lives for you.
 
 


What is not easy for you is to understand just how much we do love you. We love you enough to let you go. We hear your voice loud and clear. I have scars to prove that I have heard your rage. But the Father has asked me to write this letter of forgiveness. I am slam sold out to Jesus and when he asks ...I say Yes Lord.  So here goes.


I forgive you. I forgive you for biting me, slapping me, scratching me, hitting me, saying false statements about me and most of all I forgive you for yelling awful things at your little sister.

I forgive you  and still love you just as the Father loves you. I will pray for you until the day I die. I know that you are in there. I have seen the real you. However I have also seen many other "faces" of you and those are the ones that I can't live with. So I get it. You want out. A new start. A new family . But our hurts from childhood tend to come back around...just like the seasons.
We forgive you. You are our family. We love you. I hope you find a comfortable place to land. A safe place where you can become the you that God has made you. A place to grow and love yourself. A place where you will be loved just as Jesus loves you.

Radical acceptance of yourself is what God wants from you. Radical love for you is what God demanded from Dad and myself. So in an extreme act of Radical love, we will let you go. We will step back into the shadows and pray for you with all our might. We know God has you right in his hands. Now it is time to step back and watch the miracle happen. That is what loving like Jesus is all about.
I forgive you. We forgive you. We love you.
always.
Mom and Dad