This was certainly not the holiday weekend I had in mind for myself. Things happened much much differently that anyone, especially myself, could have imagined. Okay, maybe not imagined, but it certainly has been a nightmare. It reminded me of a time only a few short months ago when I found myself, as one put it, at my lowest of lows. Because I failed to have one of my medications changed to home delivery, I have been going through withdrawal. I’ve been moody and emotional. I’ve cried so much I have no tears left. I sleep, I can’t sleep, I have headaches, and I couldn’t even get out of bed Sunday morning to go to church. It felt as is someone had punched me in the face. Then there are these brain ‘zaps’ that make me dizzy and my skin is so sensitive, I feel as if I’d jump out of my skin if someone touches me.
I have battled depression, and some anxiety, for quite a long time. Doctors have tried various medications and when they would stop working, I’d quit…not the smartest of ideas, I know. But I was brought up being taught that I didn’t need medication, I needed God. I even remember when an entire room of family and friends learned that I didn’t need a therapist or medication, as recommended by my boss because of various outbursts and breakdowns, I needed God. I had God…and I still had my breakdowns and my outbursts. It made it so much easier to leave the church and God. If that’s how people in church felt, then God must feel the same way. If they couldn’t deal with me, flaws and all, obviously. God wouldn’t either.
I treated God and church like a revolving door. I never had that consistency, the dedication and discipline I was raised to have. I knew better, boy did I know better. It didn’t matter what I did, how I behaved…there was always something that ate away at me. There was always that voice telling me what I was doing was wrong.
I have gone through various phases, phases I am certainly not proud of…the first phase at 23 was going to work everyday and then coming home and walking up the street to the bar and staying til closing. I may have had a beer or two, but not much more than that. I’d seen what alcohol had done to my dad when I was younger…and I didn’t have the tolerance. I just didn’t want to be home. Then, after getting my own place, I would go out nearly every weekend with friends; they were more friends of a friend. They were never mine; unless I was out with him and his friends, I didn’t have many friends of my own. That was my choice; I was a homebody. Eventually my tolerance for alcohol grew. I’d meet up with my friend wherever I could…a party at his house, or darts down in Newtown. I thought if he could drink and it not affect him at work the next day, so could I. I just needed aspirin, water, and Skyline chili. It eventually got to the point where I would drink so much I’d either blackout or completely pass out. I realized how ridiculous, embarrassing, and shameful it was when I was at a friend’s house playing the piano. I had no clue what I was playing and then passed out. I woke up thinking how stupid I was! I could hear Grandma White telling me, ‘If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.’ She wasn’t referring to my actually playing, it was my purpose in playing and who I was playing for! I’ve never since put myself in a position like that. I stopped drinking completely. Okay, I admit I’d had a drink or two every blue moon, just to fit in, but the low tolerance returned. What’s better is I returned to God and I don’t need it anymore.
After that, alcohol became sex. Didn’t help hearing, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it.’ And flaunt it, I did! But I made sure I was protected, if you know what I mean. Did not want to be a statistic, especially one of those. I always made sure to take care of my body and I still do; although I don’t have those worries anymore because I don’t participate in the extra curricular. There were two times I found myself in situations that could have ended worse than they did. Only God could have protected me. I’d go back to Him and then when I got my feelings hurt or it was convenient, I’d quit…again.
I haven’t had much success where men are concerned. I believe the crap and always found myself drawn to the wrong ones…usually the unavailable ones. Why? It all goes back to feeling more comfortable alone. A married guy or a guy in a relationship just wanted a quick ‘fix’ and I never wanted someone in my business 24/7. I had my space and I liked that. I was flying high; I loved my job, I was interning at TV and radio stations. Then I made the biggest mistake of all. It was six weeks that went from, ‘It can’t be happening to me,’ to ‘I dodged that bullet,’ to doing the one thing I thought I’d never do. I felt it best, after considering all that happened in that interim; I felt I’d done too much damage to my body with procedures and medications. I made the decision by myself and was alone through the whole ordeal…my choice. For many years, the devil allowed me to believe because of that one decision, I was meant to be alone forever. But my God forgave me years ago for that and I refuse to believe he wants me to spend the rest of my life alone.
Past mistakes have brought me where I am today. My lowest point, a shutdown, had me in the Lindner Center for five days. My baby sister, Ronda, brought me a Bible and crayons and my coloring book. I know Bobbie and Mandy were praying for me, as were Jeff and Michael. I know their hearts, their lives and their witness; I didn’t need to ask…I just knew! Bri and Matthew visited me and listened to me and prayed with me before they left. Matthew even made a special visit on his way home from Columbus to makes sure I was getting better. Zakk wasn’t able to visit me, but I knew he was praying and would have been there to see me if he could.
The day following my release I was so excited knowing I’d be able to go to church, my home church. Those days in treatment left me with a paranoia I’d never had. I felt everyone was looking at me and talking about me. I knew it wasn’t true. What started as paranoia became a feeling of no one in the sanctuary but me and God. I felt His arms around me. I was no longer afraid or paranoid.
Doctors don’t know exactly why I need medication for both ADD and major depressive disorder. They don’t know if the depression brought on the ADD or if a concussion two years ago plays a part in my needing medication to help me focus and concentrate. All I know is the two work together and along with my growing rebirth in Him, I am feeling better than I have in years.
During the time in treatment, and subsequent partial hospitalization, God birthed in me something I could never have imagined. In treatment, they gave me a composition book because they would give assignments in group. I’ll be honest, I didn’t attend many groups. I didn’t like them. I would sit in the common area or in my room using my crayons to design my journal. I didn’t like the blank pages. I may not know how to draw, but God has gifted me with knowing how to make things pretty.
When I returned to work, a coworker saw my journal pages and asked if I had nice handwriting. I showed her the inside of my journal, without allowing her to read, and she asked if I’d be interested in making some inspirational/motivational signs for her apartment. She will be having surgery in the coming weeks and feel the signs would be encouraging to her. I jumped at the opportunity. I then began teaching myself calligraphy and perfecting my handwriting (print and cursive). Then I learned of a friend worried about a procedure she would be undergoing. I talked to her and asked about her likes and things important to her. Out of that came my first KarePackage™ I included scriptures important for her healing and comfort. Then I designed small journal pages she could write on during her recovery. They were all specific to what she liked, enjoyed, and lower important to her. I received the greatest blessing when I finished her package. I never anticipated the blessing I would receive when I was able to present it to her. She opened the box and would marvel at the scriptures wondering how I knew. It was truly God that guided me!
A week later I had an opportunity to make one for another coworker undergoing surgery. Again, hers was based on her likes and interests. There were scriptures of strength and healing. Seeing her smile brightened my day!
My greatest blessing, to date, was being able to play a very small part in the recent Adults with Disabilities dance. I spent hours cutting cardstock to size and my nephew, Zakk, blessed me by helping me in adding the photo mount to the cards. During the dinner I was putting the finishing touches on the cards. I had made a certain number and then learned there were more than 150 people in attendance…nowhere near the number that were made. I began preparing for more just in case and then decided to just go to the photo room and begin mounting the pictures. I wasn’t going to worry; I knew God would provide…and He did! Not only did I have enough for the photos taken prior to the dance and even during the extra photo sessions for fun, I had plenty left over! God is so good!!
I spoke to a good friend and showed her my designs. I was thinking business, she mentioned non-profit, and then ministry! I know there are so many people not just in the congregation at Cornerstone, but others who I would be honored to make a KarePackage™ for. I know this is where God is leading me. I love being able to help others; it’s why I enjoy my job so much! Making sure a patient receives a medication they so desperately need makes it all worthwhile. I receive that same feeling with the journal pages and scriptures. It’s not about me; it’s about someone receiving a gift, a keepsake, and God getting the glory. It doesn’t matter if the person receiving the memory box never knows who it came from. I got my blessing the moment I finished their package and put the lid on the box.
I’m asking for your help and your prayers. I’ve done all of this out of pocket because in the beginning I was thinking this could be a business. But this isn’t about my business, this is about God’s business! I know there are people right now in the church who would benefit from receiving a KarePackage™, going through the scriptures and finding that one that would brighten their day. I know you all know someone that would benefit from this ministry. I have photos of all the scriptures and journal pages I have designed and would love to share them with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It is the first time I have poured out my heart to people, to show them who I am and how I got here. I am far from perfect, but God isn’t finished with me yet! I believe He has begun a work in me and it is time to share it with my home, Cornerstone Church of God, and beyond!
Please know I love each and every one of you! I am so blessed knowing I am home where I belong and I am excited to go about His business!
You’re online and it’s time to upgrade your software; do you take the time to read the agreement before you click ‘I agree’? You’ve purchased a new smart phone; have you read the contract thoroughly before agreeing to the terms? You’re standing before the minister or justice of the peace; have you given serious consideration to all that’s being said before you either repeat those vows or say, “I do”? How many of us had the privilege to watch our grandparents grow old together, yet how many of us are the product of a broken home? ‘Til death do us part’ which were once words to live by are now just words. “In the U.S., the average divorce comes after eight years of marriage. That’s 24 times longer than Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney lasted; 40 times longer than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries; and 324 times longer than Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra.” (Berman) Much like a phone contract or apartment lease, people are treating marriage the same way; when they’re unhappy they look for a way out.
In the United States, ending a marriage was never a legal option until 1701 when Maryland became the first state to allow married couples to divorce. However, if you lived in South Carolina, laws permitting divorce were not put in place until 1949, nearly two hundred and fifty years later. Fast forward to now and the sanctity of marriage seems more or less a joke. In Las Vegas, couples can get married in a drive-thru. As quickly as two can marry, the same two can just as quickly divorce. One of the more popular examples of this took place in 2004 when Britney Spears was married for fifty-five hours to childhood friend, Jason Alexander. Spears went so far as to say the marriage was a joke which is why it was so quickly annulled.
In ‘The End of the Affair,’ David Sedaris shares an encounter with his partner, Hugh. The two had just seen the film ‘The End of the Affair.’ Sedaris appears to regret watching this love story with Hugh. He states, “The theme is universal and encourages the viewer to make a number of unhealthy comparisons, ultimately raising the question, “Why can’t our lives be like that?”” (Sedaris) I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can relate to what Sedaris is saying. In the movies, they show us the romance, the wooing of the woman by the man, the conflict they face in getting together, and ultimately the happy ending. But real life is far different from what Hollywood portrays. Their films don’t show us what happens after the credits have rolled.
In August 2000, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were Hollywood’s ‘IT’ couple. In their vows, they promised each other a lifetime of love and milk shakes. Their ‘lifetime’ came to an abrupt end in 2005. Brad Pitt was shooting the film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” with Angelina Jolie. The sparks that flew between the two in the movie was simultaneously going on while they were shooting the film. “Brangelina” had taken the world by storm. Eventually, a heartbroken Aniston would file for divorce. Their breakup gave women across the country the opportunity to wear their support for either Team Jolie or Team Aniston on t-shirts.
Dave Singleton and his “Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating” had me looking at a side of Hollywood that many won’t acknowledge…the success of homosexual relationships. Singleton wrote this story in 2004, before gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. He talks about how there is one goal in straight dating: “together forever till death do us part” (Singleton). He doesn’t believe the same holds true for the gay couple, especially gay males. Maybe he’s speaking from his personal experiences. From what we see in Hollywood, gay men appear to be more successful in their relationships than women. Melissa Etheridge has been in two long-term relationships with women which resulted in a total of four children. Now her former partners are left to raise the children on their own. Rosie O’Donnell married her longtime partner, Kelly Carpenter, in 2004. O’Donnell and Carpenter are parents to four children. Carpenter moved out of the couple’s home in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2009 that O’Donnell revealed the two had split. Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris, and David Hyde Pierce are among many gay men in Hollywood who have experienced long term successes in their relationships.
Benedict Carey brings us a psychological look at romance. He states in his story, “The Brain in Love,” “While lust makes our eye wander, they say, it’s the drive for romance that allows us to focus on one particular person, though we often can’t explain why.” (Carey) Let’s travel back to Hollywood and look at couples that meet that criterion. “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing came out recently and stated she and her husband of ten years had separated last year. She and on-screen love, Will Chase, have taken their relationship off-screen. By the way, Chase recently announced he and his wife have also called it quits. While this happens more often than not, it’s the popularity of the internet and social media that bring these stories to light. In spite of these “showmances,” there are successful Hollywood relationships that began on a TV or movie set.
Warren Beatty had a reputation in Hollywood for being a playboy, a womanizer. While making the film, “Dick Tracy” in 1990, he and co-star Madonna had a brief relationship. But it was his 1991 “Bugsy” co-star Annette Bening that not only stole his heart, but caused his eyes to wander no more; they’ve been married nearly twenty years. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman met when Perlman was a guest star on the TV series “Taxi.” The couple recently celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Joanne Woodward and the late Paul Newman may hold the record. The two met while Newman was still married to Jackie Witte whom he divorced in 1957. Newman and Woodward got married in 1958 and were married for fifty years before Newman passed away in 2008.
It’s the short term relationships and even shorter marriages that grab our attention. The tabloids in print and online are saturated constantly with stories of new romances and recent heartbreaks. Why are we as a society so invested in relationships that have nothing to do with our lives? Why do we care so much about people we will never meet in our lifetime? David Sedaris said it best when he said, “They rarely make movies about long-term couples, and for good reason: Our lives are boring.” (Sedaris)
John Berman. ABC’s 20/20. ABC. 04 Feb. 2012. Television.
Sedaris, David. “The End of the Affair.” Latterell 335-337.
Latterell, Catherine G., Remix: Reading + Composing Culture. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. Print.
Singleton, Dave. “Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating.” Latterell 352-358.
Carey, Benedict. “The Brain in Love.” Latterell 400-403.
I thought I’d begin this by sharing an essay I wrote for my last English class at the University of Cincinnati. I want to thank my mentor, Jo Anne Moore for her continued encouragement and support! God truly blessed me the day I first walked into the studios of 1480WCIN. I hope you enjoy!
Try to imagine a mime encountering a ‘wall.’ You’re that mime; at every turn you’re hitting that imaginary wall. You’re living your life with constant restrictions; there are more ‘can’t do’s’ than ‘can do’s.’ Like that imaginary wall, you can see what’s going on around you but you’re not a participant. While you appreciate the safety and security of the box, you’re still fascinated by what is happening on the outside.
There’s a Bible on the coffee table, King James Version. Any other translation is unacceptable unless it’s the Amplified Bible; that’s because it only ‘amplifies’ what we read in the King James Version. I can hear my aunt calling the family into the living room. It’s time for family devotion and prayer before bedtime. It didn’t matter if it was just a regular day or if it was a Wednesday or Sunday and we’d just gotten home from evening service. The day always ended by reading and prayer; it was the only life I knew. There are memories of times before that, but no other ‘routine’ made me feel safe than the one my aunt and uncle gave me.
I always knew there was more outside the ‘safety’ of the box; I’d seen it from time to time. You see, unless I was staying with my mom, I wasn’t able to watch television; it was wrong. Don’t even think about listening to the radio; that was the devil’s music! Within the box no one ever complained about what they were missing. They weren’t missing anything; they had it all. If anyone felt differently they were wise to keep it to themselves. It wasn’t out of fear of getting caught; it was being exposed as a fraud.
“You may notice we say ‘brother and sister’ ‘round here. It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so near. When one has a heartache, we all share the tears, and rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.” (Gaither) The first verse of Bill Gaither’s “Family of God” pretty much summed up life within the box. The ‘box’ wasn’t a cult; no, far from it. It was what some would call ‘Organized Religion.’ Children respected their parents and elders. The Bible tells us, “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” (Holy Bible, King James Version, Eccles. 6:1) Stories were told and scriptures memorized and recited.
I don’t want to say everyone looked and dressed the same, but there was consistency within the formality of the outer man. All of the women had long hair and no makeup or jewelry unless it was a wristwatch. The dresses always fell below the knee and ladies, young or old, never wore pants. The men were always in their Sunday best whether it was a suit or dress slacks and a well pressed shirt. Their hair was kept short with nothing below the ear or neck. This was the norm within the ‘box’ until ‘cracks’ began to show.
Leaders studied, researched, and realized there was no Biblical backing for things such as makeup, jewelry, television, radio, etc. We began to see that not everything outside of the box was meant to hurt us. While some chose to embrace the changes and remain in the safety of the box, others slipped through the cracks in search of what awaited them outside the box. It was easy to tell who had secretly longed for what was on the outside. They went to extremes in search of what they believed was true happiness. I watched families fall apart because they weren’t willing to find that middle ground that provided safety even when living on the outside.
Within a few years, the walls came crumbling down. I had sensed things were falling apart and made the choice to leave the place I used to feel safe. I could take what I had learned while inside the box and take it with me on the outside. What was waiting for me, while scary, was a challenge I was willing to accept. There was only one problem: How do I catch up with all I’d missed?
Names like Dickens, Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Orwell were both familiar and unfamiliar to me. I knew the names but never had the opportunity to read what lie within the pages of their books. It was in my readings that I went to extremes. I read Jackie Collins and V.C. Andrews; these were books that would have shocked those still on the inside. I found myself visiting worlds I’d never imagined, worlds that intrigued and fascinated me. Later it was Eric Jerome Dickey, E. Lynn Harris, and Omar Tyree. I could spend hours in bookstores reading the backs of books or reading news, sports, and entertainment magazines. It was in those hours I found enjoyment, something I was interested in pursuing.
A year attending the Ohio Center of Broadcasting afforded me the opportunity to intern at a local radio station. One of my strengths was writing; my grandma always said I never went anywhere without pen and paper. That holds true still to this day. I could see a listing in the yellow pages and write a sixty second commercial within a matter of minutes. I could read the newspaper and write an entire newscast in no time. My writing assignments seemed effortless.
Here I am ten years later and those strengths still remain. I don’t write as much as I used to unless it’s a journal or homework assignment. Who knows? Maybe these next several weeks will awaken a part of me I thought I’d left behind. I’ll never regret the life I had within the box; it molded and shaped me into the strong, confident woman I am today.
So many opportunities and I’m not going to let any of them pass me by!
I’m in the process of launching my own business. Over the winter break, I had the privilege of putting together memory books celebrating the first year of my niece, Adriana Nichole. The response to the memory books was overwhelming! I decided to take the memory books a step further last weekend. It was Adriana’s first birthday and I wanted to make something special for my sister and her husband. I took many of the photos that have been taken of Adriana over her first year and made a video montage on DVD. Although both projects were quite time consuming, seeing their faces and hearing their kind words made every day, hour, minute, and second worth it.
Maybe you’ve taken photos on a family vacation and they’re sitting on your hard drive. Wouldn’t you like to have a coffee-table keepsake you can show off? Or maybe you have graduation or wedding photos that are just sitting in a regular photo album. Wouldn’t you like to upgrade that photo album and relive those memories? Your original photos will not be damaged; they will be scanned and new copies will be used in the creation of your memory book. Your original photos will be returned along with your memory book.
Do you have a special occasion coming up and need a video montage for the event? Let me work with you to create a video for the event. Additional DVD’s can be made upon request.
Kreativity by Kim will focus on creating memories! I’ve created a logo for the business and will soon have business cards available. If you have any questions regarding the business, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back with you right away.
Do you remember the first day of a new school year and the teacher would ask how you spent your summer vacation? For the last two summers I could answer that I spent my summer ‘vacation’ in school. In less than three weeks, I will enter my sophomore year at Sinclair Community College. When I look back at my first year in school I never imagined I would be where I am right now. I went back to school because I knew I had more to offer the world than what I was employed to do. I’d long ago hit a glass ceiling that seemed to be falling down on top of me.
On May 19th, the glass ceiling came crashing down when I lost my job. So, I spent my summer going to school and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I consider myself fortunate that I did receive a decent severance package. The only setback I’ve experienced is that, according to the Financial Aid Office, I lost my job too late to qualify for Pell Grants for the 2010-2011 school year. I do have financial aid, but because of what I made last year, my loan amount dropped drastically for the upcoming school year. I won’t let it get me down. My goal is still to graduate from Sinclair with my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a History Emphasis in the spring of 2011. In the fall of 2011, I will begin the journey towards my Bachelor’s Degree in History at the University of Cincinnati. By then, I’ll qualify for the grants I missed this year. It’s a far cry from the University of Florida, but I won’t let that stop my journey. I just have to make some adjustments along the way.
God gave me a tremendous gift when I was seven years old; the ability to play the piano. For nearly thirty years, I’d played the piano and organ and/or sang at many weddings and special events. For many years I averaged two or three weddings a year. I never had to solicit my services; people came to me. Now the time has come for me to put myself out there; I’m going into business for myself! I’m not sure exactly how I’ll do it, but I’ll make it happen! Right now I’m working on a name for my business and putting the specifics together. I can play piano and/or sing at weddings or any special events. I can put slide shows together for your special event, as well. For those of you whose weddings I’ve had the privilege to be a part of, I would hope you’d recommend me to your friends. I can be reached via email at email@example.com. Thanks!
I tried this once before; it didn’t last long. But I’ve got things to say and it’s about time I speak up! As with most blogs, what I’ll say will generally be my opinions or thoughts about what’s going on in the world. I’ll try not to get too serious; life is too short.
In about 17-1/2 hours, LeBron James will announce his future plans in the NBA. I’ve followed sports for a long time, and I can never recall a time when a sports figure felt it necessary to request an hour of airtime for such an announcement. It’s nice that monies raised to pay for the alloted airtime are going to the Boys and Girls Club of America. That’s about the only positive thing I can say in regards to what’s being called “The Decision.”
Last weekend, contingencies from several NBA teams traveled to Cleveland to meet with James. They left their families at home, during a holiday weekend, in order to ‘court’ James. While other free agents traveled to NBA cities to meet with coaches and general managers, LeBron James was scheduling 2-a-days in Cleveland. What makes LeBron James so special that he could hold court in Cleveland? How many titles has he won? How many championship rings does he have on his fingers? According to my research, the answer to both of those questions is ZERO! While I will agree that James is a gifted, talented basketball player, I’m beginning to see signs of that spoiled kid that was driving a Hummer in high school!
I truly hope James uses the hour ESPN has so graciously given him and talks about how great the city of Cleveland has been to him. I hope he announces he will stay with the Cavaliers and work with the team in trying to win a championship. Unfortunately, reports are already surfacing that James is leaning towards joining the Miami Heat. If those are his intentions, he’s better off releasing a statement to the press. All he will accomplish by announcing “The Decision” on ESPN is losing an entire city of fans, and giving them a televised one-finger salute in the process!