Without Self Pity

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Yesterday, I posted on my public FB page about life being impossible and awful and how I had no hope and therefore must die. Or…something like that.

A bit ago, the company I was working for folded & all of sudden *poof* I’m unemployed. As it turns out, they were straight up swindlers. They owe a lot of us a good chunk of change & made it impossible for any of us to collect unemployment in the midst of this abrupt change. No notice, just goodbye and right before the holidays.

A few weeks ago the stress of this situation started folding in on me like a backpack of stress getting heavier by the day. But last week, I got THEE MOST unexpected news that I could be suffering from a serious non-pregnancy related medical condition and we’re still waiting on test results. What in the actual? I’ve been healthy as a horse. I’m significantly jarred.

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When life is unpredictable like this, particularly because I’m pregnant & suffering through hella morning sickness straight up, I FEEL VULNERABLE. Having a little person depend on you for their existence does this to a pregnant woman on a mostly normal day. When you add financial uncertainty, the emotional stress multiplies with seemingly infinite & specific worries. Notably, as a dual residence, divorcee’, custody-sharing blended family, financial implications affect where we live which have custody implications. It’s frightening.  Some problems and mistakes you expect. It’s these unexpected doozie’s that throw me off my emotional game. I’m ready to acknowledge that I’ve never set into place an ongoing strategy to battle the war raging in my brain during times like these. The emotional hijack is full and it is complete. I take an emotional beating and do not keep ticking. I’m like the energizer bunny who fell over and looks as if he got drunk and high while he lays there barely banging his little obnoxious drum.

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But here’s the good news if you were waiting for me to get around to it.

I put it out there as a vaguebook status update. Several of you offered up support and prayers. God, I’m so grateful.  God answered. Before I put it out there, one of my best friends Jeanie-Bop (as I call her) had called and quickly plunged into the conversation this way, “how are you? Are you okay? Are you not doing well? You’ve been on my mind all day…I’ve been thinking & praying & worrying and not knowing what is going on. What’s going on? Just please tell me something!” We talked for awhile. And it helped, of course. Emotional connection with trusted loved ones usually does the trick. It’s a little bit of magic. Pixie dust for the vulnerable. Breast milk for the starving infant. Beautiful selfies for Kim Kardashian. Liquid gold. It’s good. It’s always good.  But that’s Jeanie-Bop. She’s magic.

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A few hours later, Marla texted to check in. I don’t mean to do thee most in worrying people, but when it gets bad, I’m not generally afraid to sound the alarm. I’m a last born, #unbothered to ask for help when I need it.  I’m an abuse survivor, #unashamed to say I’m struggling. For years, off and on, I’ve been haunted with episodes of depression, suicidal ideations, PMDD, post-partum and all manner of the I-CAN’T-DEAL-WITH-THIS-DRAMA. For me, sounding the alarm in moments of despair (real or perceived) has in fact, saved me. Saved-my-life saved me. (Though I’ve learned how to better sound those alarms when using social media).  I digress. Marla & I texted.  That too, helped. A lot. Because Marla is wise beyond the friggin’ Proverbs. And she’s in Cancun. On vacation. And she texted me. God bless her sun-burned feet.

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Later last night, I dug into Brennan Manning’s Ruthless Trust. I found it on the floor of our messy bedroom. Brennan’s words ALWAYS speak to me without fail. I randomly started in at chapter 10: The Cracked Pot. Because, look at me…cracking, oozing, falling apart, wailing, moaning, throwing pity parties fit for a queen. And God just rushed into the mess and used Brennan’s word to call me out of my self-focus and into TRUUUUUUUUUUUUUST.

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Fast forward to today. I knew I had to go to Church. I did not want to go, but I had to go because my soul knew I had to go. My soul knew that no amount Netflix & Chill was going to address the fear in my heart. Y’all. The message was entitled “3 Reasons not to Give up Hope.” But before that, the worship went IN and so did I. And while I was crying through worship, my friend Micah texted me, “hey how are you?” And when I saw it just keeled over crying again.

All the while, my husband’s been away at work, checking on me as often as he can. I sent him the longest text in the world trying to sum all this up…the gist is this…

…God sees and loves.

…His mercies are new every morning.

…I will trust.

Brennan said he named his book Ruthless Trust because Webster’s defines the adjective ruthless as “without pity.” He says he uses the word ruthless in the context of trust to mean “without self-pity,” because self-pity is the arch-enemy of trust.

So, I’ll just be over here not engaging my self-pity trying to trust my little brains out.

*All images are of our life lately. Beautiful, painful, brutal, scary, unique & wonderful life*

I Asked for 2 Letters

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A few weeks before Christmas, my 10 yr. old asked what he could give me for Christmas that would be meaningful for me. Truthfully, he asked what he could do for me, substituting as a Christmas gift. His Dad had mentioned a few tasks around the house that Ransom agreed to do in exchange for a gift. Now, he’d come to me asking if I wanted him to clean my bathroom as a meaningful gesture. Very sweet indeed.

I told him nothing would mean more to me than a handwritten letter straight from his heart.

Really?!  He asked. That’s it?

Son, you have no idea. A letter from you would launch me to the moon.

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When the husband came around sniffing for Christmas ideas I told him the exact same thing. Our December was much tighter financially than we’d expected and as much I’d loved a big, expensive romantic gesture I wanted nothing more than a simple letter.

Really?! A letter?! Ugh. That’s what you want? Another letter?!

Yes babe. I really, really, really, really do.

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Last year for Christmas, my husband Dionne, my boyfriend at the time, surprised me with a letter. We’d really only begun dating a few days before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He’d mentioned he got me “something small,” I was hoping for something with chocolate & maybe a cute stuffed animal.

He gave me a few Rastaclat bracelets, his favorite brand. He has one in every color for himself & even bought a special white one for our wedding day. My husband is King of Coordinated Accessories. Just another thing I completely adore about him. I digress.

After I opened the red & spicy leopard skin bracelets he handed me a three page typed document which admittedly took me off guard. Every word & sentiment of this letter was beautiful. I cherished that letter -and still do- with every fiber of my being. He may not have meant to, but he did something dangerous for a woman’s heart:

He set precedent.

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For three weeks of December at least, I thought about the letters I was anticipating from Dionne & Ransom. I was a bit taken aback by just how excited I was to read the words from two of my favorite people on the planet.

I felt similarly while I waited for our wedding day, knowing my husband had written his own vows. He’d all ready written this poem for me. And the next one he penned for me took my breath away.

I love his words for me, they are a carefully crafted gift in which I’m SLAIN.

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When we began our journey out of town for the Christmas festivities we realized -far too late- that we’d left the box of presents at home: presents for his family, for his daughter and for each other. I was almost scared to ask: where is my Christmas letter???? (i.e. Please God let him have it on his person because I am too filled with anticipation! I know, I know, I do thee most).

He had it with him.

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Come Christmas morning I was able to breathe in each beautiful word and sentiment of Dionne’s words. He did not disappoint. I’ve kept the letter in my purse and I’ve been back for seconds more than a few times.

The next day, I celebrated Christmas with my boys. I took in Ransom’s word with equal appreciation and joy. The youngest, Rhys, made me so many special gifts which I cherish as well.

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The older I get, the more I realize what I really want out of life. I want the generous love and appreciation from the people I love the most. That’s no easy request & I pray I never take advantage of the love of my husband & children. Diamonds aren’t a girls best friend. Meh. Don’t need ’em. What I have is far greater…

…I got two letters for Christmas.

Besties Until 3004

The other night, one of the great loves of my life came over for a “sleepover.” The last sleepover we had was in the late 90’s so this isn’t our regular practice.  We’ve both had a busy 15 yrs. or so.  Stef & I became fast friends in junior high and we’ve been “besties until 3004”  –our signature slogan– ever since. Our mid 20’s/early 30’s did us in a bit: she went hard into her studies, medical school, residency & building her career as a very successful Doctor. I went hard into marriage, building my career, popping out a couple of kids and then a divorce.

We were in different parts of the same state, but we may as well have been across the country…a good decade came and went that we didn’t darken one anothers door step. Some where along the line each of us believed the other was ‘ready to move on’ and was no longer interested in pursuing a friendship with the other.  Was it besties until 3004 or 2004? Problem was, our self-told narratives couldn’t have been further from the truth. Neither of us called to confirm our suspicions. We let circumstances dictate what we thought was happening…that she was pulling away…that I was pulling away. Nobody was pulling away.

Adult Lesson #1: People. Call yo friends.

What’s beautiful about the relationship that Stef and I have, is how we pick back up like it never stalled.  I have another friend where something very similar happened.  Jen & I were fast and quick besties since 5th grade. I still remember the room & the configuration of the table on the first day I met her. Jen & I were ride and die from 1985 until 2001. That’s 16 yrs. of non-stop communication BFF’ing until we got into a spat about what else? Differences of opinion regarding men.

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After several years of a tense relationship and zero communication, Jen & I reconnected first through Facebook, and then after she had her first child and when a mutual friends’ mother passed away. At the funeral, we embraced and cried so loudly we distracted folks. That was a life changing moment for us. All of the hurt and confusion just fell away. Any strife, any anger —poof. It was gone. We experienced something miraculous in that moment and I cannot thank God enough for that precious moment of reconciliation. But, over 10 yrs. went by before this happened lest any of us forget miracles don’t happen over night and sometimes the only way to thorough healing is through lots of pain and plenty of time.

Jen & I apologized profusely. We acknowledged that we were asshats, young, immature and out of line. Our reconciliation couldn’t have been more on time. Jen was a huge emotional support to me when I was going through a divorce and custody proceedings, as I lost my job and when my present and my future seemed extremely precarious. Both Jen & Stef, were part of my tribe who were stood by and articulated, “I don’t care what happened, I don’t care who’s fault it is, I don’t care how you got here, I don’t care. I love you and I will help you, and you will not lose your children and you will get through this.” They both helped financially, prayerfully and with unbridled emotional support.

Back to Stef. She recently decided to take a Sabbatical from work to pursue the most important things in her life: people and relationship investment.

When I was 18, I was approached by the owner/manager of a strip club in Detroit (on 8 mile no less) called "The Black Orchid." (I think). He offered me $1k to "try out stripping." I was a college student & broke & scared & I sadly put some thought into it. I remember telling one of my besties, Stefani (pictured here) how much I really needed the money & how maybe it could just get me a little ways through college. I remember she said something like, "no your not stripping," and then "no. Your not going to use your body for money. No." And honestly, that was the end of the discussion. I threw away his card. A few years later, I was still broke, my mom was very sick, I was severely depressed still trying to plug away at just finishing up a bachelors degree on a nanny salary. Stefani had started school after me had all ready finished her bachelors & was now in medical school & I felt like a complete loser. I told her I was thinking about dropping out of school & joining the army. I reasoned that it was taking too long & I was so far behind her. She said flatly, "no. Your not dropping out & your not joining the army. You & I are not in competition, it doesn't matter how long your bachelors takes. Your finishing it, now hush." And that was that. It took me 7 years but I did it. A few summers ago I called Stefani in hysteria when I lost my job, was broke, getting a divorce & terrified of losing my kids, depressed & suicidal. Like usual, Stef just laid it on me, "no. Your not killing yourself & your not giving up on yourself. Got it?" She's a very successful & very busy Doctor & we've seen each other only a handful of times in the last decade, but she surprised me & showed up at my wedding. She reminded me how much she meant to me, how she's been such a gift from God in how she's been there for me -with NO judgement- at really key times in life to be my strength. I have some great Stef stories I should tell some time! 😏 I meant to post this yesterday. Dr. Hudson is my #wcw We met &I became FAST friends when I was in 6th & she was in 5th. We bonded instantly over a pair of sweet Jordan's she had on the 1st day of school. This woman has my heart. ❤️

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I recently posted on Intsa how she showed up and surprised me so thoroughly at my wedding a few months ago, that I interrupted the ceremony in delight so joyous I couldn’t contain it. That single gesture meant so much to me, I don’t quite know how to articulate it.  Shortly after that we decided to get together for a general catch-up and those 8 hours just weren’t enough, so we had to make plans for a full on sleepover plus a girls trip to Miami. TBD, of course.

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Stef laid down the rules. We must order in. There must be girly pj’s, Nutella & rom com’s playing in the background. My contribution was fruity Moscato because neither of us drink and when we do it must be so masked by sugar or fruit flavors that we hardly know the drink is alcoholic. But also? I brought the best of all contributions one could bring to a girls sleepover after 15 odd years: old letters and pictures.

Just a few weeks ago I found a fairly hefty box of old high school yearbooks, photo albums and cases of pictures from the days I used to drop off film at Walgreens and in exchange for $7.67, I’d leave with double copies of actual pictures. This box also contained a bevy of handwritten, typed and even faxed letters friends and I exchanged when we got our first “real jobs,” but before email. This box may as well be worth $300,000 for the downright hilarity it contained.

We read through letters we’d sent each other while each of us were pursuing our undergraduate degrees. Stef studied about an hour away from where I lived and I studied. We saw each other quite a bit during those years, especially for parties. Because, parties. Though neither Stef or I were “party girls” per se, we were some fast little suttin’ suttin’s in the boyfriend realm.  Both of us, we always had a boyfriend. Or two. We reflected on this reality with a twinge of shame during our girls night extravaganza. For almost all of our dating years we knew who each one was dating. We always knew. We’d call each other just to update who was getting broken up with, or advancing to the next stage. Boy updates were basically ingrained into our relationship DNA. I digress.

We’re going through letters when we come across a very sticky sweet poem from a dude with The Most Excellent Penmanship either of us have ever seen. I’m talking luxurious, elegant, computer-generated font worthy penmanship. His name is Emmanuel and neither of us have a memory of my being with any Emmanuel.  We are reading his letter perplexed. This man sounds like we were married for 25 years, his love for me intense and profound, we have no clue who he is. “Gracey, when I see your beautiful brown eyes, my love for you grows and grows.” By this point, Stef & I are dying. Then the letter takes a decided turn, “I just wish, Gracey, that you would respond to me. I wish that I would hear back from you. Because as you know…” And before we get to it, we’re trying to figure out just why I wasn’t responding to this Emmanuel character who was so clearly, smitten. And with The Most Excellent Penmanship what could have possibly been my problem? He goes on…

“Gracey, I would love to keep writing to you because as you know, I’m incarcerated and I have nothing but time on my hands.  If you would please respond…” We. About. Died. Of. Laughter. It took a few minutes when I finally remembered that when my brother did time, a fellow inmate saw my pictures and asked if it would be okay to send me letters. Not only did my brother give him our phone number but also my address. I have a vague memory of Emmanuel calling me collect. To be nice, I chatted with him for 5-10 minutes hoping he’d go away. Well, the prison-inmate-boyfriend I didn’t know I had, ended up sending me four letters plus a very well drawn, home-made card with a very sweet poem in —-yep, you guessed it, The Most Excellent Penmanship Stef and I had ever seen.

Even though Stef wanted to stay up all night, we made it until 3am. It took me 2 days to recover.

Adult Life Lesson #2: Take time to invest in the relationships that really matter to you. No seriously, you should really do this. No matter what.

Adult Life Lesson #3: Don’t agree to allow your brother in prison to give yo contact info to his inmate friends. Simple Enough.

Adult Life Lesson #4: Get enough sleep.

Love you, Stef. Until 3004.

 

 

On Fear

2487f97532c1fd1adfb7d7e22db21665This morning I woke up afraid. There was a bit of a thunderstorm and the slow rumble while I slept jerked me awake in fear of an earthquake.  Earthquakes are incredibly rare where I live but the accompanying fear was now present despite its unrealistic origin. Instead of being able to roll over and go back to sleep the fear latched on to other things, as it almost always does because gripping fear is a miserable shrew.

I wanted to hold my husband, desperate to be covered by him like a Mama bird engulfing her chick in her wings. I find complete safety in his embrace, particularly in the morning, providing me that extra courage typical from intimate human connection. But he’s not here this morning and I feel the loss of his physical presence acutely.  In the very next moment, I’m overcome with gratitude for his friendship and I know in the next few days he’ll be home. My love will be home and my anticipation momentarily calms.

Yet, the fear of my waking moments coupled with overwhelming appreciation for my husband express itself in a groaning prayer: God, my God, my God! I bring it all to Him.  I’m reminded as I’ve been prone to lately, how I’m hurting over the wounds of a friend.  I’ve been trying to let the demise of this friendship -and all that was said- go. How do I bind up the wound, extend forgiveness, truly extending peace and blessing over her life? God, it hurts. In the next moment, I remember I’ve hurt her too. My mind quickly generates a quick list of at least 7 people who I’ve personally hurt in all this.  God, you know my heart, my brokeness, my intentions, my every thought…you know.  YOU know God…my innermost…I didn’t mean…

I pray for awhile longer on this. It’s debilitating. Facing the pain others have inflicted on you is one monster to stare down. Facing the pain you’ve caused others is an entirely different monster with sharper teeth and worse breath. But I let them in this morning, because I know I have to.  I cannot run from any of this. But God, I get whiny like a child, even if all this pain could be taken away tomorrow, what about…

…earthquakes?
…car accidents?
…breast cancer?
…heart attacks?
…school shootings?
my kids? my husband?

My God, my God! How do I manage this life down here?! I’m just a spec.

I roll over again to my husbands side of the bed where he is not and I long for him again because he is safety encapsulated in a human body and I haven’t felt spiritually, emotionally, physically safe like this since…maybe 2008.  I hear little footsteps heading toward the fridge for yogurt sticks with yellow minions on the front.  I look at the clock, it’s 6:21am and it’s time to face this day which seems to have gotten off on the wrong foot: fear + anxiety + longing.  I’m up earlier than normal so I make my coffee and open up the Bible to Psalms 90. I’m particularly comforted by vs. 14-15…

Surprise us with love at daybreak;

    then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
    we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. 
-Psalms 90:14-15, The Message

I make a mental note to text it to my husband later today. I muse that I’m an awesome wife and I know he actually believes this to be true. (If I can’t pull off being an awesome wife in three weeks of marriage there’s a problem. I digress). These verses feel so meaningful in lieu of last night’s FaceTime.  We’d shared more in depth the evil we’ve lived through. His stories -a few of them- are heart wrenching…perhaps leading to this mornings awareness of the certainty of life’s tragedies.

But before all this, yesterday, I was wildly on top of the world. And as a result I felt optimistic and empowered about addressing everything life throws at me from debt to death and everything in between. I even cleaned out my car, a feat which only happens when hope is present.  But today is different. The fears of the unknown and the pain of the past has me emotionally haggard.  I have an idea…

I should write.

Her Life Matters.

11998992_10103363060900912_6926951833122441560_nThis morning I dropped my youngest son off at Kindergarten for his first day.  Like me, a lot of parents were huddled around doting on their little munchkins off to face this new transition.

As we waited in line, I knelt down to rest and he burrowed up on my back, playing with dangly earrings.

From this low vantage point, I noticed a little African-American girl in another line, alone, crying.

I peeled my son off me & went over to her.  Her teacher looked at me suspiciously.  I told her I’d noticed her crying and had come to check on her.

She said, “don’t worry about her, she’ll be fine.”

I’m not okay with that. It wouldn’t be okay to ignore a crying child who is alone under any circumstances, but I definitely wasn’t okay with a white woman telling someone not to worry about a small black child alone and crying.  Given every single hardship a typical black child has to face before the age of 13, it is without mercy to meet a simple need.

I don’t presuppose to know the million things running through the head of a Kindergarten teacher on the first day of school within 15 minutes of that first bell.  That she couldn’t deal with the tears of one child is completely understandable.  But don’t tell me ‘not to worry about’ a child speaking in the only language she felt safe enough to express in that moment.

I ignored the teacher. I gave her a swift side-eye and knelt down to the little girl.

I asked her if she was okay? She nodded no.  Her tears were fat and heavy and running down her face one after another after another.

I asked if she was scared. She nodded yes.

I told her she’d be okay.

I asked if her she missed her Mommy. She nodded yes.

I told her she’d be okay.

I asked her if she needed a hug.  She nodded yes.

So I hugged her. And I held on for a few minutes. She continued to cry.

I told her again, that she’d be okay, that I believed in her and that I knew she’d make it through the day.  I reminded her she’d have just a half day and then she could go home.

And with that, I walked back to the line with my son. She continued to weep.

A lot of times I feel a certain level of helplessness that I’m not on the front lines of the #BlackLivesMatter movement or even a thought leader on Twitter regarding advocacy issues which my heart so passionately beats for.

But moments like today reminded me, that sometimes my advocacy “work” can be simple and close to home.

I can only hope and pray that this morning, that little girl felt that her life mattered enough for her tears not to be ignored.

His Vows

My new husband is a poet.  A gifted poet.  Like, whoa. Last Christmas he surprised me with a unique Christmas gift: a 3 page letter. I was genuinely surprised & tickled. There wasn’t a gift he could have bought more precious than this window into his soul. It was of course, beautifully written, the consummate definition of a “love note.” Nearly 10 days letter, I finished up a letter in return. The pressure!

It was a complete no-brainer that we’d write our own wedding vows.

For weeks beforehand, I kept bugging him to no avail to give me a little taste of what was to come of his vows.

He was very, “girl, leave me alone talmbout ‘tell me yo vows’. No, ninja, no.”

They were worth the wait. I tearfully took in every word, though I’ll share just a few here…

DSC_0855…As I gathered my thoughts to place here what I would call my vows, I kept in mind the fact that they are just words, and you are flesh.  That you are worth more to me than any line, paragraph, poem or book…

DSC_0856...For you, I would make the world stand still to marvel at your beauty so that they may bear witness to the wonderful person that I am proud to call my friend and confidant. They would see why I love you so…

DSC_0850...I still don’t know what to make of you, exactly.  I never really expected such fortune, so I’m still sort of bewildered at this whole thing…

DSC_0857…there’s no script for life or love, so let’s write the words and read these pages together as we go…

:::: All images by Alfield Reeves Photography ::::

Reinvention

graceincI used to hate the term “re-invent yourself.” My original context for hearing it was mostly about Madonna changing her hair color, her country & donning a faux English accent. It seemed so distinctly, annoyingly American & 1st world. i.e. “We’re so rich & bored that we don’t have anything better to do than sit around &  think up ways to ‘re-invent ourselves.'”

Now, I get it. It’s yet another fancy way of saying one is starting over….trying something new…branching out…going after the dream, the career, the hope for newness & clarity, joy and happiness.

Or is it?

Could it also be the absolute necessity to start again…the demand for change before rock-bottom meets certain death?

I’m in a heavy re-invention process myself, hence the first post on a new blog. My new grace for the term perhaps emerging from my very own ashes. I’ve recently had more than one ugly cry over the scariness of reinvention, the loss that promotes the change. My job, for example, is loosely related to what I’ve done before but it’s the first career-oriented position in for-profit work I’ve had in 15 years. Career-wise, I have no choice but to -BaDoomChing- reinvent.

What is a 2nd marriage if NOT the opportunity to reinvent the asshattery you brought to the 1st one? And when in the span of just a few years you lose a marriage, close ‘friends,’ a church, 3 major communities (work, church & mutual friends), a significant chunk of change, a house & face an unexpected battle to parent your kids amidst divorce and the loss of so much more…what else on earth demands my attention more than reinvention? Not much, my friends. Not much.

I could call it reinvention, or I could call a spade and a spade and acknowledge I’m just putting it all back together.

Victories in reinvention come from deep wells of inner strength alongside huge shows of bravery. In my case, I hold very tight to the strength of God amidst my complete weakness to complete the task of surviving life’s hardships.

When reinvention must be sustained for survival and when its catalyst was significant pain, loss after loss, grief, gripping depression, anxiety, panic, a nightmare marriage & multiple scary whip-lash like transitions? You betta believe ANY reinvention of ANY sort is fruit growing from a hard, dry ground watered daily by fat, bitter tears.

One need not ask “WHAT happened?” “but WHY did it happen?” & “most importantly WHOSE fault was it?”  My reinvention means I need not entertain shamers-for-sport, and have nothing but crickets for shame-based questions.

The best part of reinvention? Edumacation. Growth. Tools for health. Learning to silence the shame demons in myself and in others.

The hard part of starting EVERYTHING over is Clarity of the Uncertain. I thought I would never lose my primary non-profit work, friends who were like family, my first marriage or ministry, or house or whatever. I thought all of that was certain, when in fact, none of it was.  All of that, it’s all gone.

And when The Certainty Ship sailed it took along the most foolish, choppy waters I’d anchored my hope to.

The only thing one hundred percent certain is the uncertainty of life. What I am most certain of now is my inability to control people and outcomes and to an extent, even myself.  If I could control myself completely I’d have eliminated at least 65% of the losses I now face. Now, I’m anchored much less in things, people or even happy circumstances and much more in my faith as God my completer.

I am however, 98.9% certain I will -by God’s grace & mercy- reinvent, survive, thrive.

Because, hope.

What once was lost…