I'm Just Saying

Forever is Stronger

Have you ever had an experience where the darkness seems so much stronger than the light?

I have had this thought on my mind quite a bit lately.

candleThis post is a hard one for me to write. It is one of those posts where I have the thoughts and feelings rolling around in my head for a very long time. And for whatever reason, I then decide that it is okay for me to pour out my soul to whatever human decides to stumble upon my internet space.

When I write these posts, there is usually one thought that ends up pulling it all together. One thing that brings it home and helps me make sense of it all. And maybe that’s the real point of posts like these. That I somehow make sense of it all.

When I was fifteen years old, my older sister Jamie had her first baby boy: Barrett. He wasn’t the first grandchild, and so obviously being an aunt wasn’t new to me. But for some reason, it was different. Maybe it was because it was my sister’s baby this time instead of my brothers’. I’m not really sure. But from the moment he came into the world my nephew Barrett has been one of my best friends. He used to call me when I was in my first year of college and say things like, “Hey, Jordan. Where’s you at?” or, “When you coming to see me?”

But today I remembered something that I had forgotten about. A memory with Barrett that was actually one of the most precious moments in my life.

One day, only a few months after Barrett was born, I got to rock him to sleep. I was sitting in a chair in my bedroom. It was slightly cloudy outside, a light rain falling against the window. I remember looking down at him: so tiny, and so completely perfect. And I suddenly felt the most overwhelming peace and love. A feeling unlike anything I’d ever felt in my life. And I was struck with the powerful realization that this baby, this little life, was the most sacred, precious thing in the world.

It didn’t take long for tears to start streaming down my face. door

I wish I could say that this moment turned a dark night into a bright day. That it changed everything and that nothing was ever the same again. But this wasn’t the case. It was, however, a moment that lit a candle in a dark room and gave me hope for the day when the drapes would be cast aside to let the sunlight stream in.

Let me explain: for as long as I can remember, physical touch has been very hard for me. I’ve never been an overly touchy person. It takes me quite a while to be comfortable with touching people, even just hugs. Even with my family, many of whom are very touchy, I sometimes have to put up some physical barriers. What is hard about this quirk of mine is that as far as love languages go, physical touch is probably my first language for both giving and receiving love. So you see the paradox I’ve lived in my whole life.

It was never really an issue until I got older, and started thinking about boys and relationships. I had a lot of guy friends, but when it came to the thought of anything romantic I never felt good about it. Not with anyone. To make a long story short, I eventually had to face the reality that the thought of holding hands with somebody or kissing somebody actually made me physically ill. It made me shaky and scared. I couldn’t do it.

What followed all of this was an extremely long process that took years.

All spelled out like this, it really isn’t surprising that it was eventually revealed that I experienced sexual abuse in my past. I say “revealed” because it wasn’t something that I remembered. It took some extensive therapy and a lot of really hard moments. And believe me, coming to the discovery wasn’t easy. You see, it happened when I was very young. Probably about the age of 6, which is why I don’t really remember anything.

What makes this hard is that I still had to live with the consequences of the experience. That years later I was still haunted by it. That it kept me from living my life and doing things that normal people are excited to do.

tunnelAnd it wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that as a child I experienced something that horrific. And it wasn’t fair that it made something that’s supposed to be exciting and good horrible and terrifying. When I came home from my very first date I went into my room and cried. And the worst part is that it was a lovely date with one of my best friends. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. Nothing bad happened at all. But the very thought that I’d been on a date, that I’d been in a setting where romance could’ve been possible completely sent me over the edge.

And that wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that I was stuck with these fears. It wasn’t fair that I had had this thing happen to me and I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t have protected myself. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was the victim of something absolutely horrendous. And not even just as a child, but for the rest of my life after that.

That wasn’t fair.

And it was so overwhelming, so horrific, so terrible, that for years I just convinced myself that I was better off alone. That I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ever even try to be in a relationship. I wasn’t capable of breaking down walls that dark. And for years I was content with that understanding. I simply accepted the fact that this was my lot in life. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it had to be. Because I couldn’t be anything else.

Obviously, this is no longer how I feel. And there is an even longer story mountainwrapped up in that. I can’t say that I’m 100% cured of every fear and insecurity that comes with having this in my life. To this day, there are moments that it overwhelms me. Where it brings me to tears. Where I am struck once again with just how horrible it is. And that it isn’t fair.

But back to this moment with my nephew Barrett: it was the beginning of the healing process for me. Because I was able to see, for the first time, how a physical relationship between two people created the most precious thing in the world. And I understood, even just a little, how sacred it is that a man and a woman can love each other that much. That they can literally create life. The beauty in that is indescribable.

It also taught me the incredible nature of the human soul. I looked down at that baby and knew how precious he was. I looked at him and knew how amazing he was. That he was going to move mountains.

It was a moment that taught me that even though I was surrounded in darkness about the most important things in life, love and a family of my own, that one day it wouldn’t be that way.

There are moments in life so dark that light is nothing but a vague concept.

sunThere are moments when darkness is so, so much stronger than light.

But they are just that: moments. Brief shadows.

But that experience with my nephew, that moment, was a glimpse into eternity. A perspective so much wider than the darkness I was facing in the moment. A promise that my forever was so much stronger than the horrible things that I had experienced in a brief shadow.

So I guess the point is this:

Forever is stronger.



I'm Just Saying

The Post I Have To Write

Well, here we are. At the end of 2017. And those of you who are avid blog readers have already read a thousand posts like this one. You know, the “This-Has-Been-My-Year-And-Everything-I’ve-Learned-And-This-Is-How-Awesome-Life-Is-Going-To-Be-Because-I’ve-Been-Through-Hell-But-Look-How-Much-Stronger-I-Am-And-Please-Be-Inspired-By-My-Story-Here’s-Every-Good-Thing-You’ve-Ever-Needed-To-Read-Sunshine-Rainbows-Smiles” post.

eyesI’ve been thinking a lot about my blog recently and in particular this post. As a blogger, I kind of feel obligated to post something about the changing year. But honestly, as I’ve rewritten this post about 53 times in my head, it was vastly different every time. Some were long rants about specific things, others were lists of rants about specific things.

You see when I blog I just have to hope that if I pour my soul out there somebody will read it and it might actually do something. They might say, “Hey, what I read on that blog. That was good.” And maybe some small part of their life will change or they’ll think differently or do differently. Maybe that’s too much to hope for, but it’s what I hope for when I blog.

I’ll be the first to admit that my blog hasn’t been it’s finest lately. After four years of blogging on this same blog, believe me, I understand it’s not going to be chart-topping all the time. And I’m okay with that. When I began this blog I did it to enhance my writing skills, and if any of you have been around that long (which some of you have) you’ll agree with me when I say that my writing has indeed gotten much better. I’ve considered a lot of things when it comes to my blog: waving goodbye to blogging in general, creating an entirely different blog and starting over, taking a hiatus from this blog for a while. None of which I’m going to end up doing. This is just my blog and one aspect of my writing personality is that I’m a blogger. And that’s the way it is.

So. The changing year.

Oh, what do I say about 2017? If you’d have asked me that a few days ago, or even yesterday, I’d have had a whole lot to say about 2017. None of it good, all of it very angry and bitter. But as often happens in my life, I had a pretty intense conversation with God last night. And as only He can do, He pulled it all back together and set me back on the path He wanted for me.

One thing I will say about 2017 is that it began with me taking charge of my life. I was certain it was going to be my year. I wasn’t going to waste time on things that weren’t working out, I wasn’t going to wait around for anything to happen anymore. I made loads of plans for my future, and I decided it was my time to shine.

God had other plans, of course, as He often does. All of my carefully laid plans god is goddisintegrated pretty quickly when God followed through on some incredible promises. It was, in fact, my time to shine, but in a very different way than I’d planned for myself. It’s interesting how that is often the case with God.

There was one moment, in particular, this last year that I will never forget as long as I live. In fact, there were many, but I’ll just stick to this one because it was quite powerful. I was in a very beautiful moment, the kind where you’re about to burst because everything is so perfect that you wonder how God could be THAT awesome. And I remember a very soft voice in my head saying to me, “This is so right. But it isn’t going to happen the way that you think it is.”

To be honest, I ignored that voice in the moment, and to be more honest I kind of forgot about it as time passed and darkness fell.

But as I think back on this now, I realize that this statement doesn’t necessarily only apply to that one thing in my life. I think it applies to everything God puts in our life. It can be a little frustrating when God gives us a clear answer but then the way forward is hard and rocky. It is hard when we know something is right but we have to take a different route to get there. I’ve had that experience a few times, one, in particular, was with my schooling. And there are other examples, too. It’s hard, but often times when we’re given an answer from God, we are given the answer and then told to trust Him. Almost as if He’s saying, “This is what I need you to do, so go for it. But the way forward may be different than what you’re thinking so I just need you to trust me.”

That’s a powerful life lesson right there. I’m not sure why trusting God can be so hard, but I think it’s something many of us struggle with.

soul recognitionAnother thing I’ve learned is that life is different for everybody. In the continued spirit of honesty, I’ll just go ahead and say that this all began on Pinterest. My Pinterest feed is usually a great place, I mean with One Direction all over it I’m at least 15 again and it’s incredible, but Pinterest has been doing this thing recently that’s got me all worked up. It all started when I pinned one quote about love to my board which inspires my latest novel. I had to pin it because it accurately portrays the relationship between my main characters on a level that killed me. It simply had to be pinned.

Well, Pinterest being the let-me-show-you-all-the-things-based-on-this-one-tiny-thing-you-looked-at site that it is, there were about 7,324 pins about love blasted all over my newsfeed for the next 100 years. I read quite a few of them before I felt my blood begin to absolutely boil. In fact, if I had read one more “real love is this” or “real love is supposed to be this way” quote I would’ve committed unspeakable acts against humanity.

And it made me realize something.

Life, love, or whatever you wish to apply this to, is different for everybody. And my version of “real” love is going to be different than your version of real love. True love is different across countries and cultures and what you view as a soulmate completely depends on you. (Now that I’m writing all this out maybe I should just write an open letter to Pinterest or something and call it good.) Anyway, the bottom line is that it’s all different for everybody. That’s why having a personal relationship with God is so important: so that you can do what is best for you personally. Regardless of what any person or site says is the right way to feel, think, or act. star

You know those moments when you’re looking at the ocean or the sky at night? When you look up at the blue-black and see all of those billions of crystal stars and it just takes your breath away? Those moments when, for just a split second, you are faced with the vastness of the world. Whoever or whatever comes into your mind in that moment is where your heart belongs.

I’m not sure what the new year holds. To be honest, I’m not even sure about the next week, but that’s okay. It’s a new year with new beginnings, but I’m still me. And God is still God. There are some things that never change.

Just Writing

I Rise

The world has whispered many things in the places we call home. Sometimes it tells you glittery lies and others dark truths. It whispers of excitement and exhilaration in deep kisses and strong drinks. It lures you into cold water. It tempts you to regret the black corners when you walked without a light. It lurks you into fog where you cannot see the sun.

But the world never whispered of the ashes you arose from. It never hinted of the strength you possess. It makes you think you can only get so far before the regretted moments catch up. You are dependent on me, it says. You are dependent on this hurt for happiness.

I stumble and fall because at times I follow the whispers of excitement. I want to live, live like they say. Fully, and in each moment. I want to give my love generously, and believe in the fairy tales. But we all carry inside us a heart as deep as the ocean, as vast as the universe. So strong, and yet so fragile. We allow our hearts to be tinged with blackness. We put them in strange, wrong places and call it love.

And perhaps it is not the fault of those we thought we loved. We are all vast universes looking for a star, and that journey is not an easy one. So how silly of us to think that in our vastness we could fit inside this world. How silly of us to listen to the dark things it says. How strange that the world and the earth are two different things. I think sometimes that the earth is mourning the use of its beauty for so much destruction. I look at the beauty of the earth and wonder how the world became so cruel inside of it.

I am not the world, but neither have I overcome it. I work to rise above the black regrets, to move past the need for hurts. I don’t want to wear them like badges. Each day I work on rising. Rising. Rising. From the ashes. I work on renewal. I rise.

I'm Just Saying

One Full Minute

I had an English teacher once who brought us into class one day, sat us in our desks, told us to get out our journals and said, “For one full minute, I just want you to write. Write everything and nothing. Don’t stop to think. Just write everything that comes to your mind.”

paperI need to do that today. There is a lot on my mind.

I’ve never been good at living in the moment. I only have a handful of memories in which i could feel myself absorbing every detail, every emotion. I’ve always wanted to be good at it, but I’m not. I think too much. I’m tired of thinking too much.

I miss England. I feel oddly out of place now, as if the changes I’ve gone through don’t quite fit inside of me and I’m not sure how to make it all work. I know it can work, I know it. I just have to figure it out. Whatever that means.

This last week I’ve discovered a lot of my weaknesses, and I don’t like it. I don’t like looking at myself that harshly, not when I’m already super hard on myself anyway.

I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I don’t like that feeling that other people have power over me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I hate feeling that exposed, that open to whatever it is they might decide to do.

Today I got upset and made lava cakes. I’m very good at making lava cakes. I’m actually a great cook. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that before. But I love to cook. It calms me. It is a different type of creation that I absolutely adore.

I’ve been trying really, really hard lately to gain more confidence. I’ve never, ever been a confident person. Ever. I’ve been trying really hard to begin to really and truly love myself, to understand my worth and to live in such a way that I can magnify all the things that are beautiful inside of me. Sometimes it is hard. I am having to change everything about how I think. It’s harder than I expected it to be.

One full minute. Write it out. Think it out. One full minute.

For Laughs

We Are Wesley

My family is pretty amazing. I mean, obviously I’m a little bit biased in that area, but believe me when I say that I’m saying this as objectively as possible: my family is incredible. Not only because we are all hilarious, but because they are all just pretty good humans in general.

good workEverybody in my family is really smart in some way, and all of us are really artistic and creative in different ways. It’s really cool to see all of us working on that as we get older. But besides these things, one of the things that my family does probably better than anything is quote movies.

And no, I’m not kidding.

There really isn’t any way to explain it, you just have to kind of experience it. But we are ridiculously amazing at quoting movies. We have entire conversations in movie quotes, and an eternal game of “name that movie” which will never be won by any single individual. This is actually one of the things that makes everybody in my family really hilarious. We are all fantastic at quoting movies, and not only that, but quoting them at the right moment. Our timing is impeccable.

The reason that I mention this today is because I’ve been thinking about the movie The Princess Bride. If you have never seen this movie, let me know so that I can light a candle for you, but then you must promptly go and watch it. I literally have no clue where my life would be if my siblings and I hadn’t been raised watching this movie. It is not only hilarious and totally classic, but it has the best one-liners in the world. It is very often quoted in our family.

I realized today, however, that besides the fact that we quote this movie all the time, we as you wisreference it even more without even meaning to.

In the beginning of the movie, you meet Wesley and Buttercup, who soon realize that they are deeply in love. One of the things that happens in order for them to realize this is something Wesley says to Buttercup often. He is farm boy, and every time she gives him an order to do something around the farm, he only ever replies with the words, “As you wish.”

Time after time, order after order, that is the only thing Wesley ever says in response. As you wish. Buttercup eventually comes to realize that when Wesley is saying, “As you wish,” what he is really saying is, “I love you.” And the rest is glorious history involving giants, miracles, and really big rats.

In my family, we have this phrase we use all the time. Like…all the time. We say it usually in moments that are hilarious and totally adorable, so inevitably we almost always end up saying it to my mom. We get all emotional and can’t handle life and we just say, “You’re so cute!” As I’ve thought about this phrase that we often say to each other, I’ve had a few thoughts. In the beginning, we kind of meant it as a very endearing insult. Something like, “You’re so adorable and weird and I don’t know how to say that so I’ll just call you cute with this really lovable face and voice and hope you get the message without being too offended.”

But as I’ve thought about this, I’ve had a major break through. Whether we all realize it or not, when we say, “You’re so cute!” what we really mean is, “I love you so much I can’t express it in this moment.” Because it almost always happens in the innocent moments when you’re watching somebody just be and you realize how incredible they are and how lucky you are to have them in your life.

wesleyIt happens in small moments when I watch my mom make a face as she’s thinking, or my little brother eat chili and orange soda, or my little sister blink blankly in annoyance, or my best friends do one of the one million things they do that are just completely them. And then your heart kind of swells in gratitude a little and with a whole lot of love and you just really can’t contain it.

My family has translated this moment into, “You’re so cute!”

But what we really mean is, “I love you.”

We are Wesley.

Just Writing

Clock Like

Clock Like

Looking at the clock
For months on end
Waiting for it to stop
Just waiting

Dreading it so much
Hardly able to think
Would there be touch?
How many tears?

Then came the night
The clock finally stopped
Beside bright car lights
That moment

Beautiful, when it came
More so than I thought
A memory in a frame
So precious

Books and smells
Talking and reading
Laughter can tell
All of the story

Funnier than I thought
The moment at the end
A moment so caught
By friendly eyes

It ached, you know,
More than I imagined
I held the tears close
Until the clock began again

It is much different now
A different kind of waiting
More subtle, anyhow,
Than I expected

So long since words
Came from me in poems
Somewhat like birds
Singing the veiled stories

I wish I knew how to say
All the things it was
That moment at end of day
But I cannot

For it was both beautiful and unfinished
Like a clock


I'm Just Saying

Standing In A Nice Dress

Sometimes we are blessed with incredible moments of clarity. The fog of confusion clears away and suddenly everything in our life makes sense. Everything fits into place.

moonThese are beautiful moments. Moments when you look around and you just know that it is a moment that you are never going to forget. It’s so beautiful it almost hurts.

I have a handful of memories like that. Christmas mornings. Summer night parties. Holding a new baby nephew. The first time I won a Speech Competition. The orange moon during potato harvest. The first time I went on stage. The first time I finished my first masterpiece novel. Dancing with my best friends to Frank Sinatra. Walking the streets of Texas.

It is my opinion that life is made up of these small moments of clarity. They are the threads that tie us together, that form who we are. They are little moments, dream-like moments that feel like heaven. It’s moments like these that make premature good-byes and unfinished stories worth it. They make the hard things okay again. As simple as it sounds, I’m so grateful for memories. They are our very own thoughts and feelings, a book of our lives that we get to carry around with us.

Today I’m thinking of one of these moments in particular. I was with a group of new fireworksfriends training for an incredible experience. We only had 12 days together, and at this point we’d only known each other about a week. It was Independence Day, and we were standing outside with hundreds of other people just like us, watching fireworks explode into an indigo sky decorated with stars. We were holding glow sticks and eating ice cream bars. I looked at all of them and knew it was one of those moments. Because everything made sense.

I think I’m thinking about it today because one of those friends has been on my mind recently. We all became so close, like family, and promised we’d always stay in touch. But I think that even though you mean those things, life can get in the way. But like I said, memories like this make unfinished stories worth it.