My Side of the Story…

If you read this blog, you’ve picked up on pieces of my story, and if you attend C3 Church or listen to Byron’s podcasts, you’ve heard other pieces…

Every person’s story has many pieces to it – like a giant and intricate puzzle – and the reality is that even each “piece” is multifaceted…

This Sunday, Byron spoke of part of our story as a couple…about our separation and near-divorce 5 years ago.  As always, he was incredibly gracious and kind and put all of the responsibility on himself for our marriage…our world seeming to burn right in front of us.

But that’s his side of the story…

Here’s mine:

What happened to our marriage 5 years ago really began many years earlier.  I grew up in a seemingly happy, Christian home – the preacher’s daughter.  While I would not compare my upbringing and childhood to others who suffered horrible abuse and awful conditions, there was still abuse – even if everything looked perfect on the outside.  I just learned to cover…smile and cover.  

By the time Byron and I were married, and I went from “Preacher’s Daughter” to “Preacher’s Wife”, I was an expert at covering my true feelings, but the cracks began to show…

By 25, I had two beautiful daughters and although we were “seminary-poor”, we looked like the perfect family…except for the fact that at 5’9″ I weighed 100 lbs., suffered with debilitating depression and never slept more than 3 hours at a time.  But, if you asked…I was great.

By 35, I had 4 beautiful children and it was a daily struggle to hide the storm that was building inside me.  I gained 40 lbs. in 18 months even though I hardly ate, I was having “night terrors” and I began to think that my beautiful family would certainly be better off without me…

Still, if you had asked me, I would have said that I was a little stressed, but I would have never acknowledged that I was toying with burning my life to the ground…

Over the next 6-7 years, Byron tried everything to pull me out of the deep end of the ocean, but I didn’t want to be rescued.  I would have rather drown than to admit that I had been so badly broken in my childhood and beyond, that I truly didn’t believe I was worth saving.

So, by 42 I was living separately from Byron, and I did the “every other week” thing with my kids, and I had to look at their faces and know they were suffering…

all because I decided to burn myself to the ground just to stop the pain.

But, I learned something:

I learned that if you light a match and burn your house down, you’re not the only one who gets burned.  

I learned that if you run away, you take your pain with you.

I learned that you are not defined by what’s been done to you, but you will always carry what you’ve done to others.

I learned that there’s a difference between pain and remorse.  Other’s can cause you deep pain, but remorse comes from your own choices…and it’s a much heavier burden to bear.

I learned that I can choose to end the cycle of pain and remorse.  I can choose to be the person I needed when I was growing up.  I can create the family that I never had.  

I can deal with my pain and stop it from dealing with me with every breath.

I can.

I have the power to choose a new path.

You do as well.

We can’t just light a match and walk away…

Pain only goes away when it heals properly.  

Grace is the only fire strong enough to burn down hell…and it can burn down the hell your living in, if you let it.

I still have the scars to prove that I’ve been through the fire, but thank God, I’m also living proof that you don’t have to be consumed by it.

Peace to you…


Striking the Wonder Woman…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is real…and what’s not.  Dealing with physical illness and chronic pain can shrink your reality super fast.  You can begin to think that life is just about survival, and before you know it, real moments can pass you by because you were just trying to survive…to breathe.  

There are definitely times in life when the only way through…is through, and you just have to put your head down and push through it.

The problem with anything that affects you on a chronic level is that it can become your only reality.  When you’re in chronic pain or under chronic stress or in chronic depression or chronically obsessed with perfection…the reality is the same: 

Your world has been shrunk down to just that one thing.

But today is Monday.  Mondays are hard, but they are also wonderful.  It just depends on my reality.  Have I shrunk my reality to the point where I can’t see the possibility that lies in every day…especially every Monday?  

Well, here’s where I am on this Monday:

I’m going to be tired…Monday-tired no matter what I do or don’t do.  I’m going to be in pain…whether I do a lot or try to be still.  I’ve got a lot on my plate, a big family, major health-decisions to make…and they will be there whether I choose to deal with them today or not.

I can’t change facts, but I can change my reality…

Because my true reality is not what’s going on around me…or even inside me…

My true reality is how I feel about it, what I tell myself about it, and what I allow it to motivate me to do or not do about it.

I spoke to my Doctor about this just a few hours ago… Dr. Brent Baldasare is my chiropractor, but the reality is that he’s my physician…you know, the one that I really listen to.  I was sharing with him my frustrations about the decisions I have to make about possible treatments for the meningioma (benign brain tumor) that’s pressing on my brain stem and spinal cord.  Nothing has changed as far as my physical condition, but lately I’ve been feeling hopeless and unmotivated…when I was much more certain and positive just a few weeks ago.  I told him that I know I have to get my mojo back.

And he said, “Do you know the “Wonder Woman” stance?”

Know it?  There are times when I think I invented it…and these are always the times  when I feel the weakest, and somehow I just know that if I just tell myself I’m strong, then I’ll actually be stronger.  I’ve done this for years when I sing.  Anyone who has ever watched me lead worship, has probably seen me do the “Wonder Woman”…where I stand straight and strong or march forward on the platform.  For me, this has always revolved around some lyric that is stating how “God is stronger” or “no weapon formed against me will stand”.  I can do it when I’m leading worship…

…because when I’m leading worship it’s not about me.  It’s about God.  And I have no trouble believing or stating in a strong way that God is greater…

I just struggle to know that I am.

So Dr. B reminded me that I need to take my power back.  The things that I can control about my health, my pain, my happiness, my faith, my family…are right in my own hands.  I just need to stand up, strike the “Wonder Woman” and know that I can!

Byron said this very thing this weekend,  “Perhaps you don’t struggle at all believing in God, you just struggle with the fact that He believes in you.”

And that’s truly my struggle:  believing that I can.

Maybe that’s also where you are.

So let’s try it together…if we’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and powerless, the first step is to stand up, strike the “Wonder Woman”, look the world and our enemies right in the eye, and say by our stance that we will not be defeated.

It’s not just half the battle…it’s the whole thing because it can actually change our reality.

If we change our thoughts, we change our destiny, and begin to change the world!

Hands on your hips now!

Peace to you…

Angie ❣ 

My Renaissance Man…

In honor of our 27th wedding anniversary, I thought I would repost a blog that I wrote years ago…because I wrote it for my “Renaissance Man” then; and it’s even more appropriate now that I know more of what his “renaissance” truly cost.
I also know more of what love really means.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. This one was, and is, for you:

“So I went to a great sushi restaurant yesterday for lunch. It was Ah-mazing; it was so good that I took Byron back there for supper. During lunch, I kept thinking that he would love the modern yet organic decor, and he would think their new age/jazz music was cool, etc…
When we got there, they gave us the table I knew he’d like (It has these cool orange wingbacks – super comfy).
So as he was “popping” edamame, and drinking Voss (his favorite sparking water), I began to think about how much he’s changed since I met him over 20 years ago. 

To say that he’s different now is an understatement. He didn’t branch-out very often, back then, in the area of food, decor, music, or the way he dressed. He was a typical “meat and potatoes” Texan – everything normal and predictable – no surprises! Then, he met me, and God called him into the pastorate…
For years, he did the whole normal pastor thing, the double-breasted suits and the pastor hair (he DID have hair). He never was particularly political, but he could “bring it” in the pulpit – so he was always “successful”. His administrative skills and loyalty (and the utter lack of the typical “messianic complex” that most in the ministry suffer from) caused him to be a great associate, then senior pastor…Then, he began to desire more – more than the safe, predictable ministry at which he was excelling.

So he did something that was absolutely contrary to his very existence up to that point. Something that no one would’ve recommended. He changed.He changed everything from his philosophy of ministry to his hair.

He shaved his head and threw out the preacher pretense. He started looking for ways to experience more out of life than canned green-beans and pot-roast. He began to truly look at people as opportunities for connection rather than a project to feel successful.
(I think the latter may be taught as a seminary course “How to feel successful in your ministry by how many circles you can run around in without ever truly effecting life-change” – well, the title may not be that long!)

He began to refuse to be in bondage to the dictates of the religious, but instead really asked “What would Jesus do?”.
He began to demand more of himself and those around him, and ask the question, “Why is this community of faith placed here in this area – are we accomplishing the work of Christ, or just building a legacy unto ourselves…?”
He asked, and the masses answered – vehemently (the religious) and overwhelmingly (the unchurched). He was vilified, attacked, threatened, lied-about and betrayed – and yet he continued to push for more…more change, more authenticity, more love of the person of Christ rather than the tradition of man.
He walked on through the fire and the storm, and never wavered except to say to me, “If it becomes too much, just say the word, and I’ll leave it all behind, today, because I am no success in my ministry if I lose you and the kids…”

So, sitting at dinner last night at a sushi restaurant, watching him eat exotic food, comment on his new love of a very different decor than he was supposed to appreciate, and wearing a brightly colored “floweredee” shirt – And all because I wanted to go there, and I wanted him to try the food and see the decor, hear the music, and I had given him the pretty shirt…etc., I considered all of the ways he had changed.
So I commented on how different he was than “back in the day”, and he answered, “Yeah, I’m different, and it all boils down to one thing: “I fell in love…”
That is what it all boils down to with him: LOVE. 

He has learned, through adversity, to love with abandon. He has been willing to sacrifice everything for love. He is one of the few people in this world who has earned the right to say, “I would die for you.”, and you can believe it.
He is becoming a true “Renaissance Man” on a mission of love and mercy. It’s a beautiful thing to observe someone doing what they were truly born to do.

So, to me, he’s a renaissance man – my renaissance man – and I love him and am grateful for and proud of all the changes…It’s been quite a ride, and I’ve never been more excited to see what’s in store for tomorrow. I am truly blessed.”
…and I still am! Happy Anniversay, Babe. I love you more…



Love Wins - C3 Church Orlando

Love Wins – C3 Church Orlando

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway”
Mother Teresa

…because Love Wins!