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Love rendition

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Friends I cannot tell you how much this post blessed me this evening. It was truly a fresh word from God and I think it would do your soul good to read it too.

xoxo,
Ava

Sara Whitesell

So easily I forget the freedom that lies right in front of me. So easily I fight to unlock the shackles I bear, overlooking the key that Jesus has freely given to me. I say “freely”, but that freedom was bought at such a high price. I forget that the water He gives quenches every thirst. I forget that His ear is bent to hear me. My faith shakes, and my heart breaks, and every day, from dawn to dusk, my God stands faithful and waiting. On the bright side of brokenness, lies Jesus.

I wish I could say my Bible was worn at the seams. I wish I could say I don’t continuously hit the snooze button, making excuses to sleep through my morning quiet time with the Lord. My head doesn’t bow in prayer as often as it should, and my hands hang at my sides while they…

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At the End of the Road With an Empty Bag of Tricks: How Death Seemed So Seductive

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The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  -John 1:5

Beloved Friends,

It’s been almost one month since I’ve written.  I’ve wanted so much to write each and every single day, but certain life circumstances have left me just plain depleted and wholly exhausted.  I suppose my pervasive depression was the driving force that has kept me wrapped tightly in my favorite blanket…in bed.  You see, that’s that majority of what I’ve been doing since I last wrote–sleeping or working.  When I’m not working I’m sleeping and when I’m not sleeping I’m working.  That’s the long and short of it, friends.  I have become a hermit lately with no social life or fellowship to speak of.  As a matter of fact, my hygiene has even suffered a bit!

You see, a few months ago before my gross reduction in income,  I used AG, Biolage, Purology, and Philosophy products to care for my hair and body.  In the realm of make-up I prefer Mac, Two-Faced, Smashbox, and Urban Decay, just to name a few.  Men, this may mean nothing to you, but ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about!  More than any of my physical traits I love my hair and for years upon years have only allowed the best products to come near it.  I mean, I was using a $55 bottle of conditioner and a $30 glaze to keep my hair from being frizzy, while giving it just the perfect amount of volume and texture to put me in a close 2nd in a  “best hair” contest with Jennifer Aniston herself!

The “BEFORE” photo!

Is this my fate?

My $20 sugar and hemp-infused body scrub and $20 shower gel left my artificially tanned skin as smooth as a baby’s backside and smelling of an organic rhapsody of lavender with subtle hints of warm, toasted vanilla.  After my rejuvenating power showers, I used to like to smooth on some of my deliciously decadent Philosophy body cream ($28) before hitting my pillow which I even misted with a light Bath and Body Work’s fragrance. Now, I buy Pantene products from the Dollar General, and adorn my skin in Wal-Mart’s generic version of Dove’s mildly-exfoliating body soap.  My razor is one that my former reprobate of a roommate left behind accidentally.  It isn’t the sinfully sharp, quadruple-bladed razor that I’m accustomed to; it’s one of those Bic disposable numbers.  So, like I said, my hygiene has suffered a little; I can admit that.  But in my dirty defense, “bath time is no longer a spa-like experience“.  Shoot, as of late,  I’ve been so down that I have even had to remind myself to brush my damn teeth each day.  The loss of my beauty products hurt a little but I’m proud to report that my hair and skin have held up better than expected… and I still have all my teeth (in spite of my recurring nightmare that I’m missing my front one–we’ll talk about that another time).

I suppose that being separated from my elite beauty products aren’t really my biggest issue though right now.  As a matter of fact, although my skin is a bit ashy and my hair is somewhat wiry I must say, I have much bigger fish to fry. 

Surprisingly, money is not now nor has it ever been a great source of pleasure for me.  I mean, sure I like to shop sometimes, but I simply do not love money; never have.  I have dated wealthy men; wasn’t impressed.  Hence, I can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I will never marry a man for his money.  I like to have money for reasons related to financial stability.  You know what I mean, friend?  I desperately want to be able to comfortably pay my mortgage, car note, and my other giant mountain of debts.  I want to comfortably be able to give my children lunch money each day and not have to worry about how I’m going to get groceries from week to week.  I want to be able to save my money too like normal people seem to do…  And I want to be able to tithe.  But more than “anything” I want to be able to help others who are in need.  “Especially” single parents and their seemingly indefensible children. 

I often joke with God about Him not ever allowing me to win the blasted lottery.  I mean, my church would receive more than 10%, I would do mission trips to Africa and South America… building educational facilities all along the way, putting shoes on bare, calloused, little feet–and I could certainly ensure that an exorbitant amount of hungry, suffering children never feel the pangs of hunger in their little bellies again.  I could effectively share and spread the Gospel and even put a sizeable dent in the monstrosities that make up the sex trafficking industry.  I could pop a few caps in the asses of some of the cartel too!  In short, I could help so many people.  So why in the world would He not trust me with a bit of money?  It just doesn’t make sense, does it?  Even if he didn’t choose me, He could at least chose someone with a heart like mine!  Ugh!  Money is the root of all evil!  It’s come to a point where I am disgusted by it and what it represents.  I kind of hate it actually.  I hate how it distracts people and keeps them from experiencing face-to-face encounters with God.  You see, if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that poverty causes you to lean on Jesus, which deepens and sweetens your relationship with Him.  In that way, I feel kind of sad for the majority of rich folks.  (Disclaimer: I’m not saying that all rich folks don’t have precious relationships with God!)

But I suppose my theories on money and religion aren’t so important right now.  You see, I have to admit something, friends.  Late Sunday night… early Monday morning, I was in a place of such deep, devastating sorrow that I was, in all sincerity planning my great escape.  I was planning on ending my life.  My pain was so agonizing and unbearable that night and I had cried until my eyes were almost swollen shut.  All the suffering that I had experienced in my life just came together, forming one indescribable but all-consuming ache.  I had a plan and began subtly saying my goodbyes to those that I love in the wee small hours of the night.  Were it not for my beautiful son Jonah who was peacefully sleeping near me, I know that I would be nothing more than a memory right now.  Praise Jesus that I was able to remember back to the night my then, 5-year-old Jeremiah (who was sleeping) and I  drove up on my mother’s house to see why she hadn’t been answering the phone all weekend.  It was on that fateful night that I discovered that my mother had committed suicide. 

I reminisced upon the moments and hours that passed after seeing her lifeless, pale, white body laying in her bed.  She had the saddest expression on her face.  She looked like her heart had been broken.  She had been dead, laying in that bed for three days. 

I also reminisced upon her funeral.  She asked that we play a few songs, namely “Please Remember” by LeAnn Rimes.  It’s a beautiful song, but my heart broke into a thousand pieces when I heard it play at the service.  I vaguely remember that I literally let out a moan so deep and so loud during the song that my precious grandfather had to take his focus off of mourning the death of his child, and focus on consoling me.  It was one of those soul cries…I just couldn’t maintain my composure sitting there looking at her casket.

Then my mind wandered back to the days before her funeral, pre-visitation.  I got my mother ready for her funeral.  With the help of my cousin, who is a physician, we managed to get my mother’s body dressed.  And mind you, we didn’t pull the easy, funeral parlor trick where you merely cut a slit down the back of a shirt or a dress…we literally got her dressed, from head to toe.  She was bloated and had Frankenstein-like stitching all around her head from the autopsy.  Remember, my mom was a cop…  She once had to participate in an autopsy during her training at the police academy and was happy to report that she “got to crack the skull-cap“.  I remember her telling me that the human face is peeled back away from the head and that it simply looks like a mask as it is pulled down and then pulled back up toward the end of the procedure.  Add to that, I was also keenly aware that the deceased’s brain and other organs are taken out and weighed–among other things during an autopsy– and then tossed back into the chest cavity which is then sloppily sewn back up. 

She was so brave when she was a cop, so I had resigned to be brave like her during this sacred time to ensure that it was “me” taking care of her sweet body, ensuring that she was handled with supreme love and dignity.  The Holy Spirit definitely guided me as I prepared her body because I was so much stronger in that moment than you or anyone else could ever imagine.  I felt like she was with me and that God was bringing a much-needed sense of peace and understanding to our relationship.  Still, there were subtle reminders like her sad-faced, lifeless body reeking of formaldehyde, which was literally oozing from her pores and causing her beautiful hair to fall out as I curled and styled it. 

Praise the Maker that was able to successfully get her hair and make-up done.  I had managed to get her ready for her funeral all by myself, except for the help that my sweet cousin gave me in actually dressing her body.  I was proud of my cosmetology skills but what was bothering me was the fact that she had fallen after taking all the medication that she took.  I think she attempted to overdose but discovered that what she had taken did not kill her.  I think she sedated herself heavily and then woke up, disappointed that she was not dead yet.  I believe this is when she dizzily got up to grab for more pills (the ones that really killed her).  When she did she feel into a box fan thus breaking some of her acrylic nails. 

I said to myself right then, “MY mother is not going to see Jesus needing a fill!”  Hastily and with great determination I called a nail salon that was located across the street from the funeral home.  I asked them to please come and help me get my mother’s nails repaired.  Now apparently the Vietnamese culture does not play well with the dead, because a timid but traumatized little Asian voice echoed back at me saying, “D-no, we no do dat foe yew mudda!  We skeead!”   I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit.

Finally though, my tenaciousness and perseverance had paid off.  With the help of my cousin, we found someone from a local hospital who was willing to give my mother her final fill.  I tell you what, that girl did one heck of a job!  She had my dead mother’s arms all sprawled out with “forms” on every nail.  By the time this gal was finished my mother’s nails looked amazing and the whole damn funeral home smelled not of formaldehyde, but of acetone!  I know it’s not funny, but the entire place smelled like a nail salon!

All this to say, the memories of my mother’s suicide are fresh.  So, the question is how could I do that to my Jeremiah and my Jonah?  How could I do it to my family?  How could I even entertain such thoughts?  Who would have found me?  Would I have had to have had a closed-casket because the left side of my head was missing from the exit of the bullet? 

I know these are maniacally morbid thoughts, but I thought of them all as I weighed out my unspeakable options.  Truth be told, I prayed and prayed for Jesus to come back.  I desperately wanted the Rapture to happen so my kids and I could just fly away from such an ugly, senseless, evil world.  I guess Jesus wasn’t ready to mount His majestic, white horse and ride to my rescue though.   Or maybe it was on account of the Battle of Armageddon hasn’t occurred yet or we haven’t all been asked to receive the mark of the Beast!?!  Either way, we’re all still here and aren’t winged and singing with the Hosts of Heaven.  I apologize if I have offended any of you by prematurely trying to end the world.

But you see, I’m really broke and struggling.  I stand to lose everything.  My home was literally one day from foreclosure.  My attorney met me at 7 am on Labor Day (September 3rd) to allow me to file for bankruptcy; I did.  Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend did some things that were absolutely appalling.  I had to send him away as his addictions and alcoholism were consuming us.  He was also becoming abusive again.  Add to that, I found two condoms in his suitcase… We “rarely” have sex and when we do, we don’t use condoms. 

I remember clearly back to September the 3rd because it was my late grandmother’s birthday that day.  I had been having some problems with dizziness and fainting and that afternoon, I got up too fast I suppose and I fainted.  Jonah was standing next to me when it happened.  I hit my head really, really hard on the closet door behind me.  Jonah screamed “MOMMY” in a tone that affected me to my core; still does today.  He was so scared and was crying.  I’ve never seen him get that upset and lose it like that.  Let’s just say that, in that instant it was painfully clear how much Jonah loved me.  It was also the memory of his cry for me that prevented me from making an irreversible decision the other night, which was the morning of the 24th.

What happened that night?“, you’re probably wondering, that could have taken me to the edge of a cliff like that.  I’ll tell you what happened, I found out that I lost my job.  Friends, I am yet unemployed again and I have to make a mortgage payment soon PLUS my monthly bankruptcy payment to the trustee.  I’ve depleted all of my resources. 

I took this job with the hopes of moving up quickly.  I don’t mind telling you that I went from making $50K a year to a little over $19K a year.  I was literally pulling in $9.53 an hour at the airline I worked for, with all my education and experience.  But you know what?  I loved that job.  I loved the people.  I loved working from home, which was a first for me.  I worked and trained so hard and it was all taken away in a flash. 

So here I am.  I do not know what’s going to happen to me next.  I have never been angry with God before the other night.  However, on that night I felt as if he had completely betrayed me and that all the prayers that I had humbly prayed to him…and I also felt like the time that I had spent on my knees were all in vain or that he was simply choosing to ignore me.  Today, I have decided to put up a little bit of a fight…as much as I can.  But know this friends, I HATE the devil.  He seems to want to devour me and my precious children.   It’s getting hard to take.  Just when I started feeling connected to the Lord again today, I turned on my computer to write on this blog.  I was going to praise God at that time.  As soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, my power went out.  Our electricity was shut off.  I owed $436.  Frightful times….

I am going to be writing a lot more in the coming days.  This is going to be an interesting ride but I invited you all along a while back.  God is going to move in my life.  I just don’t know how right now and I am overcome with grief and fear.  Please pray for me and my two children as we walk through this horrifically perilous time.  I’m running out of tricks, friends.  I’m getting older and I’m running out tricks.  As a matter of fact, this is how I feel (dramatic, but true nonetheless):

I love you all and will be writing again soon.  Sufficed to say, you are loved.  The very fact that you are reading this right now, wherever you are…humbles me in unspeakable ways.  If you only knew how much YOU keep me going!

The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:5).  I can’t understand it right now either…

All my love,

Ava

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A damn fine blog…read every word…even the comment!!!

Everyone Has A Story...

1 Peter 3:6

just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b] without being frightened by any fear.

Lately, it has become really evident that I have been living in a bubble of fear. I’ve been afraid that my favorite human being

on this earth was going to have truly and permanently disappeared forever, and this unfamiliar tortured soul would be all that was left. I was afraid that  I would never get to say thank you to the man who made me so very happy for decades and raised a family with me. I wish I’d known the day before all of this really started up so I could have emblazoned his laughing eyes in my memory forever. I think that is what I miss the most these days. I miss the real…

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This is the final post on a series of 3. In this post, Dr. Sprayberry writes about the benefits of children having involved, present fathers.

Survivor: Pediatrics

Written by David R. Sprayberry, MD

My last few posts have revolved around the negative effects that absent fathers have on their children.  So far, we have talked about how the absence of a father contributes to poverty, substance use and abuse, psychological and behavioral problems, poorer educational performance, and increased participation in criminal activities.  Today we turn to the positive things that a present father brings to the lives of his children.

Effects on Infants

Let’s starts with infants.  Even in the first few days of life, the effect of a father’s presence can be discerned.  Newborns will preferentially turn their heads to the voice of their fathers over the voices of other men.  Premature infants whose fathers visit the NICU more often tend to have better weight gain during the hospitalization and perform better on behavioral and social-developmental tests during the first 18 months of life.  Infants who demonstrate…

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Another factual post on the consequences of of absent fathers and the devastating effects it has on the children of single-parent families.

Survivor: Pediatrics

Written by David R. Sprayberry, MD

In my last post, I introduced the problem of absent fathers in the U.S. and described the magnitude of the issue. What I hope to do today is to present a strong case for why fathers need to be very intentional about staying involved in the lives of their children.

This topic is important to me for several reasons. First, I am a father of three children (hopefully four sometime in the next year or so) and I want to be the kind of father they need. Second, I am tired of seeing friends separate and/or divorce. If these posts do anything to help just one father decide not to leave, it will have been a worthwhile endeavor. Third, I see kids who are suffering the consequences of father absence in my office very frequently and I am often called upon to help the kids…

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This author is spot-on with his insightful posts on absent fathers and single parent homes. I am going to repost his work as it is data-driven and this, factual in nature. I appreciate this man’s work. I wish that more men thought the way Dr. Sprayberry does and encourage you to follow his work.

Survivor: Pediatrics

Written by David R. Sprayberry, MD

You have undoubtedly heard this question used as a taunt of another, but let’s take the question seriously.

What do you know about your dad? Do you know him or do you know of him? I grew up in a two-parent home with my birth parents.

Things were not always perfect. I can tell you the positive things about my dad and some negatives.

The reason, though, that I can tell you the negatives is that I know my father and I know him well because he was there.

He was there at the dinner table. He was there at my baseball practices. He was there at my basketball games. He was at all the school functions and awards nights.

He was there.

During my pediatric residency, one of my classmates was posed this question by one of the kids he was seeing in the…

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Write What’s on Your Heart!

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Write What’s on Your Heart!

Dear Beloved,

And so here I am…sitting here in my haven, better known as my garage, smoking a cigarette and praying.  There are a total of five very energetic children inside (praise the Maker they aren’t all mine).  Judging from the sounds of the pervasive screaming that my ears bear witness to, I should go in and do something to intervene; at the very least I should pop a Xanax and have another beer.  However, my heart tells me that I must write.  


My name is Ava, and I am the very single mother of two magnificent boys.  My oldest son, Jeremiah will be sixteen in a couple of weeks, and Jonah, my baby, is seven and a half.  It  won’t be long before I reach my fortieth birthday and would you believe it, I have never been married.  Yes friend, I have had two baby showers but never a wedding shower (this is ironic since I used to work at Bed Bath & Beyond and run the wedding registry).  I have had two epidurals and pushed two people out of my damn vagina, but I have never had a wedding ring…not even a little one.  This plagues me sometimes as I often feel that I have the Scarlet Letter “A” embroidered on the chest of every garment that I wear…but I’ll discuss this more at a later date. 


In spite of my relentless, failed attempts at love, I am blessed to say that for the last six years I have been a high school teacher.  I teach Special Education.  My students are incredibly impoverished and incredibly at-risk; it’s no secret that I work in a part of town that most middle-class white folk like myself scarcely know exists.  I teach kids with learning disabilities and an array of severe emotional disturbances.  Surprisingly, these children have proven to be one of the main reasons that I (barely) make it out of bed each morning.  They are honestly like my own children, and I love them more than simple words can express.  However, as fate would have it, I had to bid them farewell on Thursday, as I have been forced to face something that is so catastrophic and devastating in nature that I can hardly stand to talk or write about it.  (Big sip of beer, baby).  I will delve into this chapter of my life in the near future.  


Tonight I face not only having to find a new job; I face having to find a new career.  And what’s worse, I thought this was my ministry.  After all, in spite of all I’ve done wrong in my life, this was something that I did so well.  I know that I glorified God in my career as a teacher!  How could he take me to the depths of this place and back and then yank it away from me in an instant?


What’s more, I have a beautiful home that my boys and I built almost four years ago.  My mortgage has a comma in it.  I drive a Hummer, and my debt to income ratio is probably right at 200 percent.  This is scary…real scary.


I could go on and on, and trust me I will, but not just yet.  Admittedly, I personally feel that I am responsible for keeping the Earth turning on its axis.  And as it stands, I feel that I am forced to be All Things To All People.  But you know something friend?  I’m not.  I’m not God.  God is God.  He is the King of Kings and the Maker of the stars.  He loves me…and I just feel that He’s saying, “Hang on Ava, my Beloved mess in a dress!  Walk with me a while!”  And I will.  I’ll walk with Him a while…(but I’m still scared). 


So begins my journey.  I may lose everything, but I’m choosing to walk in blind faith.  Oh friend, don’t get me wrong…”I’m a sinner.”  But God is bigger than the mistakes I’ve made.  I know He is.    He loved me through the ten years that I was a stripper, he’s loved me through multiple addictions and my precious mother’s suicide…he’s loved me through the abuse, rejection, depression, abandonment, and agonizing pain that I’ve endured… I’m willing to bet the farm that he’ll love me through this.


Being a single mother is not natural.  It was never God’s plan for me, or you, to be both a mother and a father to our children.  I know I’ve personally invited Him to be the Head of my household (because I don’t think I’m doing a very good job)–and I strongly urge you to do the same. 


I hope that my posts will inspire you.  And I hope that as you watch me venture out into this great, unfamiliar frontier that you will draw closer to the heart of God.  He is our only source of hope.  So….“Let’s Do  This.”

Many blessings,

Ava Elizabeth Wisdom