Tag Archives: Faith

Mary Katherine Gallagher & Her Ball Rodeoing Friend

I almost lost a friend once. We were very best friends. Like…do everything together, love you so much, thick and thin, tell it like it is friends. You know those kind of friendships that feel like forever; where you know that, no matter what, you will care where that person is  when they are eighty?

I have a few friends that I can say this about. Girls who I would run to even if I hadn’t seen them in years. The friend I am talking about holds a very special place in my heart, and it is hard to think how close we came to losing that.

A little history: (I could tell you a million stories, but they just seem too personal… too “ours.”  So, I will give you the ones I feel are shareable.)

Friendship example #1, 2002’ish…At a Halloween costume party, just before we decided to ‘perform.’ 

My friend: Katina, I don’t think you should smell your pits on stage!

Me: Call me Mary Katherine Gallagher.

My friend: OK. Mary Katherine, I don’t think you should smell your pits on stage! And don’t you try to do a back handspring either. Don’t you try to do it!

Me: (bounding onto the makeshift stage) Sometimes, when I get nervous…

My friend: (behind me, through gritted teeth) Don’t you do it, Don’t you tumble…

mary kath

 

 

 

 

Friendship example #2, Sometime after 2002 at our little old house with the giant ditch in the back. My husband & my friend’s husband had gotten angry at our ridiculous ability to telepathically give each other Taboo answers. My friend had an idea… 

My friend: Hey, I just had an idea for the best game…it’s gonna be called, Ball Rodeo! All you do is see who can balance on this yoga ball the longest.

My husband & friend’s husband: Yeah!

Me: I’m tired. I’m going to bed.

Friend: You’re going to miss out. It’s gonna be awesome.

Me: Goodnight, y’all better not break anything.

Crash sound coming from ‘game room’ (‘game room’ may be a bit of an over exaggeration…’tiny room with Scarface poster, futon, and play station’ is more accurate)

Me: What happened?

Friend: Don’t come in here. Katina, DO NOT come in here!

Me: (walking in & seeing husband’s upper torso plunged through the wall) Oh my GOSH!! What happened?!?

Friend: Two words, Ball… Rodeo

I can’t remember the exact moment, but at some point we kind of drifted apart. (I know, I know! How could Mary Katherine Gallagher & Ball Rodeo Queen ever drift apart?!?)

I had been married for a while, and I wanted a baby. She had not been married as long and wasn’t ready for that yet. When I started going through all my baby junk…surgeries, doctors, shots, my friend was in a different place. Looking back, I can see that I completely shut everybody out. I was hurt and I wanted to waller.   (I think the real word might be wallow… This is probably one of my Granny’s southernisms.)  Anyway, I wanted a pity party, and I guess I was mad when my friend didn’t throw it.

I also had a massive amount of strong hormones pumped into my body, so I may have been irrational. For example, we were both reading the Twilight series. She finished before me. As I was reading the honeymoon chapter, I became suspicious of stupid Bella’s stomach aches & throwing up… My heart rate sped, my world spun, was this vampire loving hussy about to be pregnant?? No!!!! Not Bella! Not this stupid, vapid, teenage cliche!! I quickly texted my friend:

Me: (in a very hostile tone)  Is Bella pregnant?

My Friend: Who is Bella?

Me: (shrilly) Don’t play dumb!! I can take it! Just tell me. Is… BELLA… PREGNANT?

Minutes pass…..

Friend: Yes.

Me: Noooooooooo! I’m burning these books!

Life went on, as it always does, and my husband and I moved on to adoption. This was a super lonely time in my life. I think it was because I was younger than most people who adopt, and I didn’t know anybody else who was in the same situation. I was really bitter and angry. I got pregnant and had a miscarriage. It’s been years ago, but it honestly still stings to write about. I was extremely hurt. I was so very sad.

It was about this same time, that my friend started trying to have a baby. I hardly remember what was going on with our friendship then, but I know it seemed strained. We hung out some, but I was probably weird & totally self absorbed. (I started doing a lot of yoga, quit eating meat, and obsessed over possible adoption situations. So, basically, I was a super fun person to be around. ;)) Also, I just knew that at any given moment that old heifer was going to get knocked up, and then I would have to hate her forever! (I’m sorry, I already admitted my bitterness & anger! The hormones, remember? Don’t judge!)

She didn’t get pregnant; and even though we had drifted apart, she was still the person I called when the miraculous happened…

I will never forget finding out our little girl had been born. My husband and I called our parents and brothers, but as soon as we hung up I immediately called my old friend. I could hear the true joy in her voice, the laughter, the tears… (I don’t know if you are crying reading this, but tears keep escaping my eyes as I am writing it!)

Life got crazy, I was crazy, she was crazy…

My friend found out she was pregnant. She miscarried.

I found out I was pregnant again. I miscarried.

You would think two old friends, like Mary Katherine & Ball Rodeo, would have bonded over these hard times. But we didn’t. Somehow, we had both hurt each other’s feelings. We fought on the phone, we yelled, we hung up, we unfriended each other, on Facebook & in real life.

I’m not making this up: I found out I was pregnant… I found out my friend was pregnant. (Goodness, doesn’t God have an interesting sense of humor! He knew we were two jealous, crazy ladies! His ways are so awesome & his timing perfect.)

This sounds unrealistic, but I can say with all honesty, I had just felt the first little gold fish flutters of Bubba moving in my tummy, when I heard my phone’s text alert, and saw a text message with my old friend’s name at the top. It said, “Congratulations.”

Y’all, it was like she knew…like she knew I had just felt this tiny little thing move…she knew this was real…Like when we used to kill it playing Taboo...(Seriously, one word & we knew exactly what each other meant.) She knew.

I cried so hard. I ugly cried… for myself…for her… for our lost babies… for Mary Katherine… for Ball Rodeo… for the dumb girls we were… & the grown mamas we were becoming. I cried for the last few tatters of our friendship.

So, here we are, some years & some babies later. Is it the same friendship as when we were twenty? Of course not! We were idiots! Do we still love each other? Yes! Can we read each other’s minds? I’m not 100% sure, but I have gotten some perfectly timed text messages.

I’ve been thinking about how God looks at us like I look at my babies. He loves us more than that. It’s incomprehensible. I think about my kids fighting, and how much I hate it. I can’t stand seeing them being mean to each other. I think about how happy I am when they love each other. If they randomly hold hands, my heart swells. How much more must God feel…

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

This is me randomly holding my old friend’s hand. Love u, Ball Rodeo… Yee-Yee…

 

 

 

Destroy Delilah, aka Meth, Cocaine, Klonopin, Codeine…

 

This Thursday, I will attend my last CASA class. CASA stands for court appointed special advocate. It is a program that the courts use to assign advocates to children who have been placed in foster care. Throughout my last three classes, we have discussed the issues that are causing so many children in our area to be taken from their homes. The number one reason is drugs. Specifically meth, but also other drugs. It makes me sad. I think of all of my friends and family members who have been and are being ruined by drugs. It is kind of becoming an obsession for me. What can we do? How do we stop this senseless loss of life?

I know what the research says, and it isn’t encouraging. I have googled, ‘the bible on addiction,’ ‘sermons on addiction,’ ‘helping someone deal with their addiction,’ and I can’t find anything other than the usual, “You just gotta lay it down.” And I can’t help but think, What if they can’t lay it down.

This morning, I was reading my bible and asking the Lord to show me something, to give me wisdom, and to help me see what his word says about addiction. I felt like I should read the story of Samson and Delilah.

I never liked this story. It seemed so dark depressing to me. But, I read it….it was still dark and depressing. I read it again and thought, Why am I reading this? What does this have to do with addiction? Samson loved women, especially bad ones, it led to his destruction….Oh…Delilah = drugs/addiction. (Sorry Delilah, I’m sure you had your own awful story.)

I reread Judges 16 with ‘Delilah = drug addiction’ in mind. Judges 16 starts with Samson spending the night with a prostitute. He was trapped by the people of Gaza, but woke in the middle of the night and tore down the city gates. He then moved on from the prostitute to ‘falling in love’ with Delilah. (It’s a progression, y’all. You don’t plan to be addicted to Delilah.)  She asks him to reveal his source of strength, and he plays along, innocently enough, but lies to her. She tests him by yelling, “The Philistines are upon you!” Samson then displays his strength, proving that he has fooled her. This pattern takes place three times. Samson must’ve known it was a trap. He wasn’t an idiot, he was an addict.

Delilah, like all drugs, was a wonderful temptress and a talented liar. Judges 16:15- 16 shows the turning point where Samson fully gives in. I can’t help but read this and think about drugs and their addict…the conversations that take place.

“Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.”  With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.”  

If you know someone who is on drugs, has been on drugs, or has relapsed, can’t you just see this taking place in their mind? Being prodded ‘day after day’ is miserable. Verse 17 says it all:

So he told her everything.

Oh, so sad. He gave in. I read those words over and over. I thought, How could this story end differently? Of course, God’s will was accomplished, but did it have to end with Samson’s demise? Could Samson have destroyed the Philistines without destroying himself? Even though God’s will is accomplished, man still has a free will, right?

What could Samson have done? He could’ve left. He could’ve run home and screamed for help. That is what we want drug addicts to do. Let them hit rock bottom and they will beg for help. But what if they don’t? What if Delilah is too strong? What if she calls her friends, the Philistines, and they bind him? What if his eyes are gouged out so that he can’t even see clearly?

If Samson was too bound by Delilah how could his story have changed?

His friends, his family, his community…where were they?

Now, I know many parents who have fought to the very end for their addicted son or daughter, begging and pleading, living in torture. So, maybe Samson’s parents wouldn’t have been enough, maybe his family wouldn’t have been enough, maybe he needed an army of believers to help him. An army stronger and bigger than Delilah’s friends to break down the door, and yell to Samson, “It’s a trap! Get out! We will hold your hand! You can beat this!”

Isn’t that God’s love? Aren’t we supposed to show God’s love to the lost? God’s love is relentless.

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”

You have been chosen to bear fruit that will last. You have been commanded to love! He doesn’t say, love those easy to love, love other Christians only, show love to good people.

See, the hard thing is that Samson probably didn’t want his family or friends around. He left them for Delilah, and I’m sure Delilah loved that. If you show love to Samson, Delilah will yell at you. Those drugs are powerful and they will fight back. Delilah will tell Samson to cut you off, not to listen to you, not to respond. Delilah will scare you, embarrass you, make you uncomfortable. But do you still love? Are you trying to live like Christ commanded? Can you show God’s relentless love to someone?

The drug addict ignores us and we go away. They yell at us and we wash our hands. The experts say, “Let them fall.” Jesus says, “Love them.” He doesn’t tell us to enable them, because enabling isn’t love. But you don’t have to give someone money to love them.

Where is the church when their addict is dying? Have people left your church? Where are they? Are they living in addiction? Have you contacted them? Don’t be scared! Break down the door! It takes more than the family, folks! The addict expects their family to be there, but what if you show that kind of unconditional love? Unexpected, fight to the end, I’m here for you, LOVE.

Do you know someone who is struggling with addiction? If you live in Northeast Louisiana, you do. It is rampant. Can I challenge you to call that person? Tell them you are thinking about them. Invite them to lunch. Ask them to come to church with you. Pray with them. Send them messages. Send them letters. Let’s bombard these people with Christ’s love. Let’s pull them out of Delilah’s house kicking and screaming. Don’t give up. Harass Samson, attack Delilah. Stop making excuses.

I am not being mean, I just know what it feels like to have done nothing. With tears in my eyes, I can think of many Samsons I should’ve been there for. I wasn’t. I’m sorry.

 

Transformation in the Midst of a Heathen Land

About a month ago, while browsing the kindle store, I saw Crazy Love by Francis Chan as one of my recommendations. It had been there for forever…all red & simplistic. (I have no idea which of my previous purchases made Amazon think I wanted to read Christian non fiction.)  It was all I hated in the form of written word: inspirational, helpful, agenda filled, and ‘teachy’. But, for some reason, I bought it. I read it. I put it down. I cried.
I can’t adequately review this book. I will simply say that something about it spoke to me. It helped me see Jesus. It made me feel like a kid at the altar on the closing night of church camp. (Note: I specified kid…not teenager! Not my ugly, stupid teenage years. If you were at church camp with me that one year….well, you just shut your mouth!)

So, my mind was totally and completely wrecked. How could I put this book down and not run into the street looking for someone to feed. (The only people on my street who need to be fed are the two skinny women who run at 5 am.) I was just overcome with the desire to transform. I felt a sudden burden for everyone, every single sad piece of the human race.

I followed up Crazy Love with Not a Fan, then moved on to the much scarier Radical, and after that, sweet Jen Hatmaker’s  Seven. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to lose that feeling.

I began thinking of all the changes I had to make. I tore through my closet pulling down excess junk. Who was I? Beyoncé? Who needs that many purses? I haven’t even carried a purse in five years! And heels? The last time I wore heels I ended up prego. GONE! I ripped stuff down and shoved it in bags. My kids jumped on the bed all happy until I marched towards their rooms. They looked on with terror while I mumbled about homeless kids and grabbed toys from high and low. I put the kids in the car, and off we sped toward the extremely low income part of town.

I’m not 100% sure what I planned on doing. I almost stopped at a house where the door was partly opened. I guess I was going to just casually stroll in their home and ask if they wanted some clothes and stuff from my car? I’m not sure. Rationality won out, and I turned around. I ended up at Grace Place, a local battered women’s shelter & soup kitchen. They gladly took my donations while my three kids ran around the parking lot.

I spent the next few days in a kind of search mode. I was trying to find ways to serve. I was looking for someone to help. I was beginning to turn inward instead of keeping my focus on the one who had started this ‘transformation’. I kept feeling defeated as I shared my heart with others and walked away feeling like a weirdo. Feelings of Failure started seeping in. The heathens who call me mama saw me as a wounded animal and took the opportunity to pounce. Seriously, they were being so baaaaaaad!

[Setting: CVS parking lot, back of the car, Thursday afternoon]

[Characters: two heathens, one sick baby, and a bad parent]

Female Heathen: Mama, you know the worst thing to do ever?

Bad Parent: What?

Female Heathen: Not worshiping the Holy Spirit!

Male Heathen: Nuh uh, biting!

Female Heathen: NO!!!! Not worshiping the HOLY SPIRIT!!!!

Male Heathen: BITING!!!        

Female Heathen (With a Pentecostal quiver in her voice): NOT WORSHIPING THE HOLY SPIRIT!  

Male Heathen: BITING!!!!

In the blink of an eye, they were throwing kiddie punches while the baby screamed because of his thrush mouth. (thrush: one of the many disgustingly painful daycare sicknesses we have been plagued with the past four weeks.) 

Bad Parent (swatting crazily into the back seat): I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

We exited the vehicle out of breath and annoyed. I led my mean little duckies to the back so we could pick up the thrush medicine. For some unknown reason, Bubba pointed to a lady with a walker only three feet away and yelled, “Hey Sissy, look at that lady with that crazy thing.” I grabbed him and said how sorry I was. I pulled him to the next aisle where he said VERY loudly, “You are hurting my arm!” 

Through gritted teeth and maybe tears I said, “Jesus wants you to have LOVE in your heart!!! You are just being so awful. Why? What’s wrong with you?” A lady walked by, looked a hole through me, and proceeded to softly tell her little girl to look away. I continued with my stinky attitude until we pulled in the driveway. We jumped out, got sissy ready for dance, jumped back in the car, and my husband dropped sissy and me off at her dance class. 

I sat in the back of the studio alone and took a deep breath. Pity with a side of guilt washed over me, and I sent this text to my husband.

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{It is embarrassing to look back at the pity party I was throwing! Goodness! How annoying! Also, I should probably explain  ‘grump fish,’ ‘lubs,’ and ‘you braveheart,’ but I think the back stories would take too long.} 

Maybe this is why I feel the need to write things down; It forces me to face my own foolishness, to review my day, and hope for change tomorrow!

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I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes from my little non fiction book binge!

“In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.” ~Francis Chan

Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won’t be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.” ~Francis Chan

“We are on a never-ending downward escalator. In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward.” ~ Francis Chan

“What are you doing right now that requires faith?” ~Francis Chan

“Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.” ~ Francis Chan

“Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live- we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love.” ~Jen Hatmaker

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come  after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25:34-36