Community · Kimly's Trade · Uncategorized

My Favorite Shoes I Barely Wore

wordsWhen I was fourteen-years-old I joined my High School’s Track Team. Impressing my classmates with my agile Kenyan-like abilities, I won the team’s MVP award and garnished the nickname “Jackrabbit Jackie” for my hare-footed speed. Okay, well maybe that’s not altogether accurate. What actually happened might have fewer accolades.

During the spring semester of my freshman year, the extra curricular activity “Drill Team” was no longer considered a viable class in meeting my High School’s Physical Education requirements. In order for my fellow flag twirlers and me to meet our needed PE requirements, we either had to enroll in a traditional PE class, or we had to “go out” for Track and Field. After a conversation with Coach Monroe, a grandfatherly man whose gentle nature sits firm and soft on the bleachers of my memory, I decided to join the Track Team.

Coach Monroe needed runners to participate in a multitude of events, and he confidently suggested two in which he felt I would excel. The first was the 800 meter run. 800 meters is two laps around the track. TWO LAPS…without stopping. I’m sorry, but that’s a long way to run without an axe murderer chasing you.

The second event in which he convinced the team’s novice runner to participate was the Hurdles. Wikipedia describes hurdling this way,

The act of running and jumping over an obstacle at speed. A series of barriers known as hurdles are set at precisely measured heights and distance in which each athlete must pass by running over. Accidental knocking over of hurdles is not cause for disqualification, but is disadvantageous.

On one afternoon, Coach Monroe, who undoubtedly received his Masters Degree in Manipulation, managed to convince this newcomer that she should run in one event demanding endurance and a second event requiring agility in speedily skipping over obstacles which are strategically placed to knock her on her bum.

Two things stand out about my time on LMHS Matador’s Track and Field Team. The first is that I successfully DID compete in both of those events at two separate meets. Twice, Coach Monroe was able to convince me that I  could successfully navigate the obstacles strategically placed to trip me up. Even though I never placed in hurdles and the 800 meter run only garnished me a 4th place ribbon (out of four runners), I still did it.

The second thing that stands out is a treasured nostalgic heirloom I can still visualize to this day. The monument exists in the form of a pair of blue satin track shoes. I can still see the homely sneakers, and while I don’t know if they were really satin, they shine that bright in my memory.

mNILShzaajnE94KYj5bW4KwAs a teenager, the shoes were not my favorite–remember, I only wore them twice. The metal cleats sparkle in my memory not because of the way they gripped the ground seeing me safely over each hurdle, but because of the indelible message my father sent me upon their purchase.

A father who worked long days in construction, arrived home where his daughter, who was not blessed with athletic prowess, told him she was joining the track team. He looked down at her VANS deck shoes and said, “Get in the truck, you’re gonna need shoes.”

We climbed into my Dad’s sky blue pick-up truck and he drove us to the nearby Big 5 Sporting Goods Store. I can still see my father’s checkbook as his calloused hand signed the note paying nearly fifty dollars for the funky footwear. Fifty dollars may not seem like a lot of money, but over thirty years ago in our middle income family with two working parents; it was an oddity for my Dad to spend that kind of cash on shoes.

This is where the heirloom explodes in my heart.

My Dad didn’t buy me track cleats because I whined and moaned about needing them, and he didn’t buy them because he had any false expectations about my running abilities. The man had raised me. He was fully aware that I was a girl who was drawn to reading, performing, and creating far more often than exerting myself athletically. Unlike Coach Monroe, my father probably had a pretty good idea that I would eventually find my place on the track team, not running in an event, but running the announcer’s booth with a microphone in hand and my voice echoing through the stadium.

I’ve wondered at times if I would even remember my brief inclusion to the track team were it not for the physical manifestation of my father’s confidence. For all I know or imagine, the 4th place ribbon and the spiky slippers sit somewhere in a landfill, and it’s the memory of my father’s belief that has become the treasured heirloom.

This week I was reminded of that parental belief when my Indiegogo fundraising campaign to pay for the editing and publishing of my first fictional manuscript received a hearty donation. Upon notification, I learned the donation was made by my parents.

Writing has brought so many good things into my life, and this is among them. Years from now, will the a published book shine brighter than the heirloom’s of encouragement I’ve already received?

When you drive someone to Big 5 and  buy them a pair of cleats, the runner’s belief in their ability to run well is re-energized.  When faithful friends or far off strangers are willing to invest in your dreams because they see your potential, what happens at the finish line becomes more likely, but less consequential. It’s a race worth running no matter the outcome. Even last place becomes a victory for all.  Time and again, the spark of creativity has been rekindled for those who strive to create by the mere knowledge that someone believes in their ability to navigate the hurdles and endure to the end.

For more information about the fictional book I wrote and how to be a part of Making Kimly’s Trade Happen, simply click on this LINK.

Kimly's Trade

Don’t Believe Me; Just Watch

e4893f2c9316df7e33677cf4a90b3ae7I have lived with a nagging, disgruntled voice in my head for an indeterminate amount of time. Late at night, she sneaks into my room, crawls into my bed, and whispers words like, “more” “different” and “better”. Sometimes I don’t recognize her when she comes calling until I’ve listened too long. She’s a persistent dame. Beautiful, and forever young, she shops at high end stores, and lives in a house I’ll never occupy. I use scripture to silence her and I ask for help when I am overwrought. Oftentimes, my husband will spot her before I do. He’s not fond of her, at all, and does his best to keep her silent.

The battle for significance and the acceptance of one’s self is an age old war. It’s an inner battle, and for many people it takes decades to be able to stop internal lies from paralyzing us from moving forward.

You would think my inner critic would be proud of me today. Why today? Well, today I have been “interviewing” editors to work on my fictional manuscript, Kimly’s Trade. Several years ago, a friend read through Kimly’s Trade and helped me with basic grammar errors, and I was grateful for what she brought to the project. A lot has happened since then, (understatement) and through everything that had happened, my writing improved, and when I returned to the project I knew it could be better.

This month, I am hiring a professional editor who has experience in fiction, specifically one who has worked with characterization, plot, pacing, and voice. I am looking through the resumes I’ve received from my advertisement on Outsource.com and I am struck that I have such an assortment of talented individuals to choose from.

My inner critic could have taken the day off, maybe used the time to go to the gym or get a pedicure. I mean, there’s no room for judgement on a day like today, right?

Of the twenty+ applicants, some have submitted work for me to evaluate. Looking at what they have offered, I have been tempted to devalue my own manuscript. In awe of what I was reading, a paralyzing insecurity began to come over me. I suddenly saw myself differently, suddenly saw myself as being inadequate. I heard the shrill voice I recognize, and it whispered, “Oh Jackie, this world of literary people is a land of  incredible talent, and you aren’t a real writer. You are a waitress.”

The liar never leaves. She’s bound to look for me, bound to chase. And, eventually, she’s bound to find me.

As much as I want to, I can’t shut her out completely, because some of her words have an element of truth to them, but she is a distorter of truth: “You haven’t received a contribution to the publishing campaign in over week.”(TRUTH) “You are never going to have enough money to pull this off.”(LIE)

But, shutting her out completely is not the important thing, anyway. It doesn’t matter if her whispers wake me every single morning at 3:22. What matters is what I do after I hear her whisper. What matters is what I do at 3:23. She isn’t the only voice living within, after all. There is another voice, the voice of Truth, and that voice tells me to keep moving forward. If my inner critic doesn’t believe it can happen, then she will be the one who misses the adventure, not me. With or without my inner critic, I will reach my goals. She doesn’t have to believe it, she can sit back in all her disbelief and watch it unfold anyway.

She may have whispers for me, but I’ve got words for her, too. Don’t believe me? Just watch. (Cue, Bruno Mars)

For more information on being a part of Making Kimly’s Trade Happen, visit our Indigogo fundraising page at the following link: Kimly’s Trade, A debut novel by Jackie Sill

affair recovery · Community

FREEDOM: The Story of the Bathtub Picture

The “Thread Family” is a group of people with a Facebook status that has been running strong since February 2013. There are over sixty-three thousand comments on the status update, and I don’t think there has even been one day when someone hasn’t commented. The people in the Thread Family are not genetically related to one another, their bond runs deeper. I am a relative of  the Thread Family. I wouldn’t say I am a member of their immediate family. I’m more like a distant cousin, or to some, the estranged sister. The immediate family check into the thread every day to comment or chat. I check in far less often.

Every once in a while, someone from the immediate family will do a roll-call. They tag members of the family and those who are tagged receive a notification. When this happens, and I am included, I try to respond.

About a month ago I was tagged in a roll-call while I was busy working at the restaurant. I  was standing in the kitchen waiting for food so I could deliver it to a table when I saw the notification on my phone. In an attempt to pull the Thread Family closer to me (because I am currently living over 350 miles away from these friends) I took a quick picture of the kitchen line-up of food and added the picture to the thread with a shout of, “Here!”

For a moment the Thread Family was in my world, and when others responded with their pictures announcing, “Here”, I was in theirs. It was only for a moment, and then it was over. They continued in their world, and I continued in my own.

Last Saturday night there was a roll-call at about 6PM, which was the beginning of the dinner rush at the restaurant. I didn’t feel the phone vibrate, so I didn’t see the notification until I arrived home about four hours later. I had just finished working an eleven hour shift and I was physically wiped out. I grabbed something cold to drink and headed straight to the bathtub. I tore off my clothes and stepped into the tub while it continued to fill. While standing and waiting, I looked down at my phone and checked my social media notifications.

When I saw the roll-call I smiled. Being remembered is truly priceless.

My first instinct in responding was to take a picture. I was tired, and it just seemed easier than trying to think of something to say. I clicked on the camera and took a picture of my feet. I was about to type, “Finally here.” when I accidentally hit post.

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Almost immediately, I regretted what I had posted. I remembered that this thread was not only visible to my FB friends, but to many people with whom I am not close to at all. In my frustration, I couldn’t get my phone to respond quickly enough as I attempted to delete the picture. My heart pounded and I could hear the imaginary voices of people who would would be quick to judge me for placing a picture of myself in the bathtub online. People don’t bathe in clothes, and by posting this picture–I was drawing attention to something that others might consider sexual. Not too long ago I called an aquaintance, “Baby…” in a passing conversation. Later, a woman who had overheard the exchange, confronted me and to let me know that using that term was evidence of poor boundaries. I can only imagine what that person would say if she were to see this picture.

And all of the “even thoughs” couldn’t overpower the fear I was experiencing.

Even though the affair has been over for longer than it lasted.  Even though God forgave me for the rebelliousness of my heart.  Even though my husband has forgiven me for breaking my vows.  Even though my children have forgiven me for every single lie.  Even though my closest friends have forgiven me for showing them little respect.

Even though….even though…even though…it didn’t matter. All I could imagine was judgement. All I could hear were whispers of words associated with adultery and the nastiness of things from my past. Bad choices echoed off the tiled walls.

I am lucky I didn’t drop my phone in the tub as I tapped and banged on the screen to get it to respond. Finally, I was given the option to delete the picture from the thread.

Delete?  YES.

And I sat down and relaxed in the tub.

A few minutes later I received a text from a woman who is part of the Thread Family.

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And that’s how the conversation started.

I went on to express my fears, and she did her best to reassure me that I don’t need to live in that place anymore. She encouraged me with her willingness to come looking for me when she saw something was amiss. She showed me love and reminded me that I cannot be bound by concern for what other people might think. There have been a few people who have responded with emotion to my sin, but she reminded me to focus on the people who have responded in the fullness of Christ. She reminded me to focus on the future and the promises outlined in scripture.

She did everything she could to make me feel free.

Two mornings later, I was sitting on my porch preparing for a series of talks I am going to be teaching at a Women’s Retreat this weekend. The verse for the weekend is Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

As I prayed through my notes, I was struck with the meaning of this verse and how my behavior on Saturday night had not been an act of freedom at all. I was not behaving as one who is free from the sin of the past. I was behaving as one who is still in bondage to something that happened and has long since been forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.

I wasn’t freed from bondage to live in bondage. I was freed to live free.

I decided that I wanted to let my friend know that her words had finally reached me. She was trying to share this truth with me, and I had been reluctant.

I added some scripture to the picture and posted it online for anyone to see, knowing full well that it would make very little sense to anyone else. But, as I posted the picture, God spoke to me.

God’s call for me to live free is bigger than just my freedom. It’s a call to live free for the sake of others finding freedom.

When we live in bondage to the sins of our past, we are incapable of drawing someone else out of the sin which is holding them captive. We become down-trodden and insecure. Decisions are made out of fear. Whispered lies, that the Lord would never ever utter, ring loudly in our imaginations. We become ineffective to the plans of the Lord. We become less than what He would desire.

When we live in the fullness of the freedom we have received, we have the words, the Spirit and the enthusiasm to share that freedom with those around us. Our hope increases and we aspire to do things we didn’t know we could do. We become capable of handling things we didn’t ever think possible. It’s among the most majestic things offered to us other than our salvation. To live in freedom that we may be used after we have failed is to discover true freedom. And when we live in that place, others see that possibility for themselves.

Our freedom is a gift, and it’s a gift that was meant to be REgifted.

It is freedom for freedom.

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