January 2015 archive

Letter to Steven

Instead of writing the story out that I wanted to tell y’all, I decided to just copy and paste the letter I sent to Pastor Furtick.¬†ūüôā


Pastor Furtick (I call you “Steven” to my friends because I fully believe we’re on a first name basis already, but for formality-sake…), Holly (trust me, you and I are on a first name basis, too), the staff, and INCREDIBLE volunteers at Elevation,

I got divorced in January of 2014.
It sucked, y’all.
It was the WORST pain, the WORST confusion, the WORST downward spiral I’ve ever experienced as an adult. And ooooooh how I lost my way.
Now, I was baptized Lebanese Cathlioc, so most of my first memories of church are in Arabic. Throughout childhood I went to a Lutheran church, a Unity church, and a non-denominational church. When I met and married my ex-husband, I accept Judaism. And as we went through divorce, I explored Sikhism and Hinduism. But about 7 months ago, a friend I didn’t know too well suggested I listen to your Crash the Chatterbox series.
Y’all can see where this is going, but there’s a couple left turns your not expecting so stay with me.
I now go to church every Sunday here in Jacksonville, FL, at Celebration Church but I still I listen to Pastor Furtick AT LEAST once a week (often more as I find myself re-listening to podcasts to hear something new all the time), and for EXTRA credit, I started adding a few entries a month to my blog outlining the lessons I learn from Pastor Furtick’s sermons so that my friends who get a facial tick at the mention of the word “Jesus” can see He’s not all that scary.
My undergraduate degree was in theatre, and last month I was cast in a local community theatre production in¬†Time Stands Still. I was over-the-moon-excited to get back on stage, still am. But three weeks ago Sunday, sitting in church being a good Christian, singing and celebrating God, what do I see? Pastor Furtick’s face flash across the big screen with the caption, “Guest Pastors in January 2015.”
I grabbed my boyfriend’s arm as if Taye Diggs had just asked me to accompany him to dinner RIGHT THERE IN CHURCH, and trying to catch my breath from the marathon around the room I was metaphorically running, I whispered, “That’s. Pastor. Furtick.”
He smiled as I haphazardly clicked for the church calendar in my phone in the middle of poor Pastor Stovall’s undoubtedly fabulous sermon.
Thursday, January 29. 7pm. Done. I’m there.
And then.
Then I realized I had a show that night. My heart, my soul, my first love theatre was Pastor-blocking me. I’m not even kidding you…I cried on the way home.
You see, it’s not because I think Pastor Furtick is a deity, or a celebrity, or even something greater than myself. But he was a conduit to God for me when I lost my way. He was a voice I could understand, and now one I recognize. He represents to me a way of life that gives me strength and light to continue trusting in God. (And his wife Holly is stupid-cute and I’d like to be just like her.)
So I went to bed that night, now in the anger-stage of my grief, and as I prayed I said this to God –
God, you wouldn’t bring Pastor Furtick to my town, only MILES from my house, so that I could miss seeing him preach. You’ve got something better planned. You BETTER have something better planned. And so I will wait for you to give me something SO WAY BETTER than seeing Pastor Furtick preach at my very own church here in Jacksonville that I won’t even be able to¬†believe. I’ll wait.
And in my mind, I crossed my arms and tapped my foot.
At God.
I know, I know, but we all make bad choices in the middle of temper tantrums…
But y’all know God delivered so big that it’s ridic.
Visiting my entire family in Charlotte, NC for Christmas one week later, I looked up the Blakeny Campus, the one where I thought Pastor Furtick would be preaching Christmas Eve services but I wasn’t sure. I asked my mom to babysit, arrived at Elevation an hour early with my boyfriend, and approached the building.
“Is that the line?” I asked him.
“I’m not really sure what I’m looking at,” he responded. We just sort of stood amongst crowds of people both coming and going. “Follow me,” he said and we walked inside.
“What if we’re not allowed in yet?” I asked.
“No one is going to let us in if we aren’t supposed to be here. There are plenty of people to ask,” he told me.
He walked us straight up the stairs past 3 or 4 volunteers, all wishing us a Merry Christmas, another volunteer at the entrance of the auditorium, and 4 or 5 more as we took a seat in the 5th row.
The place was nearly empty.
“We’re not supposed to be in here,” I told him.
“There are volunteers all around us. Why wouldn’t they kick us out?”
“I don’t know but we’re not supposed to be here,” I repeated.
“Oh, if we’re here…then we’re supposed to be here.”
I sat in my anxietal state for 30 minutes until suddenly, the doors flung open and in came the congregation, probably all the ones who were standing in line outside.
“WE WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE IN HERE!” I whisper-screamed at him.
“Well, we’re here. So enjoy it,” he snarked.
I didn’t even know if Pastor Furtick was preaching at this campus, but there we sat, near the front on Christmas Eve at Elevation Church. And a few moments later, Pastor Furtick and Holly did come out. And I watched a sermon no more amazing than any other awesome sermon I’ve heard him preach every week on the podcast, but one where I was sitting there within the energy of the room and calling back to him the way I do when I’m doing the dishes and listening along at home. I was really there, doing it, in the 5th row. “AMEN!”
And as we walked out of the church to our truck, I heard God say to me, “So. Would you call that ‘better‘?!”
Yeah. He got me. Good one, God.
I wish I could attend live and in person, there in the fifth row, every week. I wish I could come see you on January 29. But for now, I’ll listen, I’ll include your message in my blog, and I’ll continue telling my friends to “just start with the Crash the Chatterbox series because it’s not that scary…”
Thank you and the entire church for being a part of that awesome Christmas gift. And thank you for finding a way to reach so many of us.
And of course, if Pastor Furtick and Holly or any volunteers are here in Jacksonville together while Pastor Furtick is visiting and you’d like to come see my show, I’ll comp y’all some tickets in the 5th row. ūüėČ
Love, Gratitude, but mostly just a bunch of Joy,
Erin Salem



Probably Dr. Busy’s ACTUAL doctor bag.

So Dr. Busy has been very busy, but he managed to fit me in before Christmas time. He reviewed my MRI and CT scan and swiftly announced that I would be needing to have the rod in my leg removed and then replaced with a larger one because my femur bone has not yet fused.
Just as he stood to leave, I requested that perhaps we talk about this for more than 30 seconds.
“Well, I spoke with the doctor who did my initial surgery…” I began.

Let’s pause the tape there. I didn’t know, or at least I didn’t want to believe, that some doctors could actually have egos SO large that they would be offended by a patient getting a second opinion from another doctor. I mean, it’s not like I googled it or asked my Auntie Donna what her opinion was. I went to another doctor in the same field with lots of¬†experience to see if there was any way my thigh didn’t have to be ripped open again…

“…who is the doctor?” Dr. Busy, suddenly not so busy, stopped and asked.
“Dr. Fabulous? He is down in Orange Park and was the doctor in the ER when…”
“Well, do you want him to manage your care, or do you want me to?” he snapped.

I didn’t think, nor breathe, before I said this next part and I take full responsibility for it.

“I want him to, but unfortunately¬†he isn’t covered by my new insurance so here we are.”


“Anyway, he suggested we try removing the screw from my knee to encourage the bones closer together,” I explained.
“Oh, like dionizing them?” he asked me as if I had any idea what the hell that meant. I googled it and I still don’t know what it means. Or how to spell it.
“Sure. I guess. Anyway he said that would be a far less invasive first step we could try.”
“Um. Yeeeah. I guess we could try that.”

Aaaaaand here’s my inner dialogue:¬†Are you fucking kidding me?! You were about to walk out of the room to your next patient while I went ahead and scheduled a HUGE life-altering surgery and there is an ALTERNATIVE that we can TRY that you weren’t even going to MENTION?!¬†

“Well, I’d like to try that so can we start there?” I asked.
“If that’s what you want to do, then I need to find out why this first surgery didn’t take.”
“Could it be because my bones had a long way to grow and they just haven’t quite made it yet?”
“I’m guessing it has something to do with your nutrition,” he said, obviously not knowing anything about me at all. “I’ll need to have a lab work-up done to understand why your body isn’t healing.”
“Ok. I mean, my nutrition is spot-on fabulous…”
“Well, you may¬†think that. But your lab work will show us the truth,” he scolded
What, that I’m an overweight, unhealthy slob? Can’t you tell that’s not true just by looking at me?
“I also want to have the area around the bone aspirated to see if there is an infection there,” he went on.
“Wouldn’t I feel pain or have a fever if I had an infection?” I asked.
“Not always. We need to know for sure.”
“What if my insurance doesn’t cover all of these procedures?” I asked.
“I cannot do the surgery until I have the answers as to why your bone didn’t grow…” Then he sort of grumped out of the room.

There are a lot of lessons I can take from this. One is that Dr. Busy is an asshole. But two…two got me thinking. We ask “why?” a lot. Why didn’t it happen this way or that? And we analyze the “whys”, despite already having the diagnoses or knowing what the next steps should be. When I explained to Dr. Fabulous all the lab work¬†Dr. Busy wanted done, he asked me, “What’s the point of all that? What good will it do him to know ‘why’?”

Ever ask yourself this? What good will knowing “why?” do for you? If you know why he cheated on you, will it hurt any less? If you know why the drunk driver was drinking, will it change the outcome of the accident? If I know why my bone hasn’t grown back together, will it suddenly cause my femur to fuse back together? But we drive ourselves crazy with “whys”, with needing to know more than we already do, even though the information doesn’t help at all.

I’m sure there are a million arguments as to when knowing “why” is a good thing, but I wonder if it’s always as good as we think it is? The next time you NEED to know “why”, second-guess yourself. Because even if my lab work shows my nutrition is horrible and also shows an infection in my bone, it still isn’t fused. It still hasn’t grown back together. And I still need another surgery to fix this problem. Jumping through a bunch of Why Hoops won’t change the outcome.

So, as of now, I have an appointment scheduled for January 27 to have the screw removed from my knee. At that point I will have 3 or 4 months to get my fuse on. And, if that screw-removal DOESN’T result in a femur that’s in one piece, I will have to have the big surgery to replace the entire rod. Can I get a couple prayers for a fused femur, peeps? ūüôā

I’m Just Gonna See What Happens (and then do some stuff)

2014 was the year of survival for me.
It was my first divine storm of the soul. My first black night. My first major test.

I have experienced discomfort, frustration, and lack in my life before. But I’d never been brought to the brink before; not like this. I was forced to reckon with every aspect of being alive, from the end of my marriage, to meeting my new love FAR sooner than I’d requested from the Universe…from losing my job to gaining a new one with endless possibilities for me…from getting my mind and body healthy again to breaking 4 bones (big ones)…And in between the major stuff I got to meet all my favorite Beachbody trainers in Las Vegas, experience a kundalini and personal growth retreat in Maui, live through the worst stomach flu ever, take care of my son who experienced more sickness than ever (not to mention a tonsillectomy), and even go to Disney World.
Literally every aspect of my life changed. Some of it overnight. But here I find myself, surrounded by loyal and honest people, lotsa love, and a big, fat future full of who the hell knows.
So this is the start of 2015, and here are my lessons: (I like lessons better than resolutions, so I’ll start with those. I suggest you consider your own lessons, because how will you set your goals if you haven’t first taken an inventory of what you’ve got?)
  • Life changes. It changes big and it changes small, and the easiest thing to do is roll with all of it. Trying to predict it wastes so much energy AND it ruins the surprise.
  • I’ve got no control over anything, but I’m always covered. Always. Every time. I can’t explain why and frankly, I don’t get to. I just am.
  • Many of the goals I set for 2014 were a complete wash. Whatevs. I choose not to make that fact worse by wallowing in it. I forgive me.a4469c6d4ee2fe91d2578a52b05c11d3
  • It took someone else believing in every part of me to pull me out of my despair. I’ve never had anyone (besides my mom) so fervently fight for me. And I plan to spend a very long time repaying the favor. Other people can in fact relight your spark for you.
  • One time my ex-sister-in-law told me that friends aren’t as important as family and one day I would see why. She was dead right. “Friends” is generally a looser term for me now as I see how quickly that title can dissolve. Family, however…they stick. At least mine does. Hot dog I’m lucky for that.
And so now for my 2015 resolutions:
  • I’m gonna see what happens.
  • And then I’m gonna do some stuff.
That’s it.

Yeah. I’m gonna practice forgiveness and remember to be giving of myself and what I have and try to eat more greens and do my ab videos more often than I do and blah blah blah…but the main thing I want to do this year is discontinue my need to plan it all ahead and know what comes next in favor of just checking out what happens, following my gut (or for you fancy types, my intuition), and then doing stuff based on that. And I have no freakin’ idea what that’s going to look like.
Whatever your lessons and resolutions look like this new year, how about throwing in there the fact that life is all going to get changed around, or at the very least be delivered in a way you’d least expect? How about expecting a little bit of mystery, folks? And then how about being alright with that? Let’s set ourselves up, prepare ourselves for being surprised. That way when we’re surprised, at least we’re not surprised by it.
To all of you who held me up (figuratively and literally) in 2014, thank you. I needed you. This January marks my 6th year of blogging. I can’t hold all of you up all the time, but I can continue sharing the truth about what one real life looks life so that as you sift through all the carefully-worded¬†Facebook status updates and uber-filtered Instagram vacation photos, you’ll remember that real life is sometimes shiny and sometimes shitty.
Happy New Year, y’all.


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