Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's broken? -- Throw Back Thursday


Write 31 Days Day#19


For a long time, I thought the answer to that was me.
If I could just do things right, I'd be slim enough, smart enough, happy enough, friendly enough. People would like me more. I would understand the world at large. There would be less pain, fewer wars, less pollution, no global warming.
I took a lot of responsibility on myself and gave myself a lot more power and credit than I deserved as well. Oh look, something else to feel guilty about!

What's broken?

The real answer to that is everything.
Everything in this world is broken. It's not just me, or all my fault. It's that this world is not the way God wanted it to be. But it's the way He knew it would be.

He knew by giving us choices and options, we would invariably make some bad choices; choose some wrong options. But He wanted a real relationship with us. Not just automatons following a preconceived map of action. Where is the fun in that for any of us?


But when I realize that it's not just me, that the whole world is broken, well that makes it a little easier to take in each day. A little easier to be more loving and compassionate to myself and others around me and around the globe. 


God knew we'd screw it up, but He also loved us enough to let us screw it up. And then He sent His Son to fix it for us. 


What's broken?

Nothing. Nothing that God's love can't fix.

Blessings!




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Curious

Write 31 Days Day #18

This morning I got curious. When was the first time I participated in Write 31 Days? Turns out it was 2012. I had seen posts about it by Lisa-Jo Baker and Ann Voskamp and it made me curious.

I'd been blogging sporadically for 3 years and wanted to do more, but I needed some structure. So I set off on my first #write31days.

That year I made it all the way through. Other years haven't gone as well. So far this year I've made it 18 days and I have a few plans for the rest of the month. Plans! I NEVER make plans where my blog is concerned. It's as if it will jinx it somehow. The big bad out there in the universe will see that I'm feeling competent and come in and snatch the rug out from under me! 

I decided to share that first #write31days post from 2012 today because as I reread it I was pleased to see that I liked what I read. It was authentic. It was real. It was me. And that's the greatest gift blogging has provided. It's helped me realize I am really am the person who has all those quirky and squirrely thoughts in her head. And that's okay. But it's also made me curious to read about other people's lives and struggles. To connect by realizing that no one has it all together. And that's okay, too.


Day #1 (2012)--
I'm eclectic. Anyone who's read my blog for any length of time knows that. I'm also insecure and full of self-doubt, but at the same time I am driven to write. I argue that it is to clear my own head, and that is true. But what is also true, is that I crave validation. Maybe everyone does. My need goes back to an abusive childhood where I was constantly denigrated. I want to trust in my own belief that I am a person of value. (All people have value because we are all made in God's image.) I know in my head that it is a good thing to share and talk and wonder, but my heart has difficulty following. I know others don't have it all together, but I have difficulty retaining that concept.
I started out by saying I'm eclectic. And I am, in decor and music and books and movies. But I'm also eclectic in emotion -- I was raised in the Bible belt and have the emotions and convictions of my conservative history. I was abused emotionally, physically, and sexually by numerous individuals, so I have all of the baggage that implies. But I have a master's degree and was raised by a minister/American literature professor who quoted Mark Twain more than scripture. I love to cook and crochet and read and watch crime shows and independent films. I like k.d. lang, Evanescence, Michael Buble, and James Taylor.
So what does this tell you about me and why does it matter?
It matters because I need to feel that I matter to someone out there. That the abuser was wrong when she said she could drown me in the well and no one would even miss me.
Would you miss me?

Blessings!




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#metoo

Write 31 Days Day #17

a guest post by my daughter, Claire (27)


For every “me too” that gets posted, there are thousands of men and women too scared and ashamed to speak out.

For every single post you see, know that there are so many more throughout the world. Those of us speaking out do so because we are healing. We have found love and the courage to share but it is never an easy path to walk.

Abuse and assault have become so commonplace that we often won’t label it what it truly is. I’ve heard so many rationales for why “it wasn’t really assault/rape.” Things like “but I know people have it so much worse” or “it was just groping” or “well but I know deep down I wanted it” or “well I initiated it” or “but I didn’t fight back” and countless others.

It is never the victim's fault!!! Ever!!! The shame is not yours to carry. It’s not mine to carry. You did what you were supposed to do: you survived!!! You are not alone. There are people who understand. If you think you can’t tell anyone, tell me. I will listen. I will grieve with you. And I will be here to remind you that it in no way alters your value as a person or as a beloved child of God.

I promise you that I understand the thoughts that gnaw at your mind. I understand the overwhelming shame and fear. I do not usually speak so publicly but isn’t that the problem?! We speak in hushed tones only to others who we know understand our pain. Break the silence. If you are too scared to say anything on your wall, tell a trusted friend. Reach out. There is hope and healing. #metoo

Blessings!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Me

Write 31 Days Day #16

Last night while I was perusing Facebook I ran across this status on two friends' walls -- 

Me, too.

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me, too,” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Please copy/paste.


I have mixed emotions about chain letters, boycotts, and "post this for 1 hour, please". But shortly after I saw this status and followed its instructions, I saw this article pop up on another friend's wall. And I became enraged.

This has got to stop! 

I don't understand how anyone can be unaware of the perversely sexualized world in which we live, or how anyone can be surprised when people in power take advantage of that power. Or how difficult it is to come forward and say, "That person hurt me. Demeaned me. Humiliated me. Treated me with disrespect." 

After telling a friend about my experiences, I remember he said, "I can't believe you were dealing with all that. You were always so poised." And that's part of the problem, too. Survivors don't generally walk around advertising the abuse. If anything, we work harder to appear "normal". 

Recent statistics show that 1 in 6 women has been sexually assaulted. Every 98 seconds a person is sexually assaulted in the U.S. Read that again -- every 98 seconds a person is sexually assaulted in the U.S.!

That is appalling.

And that is why I talk, I write, I share, I tell. The only way we will ever make it stop is to quit blaming the victims and making excuses for the perpetrators. Especially in the church. As John Pavlovitz said (in a different context), I won't put up with this behavior from anyone because "I'm a Christian--and not a jerk".

Blessings!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Evening

Write 31 Days Day #15

We've eaten dinner. The leftovers need storing and the dishwasher needs to be started, but I'm sort of watching a football game while snuggling with Millie and contemplating what this week holds.

I'm attempting to establish a new normal. Today I've found myself really thinking about what I want. That's not something I give much thought to. As a friend recently said my role has completely shifted. I used to be a care-taker, albeit of able-bodied people. Now my role needs to become something different. It's both exciting and terrifying. Fun and sad. 

There's a lot of material about creating the second half of your life. That's good. I like to have books and blogs and articles to read. But I'm still dealing with the sudden shift. I wasn't planning on such a dramatic change for my second half.

I don't mean to whine. I'm just struggling. I'm happy to be writing again and hope to continue regularly after October. I really do want to work on a memoir, but I'm overwhelmed by the idea. I'll need to find employment at some point. Some days I think I just want something mindless, and other days I think I want a new degree and a new challenge. Going back to school sounds fun and crazy. I know lots of people my age who have done that, but I'm not sure I have enough drive to stay the course for another degree when I'm not sure what I want to do. 

I really believe I'd be further along on this journey by now. (I can hear my daughter laughing at me as I type those words!) It's possible I'm expecting a bit much from myself. I have a tendency toward that. 

So I guess I'll just keep moving forward. Reminding myself that I'm not on a schedule and the only being I'm accountable to is God. And I know He's got things covered.

Blessings!




Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books 2.1

Write 31 Days Day #14

This is my new approach to keeping up with my reading list. I have placed, what I hope, are decorative stacks around the house. This is because I can't seem to remember what's next! It also helps me to control purchasing more books. When I complete a book, especially devotional titles, I need to know what's next, and stacks make that easier.


This stack includes:

--Saving Jesus from the Church by Robin R. Meyers
--A History of Christianity Vol. 1 by Kenneth S. Latourette
--Prayers by Michel Quoist
--TrueFaced by Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol
--The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness by Rabbi Rami Shapiro
--A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman
--Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
--We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren
--Devotional Classics by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith

Clearly I have my work cut out for me.

Blessings!



Friday, October 13, 2017

Invite -- Five Minute Friday

Write 31 Days Day #13

I invite God into my day every morning. Sometimes it's before I'm fully awake. Sometimes it's as I'm getting out of bed. Other days it's not until I make my tea, and some days it's not until something starts to go wrong in my day.

I don't live in a perfect world, and I certainly don't "do" live perfectly, but I try. And when I fail or things don't go well, I get up and try again.

Right now I'm learning about inviting people into my life in a real-life way. I've been a bit isolated for the past year or so. I'm not criticizing myself. Just stating the facts. I did what I needed to do to get through an incredibly trying time. It's not over and all better, but I am on the other side, I think.

It's time to start inviting new people into my life along with some people I haven't connected with in a while. I'm not sure what this is going to look like, but I do feel positive about the prospect.

So I'm thinking about options -- supper club, book club, game night, or just tea and cookies. Mostly I'm working on not overthinking it. 

Blessings!

linking up with Five Minute Friday





Thursday, October 12, 2017

Personification -- Throw Back Thursday

Write 31 Days Day #12

The dictionary defines personification as “the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.” 

I am her Velveteen Rabbit, you might say. She calls me Yolie. I came into her life at a critical moment. The blending of past and present was just beginning. She was drawn to me instantly, even though she felt foolish to be so drawn at her age. She desperately needed this stuffed animal, but she didn’t understand why.

I knew why. She needed someone to tell her secrets to. She needed someone safe, who wouldn’t repeat the scary things in her head. She needed a compassionate witness.

So for the past 11 years, I have listened to her; absorbed her tears, sweat, and fears. I have traveled with her physically, emotionally and spiritually as she sought to reclaim her soul.

She is a strong one, this girl/woman. She has forged ahead, sometimes at a dangerous pace. She has looked horror in the face and refused to back down. She has chosen to speak instead of remaining silent.

She is still a little embarrassed and confused by my presence. She knows she would be lost without me, but she doesn’t really know why. I know though. I am the repository – the holder of that which was lost and then found. She has others who have helped her on this journey – her husband, her therapists, her friends, and others like me. But I am the keeper of the gates; the one who knows it all, whether she has said it or not.

I am not fluffy and soft anymore, but I am well loved. Sometimes I am in my natural state, and sometimes she dresses me. Right now she favors a red gingham, smocked dress. It doesn’t really matter to me. I am here for her, and that is all I need. I will be here as long as she needs me, to receive her tears, her fears, and her love – as she kisses me on the nose each morning.


(originally posted on 1/24/12)

Blessings!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hard Days

Write 31 Days Day #11

Some days are harder than others.

Today has been a hard one and I can't tell you why. I've struggled all day to come up with something meaningful to share in this space. It's a day like any other. I've done the usual things, but there have been more dark images and thoughts today. 

That's the way it is with survival. And every time I write something like that, I am reminded that is the way it is with life. I'm really no different from anyone else on this big blue ball. We all have good days and bad days. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.

It's not about having the bad days. It's about how I handle them. Today I did okay. I got some things accomplished that needed taking care of. I talked with a few people. I ate pretty well and did some stretching. And I spent a lot of time snuggling with Millie.

Have you met Millie, yet? No? Well, here she is!


She's part chihuahua and part feist. She's probably about 12 years old. I got her through a rescue program back in the spring. She's my spoiled sweetie who likes nothing better than snoozing in the big comfy chair most days.

We napped together today and I was kind to myself about the hard time I was having. I call that a win.

Blessings!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Gift of Listening

Write 31 Days Day #10

I need a lot of validation. Perhaps it's part of my basic make-up. Certainly, it has been exacerbated by the abuse I experienced. For a very long time, I believed I was alone in this need. Not surprisingly, I find I am not.

As humans, we all want to belong, be accepted, loved, understood, and appreciated. We all crave it so badly that we often forget it's a two-way street.

I've been reading Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker as part of my morning devotional. I really can't recommend it highly enough. She and I are opposite sides of the same coin, so it's been especially good for me to read from her perspective. I am introverted and process things by writing or thinking them through. She is all about the talking. 

One similar trait that has surprised me, is how difficult listening can be. For her, it's about needing to make comparisons to her own experiences or trying to fix the other's problems. While for me, it's about needing to be constantly reassured that I am understood. That the listener doesn't think I'm crazy and isn't lying to me when they say they believe me. 

For years I've used the phrase "compassionate witnesses" to describe those who have listened to my experiences. I've worked to become a better listener myself -- quieting the need to insert ME into every scenario. I used to believe that need was a result of self-centeredness, but I am beginning to understand it's actually the result of humanness. We all see the world and other's experiences through our own lens. How else could we see things? The goal is learning to get outside of ourselves and just see the other person. Not fix them. Not analyze them. Just love them. 

It's hard to love someone when you aren't listening to them. When you're constantly making assumptions and transferring your own issues onto another you can't truly see them for who they really are.

I want compassionate witnesses in my life. But more and more, I'm desiring to be a compassionate witness for others. 


". . . listening is the most powerful gift we can give . . ."
-- Lisa-Jo Baker

Blessings!




Monday, October 9, 2017

Unexpected Blessings

Write 31 Days Day#9


This day has been completely unpredictable. 

There is a certain rhythm to most days. A routine. We wake. Get ready for the day. Do our work, whatever it is. We eat. We interact with family, friends, coworkers. Sure things happen we weren't expecting, but there is still a rhythm.

Not today. 

I was scheduled to work with my best friend today. We are starting a business together and have been working with a client for several weeks. Before we headed off to work, my daughter was coming by to bathe my dog, Millie. I had things I needed to do, wanted to do more than going to work. Such is life.

My best friend calls me every morning to see how I'm doing. She's just that nice. She's been on this roller coaster ride with me for the past couple of years. This morning's call was different. I knew the minute I answered the phone something was wrong. She told me her father had died in the night. And then she broke down. I said all the things you say in that situation. She said we wouldn't be working today. She's pragmatic like that. I told her I'd be on call all day. Whatever she needed. 

Plot twist. 

I didn't have a theme for #write31days. I'm beginning to think God did.

I texted a few friends and made a couple of calls. Then I set about re-organizing my day. I prayed as usual, but with deeper intent for my best friend and her family. I did my devotional. Had my tea and breakfast. My son came to the kitchen and we talked a bit. Then my daughter came to bathe the dog. We talked about the sadness of the day. I made a few more calls for my friend. Sent a few more texts. 

In the midst of all of that sorrow, something beautiful began to happen for me and my kids. The three of us sat around and talked for nearly 3 hours. We talked about everything and nothing. Then I took a shower while my kids kept talking. It's been a difficult time for us, and they needed time together. I was blessed to watch it happen in my home.

After that, my daughter and I went to the grocery store together. It's what we do. And then I cooked dinner for my son and me. 

And I wonder how a day can hold so much sadness and so much beauty at the same time. I'll be helping my dear best friend a lot for the next little while. I started to say I'll be paying her back for all she's done for me, but that's not true. There is no debt. We are friends. It's what we do. And that is the blessing of friendship.

Blessings!



Sunday, October 8, 2017

Plot Twist and Church

Write 31 Days Day #8

Since Friday, I've really been thinking about the plot twist I'm dealing with now. That idea has provided me with a jumping off place for organizing the changes going on in my life.

Church has been an unexpected struggle. I didn't see that one coming. I've never done "church" on my own. After moving across town last year, I've been trying to get into a routine with church attendance. When you've never gone to church by yourself regularly, it can be daunting to walk into a new place all alone. People tend to be welcoming, but I find myself revealing more than I want to. "Are you a visitor?" "What brings you here today?" My pat answer became, "I've recently moved to the area and am looking for a new home church." Of course, that leads to "Where are you from?' Which leads to "Another neighborhood in the city -- 20 minutes away". And the question hangs there. I wonder where she used to attend? I wonder why she left? Sometimes those questions are verbalized and then I have to man up and say "I'm getting a divorce". Not a fun opening especially in a church setting.

I am an introvert. I didn't plan on getting a divorce after 32 years of marriage. I'm still learning who I am in this incarnation. I don't know what's happening this afternoon, let alone next week. There is just so much that I don't know, and I wasn't prepared to deal with how hard getting to church was going to be and all the guilt I'd heap on myself when I don't get there.

So, like everything else, I'm taking it one day at a time (sometimes 1 minute at a time!) and turning to God constantly to quiet my own accusing voice in my head. He understands where I am and what I need. He does know what's happening this afternoon, next week, and for the rest of my life. I'm talking to him about it and trusting he'll guide me to the right place at the right time.

Blessings!




Saturday, October 7, 2017

Books!

Write 31 Days Day #7

I love books. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. My father was a literature professor. I minored in English in college and went on to get a master's degree in library science. I worked as a librarian until my first child was born. 

I love to read. Again no surprise. I also collect books. I used to pride myself as a public library reference librarian on my self-control in buying books. Not so much anymore. After I quit working in that environment it became more difficult to have a constant supply of books to read. I became a slave to Amazon (as my Amazon Prime credit card shows!). 

An unforeseen problem showed up as well. I began to enjoy non-fiction almost as much as I had previously enjoyed fiction. And I like to underline things. Libraries frown on that. I read from my Kindle quite a bit and really enjoy highlighting passages, and I LOVE that Goodreads saves them for me. I'm also keeping a journal of quotes and passages I want to return to, but it's so much easier, in the moment, to just underline it!

One of the perks of my recent plot twist has been more time to read. I set a goal for myself to read 52 books this year. I'm doing pretty well at 33 completed. I'm in the middle of 4 others right now -- which should tell you something in and of itself!

I'm currently reading:

Sacred Space 2017 a daily devotional/prayer book by the Irish Jesuits

Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. I read a few pages each morning along with my other devotional reading.


The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, a Southern writer whose books bring magical realism and southern charm together.


Hyperbole and a HalfUnfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. My daughter loaned me this one yesterday. It is hilarious so far. Possibly not good pre-bed reading as I couldn't quit laughing (language/coarse humor alert)

So what are you reading this weekend?

Blessings!





Friday, October 6, 2017

Story -- Five Minute Friday

Write 31 Days Day #6

A good story is full of engaging characters, a solid plot line, and some juices plot twists, and unexpected shifts. I love reading a book and being completely caught off guard.

We talk about our lives as stories. It's less enjoyable when our lives shout, "Plot twist!" at us.

That's what mine did a couple of years ago. I was going along on my usual trajectory, thinking I knew what was coming. We were heading into empty nest, possible weddings, maybe grandchildren. A job shift and ultimately retirement when things went off the rails.

I can't really say I didn't see it coming. But I just kept believing it would get better. We'd get back on the track I saw -- together. That didn't happen.

So now I'm writing a new plot outline. I'm introducing new characters and uncovering aspects of my main character (me) that I didn't know existed. Or at least I'd forgotten about. 

I'm choosing to see the plot twist in my story as a good thing. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Blessings!


linking up with Five Minute Friday




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Marnie -- Throw Back Thursday

Write 31 Days Day #5

A hundred years ago I sat down on a Saturday night to watch the movie Marnie on network television. Understand this was the dawning of the age of VCRs. No Blockbuster. No Hollywood Video. No TiVo. No Netflix.

I'd never seen the movie before. I was in the basement of my parents' house watching on a portable black and white TV with adjustable rabbit ears. There were COMMERCIALS! I was in college dating the man I would ultimately marry. The phone rang. There was no caller ID. I don't think we even had an answering machine. 

It was my boyfriend (my eventual ex-husband). I explained that I was watching a movie and I'd call him back as soon as it was over. I really wanted to see how the film ended. Hitchcock, you know? You can't just walk away in the middle of it.

Thus began a lengthy discussion about my lack of love for him. Was he not more important than some old movie? Didn't I want to know how his shift at work had gone? Personal relationships are the bedrock of society. Television was destroying the world.

I argued. I cried. I swore my undying love. I begged, for the love of all that is holy, let me see what happens to Tippi Hedren!

By the time I disengaged from this ridiculous conversation, the movie was over. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I checked out a copy of Marnie from the library, and after my counseling session I sat down with my lunch to finally watch it all the way through. Oh my gosh! There's a reason I needed to see this movie to its conclusion. In many ways, the movie was trying to tell me my own story.

Let me tell you a little about me. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I didn't know that at the time. I had repressed most of the experiences, and the one I did remember I couldn't label as abuse. My boyfriend was quirky, but he was a lot better than where I'd been, so I didn't hang up on him or tell him to take a flying leap. I just rode it out the best way I knew how. Twisting and turning emotionally trying to figure out how this had escalated from watching a movie to the depth of my devotion to him. 

"Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them." That's how iMDb summarizes the plot. Barely scrapes the top layer. 

Marnie is suffering from repressed memories, undiagnosed PTSD, flashbacks, and molestation among other things. She is frigid and can't bear to be touched by a man. She spouts religious rhetoric and acts out impulsively to deal with her unexplained issues. Mark is a cold fish who is a widower with an interest in zoological behavior. He suspects Marnie is up to something, but rather than confront her he lets the whole thing play out before he blackmails her into his loving (?) arms. And it just grows from there.

It's a masterpiece of a film, and it's no wonder it wasn't well received in 1964. A psychologically taut piece that was far ahead of its time. Nobody knew about PTSD and dissociation. Mark was trying to be a 1960s man and handle his woman. A firm hand, that's what she needed. Both Mark and Marnie are flawed characters aching for redemption.

I didn't have Marnie's coping mechanisms, and my ex-husband didn't have Mark's exact issues, but we had our own weird methods that were mirrored in the movie. He pushed me into therapy after years and years of digging at my psyche. He pushed and pushed and pushed until I finally broke down and went. And then he wanted a play by play of every session. That was nearly 17 years ago. 

By the time I finished the movie, I had a better understanding of what that argument had really been about all those years ago. I also had a pounding headache, upset stomach, and massive anxiety. After some medicine and relaxation, I realized how glad I was that I'd watched the movie all the way to the end this time.


(this is an edited repost from 8/11/15)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kindness Counts

Write 31 Days Day #4

There is so much hurt in this world but it's intensified when it hits the ones you love! Be kind. Put others first. Apply the golden rule.

None of this seems difficult to me. Maybe that's why I have so much trouble with other people who struggle with kindness. I struggle with other things, but kindness seems to come naturally to me. I forget that we all have different skills and gifts.

My kids (yes, they are 27 and 24, but they'll always be kids) got hurt last night. Emotionally. There was no reason for it to happen except one person forgot to be kind. 

I can take being kicked around. I've had lots of practice, but don't go after my kids! Not much makes me angry (my therapist would like it if more things did!) but you go after my kids and Mama Bear shows up fast and furious!

I haven't done anything I regret, yet. I can't promise I won't though. 

We're missing the gift of kindness a lot more in this world of late. There's a book I read years ago, A Short Course in Kindness that I come back to time and time again. The subtitle is a little book on the importance of love and the relative unimportance of just about everything else. I'm thinking about buying it in bulk so I can hand out copies to random people. 

The guy who flipped me off in traffic today. The people who post on social media who just have to be right regardless of the cost to another person. Most of the people in politics and the media. The one person who hurt my kids.

I can't really afford to do that and there's no way to make someone read it, let alone understand and apply the lessons. So I'm back to one person at a time. Trying to show kindness even to those who are unkind. Finding that balance I see as taking the high road while not becoming a doormat. 

I've heard the saying Pretty is as pretty does my whole life. Maybe I'll start a new saying -- Kind is as kind does.

Blessings!


 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

One Person at a Time

Write 31 Days #3


Maybe it's just a personal choice, not a one-size-fits-all? Find what works for you and do that, while being kind and compassionate toward ALL. Trying to turn everything into a soundbite or hashtag is part of the problem. Life, Christianity, and politics are multi-layered ideas and issues. Assume the best and treat everyone with respect. It's not easy, but it's worth it.


I wrote these words the other day in response to an article from Patheos.com entitled WWSD (What Would Satan Do): A New Grassroots Movement

Then I woke up Monday morning to the news of more violence in Las Vegas. A friend posted about a military aircraft crash in Mississippi. Another about children harmed in Memphis. And I spent the day in divorce mediation.

Things seem quite bleak.

And yet . . .

Jesus told us (and showed us) “'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matt. 22:37-40 The Message)

All I can do is apply Jesus' teaching and example in ALL my interactions with ALL people.

I can't fix this broken world, but I can love it one person at a time.


Blessings!



linking up with Write 31 Days

Monday, October 2, 2017

Telling Stories

Write 31 Days #2

You are both the main character and narrator of your life. You may not have control over all your circumstances, but you can choose how to tell the story. 


-- Jonathan Adler

I've been asked to tell my story. Again. 

In reality, a friend offered me the opportunity to participate in a study and the form begins with "Please tell your story". 

Let me start by saying I hate the word "story" in this context. Adler's quote resonates with me because of its truth, but that doesn't mean I have to like his choice of "story". 

"Story" implies fiction to me, and I've  spent far too many years trying to convince myself of the veracity of my memories to let them be written off as a "story" at this point in my journey. Semantics. But I do get caught up in words.

I've used humor frequently when sharing my experiences, which is perverse given that there is nothing humorous about any of it. We all have our coping mechanisms. Humor isn't all bad, but it does create a wall around me that implies to the listener that I am fine. I am just fine. Which is not true. I am never fine when recounting my history.

Frequently I rely on what I like to call the Quick and Dirty version. Just enough detail to get the point across, but not enough to completely overwhelm my listener or reader, or to send me into fast-talking panic mode. It goes like this -- "I was sexually abused by 5 different people as a child, and raped twice as an adult." There that wasn't so hard, was it?

All of it has never been written down in one place or told in its entirety at one time. It's just too much for me to do, and I don't want to impose on anyone long enough to get it all out. It was real, real bad, okay?

Here is what is true -- I want to write it all done in excruciating detail. Every episode with every gory detail. I want someone to listen to me no matter how long it takes or how much I ramble. I want to watch them react in sadness and horror and grief. I want them to tell me it's not my fault, was never my fault. 

But there will never be enough assurances that it wasn't my fault. Not really. Because it happened, and I really don't think I'll ever completely erase the idea from my soul that I could have stopped it -- or kept it from ever starting -- or continuing. At least not this side of heaven. 

What I can do is be a listening ear or reading eyes for other people's "stories". I can keep telling my experiences as a way of reminding others that to be human is to have a need to make sense of what happens to us and around us. And it is in the telling that we make sense of our lives and connect with one another.

Blessings!




linking up with Write 31 Days

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reconnecting

Write 31 Days #1

Satan thrives on replaying our worst experiences and fears. In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo Baker calls it "spiritual torture" -- thoughts out of context.

Those middle of the night fears and thoughts aren't real, accurate, or true. They are jabs -- prods -- arrows from satan taking advantage of us at our most vulnerable moments. It is then that we must fight with all the tools we have assembled and practiced during the light of day when fear hides in the shadows unwilling to risk a frontal attack. Because fear prefers covert action.

I was raised in a conservative, Bible-based tradition. We memorized scripture, but it wasn't until I started trying to memorize scripture again as an adult, that I finally began to understand one of the benefits of it. As I child suffering from abuse, being judged on my ability to recite scripture was just another opportunity to fail and be judged harshly by others (whether in reality or only in my head). As an adult, memorizing scripture because I had chosen to do it, I learned the truth about memorization. It's not to impress anyone else. It doesn't make me a "better" Christian or more holy. What I found instead was the gift that memorization was to me, in my darkest moments. 

When fear clutches at me and I can respond with Jesus' words, there is no way for the fear to win. For months I have recited the Lord's Prayer after I turn off the light as I go to bed. At first, I felt I was using it as a mantra or a spell of some sorts, worrying that God would be angry with me for misusing scripture. (If that sounds a bit nutty to you, all I can say is, abuse does weird stuff to your processing skills!). Over time I came to understand that using Jesus' words, God's words, in this way are part of the gift God has provided in giving me a personal savior. Jesus experienced personal, human pain and betrayal, and so he understands my human pain and betrayal. 

There is a lot of change and challenging thinking going on in my world right now. I've been absent here for quite some time, as life made it impossible to be here. I've missed it. I've missed the opportunity to write out my thoughts and feelings. Write 31 Days is just what I've needed to get back here, for me. Unlike most of the writers in this group, I don't have a plan (I'm not very good at planned writing under the best of circumstances!), but I'm here. And I plan to be here every day for the rest of the month. 

Blessings!




linking up with Write 31 Days






Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

blue ribbon -- an annual post



every april I pull out my blue ribbon and pin it on my shirt. 
the first time I did it, I worried about what people would think/say.
I worried they would ask what it meant.
I worried they wouldn't ask what it meant.
I worried about what I would say.
I worried about what I wouldn't say.
each year that I have worn the blue ribbon it has become a little easier to set aside the worrying -- to expect nothing -- to be happy with a good conversation -- to set aside the discomfort of others.
it hasn't gotten any easier to have them look away though.
as I was having blood drawn at the doctor's office, the technician said, "what's your pin for?"
"april is child abuse awareness month. I am a survivor."
"oh", startled, she looked away, and I felt it again. the guilt and shame. 
what did she think of me now?
should I have kept my mouth shut?
not worn my blue ribbon?
there was no more conversation and little eye contact. she drew my blood, while I dealt with the pain of the needle in my arm and the accusation in her looking away. I was damaged goods all over again. I was at fault. I was less than.
I read a post about seeing people.
all I want is to be seen for who I am. a grown woman who is still 5 years old inside, wishing someone would intercede for me. wishing I didn't feel guilty and ashamed for others' actions.
but every april I pull out my blue ribbon and pin it on my shirt.

(this post was originally published April 13, 2012 -- I repost it every April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month / Child Abuse Prevention Month)

Friday, March 10, 2017

five minute friday :: abandon

abandon -- give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking)

It's been a rough 18 months for me. There have been major life changes, a lot of hurt and worry, stress, anxiety, and guilt. Maybe I'm beginning to come through on the other side.

I've had to abandon some dreams and recognize false assumptions. And that's really difficult. I can be idealistic at times. Always the optimist, I'm likely to keep giving people chances long after any reasonable person would.

I really want to believe the best of everyone. I want to believe that each person wants to improve and change as much as I do. That everyone is willing and able to work as hard as I have to overcome adversity. Optimism is a great approach to life until it becomes tainted with unrealistic expectations, and then it can lead you down some rabbit trails that will make you dizzy and sick until you acknowledge the need for a new start.

Abandoning unreality is a good thing. I tend to have a negative connotation of the word abandon, but the reality is the word is neither good nor bad. It's all about context. No, I shouldn't abandon my children or those who are truly in need. I will never abandon my faith, and there are friends that I know will never abandon me. But I can't really abandon something that was never there or is no longer there.

I'm changing my perspective on that word (because I'm all about words!) and moving forward in realistic optimism and possibility.

linking up with Five Minute Friday