The F-Bomb Theory

October 14, 2018

The F-bomb Theory

 

I met my husband, Mike, when I was 15 and he was 17.  He has always been a gentleman since the day I met him, though I know it began long before.  Not long after we started dating I happened to walk into the middle of a huddle of hormonal teenage boys laughing it up near the locker rooms at our high school gym.  My husband is hilarious and was the cause of the laughter.  He didn’t know I was present. When  I heard his words he I was completely shocked.  His comments included several f-bombs and I turned red from head to toe.  When he became aware I was there the color drained from his face.  I quietly dismissed myself. He quickly came after me and deeply apologized for his words and behavior, that he was just being an idiot in front of his friends.  My husband grew up a little on that day, recognizing a need for an increase in his character and word choices.  I was deeply touched by that, after the initial shock of it all.

I was his first girlfriend.  He was my first serious boyfriend.  I’m grateful.  He quickly developed actions and a vocabulary that were honoring and I never again heard such language out of him in the 39 years I have known him. He learned to honor those around him.  I was impressed with his disciplined choices and he was only 17.

To explain my history it was extremely rare, almost non-existent to hear a swear word cross my lips. I simply believed there were better words to communicate with.  I’m a communicator.  Words are simply tools to me.  I like to challenge my intellect and attempt to raise my IQ every chance I get.  I personally believe that authentic communication with my Creator is a form of worship and reverence.  Surrender and full exposure (as if He couldn’t already see our inner words and works) is vulnerable and trusting.  We offer it to Him and what we get in return is a deeper understanding of His heart toward us.  Authenticity is for us, not for Him.

This pattern continued through the raising of our five children.  Our oldest son moved into his own place when he was 18.  One evening he came to visit and enthusiastically shared with his younger siblings that the word “butt” was not a swear word.   We nervously laughed at the realization of the stern boundaries we had set for our children, relaxing them a bit since our youngest was ten at that time.

These silly factoids are simply to preface the fifty-plus years of pattern that was interrupted by the death of our daughter.  Finding words to describe grief and the death of my daughter is beyond me, though I continue to search for paths that would communicate such pain, not to educate but for connection.  I’m not yet convinced one can be educated by the world to get through grief. But just as a mountain climber can complete his task much easier with certain tools and skills attached to his belt I hope to equip those after me with a tool or two that would aid them in their ascent from the depths of grief.

In my greatest effort to grieve well I allowed myself the freedom to cry when I felt like crying, to laugh when wonderful memories surfaced etc.  Swearing became a part of that, yes- even the occasional F-bomb.  I know.  It still shocks me too.  It really shocked my husband who encouraged me to not use such words, which provoked an increase in its usage.  I believe I came to the end of my emotional intellect.  My IQ simply is not high enough to process the intense level of pain and emotion that came with the death of our daughter.  We spent 18 years of our lives raising her, teaching her, even schooling her at home for the first twelve years of her education, then the following three years enjoying her and her husband as adults.  We were very close.    What my husband learned at the age of 17, an increase in character and word choices to honor others, I had to learn in my early fifties.  I had to learn a new discipline that was never in my peripheral, how to NOT use the F-bomb in a culture where it’s unacceptable. On the same note, diffusing the toxicity of a word-tool that helped me cross a threshold, not of maturity (though it could be deemed so.  At the same time it could be deemed an equal digression in maturity) but of man-made boundaries, of religious hand cuffs and many more descriptions of imprisonments of the mind and spirit.  If you haven’t figured it out, this article is about much more than F-bombs.

I picture standing on the roof of a three story building and dropping an over filled water balloon.  There was something very satisfying to it.  I know what it was.  On the rare occasions that an F-bomb crossed my lips my husband (who is the only person that ever heard me say it) took his understanding up a level.  He knows me so well that he knew I was at the end of my emotional intellect, the end of my emotional and mental IQ.  There were no words to explain the ache of my heart.  He was very familiar with this pain and his grace increased in those moments. Selah: (let’s pause and take a moment) If my husband can stir up this grace just imagine what The Father can do!   I am extremely grateful for my husband’s patient efforts to increase his emotional intellect when mine was depleted.  I probably depended on this more than I should have but in the end it has amazed me what he has brought to the table in our marriage.  Hardship has a way of picking us up when we aren’t even aware and setting us in higher places.  Mike is a different man that he was before the death of our daughter.  I’m a different woman too but Mike has permission to lead me anywhere and I would follow.  I am over the moon in love with him.

The first Scripture that comes to mind in regards to swearing or  The first Scripture I used as ammunition toward my children about swearing is “Let no unwholesome talk come from your mouth”.  I will let you look that up and study it but I would be willing to bet that the Greek word that was translated to “unwholesome” is not as we take it today.  I would research that for you but I’m typing this as I lay in bed in my stateroom on a cruise ship.  I don’t have internet or my Strong’s Concordance next me.  There is something very “wholesome” yes, WHOLE-some, where character is GAINED by using authentic words.  I will share the following story that Holy Spirit brought back to me as I was writing this to remind me of the Father’s heart toward me, toward you.

I was sitting in the waiting area of a minor emergency clinic with Patrick, our third son. (we had three boys then two girls.) He has always been very verbal and a great communicator.  He was four years old and sitting on the floor playing with some toys.  There were 3-4 other moms in the small, crowded waiting room with their children.  Patrick was in his own world of imagination, talking to himself while scooting some trucks around on the floor.  He was learning how to rhyme.  There he went.  I could see it coming as he started rhyming words with truck- buck, duck and so on.  I had only seconds to prepare myself for the bomb that was about to explode and in those seconds I reminded myself that my son was much more important to me than any other person in the room.  I cared about him much more than the judging looks that would come when he got to the letter “f” in the alphabet cycle of his rhyming.  The bomb hit and every mothers head swung quickly in unison to see what I was going to do about this unruly child and the nuclear word that just dropped.  I could feel my body get warm with embarrassment but it only lasted a second. The truth was that my son was not an unruly child for finding a new word.  I chose to be more proud of my son for his new skill of rhyming. Then I jokingly said, “Rhyming is so fun but sometimes it can be a little embarrassing”.  All of the moms chuckled and set me free from their judgement, or so it seemed.  I told Patrick that he was doing a great job rhyming.  If I would have pointed out that he should never speak such a thing again I am certain I would have found him in the bathroom looking in the mirror writing new lyrics to a song that included the repetition of this “off-limits” word in the chorus so it could be repeated as often as possible.  That’s just how strong willed he is.  I love that about him!  He is much like his mother in that respect.

I could have labeled my son as “rebellious” in this moment (which is based in fear and was too common in our household as we raised our children) compared to recognizing his “growth” in the moment.  That’s powerful!  Dig deep into that thought; especially you young mommies! We all are either planting seeds of death or life! Let’s choose life, ey! (Hey, I’m cruising with a bunch of Canadians.  I had to create an opportunity to use one of their cool expressions)

I am not condoning or encouraging the use of profanity.  What I am encouraging is authenticity with The Father, with yourself, with your spouse.  At the time of this writing our daughter died four years ago this month.  Because of the fog that surrounded our hearts and minds through grief it seems like it has only been months since she died. Close to a year ago I began finding new words that could reach the boundaries of my vocabulary and stretch it again.  I began replacing the swear words that were a little too handy in the midst of intense emotion.  These intense moments remind me of the brick wall in front of the test crash dummy.  Do YOU think the test crash dummy dropped an f-bomb or two when he saw that wall quickly approaching?  I would argue that the dummy did!  : )

It’s been almost a year since I committed to weeding those words out of my vocabulary but just days before this trip a couple slipped out.  Okay, they didn’t slip out.  I threw them out on purpose.  What we have figured out together is when I am in a place that I can find no other word to use, because I am a word guru, I may need a little help in my communications.  Mike has picked up on that and upped his game in those moments.  His grace has increased exponentially and I have stopped trying to hold in the things I had deemed “off limits” such as strong emotion or anger.  I think I am finally through the stage of discipline that my husband chose when he was  17 and receiving the love my son unknowingly learned when he was 4.  I feel so grown up right now!

Last week we were driving to Vancouver, BC to board the beautiful ship we are now cruising on and heading for Hawaii.  Mike and I were talking about signing up for a marriage conference for some refreshers, to do some maintenance on our marriage.  We haven’t been to one since we helped lead Marriage Ministries over twenty years ago.

Here is how our conversation went.  I said, “Hey, it would be good to have some healthy marriage reminders, wouldn’t it”?  Mike said, “Yes, it probably is a good idea”.  I said, “Hey, maybe it would help me to stop dropping F-bombs”.  He said (in his very best Mr. Rogers impression), “Well, that would be very nice now, wouldn’t it kids ”.  Needless to say, our trip has been filled with laughter at our silly conversations.

 

Mike and I call this a joyful dysfunction!  Hey, we all have dysfunctions!  We may as well laugh at them!

 

Mom, put that bar of soap away!  Seriously, Mom, if you’re reading this (and I know you will) put that bar of Ivory away!  I’m too old for you to wash my mouth out with soap!

To my grand-kids, don’t you make me get out that bar of soap! : )

 

So, here is my conclusion; in the religious bowels of our Christian walk we tend to have a scoring system to rate our sin. Adultery is a 10, dropping F-bombs is an 8 or 9. Judging others opposed to loving them where they are at is a 1.  I know.  I know. I just offended someone.   But hey, love me where I’m at, Dude! ; )  I’ll save that topic for another blog or go read someone else’s blog that’s smarter than me in that area.

The point of this statement is not to, Heaven forbid; challenge our current scoring system but possibly to create a whole new scoring system to add to it.  We all know that we don’t like to jostle our long time systems that we cuddle up next to like pulling our favorite blanket or pillow up to us when we snuggle down to watch a good movie.

How about creating a new scoring system to measure authenticity, grace and the love of the Father? We may quickly learn that the first scoring system begins to blur a little in comparison to the new one.

Being on this side of my F-bomb season, with spring in the air, I can see such evidence of God’s grace.  I can see, just like the day I was sitting in the waiting room with Patrick, when he dropped his first F-bomb. (Disclaimer: I have never heard another one out of his mouth but he is just like you and I.  We have all tasted inappropriate words on our tongues).  Just as I looked at him with such love toward him, desiring the very best for his life, wealth, growth and development, I believe with every part of me that I have a good Father that is looking upon me and my heart in the same manner except what He offers is an infinite love.  He was proudly looking at me and watching me develop a new found authenticity, a decreased fear of man, challenging what is acceptable in our Christian culture (or any culture), the beginning of the sluffing off of a scoring system that I had lived with for too many years.  For the sake of curiosity, creativity and the intense love for learning more of His heart, I would venture to say that I don’t even know if I sinned when I dropped those F-bombs! Woah, Woah, Woah, you say!!!  Soak this in! I don’t say this with the intention of dodging repentance, quite the contrary.  It’s part of  my greater effort to accept and receive the love that He offers me, a love that has no boundaries. When we accept this deep, real, tangible, overwhelming love our perspectives changes.  Repentance (changing old paths and patterns) is a by-product of accepting and believing what He longs for us to know and live in.  This defines Kingdom living and is contagious! So, go look through the Gospels for yourself!  Make sure what you are searching for is evidence of how much He adores you!  He will ALWAYS reveal Himself to you when you seek Him. ALWAYS!!  It’s one of His greatest promises!  Step into the pool of intimacy and authenticity that brings freedom and opens the doors to the love of the Father.  I promise that it doesn’t have to be the F-bomb door.  I certainly would never have expected to grab the handles of that door and fling it wide open, but I did.

 

Disclaimer: There was no soap or grandchildren harmed in the making of this article.

Second Disclaimer:  There was much pain experienced in our lives to be able to write these words but there was much, much more grace from the Father to be able to write past that pain and still walk in joy.  I welcome you to join me!  His name is Jesus!  He is Wisdom!  He IS Joy!  His love is indescribable and I get to live in it.  He offers the same to you!

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Journaling, Again…

Something that scares me: Journaling. Right after my daughter died I published and our book became an International Best Seller. I have always been a journaler but can count the times I have journaled since my daughters death on both hands, or less. It has been too painful and it’s been over three years. SO, to overcome this fear I journaled today and now I’m sharing it with you. Whew!!

My journaling is always a prayer to my best friend, My Abba, Jesus, The Comforter, Love Himself!!!

February 17, 2018
Hello to my Best Friend,
I know, I haven’t journaled in a very long time. The truth is, I have been afraid. I just kept waiting to be ready and more and more days passed, then months and on to years. I’ve been afraid I won’t be able to handle the emotion that comes as well as the revelation that comes. With revelation comes responsibility and my responsibility muscles have severely atrophied from the weight of grief and past failures. I gave up, like the roof of our neighbors old shed under the weight of a heavy snow load. It couldn’t repair itself and neither can I repair myself.

I already know that you have called me to the deep path of vulnerability and created a generous heart in me to share that vulnerability. But…. My daughter died. Our child died. I know, I know… you know this. Something in me just has to write it again. Our beautiful daughter died. Though my head and my heart both know that you roll out a red carpet of grace and strength when you allow us to walk through dark days I fear my emotions simply can’t handle it. I fear I am not strong enough. No, I know that I’m not strong enough. Since her death I have only become weaker by holding onto the things I don’t know how to process. It’s like when you hold your breath until you get to the other side of something, all the while weakening your body as you deprive it from oxygen or possibly similar to pulling a hot pan out of the oven without a hotpad and having no place to set it. I fear that I have done this very thing too long and only weakened my story, my state and ready to drop it all, causing a hot mess for everyone around me.
So, this social woman that had a broad span of friendships and wide range of experience has made herself small so she could cope. I need help. Well, that’s not all together true. You have helped me all along. I do need help but it hasn’t been absent to this point. Now is simply a time for new vision and renewed strength. You have spoken clearly to me but I fear that my current condition could not hold up to what you are asking me to do. The very things I use to teach to others I have let fall to the wayside, not on purpose but within that foggy cloud of grief, despair and deep pain. God, unveil my eyes but… please be gentle. Please, be gentle. I am afraid. I am trying to remind myself that you are always gentle with me, always, always, always.

Repentance, why do we avoid such a beautiful thing? I am very familiar with the beauty of repentance and the power of the aftermath but the path is overgrown with the weeds of pain, circumstance, fear, fear and more fear. Sometimes we fall victim to something that we allow. Fear! I have allowed it! Anxiety, I have allowed it. How did this happen? This is not who I am. The death of my daughter brought the death of so much. I choose today to believe that the things that have died were meant to die, such as the need for approval from others. In their own fear people had expectations of how I should grieve. I was judged harshly. I surprised them, disappointed them, challenged them, annoyed them and encouraged them.

Being a leader when you walk through difficult things is hard. It’s that simple. This allowed me to walk out of an old habit of looking for the approval of others. I’m grateful as well as alert when he tries to revisit. His visits tend to be farther and farther apart.
It’s surprising how the searing pain of the death of a child naturally reduces relationships. I don’t need to explain away their different reasons but I accept it. It’s painful and freeing. I would have never seen this side of the sincerity of relationship prior to my daughter dying. I gave superficially to so many out of a need to feel significant. Isolation and a long distance move painfully freed me from disingenuous friendships and allowed beautiful ones to emerge that were lost in the crowd before. I am grateful but I didn’t get there without first wading through a sea of pain.

I am called to give deeply and I fear that I am too shallow. Or, at least that is the shallow voice of the liar that lies to me some days and discourages me from identifying and taking that first step. Truths like that last sentence bring new freedoms, or old ones revisited.

I love to write. You always show up when I write. It’s like one of those old pictures of two old guys on each end of a long saw pushing and pulling to accomplish the task at hand, to fall a tree. Thank you for honoring my limited intellect, for pushing and pulling and allowing me to wrestle with you, for patting me on the back and loving me so deeply. Thank you for showing me that what I have to give is very valuable and in your grace you frame it to show off, much like when I put my children and grandchildren’s art on the fridge. Your love truly amazes me.

One of the greatest things I have learned from relationship with you, my Heavenly Father, My Abba, My Best Friend, or my favorite title for you, The One I Adore and Who Adores Me, is that I am in the greatest place, an abyss of weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my (enormous, mountain of) weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (my emphasis added) I couldn’t possibly be in a better position. I praise your name and thank you for your unending grace. Through written word I am boasting of my frail and feeble state so your glory may come. Oh, God, let your glory come!

My own Insufficiency – What a Gift It Is

When error rings loud and echoes to a crowd
I must praise Him
When shallow attempts reflect the weakness within
I must worship.
When great efforts miss the mark and return with the force they were delivered
I must bend my knee in surrender
And worship the Worthy One.
My own insufficiency.
What a gift it is.
Humble stature positioned to receive
Aching heart standing at attention
The sting of inadequacy ringing in my ears.
It is beautiful!
Insufficiency, insufficiency, my own insufficiency…
It becomes a melody in a chorus of praise
A new strength
Only available through the framed doorway of “I’m not enough”.
My Own Insufficiency,  What a gift it is.
It positions me to walk out one of the simplest of Kingdom principles, to exchange my inept attempts for the power of His strength that shows up at the very moment of my surrender.
It is the most beautiful gift I have ever received.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  2 Cornithians 12:9

Happy 23rd Birthday Katelyn!

Katelyn Marie Leavitt Perkins,
Today would have been your 23rd birthday. We still celebrate you. We still honor the beauty that you were….are. We still cry some days as we miss you but we quite often smile at funny memories.
Just this week I was laughing to myself about the time you were demonstrating to Dad and I how you would swim if you had no legs. You had just completed a bout of chemo and had no hair. We affectionately called you Q-ball because your head was so white. You were in a swimming pool demonstrating how you would swim with no legs but you were sinking. Your name suddenly became the “Sinking Q-ball”. We were doubled over with laughter. We have so many memories like that, filled with laughter.
We have begun to settle into life without you here but still imagine how you would react to certain things, such as the birth of your new nephew, Bryan. You would have gobbled him up! He has so many chubby little rolls and is well on his way to being the same size as his daddy. Your other nieces and nephew have grown so much. Paige and Arryanna had a particularly hard time with accepting that you won’t be around to hang out with them any longer. Josh did too but he was young enough to move on a bit easier.
Some things happened this week that made me think of the day you had your first surgery. You had only been out of surgery a few hours, enough time for the major anesthesia to start wearing off. You were in a lot of pain. A nurse came in and started turning you over. I thought she was kind of rough but kept silent, trying to be a good mom and allow you to find your own bold voice. As soon as she left you looked at me and started crying and said, “Mom, she hurt me so much. She was SO rough”. I said, “I thought she was pretty rough but I was waiting for you to say something.” I got up and made a b-line to the nurses station and made it clear that that nurse was to never touch you again. I quietly came back and sat by you while you were sleeping. You woke up later and said, “Mom, thank you for making the bad nurse go away.” You were 18 but it was as if you were 3 again and asking me to hold you during a thunder storm.

Thunderstorms use to terrify you. When you were around 12 or 13 years old we had one of the largest storms I had ever experienced. You were trembling because you were so afraid. We could feel the house rattling and creaking from the wind and the lightening. I retold the story of how I use to be terribly afraid of thunder storms but how I had learned to love them. They are beautiful.
I asked your permission to take you outside into the thunderstorm. You cowered at the thought and clung to me. I told you that I would wrap you in a blanket and you could sit on my lap in your dad’s truck. You agreed. You clung to me with every clap of thunder and would bury your face in my chest and under your blanket. I reminded you that I would hold you tight but encouraged you to look up and see the beautiful show before us. We were sitting in the middle of incredible flashes of lightening and loud crashes of thunder happening all around us. The light show was spectacular and massive. The lightening looked like a neon net in every direction. We tried to count seconds before we heard the thunder but we couldn’t count fast enough because we were literally in the middle of the storm.
As we sat together I encouraged you to lift your head and watch the splendor. You slowly loosened your clenched fists and started to relax, your head started peaking out from under the blanket. You started looking for the beauty in the storm instead of cowering from it’s affects. Before I knew it you were beside me in the truck seat instead of on me. Rain was pelting the roof of the truck so hard that it was hard to hear each other speak. I told you to close your eyes and listen to the beauty of it’s sound. It was incredible. That was the last time I recall you ever being afraid in a thunder storm. You learned to appreciate its beauty.

Your death has been like a tremendous storm to our family. We have run to The Father for comfort. He provides comfort like no other but you know this. You were very familiar with His comfort. There have been times that we have cowered under the blankets and clenched our fists in fear and some of the family those fists were clenched in anger but not for long. The storm has felt spectacular and massive. We have begun to look for the beauty in the storm instead of cowering from it’s affects.
Our heads are peaking out from under the blankets and viewing the beauty in the storm. All three of your brothers and your sister and sister-in-loves have amazed me with their strength. Vulnerability and humility are beautiful gifts that they share openly. I love that about them. Grandparents are healing and overcoming. Your sweet husband has remarried, just as you had hoped he would. I believe he is very happy. That makes my heart happy too.
We have learned that joy does not always displace grief but often parallels it. It’s like a beautiful melody that wouldn’t be as rich without the low and the high octaves being played at the same time. These are things learned in a storm. We have the freedom to cry because we miss you and because we are grateful for where you are while we are remembering how incredible you are. It is not unusual to feel all of these things in unison. That is when the comforting, faith-filled melodies resound and sway us back and forth in the arms of The Father. He lulls us with His peace.
No matter how large and loud the storm is the comfort of the Father always rings louder and larger. No matter the condition of our heart He is ready to receive us as we are and pour grace over us so we may walk away with much more than we invested in our own healing. We can come to Him as a vagabond, whipped and empty and walk away as a King. His mercy amazes me and makes me desire even more of Him. His generosity brings me to my knees in adoration of Him. He always exceeds my expectations and I had BIG expectations!
His word is true. Romans 5:3-4 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

A new hope has risen up in us. We are still wobbly kneed at times but walking in new fruit that wasn’t there before. More than ever we rely on His mercies and grace. More than ever we are learning to receive from Him instead of relying on those strong Leavitt tendencies that were simply not strong enough to endure this storm. The roots of our faith have grown deeper and wider simply by His grace. I know of no other god than is so merciful and generous. I know of no other god willing to take the sting out of death and replace it with such victories.
You would have loved sitting and listening to this story. Now, I imagine your sweet, contemplative and patient smile that use to melt my heart. It still does.
We love you and miss you. We celebrate you today! Happy 23rd birthday, Katelyn Marie Leavitt Perkins!

Happy Anniversary

Dear Mike,

We have gone through some difficult things… some Very difficult things in our lifetime. Our 34th year won the prize. The death of our Katelyn has been the most painful experience of our lives . Grief offers no mercies but is quick to generously magnify poor habits and shout loudly of our weaknesses. Hardship tends to highlight our greatest foes. If feels as though our one flesh has been taken out to the back alley and beaten. Being true to ourselves and grieving as differently as night and day felt like a dividing wall between us. Oh, the things you don’t think about prior to actually experiencing it but, honestly, who prepares for the death of a child? A person cannot prepare for something that they have never tasted. What a year!
There have been days when we had to remind each other to simply breath and days that we didn’t want to. One can’t prepare for the mixture of true joy because we know Katelyn is in the presence of the One we love so dearly and the anguish because she is not with us.
Four years ago today, after a whirlwind week of passing each other as we were rushing Katelyn from one appointment to another, a major surgery on the 9th, my birthday, we finally stole a moment and went to the waiting room. It was the first we had even tried to talk about what was happening. I remember the words like they were just spoken. We sat across a small table from each other and grabbed each other’s hands and this is what we spoke.
Me: Hi
You: Happy Anniversary
Me: Happy Anniversary to you too. (We smiled) It’s really good to look at your face.
Me: Our daughter has cancer.
You: Yes, she does.
Me: She could die from cancer.
You: Yes, she could.
Me: Will we trust God either way?
You: Absolutely!
This is the only serious conversation we ever had and it was sufficient. When we attempted to have another conversation we always returned this one. I thank you for the simplicity of the faith we share. It truly is a great gift to me.
Today I celebrate you and thank you for who you are. Your tenderness, humility and vulnerability have branded you “Hero” in my world. Statements such as “I am not afraid of tears, yours or mine.”, “My heart is broken” and “I miss my girl” deem you the most macho man I have ever known. You don’t walk around pain to avoid it. You take the shortest route. Sometimes straight up over the jagged mountain range to get to the top and have the greatest view. These are the practices of a mighty man that is willing to take the high road and trust God to guide him through the paths that appear impossible, all the while knowing where your strength comes from. What an example you are to me and those around you. I love you so much.
The last few years have been difficult in many ways, losing our main home, moving six times, Katelyn being diagnosed with cancer and getting married 3 weeks later, going through many treatments then passing away. Grief is difficult enough but to watch our other children and grand children grieve so deeply multiplies a broken heart. I have never experienced such pain. We became empty nesters, endured a 3 year grueling IRS audit that paralleled Katelyn’s diagnosis, treatment and death. We slogged through what felt like the betrayal of a dear friend then restoration. We must laugh that experiencing the beginning stages of menopause was the cherry on top of this Sundae!
It’s easy to list hardship. I didn’t even mention all of the big things but I only list them as a reminder of where we stand today and what it took to stand here. We have made declarations in faith and been faithful to them for the most part and fell short at times. Distinguishing the fine line between grief and self-pity is another piece to this puzzle. These are real questions, real moments and hours of our days. I often think back on the day after Katelyn died, when we were at the zoo with the whole family. You asked me how I was holding it together. We revisit that moment on a regular basis because my answer was filled with prophetic hope. I said, “Today is no different than any other day that we walk with the Lord. We will not walk in shame, fear or regret. Regret is a counterfeit that the world would include in the process of grief. We have lived our lives with a focus on doing ‘today’ well so we don’t have to experience the regrets of yesterday. We will not walk in fear! The world encourages looking at the mistakes and regrets of yesterday instead of the hope of tomorrow. We will keep our eyes focused on the hope offered to us.”
This prologue is to be framed with the truth of today and the gratitude that fills me. Thank you for standing with me as we have pointed our feet in the same direction, gripped hands when we really didn’t feel like it and didn’t allow the dividing wall of grief to separate us or poor habits and inflamed weaknesses to pull us apart. I have truly experienced your strength this year and appreciate your “Lion” heart. I thank you for loving so deeply, for your example of commitment and your complete devotion to your family. I look forward to taking the victories of this year into our 35th year, the Silver year. Silver is a symbol of redemption, the price of a soul. Though we can’t see it now because it is still too close to us, still too fresh, I believe that our 34th year was a polishing for the treasured years to come. I am grateful for your steadfast heart. I am grateful for your unfailing commitment. I am grateful for you!
I love you sweet man. Happy 34th Anniversary!

Shame or Crown?

Shame or Crown?

When our children were young we built fun, space-saving beds in order to fit our five children into smallish bedrooms. The first bed was a fort bed that our three boys enjoyed for years, allowing them a permanent play place to have sword fights, light saber wars and scale castle walls through the day (an innocent light fixture surrendered its life in one of those fierce battles) and hold them while they slept at night.

Later their daddy built them a triple-bunk. I remember him having them lay on the floor to measure their gangly teen and pre-teen bent legs to make sure they had plenty of room to maneuver. Our boys slept in that bed for years then it was passed to their two younger sisters. The girls used the third bunk for their stuffed animals and enjoyed the convenience of stacking a random third girl during a sleep-over.

Originally I planned that this piece of furniture would become an heirloom used by grandkids for many years to come. After much use and too many years of storage, last year I considered sanding down the wood and painting it but we decided it had lived its full life. We used the larger pieces in the construction of a new pottery studio. We threw the smaller pieces, the slats that supported the mattresses, into a scrap pile with intentions of burning them to keep the house warm.

Our oldest son looked at the boards that use to hold him as a teen, as well as his younger siblings, and saw something much different than I did. They had graffiti all over them from our children lying on their backs and writing and drawing with crayon, marker, pen and pencil. They were twisted and warped from being jumped on while parents were out of sight and from simply being low budget, pine 1×4’s.

I only saw scrap wood pieces that reminded me of the frustrating, “Will we ever have anything nice” season or the, “Will my children learn to respect property” season!, I looked at those boards and felt shame and embarrassment by them. They reminded me of unmade beds and messes in a home that I longed to be tidy and wanted to decorate tastefully. That did not include furniture that was written on, towels on the floor and unidentifiable smells that consumed those years.

Kyle took those boards and intricately measured each one, spacing them the same distance apart, relishing every single board so not to lose a single scribble or subtract even a saw blades width from the treasures that he saw. He framed them in redwood. He added legs and sealed them with the highest quality sealer available. He made those embarrassing boards into a beautiful table that will serve our family for years to come. It became a greater heirloom now than it ever was at the beginning of its wooded life.

Our daughter, Katelyn, was the one who wrote most of the words on those boards. She passed away six months and eleven days before Mother’s day 2015, the first Mother’s Day since her birth that I would spend without her. Kyle saw the boards in the scrap pile and thought they were perfect just as they were. They didn’t need to be sanded. They didn’t need paint. They only needed to be framed to accentuate the beauty that had already been created years before and sealed in their perfection.

My children have identified the author of each word written or scribbled. Here are some of the incredible things that I am so grateful were written on those embarrassing boards that are now the surface of our family’s beautiful table:

I love my Mommy, (Katelyn)

My diary is behind the bed. (in much smaller writing is the following statement) My diary is really in my t-shirt drawer. (Katelyn)

Hello Governor (can only be read with a heavy British accent and was written by Jessica)

Not Telling! (Katelyn)

Jan 14, 2008, 40 days until we go on vacation to Florida on February 23 (Katelyn)

PK’s Poltry Farm (Katelyn’s misspelled name of her and Patrick’s chicken business)

I Hate Mosquitoes (Katelyn-she was allergic to them and swelled up like a balloon)

Katelyn’s Vision 150 people healed. 2 down and 148 to go! (Katelyn’s handwriting but a collaborative desire between Patrick, Katelyn and Jessica)

The last statement was birthed from the following experience. Our third son, Patrick, laid his hands on and prayed for our friend, Kathy, when she had back pain in May of 2006. She was instantly healed. Patrick, Katelyn and Jessica prayed for one other person and they were instantly healed. They witnessed the healing power of God move through them. They were forever changed. They etched their testimony and vision on the bottom of their bed. This is priceless to me.

Before this weekend I had not looked closely at the boards from that bed. I had not read the words. I only threw them into a scrap pile so they could be burned or sanded down to make something of value. I only saw those boards as failures of my past; that I failed to teach my children value and respect. I associated those boards with the shame of untidy messes in my life. At this moment I feel more regret that Kyle and Nick, our older two boys didn’t write on these boards. I will not be able to read words of their history on this table. Our two oldest boys would never consider writing on a piece of furniture. This makes me wonder where the true balance is. They have both written many treasures on my heart that will never be forgotten.

On the morning of Katelyn’s memorial our children informed us, and have teased us often since, that it is their turn to raise us! We had raised them now they are going to raise us! This week our oldest son taught me a lesson. He taught me how to “respect property” and that I am worth and can have “Very nice things”.

Often the things that look like failure or shame in our lives are merely small dots in a greater composition of beauty with the Master’s touch, that He later frames for a greater, more valuable display in our future. It is important to walk in faith expecting such beauty!

I have learned that every one of these writings on this table validate the opposite of the perceived shame and mess that I had assigned to it in that season. Isn’t it like a generous God to use loved ones to send such a loving message from the heart of The Father.

Thank you to all of our children for raising us right! Kyle there is no way for you to know the depth of my gratitude for a gift that touches my heart so deeply. There is no possible way of communicating it. I love you.

Calling Out Your Tomorrows!

When I have heard the term “defending my faith” in the past it has been applied to apologetics, a knowing of the Word of God in such a manner that you can argue it. I am not opposing that definition but there is additional definition to “defending your faith”.

I have recently been reminded of the many times I have walked in fear. Honestly, they are like the grains of sand on a seashore. My life has been filled with fear, from the first abusive memories of my youth to scattered moments of this very day. Fear presents itself constantly, like the relentless bully on the block that demands your lunch money before he will allow you to pass. We have a choice to step toward fear and pay the bully, but he will never let us pass! We can turn our backs on him or throat punch him, cutting off the wind beneath his words, stepping over him as he diminishs to the squawking runt that he truly is. We have daily opportunity to choose faith, to “defend our faith” with our actions and choices, as well as our words. I would compare fear to temptations. It is not a sin to be tempted. We have a choice when temptation presents itself. We have that same choice when fear presents itself.

The moments that I choose fear, I walk as a prodigal, squandering my inheritance of faith, prostituting a portion of The Body of Christ in exchange for the folly of vain imaginations, for the fleeting pleasure of self pity, with the meager compensation of acceptance and conformity in this world. We support the co-dependant habits of others by tickling the ears of those that believe they have need to hear our woes, which in turn reduces the valiancy of their walk, leaving them with a false definition of their worth and their calling.

I wonder how many people questioned Jesus’ authority and calling in the town of His youth? I can’t imagine that He was fearful of their fiery words, or that His foundation was rattled as their doubts and speculations were hurled at Him and fell at His feet. I can only imagine the mocking that Jesus could have endured, even as a toddler, as he was learning to walk and talk. There were the questioning faces of onlookers who were trying to have faith that He was their Savior or prove that He was not. Glances shifted to words of disbelief and accusation but still would not have hindered Him as he was learning to walk or talk because His eyes were only on The Father. Some wanted to believe what the prophets had spoken but the fears within caused their eyes to focus on the immaturity of His natural process of learning to walk one step at a time, causing those close, in His home town, to look more upon their fears and disbelief than on His calling. The God of this universe put Himself in the position to be ridiculed, to be judged harshly, to be in a fish bowl for others to watch as He matured in His humble human state, the state that He chose! His humility leaves me undone and in awe. His love for us is immeasurable. His sacrifice will never be matched! He is my endearing example of how we are to serve one another. He did not do anything that He did not see the Father do or hear the Father say. To love like this is my great commission!

If Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with people (1 Samuel 2:26) and If Jesus grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52) then we have permission to do the same.  By Jesus leading a sinless life and “growing” throughout his life, then we need to allow each other to grow and mature without assuming it is sin. I believe we can walk away from those scriptures knowing that immaturity isn’t sin and give grace to grow in this walk.  What freedom!

We will always have people in our lives that remind us of our yesterdays, of when we fell when we were learning to walk and of the broken words spoken when we were learning to talk. We will always have people in our lives that freely share their pseudo-counsel that falsely validates their own worth, in their own eyes. But my God calls out my tomorrows! My God pours grace over me like warm honey that puts me in a state of peaceful rest and surrender to Him. His Love pours over those grains of sand, washing away the abrasive fears and the failures of my yesterdays that, could otherwise, hinder me from walking boldly and uprightly in my tomorrows.

Though others may look at my yesterdays, I will look at my tomorrows and at the tomorrows of others. On the days when I feel that annoying sand between my toes, I pray that I will recognize the need to humbly receive the foot washing of redemption that has already been poured over my yesterdays, as well as my tomorrows. I will trust The Father today! I believe these are the actions of a warrior. Actually, these are the actions of a fierce warrior! I am sending out a war cry!

I am calling out YOUR tomorrows!

I Choose To Worship

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David was a worshipper. David is my favorite worshipper. David and I have been buds for years. I have learned to cry out to a merciful God by using his example. I have learned to praise by his example. I have learned to worship through hardship by his example. Deeper intimacy with The Father always follows. I have learned vulnerability and transparency by his example. Deeper intimacy has always followed. I GET David! We are tight!
In 2 Samuel 12 David’s son was dying. He fasted. He prayed. He contended for healing for his son. He was a mess. He wouldn’t eat or allow others to pick him up off of the floor. His son died. When he found out he got up off of the floor, washed his face, put on some clean clothes and went to worship.
I’ve meditated on that scripture many times over the years. I got a glimpse of a deeper worship experience by David’s response after his son died. I SOOO get David! Today I understand him even more.
I am a worshipper. By all visible definitions of the word worshipper I just don’t fit the bill. Yet, I am a worshipper.
My 21 year old daughter had cancer. I cried out for her to be healed. I fasted and prayed for her healing. There were times that others could not pick me up off of the floor. The last time was just days ago, the day that she died. I lay across the body that she left and wailed in agonizing grief at her departure. It’s possible that I am not as courageous or as good of a worshipper as David was but I don’t really think it’s up for comparison. I am still a worshipper. I’ll worship through this hardship and deeper intimacy will come. In the infancy of this habit of worship it was a faith filled discipline. Now it is simply a habit motivated by what is to come, simply knowing that He is worthy. I fully expect deeper intimacy to follow. I have no question.
Not one inkling of God’s sovereignty shifted when David’s son died or when my daughter died. His worthiness to be worshipped did not change one iota. He’s worthy of worship. He’s worthy of praise. He’s worthy of adoration. David had experienced His sovereignty, His mercy, His deliverance, His love, His friendship on so many other occasions that he didn’t have to stop and ask himself if he should go worship. He simply went and worshipped. That is where I am at. David had his own experiences and reasons. I have mine. I will share some of them.
Just over a decade ago I was driving down the road. I was singing a worship song at the top of my lungs. Here is a snapshot of the worshipper that I am: I can’t hold a tune, I don’t remember words to songs…EVER, when I dance I break things because grace is not a part of any movement I make, except occasionally on the tennis or volleyball court, on a good day. I was singing very loudly in the car but, as usual, I got the words and syllables mixed up and what came out of my mouth was speaking how awesome I was and that I was worthy of praise. When I realized what I had said I quickly clasped one hand over my mouth and was horrified. I was in mid-repentance mode when, in my spirit, I heard The Father let out the biggest belly laugh and I saw Him throw his head back and grab His belly while it shook with laughter. After hearing several seconds of laughter he said, “You make me laugh! I love how quirky you are.” I burst into tears and had to pull the car over. Just the thought of provoking my Heavenly Father, the God of the universe, to a deep belly laugh moved me more than I can say. The thought of
Him enjoying me changed me….FOREVER! The thought that I could surprise Him with my goofiness, enough to cause Him to interact with me in this manner changed me FOREVER. Every interaction that I have with Him changes me FOREVER. I was so deeply touched to get a glimpse of The Father’s heart toward me… toward us. He adores us! It is much too easy to think that He is a harsh, mean, punishing God than it is to accept His unconditional love and be transformed by it. There I was, mid-repentance and He was simply delighted in who I am, including my clumsiness. He was celebrating and so delighted with my awkward, un-professional, un-Hill Song attempt at adoring Him. That would be similar to me leaning over to kiss my husband, tripping mid-kiss and bashing our faces together. (Don’t laugh – that happens to everyone… right?) It seemed as though I ruined a beautiful, intimate moment but it only increased when I was just me, in all of my blundering glory. I was forever changed because He loves me enough to show me, tell me, right in the midst of me being me… so very clumsy and un-practiced and raw in my moments of adoring Him. Worship only increased. Adoration erupted from me and I was immersed in His presence. We think He wants perfection when He just wants us, just as we are, to approach a throne room so filled with grace that all desire for anything else disappears, all depravity disintegrates. We think that we have to work and work and work to worship, to get rid of our sin but He already did that. It’s done! Sitting at His feet… That’s where the party’s at! (Quietly stepping off of soap box)
I could share dozens and dozens of similar experiences that I have had with my Abba but I have two other points to make.
Mike and I have prayed for every one of our children to develop and grow in their relationship with Our Lord and Savior. We have prayed that every one of them and our grandchildren would spend eternity with our Savior. We aren’t ones to pray for them to just step inside the gate for safe keeping. We don’t pray for their butts to be greased so when the door slams shut they will slide right in. I pray for Davidic hearts. I pray for passionate hearts running hard after Him, slaying giants along the way. I’ll be honest, more often than not I feel very inadequate in my prayer life but the God that I serve is so very generous. I am learning that it is much more about His generosity than my works. All of that to say; I have been giddy with joy that this prayer has been generously answered. Katelyn did not just slip in under the wire. She lived passionately for our Lord. She lived loving others and sharing what she knew of Him. This answered prayer presses me into a deeper intimacy with my Abba.
Secondly, I have prayed that my children would experience a greater intimacy with the Father than I have known. I am saturated with a childish joy that my daughter is witnessing so much more. My heart is full and overflowing. I don’t know what heaven will be like, other than gold so pure that it is clear and other descriptions given in Scripture. I have to say, as a woman that doesn’t place much value in jewelry, gems or precious metals, the whole gold thing just doesn’t speak to me. Sure, if I had some here on earth I could exchange it for some awesome things but in heaven I don’t think that is what I will have my eyes on. I will have my eyes set as flint on the most beautiful thing I have and will ever witness, the eyes of the one that loves me because I am quirky, the one that I make laugh, the one that I sing incomplete and politically and spiritually incorrect songs to and He just soaks them in because He loves my adoring voice. He loves me! I make Him belly laugh! If you ever heard me sing you would gain a whole new understanding of His unconditional love.
Katelyn is no longer gasping for air but she is breathing in the presence and aroma of The One Who Adores Her. There is no greater joy. She transitioned from misery to glory but this is so much less about the lack of suffering than it is about the presence of pure joy, being in the presence of the King of Kings. My greatest prayer has been answered, that my child may experience the presence of my loving God even more than I. I am overwhelmed with His goodness.
I have laughed more than I have cried since Katelyn died. That is going to make some people uncomfortable. I am okay with that. Sometimes discomfort is just what we need ! Katelyn would be ecstatic to know of this truth. She loved to laugh and make people laugh. She was one of the funniest people I have ever known. She had this purity about her, this amazing integrity that I considered pure gold. Even when she was young and was in trouble for something, I would ask her if she did “such and such”. She would proudly say, “Yes, I did” without shame. Quite often she was not sorry. Many, many times her response shifted my belief system, altering wrong beliefs that bound me for years. Her conviction swayed me. Her integrity softened me. Her purity wooed me. Her joy infused anyone near her. How can you raise a child to be integral then that child teaches you a new meaning of the word? She was a beautiful gift from my Abba.
Just after Katelyn released her last breath we could see glory on her face. That is the only way to describe what I saw. I actually looked up at the ceiling to see if someone had turned a spotlight on her face. There was no spot light. I have witnessed a new definition of peace. It was written on her face that day. She had to have been looking into His eyes. I cannot contain the joy that bubbles out of me since that day. She was beautiful. It was beautiful.
I have only had relationship with The Father for about 42 short years and my worshipping days are in their infancy of just over 32 years. I truly am just an amateur and look forward to greater revelation. I look forward to each opportunity I have to praise a God that knows me and still adores me.
I have yet to dance naked on my rooftop. Watch out neighbors!!!

Good Bye for Now! I Will See You Soon!

Good Bye for Now! I Will See You Soon!

Snapshots of Wisdom – Through the Eyes of a 10 Year Old

I dedicate this writing to the most amazing women in my life, my mother. She has always been a woman of incredible courage but it grew greatly, in my eyes, when she gave me permission to publish this writing so others may experience healing through it.  Thank you Mom.  I love you so much.

I had three people in my life with the labels of Dad. Though, I have never actually called anyone Dad in my life. My first memories were of being inappropriately and painfully touched by my biological “Father”. I was probably a toddler or preschool age at that time. I will call him “Father #1” since he was the first one on the scene at my conception. I had no relationship with him.

I will refer to my legal father as “Father #2” since his last name was borrowed to put on my birth certificate. He fought to have my mother labeled unfit and had my three older siblings taken away from her. My mother was far from unfit! The same woman was allowed to keep my younger brother and me. I was 22 months and my brother 3 months when this occurred. This man’s vengeance caused my siblings much pain. They not only lived it for six years in that orphanage but for many years to follow. The stories they told when they came home were unbearable. I am certain many more stories were left untold. I grieve for the innocence lost in those six years, all in the name of vengeance of their father. I had no relationship or interactions with this man other than the one time that I mention later in this writing.

When I was in elementary school my step-dad came into my life. I will refer to him as such. He is the man that helped raise me for the larger portion of my upbringing. He was an alcoholic. When he drank he would get vicious with words and physical aggression, not as much in the earlier years but it built with great momentum in the later ones.  If I heard tensions rising in the house, or I could smell beer, I would unlatch the windows in my bedroom for a quick escape. I would make sure that I was between him and a door if we had any interaction. When voices started to rise it was not long before his fists started swinging or heavy objects started flying across the room.  I often hid in a place where I could see both he and my mom or at least be where I could hear what was going on.  I lingered, just out of sight, with weapons disguised as a hair dryer, a heavy decanter, a broom, pots and pans or anything with some weight that I could chuck at him to draw his attention toward me instead of her. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that even when things appeared urgent, with a need to react quickly, there is always time to linger and listen for the voice of The One Who Adores Me. Reacting in fear is not wisdom!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

He was a diver when he was young and dove off of a cliff without first checking the water below. He landed on a submerged fence post that penetrated his thigh. He had a limp and was not able to run, especially when he was drunk. This always encouraged my young, super hero fits of courage but there was so much more to it than that. There was always a supernatural aspect of the encounters I had in the midst of turmoil. A still small voice directed my path.

Father #2 came back into our lives and lived walking distance from our house for just a few short months, if that. My mother gave into my repeated requests to walk to his house with my older sister, even though she was not happy about the idea. She knew of none of the antics of that day until more than 20 years had passed. It was my older brother’s 18th birthday and his gift from his dad was a prostitute for the afternoon. Their abode was a bay window with only curtains keeping my eyes from witnessing their act.  At the young age of 9 I could sense the evil present in that house. I felt it right under my sternum and like a vice pressing my head. My physical innocence was stolen that day as I sat in a puddle of my own life fluids, screaming and wondering what happened. Father #2 gained more revenge. God has a way of protecting our innocence when those on this earth don’t. My memory and understanding of this offense was tucked away for another 12 years, until I was 21 then it crushed me like a tidal wave. Father #2’s threats made no sense to me that day, “If you tell anyone anything I will use this noose”. I didn’t know what a noose was. He explained. He hammered a 16 penny nail into the header above his dining room door way. He said he would hook that rope on that nail and put his head in the noose and hang himself if we told anyone. I had no idea what we weren’t supposed to tell! My innocence and The One Who Adores Me Immediately protected my memory and understanding of what he did to me. I was completely unaware. I vaguely remember thinking back on an old John Wayne movie that showed a lynching. My next thought was that the nail wouldn’t support his weight. Maybe I said it out loud, I don’t remember but that would explain why he went to plan B. Next, he said he was going to go lay in the 8-10 foot snow bank outside until he froze to death. Then he proceeded to put his coat on and take us outside to watch. My thought was that if he were serious about killing himself he would not have put his coat on.   Another snapshot occurred right here! The Greatest Lesson I have ever learned is to ask for clarity and truth within your circumstance! The One Who Adored Me guided my thoughts and filled me with wisdom beyond my 9 years of life that day.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalms 119:130

I don’t know where my little brother and I had been but we came home and heard vicious words being hurled at my mom. My step-dad had beaten her until she was unconscious. Just to type those words and read them is quite sobering. He continued to kick her. I watched her limp body rise and fall with each blow to her torso, chest and head. Somehow I knew that his full intent was to kill her. Maybe I knew that from long forgotten words that he spoke or the look of hate in his eyes or the gentle whisper from within. I was in 6th grade and a skinny little thing but the seconds that it took to run toward him felt like minutes before my 90ish pound frame collided with his to interrupt the rhythm of his hatred. I knocked him off balance and got his attention off of her and on me. I turned and ran with the breath of a demon on my collar, knowing that I was barely beyond his grasp the whole time I was running. I am unsure because I never looked back. My heart felt like it was bursting in my chest with every beat. I could feel my brain getting blurry and my body wanting to shut down and faint when I was only feet from him but I somehow stayed upright and kept running.

I later grabbed a dictionary and looked up some of the names he called me. I wondered for years why he would call me a female dog in heat or names that resembled a prostitute. I knew the word prostitute, because it was used to describe one of my step- sisters and my brother’s birthday present. This makes me smile to think of how God protects the innocence of children. It was so silly to me. The truth was that not one of the names I was called actually lined up with who I was. I remember feeling pain from the hate that he spewed at me but more importantly, those names were not valid and they rolled off of me. They were not truth! The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that others are not in control of my identity! I can receive lies or I can receive truth. It was my choice! I knew that the still small voice, The One Who Adores Me, would never agree with the words of the accuser! He only speaks truth!

 

One time I heard them arguing upstairs. I was very anxious and not thinking clearly. I started piling “weapons” on my bed.   I had a basement bedroom. I hid in my closet, until I realized that there was no way out. Horrible scenes actually played out in my head of what would happen if I stayed in that closet. I had to get out of hiding! He started screaming that he was going to come downstairs and rape me then kill me when he was finished with me. He came down and stood in my doorway, blocking me in my bedroom. I was terrified! I was screaming at him, begging him to not make me throw something at him and hurt him because I loved him. I told him that if he stepped one foot in my bedroom that I would throw the massive tape recorder that I had in my right hand and the heavy vermouth decanter I had in my left. He started to take one more step toward me with such hate in his eyes that I was paralyzed. What happened next will forever be etched in my memory. My mother flew down those stairs and tackled him from the back. She sat on him and told me to get out of there but to do so I had to step over him. I told her “NO” because he could grab me. Then she looked at me with those “Don’t mess with Mamma” eyes and demanded, with fire in her words, that I do it NOW! All of the sudden my fear shifted to the follow through of my sober mother instead of the drunk man underneath her! I jumped over them both and ran for miles without stopping. The greatest lesson I have ever learned was not to hide in a fight! Stand Up! Put one foot on the rock of humility and love and the other on the rock of truth! Hiding will keep you the victim instead of the victor! Listen to the voice on your side, The One Who Adores You, and obey quickly. We have authority over our thresholds!

Psalm 20:7-8 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

Psalms 25:9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

The last time I ever remember an abusive situation was just a couple of years before I was married at the ripe age of seventeen years and two days old. That would have made me around 14 or 15 years old. He was drunk again. He was in the kitchen and took a swing at my older sister, or tried to. I think he did connect but my sister was so tough and very strong. She managed to push him away. My mom was in the mix trying to protect her but they both got away.   I was in the dining room, just out of the way but close enough to jump in and help if I needed to. After they pushed him away and got free I followed them but not before seeing something that I will never forget. There was something cooking on the stove and the element was glowing red. When my sister pushed him his right forearm landed directly on that red hot stove burner. It branded him like an angry bull. My ears can still hear the searing of his flesh and see the increased rage in his eyes as they connected with mine. I ran like hell was chasing me! I knew that whatever got in the way of that raging bull would probably not live through it. I will never forget the 3-4 second window that felt like 30 seconds. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is in a fight never forget to have compassion for the one who appears to be your enemy. I am talking about people! There is a real enemy that we must engage but it’s not usually a person in front of you unless you are at war. I don’t have the testimony for that! When his arm landed on that burner my heart broke for his pain. I was less than eight feet away from this raving lunatic but I didn’t want him hurt. My heart actually physically hurt when I saw him hurt. He had to have had third degree burns. We were right in the middle of a possibly life threatening moment and I felt compassion for this man. The Holy Spirit slowed time so I may have a snapshot of that moment. This man was not my enemy, though there was a war going on the heavenlies, this man was not my enemy per say. The greatest lesson I have ever learned was the importance of being compassionate. Broken people are usually just as much a victim as it feels that I am. The next step, which is more important than the first, NEVER wear the shoes of a victim! They stink! They make you walk funny! They will never fit right. They will cause sore spots and additional wounds that don’t go away until you take them off! They will never match the personal style that was meant for you (Your purpose). I only know these things from too much personal experience.

After we got away, my family looked like a scatter gram running down the road, each of us frequently looking back at Mom because she was closest to the maniac in pursuit. He had grabbed some flower pots off of the porch and was throwing them toward my mom, shattering them all over the road. People were out on their porches and in their yards watching, kids that rode the bus with me and their parents. Curtains were pulled aside to see what the commotion was. Jeers from others were thrown alongside those flower pots. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that humiliation is fleeting. The neighbors may have been watching a family run from a lunatic throwing flower pots but I was running a victory lap with more than just mere escape that day. I was carrying the trophies of a warrior; the lessons learned when the enemy was in pursuit. The jeers and judgments of man have no place among my victories. They were chaff in the wind that made my victory flag fly with more fervor. There will not be a place set for them at my table.

 

One of the later years, as his drunkenness increased and his depression surpassed it. He took some pills and drove to a field in the dark with the intention of dying that night. My mom was frantic. She woke us up to help find him. We found him. I can’t remember if we went to a hospital or home but I remember sitting next to my mom with bitterness consuming me. The prayer, “God, let him die” barely had time to be complete in my mind and my mom grabbed my face and looked me sternly in the eye and said, “Cindy, don’t wish him dead. You will regret it later”! Her eyes were filled with wisdom and compassion toward me. It was clear to me that the small voice that so often spoke to me just spoke to her and to me through her. My mother was right, though it did take years to push through the bitterness, hatred and gripping fear that riddled me. After I was married my husband had to tackle me to wake me up because I would beat him in my sleep, thinking I was defending myself against my step-dad in the nightmare I was having. My newlywed husband had to be careful to not touch me while I slept or I would wake up in full defense. Flashbacks sent me hiding in strange places ( once I got stuck under a water bed- try to explain that to your new husband when he comes looking for you) or going for a drive across town and calling my husband to make sure it was safe to be at home. Seeing a fight at a hockey game put me on the verge of vomiting, seeing any type of aggression would cause me to seek a safe place. I could not watch a movie where a man would hit a woman. I watched a movie once where it was implied that a man raped a child and I took off out our front door, running down the street screaming. My husband chased me, caught me and held me until I calmed but not without a fight. I am grateful that God gave me the gift of a large husband with a very gentle heart! These things have been healed in many layers over the years. I trust the Lord each day with who I am today and pray that it will glorify Him. He is my Healer! Every day I am reminded that I need Him. He is my Strong Tower and Deliverer. He is my best friend. He is my Helper and Comforter. I praise His name simply because He is worthy!

The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that forgiveness is not to be weighed and released by the performance of the offender. It is a choice. In all of the years of abuse I don’t think one person in my family every heard the words, “I am sorry” from my step-dad. I know that I didn’t. Forgive with the heart of a child, expecting greater things on the horizon. Forgiveness is simply an act of faith and trust in a loving Father, placing our hope in Him. It was a daily process for me to release hate and bitterness and most of all shame. When I realized that shame was the greatest thief of intimacy with my Heavenly Father, I was all over my past with a magnifying glass, asking The One Who Adores Me for revelation and exposure of the years of lies. I no longer tolerate it living in my basement.

The process of forgiveness is to practice looking at people like The Father sees them. He loves them deeply. My step-dad had much greatness within him. Here are some of his great qualities.

  1. He had a name.  It was Scotty. I have always loved that name.  I address him as Scotty when he was sober and as my step-dad when he was not. The name Scotty fit him, when he was sober.  He was jovial, funny and charming. I realize that this loving view toward him is messed up in the eyes of this world.  But redemption” gifts” new lens to the redeemed.  Redemption gives consent to view through the grace I have received.   As we grow in understanding and gratitude of the grace we have received we are able to grow in forgiveness.  I am overwhelmed with the grace given me. That makes forgiveness easy most days.  I associate the name Scotty with a loving man with the following attributes.

  2. He had a leather wallet with John 3:16 inscribed on it. He explained to me that God sent His son to die in exchange for all of my sin. He helped me memorize it.  It greatly impacted me that a God could so love me that he would send His one and only Son to die for me.  Scotty helped plant The Word of God in me that did not return void.  The very seed that he planted in me came back to honor and bless him, even though he did not deserve it in the eyes of man.  The irony of this cannot be dismissed. 

  3. He looked just like Dean Martin (drank like him too! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one)

  4. His voice actually sounded just like Dean Martin’s voice.  I woke up to him sitting at the kitchen table singing almost every morning, with the smell of his cigarette and coffee in the air.

  5. During summer break he would frequently sing, ” Summertime”  kind of loudly, as if to say, “get up and enjoy this beautiful day that you have off”.  He would romantically serenade my mom, much to her chagrin.  “Hey, Good Lookin’” was one of his favorites, when he was being silly.  When he really wanted to touch her heart he would sing “Spanish Eyes”.  She would cry, therefore I would cry but I never understood why besides the fact that his voice was impeccably beautiful and it moved me deeply.  I loved seeing how deeply he loved my mother.

  6. Some mornings he woke us up with his whistling instead of singing.  Sometimes I would lie in bed longer just so I wouldn’t interrupt him.  It was beautiful and comforting to me.

  7. When I got out of bed each morning and came out of my room, his first words were always, “Good morning Beautiful” or “Good morning Sunshine”, usually the later.

  8. He loved to fish and imparted the joy upon me.  We tackled many cat fish together.

  9. His pockets always bulged with cigarette change that made him jingle when he walked.  Occasionally,  on a summer day, as we stood with a group of our neighborhood friends, he would turn his pockets inside out and throw all of his change into the air and yell, “It’s raining money”.  He would throw his head back and laugh at the scurry of children in competition for the biggest fist full of change.  Permission was always granted to head to the candy store a few blocks away.

  10. He bought an old boat that needed restored.  It was a project that he and I dreamed out loud about as we scraped and sanded on that thing for hours of our life, not seeming to ever get anywhere on it.  We tackled important issues, such as laughing at the stupidity of our vain attempts toward such a mammoth project.

  11. He loved to lay in his hammock on a clear night and watch the stars.  I would lay by this loving man (when he was sober) and dream with him.  I only knew him as a broke and broken man but he told stories of times in his life when he earned a very  good living and if he had it again how he would use it.  He explained The Great Depression to me and how he would have purchased real estate.  His stories, whether real or made up I will never know, influenced me to invest in real estate, a true love of mine to this day.

  12. He was a dreamer and gave me permission to dream.  I did not dismiss this when his faults outweighed his virtue. Though, it did take me years to trust my dreams again when they “felt” shattered for a season.

  13. He was an artist.  He painted amazing landscapes in oil.  This greatly influenced the artist in me.

  14. He was a carpenter and painter.  I was a tomboy and when he was working in the garage I would often snoop around.  He taught me how to paint a house like a pro and not to be afraid of power tools.  This came in very handy when I married a man that didn’t know how to use a drill or table saw!  I am grateful that my sweetheart acquired those skills and now I don’t use power tools!

  15. He was a water bug.  He regularly took us to a beautiful beach called “The Cliffs”.  He impressed us greatly when he would dive from heroic heights and challenge us to do the same.  I am a water bug because of his love for the water.

  16. He served our country in the Navy.

  17. He loved to camp.

  18. He had an old Cutlass Supreme that he tinkered with and always dreamed about restoring but never got around to.  He would talk about painting it Candy Apple Red.  He stirred a curiosity in me, birthing a desire to paint my own car.  My children purchased a little convertible for me as a Mother’s Day gift.  I sanded it, did my own body work and painted it Candy Apple Red.  It completed something in me.  It was a healthy thing.  It was as if I took a baton from him and completed something that he was not capable of doing. He was too broken.  I was not!  That is what screamed from deep within my spirit.

  19. He died almost 20 years ago. I had not seen him for years prior to his death.  I grieved deeply.

  20. The One Who Adores Me adored Scotty!

 

I would not trade one day of the life that I have lived or I would not know the voice of The One Who Adores Me like I do today.   I would not trade lives with one that has lived a dream for I would be trading treasures of the Kingdom for sawdust in the hand of a pauper.

The One Who Adores Me reminds me that every circumstance calls for new intimacy. Every new dealing begs for new encounter. He is the author of revelation and wisdom. He is my Companion and dearest friend in this walk of wholeness and victory. Without Him I am simply a broken and empty woman. This is most certainly the greatest lesson that I have ever learned!