Tag Archives: healing

Recommended: The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely by Jeff Crippen

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Jeff’s written a powerful article over at A Cry for Justice titled, The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely Who Fear Him.

One of the themes that inevitably comes through in these stories is the incredible alone-ness of the victims. One recently told me how she felt after finally being able to leave her abuser, “I was grieving for my marriage, my home, my husband, and I was all alone in a new town.” Christians to the rescue? Hardly. Some of you are STILL alone. That is one reason we began this blog. We hope it is growing into a community of real Christians who “get it.” Don’t ever be afraid to contact us. We will believe you and do our best to affirm you and share some of the things we have learned. We will believe you. I wish we had a giant place and we could just tell victims, “come on down here. We have a place for you!” We should all pray that something like that might happen one day.

The works of the enemy thrive in darkness. Just as our Lord delights to see us free and whole, it is our enemy who keeps us bedded in shame, hiding behind closed doors, terrified to speak. Confusion, fear, torment– all from hell itself.

Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, no matter what happened–you did not deserve the nightmare of torment.

I’ve gotten to know Jeff virtually and I’d like to encourage survivors to prayerfully consider sending your story as he requests in this article. There is power in our collective testimony. As we break the isolation of our suffering and speak out, others will take courage.

No matter where you are on this journey, you have something to contribute.

You may have nothing left but you own the truth of your story, your life, your experiences.

Doom and Other Realities of the Abused Woman

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Today I’m remembering a life filled with disasters that never happened. For years, I lived with a sense of impending doom, usually of a mundane variety—a car just waiting for the most inopportune moment to break down. Kids plotting through the night hours  to break something (arms or legs usually).

Occasionally, I cranked up the wattage. The ringing phone meant  news someone crashed, burned, perished and/or drowned in a two inch mud puddle. Why else would anyone call? I could run the entire scenario through my brain in the twenty seconds it took to find the cordless phone.

Besides the ongoing drama of an apocalypse that never quite materialized, I also carried a suspicion that any unexpected beneficial happening would be followed hard on by an equal and opposite negative event. An unexpected five hundred dollar check in the mail meant the washing machine was about to go out and the replacement would cost six hundred easy. (The Good Lord was especially generous that way.) To ice the cupcake, I told everyone of His provision and testified to the goodness of the Almighty.

Life was out to get me, I was screwed. I made Debbie Downer look like Pollyanna. I thought this was normal. Hard to live when you’re busy watching for the bus with your name on the bumper.

A-n-y Minute Now. . .

One day, whilest walking in the neighborhood, I spent a quiet  moment reflecting on the mercies of God in a horrible world. My oldest was in Africa—the first kidlet to fly the nest as well as the country. As I trotted about waiting for the sky to fall, I remembered the Father’s assurances to my heart that this trip was okay—to sign the release forms, give my blessing and let go. Everything would be fine.

I expected a call any moment with news of my son’s departure from this earth. The phone bulged the back pocket just in case, ensuring I’d know first. I couldn’t bear the idea of hearing the news from  beast.

I was resigned. My blood pressure hovered around the rupture-an-artery mark.

Images of the funeral played through my mind unbidden. I chose the songs we’d play. I tried to imagine the tears, the grief. I comforted myself with my Lord’s promise and thought how truly things would be fine because this child would be released from his suffering here in the world and would surely be better off in heaven. I replayed the Father’s assurances, knowing I’d press on, everything would eventually be fine. I knew God was faithful.

And right there on that road, I heard Someone I knew pretty dadgum well speaking straight to my heart.

“Is that really who you think I Am?”

Excuse me?

I Have an Enemy and it isn’t God.

And then without a word, my spirit flooded with the understanding of the goodness of a loving Father who tenderly cares for His children. I remembered times of actual sorrow and saw those compared side-by-side with the expectation of disasters that never materialized. I recalled the tone, the touch, the gentle fingerprints all over His loving care and how He held my heart in His hand. I saw How He prepared me for each transition and contrasted that to the gloom and doom of my everyday experience.

I saw—all at once—just  how twisted my thinking had become.

Never once had it occurred to me that I was being robbed.

Robbed of joy.

Robbed of peace of mind.

Robbed of blessing of every variety—spiritual, financial, interpersonal.

John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Here’s the thing: For years, I did not know my enemy. I was living with the devil. Every good gift, every blessing was tainted and/or stolen. That tends to happen when you’re sleeping with someone who’d rather see you dead.

The fear, the torment, the pain had to go someplace. The more I denied my marriage was the problem, the harder I kept  trying to find a slot to file the overflowing animosity pointed squarely in my direction like a laser sighted missile.

The bible says that God is good and I believed that. Somehow, I blended the reality of my hell on earth with a religious explanation that made no sense whatsoever. I lived every day with someone who  both hated me and had no natural affection for his own offspring. Looking back, it’s not so surprising really that I thought my world was coming to an end.

Denial is a Funny, Funny Thing

Let me assure you—I don’t live in that cesspool  any longer. Once I recognized the enemy for who—and where—he was, I got the message pretty fast. Getting out of a toxic environment improved my outlook instantly. My kids tell me I look fifteen years younger. Looking through the pictures, I believe they’re right.

With every moment, this remarkable joy grows sweeter. It takes practice to learn to walk in freedom. Sometimes I still feel the pull of old ways of seeing both my God and this fallen world. But these days, I’m assured I can trust the future to the One who tends to sparrows.

When and if sorrow comes–as it does to all of us walking here below– I rest knowing Who will rock me in His arms.

Poem: Song of the Bride

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Poetry is personal. I dug through my pile of thrashing on paper before, looking for something to share but most of the verbiage lies too near my heart to publish. A post over on Anna’s blog brought this free verse to mind and after a quick read-through, I’m thinking maybe others can relate.

I wrote this when my voice was gone entirely. I walked through the house day after day, careful to focus on the floor to keep from making eye contact with the beast. He said he didn’t like the way I looked at him. It made him angry. He ‘could tell what I was thinking’ and punished me when I no longer felt by going after the children. I did what I had to do to get through each day.

For those who might not be familiar, the imagery here speaks of a common teaching in the church concerning the Bride of Christ. The concept of a conquering King returning for His Beloved is both mysterious and haunting and that’s the realm where I believe it belongs– A mystery, near the heart of God, to be revealed in His perfect timing.

Song of the Bride

I want to sing of Your goodness but I have no voice.

Birds sing,

Whales sing.

My voice alone is muted.

Of all the creatures in all the universe, I know Your kindness, the depth of Your love, Your fire, Your passion. Our story is written in the heavenlies, blared across time, hidden in Your creation.

I can tell Your marvelous works, outline the majesty of Your compassion, string together the thread of Your determination to pursue a bride, to purchase her freedom, to bathe her wounds in the oil of anointing, the wine of gladness.

And I have no voice.

Let me declare Your goodness into the heavens. Let me tell of Your sweetness to a new generation. Let me proclaim Your salvation, the acceptable year of the Lord.

Let me hold You close, sing into Your ear of little things, quiet things we share.

You have sung over me from the time of my coming into this world. Your songs awakened my heart to dream of arms that hold without demand. Behind I see a trail of songs, bringing life, bringing hope, resurrecting the dead.

And I have no voice.

 

Another song I ask of You. Awaken the dead once more and sing me a voice into this sleeping world.

Once You declared the rocks would cry out if your people were silent.

What will happen if Your Bride is mute?

Prepare a voice for me, keep it safe until You call it forth in the fullness of Your time.

Until that day, I will lay in Your arms and sing tiny songs of freedom.

Your smile is my very great reward.

November 29, 2009

Sunday Shortie: Single Minded Morning

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Another Sunday Shortie. A few quick thoughts, typed out fast, minimal editing.

Beautiful morning. The sun is shining,  the birdies are all twitter-pated. Coffee on the front porch, stiff and black. Neighbors running leaf blowers way too early.  A dog under my feet wanting a little rubdown.

I like freedom. I enjoy being single. Mornings remind me just how much I like this newest concept of alone time.

Most of my divorced friends and acquaintances  remarried, many within a  year of signing  papers. On the whole, they seem happy with their decision but I’m suspicious enough to wonder sometimes. Occasionally,  I ponder  this foreign concept of life with someone who actually likes you and wonder how the mornings play out.

I’m guessing they get up and smile at each other. Stumble through coffee without getting nervous enough to hit the carafe against the counter and shatter the glass. No one gets angry about grounds spilled in the sink.  They ask each other, ‘What do you want to do today?’  They might work together painting the bedroom or weeding the flowerbeds. They get more accomplished as two rather than one.

That sounds nice. It’s just not on my agenda.

Marriage is a commitment that takes work under the best of circumstances. I don’t understand those who want to jump back in so soon.  Maybe there’s something missing but I’m just not sure I’ll ever get enough of this blessed stillness.

I Like It Here

Mornings were never my own. I gave away thousands to someone hell-bent on their destruction. Control was his thing. Keeping us all off balance, forever focused on the minutia of his ever changing demands made his day. And I am tired.

During those last few years before escape, I learned to find God in moments stolen between explosions. I’d sit on the deck, quiet my troubled heart and listen. No laundry list of prayer requests, no deliver-me-or-I-perish drama. Just me and my Creator and a few quiet moments to worship for His infinite goodness.

These days,  I wake up slow and ask what’s on the Father’s agenda. I tell Him how wonderful He is. Coffee on the porch, then inside for some time working on His latest project. I tell Him about the kids as if He didn’t already know and ask advice on the latest crisis. Grab a plate of grits and head back out in jammies. He’s never complained, not once. My Lord makes me smile.

Nothing explodes, no one outlines my duties for the day, then tells me exactly how things will be done or else. God has yet to push me against the counter, trap me in a corner or block my way out of the refrigerator. I’m learning I don’t have to look over my shoulder all the time.

I’m free to serve God and serve others. That’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, one I don’t particularly want to give up. I do understand the Father can heal through new relationships. I also fully believe that the One who formed me in my mother’s womb can heal all the hurting places. In fact, I’m counting on it.

Now every morning, I turn to Jesus and see if He wants coffee. So far, He hasn’t taken me up on the offer but who knows?

There’s always tomorrow.

Kids, Sex and Goodwill for All

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Besides painting,  something  quite fascinating overran my calendar. I’m reading about sex.

Let’s all take a moment to grasp the enormity of this revelation.

Why in heaven’s name would Ida Mae be reading  a book on physical intimacy when she is no longer physically intimate? When she intends to stay celibate thanks much? When she believes Paul had the right idea and singleness is preferable to matrimony?

Because my children keep asking questions I cannot answer, drat their hides.

Annoying Complications of Life and Stuff

Unplanned sex books were not on the agenda for this week but one of the kiddies had the nerve to ask a question on the male physical response. I turned fourteen shades of purple, slapped a hand over my mouth before blurting out something cynical and jaded (although I must admit, rather humorous) then did the only sensible thing. I stalled.

Off we go for this week’s regularly scheduled angry walk.

Why, Oh Lord do I have to talk to these kiddies about sex?  I know nothing healthy. Nothing at all. Did I mention I know nothing? Why me?

Why oh Why oh Why?

How the blue blazes am I suppose to answer when all I have is a nice fat pile of rotting manure? Nothing to draw on, no understanding of loving intimacy— which reminds me, by the way,  You promised to be a father to the fatherless. How about You talk to them?  

Now that is a fine idea. These pups are worse than fatherless. They are  offspring of an anti-dad  who spoon-fed the whole lot poison. Poison!

Why-oh-why-oh-why—

Squirrel!

Just to clarify, many angry walks end in squirrel sightings. I have a sneaking suspicion He sends them around on purpose for just this reason.

Several days later, another dear child of my heart comes along with a question which shall forever remain unwritten. Not that I’m keeping score, but this one was a doozy.  And then another. It becomes quite apparent that the kids are trying to kill me.

What is this madness?  Spring fever? Synchronized hormones? Much prayer and many angry walks later, I chose the only reasonable course of action–let them learn on the street like the rest of us.

The kidlets are on their own.

Problem Solved, Life is Good

The day after number three takes awkwardness to Olympic levels, I am busy minding my own business. My heart is at peace, nary a stray thought of physical intimacy within a two block radius. Being as the weather is fine, I head off to God’s Store to peruse the latest selection in mismatched dishes (that’s Goodwill to you heathen).  I browse through ugly lamps without lampshades, saucers without cups, tables without chairs and there, on the book rack between Harry Potter and  Rug Making for Dummies sits Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, M. D.

I may be dense, but I can take a hint. As I walk out the door, book in hand, I hear the Lord snickering, no lie.

Remembering Who Loves Me

When He promised to take care of those who put Him first, He meant it. When we ask, it delights Him to provide. Sometimes I forget. But not this week. Standing there in the middle of a store I’ve visited a bajillion times, holding exactly the right book at exactly the right moment—at thirty percent off, no less—I  know Who stocked the shelves.

Sometimes the challenge of just getting by takes me under. Simple stuff like finding a job or renting an apartment consumes massive amounts of energy needed for better things. How will I ever handle the important  stuff? Like parenting these beautiful, annoying, lively children who just want a chance to be happy?  How can a Mom ever guide her offspring, providing the wisdom of both parents, when she’s so damaged herself? Some days, it’s too much to bear.

And then God surprises me at the thrift store. Glad He didn’t send a squirrel to hold the door, that might have been a bit much.

Thanks Dad~

Quiet Days and Watercolor Pictures

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Found a simple book on watercolor technique. When I can’t write, I immerse in the colors.

Watercolor does this thing that’s both annoying and beautiful. It refuses to stay put. Touching wet color to another area of wetness gives you that mottled effect. That use to bug me something fierce. My artsy friends told me to switch to acrylics.

Don’t know– seems like a metaphor for life.  Something about watching the red and yellows blend and merge, knowing I have little control over the outcome isn’t so bad. There’s rules. Don’t mix too many colors or you get a muddy mess. Let certain areas dry completely. Touch the brush to areas of wet pigment where you want the surprise of mingling, then trust the process.

I can’t control everything but I can study the properties of pigments and water and the outcome can be beautiful regardless. I’m okay with that.

Thinking of all of you and praying for those going through the fire right now.

Rough Week

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At one point, I promised writing on the bad days.  Since this is walking-through-pudding rather than stuck-in-concrete, I’m going to give it a try.

The trigger: an encounter with the anti-husband. Came home to find him driving past my home. No words exchanged, couldn’t get a shot of the license plate. But he knew and I knew. Mocking email came the next day.

Fallout: Confusion, anxiety, bad dreams, physical pain. And I’m losing my words again.

Confusion—every thought ends in, ‘but my husband would say. . .’  which generally ends in some type of blaming. Confused enough at the moment I can’t come up with an example although this has been going on for several days now.  I’m reminded of the scripture, “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)

Anxiety—like swallowing a vibrating rubber ball. Stuck right in the middle, won’t go down, won’t come up. Checking, double checking the doors, jumping at noises, obsessing over trivial things like whether the laundry got rotated. Everything feels overwhelming—how will I support myself at this age? What’s going to happen to the kids?

Bad Dreams—one after the other. Dreams of children closed up in dresser drawers. Holding babies I’m not sure are still alive, getting left behind, tops of feet covered in blisters. Wake up, get water, visit the little girl’s room, go back to bed, dream starts up all over again without skipping.

Pain—neck is tight. Upper back is tender to the touch. Stretching my arms out wide causes so many joints to pop it startles the dog. Migraine threatening, hovering close. Old wounds inside are throbbing.

Word Loss—this one’s hard to explain. It starts when I can’t finish a sentence. This kids try to fill in my thoughts and I pick like multiple choice. “I need to head to the drugstore and get—“  Aspirin? Toilet paper? Shampoo?–  “Shampoo! That’s it.” If it sets in for long, I won’t be able to write. Answering email’s out of the question except for a quick reply. Editing this, or any other post is laughable.

Healing

  • I’ve talked via email with  a couple of friends about the inciting incident. Telling what happened, then listening to their advice provided concrete steps to take for safety.
  • Called the massage therapist and set up an appointment, hoping to break this cycle of physical tension. I live in a big town and we have schools I can afford. The piggies go unpainted this quarter.
  • I’m painting with the music cranked. Working through the process of a few watercolor flowers seems to help.
  • Praying. Lots of praying.

Thankful in All Things

A reminder’s in order that this was my continual state of being for most of three decades. This little spell’s  been going on less than a week. And what started it? The near proximity of the anti-husband. No words exchanged, not heated debate. His email hit the trash bucket without reply. In some ways, it’s a good reminder of how toxic he is.

I haven’t gotten to fetal-position on the bed just yet. I can carry on a pretty decent conversation. I’m still taking phone calls and telling friends I’m fine.

At times like this, I also have to remember—the wounds from emotional/verbal abuse are very real. Healing takes time. And ultimately, the divorce that terrified me years ago will cauterize this wound and give me the freedom to move forward.

 

Hearing God’s Voice in the Rubber Room

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Love my journals.  Should they perish, Canadians would hear the  weeping and join the chorus, sorrow unmatched in this, or any other continent. Perish the thought–

My backups have backups. I fret each time the computer freezes which is silly as I have plenty of backups. Still, in the interest of International Peace and Good Will, I check my collection from time to time and make sure they’re all healthy and happy.

Nobody wants a chorus of weeping Canadians on their conscience.

Journals are kept in digital format, password protected. Without that luxury, I couldn’t journal as  the anti-husband could not see anything  negative or critical or his delicate feelings might be hurt. No, I’m not joking. Never mind that my thoughts and feelings were never safe with him. Not that I would know but I heard a rumor once that’s how its suppose to be with husbands and wives.

My journals begin November of 2005 and continue through last evening. In general, I sit down to chronicle every day or so unless something out of the ordinary happens in which case, I may write three or four times in twenty-four hours.

Over the years I started and stopped plenty of journals. This time around, something changed. This time, I was desperate.

Always before, I wrote only safe things in case I got busted. I colored in events with pretty colors when the facts were less than lovely. I left out hurtful events unless I intended to take the blame. I also developed a talent for punishing myself on paper,  a reminder to  do better in the future. This verbal playacting got old pretty fast and another half-empty journal joined the pile,  collecting dust on a closet shelf.

The password changed everything. Even so, I wasn’t so good at telling the truth. My reality was harsh, ugly. I refused to say what I really thought.  I didn’t know my feelings were valid, and  it was plenty okay because God knew what I was thinking anyway so who was I kidding? With time, I’ve gotten pretty dadgum good at laying out the trash and sorting through later.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

My reasons for writing were twofold—I was confused and needed to hear from God. At first, I had no idea why I was so confused.  Maybe writing stuff out  would bring clarity. Took time but that is indeed what happened.

As a Christian, I believe God is plenty alive  and He wants fellowship with His children. I believe in prayer. I believe in answers to prayer. I felt certain He wanted to speak but in the state I was in, I couldn’t hear a thing. I thought maybe by consistently recording experiences, thoughts and prayers, I could learn discernment.

There’s a Party Going On

Ultimately, there were too many voices.

I heard things alright. Lots and lots of things. Sometimes I heard my mother’s voice, telling me I was nothing without a man and if I couldn’t please my God-ordained husband, my life was a failure. I should lose weight, fix myself up, stop letting myself go. Since mom was still alive and talking plenty, it got pretty easy to tell when she was carrying on inside my head without permission.

Another voice sounded like mine. I transcribed its rantings on a regular basis. It told me I was a failure, I deserved to be punished for my faults, I couldn’t get anything right, there wasn’t any use trying anymore.

Give up, give in and die already.

Sometimes this one spoke in the background, more an undercurrent of hopeless, helpless frustration. Other times, it got really, really loud. The more I wrote these words down, the more I began to see their point of origin.

These lovelies belonged to the voice of my husband—not  his actual words, but the message received after so many years of trying and failing to gain his love and approval.

This voice needed a good crucifixion, sometimes on a daily basis. I’m still working on that.

God Said What?

I can’t tell anyone how to hear from God and that certainly is not my intention. After all those years of continuous verbal and emotional barrage, I wouldn’t have known the Voice of God if it bit me on the posterior. Which it didn’t, in case you’re wondering.

But over time, I learned a few things.

  • God doesn’t speak inside my head. All that chatter going on right and left came from someplace for sure, but it wasn’t Him.
  • Those compulsions that cropped up occasionally weren’t God either. 

Go back and check the mailbox right now! Write out a check to such and such ministry for one hundred dollars before you go to bed!!

These turned out to be just another version of the same mess the anti-husband pulled, ordering me around, insisting I do it right-now-or-else with either option sure to cause trouble.

Write that check? Get in trouble with the anti-husband. Don’t write the check? Big trouble with the heavenlies. Over time, I learned these directives were not from my loving heavenly Father but another manifestation of that state of the double-bind the husband kept me in, on purpose, at all times.

(I have got to write that blog post on bounded choices. . .)

Another type of compulsion came with a whole bucket load of fear.  I have to get out of here. Danger-danger-danger-something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.

Once upon a time, I thought these feelings-out-of-nowhere were a form of discernment. Not so much. These anxious thoughts turned out to be triggered by some current situation recalling a past trauma which fanned those fight or flight reactions into a white-hot pitch.  By writing them down afterward, I learned to see where the little devils originated.

Writing about the evil force attacking me in the hardware section of the dollar store brought to mind the time the anti-husband went on a tirade over the drill bit I bought—

  • that he sent me into town to buy—
  • that I called him about from the store to double check the specifics—
  • that he swore later he never told me to get and besides that, I never called—
  • that cost way too much and—
  • how could I be so stupid?—
  • Women don’t know anything about tools—
  • you can’t send a women to do a man’s job—
  • why would I ever ask for a titanium bit when all I’m doing is hanging a picture?
  • which he would now bring up in front of company forever-and-ever amen.

Totally off-topic side note: These morphed into full-scale panic attacks once I left. They didn’t last as long as I  knew where they came from (thank you sweet journal). Then I could transfer all that emotion from the evil tools to the evil man who caused the problem in the first place. I still don’t like drill bits much but at least these days I can walk by without hyperventilating.

Elijah in the Cave

So how do you hear God’s voice? If I knew how to answer that question, I’d skip right over and tell you how many angels dance on the head of a pin. I’d glow with radioactive holiness. Everyone would stand amazed, basking in the reflection of all things pious and sanctified. I’d send out a few prayer cloths, dripping in overflowing saintly stuff and pass the collection plate.

Since this is not likely to happen anytime soon, I’ll start by confessing I use the shorthand version in general conversation that makes some folks cringe—God spoke to me and said this or that. Well no, not exactly. In our church from my younger days, we use to say, The Holy Spirit impressed upon me and I believe He’s saying—which  is probably more accurate as it implies the Lord may be talking but you might be interpreting His intentions all backwards.

Around here, it’s like this—

Sometimes a still small voice comes along, welling up from a place deep inside that isn’t so much a voice as a knowing. A bit of truth. It doesn’t sound like any other voice in my life. I try to pay attention to these whispers of substance and write them down, then put them on the shelf. I decided long ago that Mary had the right idea when she pondered things in her heart.

Nothing the Father says or does requires immediate action or else. If He leads, if He speaks, He will confirm and carry out His word. He’s got plenty of angels for all that right-this-minute stuff. We are His children. His delight. He loves us so dearly.

God’s word is truth. Learning to hear His voice leads deeper into prayer and study not away. It lines up with the proper study of scripture and it sets captives free. It’s consistent with His loving character but also with other aspects of His nature we might not be so familiar with like justice and vengeance so it’s important to remain open to the idea that we may have picked up wrong ideas and teaching along the way.

I’ve learned that my view of biblical marriage wasn’t His. He brought peace, joy and freedom. The religious teaching I learned as a young adult brought bondage, fear and a deathly fear of drill bits.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. . .

Journaling pulled away the confusion of the moment and helped me see the truth.  I got things wrong. I made plenty of  mistakes. But I learned to hear with my broken spirit instead of these ears.

A quick point that may not apply to anyone but stubborn me–along the path to getting free, I realized my head was chattering way too much. In response, I shut down the whole she-bang. I figured if I couldn’t tell God’s voice from others, I’d just quit listening. This was so not helpful.

There’s a risk in seeking the Face of God. There’s a possibility of making mistakes. For those of us who’ve internalized the voice of our enemy, it’s a painful process to learn discernment. From personal experience, I’m saying—keep an humble heart, keep a deep love for the truth and the understanding of the Cross—humility, sacrifice, laying down our lives for others—and press in to Jesus.

In Him is truth and light and freedom.

The destination is worth the sacrifice.

Valentine’s Day Heart Attack

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Woke this morning with a strange little puppy of a feeling wiggling around my single bed. Odd little fellow—who are you exactly?

Ah yes. That’s Joy.

Our little house is bumping over with the stuff. Cookies baked and spread with Royal Frosting. Construction paper snipped, glue sticks worn to a nub.  The front porch is covered in red construction paper hearts and festooned with crepe paper, a sneaky little present from one of the kid-lings.

Friends started checking in days ago, worried I’d feel lonely on this day dedicated to all things Red and Romantic. That is not the case.

I feel loved. Blessed. Full and oddly satisfied.

No one’s stomping through my house expecting payment in equal exchange for the amount spent on flowers. No twenty-four hour truce sure to end at the stroke of midnight. No horrid gifts chosen to embarrass, humiliate or punish. Thirty years of Valentine’s Days, thirty awkward, uncomfortable stories.

But none today. Today, I’m playing with the puppy.

Today, I’ll play lovesongs in the kitchen and sing out loud. I’ll eat sugar cookies for breakfast and pretend I don’t notice when the youngsters do the same. Later I’ll take a walk and spend a little extra time thanking my Father above for this day, stuck right in the middle of winter to remind me of all His big-hearted love.

Today is a very good day indeed.

Wishing you and yours the same.

 

Sunday Shortie: Healing: Finding Ida

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Another Sunday Morning Shortie. A few quick thoughts, typed out fast, minimal editing.

I had no idea the kind of shape I was in until I found myself hiding behind the kitchen barstools. Honest to goodness, I didn’t understand the extent of damage my soul had taken. No wonder I stopped that feeling business.

Well, phewy on that. I don’t want to stay damaged. I want to be whole and healthy in this lifetime. My children need their mom. My grandchildren need to see a strong, mature woman who’s life is a testimony to the saving grace of God. I’m not leaving this place without a fight, dadgumit.

I believe healing is active, a partnership. God provides, we walk forward. So if someone recommends anything as good medicine for the soul, I give it to prayer. Here’s some stuff I’ve found helpful.

Ranting

I’ve got a good friend who understands if I get a little carried away. She tut-tuts appropriately in all the right places. This is not stuff for the kiddies, it’s not stuff I want to share with my ever-so-patient counselor. This is me– Ida Mae– squealing like a piggie at all the injustices of the world in general and my life in particular.

I try not to abuse her patience. I’m convinced she’ll get a special jewel in her crown for suffering long with her hyperbolic friend. *She* is a  jewel and someday, maybe I’ll be healthy enough to reciprocate.

Counseling

Perhaps this should go without saying. I was highly opposed to counselors for years, mostly because I still thought the thinking of thoughts in my head belonged to me and not to the one planting his thoughts while yanking up mine. Some days, I still have to stop and say, Ida? Do you *really* believe the world is flat or are you spouting off the anti-husband’s talking points. Again.

The counselor is my weeder. He challenges my thinking. He says back the things I say so I can hear the Crazy. Counseling is helping in ways I’m not able to articulate just yet. I am a fan.

Music

Somewhere during the first seven years, I quit listening to music. Music is all about eliciting an emotional response and I was short on those.

Before I left, someone mentioned Pandora, a free internet radio. I started by going all the way back and finding music from my childhood. I clicked on YouTube links posted by friends on Facebook. I listened to songs of love and loss and heartbreak and cried along. Felt pretty good.

Now I have an extensive library of music in all sorts of genre’s I never thought I’d like. The other day, I heard this fantastic mariachi singer and while I didn’t understand a word, I resonated with the emotion in his deep voice. I’m going to make up some words and sing along next time.

Art

I’m a writer, not an artist. I lost my words for a long, long time.

When all my words were gone, I found a box of Prang watercolors at Walmart and a spiral bound journal of watercolor paper. I listened to The Eagles  sing Already Gone and swished some pretty colors on blank paper. The colors make me happy.

Later, the counselor suggested going further. I bought a professional set of watercolors, thicker paper and a squirrel-hair brush that makes me giggle every time I think of the little furry rats combing their tails for the sake of art.

I found I can lose myself  working through the intricacies of painting the same way I once did with words. My pictures are just copies of stuff I find on the internet. There’s all sorts of free instructional stuff online and the results are pretty good, especially viewed from a distance with squinty eyeballs. I send unsolicited phone pix to the kids and let them tell me how good they look. They are quite accommodating.

Just as an FYI, I credit all squirrel-kind with helping find my lost voice. If squirrels don’t get crowns in heaven, I’ll make my own and pass them out.

Angry Walks

These on-purpose, mad walks feature plenty of ranting, only to the Father this time.  I pull out my arsenal of Psalms-type fussing and let the ‘smite my enemies’ fly with an occasional ‘how long, Oh Lord?’ thrown in for good measure. I may not feel better when I’m done, but I am tired. Tired means sleep. Sleep is a good thing. Seriously, as long as I’m fussing anyway, why not take it to Someone with the authority to change things?

My safe little prayers of yesterday just don’t cut it these days. I’ve got a whole passel of damaged kid-lings on my hands and an anti-husband who continues to provide kerosene for the fire. I don’t see the angry walks letting up anytime soon.

Journaling

My journals are password protected and for my eyes only. Only me and Jesus will ever see the secrets written on those pages. I read the prayers I wrote, the anguish of a heart in bondage. I recall the beast’s words and actions, free of all the fog, written out, dated along with my at-that-moment  gut response. They resonate with first-hand experience. My memories do not.

My memories are clouded and I doubt them. Too many years of confusion. Too many words spoken into my soul. Too much poison ingested on a daily basis.

Journals are history. I look back and confirm dates. I see patterns. They confirm the truth of my story.

I see how far I’ve come and I’m thankful for the blood on the pages.

Today my journals are about hope. I write about you– the others I meet here and how your kindness sustains my heart. How the stories we share mend places in my soul I didn’t realize needed the attention. About plans for a future and the gentle art of living in peace.

My journal is my prized possession and quite literally, I ran back into a house about to blow sky-high to save it.

But that’s another story. . .