Let the Future Begin!!!

Red_Desert_ButtesYou’ve heard, “kids say the darndest things”, and indeed they do!  Having raised four children of my own, I can vouch for that.  I have to tell you about a particular little 7 yr. old boy that I met last week.  I’ll call him Jaxson.  I’ve been thinking about him ever since.  He was super sweet, yet kind of shy, and he had the roundest chubby cheeks framing his huge, playful grin.  As I talked, I asked him questions to get to know him a bit, but he would just quickly bob his head to respond.  He didn’t say much but, he did say one thing to me that I’ve thought about ever since.

He was telling me that he enjoyed reading.  His Grandma had given him a Bible for Christmas.  A Bible isn’t your average 2nd grade reading material, you know.  While his was a version designed for kids, it still has a hefty volume of text for a 2nd grader to wade through.  Jaxson said he had been reading his Bible, but he was having a problem.  He said, “Every time I start to read, I have to start over again because I don’t have a book mark”.  I had an urge to laugh, but just smiled as I explained that he could just use a piece of scrap paper for a book mark.  I wonder how many times he’s reread the story of creation.   “In the beginning…”  He couldn’t get past the beginning.

Jaxson’s little confession also caused a tear to well up in the corner of my eye, from a different place than where the laugh came from.  I baby hand with fatherwasn’t quite sure why.  Maybe I was just touched by the sweet innocence that was expressed by this child, but something about my experience with Jaxson had touched something deep in me.  His statement taunted me this week as it played over and over in my mind.  Now I know why it resonated with me.   Jaxson was stuck at the beginning and so was I.

Perhaps you’ve read some of my earlier posts where I have talked about being raped at knife point as a teenager and being physically abused in a previous marriage.  If you have personally experienced rape or abuse, you understand that the after affects can be extremely damaging and far reaching.  While I have previously gone through counseling and participated in recovery groups to find healing over the years, I am currently involved in yet another round of group therapy sessions.  I’m doing this as part of a training program to be able to facilitate support groups for women who have been abused, as I have.  By going through the sessions as a participant, I not only gain experience with group dynamics, but I’m forced to take an even deeper look at myself.  It seems that each time I go through this, still another elusive wounding is unearthed from the rubble of my past and I become more whole.  That’s a good thing!  It makes me a little easier to live with, so my husband should appreciate that.

Monument ValleyIn our recovery group, we have homework assignments to complete between sessions.  As a part of the homework this week, we were instructed to draw or find images that would serve as a visual prompt, a reminder of our healing, like a monument, a stone of remembrance.  I love stones!  I know that sounds strange, but there is just something about them that draws my gaze.  When we hike, I always take a stone from the trail home with me.  I live in the rocky state of Arizona.  The rock formations that may be drab to some are fascinating, even beautiful to me!  I was excited about this assignment, or so I thought.

Images of things that would serve as my “stone of remembrance” came to mind very quickly, but all the thoughts surrounding my stone lighthouse in wavemonuments were emotionally exhausting.  Today, my tangled mess of thoughts seemed to jell together to form a realization that sparked excitement.  It was an excitement that I once had, but had forgotten.  I had some moments of enlightenment that I won’t go into detail on in this post, but I can give you the bottom line.  Tough seasons of life over the years have dulled my expectations for my future.  Goals and dreams that I had imagined for my future hadn’t totally disappeared, but it was like I had placed the goals and dreams up on a very hard to reach shelf, in a perpetual place of waiting.  I truly believed in my heart they would happen someday, but not now and not anytime soon.  I would have to wait and wait and wait…  I had forgotten some of the lessons of the past.  I didn’t have those stone monuments in place to help me remember and I realized that I’ve been stuck.

I’ve been living my life like Jaxson has been reading his little Bible.  Each day, instead of moving forward to my future, I begin in the very bookmarkssame place, waiting…  I’ve spent years looking up at that shelf, longing for the day when I could take hold of those things.   Here I am at my age, still in the creation story and there is so much more ahead that I’ve been missing out on.  It’s like, I didn’t have a bookmark!

Going through another recovery group, yet again, will be my ladder.  I’m choosing to hoist this ladder through the darkness, through the dust and the cobwebs, as I ascend to that very hard to reach place.  I intend to take hold of that box, those goals and dreams.  This blog post will serve as as one of my stone monuments, my bookmark.  It’s not over yet, not even at this age.  I say, let the future begin!


I Wanna Be An Athlete

I can’t honestly say that I was “born to run”, certainly not in the sense of the Bruce Springsteen song, however, that song does make my play list.  An athlete, I have never been, either.  I was the last one picked for the sports teams in gym class.  The only time sports shows were on TV when I was growing up, was for holidays at my Grandma’s house.  I don’t think watching Minnesota Fats play pool counts as a sport, and I’m embarrassed to say we watched that on Saturday nights.  Yes, it was a sheltered life, I know.  I’m lucky to know the difference between a foot ball and a hockey puck.  My husband can vouch for my lack of enthusiasm about sports, probably much to his disappointment.  I’ve tried to like it, I really have.  I’ve tried sitting to watch football with him.  It’s torture to me.  I just can’t go there.

There was one sport that I kind of liked in Jr. High and High School gym class.  It was track.  I could run and back then, I was even fast.  That’s about as far as it went though.  Once I wasn’t required to take a PE class anymore, no more sports for me.

So now we skip ahead, way ahead!  It’s been many years since those track days.  About as year and a half ago, my husband and I became more health conscious and started our own exercise programs.  We had a tread mill, so that fit into the routine, but only for a mile or so for me.  Little did I know, my husband was gradually building his distance though and had gotten it in his mind that he wanted to run a race.  I was surprised when he signed up to do Pat’s Run last year.  It’s a 4.2 mile race and he had never even run anywhere but on the treadmill.  A few days before the run, he ran outside for his first time and he loved it.  When he came home from his first race, he was so excited and that’s all he could talk about.  He was hooked on running.  I knew that if there was a sport that I could enjoy with him, this would be it.  I also knew, if I didn’t jump in right away, I would never be able to catch up to his fitness level and run with him.  So without a whole lot of thought, that next week, I started running with him.

Wow, was it ever hard in the beginning!  I’m not a spring chick anymore, but not quite ready to live in a retirement community either.  I remember those first few weeks of running more as a nightmare.  All the heavy breathing I was doing wasn’t bringing any sort of pleasure.  I so wanted to keep up with my husband and was determined to do it, but I hated the process.  It was all I could do to take another step sometimes.  I’ve found that when my body is working extra hard like that, I am more likely to feel rage rather then the euphoria that runners normally feel.

Why did I not quit and give up though?  It’s something I really wanted to be able to do with my husband.  If it was going to take this much of his time and he enjoyed it so much, I needed to do this.  I liked the results from it, too.  Weight was melting off my body.  I had worked so hard to lose weight and this made it so much easier.  I was even craving healthier foods to give my muscles the fuel they needed.  I also found something in myself that caught me by surprise.  I couldn’t let him beat me!  For some reason, I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

It was a rough start at first.  Both of us ended up in physical therapy with injuries.  Most of it was from a lack of knowledge and doing more than the rest of our muscles were ready for us to do.  We were signed up for our first 5K last July and thanks to the physical therapy, I was able to run.

Our first race was so much fun!  It was the Gunbun Fun Run in Napa, CA.  Not only was it a beautiful place to do the run, but it was my first experience to run on streets that were lined with people cheering us on.  We ran across the finish line together holding hands.  It was exhilarating!  It didn’t suck to have the wine tasting at the finish line either.  I was now hooked!

We’ve done a few races since then.  The Run to Remember 9/11 in NYC was such a memorable experience.  Running on Governor’s Island just across from the bay from the World Trade Center Memorial Site and the Statue of Liberty, running with family members of 9/11 victims in memory of those who lost their lives that tragic day was an honor.  Our next race was the AZ Grape Stomp 5K in Sonoita, just 5 weeks after I had been in ICU and had a major surgery.  I should clarify, I mostly walked.  Just two weeks later I did run my first 10K.  It was slow, but I ran the whole way.  Seriously, regarding the hospital event, had I not been physically as fit as I was from running, I really think the outcome of that experience could have been very different.  Staying on this side of the grave was a huge benefit.  You can read about that in another post I wrote, “I’m Not Average”.  My husband and I did our first half marathon in January and are training for our first full marathon this coming May.  26.2 miles!

We’ve had a coach for several months now.  He’s a professional and keeps helping us to improve without getting injured, which is a big deal for runners.  We’re up to about 40 miles a week with our training.  Each week, we have a couple speed workouts, a couple easy runs and a long run each Sunday.  We’re up to 16 miles on the long run now and wow, is 16 miles a long way on foot!

I’ve had several people ask, how I do it.  I have to say, the answer is the same for everything else that I do in life, one step at a time.  When I’m at that point where I think I can’t go on, I just take one more step, and then another and another.  I keep going.  Quitting is not an option.  Besides, I wanna be an athlete.

In 2 See Me

Have you ever really thought about the word, “intimacy”?  Ok, true confession here.  Sex is first place my mind goes when I hear the word.  My own insecurity is hoping that I’m not the only one who goes that direction first, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m not.  While sex, when it is true lovemaking is the most beautiful form of intimacy, there is so much more to it and that’s where I’m going with it today.

When I started this blog, my purpose was to share life with others.  I was hoping for a two sided conversation about life and all the things it throws our way, all the good, the bad and the ugly.  I wasn’t looking for a debate or an argument.  I was looking for a safe, honest place where those involved would be encouraged or comforted or just listened too, whatever we needed it to be for that given point in our day.  In order to do that, I felt that I needed to go first.  I had to open up the discussion, to be the first to take the risk to be intimate, to let you “in 2 see me”.

Think about the times you’ve sat and had a truly invigorating conversation with a friend.  Your conversation had moved past the weather and how the family is.  It wasn’t a one sided conversation.  You had both gotten to share, equally and each had really listened to the other.  You had a tangible connection at a deeper level.  It was a true “heart to heart”!  I love those rare occurrences with a friend.  They are so satisfying, so life giving!  It’s sad that they are so rare.

The truth is, they are rare because it’s rare to have a friend that is safe to have that kind of conversation with.  It’s rare that we take the time to move past ourselves and our own junk to really listen to someone else.  It’s rare that we let go of our judgmental, critical opinions and allow a person to feel safe with us.  It’s rare that we see another’s worth when they may have idiosyncrasies that don’t resonate with us.  It’s rare because we don’t see buried treasure in others.  We say we value people, but when the rubber meets the road, when you are face to face with them, do we really?

I want more of those life giving conversations and I had hoped to find them in this blog.  I guess I didn’t realize what a lonely place blog land could be.  Was I asking too much to start a personal, intimate, online conversation with total strangers?  The answer to that is a huge YES!  After all, what you put online is out there for the world to see forever.  I can see why it’s not such a safe place.  I can see why the conversation is so one sided.  So where do I go from here?  No where!  I’m going to push past the loneliness and the insecurity that comes from making myself vulnerable.  I’m taking the risk to keep sharing.  I just have to believe that maybe someone is listening and talking back, just in a way that the whole world won’t hear.  I’m here to stay!

I’m Not Average

Wow, they say you never know what a day may bring.  I never thought that the day after I put up my last blog post, “My Bad Day Roll”, I would have a seriously bad day!  Here’s the story of  my seriously bad day.

It was a Saturday night, just a few weeks ago.  My husband and I had enjoyed an evening at home with cooking great food, wine and a movie.  All was fine when I went to sleep, but I was awakened with an all too familiar stomach pain during the night.  The pain is what I’ve experienced before with bowel obstructions.  Mine are caused by scar tissue from previous surgeries.  I’ve have been hospitalized twice before with these and have had the pain on a weekly basis for the past few months.  I took some medication and went back to sleep wondering if I would be ok to run the next morning.

My husband and I are training to run a marathon and we’ve come to look forward to our Sunday long, easy runs.  The pain was still there when I woke up.  Walking and drinking are what the Doctors have said to do when I feel the pain, so if walking is good, running has to be better. I ran my eight miles, in spite of the pain.  When I got home, I told my husband I was going to get a shower and we might need to go to the hospital after that, which is what we ended up doing.

As suspected, it was another obstruction and I was admitted.  Ok, let me ask for patience here, as I share the details.  This is a pretty fresh experience and it was a big event so sharing is therapeutic for me.

The initial plan is to avoid surgery by resting the bowel, so no food or water and everything goes through an IV, including the needed pain and anti-nausea medication.  IV’s and I have a history.  No matter how much I want to cooperate, my veins do not.  They may put on a good show and boost the administering nurses confidence, but then they roll away and refuse to cooperate, making the nurse more determined to conquer my veins.  If the nurse succeeds in getting the IV started, it’s only a matter of time before the vein will no longer play the game.  Before evening set on that first day, I was already five IV’s in with the promise of a new one in the morning, aided by an ultra sound machine.

I went to sleep but was awakened often by the pain, in spite of the medication.  I asked for more and finally reached the point that the nurse said they could not give me any more.  I would have to wait until the doctor came in the morning.  The anti-nausea medication wasn’t working either, and I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor by the toilet for what seemed like an eternity.  I was so sick and the pain by now was excruciating.  The nurses always ask you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst ever, to rate your pain.  I had to say I was at a 10 at this point.  I don’t know how many times I pushed the nurses help button, each time getting the same response.  There isn’t anything else we can do.  I called my husband crying and asked him to pray for me.  When I hung up, I pressed the nurse call button, once again.  This time I demanded to see a doctor, now!

When the doctor came in and I explained that I’ve experienced this and had been hospitalized for this twice before and something was not right this time.  The pain was unbearable and it felt like something had exploded inside of me.  He examined me and said he was calling the surgeon and they would have to do exploratory surgery.  They gave me medication at that point, enough that the rest of the events leading up to the surgery are a blur.  I remember some of the prep.  The one thing that really stands out is the masked man that they wheeled my bed up to.  He said, “You aren’t going to like me.  I have to put IV lines into your neck.  You aren’t going to like me.”  I will never know who that masked man was, but whatever medication they gave me erased my memory, so I will never know who it is I’m not supposed to like.

My husband would have to fill us both in on any other events leading up to the surgery.  It turns out that the bowel had perforated in two spots.  I was in septic shock and was a very sick girl.  They were able to repair it and they cleaned out all of the scar tissue, with the surgery lasting about four hours.

My next memory was waking up in recovery, still in a lot of pain.  My blood pressure was dangerously low, but pain medication would make it dangerously high.  They couldn’t find my happy place. I remember being told that I would be taken to ICU.  I knew I had never been taken to ICU before and that wasn’t a good thing, but I wasn’t alarmed.  I remember hearing a Doctor tell my husband that I was in kidney failure and that they were going to have to start dialysis in the morning.  I knew that wasn’t good either, but I still wasn’t alarmed.  It seemed that everything was out of whack in my body.  They were having a hard time managing my blood sugar and levels of a multitude of other things.  They would hang more bags of fluid on the IV trees to try to bring whatever it was back into line.  I do remember wondering if I was going to make it though all of this at one point.  I wasn’t hearing anyone say that, but even still, I wasn’t alarmed.

The first couple days were the worst and I never want to relive that experience, but thankfully the kidneys started functioning and they were able to get my blood pressure and pain levels under control.  I spent five days in ICU, after which I was down graded to PCU, which is a step down unit, where I spent another five days before being released.

Recovery has been slow for me this time.  I’ve had seven previous major surgeries and each time, after two weeks, I was back to work and pretty much into my regular activity again.  This time kicked my butt.  Up until the last four days, I’ve had absolutely, no energy.  All activity was followed by a nap.  I’m happy to say that I’m starting to feel like a human again.

Why did all of this happen, and why to me?  I even believe in God.  Couldn’t he have prevented this from happening to me?

I think I’ve had more than my share of surgeries already.  I wonder how many the average person has in a life time.  I know that I’ve never been an average person.  All four of my babies were born by C-Section, which is not the normal delivery route, nor does the normal person have four babies via C-Section.  My appendix ruptured once.  I had pain for five days and had even gone to the doctor.  I had none of the classic symptoms, so I was sent home with an anti-biotic and told I must have a spastic colon or diverticulitis. Even when I ended up getting an ambulance ride to the hospital, I did not have the normal symptoms, other than groaning in pain like a crazy person.  They did exploratory surgery than to find that the appendix had already ruptured.  In fact, the surgeon said that it probably had ruptured two days earlier, but the poison had been held in a pocket of tissue.  My hysterectomy was supposed to be an easier laparoscopic procedure, but due to the scar tissue from the other surgeries, I got the laparoscopic incisions and the big one.  That doesn’t happen to the average person either.

I was told that the average person with my scar tissue issues will deal with a bowel obstruction every two years.  How unfair is that?  I can’t imagine going through what I just did again, let alone a possibility of surgery every two years.  And the bills!  Even with insurance, the bills for this are going to be outrageous.  How does someone do this every two years?

I don’t have all of the answers to my questions, but I do know a few things relating to this experience.  Life happens.  Good and bad things happen to every one of us.  Some seem to have more of one or the other and it’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.  You didn’t come into this world with any promises of this world being fair to you.

This I do know.  I’m not average!  This I know, too.  Yes, I believe in God and I believe that He is powerful enough to have prevented this.  Why didn’t He then? I do not know, but I do know that He was with me through it.  I wasn’t fearful, even when I heard all the bad reports.  I was at peace and I made it.  Some things you just have to go through.  I also believe that somehow, God will work all things together for good, in spite of the bad in this.  And if it happens again, God will be with me through it again.  These things, I am absolutely, sure of!

There is a song I’ve heard on the radio that relates to this experience for me.  Some of the words are below.   I’m hoping that in whatever you are facing today, you will know that you don’t have to be alone, and you too, can find peace on your journey “through”.

“Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child”

By Scott Krippayne

My “Bad Day Roll”

Today was what I would consider to be a bad day.  Actually, I know my life appears to be great to many and it really is, but I’ve actually been on a “bad day roll” since this year started.  Some days are better than others, but has anyone noticed that I’ve not been writing recently?  The life has been sucked out of me.  My enthusiasm has dwindled, my joy, thus my motivation, pretty much gone.  What you are about to hear is the ugly.  Well, some of the ugly.  True confession, I still keep the really ugly stuff hidden.  I’m human too, you know.

This year has been an all time low for me.  My self esteem has never been lower.  My self-confidence hasn’t waned, because there hasn’t been any to wane.  January was the most stress filled month that I can remember ever experiencing.  I have had years of stress filled experiences in my past, I mean excruciatingly, intense situations that have the power to crush a person.  In spite of that, I can remember very few situations that made me feel the emotional upheaval and inner turmoil that I’ve felt this year.  I actually feared that I would experience what it really was to literally “lose it”.

My thinking has taken a much healthier direction in the last several months, but I can’t say that I’m past it all, yet.  The struggle has continued, sometimes like a volcano just rumbling under the surface.  Today though was an eruption.  I find myself shaking my head at the end of this day.  How and why is this happening?  I don’t have the answers yet, but life is a journey, right.  You don’t get the privilege of knowing it all while you’re running the path.

Part of my issue was that I had made myself vulnerable.  I had exposed parts of my life that were delicate and maybe not so appealing to the general public.  It made people uncomfortable.  It made me the target of unfair, critical, judgment and I began to see it, feel it and hear it expressed.  People I had trusted to be with me in this life journey, had backed away.  Wow, does this ever suck!

But what did I expect?  Everyone doesn’t think like me.  Many are uncomfortable with deeper relationships.  Most are ok as long as they can agree, as long as the person is like they are, but what happens when they aren’t?  Should that person who is different from you be devalued in your eyes, judged as unworthy and pushed away?

That’s what I felt.  People that I had no choice but to be around often, people that I trusted and opened up to, I now felt had unfairly judged me, devalued me and pushed me aside.  This little act sucked the life out of me and dealt a crushing blow to my perceived strength to stand up to anything.  My creativity was buried alive.  Intimidation towered over me holding a knife to my throat, daring me to open my mouth and speak.  The perceived threat was real.  If I spoke, any sound would be immediately snuffed out by it’s power.

I’ve had an “ah ha”, God type moment about this day, though.  I love when that happens!  Truth is, I had given over my power to those who I allowed to treat me this way.  I allowed myself to remain silent.  I had allowed the actions of another to rob me of “me”.  Today, I finally had enough.  Months of my life have been wasted because I allowed this to be.  It stops today.  No longer will I allow another to silence my voice or rob me.  No longer will I give my power away.

Truth is, my ability and confidence are not my own, but come from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, my power is not my own, but is sourced from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, relationship, honesty and vulnerability are still worth the risk because my power source has the ability to hold and heal my heart.  It sounds so simple now, but that was my “ah ha”, God type moment.

There’s more to all of this, but that’s enough confession for this day and tomorrow is a new day.  I’m going to get a good night’s sleep now.

To be continued…

The Dark Room… The Final Chapter

Streams of sunlight were beginning to glimmer through the sheer curtains hanging over the open window.  The cool breeze caressed the bare skin of the Princess causing her to awaken enough to pull up the blankets, snuggling them around her neck.  She really did not want to wake up this early, yet so many thoughts flooded her mind, that trying to sleep any longer would be futile.  She had been anticipating this day.  Her plans would include another journey back to her little playhouse in the forgotten forest.

With fearful resolve, she got up and dressed, as she knew what she just had to do.  It was time to come face to face with a teddy bear, a teddy bear which represented a moment in her past that had been hidden in the darkest depths of her mind.  She did not feel like putting on any of the silky flowing gowns that were typically part of the princesses’ wardrobe.  After all, the playhouse was so dusty from years of neglect and today, she just did not feel like a princess.  Maybe the plain black cotton servants dress would do, for this day felt more like a day for mourning.

Grabbing a quick bite to eat, the Princess scurried out into the castle courtyard and down the garden path to the edge of the forest.  She did not stop to enjoy the beauty surrounding her.  She could not be distracted or worse yet, allow her thoughts to cause her to wait until a better day.  It was too easy for her to procrastinate on this one.  This she knew, because she had already put her plans on hold for many days.

Her pace slowed as she neared the edge of the forest.  She hesitated for a moment, finding that she had to force herself to take each step.  Yet there seemed to be something else coming from the inside of her.  She felt a somewhat comforting sense of strength, something that made her feel that everything was going to be okay.  Even though this journey today would be painful, she had a strange knowing that it would end well.

The path before her was clear this time.  She knew exactly how to get back to the place that she had accidently stumbled upon weeks before.  Just a little farther ahead, the Princess could see her old playhouse.  Once again, the fearful anticipation crept over her, but she forced herself to keep going.  She knew she needed to make herself to remember and relive the moment that had changed her life so dramatically.  She stepped over the rotted wooden step onto the porch and pushed open the squeaky door.  Tip toeing as she had done as a child, so as not to disturb her sleeping baby doll in the opposite corner of the room, she approached her old play kitchen set.  There was the prized teddy bear, exactly where she had left it just weeks ago and where it had fallen so many years ago.  She did not pick it up today, but chose to sit on the dirty floor beside it.

The Princess closed her eyes as she reached to hold onto her fuzzy teddies soft paw.  Hot tears began to stream down her cheeks once again as she allowed herself to adventure back to that day so long ago.  She was just a very young teenager then.  She had stopped coming to her little playhouse as often, but still found herself attracted to the peacefulness of the forest.  She would still occasionally sit and rock her baby doll, not seeming to want to let go of the special parts of her childhood.  More so now, she found herself contemplating her future dreams of being the best wife and mother in the whole world.

It was one of these occasions that the Princess had been admiring her treasured teddy bear and thinking of one day passing on this treasure to her own daughter.  She was startled by the sound of footsteps on the porch.  She had never seen another person in the forest before, and only those friends whom had been invited had ever been inside her little playhouse.  The playhouse door was suddenly thrown open.  In walked a man, only familiar to her, as she had seen him before on her trips into town.  She remembered him because it made her feel uncomfortable when he looked at her.  He seemed to stare at her and he was often at the same places that she would visit.

A wave of terror instantly swept over the Princess, even before her eyes fell to the large silver knife that was in the stranger’s hand.  Frozen with fear, the Princess was unable to move. The stranger grabbed her arm and threw her to the ground.  He clasp his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams.  She felt the cold blade of the knife against her side as the assault began.  She remembered the hot tears that had fallen that day, too.  She could not look at this persons face.  He was a horrible monster!

She was having a difficult time grasping what was being done to her.  Her thoughts ran wildly as she attempted to comprehend what was happening.  Why would someone do this?  How could someone be so horrible to another person?  What would people think of her if they found out?  Surely somehow she had caused this.  Had she smiled at this man when she saw him in town?  She was always smiling at people, in spite of being warned that not everyone was a nice person.  She should have never gone into the forest alone.  This day, she was supposed to be working, not day dreaming in her playhouse.

The assault felt like it came to an end as abruptly as it had started.  The monster almost seemed to become afraid of something himself.  As he left the little playhouse, he told the Princess that no one must ever know of this.  He threatened that if she told anyone, he would find her and next time he would really hurt her.  She would be very sorry if she ever told a soul.  The man disappeared into the forest as the Princess sat and cried.  She could not tell anyone what happened that day.  It was a horrible thing.  She felt dirty and sickened by the tragic event that had just occurred.  She knew she had lost some thing that day.  Innocence, worth and value had been robbed from her.  She knew she would never be the same because of this.  She would not realize until years later, how life altering this one event would be for her.  The man was right, no one must ever know.

The Princess sat for a long time in the old playhouse that day as she relived her victimization.  She allowed herself to grieve and thought about the years that had transpired since that day.  She could now clearly see how this one event had caused her to lose so much more than a moment of time and childhood innocence.  Being able to see clearly into the past, brings light to the present and healing to move forward into the future.  Another day, the Princess was sure she would spend more time here.  But for this day, she was done.  She knew that she had taken an important step.  She had faced her past and would tell her story now.  Maybe it would help another to venture into their own hidden memories and allow light to fill that dark room they’ve been unable to enter.

It was time to go back to the castle and put on her beautiful “princess” garments once again. She must never allow fear or the past to keep her from being who she was.   Once a princess, always a princess!  And yes, even when bad things happen, a princess can live happily ever after and that she did!


What Has God Ever Done For Me?

A friend in my social network posted a question this week.  I wasn’t intending to respond, but immediately, I had an answer.  It wasn’t just one thought that I could have responded with, but another and another invaded what had been a quiet interval in my mind just moments earlier.  I thought it might be fitting as we come to the end of another year to share my response to this question.  “What has God ever done for you?”

How about the time that I had no money and two of my young children had no shoes?  I prayed for shoes one morning and both of my kids came home from school with new shoes that day.

Then there was the time that our family of six went for a several months with no income, no government assistance, no credit cards and no savings.  We had more food in our cupboards and clothes in our closets than we had ever had.  Our bills got paid and we were even given two cars within a very short period of time.

There was the time that my first son was two years old and stopped breathing.  A nurse happened to live next door and resuscitated him.  He was in the hospital for a week and the doctors were never able to pinpoint exactly what had happened, but he was fine.

There was the time I worked in pain for two days with a ruptured appendix and live to tell about it.  My doctor thought it was something else until they did emergency exploratory surgery because the pain had become so incredibly excruciating.

How about the time on the freeway when my car was about to be crushed between two semi trucks?  I slammed on my breaks, closed my eyes, said, “Jesus”, felt my car start to spin and the next thing I knew, I was ahead of the trucks.   How does that happen?

Just a year and a half ago, my adult daughter went in for a minor ten minute procedure which ended with her getting 12 pints of blood and still bleeding.  The doctors said that they had done all they could do.  She is alive today to tell about it.

There are the family members who have been close to death due to addiction or mental illness, but survived and are still alive today.

There are the very dark times that God has walked us through.  We made it and can tell about them today.  There are the times of great blessing in having nothing and in prospering.  There are the joys in shared memories with family and friends.  I have years of journal entries where I have recorded over and over again whatever mess I was in and then what God did.

Whatever it was, whatever I needed, God came through.  He never abandoned me regardless of my level of faith or trust in him to be there.  He remained faithful, even when I was faithless.  I have no doubt in his love for me regardless of my imperfection, and we all know I have many imperfections.  The breath that I am taking at this moment, he gave me and he keeps giving me, in spite of me.  I did nothing to deserve his goodness to me, nor would I ever attempt to try.  He just keeps on doing what only He can do and He does it so well.

As I think on this, another question comes to mind.  “What hasn’t God done for me?”  He hasn’t left me.  He hasn’t given up on me.  He hasn’t stopped loving me in spite of my times of “unloveableness”.  (Hey, it’s my blog.  I can make up words if I want.)

As we start this new year, another “new beginning” that we will get every day, all year long, I pray that your list of what God has done for you fills the pages of your own story.

Praying for many blessings to you for the new year ahead!  Happy 2011!