Lost and Found

Abuse survivors have lost so much that trying to quantify it is downright depressing. Learning how to figure out what you have kept through the abuse is what brings healing.

What have you lost? My counselor wisely paused as the question seared into my brain and my  mind wandered down different paths at the same time. After years of abuse, this one question opened up more questions than I could ever hope to answer. Can you lose something if you never had it? What didn’t I lose? My mind screamed, ‘Everything! I lost everything!’

I pondered these questions many times over the next four years, never coming to a satisfactory conclusion. I looked back over the archives of my life, looking for answers. I tried to picture how my life could have been different if only the abuse had not happened. Not only had I lost things in the past, but I also felt a sense of loss for the present.

As I watched my children grow, I looked for many things in their lives that I had missed as a child. I heard them complimented on good efforts. I saw them surrounded by love. I realized the power of their ability to say no, because it was heard. I noticed enjoyment of life. Their home was a cocoon that protected them from the harsh world. I listened to their hearts as they shared their dreams and hurts. I had missed out on all of this as a child, but the question went deeper.

God talks about restoring the years the worms had eaten (Joel 2:25). My years must have fed a lot of worms. To think who I could have been, if only… The energy I would have if it hadn’t… What kind of mother I could be if only.. I could be a better wife if… That line of questions didn’t satisfy me either.

One day as I sat thinking through the question again, that still small voice asked, “What did you keep?” Those words stopped me in my tracks. A refreshing new way of thinking started to grow in my mind. Here was a question that would require some thought, but it would have a satisfying answer. I went through the archives of my memories again.

As I thought and sorted out my memories, I still experienced sadness as I realized what I didn’t have, but a new feeling of release arose from the loss. A cleansing was beginning.

After much thought, I realized I had two things that I had kept: my relationship with God and my life. Then the epiphany hit: with those two things, I had everything I needed. God can take me from ground level and grow me into the person He wants me to be. He can grow me into the wife and mother He wants me to be. I can reach the potential God put into me when I was born.

Jesus came to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). That certainly included me. He saved me and I am His. But He is also saving all that goes with me. I haven’t lost my childhood – I’ve found a platform to grow from and a way for God to use me. I haven’t lost parental love – I have the love of the most loving Father. Not only that, but the love I receive every day from my husband and children is all the sweeter. All I missed in my home growing up is now firmly in place in the home where I will spend the rest of my life. I haven’t lost my ability to enjoy life, I have gained an understanding about the fragility of life and the preciousness of each moment. I haven’t lost who I am, I have found my core –  the strength God placed in me. I do not have a personality based on superfluities of life, but one based on the reality of the Word of God. I am not a product of my past sufferings. I am a vessel made all the more beautiful because the past shaped me to be real, to have a relationship with God based on day-to-day need.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 discusses the good things God desires for His people. I read this passage over and over to remember God didn’t put me on this earth to merely survive pain and sadness. God desires good things for my life. He wanted good things for me then, just as He ants good things for me now. For many years, I did not see goodness in my life. He has used cirecumstances in my past as a springboard to bring good ness to me now.

As I look back at my past now, I do not see a little girl alone with her abusers. I see a little girl and her caring Heavenly Father looking over the whoe scene. I see Him suffering and crying with me. I see Him making provisions to set me free from a situation where the enemy thought he had free reign. The enemy had my body, but he did not have my realtionship with Jesus, nor did he have my life. Now he has nothing mof mine.

Many women in the world today (one in three, according to recent statistics) have survived abuse. It may be you. If you have survived, or are in the midst of abuse, please remember to turn to Jesus, the One who has also suffered. He wants us to remember and be grateful for what we still have. Even in we feel no strength, we need to remember God has given it to us – it is how we have the ability to survive the abuse. It’s how we’ve made it this far without giving up. In Jeremish 29:11 God tells us: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” No one can take that away from us.

 

 

 

So What am I Supposed to Do?

Aaaargh! There is way too much I have to do today. I have to read my Bible and pray; take care of my family; referee the fights to keep the kids from killing each other; take care of the dogs; do the housework; all the homeschooling events to participate in; and get involved working at church the way God wants me too; and I need a present for my husband for our anniversary on Wednesday…

Now my heartrate is high just thinking about it. Not that I would get all that done anyway, but that list is always going through my mind like a hampster wheel. After a while I don’t know which end is up and get lost in what God wants me to do and what I am thinking about all the things that won’t get done if I don’t do them.

I have been at this place soooo many times, just ask my husband. But then I think of my favorite verse in the entire Bible:

Micah 6:8 I have showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to love do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

Did you notice God’s list is a little shorter than mine and has no condemnation next to it? As the super men and women in the world we feel like whatever we do will never be enough. (Well, maybe it’s just what I think.) This puts us in the mode of always adding just one more thing into our schedule.

So this is what God is telling us to do:

  • Do justly: Some translations say “walk” justly. We need to walk through our life in such a way that we are kind and fair to everyone we meet. That means no lying, stealing, takin advantage of, or taking anger out on someone.
  • Love mercy. I really like this one because my daughter’s best friend is “Mercy”. So I always check that one off because she’s such a sweetheart. But I think God is telling us to forgive over and over, no matter how painful it is. It doesn’t mean forget or to not take care of criminal type behavior, but the day to day hurts and jabs from others.
  • Walk humbly with your God. Have an intimate relationship with your loving father. This is way more important than ANTTHING else you have to do.

When I am on overload, this is my goto Scripture. It always gives me peace as well as perspective.Then I can clear my schedule of the unimportant and keep in what is important. Life will be is much simpler.

What Scriptures do you use when you get overwhelmed? How do you get through those patches of having too much to do? How do you keep from gettint too involved?

 

Tell the Story Until Your Teens Roll Their Eyes

Family lore is important and never more so than in the telling of stories of what God has done for your family. Share them over and over increasing faith and settling how much God loves you.

My kids love to look at each other and roll their eyes whenever Patrick or I tell the a story they already know. I think the stories are quite wonderful no matter how many times you tell it, but their minds don’t seem to register it quite like ours. But the stories are a part of our family lore and maybe someday when they are 100 years old with great-great-grandchildren sitting respectfully around them, hanging on their every word, they will start telling those very same stories.

The stories about God and what He has done for our family needs to be treated a bit differenly:

       I Peter 1:12

                                   Wherefore I will not be negligent to put your always in rememrance of                                        these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present                                          truth.

God has been very good for our family and we have had quite a few miracles. We talk about our babies who were almost born to young to live, with contractions miraculously stopping when the doctors had given up hope. There is the time when Patrick and I were newly married, needed a job, and didn’t have enough money for one more month’s rent, and got called the next day with the job we so desparately needed. Our kids have received crazy favor in scholarships and jobs. The list is innumberable because God is just that good to us.

Our families need to go over and over the answers to prayer, the miracles, the growing closer to God and anything else God has done in our families. God told Moses to create the holiday of Passover to commemorate God’s miraculous flare in setting the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt so that every generation would remember. 

Family lore is the telling of the stories that give meaning and context to our families. What God has done needs to be shared and celebrated even more, so those great-great-grandchildren will know that God is real. The family that shares what God has done for them specifically will build faith and show how much God loves them. Let it be told often enough to shout and declare: God is real and he loves the ___________ family!

So tell the stories and allow the kids to look at each other and roll their eyes. That’s just what families do.

Everyone Has a Good Father: God

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I know for some people that brings a smile to their faces, while to other’s it brings grimaces and pain. Some people are wishing they had had a father in their life and some are wishing they hadn’t had their father in their life.

This may sound simple, but the fact is: everyone has a father, everyone in the whole entire world. This is a mind bomb for me. I think God set this up in the first place so that we can understand who He is and what He does for us. There is something inside that allows us to figure out if our father is good or not good. That is because God has implanted that inside us so that we can ultimately find Him because He meets all our expectations.

God is our perfect father. He always loves us, takes care of us, teaches us, guides use and and never changes or disappoints. His promises are great in number and you can find them all in the Bible. He takes care of us, His children. So we can all give a hearty, “Happy Father’s Day, God!”

Sexual Abuse and Publishing

Mrs. Burrows discovered my love for writing in second grade. While everyone else went out for recess, I would be working on my story, Mrs. Burrows having stapled several more sheets of that fat-lined paper into my writing book. I was hooked for life.

Sexually abused children often disappear into a world other than the abusive one. Reading gave me a plethora of places and themes in which I could write. Writing provided a world in which I had the power of the outcome; a drop of power in a glass with my abuser getting all the rest of them. He didn’t know I had power in my reading and writing world and if he had, he would have found a way to destroy it.

I kept writing and writing and writing, and here I am, staying the course. My writing is such a powerful expression of what is going on deep inside that sometimes I have to write just to find out what I am thinking and feeling. It’s my mind talking to me because I can’t hear it any other way.

I have been published a bit in children’s Sunday School literature and adult magazines. I have taken college level courses in writing for children. These small achievements have given me the small idea that maybe I can write and maybe others will read it.

Writing a book about my sexual abuse and how God was with me through it has been my latest step in putting my life together and finding some sort of meaning in it. I labored over this book for a year and it made me suicidal at one point. But I didn’t give up and now it is done.

Apparently writing a book is less than half the work. Getting published is a whole crazy world of it’s own. I am researching writing proposals, queries, synopsis, marketing, figuring out who will buy it and on and on. This isn’t needed just for the publishing house, it’s also for the literary agent that apparently you have to have to break into their world. They give your proposal about eight seconds to decide if your proposal gets thumbs up or down.

I am discouraged by all the negativity the “experts” are dooming and glooming us with, even before I write my first proposal. But I have beat odds before fighting for healing from my childhood abuse. I would propose that healing is a much more difficult journey than publishing.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Until that time I will not give up, because that is what survivors do, even in the publishing world. I am so glad that Mrs. Burrows understood that.

Precious Tears

God collects our tears and cares about how we are feeling.

Bottle filled

With the tears

God holds precious

From my years

 

He has a book

Explaining why

Every time

I had a cry

 

Each drop of tear

Held in His hand

Only He

Could understand

 

God takes the book

Turns each page

Looks at me

His eyes are grave

 

He holds the bottle

Of tears shed

I see Him slowly

Shake His head

 

I look in wonder

In His embrace

Tears are running

Down His face

 

It feels so safe

Warm and good

For I am finally

Understood

 

If  the idea that God cares about your tears, see my previous post: A Mess of Tears

There Is a Child

 

There is a child

Inside of me

Always was

Always will be

Her life spent

Writhing in pain

Screaming for help

Living in shame

Terror too much

Now for to hold

She did all she could

But truth must be told

So now the pain

Knifes in my head

I struggle to breathe

I vomit, wish dead

This little child

Stronger than me

Handled it long

How could this be

The crazy thing

Finally I see

This little one

Is actually me

If she be strong

So then am I

Together we win

Together we thrive

Why Don’t We Know God’s Name?

Names are very important. I strongly suggest that everyone have one. If we didn’t have names, our life would be one of great confusion. In the book series of It’s a Jungle Out There, an incredible missionary tale by Ron Snell that you have to read, Ron and his family are missionaries in the Amazon Jungle with the Machiguenga Indians. Unfortunately, the Machiguengas didn’t have names.  Everyone was “mother”, “father”, “brother” and so on. The government came up with an idea of how to save the land the Indians lived on by giving the individuals deeds for land, which ended up amassing to a great amount of land. The only problem was that they had to have a name on the deed. Ron was given the task of naming them. Ron found it strange to give names to people who had never had them before, and then try to get them to use them. Basically a fail, but they did get the land. If they hadn’t had a name, they didn’t get any land at all.

We also have to have the right name. It turns out that this is very important to God. He gives Adam the honor of naming all of the animals. He changes the names of several people in the Bible: Saul to Paul, Sara to Sarah, Abrahm to Abraham, and Jacob to Israel. In Revelations God tells us He will give us a new name. I think mine will be Gertruda.

We have established that we need a name and we need the right name. God loved Jesus so much that he gave him a ton of names: Jesus, Emmanuel, Savior, Redeemer… All beautiful and meaningful.

God takes names very seriously, but He forgot to tell us His! It blows my mind with the ramifications of it. I don’t believe there is any Scriptural reason given, but there is much speculation. This is my blog, so you only get to hear mine.

We have the beautiful, wonderful name of Jesus, and what do people on the earth do with it? They have made it into a swear word. It breaks my heart. No matter how many times I hear it, it makes me shudder.

One wonderful aspect of not having the name of God is so it is not blasphemed or made into a swear word! It has remained pure and holy, just as God is.

The name of Jesus carries authority and power for Christians. I would imagine that the name of God will carry even more. I wonder at times if even in heaven His name will be too wonderful for us to be entrusted with.

God’s name is not known and I greatly look forward to hearing it. I really hope his name isn’t  Fred…

 

Help! I’m at church!

If I have to scream for “help!” church is where I want to be. There is something about being here that suggests God’s presence, and that is where I need to be when my heart cries out.

I love to take my problems, emotions, insecurities, and family (I have been known to drag all my kids up there when there has been too much disunity in the house), to the altar and officially give the circumstances to God. God is the only one who can fix my troubles.

When my kids were young I went through a phase of yelling. I went to the altar sobbing several weeks in a row, and then slowly God calmed me down.

When I am super desperate, I prostrate myself on the floor. That way God knows I am really serious. That is the point where I have no words to express my struggle. I imagine myself in front of the throne of  God. It is powerful.

We have a very kind, patient, and helpful pastor who will spend the time give me the time I need to listen sympathetically and give sage advice. There are other Christians who will pray for me and call during the week too see how I am doing.

So today I am right where I need to be. If you need help, there is no better place to go.

The Homeschooling Van Equation

We have four children.  Multiply that by a factor of “f” for the number of friends each child had, and you end of with this equation:

                         4f = a whole lot of kids to schlep in the van

We have also been a homeschooling family, so you need to multiply 4f by “h” and you get:

                        4fh = a whole lot of kids to frequently schlep in the van

For those who have algebra phobias, take a deep breath and let it out slowly to the count of 4fh.

Our van has valiently served us year after year. It has been like “The Giving Tree” by Silverstein (if you haven’t read it, you should), giving of itself unconditionally until it had nothing else to give. (Do you hear violin music?)

My kids are mostly grown now, having graduated three of them. Not only have they outgrown homeschooling, they have also outgrown their need of the van.  They have their own jobs and cars. So do they look at the van with fond memories of sitting on each others’ laps to fit more people in, or sitting on the floor? No, they just see a worn out van that they have no sympathy for.

So now we are retiring the van that is no longer needed, because our current equation is:

                              1fh < 4fh  meaning not many kids to schlep in the van

Having an empty van (cue chirping crickets) is downright sad to drive around.

Tomorrow we are picking up a car and selling the van. While my kids cheer because they see how worn out it looks, I find it bittersweet, just as it was when I retired my last diaper bag.  King Solomon wisely said there is a season for everything, and I’m sure in his great wisdom he was thinking about vans.

So I would like to give our van a very fond farewell, and say hello to our new car and season of life.