Tuesday, December 29, 2015

For those who are brand new to my little blogging world I want to introduce you to Tuesday's special. It is called Gratituesday. We stop and give thanks once a week and just focus all that is right in our world. The host is a long time friend of mine, Laura. She is a very successful blogger which you can see her website up above.
Today, I am overwhelmed with a sense of peace. This year has had some significant ups and downs for me personally. Its been hard to find a balance between serving women in pregnancy, labor and beyond along with a very demanding school schedule and my family. We have known great joy and deep sorrow this year. I had hoped to graduate from the program I am in by December but no matter how many hours I put in it was simply not possible. I started my own midwifery practice this year as a stand alone from the practice I've been working in for the past three years. I will continue to build my practice and work in the other practice at the same time.
I was privileged beyond measure to once again go to MamaBaby in Haiti. I am now in charge of the supplies that volunteers bring down. I love MamaBaby and the mission there. In fact, being there this month has reinforced my thankfulness. When you see women whose one concern is getting food at least once a day. They are my heroes. When you look at Haiti there are two ways to look. You can look up above eye level and see the blue skies, the lush mountains and all their majesty or you can look down and see the trash littering the roads and countryside. It takes both the up and the down vision to see the whole picture of Haiti. 
We are spoiled rotten here in America. Even our poorest have a way to eat by assessing a food kitchen or a food bank. There is almost zero help in Haiti. There are no food banks or food kitchens to get a simple meal. We worry and fret how to make more money when we fail to see what we do have. There is an old hymn called "Count Your Blessings". It is still a favorite of mine. I am blessed beyond measure and I bet you are to!
SO today, it is Tuesday which means I am practicing the discipline of thankfulness. What about you? What are YOU thankful for? Can you find the good out of the bad that happened this year? Are you prone to feeling sorry for yourself and your circumstances? Today I want to challenge you to count your blessings and yes, name them one by one. 
Till tomorrow. 

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 28, 2015

One Little Starfish at a Time

I'm sitting at the communal table in the quiet of the night. Instead of crying babies, I can hear the crickets and the tick-tick if the clock. It's rare lately to just sit and reflect. I'm reminded once again of the little girl and the starfish.
This little girl had a heart as big as the ocean she stood in front of. Lying on the beach were thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore. A man had been watching the little girl in the distance pick up one little starfish at a time, throwing them back in the ocean. He walked up to her and asked why in the world would she bother wasting her time with thousands of starfish littering the beach? Didn't she know it was hopeless? The little girl looked up at the man with one starfish in her hand and said, "but to this one I made all the difference in the world."
That's how it feels serving at MamaBaby. The needs can seem overwhelming at times. Mama’s that just lost their husbands and am laboring alone. Young women who have no place to go after the baby is born. A Mama who has no clue when she will get to eat again.
When you hold a Mama's hand in labor and see the terrified look in her eyes you stroke her hair and speak reassuring words of comfort, letting her know she is not alone, you are making a difference. When you fight for a baby's life and win, you know you are making a difference, one little starfish at a time.
Will you be like that little girl on the beach? Do you see the difference; serving can make for that one little baby?
MamaBaby needs your help. The beach is just littered with little starfish waiting to be thrown back into the water. Come help make all the difference in the world. If you cant come and serve can you help someone else come and serve? Can you donate money to help with food for the midwives? Can you send much needed supplies? There are so many opportunities to serve. Be the little girl on the beach. To this one starfish you made all the difference in the world.

Your heart will be full.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Baby

There are times, especially in Haiti where the birthing conditions are not ideal, I think about the Christ child and his birth. There were no birth affirmations written on the wall in the birthing room. No soft music to calm her weary soul as her body contracts time after time, pushing the baby down into the birth canal. No doula to rub her back and tell her she is strong. No essential oils to calm her. No, she is far from family.

 She is young and she is a virgin. Yeah right, those who know her say behind her back. No wonder Mary ran to Elizabeth's after she found out she was pregnant. How in the world would she survive? Thankfully Joseph believes her which is a wild leap of faith on his part.

She walks to Bethlehem so she can be registered with Joseph. It's the law and it sure isn't convenient. What first time Mama wants to walk miles and miles to comply with a law? She and Joseph aren't even married yet. I think of the Mama back in Haiti who birthed her baby after walking miles and miles down a mountain. The mountain is SO steep that even a small motorcycle can't go up or down. She is on foot. When I went to discharge her the next morning (usual stay is 4 hours but she delivered at night) I was talking to her about going home and resting. She had a third degree tear and I asked her to be very careful. Silly me, she then told me she had to walk up that same mountain to get home. No tap tap can get up to take her there. She has to walk, carrying a newborn all the way up a distant mountain. She acts like it is just another part of life. No complaining, just a quiet resignation of what is.

I would like to think that some local midwives heard a young woman was about to give birth from out of town and came to help. Midwives had saved the babies of God's people back in Egypt many years before. Perhaps, just perhaps, Mary had a midwife or two to witness the birth of the Christ child. Like Haiti, the situation wasn't ideal. No complaints, just a natural ability to get the job done.

Later that night when the shepherds come and worship that baby Mary treasured all these things in her heart. She would witness over and over again divine intervention. She was chosen to be the mother of the son of God.

God came down in the form of a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. What you and I chose to do with that is up to us. That baby came to seek and save those who were lost. He came to bring redemption for our sins. HE is the kind and merciful King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Lets live our lives in light of that truth.

Until tomorrow.
Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tap Tap Adventure Part 2

What an adventure. All the sudden we pulled up into the hospital and it was over. We quickly got Mama out of the back of the tap tap and a male nurse was there to greet us. They walked her in and the was the last we saw of her. I thought we would be staying to perhaps give a report but she was wicked away. I sat in the front of the tap tap with Claudin. I thanked him for keeping us alive on the roads. He was so sweet. He told me he would never let anything happen to his Mama Jill. We drove back to MamaBaby in silence. I was praying for this Mama to have a safe delivery. I was also thankful that no one would have to call my husband to tell him I was thrown out the back of a speeding tap tap landing on a dead chicken strapped to the back of a motorcycle!

Later that evening we got word that soon after arriving at the hospital the baby crashed and they had to do an emergency C-section. Baby did not breathe at birth and they had to resuscitate her. She still was not breathing well so she was sent to the NICU. I was very thankful Mama was doing well and praying that in the end the baby would do alright.

The next morning we got a call and was told that baby was stable and Mama and Papa wanted me to come see them. Now I will be honest, one wild ride is my limit for any 24 hour period so I was not in a hurry to get back on another tap tap. So, we hired a taxi to take us. That ride was a much calmer ride for which I was grateful.

We got to the hospital and Mama was in a large OB ward. There were two rows of beds lined against each wall. There is no such thing as privacy. There was a chair by the side of each bed. There were several nurses sitting on chairs against the wall. In a Haitian hospital there is no food service. Your family has to bring you food. If there is no family then there is no food. When I think about all the complaints we as Americans make about hospital food it makes me ashamed. These Mama's have no food unless someone brings them some. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

So the Papa hugged me and thanked me for all my kindness the day before. He and Mama had decided that this little baby is going to take my name to honor my service to them. I was so shocked. Never in my wildest dreams would I think a baby would be named after me. I was truly humbled. They then asked if I would be the godmother to baby Jill. Not sure what that meant in Haiti so I asked the interpreter what that means exactly. Apparently if the parents die I am supposed to come and get baby Jill and finish raising her. So I am now a godmother. I will pray for a long life for both Mama and Papa! They had no clue how to spell Jill so they asked me to write it down. When it came time to pronounce it that became humorous. Baby Jill won't have her name spoken like it is the USA. It will sound more like "cheal"

One of the special things about MamaBaby is that if they are able, they will help with the hospital costs when we have to transfer a Mama. Claudia had given me essentially $200 American dollars to help with the bill. The Papa who is a student in the university has no money. You are not allowed to leave the hospital without paying the bill in full so he went to family members to scrape up enough money to get them out of the hospital. In all the bill was about $1200 dollars for the NICU, the surgical birth and hospital stay. I am proud to serve an organization that has a heart to serve. Even though MamaBaby could not pay the entire bill it sure helped and they were both grateful.

The day before I left to come back home baby Jill got out of the hospital. Papa brought both her and Mama to see me and say good bye. This is where it gets sad. I get to hold and hug the baby and Mama. I weigh baby and give her a good physical. I know how precious clean water is in Haiti so I go and get a cup and give Mama water. She gulps it down so I go and get another one and she gulps that down. Come to find out she had not had one bite of food in about 1 1/2 days. Five days earlier she has a C-section and she hasn't eaten in 36 hours. My heart just broke. I ran upstairs and found the last two packs of emergency rations I brought with me. A staff member had half her plate of food from lunch left so we brought that down and she scarfed that down, giving Papa some bites of the food. They were so grateful. Minus $5 to get home on I gave them the money I had left. It would feed them for a couple of days.

I felt so inadequate at this point. The needs are great in Haiti. If there ever was a day that I wish I had lots of money it would have been that day. I was overwhelmed with my inadequacy. Here is a very young family who can't afford to eat even once a day. It changes you. Does it change you my friend? Does the world look a little different now? There are real people starving or just getting by. Our lifestyle of an overabundance of food just seems unfair. Of course, life is not fair.

SO when you sit down tonight or tomorrow with a table laden with scrumptious food would you please pray for the Mama's and the Papa's and the baby Jill's in Haiti, and if you are so moved would you consider helping? MamaBaby is funded strictly by the generosity of Americans who want to help, one little starfish at a time. ALL the money donated goes to MamaBaby in Haiti. Not one dime stays in the United States. Most charitable groups can't claim a 100% rate of the money going directly to the mission. Think about it. Feel free to visit  www.MamaBabyHaiti.org

Till next time.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Tap Tap Adventure

So this next story starts out with a laboring Mama. This part was written to my boss Wendy.
Well boss, I am still up from yesterday. The Mamas kept coming to the clinic we had one mom from last night that did not deliver and was dragging on hour after hour. Her labor was pretty slow about 1 centimeter every 2 hours. I was supposed to be the assistant for this particular birth. She is a brand new midwife just out of school here in Haiti. I had taught her the other day about pelvic rocks and so she decided to kick it up a notch or two and do practically aerobic exercise with this poor laboring Mama. I told her that it would wear the mama out and she would not have energy to push at the end especially as slow as her labor was. So when it came time to push mama had no strength left. She tried for 2 hours to bring that baby down and the midwife was getting very upset at her. I had offered several suggestions like going on hands and knees but since this was the first time mama she was taught that the only safe way is to deliver on her back. Been up all night just like me. So after 2 hours which is highly unusual here in Haiti she was ready to transfer her to the hospital. She decided to do one last ditch effort and asked me to try so I put her on hands and knees and within 3 contractions the baby was moving down. So I had some more rest and then try again and we were close but when I flipped her over on her back the baby did not move any further so at that point the midwife made the call that the moment would be transferred to the hospital and this is where it gets interesting. This mama is only 18 years old. Her mom and grandmother and boyfriend were with her. So they all walked out into the courtyard waiting for a ride. So the mama walked around the front of the courtyard waiting and all the sudden she drops to the ground so I had had gloves with me and so I thought I would just check to see if the baby was indeed coming and the baby was not. It was decided that Claudine would drive them in the tap tap to the hospital. So at the last minute the other midwife asked me to come. Now I don't know if you know what a tap tap is but it is a sort of pickup truck with the back that is exposed and there's two benches so we put one of the mattresses from the cots in the back of the tap tap and we Sat with the mama on the floor and we sat on the sides along with Grandma, auntie and boyfriend.  So here I am filthy dirty, haven't eaten since yesterday and I'm riding in the back of the tap tap holding on for dear life since the back is open. I picked the shirt straw and got the closest to the road. We get up on the road and it's everyman for himself. Claudin is trying to get there as fast as possible and so we are zipping in and out of traffic, and I'm  trying my hardest to not get run into. I'm praying like crazy to not get squashed like a bug when Mama starts pushing again. We have a doppler, gel and 2 pairs of gloves. So the other midwife listens and of course the heart rate is going into the 60s again. She bends down and checks and thinks she feels the head. So she tells me to do a Vaginal check. No problem. I'm literally being thrown around this tap tap doING a Vaginal check hoping we don't stop so sudden that I ram my fingers up this poor girls throat. Now I just want to stop here and say, I'm pretty sure a Vaginal check flying down the road in an open pickup truck without a back is considered an advanced skill in anyone's book! So baby daddy sees me struggling and comes to my side to block me in. What a great move since I almost went flying out the back end and landing on a motorcycle filled with a man and his dead chicken strapped to the back. I finally get braced enough to feel secure in my next step. I do the exam and sure enough there is the head right inside the introitus. So I'm scanning how I'm going to pull the baby up and on to Mama's belly with me braced at either side and what will I use to wrap her. I spy the grandma with a cute little half sweater which would be the perfect size to wrap a newborn baby in flying down the road.  As I am figuring out just how to do this safely i am now confident of my plan and sit and wait for the next contraction. Just then we pull off and into the "hospital" parking lot. I was so close to delivering that baby in the back of the tap tap. Two things ran through my brain during that harrowing ride. Number 1, my husband is going to kill me when he finds out just how i died. And two, my boss has always wanted to deliver a car baby, or a plane baby or an outside baby. Won't she be jealous! 
So, I'm back safely behind the wall with the little man holding the shot gun, as clean as you can get in Haiti and thankful I'm alive to tell the story! They did graciously keep a bowl of the fish head soup since I've not eaten since yesterday. I politely declined. Never a dull moment. 
Off to bed!
Blessings Jill

The story does not end there. What comes next is truly humbling. I promise the post the "rest of the story" tomorrow

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Dash Between Life and Death

This is a story that I wrote one night at MamaBaby. I won't be going in chronological order. I hope this touches you on some deeper level about the dash between life and death.

Ever wonder if your calling as a midwife makes a difference? That question comes up alot when you come to a place like Haiti. The other day we were up to our ears in patients. Clinic had ended and we had three Mama's in labor at the same time. In walks patient number four, fully dilated ready to push out her baby. At her last appointment the midwife was unsure if the baby was breech so asked the Mama to get an ultrasound. Before she could, her labor began. I had taken several day classes on breeches and had done only one surprise footling breech so I was quite anxious to help. I swapped with another midwife so I could help. 
It didn't take long for the butt to appear. The body rose higher and higher until it hit the umbilicus. Out comes the cord. I start the clock. One minute goes by, then two, then three tense minutes. The baby stops moving. The lead midwife starts trying to get the shoulders out and we hit the five minute mark. The room is tense. Another midwife is trying to explain to the Mama  how important it is for her to remain calm. At this point I suggest Mama flips over on hands and knees. As soon as she does the midwife has a much easier time helping the baby out. At around the seven minute mark the head is finally freed. I take a breath and get busy on the baby. On Mama's belly is this little lifeless body. No respirations and zero heartbeat. I call out to the other midwife that there is no heartbeat. She grabs a board for rescusitation. I start chest compressions and start breathing for the baby. At the three minute mark I have a heartbeat but still no breaths. It took around 20 minutes to finally get the baby to take a breath. By this point the baby is very cold so I quickly strip off my shirt and put the baby skin to skin with me. Even though my heart is pumping adrenaline at a rapid pace, I'm calm. I keep talking to the baby. "Come on baby, it's not your time to go, stay with me, breathe little one". Finally the baby is stable and breathing on her own. I wrap baby and put her back on Mama's belly. I stay with Mama and baby checking vital signs. By this point that little one is fully aware of what just happened and starts screaming, trying to get her story out. The baby is inconsolable. Reluctantly I finally pick up the baby and snuggle her close. I talk words of comfort to her telling her yes that was scary but she's safe now. She calms pretty quickly and finally looks at me. Yes little one you are safe. That peak into the other world is gone, you are here safe ready to grow and laugh and run. 
The next morning Mama shared with me that even though she didn't say a word while I was working on her baby her heart was in her throat. The smiles and happy thank you's filled that little room. She was so thankful that her baby lived. Watching that precious little baby nurse at her Mama's breast made me thankful to be here at this time and this place. That space between life and death can be so short, but this time the battle was won. For that I'm eternally grateful.

Next time.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, November 12, 2015

At the beginning of the year I shared my story. It was a story that needed to be told. Afterwards though I became stuck, where do I go from here? I was catching babies, doing prenatals, driving all over kingdom come and trying to get 8 hours a day of study time in. A very intense time for me. This season of my life was so busy with babies that I neglected alone time with God. There were times I craved that one on one but I kept plowing through the midwifery books. That short season has come to an end. 

When I was in college I majored in Biblical studies. Back in the 70's that was not something young ladies did. I craved to go deeper in God's word. I was not satisfied then or now with most of the ladies Bible study books. With the exception of Beth Moore, who is a brilliant scholar and teacher, the books written for women held nothing for me. I have never been interested in "fluff". 

We live in an instant society. Instant drive-thru food, instant news, instant feed back, entertaining and fluffy worship services and instant Facebook. There is no time for a deep discussion on anything. We are all like guinea pigs running on a wheel as fast as we can. Been there, done that and it is definitely not how I want to live.

SO here is the quote I want to start with today, "Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people." Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster.

My writing is a little rusty, probably a lot rusty so please bear with me. Think about the above quote and meet me back here tomorrow and let's go deeper.

Till then,
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today is a very special day. First it is Tuesday which means it is Gratituesday. A day set aside to give thanks. The second is, today is the International Day of the Midwife. I know there are all kinds of International Day celebrations. Some are down right silly like Lumpy Rug Day or the National Candied Orange Peel Day. But today is a celebration of midwifery.

Midwives are cut from a different cloth. We tend to be on call 24/7. Unlike the hospital routine, a home birth midwife doesn't get "days off". That means we take our phones with us everywhere. Yes, everywhere! We drive separately to church in case we get called to a birth. We are the ones if we brave a movie, keep our phone in our laps and on vibrate. We don't take cough syrup that contains codeine for fear we won't wake up when the call comes. No sleeping pills for the rough nights when you simply can't get to sleep. We are the ones who have to excuse ourselves at the Christmas dinner when the call comes.

We walk beside women when they find out they are pregnant. We hold their hands and catch their tears if they miscarry. We are privileged to witness their marriages, good and bad. We watch as mother in-laws and grandma's forget it isn't their birth this time around. We hold their hands when they weep thinking they will be pregnant FOREVER.  We answer questions about their bodies, their children's bodies, and yes their husbands bodies.

We walk with them as their bellies get bigger and bigger. We assure those new Mama's who are just sure their bellies will just pop one day and the baby tumble out. We champion the rights of these strong Mamas to birth the way they want, with out any out side influence, yes, including ours.  We remind ourselves that for us too, this birth and this baby are not ours.

When the call finally comes, we come just as we are. Sometimes we are in ball gowns, sometimes a Halloween costume, sometimes in sweats with our hair pulled up in a bun. Brushing our teeth is the only important thing we do before coming to a birth. We can fly out the door in 2.5 seconds to get there in time. How we look doesn't matter a bit.

We could be at the home for 24 hours, wiping away the sweat, squeezing hips to help control the pain, doing head squeezes to move the pain. We sing, we pray, we encourage. We use our hands to comfort and our words to soothe. We could also be there 2 minutes, running in with our arms wide open to receive a baby that is in a hurry to be welcomed into their brave new world. We get peed on, pooped on, we have placentas fall onto our new sandals or in our laps. We get covered in amniotic fluid at times. It never bothers us because it is just part of the package. We catch babies on our knees, crouched in a tiny corner of the bathroom, in the birth tub or squating in a shower, and hopefully we never ever drop a baby!

We get to witness each and every holy moment. We watch young ladies transformed into first time mothers. We get to witness the love between a husband and wife. We get to watch children witness the miracle of birth of their siblings. We get to watch as a mother of 8 turn into a mother of 9. It never gets old. We watch, we listen and we serve. There is no other "profession" that pushes us to the limits. We can be dogged tired but manage to exude the confidence every Mama needs to witness.

I am thankful beyond measure for my profession. I am so thankful that I waited till all my babies were grown and gone. I come to this with no regrets. I get to experience every day life's greatest mystery, the creation and birth of a new little soul.

Thank you Lord. You have blessed me beyond measure. Happy International Day of the Midwife

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When I am Afraid

A golden nugget from Robin

“When I am afraid, I will trust You. ” Psalm 56:3

This verse has special meaning to me. It was my anchor during a terrifying time in life. Circumstances were so overwhelming and out of my control that I literally shook with fear. Repeating this verse over and over helped me remember that my comfort and security was not based on the assurance of a favorable outcome, but trusting that He was big enough to walk me through it. I was not alone. That there was a bigger plan in place and my job was to put one foot in front of the other and just keep walking.
Max Lucado in He Chose the Nails says,
“How did Jesus endure the terror of crucifixion? He went first to the Father with his fears. Do the same with yours. Don't avoid life's Gardens of Gethsemane. Enter them. Just don't enter them alone. And while there, be honest. Pounding the ground is permitted. Tears are allowed. And if you sweat blood, you won't be the first. Do what Jesus did, open your heart. And be specific as Jesus was. "Take this cup,” he prayed. Give God the number of the flight. Tell him the length of the speech. Share the details of the job transfer. He has plenty of time and compassion. He doesn't think your fears are foolish or silly. He won't tell you to “buck up” or “get tough”. He's been where you are and knows how you feel. “
"And he knows what you need. That's why we punctuate our prayers as Jesus did with, "If you are willing….” Was God willing? Yes and no. He didn't take away the cross, but he took the fear. God didn't still the storm, but he calmed the sailor. Who is to say He won't do the same for you?“
"Don't measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it. Instead of carrying the world on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the universe on His. Hope is a look away.”
“No, what are you looking at?”
For today, 
Lord, thank you for allowing me the space to be authentic and honest about my fears. Like Peter who sank when he focused on his fear instead of on You, I will drown without you. Give me clear focused, laser beam vision on You, the source of my hope. 
I will trust you to carry me when I am too paralyzed by fear to move.
I will trust You to give me the strength and courage when needed.
I will trust, even when You choose not to take away my circumstances that You will take my fear.
I will trust You with the process.
I trust You will reveal Yourself through this situation
I will trust that no matter how bad it looks, You have my best interest at heart. 
For you ARE trustworthy.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Spring is finally here in my neck of the woods. The trees are actually getting buds on them. Michigan tends to have long winters. Days go by when you only see grey skies. There is light grey, medium grey and dark grey for variety! This morning though, there are blue skies. Now mind you it is only 30 degrees but it is a gorgeous 30 degrees without a grey sky to be found.

I have lived several places where there is only one season, green. Now mind you, I love green grass, green trees and all but after awhile, green gets old. I am thankful here in Michigan we have all four seasons, even if one or two are short.

What are you thankful for today. I would love to know.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hear From My Brother

I love all of my sisters, and I love Jill a lot.  Jill and I have been able to build a good relationship over the years.  I can't say I "enjoyed" reading her posts regarding our family's dysfunction but they have helped many of the readers come to grips with their own abuse and neglect.  My sisters and I all have dealt with our broken relationship with our father differently.
In Jill's "Forgiveness" post she said "forgiveness is a choice" and she is correct.  However before I go into that I wanted to say that when I was young my hero was Mr. Spock from Star Trek.  He had no emotions; he could suppress them and bury them.  I tried this approach, and in some ways it worked. When dealing with beatings and other abuse I could remove myself from the situation at least in my mind. This worked until I reached a boiling point (something not in my control) and I exploded in a rage.  To my shame, my rage usually rolled downhill to my younger sister Robin and broke our relationship.  It also ended up with a broken wrist when I punched a concrete wall in a rage. Even as an adult I have had to deal anger issues.
I read and took seriously the Commandments especially the one that reads that God is a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate him.  I knew that someone had messed up my dad, and my dad had messed me up. I did not want to pass along the abuse in any way, shape or form to yet another generation.  I decided not to have children.  I had already done enough damage.  I could not trust God that far.  I could not read the next part where it said that he would show steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his commandments.
I actually hated my father.  I could see "removing him from the human race".  Even if he knew of my hate, which I doubt, he wouldn't have cared one lick, and would have told me it was my fault.  It took many years to forgive him.  Forgiveness is not only a choice, a one-time event, but an ongoing, daily, sometimes hourly choice.
I told Jill that I liked this particular post of hers because it made me compare and contrast human forgiveness with God's forgiveness.  Humanly speaking when we forgives someone all we are doing is releasing OUR right to punish someone for what they have done.  My dad didn't care one way or the other, so forgiving him did nothing for him.  What forgiving him did was release me from the prison I thought I built for him.
Again, humanly speaking, the damage has been done, and can not be undone.  There are permanent scars, physical, mental and spiritual.  There is a broken relationship that will never be healed.  I have given up my right to hurt him back and I am free, but I live day by day in the shadow of that broken relationship and other damaged relationships.
Our father chose his own way and sinned greatly against each of us.  He broke the trust that should have been there.  He struck out against us in every way imaginable.  My father will leave this world without justice being done.
Have we not each done the same thing to our Heavenly Father?  Each time we chose our way and say God I will do this my way, not yours; we strike out and slap God in his face.  We abuse his name, we stubbornly want our way and we break the trust between us.  Justice must be done.  God is holy.  He is forgiving, he is loving, but justice must be done.  He grants us mercy and takes the justice upon himself.  His own son Jesus hung on the cross for MY sins, and yours.  Justice is complete and mercy is complete.
And here is the good news.  This is the only relationship we have were the trust can be fully restored, where forgiveness from God heals the wounds, where love remains steadfast.

"The greatest sorrow in life is regret"

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, April 23, 2015


 I have been thinking about my own Mom lately. While growing up, when other kids would ask me about missing my mom I said, "What would I do with a mother if I had one? I can cook, do the laundry and clean the house. What would I do with a mother?" Back then I truly had no clue what I was missing on an emotional level. It wasn't until our daughter was born that I asked myself the first little question. What did my mom think of me when I was born? Was she glad I was a girl, was she disappointed? Did she think I was cute? Did she snuggle with me? Did she ever sing or read to me? Back then, the questions were short and quickly dismissed like all of my other feelings. "There is no way to know Jill, just buck up"

I am part of a group on Facebook for Mama's who are grieving the loss of their babies. I originally joined to be an encouragement to all the young Mama's who have had to say goodbye to their children much too early. Almost every day there is a precious picture of a baby whose life was cut way too short. Then I think of my mother and think about the life she lived and how it was cut way too short. My mother had four children at the time. When she fell asleep on the couch that fateful night, she had no idea she would never wake to see her children again.

My mother was cremated after she died. There was a memorial service for her. Her remains were never picked up by my dad. They sat in a little cardboard box in the basement of the funeral home for years, with just her name penciled in. My dad hadn't had the common decency to bury her, but walked away from her remains all those years ago. When I think about the lack of respect and decency, it makes me want to hurl. My sister and I went to the funeral when we were teenagers and inquired about her remains. The funeral home said any remains that had not been picked up are usually put in an unmarked grave. He went to the basement and low and behold, there was the box with our mother's remains. It had been over ten years that they sat in that funeral home basement.

I have come to realize that there is a giant size hole in my heart that doesn't seem to go away. Every single mother's day I feel this terrible emptiness. When I hear of women who have lost their mother's I am sad for them but deep inside of me my mind goes to a dark place. They have wonderful and maybe some not so wonderful memories, when they think of their mothers. I have nothing. Not one shred of one single memory before that fire started all those years ago.

I remember as a child in school, each year our classroom would make mother's day cards. We would make flowers out of tissue paper and design sweet cards for our mommies. Each year I would raise my hand and tell the teacher I didn't have a mom and I just got a pat on the head and told to make one anyway. Now my heart breaks when I hear of a Mama who died suddenly, leaving behind little children too young to remember them. It's the loss of memories that breaks my heart.

When I delivered our first born I begged God to allow me to raise her long enough to remember me. With each successive child I asked the Lord to please keep me on the earth long enough to have them remember me. As they started to get older I would go back in the mind the age I thought they should be safe to have memories should I die early. The Lord honored that request. I was privileged to raise my children all the way through. They will remember me, the good and the bad but at least they have memories.

I never miss an opportunity to tell my children I love them. It doesn't get old for me. I want them to know, deep inside of them that they are loved by me. I watched them grow from babies to adults. I am blessed. What I wouldn't give to hear just one time from my own mother, I love you Jill.
Some final thoughts tomorrow.
Till then, In Christ Alone

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Some special thoughts from my sister Robin today enjoy!

“I know I'm in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.”, says my friend, Katie.
I can so relate! It may appear chaotic and crazy to the rest of the world, but inside my blonde little brain, I make sense. I am brilliant, totally understood, and accepted. I am also easily entertained.
I am, indeed, in my own little world. And sometimes I seriously just want to keep it that way. It feels safer. Take yesterday, for example. HB (Honey Bunny, my significant other) and I were having trouble communicating- as in- all day. You've been there. It's painful. It's exhausting. By the end of the day I just shut down and retreated to the rooftop to look at the stars and talk to the Creator of them. Life is hard work, and relationships are especially challenging. Pain is always involved. The normal response to pain is to retreat. How quickly do you sprint to the nearest blade of grass when your bare feet are getting scorched on burning asphalt? Emotional pain brings the same response : withdraw and retreat - I'm outta here. Unless I'm nominating myself for a Darwin Award, self preservation and survival is instinctive. So when the battle is at your doorstep, what do you do? Batten down the hatches, protect and defend. Become an impenetrable island.
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel song, “I Am a Rock”?

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Sometimes I have to fight the urge to pack my bags and fly off for a little island retreat. My typical response to pain (and shame) is to withdraw and isolate. Others may fight because they're more acquainted and comfortable with anger than vulnerability. No matter how you slice it, though, hiding behind walls we've built kills relational intimacy. Most of us are experts at hiding and we don't even recognize we're doing it anymore. For example, as a functioning introvert I can act appropriately extroverted in public when called upon, yet crave the safety and quiet of being alone. Big groups and small talk terrify me. It might have something to do with my fear that I'll say something stupid, won't be interesting or entertaining enough (compared to others), that they'll see the not-so-adorable side of me, or will demonstrate my historically poor storytelling skills and embarrass myself, or worse, embarrass HB.
The opposite method of hiding looks different but has the same motivation (don't let anyone see who I really am). I didn't realize I used this method until recently when I was called out by a good friend. Don't you just love friends who will tell you the truth? Ha! Confession time. I have a tendency to ask people a lot of questions about themselves in order to understand them better. People are interesting. Everyone has a story and I like to hear them. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're a counselor, but I'm not. Without mutual sharing and discerning disclosure, it's hiding. Then of course there are the Teflon-armoured people who pretend to be something they're honestly not (aka wannabe, fake, poser..), or those who can't go deeper than a surface conversation, who are too scared to be real and let others see their true selves yet wouldn't admit it if you threatened to take away their chocolate. You know, “Them” (I say with three fingers pointing back at me!).
Being real and authentic is scary, but a challenge I'm willing to and need to take because it is something I highly value. A friend of mine once told me, “Life is too short to be phony or be around people who are fake.” Agreed. Being authentic involves risk and overcoming the fear of sounding dumb, being wrong, or sounding crazy at times. Because after all, I wasn't made to sit here like a bump on a log twiddling my thumbs all day. I was created for more. (You were too.).
Martha Graham once said that each of us is unique and if we didn't exist something in the world would have been lost. Holding onto the lies that “I can't ..” or “I'm not…” keeps me from being me and living up to my God given potential and design. Some things on this earth won't be done, some people won't be touched if I live in fear and hide. There are people to see, and things to do. Time to get off the couch and get going.
As the game is over and I hear the call, “All-y all-y in come free”, I know the gig is up and it's safe to come out of my hiding spot. There is freedom in living real. The alternative is exhausting and lonely.


Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Our housing saga started almost 6 years ago when hubby got sick and lost his job. At the time we had a simple ranch home out in the country of a tiny little town in Michigan. When we moved in I told our daughter that this was the last time I would be unpacking boxes. The next move, I told her, would be feet first! I loved living in that house. It was out in the country with fields in front of me and a hot tub and gorgeous London Plane Tree out back. It was perfect. After moving 17 times for the military and full time ministry, I was putting down deep roots. I was going to grow old under that London Plane Tree. Life was good.

And then it wasn't. Rich got shingles and from there it became a domino effect on his body. After he lost his job we held on to our lovely home for six months. It became obvious I could not care for Rich alone at that point so we moved into our daughters home. There was simply no emotional energy to grieve the loss of the home that was truly a sanctuary for me.

As Rich got worse, I was thankful for the support of my children and grandchildren. I was not alone in serving my husband. As things became worse he went into hospice. Rich decided he did not want to die in his grandchildren's home so we rented a little handicapped apartment right around the corner from the hospital. As you all know,  most people don't come out of hospice alive. Rich lived to tell the story. So we lived in that little apartment for three years.

That little apartment fit our needs at the time. We were right next to the hospital for all his doctors appointments. It was tiny though and as Rich started to get a little better we wanted something a little bigger that we could call home. So last October began the saga of trying to buy a home again. We have bought multiple homes over the years without drama or fanfare. Apparently, this time was not to be the case. After 7 failed attempts I have cried "Uncle" We were within 4 days of closing on the last house when our bank closed the loan because the seller did not even attempt to do the work that was agreed upon.

We have been house sitting for a sweet friend since the middle of January. It is a lovely home. The windows are large, the sun shines in brightly. I have had an office upstairs to work on my school. It has been bright and sunny, everything that little apartment wasn't. But all good things eventually come to an end. It's time for our sweet friend to come home for the spring. Since the last house fell through last week we have been scrambling to find a place to live.

SO, we are now going back to renting, this time a double wide mobile home in a town not far from here. We have signed a one year lease. Obviously it was not the right time or the right house to buy. It is time to sit and wait again. What does the Lord have in mind for us? I have no clue. I do know that I am tired of looking at countless houses and none of them working. I want to spend the next year waiting on the Lord. I will be in a nice comfortable place to do that now. We will move next week and for that I am thankful.

What are YOU thankful for? Let me know.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, April 17, 2015


I really wanted to go see Cinderella after our daughter's family went and came back giving it rave reviews.  I was off work early today and decided to take myself and see it. It was refreshing to watch a movie that had no swearing or intimate scenes. What was awesome though was the lessons I took away.

When the Prince meets Cinderella in the forest she had been racing her horse to get a break, away from the oppression she was dealing with. A step-mother that was cruel. Two step-sisters that were petty, spoiled brats. She is forced to move out of her lovely, comfortable bedroom and up into the attic. When she first goes to the stairs leading to the attic she pauses and takes a deep breath, trying to gather the courage to go up those stairs. The words of her mother must have gone through her brain. Great courage and kindness was her mother's motto. It took great courage to go back to her home and continue to be abused by her step-family.

When Cinderella got ready for the ball, her step mother ripped the dress her mother had worn. I have to tell you that was hard to swallow. You see, my mother left me a string of pearls that had been given to her by her brother. The necklace was purchased in Japan and has always rested in a beautiful Japanese silk box. The pearls are priceless. They are natural pearls that I treasure since they were worn by mother, the woman I never knew. They have always been my greatest physical treasure. Several years ago I decided to pass them on to my daughter while I was still alive. I wanted to see her wear and enjoy them. I was passing on something I considered my greatest physical gift. It gives me great joy when I see her wear them. Every-time I wore those pearls I thought of my mother. I can't imagine the feelings that would erupt from my very soul if someone had ripped them off of me and stomped on them.

When the transformation of Cinderella took place and she races to the ball, she runs to the top of the stairs in that gorgeous blue gown, for all the kingdom to see, it was then that my heart skipped a beat. She was absolutely stunning.  There was something about that scene that struck a chord with me. In that moment she not only looked pretty but she felt pretty. She embraced the moment. She didn't wallow in where she had been, instead, she celebrated where she was right then. When was the last time you felt pretty? The love in the Prince's eyes was priceless.

When the final scene opens with Cinderella singing up in the attic I wanted to stand and clap. The Prince realizes what has been going on and comes in to put the glass slipper on her foot. The Prince knows where she has been. He takes her for his bride inspite of the circumstances. What he understands is this, her circumstances do NOT define who she is. Her heart, her courage and her kindness is what really counts. In his eyes, she is a real princess.

Cinderella walks out of the house granting a gift the step-mother and step-sisters didn't deserve, forgiveness. She has kept her promise to her parents. It took great courage to forgive those who treated her badly.  Because she was willing to forgive, she could walk out of her home without the anger and bitterness that others display.

My dear friend, your circumstances do NOT define who you are. Just rest on that today and next week we will pick up from there.
Many blessings

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Freedom is NOT free. Ask any soldier or family member of a soldier. Freedom comes at a terrible cost. Blood is spilled, hearts are broken, the innocent are buried. We pay a very high price for our freedom. The above picture was taken in Michigan. My sister Robin and I went in search of this awesome painting. Our country was created on the backs and the blood from men and women who believed that all men should be free.

This wall represents my own freedom also. Freedom from my past, freedom from judgement, freedom from what others think of me, freedom from negative thoughts, freedom from bitterness and anger. Freedom to be who God created me to be.

As many of you know, it is not easy to conquer your past. Old hurts can bubble up easily to the surface. Old patterns of thought and behavior invade our minds and bodies. Many people are trapped in their own minds, being victims. I can tell you from years of soul searching, I have never been a victim but a victor! Being a victim robs you of your personhood. You are powerless, like a prisoner sitting in a tiny cell. The bars are thick and impenetrable. I will chose every day freedom from past hurts and failures. Any I have plenty.

I have met many victims in my life. They are angry, bitter and have an overwhelming sense of helplessness. They allow life to just happen, allowing the waves to just toss them about. I am saying just the opposite, our circumstances should never rob of us who God meant us to be, never.

It doesn't matter what life has thrown you. You can chose to a victor and not a victim. I chose to be victorious no matter what the circumstances are right now. Life is too short, time is too precious to be wasted by being a victim.
Which are you today? Are you living a victorious life or are you allowing life to toss you to and fro? Think about it.
Till next time.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's Complicated

 Good morning friends. I told you that my dad was put into hospice a couple of weeks ago. All of us sibs have reacted differently. It took my by surprise that I once again struggled with the possibility of his passing. My sister Robin has written some excellent thoughts on how she feels. I have to say, she has put into perspective beautifully her thoughts.

It’s complicated

Just two weeks ago I signed my dad into hospice. The complicated emotions actually took me by surprise. If push came to shove, I honestly didn’t know, until recently tested, if I’d even weep for him when he was gone. There is sadness for the life of abusive destruction and tangled lies he lived, sadness that he never knew his grandchildren nor even his children as adults. (Yet it was purposeful on my part because protecting the innocent from an unrepentant past and present abuser was and is, unapologetically necessary.) There is compassion for a fellow human being in the humiliating stage of life when someone babysits you while you eat and changes your diapers. He would absolutely hate this, as would I, if he was cognitive enough to know what was going on.
For years I’ve been talking to God about dad, letting him know that I was okay with His timing in taking him. But the honest truth is, I think I was ready for my dad to die. When I moved him here 3 ½ years ago I didn’t think he would live this long – aka…that I would still “be dealing with him” and all the associated range of emotions at this point. Don’t get me wrong – I love my dad and from that love I feel compelled to make sure he is safe and well cared for. But in my heart of hearts, I’ve been ready for closure. That sounds incredibly horrible, I know.
So why, God, does this grumpy, miserable bully have nine lives? What is the purpose in his life at this point. He sits in his room all day watching tv, sleeping, and being his customary gruff, insensitive and rude self whenever I’m around. Easily triggered and worn out from putting on my emotional armor every time I talk to or visit him, I’ve limited my visits in the last year or so to every two to three weeks and only stay a short time. Communicating and overseeing the care takers has become my main responsibility. Maybe he’s felt the same way- that his existence was only that, existing. Without social interaction and a sense of purpose, the desire to live dies, and physical death isn’t far behind. A few months ago I sensed he had given up and was just ready to get on with the business of dying, so-to-speak. The assisted living staff confirmed and echoed my suspicions.
It’s a matter of God’s timing. And since I’m not God, I’m smart enough to know that I’m supposed to trust him with that. So I’ve continued to search for those lessons over the last few years: Am I supposed to learn patience? Respect for the sovereignty of the Almighty? Respect that the Creator is the Life Giver? Surrender my prideful self-righteousness in deeming anyone’s life as “worthy” or not. Truth: Only the Creator has the right to determine the value of and judge His creation. Practice forgiveness. Practice compassion. I’m being painfully pruned as I’m trying desperately to see my father the way His Father sees him. After all, we see the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. Ugly truth: Mine is just as ugly as dad’s. :-/
It’s an ongoing process, but I can tell you this; God is answering me in that still, small voice. It appears that compassion is challenging and dissipating my short flashes of anger and indignation while reminding me that forgiveness is a daily letting go of my right to judge. And while healthy boundaries are biblical, good and necessary, hardness of heart isn’t. As I said, it’s complicated.
I’ve come to recognize that it’s quite possible that God has kept dad alive not for only for His and dad’s purpose, but also for mine. Maybe, just maybe, dad’s sole purpose in life right now is to exist so that God can prune ME. He has things to teach me and is graciously allowing me the necessary time to learn them. From that perspective, I cherish the time he has left.
Now at least I believe the tears I shed at the end will come from a place of compassion rather than anger and bitterness. For that I am thankful.
Isaiah 40:14 “Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what’s good or what is best?”
“God has his own ideas regarding what is good and he doesn’t always agree with us. If there is anything good about you, believe better things about others. This will keep you humble. It will not hurt you at all to consider yourself less righteous than others, but it will be disastrous for you to consider yourself better than even one person. The humble are always at peace; the proud are often envious and angry.” From The Limitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay” ..the Lord will judge his people”. Hebrews 10:30. Funny, I’m not seeing my name next to the Lord's!

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I am going back to my original Gratituesday blog for every Tuesday. I have sorely neglected it and have decided to get back to the practice of counting my blessings on Tuesdays. So, after reading mine feel free to post what you are thankful for.
Today I am very thankful for this man in my life.

This summer we will celebrate 38 years of marriage. The last six years he has been sick. To say it has been hard would be an understatement. Until you have lived with someone with horrible, debilitating chronic pain you have no idea what the term suffering means. The past six months have been particularly hard. On top of all his other medical challenges he now has RA. It is the fast moving kind of RA. Most of his body now has it. In spite of the debilitating pain he has taken on the daunting task of finding us a home. We have bought homes before without a hitch. It has always been simple. We walk through 15 or 20 homes, pick one, make an offer and buy it. Not this time. We are on our 7th offer trying desperately to find a place to call home.
I have been almost no help at all. I took on a challenge from school to study midwifery 400 hours from January 12th through April 12th. I studied like a crazy lady. I went to work, did hours of prenatal, caught babies and studied. Day after day I would spend almost every waking hour that I was home up in the office working on my school work. He never once complained. For the most part we ate terrible during the challenge. I doubt I cooked more than half a dozen times in the 90 days.
I would not have accomplished my goal, and then some if he had not been my biggest supporter cheering me on. I am so thankful for this man of mine. Thank you God for blessing me with my husband.
Today honey, this ones for you.
Much love,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, April 13, 2015

Forgiveness, a Choice

Good morning everyone. I have sorely neglected my blog because of school. I have finished a huge chunk of my school and can now get back to writing. Last week I had someone share with me that they had read my story, they wanted to know how in the world could I ever forgive this man who had terrorized me and my siblings? It's so interesting that she asked because forgiveness came up once again a couple of weeks ago.

First a bit of the story I have not shared before. That first day my dad was in hospice and we all met was not the only time he was "dying".  When you deal with someone who truly is a pathological liar it is very difficult to know fact from fiction. Do you remember me telling you the day my older sister and I confronted him on the homosexuality and the sexual abuse? He cried big crocodile tears and wrote a poem about how much he loved his children and would never harm them. He could try and convince you that you were the one that made all this drama up and he would never harm anyone.

His "stories" are legendary. Most of the stories are grandiose like dining with the president kind of stories that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt simply are not true. So when it comes to his health it is difficult to sort fact from fiction. He managed to convince doctors early on that he was dying, without any medical records as proof so the doctors wrote illnesses in his chart that simply were not true. We have joked for years that he will outlive us all. He is like a cat that has nine lives. So when he does die I have said I won't believe it till he has been dead for three days and then a doctor confirms it. Even writing this sounds crazy, I know.

So recently, my sister called to tell me she thought our dad truly was dying this time. He was going back into hospice. Since we have played this game before I was once again skeptical like the rest of my siblings. But, this time seemed different. Maybe he really is dying. That thought brought up a whole lot of emotions that I thought had been dealt with many times before.

Forgiveness, such a simple word, yet such a tough concept when you are faced with reality. For about 24 hours I was frozen in time. I was that little girl again, desperately wanting my daddy to love me. Time was running out. The sad truth was and is, he never loved me. I have written that sentence over and over again and each time it just stares me in the face. How do you forgive your own dad for never loving you? How is it possible? He hurt all of us through sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. He neglected us terribly. We were never nurtured. How do you forgive that?

The forgiveness I give to my dad is a gift. He does not deserve it, because of what he has done to me. He does not deserve my love, my time, or my respect. But, I am much more than my feelings and emotions. What I know is far greater than what I feel. What I know is that all the abuse me and my siblings were given did not happen in a vacuum. There is a reason my dad is who he is. He didn't wake up one morning and say, "I am going to get married, have children, abuse other people's children, terrorize my family, become a pathological liar and become a homosexual" Something happened when he was a child to make him who he is. All of this evil came from somewhere. Again, it did not happen in a vacuum.

Forgiveness is a choice. I believe we all have free will. I can chose to believe the lies my dad screamed at me. I can chose to believe the lie that I would never be good for anything but a prostitute. Oh the lies that swirled in my head all those years ago. I chose then and I chose now not to believe them because I know that I have great value. I have great value not because of who I am but because of whose I am. Even though I have an earthy dad that hated everything I was and am, I have a heavenly father who truly loves me. I chose to be a daughter of the King of Kings.

So when I was faced with the prospect of my dad leaving this world recently, I was faced with a choice once again. Can I be alright with never hearing those words every little girl wants to hear from her daddy? Can I truly forgive this man for all he has done to me and countless other children? Can I walk away knowing there is nothing left for me to do? Do I allow anger and bitterness to rob me of who I am? Each time I will chose freedom. Freedom from anger and bitterness. I will not allow my circumstances to define who I am. I chose to forgive.
Till tomorrow.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Envelope

I left off yesterday sitting next to my dad holding an envelope. If you need context go back to yesterday's post. So, he hands me the envelope and I take it with fear and trembling. Looking down I see that the handwriting is that of a child's. I recognize that handwriting as one of my son's. I look over at my dad so perplexed. He assures me I can open it and that indeed he has forgiven me. I opened the envelope and this is what it said.
"Dr. Mr. __________
My name is Gabriel. You don't know me but I am your grandson. I don't know what you did to my my mom but she is a good mom and you are missing out on knowing your grandchildren. I just want you to know that I think it is sad. Signed your grandson Gabriel"

At this point my mind is going a million miles a minute. First, at this point in my children's life I didn't think they knew my dad was alive. I had allowed them to assume he died in the fire with my mom. Gabriel was about 9 or 10 years old when he wrote this. Apparently he had heard me talking to my sister on the phone and figured it out. At some point he asked me what my last name was before I got married. He went to my address book and found my dad's name and address. He must of found an envelope, stamp and wrote the letter and sent it. That letter was sent when my son was a child. I was astounded that my dad had kept a letter written so many years ago and then the icing on the cake, what in the world did I need to apologize for and need forgiveness? To say I was angry and hurt would be an understatement.

My dad had terrorized his children. He had abused us horribly. He was an evil man. He had abused countless little boys over the years, scared us to death with his midnight raids, heads smashed against the wall and yet he felt the need to forgive me? What planet was he from? My little boy was defending his Mama. He wanted this man to know that he had grandchildren that he was missing out on because of something he had done to me. I looked him square in the eye and said, "are you kidding me"? My heart was wildly beating, I was still very afraid of this man. That was what was happening inside. Not on the outside. At this point in my life I didn't know I could have a voice. I was speechless. What I thought was a final good-bye, trying my best to forgive this man and he was once again taking the power away and turning my world upside down.

Abusers are like that. They blame their victims. It is all the victims fault. The chance to have some sort of reconciliation was gone. I couldn't think of anything to say to this man, so I silently walked away. The opportunity was gone. It was my fault that my young son wrote his grandfather a note that made him feel bad so my dad felt he had to forgive me.

I wanted to run and hide. Once again I was a scared little girl afraid of her dad. I was a grown woman with three children at the time but inside scared to death. Abusers are like that. They want to rob you of who you really are. The truth was I was a Mama bear. I was going to protect my children from this evil man till the day I die. I didn't want him to terrorize my children like he did to me. I promised my self that my children would never experience what I did.

How do I turn this around to a positive? Good question. That day was horrible for me. It took me many years to process that day. Sometimes there just isn't a positive spin. Abusers try to rob you of your dignity and your value. Eventually I had to learn that I do have value and that I didn't have to let my dad's power rule me. His opinion doesn't matter anymore. He has no power over me. I am free from his abuse and I kept my promise I made to myself. My children would never be abused by him.

Till tomorrow

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Honor Your Father and Mother

A dear friend called me to let me know my dad was in the hospital and not expected to live. He had moved multiple times over the years since my emancipation. There had been no contact for many, many years. All of my siblings and I had to decide what to do at this point. My other two sisters flew up to where he was. The house he had been living in was horrible. More than a dozen dogs had been chained to different pieces of furniture, left to starve in their own fluids. Outside there were two horses who were so emaciated I think they had to be put down. The house was filthy beyond description. The humane society had to come in and put down almost every dog they found. My dad had been a neat freak, cussing me out if I left one speck of dust on the furniture I was polishing and here he was living in filth. It was obvious that the place had to be gutted.

The task fell to my two sisters to go and try and make some sense out of the filth. Digging through paperwork trying to see if there was anything worth salvaging brought to light just how deep and how far the abuse on children went. Police reports, court documents, private letters all substantiated what we all knew first hand. A company was called to come out and gut the place after the animals were removed.

The question then became where would dad be put in his final days and what was our responsibility. We were all followers of God and knew very well the commandment to honor your father and mother. What does that look like on a practical level considering the level of abuse we had suffered at his hands. The four of us wrestled with these questions.

We decided the best way to honor our father was to make sure he did not die out on the streets, homeless without a roof over his head or decent food to eat. Even though he had chained those dogs to furniture so they couldn't move we would not allow our dad to die out on the streets somewhere. So after talking with the doctors it was decided that he would be moved to another state where my little  sister lived, into hospice. Apparently he was to sick to be transported by car so we hired a private plane to come in and take him by stretcher to the new state. After he got settled we all decided we would see him one more time. So we all met in our sisters home to say our final goodbyes.

It was perhaps one of the oddest meetings I have ever been. A hospice nurse came out to talk to all of us about dads condition and the care he would need in his final days. We were all sitting in the living room. It was awkward since the nurse had no idea what kind of family she was talking to and the dynamics of the emotions surrounding our dad.

At this point in time my nieces were young teenagers or younger. They had no idea about anything that had happened before this point. All they knew is that I didn't have a relationship with my dad. So we are all sitting around the room and we each took turns coming over and sitting next to our dad essentially saying our goodbyes. When it was my turn I got up to go sit with him and was so conflicted. I wanted to offer my dad grace and forgiveness. In my mind it was not humanely possible but with God's help I knew that I could offer some sort of police branch. I was also scared to death. Coming face to face with my abuser. Even though I knew he couldn't hurt me anymore physically I will still scared.

So with fear and trembling I walk over to my dad and sit down. I turned to face him trying my hardest to be brave when he looked at me eyeball to eyeball and said, "Jill, I just want you to know that I forgive you"! WHAT? I was so stunned I thought I hadn't heard him right so I apologized and said could you say that again? "Jill, I have forgiven you" What could I have possibly done to this man as a child that would prompt him to say he forgave me? Wasn't I supposed to say that to him? How did my world just get turned upside AGAIN? It was then, that he reached into his pocket and took out an envelope and said it for a third time. "I just want you to know Jill that I forgive you" With that third and final statement of forgiveness I sat there speechless. He handed me the envelope and sat silent while I opened up this mysterious letter.

You will not believe what was in that envelope. Come back tomorrow and I will share the details. Till then, how do you honor your parents when they have not been honorable? It is a question we had to really wrestle with.

In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".