Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Wow, I think it's has been over a week since I last posted.  I've been doing better about making sure I post in a fairly, kind of regular way, but this past week and a half have been busy.  There have been tests and assignments due, work, and yes, if I am going to be honest, lots of distracting stuff happening in my head.  It's all been good, though. You know, in that "growing pains" sort of good.

I am still thinking and praying about the last post, and the topic of Christian parents inadvertently raising kids to be good instead of to be loving disciples of Jesus.  I want to continue in that direction, because I think it is an important one.  At this point, though, at 8:00pm on a Wednesday night, I am so tired and fuzzy brained, I'm having a hard time even writing about continuing writing about it, so now is probably not the best time to deal with it. 

Am I making any sense?

Besides, Grace is watching Bob & Doug McKenzie on the television behind me, and I'm a little distracted. 

So, yeah, keep your touques on, eh? 

And keep your sticks on the ice.

Oh wait. That's Red Green.  Man alive, I am tired.

Still, dear readers, you are in my heart and prayers always.  I know who some of you are, and am honored that you continue to visit this place to read my ramblings. As for those of you that I don't know, that's okay.  God knows you, and so when I pray, He knows who I am talking about, even if I don't.  Which, if you really think about it, is a very cool thing.

Cheers, friends!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Raising Children - To Be Good, Or To Love?

I woke up this morning with this thought in my head.

We fail to disciple our children in the Way of Christ when we teach them to be good rather than to love sacrificially.

Sometimes, I think we, as Christian parents, can be fooled into thinking that these two things are the same.  Or that if we teach our kids to be good, they will automatically be loving.  This just isn't true.  Our natural inclination to fall into pride is too strong.  Being good means knowing the rules and following them.  Loving sacrificially means loving others the way Jesus did.  Being good depends on rewards and punishments.  Loving sacrificially depends on the Holy Spirit's guidance and discipline.  Being good means we feel "right" when we have done what is expected of us.  Loving sacrificially means that we feel right when we know that our actions have been motivated by love and only love. 

Being good can lead to pride or shame because it is too easy to judge our own goodness against the goodness of others.  If we are better than "they" are, we feel pride.  If we are worse, we feel shame.  We play intricate inner games with ourselves in an effort to feel better than others, by doing things like comparing our strengths with another's weaknesses or labelling some sins as worse than others (usually sins that we don't struggle with).  This is how someone who gossips maliciously can be judgmental against someone who drinks alcoholically.

Loving sacrificially kills pride and shame, because our Standard is Jesus, and no one can match Him.  His passionate, sacrificial love for us creates a safe place to confess that we cannot love others as He does.  There is no comparing ourselves to others. We all need His help.  We need Him to pour His love through us out onto the world.  No one can do it alone. So there is no room for pride, and shame is banished in the Light of Jesus' love.  So when we see others struggling with sin, we feel compassion and a longing to help, not judge.  There is no reason to judge, no motivation.  In fact, if we do slip into judgment, we feel the prompting, the displeasure of the Holy Spirit immediately. Finding judgment in a heart devoted to love is like seeing a cockroach scuttling across the floor of a finely decorated kitchen.  Everything within us jumps up yelping, and there is no rest until the judgment is caught, confessed, repented and disposed of. 

How does this relate to how we raise our children?

More later.

Peace out.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

And Moving On...

Well, happy week-end, friends! 

Most of you will be glad to hear that I have disabled comments on this blog. After the comments from last week, and much thought and prayer, I am pretty much certain that no meaningful discussion can come from the spirit that made itself known there.  The ability to remain anonymous means that there is no accountability, and when someone insists on entering into the private affairs of others but purposely avoids accountability, it just can't go well.  So, since most of my comments come from Facebook and Twitter anyway, and I have posted my email address - - there really is no need to have the option for anonymous comments available.  So please, please, please, feel free to let me know what you think!  I love to hear from you, and am pretty sure that I have the best readers in the history of blogdom, so comment away!!

Also, I would just like to say that with all the writing that I do about my private life, I try very hard to balance honesty with love when I talk about my husband.  I do not regret marrying him.  I do not regret loving him.  I believe that God had amazing plans for us, for our marriage and our family.  I know this, because He is continuing to work out His plans in our family, at least through the part I have access to, which is Grace and I.  We needed to come to Huntingdon.  We needed to be in the church that we are in, with our pastor, whose heart is humble and faithful and passionate about lost, broken people. 

Most importantly, I believe that marriage is about loving, and I have loved Marc for many, many years.  First, as a friend and brother-in-Christ, then as my husband, and now that love is changing again, in ways I can't quite describe, but God has deepened it and is transforming it into His love for Marc.  I will never look back on our years together and say, "What was I thinking?"  He was an amazing man, who deeply loved me.  And I loved him.  We began our marriage burdened with heartaches that came from outside our small family, were totally unexpected and which God never meant for us to carry.  I know who Marc really is, and I miss him.  He is precious to me.  

I realize that it is difficult to understand, this stubborn commitment to caring about someone who has hurt us, when our culture, even our churches have a tendency to freely throw people away when they no longer serve a desired purpose.  Having been thrown away does not mean, however, that I have to become one who throws others away.  God has never, and will never throw me away, and it is my joy to honor Him by wanting to be like Him in this.  For the disciple of Jesus, people are never things to be used.  Our love does not vary according to their contribution to our lives.  We may have to set boundaries when dealing with difficult people, but Jesus' love is as powerful from afar as it is close up.  I care deeply about Marc, pray daily for him, and would do anything in God's will to help him towards healing.  That is my role in his life now. 

And, under God's guidance and protection, I move on.  To new opportunities, new depths of faith, new friendships and challenges.  Hence the disabling of the comments.  There is no room to drag old lies with us on the path into the future that God has planned. 

Peace out, friends.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Writers are forgetful...

Grace sent me this in an email.  It was such a gift...and it explains a lot!

"Writers are forgetful,

but they remember everything.
They forget appointments and anniversaries,
but remember what you wore,
how you smelled,
on your first date…

They remember every story you’ve ever told them -
like ever,
but forget what you’ve just said.
They don’t remember to water the plants
or take out the trash,
but they don’t forget how
to make you laugh.

Writers are forgetful
they’re busy
the important things."

Author Unknown

Thank you,  Chika! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012...Has it really been a year?

Today, October 17, 2012, is the first anniversary of my mother's death.   A year ago, at this time, Grace and I were driving to Cornwall to say good-bye to her.  I remember it all clearly.  The early morning phone call from Dana to let me know that she had died, sitting on the edge of my bed after hanging up the phone, feeling the cold emptiness of loss sift into my body and spirit, slipping into Grace's room to wake her up and let her know.  We dressed and got ready to leave quietly. I felt stunned.  I had expected it, but it was the kind of expectation that exists only in the mind.  My heart was completely unprepared.  How could it be? I had never known a moment of life without my mother in it.  Everything had changed. And yet the drive to Cornwall was a precursor to the oddness I would experience repeatedly in the days after my mum's death, as I drove through a morning world that had not changed, not one iota.   Driving through Huntingdon, sitting in class, pushing a grocery cart through the local IGA, seeing the world continue as usual while, on the inside, I struggled to deal with the absolute fact that for me, everything had changed.  My mum was gone.

I cannot express how grateful I am for those who walked this road with me, especially for my sisters who intimately shared this loss with me.  We all processed our loss in unique and individual ways, but we did it together as much as possible.  I am especially grateful for the care that Dana & Erin gave to Mum in her last days, and to Lori and Erin for being with her when she died.  I think of my daughter, who walked quietly beside me, praying, hugging, loving.  Madison, who greeted me every time I came home with a hug and compassionate eyes, and who understood when I felt the need to hide in the Mom-Cave at times.  My Aunts and Uncles, who shared this loss with me as they said good-bye to their sister.  Having already lost their parents, they faced this loss with grace and strength that was an encouragment to me.  My best friend, Sandy, who cried.  Ah, the friends.  They prayed, they cried, they offered words of encouragement and hugs and so much love, it overwhelmed me at times.  The friend who hugged me and said, "How are you?" in the hallways of school and really wanted to know.  The friends who sat with me in a restaurant in Malone and offered napkins when I cried.  The many friends who shared their stories of loss with me, and encouraged me that while the pain doesn't go away, it does mellow into memory and love and hope.  I am thankful for Jean-Luc, who curled up on the pillow beside mine every night and let me cry into his fur.  Of course, he did warn me not to make a habit of it. After all, he is Jean-Luc. 

Has it really been a year?  I have to admit, I feel better than I thought I would.  I am sad, but it is a gentler, kinder sorrow.  I miss Mum.  I am filled with gratitude, and I think that helps.  I will never stop being grateful for the time I had with Mum before she died, or for her motherly care for me in those days. 

So, yes, I guess it has really been a year. 

I love you, Mum.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Permission to get angry, Captain...

If you are a regular reader of this blog, and you managed to make it though the abject foolishness of last week-end's posts, I don't know whether to thank you, or apologize profusely. 

I know that we just all want to move on.  But, I also know that the majority of you will forgive me if I head back into this issue one more time.  I just don't feel like I can move on yet.  The comments and posts of the week-end were not simply issue debates or a sharing of opinions.  For me, it was personal.  Someone walked boldly into my space, with the confidence that can only accompany ignorance and religious self-righteousness, and told me and all my readers that I deserved to be physically harmed as a punishment for talking back/disagreeing with/being rude to another person. They also maintained that my daughter deserved the same treatment.  And the worst part of it all, they claimed that God approved.  Someone that I might stand behind in line at the grocery store, that I might walk past on the street, that might sit near me in church, believes that I am no more than a disobedient dog that deserves to be chained and hurt.  I am horrified.  Sickened.  And furious.

I have spent the past few days trying not to admit to my anger.  Anger is a scary thing for an abuse victim.  If an abuse victim gets angry after being violated, abusers will often use that anger to justify the attack.  Forget that the anger came after the attack.  Logic is not usually a strong point for abusive people.  And religious, abusive people will say that either God knew that she was secretly angry and she needed to be punished, or that his anger is a sign of an evil/dysfunctional spirit and he needs to be treated harshly.  Because flying into a hysterical rage because someone doesn't agree with your opinion about a certain issue is waaaay more rational and sane than becoming angry at a physical/emotional assault.  *rolls eyes*  I guarrantee that my commenter will look at the fact that I am angry about his/her comments as an indication that I am guilty and out of God's will for my life. 
But then there's what God has to say about, not just the issue, but about me and my situation.  Years ago, when the abuse first started, God gave me Psalms 18 as an encouragement and a promise.  He did see what was going on.  No one was going to get away with anything.  And yes, abuse makes God angry. Very angry.  Just listen...

"I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.

 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me."
Psalm 18:3 - 19

This passage is special to me for many reasons, but it was a few years before I realized just how personal God had made it.  Because I have coronary artery spasms, stress is a major trigger of angina for me.  Stress messes with the IC as well, but that's just painful, not deadly.  Under intense stress, my arteries spasm partially closed, lessening the amount of blood that can reach my heart.  The heart attack I had was caused by an artery that was damaged from previous spasms, spasming closed and cutting of the blood supply to part of my heart.  It's a very real risk again. 
When this passage speaks of cords of death coiled around and entangling the psalmist, that is exactly what an angina attack feels like to me.  Like I am being suffocated, by a rope around my throat.  Not only is a coil of death threatening to close off my arteries, but I feel it, in my throat.  It is very frightening. 
God assures me, through these verses, that He sees what is happening, and that I am not without a hero.  Read the description of His decent from Heaven again.  Close your eyes. Imagine it.  Angry doesn't begin to describe it.  Smoke rising from His nostrils.  Consuming fire coming from His mouth.  He thunders and roars and rages into battle.  Why? Because one of His children is being attacked. 
I have been protected.  I have much less angina than I used to, and I believe I am on a road, albeit zigzaggy, to improvements in my IC symptoms as well.  Within a few months of leaving my home with nothing, God provided an apartment that Grace & I love, more furniture and household stuff than we need, a new church with a pastor that supports, guides and encourages us, a great community with new experiences, new people, and new challenges to face, a job that I was created for and that I physically can manage, and most importantly, healing and growth in Him.  I have watched my child grow into a beautiful, compassionate, loving young disciple of Christ, and we have the most wonderful conversations about God and His ways in our lives.  Even my mother's death was preceded by the most intimate, loving mother-daughter time that I have ever had with my mum, and as painful as it was, I remember her life with joy and look forward to being reunited with her one day.  I also enjoy an even closer relationship with my sisters.  God has truly met all my needs, and has blessed us with so much over the past year, I can hardly begin to describe it.

So yes, being told that I deserved what I got angers me.  It should.  It makes God angry, too.  I am angry because I love, though, and that's the difference for me.  It is obvious that the commenter was angry, too.  No one quotes scripture and spouts accusations with that kind of venom without some deep-seated anger going on.  The thing that really angers me?  I know how much damage those lies have done to my ex-husband.  I know how confusing they can be for people still in abusive situations, who may be reading this blog.  I fear for the children, the helpless, the hurt people that may be under this person's influence.  This stuff is dangerous.  Seriously.

And I am furious at the fact that Pharisees and religious self-rightous church-people like this drag weak, lost, confused, sinful people before Jesus, calling for death and punishment for sins they themselves commit in secret. Then, they claim that Jesus delivers death rather than life, hate rather than love, punishment rather than mercy.  I hate that they try to re-invent Jesus in their image, rather than allowing themselves to be transformed into His glorious Love. 

I am also grateful.  That I am surrounded by people who do not need to be "manipulated" by me into believing that abuse is wrong.  That God's truth is a trillion times louder than these filthy lies.  And that I have been given the power...and the make sure that no one will ever read again, on this blog, that they deserve to be abused. 

I have chosen Life, for myself and my daughter, and I have never regretted it.  And in Christ, I live.

Praise His Holy Name!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Okay, one last reply to one more comment...

"Did you write that you had the power of an atomic bomb in the use of words. Atomic bombs can only destroy, it never builds up. Start using those words to bless your husband. In this instalment you say that you don't want to expose your husband, then you proceed to shred him publicly on your blog, under the pretext that your teaching your readers about abs. It 's manipulating and using public opinion as a weapon against him. When we live outside the will of God, we need and want the approval and support from the world. The world will be more than happy to accommodate "   ~ Anonymous

Before I respond, I would highly encourage you to have the courage to identify yourself.  I know that it is easier to write comments like the above under the cover of anonymity, but if you are determined to involve yourself, you should also name yourself.

That being said, yes, I did speak of having power in the use of my words.  I also wrote that I would not use that power.  Atomic bombs destroy. Atomic energy provides heat and electricity.  When I receive a comment that specifically mentions my ex-husband, as the last one did (I am assuming it is from you as well, but I cannot be sure, because it is, of course, anonymous) I am left in a dilemma.  If I do not allow the comment to be posted, I am cutting off a voice that obviously wants to be heard.  It is also obvious that it wants to be heard publically, as sending me a personal message would be as simple as a comment requesting my email address.  I dislike censorship, and don't feel comfortable with this, as I have stated before.  Still, the comment specifically invites a discussion about my ex-husband, which I am uncomfortable with.  It is a difficult matter, to be honest about what I am going through while still honoring my ex-husband.  There is an incredible pressure on victims of violence, especially domestic violence, to be quiet.  This is not an option for me.  So I walk a very fine line.  And I try to walk it with grace.  But I will not lie.  And I will not allow myself to be held responsible for the actions of another.  I was often told that the violence I suffered was a consequence of my rebellion and disobedience.  Perhaps there are also consequences for physically assaulting a blogger?  Something to think about.

As to the way I have used my words in my marriage, again, I am put at a disadvantage by your anonymity.  I do not know who you are, so I do not know how much you know about my marriage.  Have we ever discussed it?  Have you ever witnessed me verbally abusing my ex-husband? Or him, me? I don't know.  Apparently you are aware, from reading my blog, that physical violence was involved.  I assume that you are also aware that, as a heart patient with coronary artery spasms who has already had a heart attack, acts of violence truly do threaten my life.  So, your above comment is made in light of these facts.  You obviously are still comfortable with the idea that I deserved what I got.  Tell me, if I had died, would you have told that to my daughter at my funeral?  Would you have used those words to comfort my ex-husband, who I believe did love me, but was in the grip of something that he cannot get free of himself?  Do these questions feel manipulative?  I lived with them for years.  My family lived with them. To us, they were real.  The threat was real. 

You obviously feel free to speak your mind, albeit anonymously.  If I had spoken a message like that, in my  marriage, I would have been punished.  Do you consider your words to be blessings?  Should you be physically or emotionally punished?  How do you define "blessing"?  And how do you know that I have not used my words, repeatedly, to my ex-husband, to bless him? 

I can see that, on some level, you care for my ex-husband.  If you do not hold him 100% accountable for his behaviour, you must understand that your words are poison to him.  You are tagging him with names that God never meant for him to carry.  I respect him enough to know...absolutely know...that he is capable of reaching out to God for help. I have seen him do it.  We have been friends for many, many years, and as his friend, I never made excuses for him, never saw him as too weak or foolish or lost to let God lead him the right way.  True friends are people who see us as we truly are, and love us anyway.  When we are surrounded by "yes" people, who lie to us about our behaviour and encourage us to blame others, we quickly get the message that it is not safe to be honest about who we are.  That is not love.  There is no blessing in that.  I also know that on some level, he trusts me in this. He doesn't like it, but he trusts me.  He knows who I am.  And one day, when he really comes to the end of himself, he will not go to those who have cheered him on in his sin, but those who have called him, with love, to Life.  I asked him once, if he ever doubted my love. He said no.  That means something to me.

As to whether or not I am living in the will of God, I have to assume that you don't know me very well.  Not because I am some super Christian, but because God has been so awesomely abundant in His provision for Grace and I, and His love and strength and sweetness are such a daily gift to me, that if this is living outside of God's will, I can't imagine what it is like inside of His will!!!  Am I seeking the approval of others?  The original post, I Will Change Your Name, was written for a friend who is hurting, but I don't know if approval was exactly the point. I wanted to bless the person, and others, with the reality of God's love.  The thing is, most people simply don't approve of abuse and bullying.  If you feel "disapproved of", you may not be a victim of my wizardry with words.  It may just be because most people think that hitting people who disagree with us is wrong.  It's a bit ironic that you are free to disagree with me, without fear of violence.  Not everyone has that freedom. 

This is going to be the last post on this.  I'm not going to keep coming back to the same place, in hopes of finding life and truth.  There is no logic in the thinking of people who believe that they deserve to freely and safely speak their mind, no matter how rude or hurtful, while others should be physically and emotionally abused for simply disagreeing.  I don't know where the anger against victims comes from, especially victims that rise up and refuse to be victims anymore. I really don't understand it. I have theories, of course, but really, it doesn't matter.  I don't believe that there is anything I can say that will make a difference for you, Commenter, and even if these posts help other victims to know how to stand up under similar attacks, I'm not convinced that this is the best way to do that.

I will not be allowing any more comments concerning my ex-husband to be posted.  If you or anyone else wants to discuss these issues with me, my email address is  Email me, identify yourself, and ask all the questions that you want.  Understand that if your emails consist of assumptions and attacks, and you are unwilling to let go of your assumptions, we won't get far.  As long as you believe that people in certain circumstances deserve to live lives of fear and abuse for any reason, there is no possiblity of constructive conversation.  That's just the way it is.

Peace out.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An answer to another comment...

This is the second reply that I have written to this comment.  A lot of inner debate went into deciding to post it.  After I wrote this, I saved it, and went to check out my Facebook newsfeed, and was saddened to see yet another beautiful young person who has fallen in the face of bullying.  My heart breaks with each one of these stories, and I am always reminded of the number of times I was told, mostly by church leaders and lay-leaders, to try harder not to make my husband so angry.  As if I could control what was happening to me.  As if it was mine to own, mine to carry, mine to take responsiblity for.  The sense of hopelessness and self-hatred that follows this kind of advice is soul shattering. 

Then I re-read this comment, this reply, and knew that I have to post it.  We cannot be silent in the face of the hateful idea that victims of abuse deserve what happens to them.  We cannot keep allowing victims to be saddled with responsibilities for the abusive behaviour of others, responsibilities which destroy them from the inside out.  Whether it is in the schoolyards, the workplaces, the main streets or the dining rooms of our country, we must start speaking truth, to those who abuse others as well as those who are being abused.  We must speak hope, to those who abuse as well as the victims of abuse.  There is hope, but it is in truth.  May God give us the courage to speak it.

Today I received this comment, again, anonymously, to my post, "I Will Change Your Name".

"I know your husband, I also know a relationship is a 2 way. Verbally were you always a blessing to him."

 I tried to write an honest reply, but there is no way to completely answer this without exposing my ex-husband in ways that I simply am not willing to do.  As I have said before, I could write for months about my experiences, but I won't. 

Comments like this either reveal a great deal of trust in my care for my ex-husband and my desire to guard his privacy, or they reveal a deep ignorance of our situation and who my ex-husband and I really are. 

So, I will say this.  No, I have not always been a verbal blessing to anyone, and my ex-husband is included in that.  I have had a sharp tongue, and have often spoken here in the blog about it, and how God is helping me learn to speak in love.  I have repented of my hurtful words many times to my ex-husband, both verbally and in writing.  I was told that a wife is always abusive if she ever says anything negative to her husband (regardless of his behaviour) or refuses to completely and unquestioningly obey him, even if she believes that his actions are morally wrong.  I could not accept this.  So my apologies are not considered authentic. 

I will also say that in the course of our marriage, when I began to be successful at not responding to my husband's verbal attacks with harsh words, but learned to walk away, the physical abuse became more aggressive, more violent.  His friends and family considered that I still deserved to be abused, because it was disobedient of me to walk away from his verbal attacks.  Obviously we disagree on this point. 

Yes, I believe marriage is a two way relationship.  I also know that the fervent belief of every abuser is that the victim deserved it.  And yes, I believe that it is a verbal blessing to tell someone who is ruining their own life (and the lives of others, including children) with anger and aggression that they are violent and abusive. 

There is something cold and hard and twisted about the above comment. It says so much more that the words on the page.  It says, rape victim, how short was your skirt?  Murder victim, why were you in the alley?  Sexually abused child, why didn't you tell?  Why didn't you run?  Why do you still call him Daddy? 

It implies that the victim is responsible for the abuse.  Abuse victim, you weren't perfect either.  You deserved what happened to you.  You should have been able to fix it, fix him.  It's all your fault.

The scary thing is, every victim already has thought this on some level.  If I can just keep him from getting angry, if I just do what he says, if I am just good enough, smart enough, quiet enough, perfect enough.

And how much arrogance does it take for another person to look at an abuse victim and say, you just weren't good enough?  Because, Commenter, if you haven't been hit or threatened or had your child frightened, is that because you are better than I am?  You have never spoken a harsh word to your spouse?  Or about your spouse? If you lost your temper at your spouse, he or she has permission to hit you? Threaten to kill you?  Destroy your possessions?  Threaten to seriously harm your child?  Is this what you have taught your children? Have you told your sons that physical abuse is an appropriate punishment for a wife who does not do her husband's bidding? Have you told this to your daughter, that she should obey and keep quiet or expect swift and brutal punishment? 

If none of this has happened to you, how perfect you must be!  Or, maybe your spouse knows that you are both flawed, and he or she would never want to harm you.  Maybe he knows his or her own weaknesses as well, and treats you with grace and care.  Maybe gratitude would be a more appropriate response, rather than pride and arrogance, and distain for others who do not have what you have.

So, yes, I have talked back to my husband. I have been rude to him at times.  There were times when I felt that it was absolutely and morally necessary to disobey him, and I did.  And no, I do not feel that I deserved to be abused.  I believe that my ex-husband was and is capable of more.  I believe and agree with our old pastor and every counsellor that we saw, that he needs help.  I wish, with all my heart, that he could have access to the peace that God has given Grace and I.  At this point, I am more sad for him than I am for myself, as God's healing has been profound.   I pray daily for healing, and for the return of my friend who would never in a million years have tried to harm me.  I know who he is, under all that pain and anger, and he is dear to me.  He always will be.  I fight daily for his healing, not by attacking anyone who dares to notice his flaws (who among us isn't flawed?!) but by prayer, that he would one day know the power and wonder of God's love, and would be free to see himself as he really is, flawed, responsible, and deeply, deeply loved.  I know there is freedom in being honest about our sins before God, because I seei tin my own life. 

And I believe that there are few things as vile as telling someone who is as deeply troubled as my ex-husband that all his problems are someone else's fault.  These words speak death to a troubled soul, and it is wrong, and dangerous.

So, Commenter, I pray for you as well. That you would think about the messages that you are sending to your children, if you have them.  I pray that if you are in an abusive relationship, that you will see that being imperfect does not justify abuse, and that for your own safety, you would protect yourself and your children.  I pray that if you are in contact with my ex-husband, that you would understand that encouraging self-pity and violence and rage will only hurt him more.  I am saddened by the fact that you would read what were meant to be messages of joy and freedom, and that your thoughts would turn to , "she deserved what she got." 

There is so much more to life with God than this!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"I Will Change Your Name..."

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks My face

D.J Butler

I've been thinking, lately about the emotional and spiritual consequences of verbal abuse.  Actually, to be more specific, I've been thinking about how God is healing the wounds I carry within me, by sweetly and kindly changing "my name".  God truly is the lover of our souls!

When I talk about verbal abuse, I'm not referring to the times that people tell us truths that we don't want to hear.  If you are lying to someone, and they know it and tell you that you are lying, they are not putting you down.  You put yourself down by choosing to lie.  Sometimes we freely choose the harsh names that we wear.  If we kick doors in on people, hit and and punch, destroy cherished objects, threaten violence, then our names are Violence, Anger, Hate, Bully and Abuser.  Only we can change that, through confession and repentance before God.

Many of us, though, wear names that we were never meant to wear, that were placed on us repeatedly by others.  We tried to reject them.  At one time, we knew they weren't true.  We may even say, now, that we know they aren't true.  Still, in the deep recesses of our hearts, we carry the seeds of insecurity, planted there by words of anger and abuse.  Ugly. Stupid. Disgusting. Loser. Failure. Burden.  Reject.  Useless. 

Sometimes, the abuse is more personal than that.  More specific. Often, our abusers were people that we opened our hearts to, our lives, our vulnerabilities.  They knew things about us that made us vulnerable to them, an dour weaknesses became weapons.  So we became lousy lovers, terrible parents, losers at providing for our families or tending to our homes.  Parents, spouses, best friends, places where we should have been able to feel safe, became mine fields.

How do we trust again? How do we know that if we allow others into our lives, they won't see the same things, say them same things?  How do we stop holding people at arm's length for fear that we will find our hearts cut to shreds again?  How do we know that we are not who they said we are?

All I know is what God has done for me in this past year.  He has changed my name.  From Ugly, Stupid, Failure, to Wise One, Kind, Patient. 

Some of the names, He changed by changing me.  When Grace and I first moved here, we had been living in such an angry environment, with so much anxiety and fear, that we were intially very sharp with each other.  We didn't know how to relax, how to feel safe.  God helped us create a calm, peaceful environment, and began to heal us, and within a month or two, we had returned to ourselves.  Conflicts were dealt with by listening, with patience and kindness, and apologies flowed freely.  No longer was I called Angry, or Fearful One, but Gentle and Peaceful.

Sometimes God let me know my new name by offering it to me through another.  Recently, a young friend of mine told me that she had described me to someone who did not know me, as a "white Maya Angelou".  I don't know if she will ever know what a gift it was for me to hear that.  Learning how people see us, when we are free to be ourselves, can be a wonderful way to change our names.  My friend's gift was extravagant, but it served to blow away some of the names I have been carrying, and I cherish it.  Good friends, who love us and will be honest, are some of the best places to have our names changed.  We just need to give them the freedom to be true with us, and then believe them when they tell us who we are, taking their words to God for verification if we are unsure.

At some point, though, we are just going to have to be brave.  We are just going to have to trust God, and then allow our faith in Him to give us strength to trust others.    We have to own our new, God given names, and stop pulling away in fear that someone is going to find out who we really are.  God will give us wisdom, and there are people out there who will love us, no matter how flawed we are.  We are all flawed. 

I am chronically ill.  I have been named Burden because of it.  Burden is no longer one of my names, though.  In God's world, chronic illness has named me Patient, Compassionate, Understanding, Safe. 

Yes, we all have weaknesses.  Let God erase the names that the world has given you, and allow Him to rename You with His love and glory. 

Peace out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Repost ~ My Mother, Myself

In honor of my Mom, who passed away a year ago, October 17, 2011, I am reposting a entry that  appeared last year on my birthday.  It was my last birthday with her, the woman who accompanied me through my first birth day.  The woman who was there for every birthday, the only other person who truly and intimately shared this day with me. 

What was only a shadow when I wrote My Mother, Myself, became a dark reality just ten days later.  I miss my Mum. Her death has been woven into the tapestry of my life, a part of the odd beauty that sorrow creates.  I see it daily, touch it, hold it to my cheek, and mourn her. I feel my heart fill with gratitude for the last days with her, for the companionship of my sisters, my friends on this path of sorrow, for a heart that is free to mourn in love and peace.  I miss my Mum, and celebrate my 46th birthday for her, in gratitude and love. 

Happy Birth Day, Mum.  I love you.

My Mother, Myself - October 7, 2011

Years ago someone gave me a book called, My Mother, Myself. As the title suggests, the book focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters, and how our mothers influence the women we grow up to be. I started reading it, but I don't think I finished it. Thanks to a faith in God, I had already gotten to the point in my life when I was uncomfortable assigning blame for my weaknesses and oddities on my Mom. I knew that both my parents were human beings, and as such, prone to frailties that had helped make me the person I was, weirdnesses and all. I had come to understand that no matter what ball my parents had tossed to me in the parental game of life, I was the one who had chosen to take the ball and run with it, and therefore I was ultimately responsible for the things I carried with me from childhood.

I've been thinking about the title of that book today, though, because today is my 45th birthday. I have been feeling melancholy all day, and on the way home from the grocery store this afternoon, I realized why. Today is not just the anniversary of the day I was born. It is also the anniversary of the day my mom gave birth to me. This realization was poignant for me. My mom is in the Ottawa Cancer Research Centre, after having received a diagnosis of stage-4 lung cancer, which has spread throughout her body. The body that carried me for nine months, that sheltered and protected me and then worked so hard to introduce me to the world, is suffering, breaking down, expiring. The woman that nurtured and cared for me is now being nurtured and cared for as she faces what is most likely the end of her life.

Most of my birthdays are about becoming a year older, eating cake, good wishes on Facebook, being with friends and family. This year it is about preparing to say good-bye to the woman who made sure I would see this day.

As a mother, on my daughter's birthday, I always go back in time to the day that she was born. I remember that day with joy. Grace's birth day is a celebration for me as well as for her. She celebrates being born, and I celebrate giving birth to her. Yet I have never seen my birthday as a day that might include thoughts of my mother. This is new to me. This is also wonderful. And sad.

Forty-five years ago today, I opened my eyes and looked into my mother's eyes for the first time. In the near future, it is entirely possible that I will look into my mother's eyes for the last time on this earth. The years in between have been full of many things; hard things, sweet things, the things that make life, life. They have been full of love, which I was only able to fully appreciate when I stopped demanding that my mother's love be presented to me in a manner of my approval, and started accepting her as a woman who loved me the way she loved me and I could receive it or reject it but I had no right to judge that it was not there, that it was not real.

On our birthdays, we say thank you a lot. For gifts, for good wishes, for another year. Today I am grateful for the woman who shared this day with me, 45 years ago. I thank God for her, and ask Him to make me a blessing to her. I pray that the God who loves her with a passion that she cannot even imagine will draw her to Him, and carry her through these days. Of course I pray that these would not be her last days, but should they be, I pray that they will not be an end, but be a beginning - of eternity, of life, of hope, of dancing and singing and joy and laughter and boundless love.

Today is a day that she and I share. Happy Birth Day, Mum. I love you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Freedom from Perfectionism (or, Why I am Okay With Just Making It Thru Macroeconomics)

When I first started Cegep last fall, I was pretty obsessed with doing well.  I fretted and frowned over the history exams until Grace was driven to distraction.  I got 96% on the first exam, and after the initial "WOOT!", I sank under the weight of raised expectations.  The next exam netted me a 98%, and the last was a perfect 100%.  I was thrilled.  And humbled.  Because all my fretting did nothing to help me accomplish these achievements.  In fact, I simply succeeded in making myself, and my family, miserable.

This semester, I am enrolled in four classes, and only one of them plays to my strengths.  Yes, it's a history class.  The rest; yoga, geography and macroeconomics, are difficult for me.  Especially macroeconomics.  My teacher, Faisal, is literally speaking a different language than mine, and it's not just because he is from Bangladesh.  I don't get the language of economics.  Learning how to figure out the GDP, nominal GDP, real GDP, interest rates, nominal interest rates, real interest rates, GDP deflators...I just keep thinking that I have it written down in my notes *and so it must be true* that Stats Canada keeps track of all of these numbers.  So, what's wrong with just checking them out there?

Alas, no matter how reluctant, I must learn these things.  Or at least enough of them to provide a passing grade in this class.  And that is all that I am aiming for.  And I am okay with that.

It helps that I had a history test yesterday that I feel really good about.  It also helps that I have begun my new job and am pretty sure I am getting to work with the neatest kids around.  Every day I walk home from work smiling.  Exhausted, but smiling. 

And it helps that I believe that accepting our areas of mediocrity is a valuable life skill.  Yes, I believe in excelling in the areas that I am meant to excel in.  And if I pay attention, I see that in my life, my areas of excelling make sense in the light of my passions, skills and experience.  In the same way, my areas of mediocrity make sense in the light of my...well...mediocrity.  The obvious fact is that it is sheer pride in me that wants to excel, not just in what I am gifted for, but what you are gifted for as well.  Not only does that pride make me a miserable perfectionist if I let it, it also makes me a lousy friend.

Most men I talk to light up when they hear the subjects I am taking this semester.  When I grumble that there isn't a humanities or English class in the mix, they go pale and shaky.  Grace's friend, Meagan, just "gets" economics.  I admire people who have different gifts than I do.  At the same time, I am happy with the gifts that I have.

I know I have to pass this class.  Failure is not an option. But, I have to be honest.  Mediocrity is an option. That doesn't mean I won't get anything out of it.  Maybe when my dad talks about the financial world of investments and stuff like that, I'll know a bit more about what he is referring to.  Reading the newspaper may make a bit more sense.  And when it comes to evaluating political platforms, maybe I'll understand a little bit about the economic plans being presented.   A bit.  Which is more than I understand now.  And in the world of acceptable mediocrity, a bit is enough.

Besides, nobody likes a know-it-all.  Thankfully, that's one thing I won't ever have to worry about.

So, that's good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I'm feeling sad today. I woke up at 4:30am and couldn't go back to sleep.  I couldn't shut my brain down.  And my brain was thinking sad things. "Letting" go things.  I've realized that, by the grace of God, I have stopped obsessing over pass events, could-have-beens, things that have happened to me, things I have done wrong...essentially, the past.  I am very grateful for that.  But there is always the future to obsess over, right?

And while obsessing over the future, I have also realized that while I may have overcome the temptation to endlessly ponder what was, some of the painful effects of what was are colouring my perception of the future.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of loss.  Fear of not being perfect enough. Fear of other people's fear.  Even, and oh my dear God please forgive me even as I "say" this outloud, fear that the good things that are happening are just a set-up for a huge and disastrous fall.  

The past week has been wonderful gift of affirmation, encouragement, a clearer glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel...why do I always feel like I have to pay for these times with sadness?

And still, I am grateful.  I am growing.  I realize what a gift it is, not to be forced to repeatedly live through the trauma of the past in my mind.  I don't even know when I stopped doing it.  I am reading "Practicing the Presence of God", and Brother Lawrence talks about failing God, and how each time he became aware of his weakness and failures, he simply turned to God, confessed not just his faults, but his utter inability to overcome them without the power of God's grace in his heart.  I have been doing that, as well.  After all, what else is there to do? Have you ever tried to stop thinking of something?  It's an exercise in defeat and frustration.  I have been helpless, and in my helplessness, God has been strong, and good.

It is the hope from what God has done that gives me strength to trust Him for what He will do.  I know that I am in a process, the process of living, and loving God with more and more of who I am each day.  The process of learning to trust God in deeper and deeper ways.  And the process of learning that sometimes life hurts.  A lot.  And that's okay. 

My birthday is coming up. On Thanksgiving week-end.  And I remember the pain of spending my birthday last year preparing for the death of my mother.  Life hurts.  I remember eating St. Hubert's chicken at the picnic tables with our family outside the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre on Thanksgiving, with Mum in a wheel chair, nibbling on french fries because that was all that she wanted. Life hurts.  I cherish the scarf that she gave me for my birthday that day. Life hurts.  And yesterday, I wore that scarf to the funeral of my friends' mother.  Life hurts.

I guess it's okay to be sad.  Although the whole "obsessing about the future" thing has to go.  And I know, it will go, the same way as the "obsessing about the past" thing went.  I'll keep bringing it to God, confessing my weakness and letting Him be strong in me.  Life may hurt, but sorrow does not have to be wrapped up in fear and trepidation.  It can be...just, sad.

Peace out, my friends.
My Zimbio