Always Darkest Before the Dawn


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Well, the landlord finally did it.  He finally sent that pesky 60 day no cause eviction notice.  As of yesterday, I am six weeks away from being homeless.  I hate this house.  I’ve hated being stuck here with the memories of abuse, the memories of my ex, and other vile memories of hurtful words spoken and despicable deeds committed.  I hate the spirit that resides over this property.  But, it’s a place to keep my belongings.  It’s a place to come back at the end of each day.  As bad as it is, it is something.  And, soon, I’ll have nothing.

I’m scared.

I’ve tried every loan program out there.  I’ve spoken or met with three different loan brokers at two different mortgage companies.  I’ve come close to hope a couple of times but each time I’ve been dashed against the rocks like an unwanted, used up, empty glass bottle.

No portion of child support can be counted as income because it does not come on time, each month, in full.  My wealthy uncle first said he would cosign but then refused to contact the lender and has ignored me, even going as far as to not pay me for cleaning for him.

My daughter has flat-out refused to foster my animals or allow me to use my mother’s property, the property that should have been mine, for storage or to stay on temporarily.  She has made it very clear that she does not care if we end up living in my car and the kids are forced to give up their pets.

I feel alone, abandoned.

I’ve looked for rentals, at rentals…..but they are overpriced and/or under maintained.  One didn’t even have a doorknob on the back door.  It simply had two old scraps of plywood on nails that turned vertical to open the door or horizontal to “lock” it.  There are very few rentals available here, as the Californians continue to flock to the my state in droves and others, from other states, come here seeking the wealth and high of marijuana grows.

And, I’ve fielded more messages than I can count.  A couple of messages have been from extremely helpful friends offering Plan B, Plan C, and, in one case, even their own home.  But, some have been from people I barely know, claiming to just want to help me, asking me prying questions and offering their wisest suggestions that actually imply stupidity on my part.  Rather than seeking to know me and understand my problems, they have presumed to know more than I about my life and imagine that the reason I’m here is because I haven’t thought of whatever it is they think is the grand solution.  Some have assumed I’m being kicked out because I didn’t pay my rent.  A couple have offered grocery money.  One suggested I apply for emergency money from the state to pay my rent.

I’ve felt insulted and just want to throw my phone at the wall.

I ask for prayer.  A LOT.  God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He owns the house I currently live in.  And, He owns whatever I end up in.  It’s all His.  I ask that others petition on my behalf, asking Him to allow me temporary claim to a home.  Some place a landlord can’t raise the rent or fail to do repairs or kick me out.  A place where the children and I can rest.  And, heal.

One woman messaged me that she prayed for me and felt strongly that the Lord is moving behind the scenes on my behalf.  I later found out that a government loan agency employee was, at about that time, asking the state director to consider my case a priority due to the condition of this house.  He agreed.  We are now at the top of the list for a subsidized loan.  There is no guarantee I’ll be approved.  It certainly would not happen before I’m evicted, if it happens at all.  But, it’s hope.  Yet, I’m afraid to hope.  I’ve cycled through hope and utter despair countless times over the last few months.

But, hope is all I have.  I don’t sleep well and have lost quite a bit of weight.  My chest aches.  But, I MUST force myself to believe there is hope for me here in the land of the living.  God did not bring me this far to leave me now.  I have to remember that it is always darkest before the dawwn….certainly my dawn must be just below the horizon.  I can’t see it yet, but the sun must rise eventually.


Strengths and Weaknesses


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My family of origin described to me as weak and incapable of standing up for myself.  That is supposedly the reason I was denied any inheritance.  I could not be trusted to hold on to and manage family property because I’d let people talk me into anything.  And, take things from me (like they did?).

I still often hear that I should take my ex back to court for a myriad of reasons.  It’s ridiculous how much he’s gotten away with, and I need to protect my kids.  They shouldn’t be forced to go on visitation with their abuser.  I need to report the continued break ins and vandalism.  He should be paying more child support.  I can’t just sit here and “let” him get away with everything.

The thing is, for me, I am weary of fighting.  I’ve been fighting my entire life.  I’ve been fighting for my right to sleep, to eat, to have friends, to get to keep my panties on, to keep the money I earn.  You name it.  I’ve fought for my basic human rights my entire life.  And, I’m just plain tired.  I don’t want to fight anymore.

And, yet, daily I do still fight.

Every morning I wake up exhausted to fight the good fight of keeping my kids on track emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Every morning I head off to work to fight the fight of earning another dollar when I need to earn ten.  Most days, all day long, I fight to maintain my dignity while being treated like a character from “The Help.”  Every afternoon I arrive home to fight to get bills paid, meals cooked, laundry done, children educated, animals tended and protected, wood brought in, and clients scheduled–a full days’ work–in the matter of a few hours.

I fight those battles because those are the battles I choose because, for some reason, I, perhaps falsely, believe those are battles I can eventually win.

I just loathe interpersonal battles.  I’d rather walk away and deal with things on my own than fight some stubborn, narcissistic, pretentious aggressor.  They can think they’re right.  They’re going to anyway!  Going toe to toe with them only weakens me for the real battles that I must fight.  I’ve been chastised for not correcting them as is my Christian duty.  We aren’t to shrink back I’m told.  We have to cast light on sin.

These people who love to argue and fight and cause drama and strife disregard scripture that says it’s okay for me to just let it go and shake the proverbial dust off of my feet.

I was discussing all of this with someone I went to high school with.  Though I haven’t shared a lot with him of what I’ve been through since high school, he seems aware of it.  I’m sure there is talk in this small town and our mutual friends “catch” people up on others’ lives.  I want to share with you what he said to me.  We all need to hear this.  We need someone to encourage us and remind us that most would have broken if they’d had to endure what we’ve endured.  I received his words, and I’m speaking them to you today.  This morning, take these words into your heart.  Say them out loud to yourself, inserting your own name in the blank.

“Seeking peace and avoiding confrontation is certainly NOT a weakness, ____________! 🙂 Losing control is easy, while maintaining one’s control demonstrates an inner strength that too many people just don’t seem to have, as the adversarial Facebook experts on “everything” continue to show us!! 😠 Too many people ENJOY the thrill of conflict, but I’m with you….I prefer the peace and tranquility when I can find it…(and some cheeseburgers)….ANYDAY!! 😀 You are a smart and beautiful woman, ____________….but you are most certainly NOT weak!! 💪😉

May you have a peaceful and restful Sunday, my sweet, strong Survivor Sisters!  ❤


Churchianity and Scripturese: Why I Refuse Invitations to Church


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The perky voice on the other end of the line responded to my decline to her invitation to church, “Well, it just really hit my heart when someone told me once that if I wasn’t going to church because of other people, then my faith was in other people, not God.”

All I’d said was that church doesn’t feel like a safe place for us right now.

I really feel that if you have to be showing up to church every Sunday, which isn’t God’s Sabbath anyway, to PROVE your faith, then your faith isn’t in God but is, rather, in an institution and isn’t based on obedience to Him but, rather, other people’s perception of your activities.

I don’t want to practice Churchianity.  I want to walk with my God every hour of every day.  I want to do scary things with Him, like create a life post abuse, unfortunately, without loving support from those who claim to be His hands and feet.

I’ve received comments on this blog, which I’ve chosen not to allow, stating that I’m not a Christian.  I can’t be, not with my position and the things that I write.

I’m avoided by Christian home schooling moms and people we used to attend church alongside.  They either look away and pretend they don’t see me or they introduce themselves and make a point of telling me they don’t know who I am, though we’ve run in the same circle for decades and have shared intimate conversations.  I’m one of those who has “fallen away.”

I just don’t toe the line.  I’m “out of fellowship.”  I “need to have those kids in church.”  I “should not speak evil against other people.  We ALL sin and have fallen short.”  I am accused of being “full of bitterness.”

Last week I shared a link on Facebook to a wonderful blog post about how everything doesn’t have a good purpose.  I shared it with several people in mind whom I knew would find comfort in the writer’s words.  The premise was that sometimes people die and babies are raped, and it just hurts.  And, it’s okay to hurt.  It’s cruel to tell a grieving mother that God has a plan for all of this and she’ll see someday how good this will all work out.

One very religious woman didn’t like that post and commented that she chooses to believe the word of God is true and that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28.   I deleted her comment and unfriended her.  This has happened just one too many times with her, and I’ve tried and tried through private messages to tell her how she comes off to others.

She didn’t hear the smugness in her comment.  She didn’t even comprehend how that could be taken by someone deeply wounded and suffering in that moment.  She was using scripture as a weapon, not a comfort.  She wielded the Word as a double-edged sword with power to divide joints and marrow instead of using it as a soothing balm, reminding the weak of God’s great love for them and that He came to bind up the broken-hearted.

These types of people seem to always be prepared to spout off a suitable scripture to put people in their place, but they’ve conveniently forgotten those scriptural references that would stop them from such behavior.  They are fluent in Scripturese and use it regularly to prove their spiritual superiority to those of us who experience any human emotions.

When Jesus arrived at the home of his friend Lazarus after Lazarus had died, Jesus wept along with everyone else.  He was God manifested in flesh and knew His intention was to perform a miracle that day, to raise Lazarus from the dead.  But, He wept.  He stood there with all of those broken-hearted friends and family members and cried over the loss of a friend and brother.  He didn’t stand and condemn them for failing to rejoice in Lazarus entering into eternal rest and peace or the temporal condition of all of this anyway.  He stood with them and wept also.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  Romans 12:15

By saying that she “chooses to believe God’s word is true,” she seems to be inferring that those who feel, say, or think that sometimes bad things just happen are choosing to believe God’s word is not true.  Or, perhaps she just thinks we don’t love God?  Or, aren’t even counted among the called???   Of course, that leads us to even darker places of doubt where we all too often go in our darkest moments anyway….Why is God doing this to me?  Does He love me?  He loves everyone but maybe I’m so awful, so sinful, so unforgivable, He doesn’t love me.  Maybe I’m not even really saved?  I’ve accepted Him into my heart and been baptised.  I believe.  But, maybe I’m not saveable?  Maybe the abuse made me too dirty for His kingdom.

In the process of preparing for our eventual move, I’m fixing what needs or can be fixed and getting rid of what can’t be.  It’s been an emotional three months of downsizing and saying goodbye to things I’ve held onto for far too long.  So, I took the guitars in to the music store to see if they could be fixed.  We attended church with the owner; my boys took lessons there; and he’s done repairs for us in the past.  He has often prayed for us and with us.

The guitars were to be ready in a few days but weeks went by.  One excuse after another.  They even left town for a week and failed to let us know he hadn’t even started the repairs yet.  We just kept waiting and waiting without notification of the constantly pushed out time frame.  He finally called my son and told him his younger brother’s guitar was ready.  However, my vintage classical guitar could not be repaired.  It was too badly damaged by the abuse my oldest daughter inflicted upon it when she borrowed it.  He wanted to know what we planned to do with it.  If I was just going to throw it away he would keep it and just use it at his house as wall decor.  At first I agreed to that, but I couldn’t sleep that night.  Something about it didn’t set right with me, so I had my son call him the next day and tell him I had changed my mind.  I would like the guitar back to hang on my own wall.  Truth was, I didn’t believe him.  I feared if I walked in that shop a month from now I’d see my guitar repaired and for sale with nothing but pure profit for him.  I’m going to take it somewhere else to get a “second opinion.”

The day I stopped in after work to pay him for what he’d done and pick up both guitars, he, of course, wanted to pray with me and asked where we’re fellowshipping now.  I told him we’ve been out of church for a year and a half.  He was clearly disturbed by that.  I shared with him that it’s difficult being divorced in church.   The children and I are viewed as second class citizens in the kingdom.  I shared with him some of the harsh and condemning ways the church has dealt with our emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and how it has extended grace to our abuser and how the church has compounded our pain.  He acknowledged it’s hard to “come from a broken family” in church.

He updated my contact information in the computer system and wanted to know the story behind by fantastic email address.  I shared with him that when God took my health and my marriage and my parents and my brother and my adult children, I thought it was death and hell on earth.  But, God was emptying me of the toxic people and things in my life and bringing me to a place of TOTAL emptiness, so He could fill me with Him and Him alone.  (And, I honestly believe that.)

He smiled that schmarmy smile the practitioners of Churchianity so often smile and began to speak fluently in Scripturese, chastising me for denying the body of the gifts that my children and I have been given.  Because, he reminded me, God has bestowed gifts upon each one of us, even me and my children.   He finished with, “I don’t know what your role was in the demise of your marriage.  You know, it’s usually our own toxicity God is trying to reveal to us.  We’re the toxic ones He has to deal with.”

I actually wanted to laugh out loud, roll on the sidewalk in front of his shop, holding my stomach, and feeling as though I might burst from the belly laughs that welled up within me.  He accused me of denying the body of Christ of my gifts by not going to church and sharing what God’s doing in my life, yet when I shared my testimony with him he turned it on me and corrected me on what God has been teaching me through all of this!  He completely discounted my “gift!”  He presumed to know the mind of God and what it is that God has really been trying to reveal to me! He didn’t want me to share anything!  He just wanted me to open up enough so he could accuse and correct appropriately!   He wanted me to get back in line and accept the “fact” that I’m to blame for my ex-husband’s perversion and violence and that I’m the toxic one.  This so-called freedom I think I’m walking in–now that I’ve finally realized abuse is a tool the devil has used on me from birth, that my mom, dad, grandpa, ex, and everyone else were prisoner warriors in satan’s war on innocence–is false.  I’m in bondage because I’m just not groveling on the ground in a continual state of contrition as I should be!

What hypocrisy!

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  Matthew 23:4

The Savior is not like these people, and they are nothing like Him.  They do not represent Him.  For decades I thought they did.  I thought they were right.  If I was hurting, especially if THEY were the ones hurting me, I MUST be wrong because THEY are His people and they KNOW things I don’t.  They have a mainline to God that I obviously don’t.  My life has been hard, and His ways are easy.  He makes our paths straight and leads us beside still waters.  The children of the righteous don’t go hungry.  And, these beautiful people’s paths were straight and easy.  Their children lived like little princes and princesses.  My children and I just suffered.  We were poor, hurting, hungry, and alone.  OBVIOUSLY, God was with them and not with us!!!  Just ask them, they’d tell me so!  In fluent Scripturese they would explain to me why they were perfect and their lives were perfect and why I just couldn’t experience the perfection they enjoyed.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  James 3:17

I now reject their teachings as false.  I would love to fellowship one day, find a body of believers to study with, pray with, celebrate with, and mourn with.  But, I will not participate in Churchianity.  For now, for a time, I choose to sit “outside the camp” alone with the one true God.  I trust Him to gently and tenderly lead me where He wants me.  And, for now, it seems He wants to hang out just the two of us.  And, that’s okay.   It’s beautiful actually.  But, I know that this season will pass and eventually He’ll put me with a group of others.  Just not now.  And, when He does, I trust that the people will be genuine and honest and not bowing at the false altar of Churchianity, smiling while hurting others, and speaking Scripturese.

Why I Can’t Just Move On Post-Abuse


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Things have been beyond rough the last three months.  It was all kick started by a surprise visit by the landlord and two of his sons and then the news that he’d conveyed this property to his oldest son who intended to raise my rent without fixing the major issues.  That was promptly followed up by my first husband’s death, which set in motion my daughter’s desire to reverse her step-father adoption.  This, of course, would require “poking the bear” by taking my second husband back to court and telling the world that the only reason I agreed to him adopting her was because I was afraid he’d kill me.  (That’s not true, by the way.)  She claims she’s been suicidal over what she witnessed growing up and needs his name off of her birth certificate that she has to present to the DMV every few years for renewal. It’s too upsetting to her.  She isn’t concerned at all about him being angered and taking it out on my youngest children who still are forced on visitation alone with the man.  She insists CPS will do the right thing, once the kids have been traumatized and wounded, and force him into parenting classes and return the children to me after a brief investigation.

The tub backed up full of sewer again, as it did last summer.  It’s too cold to bathe in a stock tank outside (thought we’ve been without heat for a month now, so inside isn’t any better) while I wait for a plumber to finally get around to coming out, so I spent $300 on a water ram and fixed it myself.

In between all of this I’ve received multiple calls requesting my cleaning services, which is great, but I’m exhausted and there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I don’t know how to accommodate everyone, but I’m trying my hardest to make it all work somehow.  And, I feel like my work isn’t up to par.  I’m too tired.  My eyes burn, and my vision is blurry.  I need rest.

Without functioning, safe electrical to the dryer, I’m driving the 10 miles in to the laundromat several evenings a week where we witness drug deals and hide in the car from the gang members and other ruffians patrolling the joint.

Without heat but with plenty of stress, we’ve all been sick all winter long.

And, I’ve spent the last three months sorting through and boxing up every single belonging of mine, my children, my parents, and my ex……EVERYTHING left in this house has been sorted through and either disposed of, prepared for a yard sale, given away, or boxed for an eventual move to God only knows where.  I contacted a lender last week, but he basically laughed at me.  At my income level I only qualify for $70 to 80,000.  Rents here have been driven up by the influx of Californians and the pot growers.  A client told me I’m going to have to bite the bullet and pay the $1600 a month.  I don’t make $1600 a month!  I have no idea where we’ll go, but I’m preparing my stuff to go and waiting on the Lord to open up an all out miracle.

Yet, still, I pick up my sword and shield and battle my way through every day.  There is no time for self-care, working out, or rest.  I war on valiantly.

But, days like yesterday drop me.  Like a fierce blow to the gut that knocks the wind out of me, days like yesterday leave me on the ground gasping for air.

I screamed at the kids for nearly an hour.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.  “Come on!  We have to go!  NOW!!!”  The teenager disappeared into a black hole in his room.  The youngest couldn’t come out of the bathroom.  The youngest boy got ready but wandered around as though he didn’t understand what was going on.  They had visitation, and they always get like this.  As though if they drag their feet long enough, they won’t have to go.

Everything was frenetic.  Nothing got done.  We just ran to the car and flew down the driveway.  My throat has been sore all week, fighting the last thing the kids had, and that screaming only worsened it.  The guilt over yelling at kids who just didn’t want to go on a forced visitation with their abuser hurt even worse than my throat.

We pulled into his driveway at 9:15.  That gave me 15 minutes to get to work.  I could do this.  I prayed silently that the kids would be okay.

No truck!  I texted their father.  No response.  I called.  No answer.  I texted our son who lives with him.  He was sitting in a Humvee 500 miles away at drill, but he took a minute to call his dad.  No answer.

I called my client.

At nearly 10 o’clock I left his driveway, with my children, and stepped on it.  A quick stop at the store for snacks and activities and $30 later I was on my way to work.  Almost an hour late.  With three kids sitting in my car.  Very professional.

Then, the incessant calls and texts began.  He wanted me to call him.  Could I bring the kids now; he was home.  He’d come get the kids from my client’s house.  Call, text, call, call, call.  I ignored them and took out my anger on her floors.

My youngest daughter-in-law also began texting and calling one right after the other.  When I didn’t answer my ringing phone she would hang up and call right back.  After three or four rapid fire calls, I picked up.  I needed to finish the kitchen, and my client was home.  I’d been an hour late.  This was NOT looking good for me.

She was crying.  My grandson had a high fever and appeared to be having a seizure.  She didn’t know what to do.  I told her to take him to urgent care!

I finally finished, and my client was cool.  Though she did mention that she fired her last lawn guy for chronic lateness due to family issues.  I got the point.  I assured her that my new policy for the ex was to leave by 9:15 if he had not shown up by that point.  I wouldn’t wait again.

Pulling off alongside the road a short distance from her house, I began returning calls.

The ex had calmed and apologized.  He forgot.  He thought it was the next weekend.  He wasn’t gone long; he just ran to a plumbing store, no, a farm store, for a few minutes.  The lies and excuses were varied.  All I could say was, “It doesn’t matter now.  It’s okay.  Would you like me to bring them over now that I’m off work?  At least you could spend a few hours with them and have dinner together.”


He was an hour away.  Now, he was at work.  On Saturday.  For a company he doesn’t work for.  When I hadn’t returned his calls promptly (because I was at work) he went ahead and took the work at noon.   He asked for the kids on a different weekend.  I hesitated, and he said, “I know I’m asking that right now when you feel the way you do about me.”  I hesitated because we have plans for the next few weekends.  I can’t just rearrange my life on a dime because he chose to not be home on the one day of the month he has visitation.  I told him I’d try to figure something out but I should probably let him get back to work.  I suggested he call me when he got off work, playing along as though I believed that particular version.  He said he’d get off work in an hour and a half and call me then.

Four hours later and still no return call to reschedule.  And, as we sat in the drive up of a coffee stand, we saw him ride his motorcycle past, coming from the direction of where his mother and brothers all live.  The complete opposite direction from where he was supposedly working.

We rented Hidden Figures, and I made a salad for dinner.  We sat down to cuddle and relax when my daughter-in-law began texting again.  She and my son were fighting.   The texts were more like short chapters from a novel.  But, she’s estranged from her own mother, and I’ve tried very hard to fill that void.  I really love that young girl.  I love her like she’s my own.  All throughout the movie, all evening long, the texts kept coming.  I tried to be supportive and loving without getting in the middle.  I repeated that I love them both and pray for their marriage.

Then, a text came from my son asking me why I’d told his wife that she could just come stay with me.  His texts were lucid and respectful, nothing like someone who was staggering drunk as she’d claimed he was.   I told him I never said, and he said that he figured I hadn’t.  He just needed to confirm she was lying.

At midnight, as I was locking up and finally crawling my aching body off to bed, she sent me a rage filled, accusatory text, telling me off in no uncertain terms for calling her names, tearing down my character and putting her own up.

I texted her that I had not ever said any of that stuff, but I did not try to communicate further with her.  Instead, I texted my son and told him that I did not want to be in the middle of their fighting.  I want to support both of them; I love both of them; but after all of the time, money, and energy I’ve invested in her I didn’t deserve the way she “talked” to me.   And, then, my daughter messaged me that they were home from their trip to take her dad’s ashes to his mother and that they’d see me later today.   It was 1 in the morning.  I didn’t realize we had plans to see each other today.  It’s my only day off, and I was hoping to catch up on laundry and………rest?

I tossed and turned until 2 a.m. and awoke at 6.   I want to run away.  Actually, I want to be left alone to rest for a while.  I want to be free to build a new future.  I want to be treated with the love and respect I offer others.  I want my young children still at home to be safe and just enjoy their activities, like normal kids.  I want others to be responsible for themselves and take responsibility for their own actions.   But, that seems like a lot to ask for.

I have lost more than a few friends post divorce.  I’ve received some cruel admonitions.  I’ve heard the talk behind my back.  I know that some people think I’m just bitter, unforgiving, lazy, or not getting over this and moving on.  I’m trying.  I’m really trying.  You just don’t see all that I’m battling against.

Becoming Fearless


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The sunny afternoon had turned into a mildly breezy evening, and my three children and I sat in the car outside the laundromat.  The youngest, being sick, slept off and on.  My youngest son played in the backseat while my teenager and I visited in between reading snippets here and there on our phones.  Of course, we did our usual silly goofing off and laughing at each other’s antics.

By the time I transferred the clothes from the washers to the dryers the clientele began to change.  The tired looking moms and dirty working men began heading home for dinner, and the drug addicts began showing up.  En masse.  Without laundry.

Two women appeared suddenly at the passenger side of my car, one on a boys’ BMX style bike.  Their entire conversation seemed to be a loop of, “Weirdo!”  “No fucking way!”  “Yeah, that guy!  Remember him?!  Where is he?”  Insert incessant strange laughter.  Begin again…….”Weirdo!”  “No fucking way!”  “Yeah, that guy!  Remember him?!  Where is he?”  It was as though they were communicating in a different language.  They seemed to understand each other and find each other hilarious.  But, it was nonsensical.

After the fifth or sixth F bomb my 10-year-old quietly commented, “Nice way to talk in front of kids.”  The women were so close to my car that I was afraid the one was going to drop the bicycle onto the side of my car.

A man appeared from a building across the street, stepping outside in his uniform to take a smoke break.  The woman on the bike yelled at him, then told her friend she was going to go get him, and rode off.  The woman left behind was wild-eyed.  She twitched as she looked every direction.  It made her look frantic.

My teenager and I continued to read and visit while occasionally casting a casual glance toward the activity occurring six inches in front of our car and between us and our clothing.  A young man appeared from around the side of the building, wearing a long trench coat with the hood pulled up over his head in spite of the spring like weather.  He seemed depressed.  He mumbled inaudibly to the wild-eyed woman.  She held up two cigarettes, both had been lit and then obviously immediately extinguished.  He shook his head no and groggily mumbled again as he handed her a cigarette.  She exclaimed, “Oh, I thought you asked for a cigarette!  You said I look like I need one?”  He shook his head affirmatively.  It seemed to take great effort for him to do that.

My 10-year-old proudly showed me something he’d made during this time.  It was red, and I had no clue what the material was, where it came from, and I questioned him, “What in the world is that made of?”  “The cover from my baby cheese!”  We all burst into laughter.  Creative.  At least he hadn’t thrown the wax covering on the floorboard when he had finished eating.

The woman immediately began yelling at the young man, “What is she laughing at?  Why is she laughing?  What is SHE laughing at?”

She was staring at me!

I probably should have been afraid, surrounded by druggies and homeless people with my three children in my car.  I’ve watched drug deals happen at the laundromat, exchanges between armed gang members.  I’ve seen gang members chase another guy down.  I’ve watched a woman take two heavily tattooed men around the corner and come back fixing her clothing and unable to stand still for a second and eventually walk circles around the building while talking to herself.

These are unsavory characters, scary folks with nothing to lose.

And, she was agitated by my laughter.

She thought I was laughing at her.  And, I was quite certain Mr. Trenchcoat likely had at least one weapon under that tent he was wearing.

But, I snapped.

In an instant my mind flashed to all of those times R falsely, and strangely, accused us of laughing at him.  In vivid detail, I remembered the Saturday my oldest two children were doing dishes together and laughing, being silly as kids will be, when he bent my son over the counter backwards and screamed, spitting even, in his face, demanding to know why they were laughing at him.  I will never forget that look of fear in my son’s eyes or the pleading tone to the kids’ voices as they tried to assure him they weren’t laughing at him.  It was all to no avail.  He was convinced they were mocking him, and he’d caught them.

So, as Wild Eyed Woman looked at me and then back at Mr. Trenchcoat and one more time asked him what I was laughing at, I rolled down my window and yelled, “Pardon me?!”  She looked at him incredulously, as if to ask, “What is her problem?”  She responded, “Nothing.”  I yelled again, “No!  What did you say?!”  The young man nudged her and shook his head no.  I hollered once more, “Pardon meeeeee?!”  She said, “Nothing.  Never mind.”  I continued to stare at her.  Well, perhaps, glare.  The guy in the trench coat leaned in and said something to her, and she ran away into the laundromat.  He sat down and began tripping on the asphalt.

My children stared at me in disbelief.

No one is going to falsely accuse me or my kids.  No one is going to threaten or intimidate me.  Not anymore.




When Your ExHusband Dies; Rethinking the Past


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1996:  My then 9-year-old daughter walked confidently into the living room and matter of factly told my abuser, “My daddy was the love of my mommy’s life!”  I don’t even remember how anyone responded or what she did after that.  But, it was a bit of a running joke for years after.  And, it was true.

1985:  I sat waiting to give my friend a ride to her waitressing job when one of her roommates arrived home from a ski trip.  He was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome.  I was instantly in love and, from that moment on, felt as though I couldn’t breathe when I wasn’t with him.

2017:  My youngest two children played in the next room while I scrubbed my client’s sink.  Typically I don’t answer the phone when I’m at work, but it was my oldest daughter and it was her birthday….so, I made an exception.  She told me that she’d just received a call from her biological uncle.  Her dad had dropped dead at the gym that morning.  Her dad died on her birthday.  Immediately, my face burned, and I could feel cold sores welling up under my entire bottom lip.  The only other time that happened was when I received the call that my own dad had died.

I’ve spent the last 31 years longing for my first husband.  I’ve idealized him.  I often fantasized that he’d return and whisk us all to safety.  Even lately, I’ve allowed my mind to think about us hooking back up as we watched our grandchildren play.  What if we realized, as we watched those babies that share a bit of both of us, we have always belonged together.  Three decades of wasted time living separate lives.

And, now he’s dead.

The first week I privately mourned.  I couldn’t express myself.  I had to be there for my poor daughter.  I had to pray for and message my grieving ex mother-in-law.  It would be inappropriate to dwell on myself and my undying decades old love for a man I will never reconnect with now.

By the second week I began to remember things long forgotten.  Like, how he made me sit in a hot car and wait for him while he visited some old family friends.  Or, how he told me he checked the oil in my car but had lied.  I only found out after my engine began knocking and overheating.  Or, how he’d shoved me to the ground and spewed his seed all over me the last time we were intimate.  And, then, without a word, he got in his car and drove away.  There was that time he tickled me so hard I cried.  It was at the city park, I was pregnant, and a couple stopped and asked if I needed help.  And, the time his 12-year-old brother blocked the front door after dinner at his mom’s house.  His brother demanded that I stay there, saying, “No one should go home with a husband who treats them like that!”  He’d seen the bruises on my legs from where I’d been pinched any time I began to speak “out of turn.”

Anger began to replace grief as more and more memories flooded back.

My daughter’s glowing reports of how successful he was or how many hundreds of friends he has or how much he truly loved her pricked my heart.  His family and girlfriend tell her how much she really meant to him.  He had her name tattooed on his body.  They had even discussed having her step-father adoption reversed.  A year and a half ago….the last time they spoke.  She needs to believe her father loved her and wanted her, and I won’t remind her.  Instead, I sit silently and absorb it all as though it’s the truth.

Naturally he was successful and has accumulated more in his lifetime than I have in mine.  When the doctor told us that I needed an abortion and a hysterectomy to save my own life, he left me to wrestle with fear and face my own mortality alone while he ran off to Hawaii and chased other girls.   While I struggled with caring for her, he was living with his grandparents, being cared for by them.  Every decision I made was with consideration of how it would affect her, and I did so without a healthy support system or any idea what that even looked like.  He joined the Navy, got kicked out, went to training and school, and enjoyed the help of his doting grandparents.  While he was paying for martial arts lessons and buying guitars and motorcycles and lavishing a lifestyle on his girlfriends, I was trying to clothe and educate and feed our child.

My life has been spent divided between work and home, trying, and failing, to be the best mother I could be.  His life was one self-indulgent romp after another.

I’d asked him to please not divorce me.  Please remain in the same house with me so we could raise her together.  He flatly responded, “I don’t want to be a husband or a father.”

When she was 18 months old he came for his second visit.  I begged him to visit more often, to be involved in her life.  He said, “It’s like I’m a father, but I’m not a dad.  I look at her and feel nothing.”  I thought the lump in my throat would choke me.  How could anyone look at that adorable face and those bouncing tight curls and not love her madly???

This past week my daughter shared with me how angry he had been when she shared with him how my abuser had forced us to live.  He told her that he should have come and taken her away from me and out of this mess, but she told him she wouldn’t have gone with him.  He asked her why not, and she told him that she would not have left her siblings because she needed to protect them.  Though she felt she’d done a poor job of it, she still felt responsible for them.  She continued to explain to me that her dad had wished he’d come for her.

Now, wait a minute!  Okay, I kept my mouth shut again.  But, but, there is so much wrong with that entire conversation!  She tried to protect them???  She spent a majority of  her time in her room, listening to music, or at youth group, or with friends.  He needed to come take her away from me???  Um, no, he needed to have not abandoned her as a newborn.  He needed to have been involved in  her childhood.  He needed to pay child support and help provide for her.  He was too busy living for himself, not caring for her, but had the audacity to try to come off like the loving father full of regret for not removing his daughter, once she was an adult, from her unfit mother???   What the hell?  Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Oooohhhhhh…….in walks the third wife.  The mother of his other two children, both quite young still.   She wants his estate to provide for the children.  His family is claiming it all.  And, they’re all gearing up for a legal battle.  The family thinks she has no right to anything.  If they can reverse my daughter’s adoption post-mortem, they think she can control the entire estate on their behalf.

Suddenly, I could see more clearly.  They pushed out the third wife, too, just like they had pushed me out.  He had wanted to stop fighting for custody of those kids, but my daughter convinced him to continue.  Once he had them, he complained about it.  He didn’t want them any more than he’d wanted our daughter.  He’d just been guilted and forced this time (by my own daughter) instead of being excused and coddled (by his family) like last time.

This Hawaiian god for whom I would have drunk the Kool-Aid at any given point over the course of the last 32 years was also an abuser.  His family was/is controlling and manipulative.  There is little difference between him and my second husband.  LITTLE DIFFERENCE.  Other than looks.  Why did I hold him up so in my heart and mind?

I’m shocked to realize how much alike they were.  Even in little things.  They both had union jobs and were pro union.  In fact, my 1st husband, in the end, worked for the union.  They both HATED country music; they were metal heads.  They both lifted weights and practiced martial arts religiously.  They both preferred to eat fast food over home cooked meals. They both dabbled in satanism.  They both rode motorcycles.  On and on I could go!

And, yet, I’m staunchly anti-labor unions. I’m extremely entrepreneurial minded.  I HATE rock.  I rather enjoy country music.  I love to cook and won’t allow my kids to eat that poison that is sold as food at all of those drive ups.  I’ve lifted weights some in the past, but I have zero interest in martial arts.  I prefer to get my exercise from hiking or dancing. I’m a devout Christian. And, I can’t stand motorcycles.  I’d rather ride a bicycle if I want to feel the wind in my hair.

What attracted me to two similar men who are so incredibly different from me?  I went to counseling at a large church in town once.  My second husband was supposed to come with me but didn’t show up.  The counselor did some family mapping with me and then tapped the paper and excitedly said, “You don’t hate your mother nearly as much as you think you do!  You married her twice!”

I didn’t see it then.  But, this week my eyes have been opened.  Another chink in the chain that has bound me broke and fell to the ground.  I’m sorry for his family’s loss.  I’m sorry my daughter lost her dad on her birthday.  I’m sorry her birthday will never be the same again.  I’m sorry that they never made peace with their past outside of that once expressed regret for leaving her with me.  I’m sorry she’ll never have that closure.  But, I’m free from loving the memory of someone he never was.

Arguments, Debates, and Respect


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Someone in a medical freedom group I belong to asked, “Who here likes to debate?”  Certainly not me!

I’ve spent five decades fighting for my right to an emotion, an opinion, and at least a say in my own life.  At one time I did enjoy a good debate, when that was the only arena where I stood a chance to be heard.  But, now, I’m just battle weary and truly hate debate and disagreement.  

That doesn’t mean, however, that I silence my own voice.  I just don’t want to debate my opinion. 

It also isn’t that I’m so stubborn I don’t want to hear dissenting opinions.  It’s just that I don’t want to argue.  I want to be able to share an interesting article or express myself without having to defend myself constantly. 

Sometimes that means walking away from a conversation.  Sometimes that means walking away from relationships. 

Shortly after the divorce I connected with a young survivor, and we became close.  I cherished her.  Yet, when we met in person my older son and I both felt walked on.  We felt a little bullied.   I tried to explain it away that she desperately needed to express herself because she hadn’t been allowed to.  But, neither had we.   And, it seemed to set a precedent in the relationship.   Time passed, and it seemed that more often than not she argued or negatively commented on much of what I had to say.  When I finally told her that I didn’t like it, she responded that she thought my space was a place for open discussion. 

I went no contact.  I think of her so often.  I hear she’s happy and doing well.  And, that makes me happy.  But, I couldn’t continue in a friendship where I had to constantly defend my opinion or feelings for the sake of her desire for open discussion.

Sometimes I just want to be heard, too.  Sometimes I’m speaking to someone else, and it is interference to butt in. 

What’s wrong nowadays with just listening to someone else?  Just listening.  Respecting where they are in that moment.  Caring enough about other human beings that we don’t always need to make their conversation about us.

This week I posted an excellent article that discussed something many of us have experienced.  I shared it with a couple of specific individuals in mind, and I hoped they’d see it.  I knew it would be helpful to them where they’re at right now. 

A woman I’ve never met and who obviously did not even read the article began arguing with it.  Her style of argumentation was familiar.  She mentioned ISIS and an abusive man in Dubai.  She flatly stated a falsehood about our local area as fact.  She told me to call the churches and ask questions, as though I’m just ignorant of what’s really going on.  She talked about her job.  She brought up other entities.  She victim blamed.  She said things like that “burn her buns,” in other words, she let me know it had angered her. 

I was triggered, and I responded, as did a few other people.  The woman continued.  She didn’t let up.  Neither did I, finally telling her this isn’t about her and to just stop.  A friend gently recommended she go back and read the original post.  She never addressed whether or not she had, in fact, read it. 

I posted something to help victims, and she high jacked it and made herself the focus. 

I deleted her comments and unfriended her.

My adult daughter, who does personally know the woman, jumped in to “defend” the woman and let my friends know “before anyone jumps me” that she’s my daughter.  No one had jumped the woman!

I deleted my daughter’s comment.  Enough was enough.  The focus should have been on victims knowing there is help and that they don’t need to remain a victim just because their church tells them they do! 

My daughter responded, “LMAO… my comments were deleted.” 

I deleted that.  The purpose of that statement was……???

Twenty four hours later, I woke up to yet another antagonistic comment from my daughter that stated she was sure her comment would be deleted because it seemed the only comments allowed were those that agreed with the article.  She was right.  I deleted it. 

Like a dog with a bone, some people get a hold of an argument they’ve created and they won’t let it go. 

That is characteristic of my daughter’s personality and how she lives her entire life.  And, I’m on the verge of going no contact with my own first born child. 

It isn’t that I don’t love her.  I long for a relationship with her.  Just like I still love that survivor friend I walked away from.  But, I choose now to surround myself with those who also care enough about me and the things I value to respect my feelings, thoughts, opinions, and words.  Yes!  Theirs count!  But, so do mine. 

I don’t condone everything my loved ones say and do.  I don’t agree with their lifestyle choices.  But, I hold my tongue and love them anyway, connecting with them where we do share commonalities.   I expect the same now. 

Facebook Memories; We’ve Come A Lot Further Than I Realize


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I love waking up to those Your Memories on Facebook posts.   Sometimes they’re pictures of my much younger kids.  Sometimes they’re my thoughts on what was going on in my life at that time.  But, they’re always a little surprising. 

I don’t notice how much my kids have grown because I see them every day.  I also don’t notice how drastically our life has changed because I live it every day.
Most days I’m frustrated that life has not changed fast enough.  I expected to be in a much better place this far out.  I imagined a nearly instant utopia just as soon as our abuser was out of the house, but that didn’t happen.   It’s been a long, slow, arduous process.

Nonetheless, it has, in fact, changed A LOT.

We’ve been snowed in for seven days and have spent the time home schooling and hiking, skiing, and sledding the mountain we live on.  We’ve eaten very, very well.  And, we’ve stayed warm.  We all have appropriate snow clothing, and, because I now have a chainsaw, we have a woodshed stocked with hard wood.

That hasn’t always been the case.

Since I married R none of us, except R, had warm, waterproof clothes.  And, most of the time we were food insecure.  Dry wood has, with the exception of a couple of years right before R left, always been an issue.

Last winter we had very little wet wood in spite of a shirt tail relative cutting down trees and my teenager working long hours hauling wood.  The man’s son in law took the lion’s share of that wood and took the very best of it.  We were so very cold all winter long.

When we were snowed in just three years ago, we sledded in our every day clothes, thin pants and fall jackets, and then came in to huddle under blankets in front of a smoldering fire. 

We’ve just been having too much fun this year.   🙂

It’s hard to even remember what it’s like to be hungry, to not even own a purse or have beds for the children……to accept the fact that the kids didn’t have shoes, and I tied the straps together of an old, worn out bra. 

I feel a bit spoiled thinking about all of that. 

Yes, we’re still living in a horribly run down house.  The tires on my car are bald.  The ex still tries to manipulate.  There are deep problems with a couple of my adult children.  I’m still alone.  We don’t have a church family.  And, there are many in our community who are drinking R’s Kool-aid, coddling the abuser and turning on the abused.

But……but……BUT…….. our life IS improving.  I see the evidence on those Facebook memories.  And, I FEEL it when I hear the gossip or see the hot stares or have to face the ex and his lies.  Because it doesn’t wound me anymore.  My skin is thicker.  My focus lies elsewhere.  Paralyzing fear has been replaced with indifference.  Hurt feelings have been replaced with the joy found in other relationships. 

Things just aren’t that bad anymore. 

No, I’m not where I’d hoped I’d be–in a home, relationships restored, justice applied, basking in a new love–but, I’m no where near where I was five years ago, three years ago, a year ago.  So, I can only imagine how different life will be in another year, three years, five years.  It’s slow.  It’s a process.  But, it is still progress. 

Family and Choices


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Deathly ill, I sat in my grandma’s tiny white and aqua kitchen drinking coffee.   She and I had always been close but had grown even closer since Grandpa passed away in April and my husband left the state in July.  She, too, was seriously ill, but no one realized she was dying.  Except her.  Perhaps me. 

She gave me a look that let me know I was not to question her and flatly stated, “We decided on this because R is the only one of you kids who is in a position to do the assessment work.  We want the mine to stay in the family and be open to all of you.  It just needs to be in his name because he’s got to be responsible for it.” 

I was devastated, but I understood.  He lived locally, unlike my three cousins; he was the only one of us with a truck; and I was sick and pregnant and abandoned.  But, why couldn’t it go to all of us?  Why couldn’t we all contribute somehow?  Monetarily maybe?  Why was one grandchild gaining sole ownership of the mine upon her death?

Of course, upon her death R gated it and locked it.  It was his.  The papers said so. No one was allowed up there without him, without his invitation, which rarely came. 

My uncle inherited my grandparents’ house and all of its contents just six months after that day in the kitchen.  And, I recall the horror of walking in on him and my oldest cousin pulling drawers out onto the floor and rummaging through Grandma and Grandpa’s things.  A lifetime of work and collecting and organizing in heaps on the floor.

Once he’d sufficiently sorted through their belongings and stripped the house of anything of value, he rented the house to my brother R.  The piano was still there.  My aunt wanted to give it to a local church, but my mom and I begged her to let it stay.  Three years later I offered my uncle $250 for it.  He refused.

A few more years passed and my uncle sold the old home, once the stage coach stop when it was down beside the creek, and the acre it sat on to R.  For $28,000.  With the piano included for free. 

R quickly bulldozed the old historic building and burned what remained.  He tore out the trees and bushes my grandparents lovingly planted and tended.  Well, what was left that my uncle had not already uprooted.   The old home place, the only home we’d ever experienced, was gone. 

In its place he put up a small shop and an old double wide someone just gave him. 

Our safe retreat, the warmth of Grandpa and Grandma’s old and small but sweet home, was erased from existence. 

The piano had been removed before the demolition, and it now sat in the trailer where the dogs chewed one leg off. 

My mother had been given the adjacent acre as her early inheritance when she left my step dad.  And, she left it to my daughter with my son in law as next in line, acknowledging my brother and me as her children yet admitting it was her intent to leave us nothing.

R was furious.  He demanded I help him go to court to get back what was rightfully ours.  I couldn’t.  I was knee deep in a court battle with my ex, fighting for safety for my children and myself.  R saw my refusal to help him as “siding” with my daughter and just letting her steal our inheritance.  So, when dad died seven months later, R once again made sure that he took everything Dad owned, denying me any right I had to it. 

And, here we are…..4 1/2 years later.  Why do I bring this all up now?

Yesterday on vistation (after putting away the naked blow up doll hanging in the dining room–that’s a whole other story) my ex told the kids that he was “just out in” the small area where I live and decided to swing in and say hi to my brother.  However, two strange guys answered the door and said they are his renters.  R doesn’t live there anymore.

I texted my daughter.  My brother has sent his dogs after my daughter and her friends when they’ve been working on my mom’s empty, old place, and he has stolen off of that property.  My daughter wouldn’t even go to the property alone when she was pregnant.   Now, they no longer need to worry about R bothering them. 

Maybe I should have left well enough alone. 

She immediately began checking public records to see if he had sold it.   In doing so, she found that he owns a second mining claim that none of us knew about.  And, it appears he abandoned my grandparents’ claim they left him all those years ago.  The government tried to contact him multiple times, but he failed to respond. 
It’s gone now, too.

I updated my 16 year old on what his sister was finding, and he looked at me, shaking his head, and said, “Wow, EVERYone in your entire family f-ed you.”

I woke up this morning to a frigid cold house I’m just grateful my landlord doesn’t kick me out of.  I tended the animals and brought in wood.  I attempted to wash my hands, but the ice water coming from the faucet was too much for my already cold hands.  So,  I moved on to building a fire in the tiny box at one end of the house.  And, all I can think about is how my brother and daughter have stolen and then just WASTED what should have been partly mine.  My stuggles could have been greatly eased had I received my portion.  Yet, those who wanted it all placed no value on that which could have changed my life.  And, in all honestly, they only acquired it all because, not only mom, but my grandparents, my uncle, and my dad allowed it. 

Like my son said….. everyone in my entire family f-ed me.  

And, people ask how I ended up marrying an abuser.  They ask what attracted me to a man like that.

It’s really all I knew.

No Story, No Glory


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I’ve been STRONGLY feeling all of your prayers going up on my behalf!  Thank you!

There have been no major shifts in the day to day reality of my life, but my attitude about it all has completely flipped.  I’ve been able to have more of an eternal perspective.

When I was a little girl I basically wanted just four things in life:  Lots of kids, lots of animals, to live on a body of water, and to write.  I loved to write stories and poems and play with my cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, and calves.   Those were my happy places. But, as I grew my stories and poems got buried beneath heavy mounds of pain. 

My ex would tell you he tried to encourage me to write.  What he did was demand I write a book because he’d worked on the new home of a man who hit it big by…..writing a book.  Like one of those old cartoon characters, the dollar signs spun around his eyeballs, making him resemble a slot machine.  All he could think was that he’d no longer have to work at all.  His days could be wasted away in front of the TV, drinking beer, while living off of my royalties.

Because, yeah, starving writers aren’t really a thing.  You just write a book and get rich.  That’s how it works.  (I can taste my own sarcasm!)

I didn’t know what to write about though.  I tried.  But, nothing bubbled to the top and poured out the tips of my fingers.  They were dry.  Empty.  As though I had no stories to tell. 

The massive dam of abuse held back my ability to share my story.  Giant beams of shame and hardened layers of rejection directed the flow of my life and kept my words in place. 

Until an earth shattering natural disaster caused that dam to crumble.

Like Nehemiah riding through the ruins of the temple, I’ve spent the last five years circling the ruins of my life, trying to figure out how to rebuild this mess.  Debris is EVERYWHERE!  Some stones are so heavy there’s just no way I can possibly remove them by myself.   It’s a long, arduous process to thoroughly remove the chaotic evidence of destruction.  I can’t even think of rebuilding until the site is cleared.  Oh, just lots and lots of work to do!

As I’ve heaved and struggled, I’ve recorded my story.   I’ve written snippets, chapters if you will, of devotions, ideas and scripture verses, that have helped me with my work. 

I’ve also started writing my life story as a novel.  It’s not to make me the star of my own show.  I’m not so deluded as to think I’m that interesting.  By weaving other people’s stories into the abnormality of my own life story I’m hoping to prove there is no such thing as that elusive “normal life” and “normal family” too many of us long for.
And, now, I’m starting a third project.  I don’t think they’ll ever get published.  That’s not the point.  The point is, I’m writing.  I’ve tapped into that part of me that found solace in putting words to paper.  That, in itself, is fulfilling.  Amazingly, the abuse that took that from me has become the catalyst for my fulfillment.  It is my song. It is my story.

For now, my glory is that I have survived the cataclysmic disaster.  One day, my glory will be that I rebuilt on the site of the ruins, I will have reclaimed what looked to be beyond repair. 

Our precious Savior’s story of salvation and redemption is built on the abuse and pain of the cross.  The beauty of Heaven is built on the foundation of a fallen world.  His glory is found in the story of His willingness to become a man and suffer for the sake of all men.  
We’d have no desire to seek Him and that wonderful eternal peace He offers if we didn’t feel the terrible sting of the pain of this nasty world, just as He did.  Why did I ever think that I could escape it when even the Lord of Lords did not?  Have I not been called to follow Him?  To pick up the cross and follow Him? 

There IS glory on the other side of pain.  No matter the mechanism of injury.  No matter the cause of the devastation.  If we hold tight, it’s there.  If we can muster the strength to do the hard work of clearing, cleaning, and rebuilding, we’ll find it.  Our bodies are the temple of the living God.  And, as Nehemiah found with his temple, sometimes there’s just a lot of work to be done on that temple.  But, the beauty of the finished work outshines the disaster we began with.  It’s worth it.  Christ knew the cross was worth it.  He felt WE were worth it.