Category Archives: Life’s Valleys

Times of sadness, frustration, disapointment and depression.

A Story of Suicide and Hope

In September of 1986 my life took an unexpected turn that started me spiraling downward until one night in 1989 that would change my life. That night I sat on my couch and looked at my wrists and thought “I wonder which would hurt worse, cutting my wrists or pain of emptiness in my heart.” You see, in the two and a half years before I had lost everything. All hope was gone. Here only a few highlights that drove me to consider suicide:

  • September 1986 – I had left my home and my job in Dallas and moved to Daleville, Indiana, my husband’s hometown, in hopes of a better life. Within a week he abandoned me and my 13-month old twin daughters. Adding to my loss he also left us with no home or belongings. We stayed with his mother for a few months.
  • November 1986 – I was in an auto accident and lost my car. I finally moved into a place, a rundown trailer. It took two months for the owner to put in a front door. The place was so roach infested you couldn’t walk around in the dark and I had to wash my clean dishes before using them. This infestation came through a “new” stove – a stove with only one working burner and no working oven. And for the eight months we lived there the toilet didn’t work. Night after night I cried over the hopelessness of my situation.
  • January 1987 – my dad had a series of small strokes. He was in the hospital for weeks. I had no phone and my husband’s family wasn’t cooperative in contacting me about his illness.
  • Valentine’s Day 1987 – he asked me for a divorce so he could marry Diane.
  • June 1987 – We moved back in with his mom but would move again a couple of months later because his dad would get drunk and come on to me.
  • October 10, 1987 – I’m now living in a small trailer with my ex-sister-in-law and her daughter. We have no phone and live more than mile from any pay phones. I had called my mom in August for her birthday and she seemed very angry when I told her about the divorce. In my soul I knew something was wrong, I just couldn’t get her off my mind so I arranged for a babysitter and I was going to walk to the phone and call her Sunday morning, October 11th. Saturday evening my ex-mother-in-law came over and said “I’m so sorry”, she was crying. All I could think was my ex-husband was dead and I would have to pretend to feel bad. Then those fateful words came, “your mother died this morning.” That horrible phone call in August was the last conversation I had with my mom.
  • October 12, 1987 – I was able to fly home to Massachusetts for the funeral. My aunt’s, my dad’s sisters, jumped all over me for not having called my mom sooner – guilt I would live with for 15 years.
  • March 1988 – My grandmother called and told me my dad had an aneurism and needed surgery which had only five percent chance of success. My nightly crying over my mom dried up as I prepared for an extended stay back in Massachusetts. The surgery was a success and we returned to Indiana in May.
  • July 19, 1988 – I became an orphan. My father died and I was even more desperately alone. Both mom and dad gone in less than a year.
  • September 1988 – I suffered a knee injury and was barely able to walk.
  • October 1988 – still living in Indiana, away from everything and everyone I knew I became desperately in need of replenishing my family so I became pregnant – no husband – just wanted a baby.
  • January 1, 1989 – a new year and a new start? No. The pregnancy was ectopic. After nearly three months of the worst pain I ever experienced l lost my son and any chance of restoring my family or replacing my parents.
  • February 1989 – my knee had become so bad that I was unable to walk or care for my girls. I had lost so much and so little had been restored. I had nothing but responsibility and heartache. I couldn’t care for myself let alone my daughters.

I had lost everything – all I owned, my job, my financial security, my health, my husband, my mother, my father, and the baby I was so desperately putting my hope in. But that’s the problem. I was putting my hope in sinking sand when I needed to put in upon the rock – Jesus.

As I was contemplating suicide I walked to the back of the trailer to the bathroom. On my way I passed my girls room. I looked at those sleeping little beauties and thought, “they already have an absentee dad, what will happen to them if I die?”

It was 11:00pm but I was determined to find help, anything to get me through the night. I called a friend long distance (this was back when it cost a lot for long distance and I was destitute). We talked and prayed for four hours. This was the best $45.00 I’ve ever spent. That was a lot in 1989.

The next day I scheduled the needed knee surgery and began to spend every quiet moment with God. Suicide has never been an option since. That was 25 years ago and so much has happened. I’ve had a few deep lows but over all I’ve had a wonderfully blessed life. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my family, my daughters and all the people I’ve helped since had I decided to take my life that night. I would have need seen my girls grow into such beautiful young women, I would have never influenced so many students, I would have never gone on my Jubilee Journey and met my father’s family and I would have never been at the birth of my grandson, never known that beautiful little boy. All I lost has been restored to the full and overflowing (John 10:10). And don’t think too negatively about my ex-husband. All is forgiven and I can say we are friends. To this day I count his mom and sister as my dearest friends. And he never did marry Diane.

No matter what the circumstance there is ALWAYS hope in Jesus. Find a way to the ROCK and there you will find hope. If you’re still alive it’s because God isn’t done with you yet, there is still a purpose and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11)

“No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late”
~ ~  Jubilee Journey, Day 542

 

Next week: A Humble Attitude

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Soul Blockers: Evil Forebodings

You might think the antithesis of this month’s topic, a positive attitude, would be negative but I’ve decided to address one form of negativity…evil forebodings. Evil forebodings will zap any amount of positivity as well as mental and physical energy. So why do I address this instead? …I had to deal with it, not once but twice this week.

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As a young girl I would have imaginings of my ailing mother dying. I’d hear sirens and cry for fear something had happened to her. As an adult I transferred some of these irrational thoughts to my husband and then to my children. I would sit and imagine what seemed to be for hours, thoughts of some catastrophe that would take them from me.

103_8967This may stem from my own abandonment from my father leaving then learning my mother was dying when I was ten. But I believe there is more to this. My (step) dad was very negative and as much as I tried to not be like him, what was on him got on me. Many years ago I dealt with my negative attitudes in all its forms so when I had an attack this week I found it odd…and debilitating. I spent the day imagining some horrible catastrophe was going to happen and with nothing to prompt these thoughts. Often when we teach something we will experience the same issue, the enemy likes to challenge us. It happened again today but through the grace of God I overcame it quickly.

Evil foreboding goes beyond a negative attitude and engulfs the sufferer in imaginations of catastrophe. And there isn’t necessarily any precursor to such thoughts. The individual doesn’t choose to sit and think the worst. What is the root of evil foreboding, and many negative thoughts? John Eldredge in Waking the Dead explains it perfectly

100_4083“…most of the time we don’t recognize it as an attack. At first it tends to be vague – not voices in the head, not an obvious assault, but more of a “sense” we have, an impression, a feeling that comes over us. The power of suggestion. Now, if some demon were standing in front of us, telling us, ‘Here, drink this rat poison,’ we’d tell him where to go. But because we do not live as though we are at war, well, we just assume these impressions are our own, and we accept them, agree with them, live under them like slaves under a task master. Listen carefully: any movement toward freedom and life, any movement toward God or others, will be opposed.”

Epiphany! I no longer had to work on my “problem”, I didn’t need to focus on “self-help” formulas; but I was entering the fight of my life. I was at war in a battle for my mind, my peace and my joy.

Trouble mind = no renewal, no restoration (Ephesians 4:23)

No peace = troubled hearts (John 14:27)

No joy = no strength (Nehemiah 8:10)

Evil foreboding will steal your positive attitude so how do we protect ourselves? Recite Romans 12.2 – be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Be in continual contact with the one who heals, restores and renews. By keeping such verses in the forefront of your mind you will break the strongholds in your life. As John further explains…

“…a believer can have a stronghold of Satan in his life. It’s not just about anger; it can happen through all sorts of issues. The Devil will try to use your wounds and unresolved emotional issues to pin down your heart under a spiritual stronghold.”

aquarium-busch gardens 571Fight, fight hard. You’re at war and you are the prize. Identify the areas where you’re the weakest. What routinely steals your peace? Ask yourself, what is the root of the problem? For me evil forebodings are rooted in abandonment issues and that is where I needed to go for healing. Not just once, as you read above. Even areas once conquered and long gone can come back to haunt you…be aware and be on the lookout for the enemy roams like a roaring lion seeking to someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

“If it doesn’t bring freedom and it doesn’t bring life, its’ not Christianity. If it doesn’t restore the image of God and rejoice in the heart, it’s not Christianity.”
~ John Eldredge ~

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Related posts
Soul Blockers: Negativity, the secret sin

Christmas Reconciliation: A Hallmark Christmas revisited

The last three episodes in my little Christmas story were all a build up to this post, my very own Hallmark Christmas. Yesterday, December 23rd, was the third anniversary of my very own Hallmark Christmas.

The summer of 1964 was the last time I saw my father and all I remember is that he didn’t want me. For the next 46 years I would struggle with feeling worthless, unlovable and second best. Oh, you’d never know it if you met me but every once in a while these demons would rear their ugly heads. This wasn’t a conscience effort but like any internal infection it found a way to seep out. If life didn’t arrange for mediocrity then I would somehow sabotage myself. Deep inside I didn’t feel I was worthy.

In 2001, a friend confronted me about my negative attitude. It hurt and as usual I denied it. But it did serve as a wakeup call to my damaged mind and I would spend the next eight years letting Jesus transform my mind. Dealing with these self defeating emotions allowed me to the adventure of a life time.

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If you recall in part two, after the death of my parents I became obsessed with finding my father and experiencing my own Hallmark Christmas with the reconciliation of my long lost family. Then the summer of 2010 I learned my father had died two years before thus putting an end to any hope of my Hallmark Christmas. By November of that year, a dark cloud covered my spirit and again I became obsessed. His death may have provided closure to my mind but my heart was anything but settled.

In a series of coincidences, or what I refer to as “God sightings”, my numb heart and the prospect of a dismal Christmas, God moved mountains for my restoration and reconciliation.

December 23, 2010 I drove seven hours out of my way to find some closure. I found my father’s grave and I talked to him for some time but in me was a growing need to know more. I set out to find someone who could tell me something about him. My first stop was the cemetery office, after that I intended to visit the mortician and the pastor mentioned in his obituary. But I wouldn’t have to look any further than the office. Through tears I told the woman my story and by the grace of God she took pity on me. She contacted his wife who lived in the next town a conversation that would change my heart and life forever.

Was I really unlovable, unworthy? What I learned was an overwhelming NO. They had looked for me for 40 years until his death. I met my sisters and a brother and talked another brother, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Christmas is no longer lonely. I have a family. God took a dead situation and used it to his glory. He brought back a dead childhood dream and brought it back to life and at the perfect time for everyone.

Is this the way I wouldn’t have wanted my Hallmark Christmas? Well, meeting my father would have made it perfect for me but everything is in Jesus’ timing and that is perfect. And I know someday I will meet him again. I received the gift of reconciliation that year just as the birth of our savior is the ultimate gift of reconciliation to the Father.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate? Tune in next week…

Check out A Hallmark Movie Christmas to read the original story.

Next week – Christmas Freedom

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas Past
Part 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Part 3 – Christmas Restored

Christmas Restored: Jubilee Journey and Christmas movies

If you recall in part 2­ I wrote about a series of losses leading to the challenge of my Christmas spirit. One thing that ministered to my spirit was Christmas movies. I would dream of having my own “Hallmark” Christmas, of the day I would be reconciled with my family – if they still existed.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 187 (3)All of life is a story, the bible is a story and we are all living in our own stories as well as being part of a larger story. Fairy tales, novels, even movies tell stories that reflect the story of life and the connection with the larger story. What we can learn from Christmas movies? What do they teach about the human heart and the heart of God towards his children? Stories that touch our heart often reflect the heart of the father.

We’re going to look at four movies that have held special meaning to me but also reflect the heart of the father. My heart restored, I found hope even while my heart was breaking and I believed in something more.

 

It’s a Wonderful life & A Christmas Carol

“No matter how dead…”

cmas2013-busch.gardens 266You may think it odd that I pair these two movies but there are similarities and both have touched my heart in similar ways: answering the question, do I matter. Both men are blessed with seeing their world in different ways, one a world where he had a positive impact and the other a world he negatively impacted. The angel and the ghosts set out to show the men that their lives do matter and this is what I longed for.

Like Scrooge I needed a spirit adjustment but unlike scrooge I longed for it. More than anything I wanted my heart restored, my spirit restored but I just couldn’t seem to find the way and I just couldn’t find my way out of the fog. I thank God he never gave up on me and protected my throughout all those dark years.

Then there is George Bailey, a man who mattered so much to so many, believed he was better off dead. He is given the magnificent gift of seeing what the world would be like if he never existed. Like George I struggled to hang on to the little hope I had left and that I did matter, somehow.

God wants us to know that we do matter and that it’s never too late. We are put here on this earth for a reason and even if we don’t know what that reason is we must have hope it’s there. George believed his circumstances were dead, Ebenezer believed he couldn’t change and I believed I would never matter. No matter how bad we think our lives are now, no matter how bad we’ve wasted what God has given us, there is still hope. We can still change and we do matter to God, our creator.

 

White Christmas

“No matter how impossible…”

P1080458I always cry at the end of this movie, and not just because of the miracle of snow, but because of the restoration of hope. General Waverly was losing everything, he was alone in his heart and he was becoming hopeless. His situation had gone from difficult to impossible. Bob and Phil cook up a scheme to restore the old man’s heart and faith by giving him a surprise to lighten his heart. When all the generals men come marching into the old, vacant inn, I cry right along with him. The love these men had for their general restores hope and showed him that nothing is impossible

Again we go back to the issue of “mattering”, of being important to someone. I had lost hope that I mattered so movies gave me a brief moment in the dark nights of my living room that I would matter. White Christmas shows me that with love nothing is impossible. Jesus wants us to believe in him, that the story is written and there’s a beauty to be revealed. We just have to have patience and wait for his revelation and restoration of hope.

 

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

“No matter how hopeless…”

P1080666This sweet little movie starring Dolly Parton shows a famous country singer in desperate need of rest, for peace, quiet and time from ridiculous demands on her life. She returns to her family cottage in the mountains to find a group of young orphaned boys and girls who had run away from brutal conditions at the orphanage.

Lorna (Dolly) finds room in her heart for these hopeless children and not only comes to their rescue from the orphanages’ director but takes them into her heart and home as her own children. The character demonstrates true sacrifice by caring for the needs of those who can’t possible return the favor. These little ones had no hope of relief, no hope of a family.

God too sacrificed for the protection, restoration and reconciliation of his little ones. Remember this season, Jesus isn’t just the gift of eternal life, he is the gift of all life, he is life. And while we celebrate the wonder of his birth, the joy and peace of this new beginning let’s not forget where this birth leads; to his ultimate sacrifice for us, to bring us back to him, to gives us as orphans a home in him, a life in him.

 

If parts one and two left you sad, don’t be…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Joy always comes in the morning. Come back Monday, December 23 for Part 4 – A Hallmark Christmas Revisited, an anniversary of reconciliation.

 

Do you have a Christmas story or movie that’s moved or encouraged you? I would love for you to share these experiences.

 

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas past

Part 2 – The fall: Spirit of Christmas loss

The Fall: A haunting of Christmas loss

Late September to early October ushers in the holiday season in my household with the first chill of the year, changing leaves and pumpkins galore. By October of 1987 I was newly divorced and homeless with 2-year old twin daughters. While life was tough I welcomed the 1987 holiday season with excitement and joy. Little did I know this year would be my first Christmas without my mom and the last Christmas with my dad.

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Not only had I lost my mom but the circumstances of the time made the loss even more unbearable. I had told her two months prior of my divorce. She was understandably upset perhaps even angry or at least that was my perception. I begged her to let us come home but she wouldn’t allow it. We argued, how could she let her daughter and granddaughters live in the horrible conditions we were in. The two weeks before her death I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me, causing me to remember and miss my home, my family. I couldn’t stand the internal pressure anymore so I arranged for a babysitter and planned to walk the mile to the closest phone the next Sunday. The day before, my “former” mother-in-law came to where I was staying and said “I’m so sorry”. She was crying and could barely get the words out. All I could think was “my ex-husband had died and I’d have to feel sorry about it”. She continued, “Your mother died…” and that’s all I remember of her words as I collapsed inside and out.old family_0114

I would never hear my mom’s voice again and the last conversation we had was a horrible argument. And to add coal the fire at her funeral my aunts confronted me rather harshly for not having called her sooner. This led to 15 years of self imposed guilt and the striving to be the perfect mother with perfect holidays.

christmas 2013 076In less than two years I lost my home, my marriage, my mom, my dad, a baby and my entire way of thinking. I was an orphan. I learned to fake the Christmas spirit. I found my longings changed, now I celebrated differently, new traditions. My girls kept me going. Everything I did, every decoration I made, every sweet treat I baked were all unconsciously in memory of my mother. My home was transformed in sight, sound and scent. All decorations, serving ware, plates, cups glasses, pillow, curtains, even shower curtains were stored away and replaced with deep reds, greens and silvers, poinsettias and candy canes. Every room had a Christmas tree. I began to bake cookies, pies, brownies, sweet breads and candy.

While my heart had lost the spirit I believed that somehow, if I put myself into the season fully it would bring some part of my mom back and restore my family. I became obsessed with Christmas movies, especially Hallmark. Those wonderful stories of Christmas miracles and relationships restored. I dreamed of the father I hadn’t seen since childhood coming to my door with my brothers and sisters, a new family, restoration of a childhood loss so deep it would shape my very way of thinking, of how I perceived the world and myself.

A few years later my strained false Christmas spirit became challenged as well as my faith. I learned that Christmas, the birth of Christ, didn’t take place on December 25th, not even in December. Even more, that no one really knows the exact date. Like finding out Santa was a myth the myth of Christmas hit me hard and disillusionment set in. I felt I’d been lied to all my life.

christmas 2013 044One Last blow to my crushed Christmas spirit occurred with the death of my grandmother who passed in 1997. This is a story of loss and heartbreak I won’t get into here (see Paradise Lost). She helped raise me and I was closer to her than anyone else. That summer I sold most of my Christmas decorations. I was truly alone; she was the last of my family. All that was left was my girls. If it weren’t for my girls I would have never celebrated Christmas again. Eventually I did stop decorating after my girls moved to Florida, what was the point.

What I learned during my “Jubilee Journey” is that the spirit of Christmas isn’t about a specific day, or season, or who remains on this earth to walk with us on our journey, it’s about the love of God, giving us his son so our heavenly family can be restored, so we can be reconciled with God, and so we could walk free in Jesus. While I believed I completely lost the spirit there was something deep in my heart calling me. The years after the loss there was a Folgers coffee commercial that featured the song “I’ll be home for Christmas”. There was defiantly something in my heart; I would sob uncontrollably for I knew I would never again be home for Christmas.cmas 2013 050

Then it happened, I had my first Christmas alone. I became very angry and depressed that I wouldn’t be with my girls. There must have been something still in my heart, some bit of hope, the Christmas haunting remained. I may not have wanted a tree but I wanted my girls. I was desperate to be with them. Presents, trees and decorations didn’t matter if I didn’t have them. This was the catalyst that would lead to the “Jubilee Journey.”
Part 1 — A Haunting of Christmas past
Part 3 — Christmas Restored

Day 530 – Dec 12 2010 – All I want for Christmas

This Christmas is definitely a sad one but now that I’m settled in for my two week stay in Delaware I’m finding places to stay a rarity. It seems this is the case wherever I go in the winter. I’m also encountering unusually cold weather for the area. Oh, how excited I am for more snow and below freezing temps. Ok, so that was a tad sarcastic.

With Christmas coming this sadness has become numbing. I guess that’s the only way to deal with the season. No Christmas movies, no Christmas with my girls as they still don’t have a place for me, its too far to go visit anyone else and I wouldn’t feel right barging in on others for Christmas.

So what do I want for Christmas…all I want for Christmas is heat. Pathetic, right? But even that is a tall order as very few campgrounds in Delaware and Virginia are open.

Day 525 – Dec 7 2010 – No more Hallmark Christmases

A lament for the season; the loss of the dream and no hope for a Christmas miracle. This is what’s on my mind as I head for Mass. As I feared I have run into three snow storms. I kept going and made it to my first stop, a rest area near Rochester, New York. My thoughts are sad but not a tearful sadness, more of numbness, a sense of loss. Something is missing from my heart.

Everyone loves stories of Christmas miracles. We watch all these Christmas movies that leave us feeling renewed with the joy that comes from the miracle of restoration, of what Jesus does in the heart by restoring hope, joy, peace and relationships. I could sit for hours watching those cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

I would watch those movies every year from the time I was a young woman with tears in my heart hoping secretly for my own Christmas miracle. I became especially anxious for my Christmas miracle after of death of my parents when I was in my mid 20’s. I was an orphan or was I. You see I had not seen my father since 1964 and for so many Christmases I would dream he would find me and tell me he had never forgotten me. He would introduce me to my brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. Decades later I never gave up this dream, until this year.

I have no desire to watch any Christmas movies this year, and perhaps never again. I really am an orphan now.

Day 478: Oct 21 2010. “Paradise lost”

The anticipation of going home has become overwhelming, so much so that I decided to quit work early and face the demons I associate with my “paradise lost”. I haven’t been back to Cape Cod in fifteen years. A fall out between my uncle and his wife and myself left me angry and bitter.

You see, if anyone could be in love with a place, I was in love with The Cape. A place of remarkable beauty, white sandy beaches; rich in history and a peaceful ambience, it was loved by all who visited. My love for this place went far beyond its physical and cultural geography to permeate my very sense of being and the deepest, sweetest memories of childhood, friends and family. Cape Cod was not just a place, it was magical.

For years while I waited for the invitation from my grandmother to come home, I planned and organized my life so when the invitation came I would be ready. This was my only purpose, my only dream; to be home, back with my Meme. My grandmother was the closest person to me. She had raised me as a baby and then again from the age of twelve. Besides my girls there was no one more important in my life.

Then in the summer of 1992 it came. My heart was filled with joy, I was finally going home. I worked three jobs and saved more than enough money. Then the last month I rented a U-Hall, scheduled utilities to be turned off, quit my three jobs and was living out of boxes. I was scheduled to leave Tuesday, July 20th, 1993, in time to celebrate my daughters eighth birthday. The Thursday before I was to leave, my uncle called and in one sentence my life would change forever; “your grandmother is dying of cancer and you will not come because you and your daughters would be a bother”. Are you kidding!!!

Devastation was an understatement. My dream was shattered. I had planned for this for seven years. I would in turn loose those last three years with my grandmother. He stole my inheritance, personal possessions, my home, and the remaining few years with my MeMe.

Not long after her passing I never heard from him again and any correspondence was returned to me. I was never able to get over the hurt and betrayal and subsequent anger and bitterness. Oh, I hid it well but it was always lurking to emerge somewhere else – my self-confidence, my ability to trust. If I was really loved, these people wouldn’t have disregarded my heart so devilishly.

This anger and hurt darkened my heart towards the geography of my memories. How could I go home again? How can I go to the home I loved, so full of wonderful memories, knowing I will never see any of my loved ones again? But here I go, back to the place associated with my deepest hurt. And for what…the joy of a wedding.

This should be one of the happiest times for me, my best friend from high school is getting married to a wonderful guy and I’ll get to visit with dear friends, some I haven’t seen in thirty years. Gees, can I really be that old. I remember as a little girl thinking I’d never live to see 30; no one could be that old. Ah the perceptions of a child.

Before anything else, I have to deal with these demons. It’s a grey, dreary, rainy day, much like my heart. I drive down roads I’d driven on many times but this time without the joy of anticipation of seeing family and friends, only with the habit of familiarity. There was no emotion, no excitement. Before, every time I’d just see the Sagamore Bridge and I’d cry with joy the half hour drive to my house with such anticipation and excitement at seeing my grandmother.

Now, nothing seems familiar to my heart. They’ve taken rotaries out of some places, added them to others. The police station is now a visitor’s center and Friendly’s (my favorite restaurant) is gone, actually all of them are gone. My bank is now a gas station. And all this is at one intersection. I know things change quickly on The Cape, but really, is nothing sacred? I Head to my home with bitter sweet emotion. I would have never known the house, it had changed so much. I so much wanted something similar to touch my broken heart, but nothing. Whoever “they” are, they’re right: you can’t go home.

They pain in my head and heart is too much; it’s time to find my friends.

How many losses can a heart take? If we deny the wounds or try to minimize them, we deny a part of our heart and end up living a shallow optimism that frequently becomes a demand that the world be better than it is. On the other hand, if we embrace the Arrows as the final word on life, we despair, which is another way to lose heart. To lose hope has the same effect on our heart as it would be to stop breathing.

John Eldredge, The Sacred Heart, pg 33

Day 468: Oct 11. “Approaching darkness”

I’ve been back on the road now for several weeks. There is no joy, no enthusiasm. Even hiking and visiting waterfalls doesn’t hold the same delight as before. It all just seems like work now, like going through the motions. This sense of dryness has been increasing for weeks. Even though I don’t feel the ease of the spirit on me I don’t believe it’s time to end this trip. There’s something more.

After I finish up here in the northeast I’ll be going home to The Cape. Perhaps going home is a little more difficult than I thought. I am going to have to deal with a buried darkness in my heart.

I just can’t help but think there’s something more. Something’s coming, I sense dark times ahead.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV, 2011)

Day 408: Aug 12. “Revelation”

Well I couldn’t let it go. I had to keep looking for info on my father. I found his obituary and there I saw it; Barbara Burton of Massachusetts. He had remembered me! His family knew I existed. All those years I thought he wanted nothing to do with me, all those wasted years. Waves of emotion, tears, how will I deal with this revelation? I am changed forever, but who am I now? I know my identity is in Christ, but this is going to take time to settle in my mind and heart.

Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him. Ephesians 1:5 (New Century)

So now what do I do with this new knowledge? Contact his wife, or just settle for knowing I’m not forgotten? This is going to take much prayer and more courage than I’ve ever known.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Day 404: Aug 8 2010. “Death of a secret dream”

The powwow is about over but I decide to stay a little longer; write in my journal and reflect on my summer experiences. Spending so much time at powwows this summer has again peaked my interest in finding any information concerning my father and my grandparents.

I had not seen my father since I was four, about 47 years ago, when he came by to ask my mother if my stepfather would adopt me so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. During the years that followed my mom would make excuses for him, that is wasn’t his fault or mine…why he left me. I started searching for him in 1979 but every lead came up with nothing. After more than twenty years of searching, letters, phone calls and knocking on doors my heart resigned to the belief something extraordinary happened. Perhaps he was still in a POW camp or in the CIA or some other secretive governmental agency. My secret dream, maybe he’d just show up some Christmas with brothers and sisters, having been looking for me too; a Hallmark moment.

Then in 2000, I found his name on a genealogy site. I couldn’t believe it, I found him, but there were no links, no towns listed, only names of his family and his children; except me. Had he forgotten me? Was he ashamed by my existence? Is that why he never told his family about me? Why wasn’t I listed as his child?

I became increasingly bitter over the years, further internalizing the shame and unworthiness I felt as a woman. As a young girl, as it is with most children of divorce, my identity became associated with that loss. It has only been in the past few years have I understood this and how much my father’s leaving affected me. A lifetime of shame, of being unwanted and unloved became my identity and my addiction.

After a couple of hours of searching, after so many years, I found my father…in the Social Security Death Index. He had died nearly two years ago on October 26, 2008. Just two days before my 49th birthday, two days before my jubilee season began. All I ever wanted to know was that my father loved me, that I was wanted. I would never know the truth of why he left, why he never came back.

A few years ago I heard speaker, Christine Caine, talk about having found out as an adult that she had been adopted. The adoption papers said she was unwanted. After a period of heartbreak she did come to terms with this and accepted the love of the Father as her daddy. Deep in her heart she knew she was loved and wanted. She claimed the power of Isaiah 49:1, which says “The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by”. This gave her the courage to overcome such a heartbreak.

Psalm 68:5 says God is the “Father of orphans”, and now I truly am an orphan. This verse should give me comfort, but it doesn’t. My heart is not comforted. Not yet. In 24-hours I have lost my father and the lifelong dream to know him and any brothers and sisters that may be out there as well as Kim’s cancer. This is too much. The search is over but there’s no resolution. How can my heart deal with this, the pain is too deep.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

Day 403: Aug 7. “Sadness beyond words”

I took a couple hours today to catch up on email, etc while the powwow is on dinner break. I visit my Facebook and message my friend Kim about what she heard from the doctor about her foot. The reply:

“I have cancer and may lose my foot to save my life”. My reaction: “ok, where’s the LOL, because this isn’t happening to my dear friend”. This hit me hard; Kim had been my roommate until I left on this journey and a faithful supporter in the loneliness of this journey. She is counted among my inner circle. Then it hit me, “it seems so many people I know are getting cancer… am I next? I’ve struggled for so many months with my health.” Yup, an open door to the enemy. I sence I’m in for stressful times ahead.

My heart is in deep agony for her. How can I console her? The cancer is serious and I have no words. There are none. Words of hope can’t penetrate this despair. This has rocked my world and it will take time for the shock ware off – for both of us.

I love you Kim. I am praying with you always.

Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. Matthew 18:18-20 (The Message)

Day 323 – May 19 2010 – Thorns again

Missing more work today; woke up with more kidney pain. Back to the doctor I go. Is there relief or any advice offered…no. Kidney stones is still a top culprit but without the stone or a medical procedure it can’t be verified. They still don’t know what is wrong with me. Time to take another route; I’m visiting the local health food store.

Day 301 – Apr 27 2010 – The thorn in my side digs deeper

Despite my self-medicating and the numerous visits to the doctor my kidney problem is worsening. Today it peaked. I had to stop twice on my way to the courthouse from severe abdominal pain. I’d lay down and it eventually eased up. By the time I made it to the courthouse the pain not only returned but it did so with a vengeance. I spent more than four hours lying on the bathroom floor doubled over in pain or hugging the toilet. Some of the women must have noticed my long stay and came in and checked on me. I seriously considered calling 9-1-1 but decided to keep praying. Then suddenly the pain was gone but I was left severely weakened and decided to rest.

I had intuitive moment and thought it may be a kidney stone and with some research I found my symptoms matched.

Paul mentions a thorn in his side that would keep him focused on Jesus. Since December this has been my thorn. Will I ever be pain free?

Day 271 – Mar 28 2010 – Angry with God, AGAIN

What a frustrating time and a new adventure. I planned my trip so that I would bring Princess to Margie when it got too warm for her around the middle of May. I didn’t realize it would get so warm so fast. It seems only last week I was begging God for heat. Now I’m begging for cold. I have another month to work and no place to keep Princess.

What to do? Do I quit my job, and do what? Do I risk hurting my baby or losing her? More heat and the weather station calls for temps in the upper 70s for the next 10 days.

I remember the cold front in October when I got angry with God for not coming to my rescue in the bitter cold now I’m angry because it’s too warm. I told God, “I can’t do this anymore, why aren’t you taking care of me. I’ll just take care of myself. I’ll go on without you”. By the time I walked from my van to the bathroom the absence of God in my heart was so deadening I knew I could not survive. I begged for forgiveness and said “if you never help me again I don’t care, but I can’t live without you. If I never feel your spirit is no matter I will always believe in you, I will always love you.” That’s all it took. Peace and joy were instantly restored. With my new attitude came the answer I didn’t know I was looking for…call Margie and see if she’ll take Princess now. Praise Jesus she said yes. Margie you are such a God-send.

Day 258: Mar 15, 2010. “Around the mountain – Again!”

How much longer will winter last? It was too cold, now too hot. I’m depressed and frustrated…AGAIN! It’s been such a long cold winter living in a 4 x 5 box. Wasn’t this trip about getting out of the box? There’s no heat, no electricity, no shower, no toilet, only a spastic dog, who is just as tired of this situation as I am. I should be thankful for the 70º days. But what can I do with Princess? She can’t stay in the car so I won’t be able to work. Gurr.

I ask you lord for clouds, cold or rain but only sunny warm days are ahead. I want to give up. But do I really? So I say to God “this is it, no more, I don’t know what you want from me.” Joyce says if you don’t sense God leading in a new direction then stay where he told you to be last. “But lord I can’t do that. I can’t live in Wal-Mart parking lots because I can’t work, because I can’t leave Princess alone in a steamy van. What do you want from me? Déjà vu? “Haven’t I been through this whole ‘I’m mad at God’ thing before?”

By the time I walk from my van to the bathroom I realize “how can I have a life without God”. That is an emptiness I can’t bear, “there’s no life apart from Jesus”. There is a darkness of the mind and heart that consumes the soul. There is nothing worth living for; no peace, no purpose, no heart, no beauty. That is a life that’s unbearable. Without Christ there is only existence. The light, the life, which makes us who we are, is gone. When our souls are barren we can’t give birth to new life or influence others with the light that brings life.

I have experienced this sense of loss three times in my life, each one revealing my consuming desire to be part of Him. Only now do I realize the deep impact of his light in me. “There is no life outside of Christ”. How many times have I heard these words, said these words, believed these words, but to experience them for myself, to understand them in the depths of my soul makes me crave His presence more deeply than ever.

“…humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image.” William Young, “The Shack”

Day 249: Mar 6. “Stuck in the wasteland”

I’ve been irritable for two months now; Margie thinks it could be I’m not quite over the kidney problems. I don’t know. I feel I’m out of God’s will somehow. That’s always a bad place to be – no joy, no peace.

I leave the campground in search of waterfalls and my transmission goes out. For the most part I’m at peace that God is going to help me through this and that it’s already in the works, but by the end of the day depression set in. “What am I doing here; maybe it’s time to give up”. I find no life in a decision to go back to Indiana. Perhaps Florida, but what will I do there. I have no peace about that either. I feel stuck emotionally as well as in location. I’m twenty miles from nowhere and I have no signal on my phone or computer. We’ll it is the weekend, nothing I can do until Monday.

I get angry again but not like before, not at God. I exclaim “God, I’ve had enough. I just want to give up. I’m tired, frustrated, irritated and sick. I’m cramped and want some breathing room.” I’m finally able to get out and see God’s beauty (without rain) and my car breaks down. Yes I know these are little issues but I’ve had so many little issues these past four months. Just wish I felt better, wish the pain would go away.

So I clean my van, get some work done and stop feeling sorry for myself.

“Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:8

Day 226: Feb 11, 2010. “Living unloved”

My living unloved makes me go into myself and focus on the negative. God loves us no matter what, but often we can’t see it or don’t want to. We fear being hurt, or taken outside our comfort zone, of giving up the things that help us run and hide; anything to protect our hearts from further pain. When I feel less loved I get self destructive. I remain alone, over eat, work too much or wallow in self pity.

I must say this is scary; I have no idea what I’ll have to endure or what circumstance I’ll be put in that will allow me to trust. I’ve been in some difficult places with you Jesus, especially these past couple years, in order for you to get me to trust you and to let you love me. I know I will be challenged to get out of my comfort zone many times throughout my life. But I will learn to endure.

I want relationship with You and Your people. That s what I’m meant for, what we’re all meant for. I don’t want to just live only in my little world. I love this journey I’m on but it’s lonely. I think of the trip west with my girls and even though we argued, frustrated each other, lived in a compact car, the journey was shared and that’s what made it special. I have loved being on this journey and do want to continue but I would love to have people join me.

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12

Day 222: Feb 7, 2010. “No light at the end of the tunnel…yet!”

Am I certain God loves me as much as anyone else? Yes…now. Once I was certain he didn’t. He had to let me into the “eternity club” because I prayed for salvation. I went so far as to think that He regretted the decision to die for all, however in the last few years Jesus has taught me to trust in Him and in His love. I know Jesus died for me, to get me back and away from the enemy, to restore my heart to His. Jesus you have proven this so many times. Only in the past couple of years have I been able to enjoy that love relationship. How wonderful you are. You stuck by me no matter how many times I decided to go my own way and hike around the mountain again.

I know you are delivering me from myself and my self destructive ways. One day a beautiful butterfly will emerge. You are my light and I know soon the darkness that surrounds me will be gone. Hope has returned. Jesus, reveal to me the depths of your love.

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” – Thomas Fuller

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2b (NLT)

Day 221: Feb 6, 2010. “Sadness and hope”

I still find myself doubting God’s love most of the time. I thought I had overcome this way of thinking, moved beyond negativity and self destruction, but since Christmas I’ve been clouded in darkness, haunted by the past and brought down by freezing temps, poor health and financial lack. I have no determination because I have no dream to pursue. All I see is the darkness of winter no black or white, only shades of gray and sepia. My heart is burdened; with what I don’t really know. There is no reason for this deep sadness, no cause. I have no basis to feel anything but joy and gratitude but yet it exists.

Even so, I have learned so much, I don’t want to go around this mountain again. It may be dark but you are there Jesus and I know the light will shine again. I cast away all these demons of darkness that haunt me, that cloud my vision and cloak me in negativity, illness and loss of hope.

I look to you Jesus and there I find not shades of gray but a rainbow of color guiding my path once again. Thank you Jesus for never letting go, for pulling me out of the haze and back to you.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.      2 Corinthians 4:6

Day 218: Feb 3. “Doubt”

How often do I find myself doubting God’s love for me? It seems to be pretty often these days.

Why do I find myself doubting God’s love for me? In every sudden circumstance of lack I ask, “Where was God to protect me and protect me from myself”, when I disappoint Him or others, when ill or tired because in these times it’s harder to fight the enemy’s darkness.

Jesus, free me from this feeling unworthiness of Your love or anyone else’s for that matter; free me from this self destructive behavior of workaholism; and free me from doubt.

Day 217: Feb 2. “Grumpy”

I have been cranky for weeks, and I realize again I have overworked myself with business. There is still no joy, no beauty; only distraction, frustration, agitation and exhaustion. People annoy me and little things anger me. I’m ungrateful and just plain grumpy. I took the day off to rest, love god, seek beauty and slow down. I’m not there yet, joy is not restored but I do feel more relaxed and peaceful.

Jesus help me to continue to slow down, business keeps me from you and keeps me from loving others. The enemy stole my joy and now we must get it back.

Day 215 – Day 156: Jan 31. “Depressed”

I wake depressed, I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I had two dreams last night and only remember a little. In the first I kept repeating the same action over and over. In the second I kept seeing “contracts”. These dreams are telling me I’m working too much and now I’ve added more counties to my relaxing trip home. What am I doing to myself? I am getting NO rest. Is it a wonder I’m depressed? I’m living in rough, cold conditions, working too much and my health getting worse. I’m not experiencing much and what I do experience leaves me exhausted, agitated or frustrated. There is no joy, no peace and no beauty revealed.

Jesus help me thru the rest of these jobs, then help me to relax, I know you have the money situation in hand. Help me to enjoy this journey, experience it, not just blaze my way through.

Day 207 – Jan 23 2010. “Frustrated”

I’m getting frustrated and agitated, not liking where I am. Part of me wants to quit, give up. But part of me knows I’m where I’m supposed to be. God isn’t finished with me yet. It seems I’ve been sick and can’t get well. I just want the pain to stop. I’m tired and cold and I just want to relax and enjoy nature but I have to work otherwise I couldn’t keep traveling. I don’t know what to do, I’m just so tired. I’m going back to Indiana next week. Not really looking forward to it but I am looking forward to seeing friends and resting.

Jesus, help me find clarity, renewed strength and vision for this journey.

Day 203 – Jan 19 2009 – A day in the hospital

Again, I have been very lucky that I’ve not been sick on this trip, oops I spoke too soon. I spent the day in the hospital.

During my pre-Christmas trip to Mississippi and Louisiana I was desperate to make my self-imposed quota of counties. In order to finish on time I made some bad choices. Didn’t take enough bathroom breaks then I started drinking Coca Cola, something I hadn’t done in 15 years at least. By Christmas I started noticing the symptoms of a bladder infection by New Years the pain was unmanageable. My independence of course kept me from seeing a doctor and I chose to self medicate with cranberry juice.  The symptoms better but weren’t gone. A couple of days ago I did visit a doctor, got medication and proceeded to think I was on my way to being cured. By last night the pain was debilitating and this morning I found my way to a hospital. I was given shots and prescriptions and allowed to rest until I could drive.

I made it to a rest area and tried to find a hotel that would accept dogs, no luck so I stayed the night. I thought it would be a nice rest until I found that the meds caused vomiting, ugh. At least I made it to the rest room. The next day I drove into Arkansas to find a room. Finally I can get some real rest.