Potential Harm By Christian Division

These days our nation is divided and at times in turmoil.  Yes, I may be considered a lefty snowflake, but my most important title is Child of God. Most days I need to remind myself of that particularly on social media.  I’ll admit that at times I fail miserably.  I hesitate to call this blog a “christian” one as even the word christian can evoke negative emotions for some people.  For a lot of non-believers being christian is associated with judging, condemnation and elitists attitudes.  Non-believers don’t want any part of this and frankly, I don’t blame them.  With the present political division I’ve noticed a trend of increased christian division.  Recently, I had a social media conflict with a sister in Christ in which I overlooked that at the end of the day we both loved the Lord. It then occurred to me that my lack of humility and a sense of pride, because I KNEW I was right, was not how Christ taught. I apologize to anyone I may have offended in my pride filled comments. It is my firm belief that some of the words that we speak are divisive and certainly are not comforting to those who are hurting and seeking rest for their souls.

I believe that my thoughts on christian values are biblically sound and are directly taken from what Jesus demonstrated in His life.  My prayer is that all people find comfort and peace and a feeling of belonging through Christ’s words.

The Old Testament is a wonderful group of books and prophecies that exhibit the love God had for His people.  People will frequently cite O.T. scripture that support their personal beliefs, but it is important to know that when Christ came He had a new agenda.  His ministry was one of love.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  At one time in my life I was weary and I so needed rest for my soul.  I was fortunate that I took in Christ’s words and not those of condemnation and judgment.  I had felt worthless related to bad choices in my life which just led to more bad choices.  In the following words of Jesus, I realized I had worth and value.  Listen with your heart.  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulder and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’.  I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent”  (Luke 15:4-7).  It was easy for this lost sheep to repent because of the shame and remorse over the bad choices I had made.  I remember thinking, “He’s looking specifically for me!”  You may wonder who are His sheep?  His sheep are those who love money above all else, those that hurt with their words or actions, the woman who has had abortions, the man or woman who lie with other of the same sex, the murderer, the thief, the pedophile, the drug addict, the prostitute and so on.  No matter what others may think, no sin is greater than another.  Christ states clearly in Mark 3:28:  “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them”.

Do I still sin or say words that may hurt others?  Absolutely.  I am very imperfect as is all mankind.  Paul says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ”.

Although I sometimes forget my principles before speaking or replying on a social media post, I try hardest to remember Christ’s repeated instructions to love one another.  When asked what was the greatest commandment, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37-39).  See also, John 15:12-13.

In spite of my best attempts to separate church and state, the most recent divide regarding stewardship over God’s creation and loving our neighbors, hurt me.  So in light o Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20, I will try harder and I respectfully request that we all pray to guard our words and that we be kind to one another.  This way if even one person is seeking rest for their soul, they might conclude by our words and, hopefully subsequent investigation, that Jesus was a pretty cool dude.  Thank  you for your time.

Gary Clark, NFL Champion; Self Limiting Fears and Me

The year is 1970 and I am sitting in Mr. St. Clair’s 9th grade English class at Rollingcrest Junior High in Hyattsville, Md.  Patty Philpott is sitting to my right and I am attentively listening to students give their oral book reports.  The book report is easy for me as I have always loved to read.  Since the age of 7, reading could transport me out of the house where my father had started paying too much attention to me.  My escape was books and Jerry Lewis,  and at the time and unbeknownst to me, the Lord.  I love all three to the depths of my soul, Christ first.

Anyway, back to 1970 and oral reports.  As I watched a classmate give his report, I began feeling nauseated, sweaty and fearful, as though 25 catholic nuns, led by Sister Borromeo from St. Anthony’s Catholic School in northeast D.C.,  were marching through the door.  All 25 nuns were holding torture devices, such as rulers, magic markers and they are rubbing their thumbs and forefingers together as though preparing for a championship cheek pinching and ear twisting contest.  Now this is fear with no option of flight.  Again, I am digressing.

As I am listening, or attempting to listen, to my classmate speak I drift away until I hear Mr. St. Clair say, “Suzanne, are you prepared to give your report?”  Losing all concern for a failing grade, I simply replied, “No”.  Those sitting near to me, particularly Miss Patty Philpott, can see the cover of my report neatly printed with, “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo.  The room was quiet until a loud and whiny voice said, “But, Mr. St. Clair, Suzanne’s report is right in front of her”.  This was not my first involvement in Miss Philpott’s school life and I think my life-long aversion to blond women with bouffant hair, blue eye shadow, and immaculately dressed white women began.  Mr. St. Clair said, “Are you prepared?”  Despite the huge elephant sitting on my desk, I again replied, “No”.  In the pause before Mr. St. Clair called the next student, Miss Philpott looked back and forth between me and the teacher repeatedly, without disturbing a single hair!  Miss Philpott was wildly popular and my apologies if she should read this and take offense to my perception of these events.

The previous event indirectly involved Patty Philpott and Dee Dee Catina and her friends.  While in PE class Dee Dee and friends had taken Patty’s dress and stuffed it deeply into the Kotex machine in the bathroom.  Somehow and within seconds rumor started though out the entire student body that I had ratted Dee Dee to Ms. McCollum our 9th grade PE teacher.  I had already learned a healthy fear of authority figures thanks to those misdirected devotees to God and the Catholic Church, starting when I was 5 years old.  I would have never approached a teacher!  As the day passed, I was told I had to meet Dee Dee Catina in front of the school when classes were over so that Dee Dee could tear my skinny limbs asunder and pull out my considerable mop of frizzy and kinky hair.  Just FYI, hair pulling  is an important technique as taught in Girl Fighting 101.  The fight never occurred thanks to a tiny, but tough dynamo named Delores Richter Shaut, who remains my friend to this day.  Delores went down in girl fighting history as a peace negotiator.

You may wonder why this trip down memory lane?  Despite a successful 60 year abstinence from public speaking and developing  a lack of concern of others’ opinions,  I learned last night, “Damn, I’m still that chicken-shit girl from 9th grade”!   Last Thursday I had received phone calls from Samantha Bowie of J.G. Wentworth Home Lending and Tessa Wilborne of The BlackFin Real Estate Network to inform me that I was a winner in the FreeTicketsGiveAway founded by NFL Legends and Super Bowl Champions.   Later in the day, Gary Clark of NFL fame, 8 year receiver for the Washington Redskins and two time Super Bowl Champion, called me.   He is a former member of the infamous  Hogs and The Posse, certainly infamous in D.C.  He was kind and friendly spending many minutes just talking to me.

Throughout my life I have learned to no longer be concerned about others’ perception of me.  I am honest and outspoken, sometime to a fault.  I am eccentric and at times and can be very irreverent.  People sometimes think that I am….gasp….weird!  Sometimes words just fall out of my mouth, totally forgetting my mother’s frequent admonitions, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne, think before you speak”.  I can be brash, profanely opinionated and I love to tell one liner dirty jokes.  All who know me well know Little Johnny’s response when his teacher asked him to use the word “dictate” in a sentence.  I had overcome my fears of what others think of me, until last night.  My excitement slowly turned to fear when thinking about being videoed realizing that I would be talking to strangers, people who don’t know my peculiarities.

Yet, when talking about God, I can speak and write without problems because He is guiding me and He is with me.  I can reveal very personal events from my life that led me to Him without any problems.  He guides my hand as I write and give me words to speak.  Earlier today He prompted me to express my feelings in writing.  It occurred to me while more than half way through this blog, that I did not have the faith nor ask Him to guide me this time.  How very blessed I am to have this opportunity to glorify The Great I Am, God.  Last night and this morning I had forgotten, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.  Phillipians 4:13   My earthly fear totally eclipsed my faith!  After some thought and hearing His still, small voice, God and I are okay with this earthly mistake.  Life is a learning venture, even at 60.

Does God give us opportunities to speak of His love?  Absolutely!  I inconsiderately texted Mr. Clark at 10:30 this morning, the same time I was supposed to have been there.  Mr. Clark was very kind and patient in his texted responses, ultimately telling me, “Not a problem”.

I thank God for the opportunity to still glorify Him.  I thank Mr. Gary Clark for his kind and patient nature. To him I own my sincerest apologies.   (I thank Patty Philpott too, lol.)  And I thank you for your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE

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Please look at this picture closely. Notice a hospital bed, a living area, the looks of fatigue and contentment on both faces. This is a picture of my nephew, Tim, and his partner of many years and devoted caregiver, Rick.  Regardless of anything else, Rick loves and Timmy loves and this pic is a true illustration if that. Throughout my life of searching for understanding of my trials, the only meaningful and rational answers come from Christ’ mouth. “A new command I give you: Love one another.” (Jn 13:34); “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”(Jn 15:13); “This is my command: Love each other.”(Jn 15:17) and last, not least, from 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”.

I know what sins are in the Bible and let me tell you that every man, even you believers, sin every day. Only one person is sin free!  And He said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. (Jn 8:7b). So I respectfully say to “Those Christians”, and you know who you are, SHUT YOUR CONDEMNING AND JUDGMENTAL MOUTH! Yes, I’m a bit angry, but more than anything, I am sad. Christ said to the Pharisees (the professed believers of the Law, sound familiar?), “But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”. (Matt 12:36-37)

I am so very grateful to God that when I was hurting and lost, I was met with words of love and acceptance from lovers of the Lord. Where I was fortunate, so many were not.  I am also so grateful for the love demonstrated by Timmy and Rick.

One last thought. So many believe that we live in an immoral society. I think of what Paul said in Romans 7:b-8a), “For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, ‘Do not covet’.  But sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire”. I interpret this to mean, the law is good, but in pointing it out, our nature immediately may violate that law. Christ’ mercy and love saves us. So stop naming, pointing out repeatedly others breaking the “law” and keep on task to what Christ commissioned us to do:  love others, serve others stressing that He Loves us, no matter what. We are so very concerned about others’ sexuality. Tell me, please, when did we become more concerned over sex than love? When did we care so about what others do, and in doing so, spew hate and self-righteousness from their mouths, literally erasing another’s value, rather than modeling Christ’ love as He taught us to do? Do you realize that this behavior is mirrored by our children who then mirror this hate to their peers?  Have you not read the suicides in our bullied to death children?  Do those who point fingers or “carry stones” really think they are spreading Christ’ message of love for others?

Now please, look at this picture again. I can tell you that what I see are two men, who I love beyond words, providing comfort and exhibiting love to one another. I do NOT see what some finger-pointers see and can’t wait to condemn. I truly believe it’s time you “pharisees” turn that finger inward, to yourself.

Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness on this matter.

An Un-Scientific Perspective on End Times

I am NOT a biblical scholar, nor a theologian and God did NOT give me the power to see the future, lol.  I do believe that I am one of the biggest sinners that ever walked this earth, that I am VERY far from perfect, and I continue to sin everyday, but also, that Christ forgives me and loves me and I love Him in return.  I believe that God communicates with us through His Word, His “revealed” Word (what I call an Ah-Ha moment), in dreams, our pastor and/or church family, and through others around us.  I believe that God gifts each of His children in a way to enable us to serve others, to comfort, to bring hope and to love.  I believe that as His children we are tasked to share our God-given, life changing, experiences.  For me, God will place something on my heart, or nudge, an idea that I MUST share.  He is relentless in His nudges until I do so.  I can tell you that He “nudged” me this morning and His prompts will not lessen until my thoughts are written and shared.  I often thought, why me?, but as I learned about the characters in the Bible, I thought, why not me.  Every character in the Bible were sinners, some as big as mine.

I am NOT a “doomsday theorist” nor crazy, although the crazy part could be loosely interpreted, lol.  But I am a believer of the Holy Trinity and God’s Word.  How can I not be a believer given all the evidence of It’s Truth!?!  The Bible is a written account that contains 66 books, written by approximately 40 different writers, over 1600 years, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages, on many different subjects, yet with one central theme, God’s redemption of man from sin for all by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think it takes more faith to DISMISS the Bible, than to believe in it’s truth!

I watched a video on bizarre sounds heard throughout the world, I couldn’t help, but be reminded of Christ’s words regarding Signs of the End of the Age, “All those are the beginning of birth pains.”  (Matt 24:8)  These bizarre sounds, in my mind, are the Earth’s birth pains.  Here is one of the videos concerning those sounds,

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3084260/What-strange-sound-sky-Noise-heard-globe-nearly-DECADE-explanation.html

I thought on this video this morning and these are some of thoughts that went through my head.

As I learn of increased severe weather events; oceans rising; the rise in diseases, i.e., Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERSA, plagues (most recently at Yosemite Nat’l Park); antibiotic resistant bacteria and STDs; increase in racial disparity and relations; increased nuclear concerns regarding the Middle East and those same relations with Israel.   I’m sure there are more prophesied indications that I cannot name as I’m writing this note.

Many have belief in a “higher power”.   Believers in God can read Daniel’s prophecy in the Old Testament;  Daniel, Chapters 7, 8, and 9 as well as the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others.   Native Americans believe in The Creator and have several prophesies that give the same message.  Below is the video that resonated with me, but there are many others on YouTube, under the search, “Native American Prophecy 2015” worth viewing.

I believe strongly in Christ and The Creator, and as such, I interpreted Genesis 1:28b:  “…Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  to mean the same as the NIV Study Bible’s interpretation, “As God’s representatives in the creaturely realm, they are stewards of God’s creatures.  They are not to exploit, waste or despoil them, but to care for them and to use them in the service of God and humankind.”  There are many more similarities between Native American beliefs and Christ’s teachings.  Christ speaks of signs of the end of age and correlates directly with prophecies from the Old Testament.

Many believe in the literal seven day creation as told in Genesis.  There is scripture that supports the non-literal belief that has helped me to understand so much more of scripture and particularly Christ’s Word.  In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter wrote, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  With this scripture in mind, when Christ said in Mark 13:30, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  I can’t help but think that Christ was NOT talking about “generation” as we currently understand it to be;  but as a world that can no longer sustain itself, an era or age;  thus this generation.

Christ, Himself, has much to say about the end of times that are very relevant to today and current events.  Coupled with man’s “stewardship” over the earth and it’s creatures, I can’t help but pay attention to His Words.  For example, many theorists and theologians believe that “the abomination that causes desolation” (a term that is referenced frequently in the Bible) is in actuality a nuclear event.  Please believe that I am NOT an alarmist, but with this in my mind, I can understand God’s Word from a contemporary perspective.  In the book of Daniel, (the OT) the mention of abomination came from Gabriel to Daniel in Daniel 9:27,  “…and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until until a complete destruction….”   Christ says in Mark 13:14:  “When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  With the current nuclear agreement with Iran, well, it makes one wonder.

Christ says, “Then he said to them:  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilence in various places, and fearful events and great signs from Heaven.”  Luke 21:10.  Then Christ says in verses 20 and 21:  “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.”  There is more that Christ has to say about end times and it is important to know, “”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.”  Mark 13:32-33.

It is now past the dinner hour and I have finished writing, but until I push Post, I am still being “nudged”.   I am NOT fearful, afraid or stockpiling food and toilet paper…well, maybe toilet paper and and a little wine.   Christ assures me, in His Word, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” and “But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.”  Luke 21:15 and 18-19.

I welcome any thoughts, please,  and any “Ah-Ha” moments you may have experienced.  Thanks for your time.  Love to all.

Redemption and Healing of a Broken Spirit

I wrote this story a couple of years ago, so for some, it may sound familiar.  I would be so very neglectful to not share this with as many as I can.  A story of the healing of a broken spirit, redemption, love of God and more importantly, His love for man.  I believe that each of us are placed on this Earth to serve a purpose.  My beliefs are that each of us are gifted by God and we utilize those gifts by serving His children, thus bringing a huge smile to God’s face.  I honor Him, by telling my story.

Most times I’m a very private person.  Recently, I shared with someone some of what the Lord has done in my life. It was pitiably short of all He has done. With the miracles, at times supernatural, He has shown in my life, I realized that I was redeemable and with His personal interventions in my life, I developed an intimate and personal relationship with my Lord. To not share these events would be so neglectful of the Lord’s desires because in sharing I may be serving someone in need, thus serving Him. And please understand, this story is not to illicit pity or sympathy.  It has become so clear in my mind that my relationship with Christ is specific to me, my past, my sins and my heart. As a good parent, He relates, disciplines, redirects and guides me differently and specifically, than He would someone else. He knows my heart, motivates me, nudges and even gifts me differently than others. Because of His specific love for me, no longer do I ever feel that I’m wasted space nor desire to be invisible. No longer do I feel guilt nor feel “abortion” is printed on my forehead when I go to church. I no longer feel the pastor or the elders can see into my sin filled miserable being. I no longer feel uncomfortable or feel shame interacting with my christian brothers or sisters.  In some ways, I feel it is because of my sins, my hurts and my past that my Lord loves me so! He knows my heart completely.

I started school when I was five years old. My first day of school, I was slapped by the nun, humiliated in front of my classmates for the infraction of thinking I could get up to go to the bathroom. This is how a child’s spirit works. I never told my mom because I knew – I knew the nun would not have slapped me unless I was bad. That began seven years of teasing and loneliness while at St. Anthony’s. When I was seven years old my father sodomized me for the first time. He stopped when I was twelve when his molestations became my punishment and not, what he had assured me in the past of his “special love”. I was broken. Now listen to this.  What is alarming to me is there is no particular look to children who are broken. They walk in and out of our lives. Those who are around children, please be vigilant. As a result of that first episode, my life-long unreasonable fear of dentists, I required dentures by the age of fifty-five. What I remember is my father putting his rubber coated, red pocket knife between my teeth and telling me to bite down on the knife and that would take the hurt away. My mom, who was perplexed, took me to the dentist who then pulled the numerous loose “baby” teeth. A memorable experience for a seven year old. After days of not sitting and rubbing my bottom, my mom, who was a nurse, took me to a physician colleague who diagnosed me with pin worms for my excoriated and inflamed bottom. My child brain perceived the dentist as a continuation of my physical pain. As an adult I remembered frequent childhood dreams of flying which were incredibly pleasant and peace filled. It was during my intense christian therapy with Sue McHenry and my Lord, that those childhood dreams were in actuality the episodes where I disassociated. I knew then that in spite of my fear of heights, my lord took my girl hand and led me out the window to soar above my house, Turkey Thicket and into areas beyond N.E., D.C. There were so many trees and some of them I could actually reach out and touch the leaves! I attended St. Anthony’s until grade seven. Because of the nature of small schools, the humiliation of first grade, and efforts at being invisible, made me a target for teasing by some. Then, given the nature of my father’s abuse, I lost control of my bowels while sitting at my desk in second grade. It was a difficult seven years. When I was twelve years old, my mom left my dad and we moved to Maryland where I attended public school. I knew by that age that I was worthless and had no value or place on this Earth. I was broken and filled with shame and at one point while in high school, I considered suicide. My brokenness was complete when my father used our “special love” as a violent punishment for something I had done to anger him. I knew my shame intimately.

While in public school I did make some friends. By the time I graduated high school I had been drunk many times, experimented with drugs, placed myself into a situation where I was raped at sixteen, then the subsequent promiscuous behavior, that most of us now know, is directly related to self-worth and a huge empty spirit, a void,  that was begging to be filled. I, like many, didn’t know that the void could  be filled with the love of Christ. I spent many adult years drinking with periods of sobriety, particularly with the arrival of Annie. Several attempts to stop completely would work for awhile. But you see, until one knows better, one will continue to fill that void with what we know. Somewhere, during that period I discovered pain pills when treatment for dental issues began. When Annie was in second grade, my mom, in her own eloquent way asked, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne…when are you going to get that child to church?” In previous years, I sought solace with the only church I knew, the Catholic Church, but still I felt a huge void. My trust in others was nil. Relationships with others were few and mostly superficial. I didn’t like letting anyone in because to do so was to give them power to hurt me.

Raising my son, Stephen, was challenging, particularly when I realized as a mom, I could not fix his hurt. Despite his mental illness, his profound and incapacitating depression, he managed to get a masters degree and go on to positively touch many friends’ and students’ lives.  Listen to this…even in his homosexuality he was able to exhibit the Lord’s love for others! God uses everyone! Even homosexuals, women with past abortion, people in sin! That is the very nature of our Lord. How do I know? He told me and showed me first hand. Our God can do anything! My son’s last year or so was incredibly difficult for him. The last 3 months he was so profoundly depressed that he would have episodes of complete confusion. In that period I would find myself on my knees begging, in tears, God, please heal him! I found my son’s body one Saturday morning on March 17th, 2012, and he would not wake up. As difficult as that day and experience was, I realized that my God did indeed heal him and bring him to his optimal creative, humorous and loving self. I cannot wait to see that Stephen! I know he is by the Lord’s side, despite, what some might believe,  his homosexuality.

As I was saying, when Annie was 7 we started attending South Potomac Church, in White Plains, Md.  It felt like coming home! I was still drinking, not very heavily and using pain pills occasionally. Within a few months I stopped drinking. I was experiencing a measure of self-worth and working hard to be a good mom. We call Annie our special blessing. Tony and I had been married 12 years and he had retired from the police department. I knew in my heart that the inability to get pregnant was of my past abortions and that I had forfeited any right to bear children. When I did get pregnant, we were overjoyed. When He didn’t take Annie away as a baby and small child, I thought, “Maybe He doesn’t punish His children that way.” I have learned through the ensuing years that the very essence of God is love. With Sue McHenry’s guidance, I have learned that trials and sufferings occur in our lives for four reasons. 1) teaching, 2) redirection, 3) discipline (if still in our sin), and 4) for His glory. I found a particular scripture, that even in my deepest pit of depression, gave me comfort, but most of all HOPE! As every person who has ever been in that pit know, “HOPE” is the only light. That scripture is 2 Cor. 1:5: “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” I realized that in my sufferings, I was more Christ-like than at any other time of my life. Isn’t that what we strive for, to be Christ-like, as much as it is humanly possible?  I knew with a certainty that His comfort would come.

Near the end of 2007, I began three years of intense therapy. God revealed Himself within the first three sessions. I had ceased all addictive substances, I felt comfortable and safe with my therapist, Sue. My first memory revealed itself of sexual abuse, then began my loving and healing relationship with my Lord. I can say without reservation and with boldness, I have a one-of-a-kind, intimate personal relationship with Him. I know that I can 100% trust Him to always be there and intercede in my life His own way and trust that He knows what is best for me. He showed me clearly that mankind is fallible and because of that, even my loved ones may hurt or disappoint me. He showed me that man’s fallibility was OK, in that we will always make mistakes and hurt others and/or ourselves intentionally or unintentionally. He will never hurt me. Knowing this in my heart and mind, man’s fallibility will never have the depth and power to hurt me as it had in the past.

During my years of therapy, occasionally I would have awake dreams, or visions, so to speak. It is difficult for me to describe these experiences in words to convey them adequately. This particular experience I can recall clearly and with deep emotion because to me, it actually occurred. I was looking down into a dimly lit room on a little girl about 9 years old. As I got closer and came to stand behind her, I realized the little girl was me. She was very sad and tearful, but not actively crying. A short distance away stood a man and not particularly tall. This man, as she got closer, was wearing an off white, weaved gown to his sandaled feet. He had a brown belt tied low on his waist and his hands and arms were low and close to his body with his palms toward me. He was looking directly in my eyes and although I walked slowly to him, I was eager to get close to Him. When I finally stood before him I looked upward and into his kind brown eyes. I could see immense pain as his eyes began to well into tears. This 9 year old was struck with awareness, then she whispered, “He did this to you too”, I began crying and buried my face into his stomach as I envisioned my father assaulting Him too. He placed His hands on my shoulder and hugged me. I remember clearly the softness of his gown, the warmth of His body, and His warm breath. I remember feeling pain for His sufferings by my father to the depths of my soul. I felt His comfort through His thoughts of specific love for me and His healing and over abundant love for the child I once was. As the adult me witnessed this, I felt all the times He was with me throughout my life. I felt that despite my sins; past, present and future, that He will always love me specifically, maybe even because of my sins. He knew me so well that I KNEW His love was specific for this weak, worthless and broken being. In my sin, He even loved me more! I can never forget this intimate time with Christ. My Lord has loved and taught me so much. One day while reading some scripture, I came across Matthew 24:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” After reading this I began to cry, feeling a measure of His pain. In my thoughts, He was beyond hurt and was despairing. My saddened Lord, who only wanted mankind to see and feel His enormous love and His sacrifice for us. It’s as if we rejected the most precious gift ever offered.

So, here I am 59 years old, having survived some traumatic experiences, yet thanking, praising and loving the Lord. He has gifted me with these experiences in order to serve Him through seeing and/or feeling the pain in others. He has placed opportunities for me to be blessed. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:12-15, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” There are many times Christ has been active in my life, some on hindsight. Today, I recognize that there are no such things as coincidences, that these are opportunities are “God nudges”, and that Jesus walks with me every moment of everyday. Sometimes He smirks at my irreverent humor, sometimes He convicts me at my words, sometimes He smiles and may even laugh at my jokes, but all the time He is with me and in me, filling that long ago void in my heart.

For Stephen

I lost my son 3 years ago on March 17th.  My 17 year old daughter, at the time, lost her brother.   A stepfather, father, stepmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-brother and sister, as well as many friends, co-workers, and his beloved students all suffered this loss immensely as it was so unexpected. He was young at 35 years old and an incredibly talented teacher and artist.  There were 18 years between the births of my son and daughter, yet they were incredibly close.  It was a difficult time for all of us, especially my daughter, Annie.  I thank God for her uniqueness, her incredible optimism and her faith in Him, as without Him…..

This is a poem that my daughter, Annie Silva, wrote in honor and in remembrance of Stephen.

“Stevie”, by Annie Silva

It was a sunny morning
That soon turned afternoon
When I heard you were going
Why’d you disappear so soon?

You didn’t wait to say goodbye
You didn’t leave a note
Did you think it wasn’t worth a try?
Or were you even scared at all?

I thought we’d have each other
Until the end of time
You were my only brother
Now all this time is mine

Oh how I’ve missed the smell
Of your folk art acrylic paint
And the sound of your laughter
Late at night, in the rain

Saint Patrick’s Day, it was
And tech day for my high school play
When I got home my mother called
“He’s gone” I heard her say

“He passed away in his sleep
His dog right by his side”
She stopped for a moment to softly weep
Until then I had thought she lied

Soon after I got the news
My friends and family found me

We laughed,
We cried,
and we remembered
Of who you used to be

Until I looked inside and realized
You’re still inside of me.