Personal


I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genius, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplexing and perfect God’s creativity graces us with its presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

At church this past Sunday, the pastor asked us about the voices we were listening to when it comes to what we believe about ourselves. It got me thinking that it would be interesting and probably helpful/healing to see the list written out. This is completely transparent, awkward to share and I know some would immediately say, “No way! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful!” However, I’ve heard it before. But I know me and the thoughts that I have, the opinion of who I am is louder. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the compliments and encouragement. It’s just that if I place my worth in those opinions, then what about the other opinionated people who think the opposite? Which person/voice should I be listening to in finding my value?

I don’t trust people very easily. The trust I have when people share “truth” about me is completely non-existent with strangers, doubtful with casual friends, falters with close friends, semi-existent with family and not nearly as strong as I want it to be with, Jase, the closest earthly person to me. These “voices” are in my head, which I trust over every other person, most of the time.

Some days, I feel the entire list on my shoulders. Some days, I only feel part of this list. Sometimes it’s whispered. Sometimes it’s screaming.

1. I’m ugly.

2. I’m weak.

3. My skin isn’t flawless.

4. I’m a failure.

5. I don’t exercise enough.

6. Without a college degree, I’m not valued, my opinions don’t matter.

7. My stomach isn’t flat enough.

8. I’ve got ugly stretch marks.

9. My chest is too small.

10. My stomach is flabby.

11. I don’t look good without make-up.

12. I’m not a good mom.

13. I’m not a good wife.

14. No one should like me.

15. I don’t deserve a loving husband.

16. My hands are ugly.

17. The veins behind my ears are hideous.

18. My nose isn’t shaped right.

19. My hair is ugly.

20. I weigh too much.

21. My chin is crooked.

22. My toes are ugly.

23. My eyebrows aren’t full enough.

24. No one cares about my opinion.

25. I’m alone.

26. I have no worth.

27. I’m too old.

28. I should be making money.

29. I’m used goods.

30. My past is what defines me.

31. I am not unique/original. I am a copy.

32. I’m not loving enough.

33. I am being used.

34. I am being talked about.

35. My singing is worthless.

36. My future will be short.

37. I will be victimized again.

38. My children will be victimized.

39. My husband doesn’t love me.

40. I’ve got nothing to offer.

MOST OF THE TIME, I tell this list to go to hell, from whence it came. Sometimes, I let this list linger on my mind, for too long.

Although, EVERY time this list comes to mind, I eventually end up clinging to the fact that I am loved. That I am unconditionally loved. No strings attached, I am loved for who I am, who I was and who I will be. Regardless of what I look like, what I do, don’t do: I am loved just as I am.

That voice is the sweetest of them all.

For the first time in my life, this life I’ve dedicated to empathy and loving on people since 1996, I feel like I have direction. A purpose. A place where I can use the pain of my past in helping heal and/or shed light on the present and the future. My heart is pumping, as I wipe the tears from my face. I’ve removed the muzzle and now I feel I have direction to share my voice.

It started with first hearing about sex trafficking, years ago, and the traumatic disbelief that brought me. It escalated when I finally uncovered the pain of my past sexual abuse and dealt with the trauma of molestation, incest, running away, rape. It was amplified, this year, when learning about iEmpathize. I don’t have the time, resources or money to help out with this worldwide problem of sex trafficking… at least not yet.

But wait.

Where are the organizations helping the runaways that live on the streets, right around the corner? Where is their aid to bring them out of their drug addictions and desperation and prostitution? Then my friend posted this article on facebook. Oh my God. It IS happening here. Minutes from my house. I wasn’t the only one…

I’ve been on the move, researching, since stumbling into all of this reality last week. I found this today. I know this story. I LIVED this story. It may have been for only 10 days. But I know it, throughout my being, as if it all happened yesterday. I know the fear, the pain, the desperation, the addiction, the power.

I feel as if my purpose has been stamped in permanence. At least for now.

Dear God. I’ll need strength and courage…

My friend posted something on her facebook page the other day, about the Oprah show that she just watched. My friend mentioned how her heart breaks for “these women.” Since I only have preschool shows on during the day, I went to Oprah’s site and got the scoop. The topic for this particular show was on women who had been sexually abused at the hand of family members.

Growing up in with a strict, religious-focused mentality, really screwed me up. As a child and teenager, there were many things that were taboo topics in my family. The thinking was, if negative things were discussed, they’d be at the forefront of our minds and it would make us want to do those things. If we were talking about negative feelings, then we weren’t focusing on God or allowing Him to heal us. Total BS brainwashing. Especially when I had questions about sex, drugs and drinking as a pre-teen and then not knowing what to do or who to talk to after being molested by two family members and raped as a teenager. I’ve gone through HELL in my life because I’ve felt too afraid to speak up, too alone for anyone to care. Years of pain and trauma may have been avoided if I had been given the tools to deal with being molested when I was eight. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned to drugs, alcohol, stealing, running away, etc… maybe I wouldn’t have been molested, for years, by another family member. Maybe I wouldn’t have been raped.

Reading the summary of the Oprah show, the other day, reminded me that there is still SO much change that needs to happen in regard to sexual abuse survivors. In a way, I feel I’m now open to speaking about it so that must mean that everyone else is as well. I couldn’t believe the feedback I read while browsing through this particular site, as well as other sites. There are still so many women and men that are silent because they feel alone and afraid.

To me, it means that the voices of us survivors aren’t loud enough.

I want to be a loud advocate for victims/survivors but given the lack of confidence I have in myself and feeling like the help I have to offer has already been fulfilled by someone else and my story has already been told, it’s no wonder I’ve been dormant on this topic.

The reminder that there are still people too afraid to speak up or feeling like they are alone in their pain/abuse helps propel me, recharge me, to speak louder.

Why is sexual abuse such a taboo topic?!?

I’m sick of the muzzle, especially when it’s placed on by religion.

This year, I’ve finally found help: My church and their love for hurting, broken and weak people. My help has also come from finally tearing down the pride that had been fused to my DNA and talking to a counselor who showed me the depth of my PTSD and a variety of healing processes. So far, I’ve come across one book, Wounded Heart, that has been the most amazing help of all in getting me over my silenced shame and in understanding I’m not alone.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

It’s more than likely that if you aren’t a victim/survivor yourself, then you know of someone that has been sexually abused.

Our silence is deafening.

I have had severe writer’s block, for weeks, with this idea/post. I’m tired of it swimming around in my head. So, although it might be incomplete or disjointed, I’m publishing it now.

I had an epiphany last night. Oooo, I love those. I realized that if I would stop having expectations with other people, then they wouldn’t let me down. If I stopped expecting things from people or for them to act a certain way, then I wouldn’t be disappointed in them.

I realized that that must be what defines unconditional love. Then I realized that that is how I needed to start viewing myself. I judge myself quite severely.

For most of my life I’ve felt defined as a singer. Not as a person who loved to sing but as, just a singer. If I messed up in singing a song, I failed in who I was. It was a horrible place to put myself. If I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t fulfilling who I was meant to be. If I wasn’t at the top of my list of accomplishing “all things I want to do and places I want to go” with singing, then I wasn’t complete.

I feel closest to God when I’m singing on stage at church and most complete when I’m singing, anywhere. However, I was getting to the point, before and after singing, of being unnerved with how I did because it wasn’t the best.

Being ONLY a singer was killing the value that I should have placed within myself. Having unrealistic expectations was killing the unconditional love that I should have had for those around me.

Once I realized that my problem resided in the expectations I had on myself and others, I quickly learned how to dissolve the issue.

In this seemingly simple act of change, I’ve lifted another incredible burden off of my shoulders. The difference I feel, in singing (whether it’s at home for an hour or at church), is tremendous. I’m not held captive to the feeling of being a failure if I make a mistake because I’m not just a singer. I’m a person that loves to sing. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor… that just loves to sing. This change has also lifted a burden off of people around me, whether they knew they were carrying this burden or not. If my family and friends failed in my expectations for them, then they were failing me. Now that I’ve dissolved those expectations, I feel I’m now free to love unconditionally.

No expectations = Unconditional love.

Several months ago, I felt like my life existed as a foundation of concrete. Strong, heavy, sustainable concrete. Solid. A completely solid foundation on which I built a skyscraper.

Once I started realizing that betrayal, abuse and pain had never been dealt with from my adolescence, I recognized that the solid foundation of mine was more like a brick wall. Still strong but instead of being a firm foundation, it was more like a massive retaining wall, holding back a landslide. I’m sure there were some cracks in the mortar or cracking in the bricks themselves but nothing but an army tank could plow down the amazing, powerful strength that was built up inside of me.

In the last few weeks, I’m realizing the truth. My strength was actually not built with concrete or bricks. My strength, the bravery and hope I have, was built with champagne glasses.

Champagne

This is what my strength really looked like and the tower has fallen. There is broken glass all around. Like a war torn wall, some of the glasses are still intact. Some are still complete and unblemished and some have completely shattered to bits.

broken_champagne

I am trying not to be hasty in the clean up of this utter chaos but it’s a painstaking process. It’s a difficult journey to repair all that has been shattered and all that has collapsed. I’m battling the tears in my eyes making my vision too blurry to operate accurately or consistently. I’m battling shaky hands that are trying to rush through a process that requires precise care. I’m battling the fatigue of this process and the need to just walk away and rest for a while. I’m battling the hopelessness that sees this process as too overwhelming.

Through my past help with a counselor, a life-changing book (The Wounded Heart) and my church, I’m realizing that this brokenness is far beyond what I’m able to handle on my own. I can organize and clean up but the pieces that are shattered, beyond (what I consider) repair, need to be forwarded on to their Creator. Wouldn’t He know best how to put that, which He created, back together?

I can try all by myself. I could probably fix it all up, close to what it looked like originally. It will take much longer and I’ll deal with the cuts and damage done by handling these broken shards by myself but it is possible to repair this all by myself.

The question is: Why would I want to put the broken pieces back together, on my own, when I have willing, loving help?

Well, I’m not going to Afghanistan. This post wasn’t started as a focus on the Afghanistan trip but I forgot that I left the team-pick decision up in the air, since my last post.

On one hand, of course, I’m relieved. But the decision is somewhat of a let down. I was finally able to set aside my ultimate fear of going to the Middle East and, instead, I placed my love of people in that mental space. I can’t describe how enormously freeing that was/is for me. I took a giant step forward and I was at peace about every single fear I had when thinking about that trip. I know of several other people that applied and they aren’t going either. The size of the group will be small and medically focused. I was encouraged to try again on the next trip and I may just do that. 🙂 During this process I’ve fallen in love with the people of Barek Aub and I hope, one day, to share my life and my love with them.

In the last week, a tremendous, heart-wrenching change has occurred within my family. The family members that I have achingly and sleeplessly spent the last several years reaching out to and helping heal in the midst of one family disaster after another, have turned on me. I called them out on some things and, unknowingly, fusing my call-out with their pride, turned into the most chaotic situation I’ve ever been a part of. With anyone. This situation forced me to change my cell number and the people that are on the safe list at my children’s school. I’ve never been more shocked, upset, sad, and confused with anyone. Ever. This event is tragic to me because I’m being blamed for every single problem they’ve ever had. My character, my honesty, my loyalty and my love are not only being questioned, they’re being utterly trampled on and thrown out, as waste. This situation is extremely hard on me because I’ve spent so many hours, days, weeks, YEARS, agonizing over this family and the pain they’re going through. I’ve spent countless hours watching the children of this family, so the adults could work on their issues. I once drove to Texas to meet the mom, halfway, so I could take her four kids for several days while she sorted through a trauma in her marriage. I have laid down my life for this family and now the adults are forbidding me to ever communicate with them or their children. I am heartbroken. I’ve seen these two adults use their own children as weapons and tools against the other spouse before, but I was never the target. I was never the enemy. Now, I’m not only the enemy, I’m the supposed cause of their years of problems and pain. I’ve never questioned myself and who I am more than in this last week. My character, of which I have spent years building up after self-destructing it as a teenager, is being called out as a fabrication. Everything about myself, that I was so sure I was not, is being thrown in my face as an accusation of who they say I am. I’m doubting myself and everything I believed to be true about who I am as a lover and forgiver and empathizer and healer. In this and through this, I see that the years I’ve spent, being dragged down into the painful depths of insanity of these tragic adults and the restlessness I’ve endured and mental and physical time I’ve spent away from my own sanity and family, to help heal them… has been in vain. I’ve tried to help these two adults that have no desire to be helped. I’ve tried to help their precious children by helping them and I’m finally understanding how fruitless my efforts have been. Because of selfishness, self-indulgence and pride, my labor has been in vain. Adding insult to injury, I’ve now been outcast from their family.

I’m learning to turn to those that surround me, those that know me and love me. I’m learning, remembering, to listen to their voices. For these are the people speaking truth about who I am. The people that love me and appreciate me are the people with hope, faith and love shining in their eyes. These are the people resonating, reverberating, what I know in my head and my heart about who I am as a lover, a life-giver, a forgiven forgiver and one who loves and appreciates all that I have been given and all that has been taken away. I trust that even in this horribly painful pruning process, I am in tender, powerful Hands.

Several months ago, a friend of mine told me he was going to Afghanistan. As my eyelids shaped my eyes into spheres, I said, “I could never go there. People are always talking about humanitarian work in Africa and the Middle East and those are the two places that scare me the most.”

I was raised in a neighborhood where Caucasian was the minority. For the first sixteen years of my life, I grew to completely understand what racism was, from a very different perspective than the norm. Once we moved to a more Caucasian-populated area, I felt as if I was still the minority because I’d grown accustomed to feeling like I had Hispanic, African-American and Filipino roots.

I know what it feels like to, not only, be singled out because I’m white, but to be singled out because I’m female. Both of those, in and of themselves, are extremely terrifying to me. I used to carry a pocket knife to school in Junior High. Junior High! I was twelve years old and so fearful of harm coming to me, I would carry a weapon with me to stab a potential attacker. Why would I want to go to Africa and the Middle East and be singled out like that again? Especially when the media shares horrific stories of attacks in these places, over and over again. Why would I want to put a target on my chest and, essentially, scream out, “Here I am, you Violators of Women, you Haters of Americans, come get me! I dare you!”

Since my friend shared his story of going to Afghanistan, something began stirring in me. For the last several months, I’ve actually felt my heart becoming soft and intensely empathetic to the people of Afghanistan. I’ve reflected, over and over, on the fear I have of harm coming to me and the lack of faith I have in God if I ever had a chance to go to this country. I’ve cried, so many tears, as story after story of God providing a water well and a school and other supplies for these people in the desolate refugee town of Barek Aub. I’ve become attached to the familiar faces shown in pictures and videos as team after team travel from our church and help these people establish freedom after Russian and Taliban invasions have killed their family and friends and/or maimed many of them. The “least” of their problems has been a complete and total crush of hope… until our church became involved. The other day, someone shared how, for years, the Afghan people prayed to their god to bring water to their town. When we prayed to God, they got their well.

Our church is putting together it’s third and final trip of the year with a medical trip to Afghanistan. I applied to go and have an interview tomorrow morning. I have never been more passionate about doing something and more overwhelmed by fear, in my entire life.

Since deciding to go (once Jase gave his blessing, of course), I’ve been daily consumed with the pain the Afghan people have had to endure, the struggle they live with everyday and the fear a trip of this magnitude brings. I’ve also been consumed with wanting to share my life with these people.

How can I teach people (especially my own children) about Jesus’ love and passion for people, from the comfort of my free country, air-conditioned home and way-above-poverty income status? How can I show love when I’m almost a world away? How can I show faith in this God I serve if I never live that faith?

The more I try to write off the feelings of going, the more overwhelmed I am with a push to go.

If you pray to God, please pray for me and my family.

  • I am very aware of the toll a trip like this will take on me and my loved ones as I’ll be gone for ten days.
  • I’m aware of the danger I’m placing myself in.
  • From fruitlessly trying to raise money as a teenager for fundraisers to fruitlessly trying to raise money as an adult for a couple of mission trips and given the state of the economy, I understand the struggle it will be to raise the funds.

Given that knowledge and the fact that I believe in a God that loves these people and dislikes what they are going through and longs for His people to share a message of hope and love and help these people attain stability on their own:

How can I do anything but take a step forward and trust?

My counselor wasn’t available yesterday so we moved my appointment to today. Last night, I felt like canceling. I panicked and once again, felt that the money being spent on counseling might possibly be a waste and the freedom from the pain of my past and bad flashbacks might never happen. I couldn’t cancel at 11pm last night so I decided to give it another shot.

The session today was the most significant meeting I’ve ever had with any counselor. Ever.

She began talking about wanting to try a new exercise with me, “Breathing, Integrating and Grounding.” She mentioned that those suffering from PTSD usually have detachment issues. Detachment is a defense mechanism to protect the victim from further abuse. What she described was nothing short of a waterfall of enlightenment.

Just the fact that she brought this term (detachment) up, clued me into so much of who I am. I have a problem with being apathetic toward people, my children included. Jase and I have often said that I would be a horrible counselor because my advice would be to “get over it.” I have a hard time keeping close friends because I have a hard time letting others in below the surface and/or I don’t feel like keeping friends and wearing their pain. However, more often than not, I severely ache for hurting people. In one respect, I deal too objectively with people and in the other, I’m too empathetic. Both seem to be on overdrive. I have no gauge in figuring out when I’m opening myself up too much or not enough. As I type this all out now, I wonder if my empathy turns on when I feel safe and the detachment/defense mechanism turns on when I feel threatened. I can’t even describe the elation I feel with finally thinking we’ve hit the nail on the head with the core negative issue that drives me. This detachment issue is what allows me to not be dragged down by people and the problems they need to share with me. However, it’s also the issue that prevents me from letting Jase (and others) close to me at times. This detachment is what closes me off from some people and situations. If I feel threatened, I shut down. My brain goes somewhere safe, while my body “takes” on whatever I feel is a threat. It’s the reason why I shut off from society and hole myself up in my house. Obviously, in most cases, becoming detached has hurt me and has hurt relationships I’ve been in. However, in cases where friends and family or teenagers I’m mentoring or have mentored have vented/complained/freaked out OR when a family member/friend/acquaintance has hugged me, or touched any part of my body and I felt threatened, this mental state has served me well. Better to detach rather than punch them out. 🙂

The detachment really comes on strong when I have flashbacks. The flashbacks are triggered by different things, either when I’m alone and there’s no understandable reason to have them or when Jase and I are intimate, whether it’s sexual or not. During the session today, I realized that when I start having flashbacks while around Jase, I shut down.  Now that I have a word for it, I know that I detach from Jase but it’s not complete. I start feeling like a victim and my brain tries to escape and detach while a physical connection is made but I fight back on that further because I feel like I’m being taken advantage of and being used. Since Jase and I have been together, almost 12 years, I’ve reacted the same way when I have flashbacks or feel threatened. I’m quiet. As was every single time I was violated while growing up, I recreate the same atmosphere. It’s quiet, dark and I shut down. My counselor gave me the most beautiful homework ever. When these flashbacks happen with Jase, I have to communicate with him. I know it sounds like common sense but it hasn’t been. I completely recreate my violation atmosphere and then am despondent. So, I have to tell him that I’m having a flashback and then have him tell me: “Open your eyes and mirror my hand in yours” then while being gentle AND strong (so important for both to coexist) he needs to bring me back to reality by asking, “What’s your name? What’s the date today?” Then tell me, “You’re safe.” I couldn’t stop crying when my counselor told me this because, instantly, I knew it would be the most beneficial advice I’ve ever had when dealing with my PTSD. For the first time since being violated I will start creating a new pattern when in despair or in fear.

I recognize when my detachment is well-used but I also now know when I’m using it incorrectly. Now that the problem is visualized, the correction can be made.

To say the movie, Taken, was heart-wrenching would be an understatement. Jase and I just finished watching it and my head hurts so bad from sobbing, I can barely see straight. I was prepared for the emotional charge of a child getting kidnapped. Even though it is my greatest fear with my own children. I was prepared to hug my children tighter after watching this movie. I was prepared for the movie’s focus on the horrible crime of sex slavery and the pigs running it all, or, at least, as much as I could be prepared. However, I wasn’t prepared for the self-pity. I wasn’t prepared to finish that movie and sit still, baffled, as to why I wasn’t rescued as a teenager. I wasn’t prepared to finally be in a position where I feel I can turn to God and say, “Where were you? Why weren’t you fighting to save me like this father? Why did you let all of those horrible things happen to me?” I didn’t think I would wonder, yet again, why my parents seemed so quick to give up on me as a teenager.

To me, this movie is very similar to the Prodigal Son story in the bible. I have always loved that bible story because of the reminder of a father that loves so unconditionally. It always hits right home for me since I was a teenage runaway. I ran away twice when I was fifteen. The second time, I was on the streets for ten days and I witnessed, took part in and fell victim to horrible things. I was scared and alone and addicted to drugs and to the mentality that my life at home was worse than the hell I was putting myself through on the streets. I came home after enduring way too much. I walked through the front door of my house and dropped to my knees, in painful and heaving sobs. Begging my parents, as I had the first time I ran away, to bring me to a counselor. I went into my room and was shocked to see everything I owned, packed in boxes. Even the sheets on my daybed. My dad said that if I had been gone one more day, my stuff would have been sent to the Salvation Army. To this day, I don’t know if he was trying a Tough Love approach on me or if he had meant it. Either way, I long SO MUCH to believe that, like the Prodigal Son story and like this movie, Taken, I had a Father in heaven just rejoicing that I was home. I get teary-eyed every time this bible story is shared because I wish I would have been welcomed home like that. I wish I had a parent run to greet me with open arms. I wish I would have been fought for and tracked down and risks would have been taken. Just to show me that I was loved and forgiven.

I don’t dwell in self-pity too often or for very long but I’m thankful for it tonight. I’m thankful for the reminder of how my children should be shown love… unconditional love… no matter how bad they’ve messed up.

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