Anomaly (An Introduction to Me)

Rose on Fire.jpg

It wouldn’t take a genius in my 41-year old shoes to look around and notice something … different … about my life (life being a generous term some days). Not surprisingly, this different life created mindsets, habits, even an appearance that are … different. This happened primarily because life most generously carved out for me adequate (to threaten sanity) amounts of thinking time (in a solitary confinement sort of way). I seemed to be traveling a dirt road in a covered wagon parallel to expressways full of Teslas, like I was born with the wrong mode of transportation in the wrong era.

As I mulled over starting this blog (something I never thought I’d do but was sort of talked into) the things worth putting fingertips to keyboard for were these … differences … I’ve rarely found words (or guts) to speak. So I, like any self-respecting writer, started searching high and low for colorful adjectives for it all (other than the 4-letter variety) to craft a cunning introduction. Epic fail. Accurate descriptors in a quick summary? No way, no how, no can do. So I surrendered to simplicity. The only cause I have to sound my voice here is because, for me, things have been … different … hard-resisted then hard-appreciated … different. Good enough.

My anomalous journey of (four) natural disasters and resurrections, health debacles and mendings (then debacle, followed by debacle proceeded by debacle followed by mending, repeat debacle), business paths and partnerships (in sickness and in health, for worse or better, they’re truly like marriages), relational connections and crashes, family planning nightmares and triumphs all combined with a rare personality type to create off-mainstream beliefs, bizarre stories, profound sympathy and controversial perspectives. I’m going to offer it all up in an attempt to exploit whatever diamond might materialize from under all the black, ugly pressure per chance it might benefit or move you. But I also write because I need to. I suppose that’s called passion, and I try to follow it whenever possible, believing a life lived alive is best for me and everybody. The results will take care of themselves.

If anything I write seems simple, forgive me, but maybe don’t give up on me too quickly. I’ve concluded from my adventures (again, a forgiving word) that we Homo sapiens major in complication. I can over-think with the pros, choosing the hardest route when the easy one would do just fine. But having observed the rat race mostly from the sidelines (my body firmly refuses to run it, stubborn mule to which I’m grateful), I know that in this United States of America we’re swimming in a turbulent, unnecessary sea of complication. We seem to crave erudition, sophistication, profundity, speed, control or appearances that might forge a name or legacy at the expense of common sense, ratcheting simple things up to an unnecessary boil that ends up burning us all.

I’m not interested in any of that. I’m here to see how much simple truth I can put on paper with some lighthearted sense of perspective. So let’s leave all the intricacy and self-promotion stuff at the door and discuss what actually works to make life better, not what sounds good on paper (I get the irony).

At any rate, I won’t hesitate to write about topics from politics and religion (*gasp*choke*) to alternative medicine and food (viva carbohydrates) to lifestyle and money (ugh, sorry) to relationships and isolation (I was forcibly mute for 3+ years, hello) IF I have reasonable belief that I’ve been taught something of value by the … crushing and saving events of my life (same events, all). Well, there you go. I already found my better adjectives. There’s hope for me yet. Sometimes the honest descriptions are the hardest to give, but we’ll have no real relationship without truth. I will tell it absolutely, come what may.

And what should you make of the maybe sometimes seemingly random blog topics you’ll encounter? Well, I’ve found that the answers to getting up and keeping on–not stopping a nose length short of the finish line–tend to be wrapped up in and all around just such “random” things, big and little. It’s called life.

I hope to see you again soon. If you find anything interesting that resonates or you disagree but believe in exposing yourself to different perspectives, you know the cyber drill. Please follow and share liberally with friends (many thanks). If not, thanks for stopping by and blessings to you as you live your own blog (written or not), because everybody lives valuable volumes. I’m no different, but my story is. This is the sometimes dizzying, sometimes stunning view from my one seat on our spinning sphere.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,

Presented by Writers Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on February 17, 2017. 1 Comment

Spoiler Alert (An Introduction to My Blog)


I thought I’d give one more sneak peak of what’s to come when you follow this blog (for all the rebels who like to read the last page first).

Ultimately and fundamentally I’ll preach, don’t quit (hallelujah, amen, period, thanks for coming). I had no more frequent temptation in life than to do just that–quit (picture fetal position, white flags, choking out “uncle,” playing possum, giving my 3-week notice, taking up an agoraphobia hobby, you get it). So with some authority and much desire to bolster the weary among us, I repeat, under no circumstances give up, ever. If I know of anything I can do for you as a result of my lessons in “different” (see “Anomaly” post), it’s relentlessly channel my inner Winston Churchill.

Races are meant to be finished, so for goodness sake, don’t stop anywhere short of the finish line, even if you have to crawl, trip or fall over it onto your lovely face. Partway to victory is not where you want to set up camp (even if a doctor, professional, authority or friend says so, and many a one does), because you just might stay there forever. That’s called settling, and it just makes a bad situation worse, the highest crime we commit against ourselves in my book.

So, my chronic message to you and me will be, get up! Get up again. And if you can’t get up on the outside, then get yourself up on the daggone inside. Don’t close your eyes in the middle of a concussion. Fight for vision. Endure. Come back. And do life with excellence in whatever ways you can no matter how life is happening. Mediocrity never changed the world. Be outstanding. Whether you need a cheerleader or a solid kick in the pants to move through your stuff, I’m your girl. YOU. CAN. (Rah-rah-ree, kick ’em in the knee.)

This blog is me standing back up too, by the way, from my current, three-year K.O. round in the ring. I don’t know how many times a phoenix can rise from those ashes, but I’m bound and determined to find out. And I’m a scrappy fighter, so it’s not pretty over here right now sometimes, but what I lack in finesse I make up for in resolve.

So for me, this blog is an un-sticking. Stuck is the opponent that so often shows up to hold us down, so I opened my laptop with a wink to the opponent’s corner from my down position. I’m conscious, still breathing, says my one twitched eyelid. Game not over. Like a crouching tiger, I’m conserving energy looking for the right time to pounce. I’m coming for you again, lifting my heavy head off the floor. Life is grand, but life also feels like that sometimes.

You and I, though, were constructed of guts, not resignation. Conquering is in our DNA underneath it all. So, if no one is encouraging you saying, “You’re strong, brave, a beast really, and you’re killing it just by putting one foot in front of the other today, and you will become more from this if you doggedly hold on,” then let me tell you just that. I intend for that message to be the undercurrent keeping this blog (i.e., you and me) afloat.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,

Presented by Writers Block Prose, LLC

Of Mice and Sewer Flies and Me (Of Right Decisions and VERY WRONG Results)

Mice at night

Almost 2 ½ years ago, I moved into an apartment where I ended up living with sewer gases, sewer flies, rampant mice, a scary high man and natural gas poisoning. I haven’t told this story, and I don’t know exactly what it’s worth. But I sense the time is ripe for its telling and that someone might benefit. So tell it I will, per chance….

We often go along in life thinking that if we do the right thing, we’ll get the right results, yes? But in reality, isn’t it true that sometimes we do and sometimes we really, REALLY DON’T?

There are forces that viciously oppose right, truth and freedom. They don’t cry uncle so easily to good decision-making skills. They oppose what’s good because it’s good.

But let me go back. Before I moved into this apartment, I did due diligence, as much as possible under a time crunch. I chose an attractive apartment, a respectable building, a decent neighborhood, a relative ticket price that should’ve given some assurance of a comfortable (though small) abode. Check, check and check. I thought right. I did right. I prepped. I moved in.

The first hurdle was the increasing headaches and body weakness that my 5-year old and I experienced in the first few weeks. The degradation in our health was quick from a slow (but fast enough) gas leak in the apartment. That got fixed. Check. Surely all would be well now. It was just a touch of bad luck.

Except I’d been having an overwhelming, intermittent sewer gas smell of which I could make no sense. Maintenance would always come check it out at just the wrong time, when it wasn’t happening. You know, it’s like when you take your car to the mechanic for a noise, and it will never make the noise for them. So, they brushed me off over and over, suggesting repeatedly that I run vinegar through my dishwasher, because it must smell, because they do that as they age. But my dishwasher was brand new when I moved in, so huh?

The spaces between the intermittent, overwhelming sewer gas smell were increasingly filled with a constant, faint, permeate-everything sewer gas smell–at least to me. Maybe it was just forever stuck in my nose.

And then the evidence (poop, ahem) of mice started showing up, especially in the morning in the kitchen and around the perimeter of the mattress on the floor in the living room where I slept. Talk about insomnia.

And then the mice themselves started showing up in broad daylight, getting bold and just running around willy-nilly at all hours.

And then tiny (sorta cute, if they weren’t absolutely filthy) fly-looking insects started to show up daily. I would vacuum up 10 one day off the walls. I’d vacuum up 20 a few days after that. Vacuum up 50 a few days after that. 75. 200. Oh, the vacuuming. I started calling them sewer flies, because I didn’t know what they were, but I knew I smelled sewer gases in my apartment and logic said…. Turns out they were, drum roll, “sewer flies” when I researched.

So that gave me the confidence to keep calling maintenance and keep calling maintenance over a long time. I wasn’t imagining the smell. Maintenance continued to always somehow magically only come when the smell wasn’t pervasive or I’d just aired out the apartment (although I couldn’t safely do that overnight, living by myself where I was, so I just slept with it and the mice). And they continued to say the (brand new) dishwasher was the problem. They threw down some sticky mouse traps (which only ever served to catch and be completely covered by sewer flies) and called it a day, over and over.

Well, noxious gases aren’t healthy. We vent sewer gases outside of our homes for a spiffy reason. I work from home, so I couldn’t get away from it all. My esophagus was feeling the burn (and hasn’t fully recovered to this day).

Then High Guy entered the scene. My neighbor’s son was a drug addict. Remember that due diligence thing I did before moving in? Well, I selected a building with a security system. High Guy apparently got around the system, and he got in the habit of sleeping in the very small common area outside my door sometimes. I guess he’d been having friends over and bunking out in the laundry room for some time across the hall, but I hadn’t noticed that because I didn’t use it. Anyway, add overwhelming drug smoke fumes to the dirty air in my apartment now. And add that to the list of things that didn’t get addressed by the apartment management company when I called.

So, when High Guy got a little scary one night, I called the police, sharing about his squatting and substance habits. I know he knew it was me that called the police, because next time he came around he yelled he knew it was me through my door (and not in a most pleasant, grateful way). I was pretty terrified from that point on to come and go.

I’ve told enough. I’ll skip to the end. The sewer gas smell turned out to be, drum roll again, sewer gases. When maintenance turned over the apartment right before I moved in, they ripped out the kitchen and put in a new one. They never capped the sewer pipe behind the kitchen wall. Open pipe to the sewer means sewer gases and sewer flies flying free plus mice easily setting up house along with me. That explains why no one else around me had any of the problems I had. They all had lovely apartments like I was supposed to.

These were not the right results. I did the right thing. God, why do we get the very, VERY WRONG (horrible, no good, terrible) results often times when we do the thing we’re absolutely sure we’re supposed to do?

Because there’s an Enemy of truth and an Opposer of progress and freedom who works overtime when people dare to stake claim to those things. There will be no red carpet rolled out on such occasions. We simply have to decide whether we’re willing to fight for right—be willing to walk through fire again and again—for the sake of good. Will we do what we gotta do, or will we go back to Egypt (think Moses and slaves who started yearning for free yummy food instead of desert manna in their long trek to a better place)?

I mean, don’t take me wrong, timing and prioritizing fights are everything. People who pick every fight and fight all the time are obnoxious—that’s a pathology all in itself.

But, if there’s a Jericho—a massive, walled city between you and your God-given liberty, safety, truth or progress—and you’ve marched around that sucker six times silently and then are instructed to shout your way around it the seventh time, well, shout you should. There’s a time for patience, and there’s a time to move and pay whatever price comes until those walls fall and you get to live as God intended for his precious children to live. If it necessitates a primal war cry in order to prevail and endure until then, so be it.

Dear ones, never trade your freedom and the truth for ease or silence. That kind of easy only appears easy. And only the truth always sets you free. Temporary, superficial safety and comfort at the expense of your life’s foundation or under the weight of dictatorship is not authentic safety and comfort—it’s counterfeit. There are people and circumstances in life that pretend to provide for you while they shackle you. If the pretense of goodness isn’t put on for show in such cases, who would be seduced to stay put while ropes and gag clothes are tied? We have to recognize when wrong is covered by a thin veneer of fake right. Pick that fight. Push back against that veneer to see if it holds up or splits open to display a world of wrongness. You’ll get through the resistance, and a true, real, easy ease will emerge after the fight, no longer hidden out of reach behind that walled-off Jericho. Or, at least I’m still hoping so.

I haven’t reached the freedom I set out for nor is my truth renowned yet. My release hasn’t been secured. But when the capital-k King is the one giving marching orders and is the guarantor of promised freedom, it’s just a matter of time. Little-k kings can’t white knuckle those crowns forever without a high price to pay—higher than you’ll ever have to pay in your attempts to de-throne them. The Master opens the door for every caged bird eventually. And everything hidden in darkness eventually comes to light, especially when it’s time for the shouting on that seventh time ‘round.

We simply can and must not forget that there are people who appoint themselves kings of anything and everything—build cities and set themselves up on thrones—if they’re not told NO. Don’t bow and ask to hold their crowns. Remind them they never had one (or just remind yourself if it’s unsafe to inform them outright), and march through, around or atop whatever it takes, however long it takes, until the walls come down.

But here’s the thing: You also have to be for darn sure how you will, and will not, fight for truth and freedom. Otherwise, you might become a perpetrator too, harming the innocent around you instead of promoting your cause and evoking justice.

Your integrity is at stake when you decide how to respond to wrongdoers. And the chance to prove your integrity peaks when your price for doing right seems much higher than the price the opposition pays for a while. But the integrity of The Great Oppressor—and all the oppressors that follow in his footsteps—is already decided. They lose. Game over on their good character. But you…you get to decide yours in these, the hardest moments.

You get to remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. You get to know that if you start acting in lockstep with meanies, you’re just becoming them, not rising above them. If you become unscrupulous in the fight, you’re still giving them power. And if you stop being able to live and love, they’ve won.

Mind you, true love is tough as nails when necessary for the good of itself and another, but it’s never abusive, coercively controlling or vindictive. It doesn’t steal, kill and destroy out of retribution in a way that does collateral damage. It self-defends appropriately against specific, dangerous people when in immediate danger, yes. But we must not make everyone around us pay on our way to freedom and healing from our deepest wounds.

But anyway, back to my original voyage through apartment misery. I find two truths came out of it:

  1. There are good reasons for us to fight the elements (e.g., noxious gases) and choose the creepy plagues (do sewer flies and mice count?) when fleeing our Pharoahs. And Pharoahs always betray that they’re Pharoahs when they pursue and try to retain their hold on captives as they’re losing them. The privileges that come with control aren’t easily surrendered. But we were ALL created for liberty, and we’re in good company if we have to survive plagues and rivers and deserts to reach it.
  2. These current days are ones during which we’re all going to need to know what freedoms we believe are God-given or implicit to humanity, not other-given. Which ones can we simply not compromise on, and how are we willing to fight for them? What are we willing to endure to de-crown the kings? What won’t we do because it just degrades our own character and hurts innocent people while we attempt to heal our own hurts?

Having said all that, I yearn for peace. I pray that chaos and discord and control cease. But this is real life, and sometimes you pick the sewer flies and mice and risk and you resist, and you decide to do it until you reach the Promised Land. Some things are far more important than comfort. As so many have said, freedom is never free.

With Hope & Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writers Block Prose, LLC

The Present is a Present (Yeah, No, Let’s Be Honest)

Bad gift 2

For every clever platitude that’s met with a “Hallelujah” there’s often a loud “No way, Jose” waiting in the wings for it too. Some snappy sayings contain just enough truth to be somewhat helpful and just enough bologna to make a big ol’ sandwich (one reason why social media is both tasty and tricky).

At any rate, I’d imagine you’ve heard the popular saying: The present is a present. It’s an ode to falling in love with each moment as a gift. Jumping ahead to the future only brings anxiety and causes you to miss the glory of every fantastical second because they all are fantastic–or need to be reframed as such, per the cliché—right? We best learn, then, to believe that every tick of the clock is filled with goodness and light and all things amazing, lest time pass us by and we later wish we had adored it all. How shall we relentlessly attitude check ourselves into gratitude for each precious hour? Let us count the ways….

Or not. Yeah, no thanks. You only survive some moments by letting ’em pass, saying good riddance and throwing your focus straight forward into the next thing.

I grant the point, certainly, that if your brain is never in the same time zone or activity that your body is, that’s a bad habit. But believing we won’t really, fully live or will have regrets if we dislike uncomfortable, hard moments seems bogus. We can surely gaze into the future when we don’t so much appreciate the right now—peak at dreams and plan good plans—instead of fibbing that the present is always a present. Yes, a good deal of worry can stem from jumping into tomorrow’s troubles prematurely. But a whole heck of lot of hope can stem from foreseeing its joys. “Where there is no [forward] vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18).

I usually only find trite truisms troublesome—cute as the little tidbits can be—when they’re dispensed to someone in trauma as though they’re helpful in the heaviest of life’s moments, when someone’s under the weight of serious and immense suffering. It really just tells me that said sharer of pithy sunshine jolts doesn’t really want to understand or join in the reality of what’s happening to said sufferer. And that’s OK. It happens. Not everyone can enter in with energy and empathy. People are allowed to not, if it’s not convenient or they just don’t want to. (Although there are certainly people who, by virtue of position, should but don’t unfortunately. But in every case, respectful silence for someone carrying what you don’t have to or choose not to would be better than shallow or diverting responses.)

But I want to say to you sufferers of trauma who’ve heard ridiculous, generalized nonsense that feels mocking of your misfortune from the relatively comfortable or inappropriately lighthearted peanut gallery, I’m sorry you’ve experienced that. Sometimes even well-intentioned people mistakenly encourage you to make lemonade out of nasty lemons that best go straight into the trash. Thinking every lemon is lemonade-worthy, or that you should be capable of lemonade-making every moment, just minimizes your trauma, I know.

Yep, some experiences are simply best not held onto, relished or cherished but identified as disgusting and cruel and then discarded at first opp. There’s no need to endear yourself to or work harder at loving them, although the consensus seems to be that most of us do like the results of the hard things we’ve gone through after the pain is done and the silver lining appears…after. (That’s one of the intended truths in the cliché, I do realize.) Loving the lessons and rewards from surviving the hard thing is different from loving the hard thing itself. And trying to verbally restructure your current trials into something pretty they haven’t transformed into yet for the sake of someone who doesn’t like to hear about extreme pain is just oxymoronic–they should be comforting you, not you them. Sometimes you’re given…manure. So call it manure. Mature, nonjudgmental people can handle it.

These non-gift moments are your opportune time to grab a vision and jump ahead. Dream, wish, provoke enthusiasm for what can come, and white knuckle those babies until your reality catches up with your grasp on them. It’s the future part of “everything works for good for those who love God” that makes the ugly moments endurable; the “everything” points to the icky nowness of life, or we wouldn’t need that promise to begin with (Romans 8:28). It doesn’t say this moment is all worked out for good, so please don’t quote it to people in the most excruciating moments of their lives as though they should feel better in the right now. It’s a mite insensitive, thank you. The next time you’re being punched in the face, try telling yourself it’s working for good and you should call the ongoing punching a gift. I didn’t think so. That’s disingenuous. No, you’ll duck and weave and escape, if possible. Then, you’ll call that after-moment the gift.

Anyway, in the middle of the hardest experiences, your brain simply doesn’t need the additional job of trying to love pain. It doesn’t sit right with most of us to lie. Plus, telling our feelings what to feel rarely works, especially when they’re entirely valid. But even moreso, follow me, it might inadvertently cause us to accept helplessness, relax complacently into ditches or passively experience traumatic circumstances. Sometimes when we think we’re supposed to be content right where we are, with any old thing we’re going through, we continue to stay, in the name of optimism. But that’s called wishing things would get better. I think optimism is more proactive. What your brain needs is the goal of overcoming, finding a different final word or ending, searching for whether anything can be done to extricate from this horrid thing and then doing it. We’re meant to reject and run from some things, not embrace and hold them when they’re on fire and burning us. Some suffering is optional if we’ll see it. We throw off and put out the fire. We just don’t drink lemonade from that particular lemon.

In fact, the question “Why don’t you learn to view your present as a gift and be content?” can be rather dangerous for someone who needs to be supported in walking away from pain but is mistakenly encouraged to stay and change their attitude about it instead. I mean, there’s great truth in that very same question to someone struggling with a hangnail. But, let’s consider our audience and differentiate our advice based on the gravity of the experience being endured, shall we? Someone living an unacceptable, devastating or deadly present might just find the power to go in search of an acceptable present if given a little encouragement to do so instead of, “Sit tight in misery and learn to rename it a gift.” A gift in their present moment just might be a swift kick in the pants to move on to the next moment, calling the current one too ridiculous to abide.

So since the present is sometimes not OK—not a gift-wrapped delight—it’s OK not to aim to be equally grateful for all moments. It’s OK to plan an escape, envision a future, dream of better days, rely on the rewards of simply surviving. Let the power of the mind’s ability to time travel carry you when what your senses are experiencing threatens you. It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that this moment isn’t easy to love, but the Creator of it is, and His plan to redeem it is real and dependable. It’s alright to count on the fruition of that hope to help you hold on. If the moment stinks, the best thing to do is say so and look up, and maybe far off.

Do we have a responsibility to control our words, attitudes and emotions and not let them control us? Yes, we do—especially anger. Only a fool gives vent to absolutely all that. But I guarantee that nobody can get ahold of and wrestle down their demons and destructive life experiences without facing them, eye to eye, and calling them out. That feat comes with challenging, sometimes overwhelming, feelings and words that only go away when let out, defused and dismissed (obviously in the proper place, without doing damage to another).

I’m also not advocating responsibility avoidance or aiming to dissociate or detach. Even whilst we forward-dream, we must do our now-work. We must handle our stuff, when it’s hard and when it’s easy. We must live and love, no matter what, no excuses. We must face the truth.

And that’s my point, really. Lying about, rose-shading or covering reality in superficial clichés never leads to freedom, and being afraid to tell the truth about how bad some “presents” are is unnecessary (and damaging) shallowness. Maybe it’s been encouraged by a faulty logic system of a culture leaning toward toxic positivity—one that has forgotten how to grieve—and in so doing exchanges the power to truly heal for counterfeit stability and plastic smiles? But masks suffocate. Or maybe we’ve gone too far down the road of worrying that every word we speak manifests the exact trajectory of our future, as though if our tone of voice is somewhat pained or our words tell of the ugly side of life, well we’ve just doomed ourselves to gloom.

But what if those very things free us and our future instead? What if the honest expression of feelings brings healing and the telling of our sad stories is the beginning of writing a new and better one? A good lament releases bottled up pressure after life shakes the fizz right to the top of us until we’re about to explode. And trauma experts say that victims need to tell their stories until they don’t need to anymore.

So, for goodness sake, name the present moment for what it is. Speak the truth. If now is a beautiful gift, say so. If now feels more like drinking an entire bottle of Pepto Bismal or swimming in salt water with fresh wounds, then say so. It’s not the teller of sad-but-true stories that’s negative, it’s the circumstance or person causing the misfortune that’s negative. This is called authenticity, emotional integrity, vulnerability. The emotionally intelligent don’t just hit one feeling tone, just like brilliant, capable, interesting musicians would never utilize just one note. That’s called monotonous, boring, obnoxious, not real music, not real life.

That means as we’re traversing life’s deepest wounds, sufferings and traumas, we don’t have to re-categorize them as less than they are while they’re still happening, in the name of optimism. The truth about the present is the path to freedom, not pretending something is awesome-sauce when it’s clearly horrid. It’s merely a matter of not pretending misery has passed while we’re still waiting for it to go.

Rather, when everything around us piles on, the only really reasonable place to live is in the future, knowing it will be the gift. True optimism tells the truth about the now and the later, with no pretenses or pretending. Heads stuck in the sand are stuck heads, stuck lives. We all need a lot of honesty in our adulting arsenal, because wounds and scrapes can’t be properly dressed and treated if we won’t really look at them. And it’s only a party until gangrene sets in—the inevitable result of not flushing out infections and messes. It takes courage, no doubt. It’s averting our gaze, putting glossy band-aids on deep cuts and people-pleasing the critics of truthful speech that are the easy ways out…for a time…until it’s harder…because chronic wounds set in instead of healthy scars.

Tell your true stories, friends, and then look to your left and right. Those are your people. If they disappear or go silent when you speak the hard things they aren’t your people, because they can’t handle the truth (yes, insert Jack Nicholson’s voice here). Your testimony about your experience is just as important and valid as theirs and the next person’s, even if you’ve walked on the darkest side of the moon and they on the brightest side of the sun. If your orbit has been more traumatic, it’s no ones right to say you should be silent as a result. They might consider themselves lucky their trip was easier and sit in awe of what you’ve survived, gleaning wisdom, grateful they didn’t have to learn it the hard way. You’ve saved them a learning curve, if they will hop onto yours, so never be ashamed to say your present isn’t a present yet. You’ve proven yourself brave for facing the truth and patiently awaiting your future gift, so stand tall, honest storytellers.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on May 20, 2020. 1 Comment

The Foreseeable Unforeseen (Fallout of Government Control)

PA Govt Building

If you think this country hasn’t already started choosing who gets “ventilators”—i.e., life-sustaining support—maybe think again.

Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with autoimmune conditions. I’ve been living for the better part of 15 years very successfully, almost as though I was never diagnosed with them. I’ve done so because of alternative medical modalities and lifestyle that re-train my brain and body to react properly instead of abnormally.

My state government just shut those medical modalities of therapy down as “elective.” I beg to differ.

There’s a Facebook post circulating widely that calls us to understand and protect those with autoimmune diseases and vulnerabilities and to stay home for their sake. It has many truths in it, many I don’t want to dismiss. It’s relevant, but it’s not the whole story. As someone who has suffered painful illnesses and injuries, one after another, my heart overflows with compassion for the ill. And to those who’ve tried everything and nothing has brought relief or proper immunity, I hear you. You have special needs right now.

My autoimmune illnesses have been managed by alternative, “elective” therapists, and now I can’t get to them because of a public cry to shut everything down for the sake of those with…autoimmune illnesses. What? With the exception of one surgery and one drug in 25 years of major ailments, mainstream medicine hasn’t helped me. But hundreds (thousands?) of hours of education and alternative medical treatments and lifestyle changes actually gave me results–great results, results I’d like to keep up.

I am simply telling my story. I am not bashing mainstream medicine. I’ve been grateful for drugs and surgery completely, on a few occasions. There are times. Everything has a use and purpose. But my story—and I believe there are many more of you who could say you need “electives” to be well—has been dismissed as unimportant by government control in the name of helping sustain life.

The irony of control is always in the double standards.

And calling consequences “unforeseen” each time government (or any person or entity) oversteps its bounds and controls that which it has no right to, should be called foreseeable if it happens predictably in some way, shape or form every time. We may not know the exact negative repercussions that will stem from the stripping of Constitutional rights, but we can know for darn sure they will happen every.single.time.

I’m a single mom with an elementary school aged child. I have been running errands for two elderly parents’ households (sorry mom and dad, may I say elderly?). I am a business owner, and as of this morning I don’t know how much of my business is punishable by state police were I to operate it.

I’m not playing a violin for myself (well, maybe a little, because Big Brother is a bully). I’m sending a cry to generations to be afraid of the correct thing, if you’re going to be afraid of anything today. Our Founders knew nothing was worse than government reach extending beyond what it should, and they went to the trouble of starting their own country and writing explicit documents so we wouldn’t forget it. Many have laid down their lives, and do so to this day, so that governments could and would not control people (control being a primary definition of abuse, by the way). How can history repeat itself so many times and yet mankind still inevitably slip into the same voluntary, undisputed subservience to government that has created rebellion after revolution after rebellion after revolution?

It’s fear of temporary and temporal circumstances, that’s how.

Fear of what could happen to us by chance and circumstance seems to scream louder in our heads than fear of what is guaranteed to happen to us if we give up our inalienable right to freedom. How can we allow the urgent to drown out the essential like that? Freedom from government control is inalienable because it’s crucial. It’s crucial because it’s Natural Law, so nothing works when we don’t observe it (read Judge Napolitano for brilliance on this subject). We may get a virus; we will destroy our nation if we allow a virus (pick any issue, because it’s not specific to this one) to intimidate us into giving excessive control to the government. History has verified it with 100% consistency.

I think it happens like this…. Fear of transient trials steals our fortitude and self-agency; we want someone else to save us, to ease the pain and challenge, to be responsible and smart in our place when we feel lost or unable (or are simply wrongly educated that submission is required), so we create a lasting problem out of a temporary one. And there will always be those ready to assume our individually abdicated thrones. And the ones who would want to crawl onto them are generally the ones ready to control and condescend without compunction, being all too happy to take over and talk down. Then after that initial transference of agency, we’re increasingly stuck. Control doles out a punishment that makes submission to continued control the easier and safer route in the short-term (never true in the long-term), and the cycle spins round and round, escalating. Abdication, control, punishment, less freedom, no real salvation, abdication, control, punishment, less freedom….

But it can never be endured forever. People eventually awaken to the fact that there’s no price too high to regain freedom from control, and they fight back (ideally with civil disobedience, but it has required more historically).

How about I say what I don’t mean by this, to head off some critics? I’m not for anarchy. I believe governments have a valid role, including protection of its borders and punishment for those who actually do wrong with intent or gross negligence (not those wishing to have medical therapies or give them). Also, without being forced, I would (and always am) considerate of the world at large when my household is ill. And I do see a clear reason during this pandemic to be much more careful than usual, to care for and value the lives of our elderly and the wee ones, in particular. That, in fact, is exactly what I’m trying to do by putting my oxygen mask on first. That, in fact, is what the government is stopping me from doing, in the name of saving my or another’s life (again, the irony and double standards of controlling measures). That, in fact, is why trying to force everyone to be a good guy never works. The good guys always pay for the mass revocation of liberties. It can’t be helped. And the bad guys still won’t comply, because that’s what bad guys do. So, almost nothing is gained, and a lot is lost.

So I will work at my health with all the other tips and tricks I’ve learned over the course of 25 years. I’ve actually had to do so for the past year for other reasons and done so mostly successfully, until now. Now I need treatments to fully get back on my feet. And now, they say no, you may not. My body takes more support to maintain strength and functionality. I will pray that it holds out without treatments for as long as they are unavailable. I don’t know if my body will fall back into immune abnormality without my bodywork, making me more susceptible to COVID-19 or inability to function day-to-day. I don’t know who else’s body will succumb to COVID-19. I don’t really want to find out on either front. But as a constituency, are we OK with government deciding whose lives are most important (the stuff of historical nightmares)? Mine’s not more important, but it isn’t less important either.

These are foreseeable “unforeseen” consequences of a human, fallible government with limited scope and perspective deciding in broad generalizations what is best for an entire people group, down to the minutia of everyday life, in the name of the greater good. It always produces these results. Always. Dictatorships have never worked. Leadership has. Leadership understands that it doesn’t help one citizen by hurting another—that people best help neighbors from a position of strength. The difference between dictatorship and leadership is control and punishment, which should be reserved for wrongdoers, but never is when the sledge-hammer of control is swung over a land. The swing of that heavy metal smashes goodwill, self-initiative and freedom to self- and other-sustain in the multitudes of right-doers cut off at the knees.

I hear the popular answer flying at me, But their right-doing is to stay home and stay away from people in this case! Maybe in a lot of cases, maybe most. But I say with uber-confidence that there are many, many, many people during a crisis like this who are far more damaged by distance than proximity. A balance has to be struck if we are going to value everyone’s lives. Everyone’s.

The foreseeable consequence of control, then, is that some people are guaranteed loss so that other people might possibly maybe win. I want everyone to win, but that’s not real life. And when the government says, You all stop everything, stop life, we’ll make it all run right, and we’ll take care of you, every one of you just right, worry not, it’s time to start worrying. Be very wary. That’s not real life either. Problems are not escaped or solved by abdication, especially not to one tiny centralized group of individuals with nothing to lose when they enact controls. And you can be certain the best they can and are doing is picking winners and losers when they purport to save the day. You may be on the winning side this time, but next time….? This is why we can’t silence our daily voices and choices, thinking government will successfully coordinate them all for us. Government isn’t capable. If you’ve ever managed even a small organization, you understand.

I do believe in the healing modalities I’ve chosen for my body and their carry-over effects. And I’m a fighter (although disabilities happen even so). I believe on faith that with God’s help I’ll be able to parent, carry out the mandated homeschooling, continue to help protect my parents, keep a business going and sustain life that I’m responsible for over here in my little corner of the world. I will pray for my own immune system to continue on in the new way it’s been trained to, despite its historical tendencies. But I suspect many of you reading this may have argued that those who contract coronavirus should have treatment, not only prayers and hope and faith. I’d like it, too.

This virus poses a threat, yes. And if you can just STOP and be still, then do voluntarily sacrifice elective things to make it happen out of love and consideration, certainly.

But, government, please don’t forcibly take the “ventilators” off many of us in order to hand them to others. Let us know and decide for our own lives what “electives” are to sustain our lives. You aren’t qualified for that role. And what we don’t need piled on top of unavoidable threats (who might unpredictably get sick) are avoidable ones (who you predictably make sick by limiting freedom). God bless the medical practitioners risking themselves and treating the ill and saving lives. But God also bless the people who are having their strength and stability stripped away who could also help those hurting (economically and physically) in other important ways. God stop us from ruining masses to save some, if indeed that’s what over-control means in this case. I pray I’m praying the wrong prayer in that last sentiment.

I voice my conscientious objection today and echo Ben Franklin’s cry to his own generation, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We’re either free or we’re not. We are walking a path that will eventually force a decision when government controls everything private at will.

I assure you that I’m not talking about hangnails and headaches when I say I’ve had illnesses and injuries. I’m not saying, Make me perfectly comfortable at the risk of someone else’s life. There were years and years of debilitation, which mainstream medical doctors said I wouldn’t overcome, which have been overcome and mostly kept at bay. I can’t protect myself from my illnesses by my practitioners or me just staying home. It might work for coronavirus but not for what ails me. And right now the government is gambling with my health and livelihood both on the odds that sacrificing me will possibly help another. If there’s no reason-ability, logic, irony or statistical problem in that for you, then we will have to agree to disagree.

Certain autoimmune sufferers need certain medical or lifestyle remedies, and others need different ones; we’d all love extra protection, because we feel vulnerable, yes. As for me, I appreciate it if you assist my plight out of consideration, but I’m not entitled and you’re not obligated. But I do insist on the freedom to take responsibility for myself with my chosen remedial protections and therapies. If the therapists themselves want to shut down for their own protection, I wish them well, and they should have that right. But some of my practitioners are frustrated because they, too, got into their fields to help people and know how much we need them in order to live.

I almost didn’t speak up. I’ve heard the arguments out there that this kind of thinking is selfish. But since when has taking responsibility for self and wishing for constitutional freedoms been selfish? It boggles my mind, really. I believe that owning your own health, modifying your own life and managing your own challenges instead of asking everyone else to falter so you can stand is the exact opposite of selfish.

Some distance is needed by some. Some therapies are needed by others. Some income is needed by all (some understanding that money doesn’t grow on government trees would aid that pursuit). What weathers a crisis successfully is some of this, some of that, some of the other thing and as many of our brains and actions working together voluntarily as possible, without our hands tied behind our backs. And if all but the top government officials and a few medical professionals have no freedom to implement intelligence, common sense, concern for others and understanding of their own life-sustaining needs while hunkered down, we’ve got a skewed setup, folks.

I hope this pandemic is the straw that breaks the camel’s back of government control, opening eyes, bringing at least one fortunate lesson out of one very unfortunate circumstance. The silver lining is the beauty of every storm. But I don’t see the glint of silver just yet….

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on March 23, 2020. 1 Comment

When They Hog the Sun and Tell You to Swim Faster Through the Mud


Some folks create the rain clouds, complain that it’s raining and then ask you to stand in their rain while they take off for sunshine with your umbrella. They best take it, they reason, because they might have another rain cloud soon (and they will, since they make them). I don’t know if everyone has experienced this phenomenon, but if you have, you may or may not even know who you are. Cloud-makers often cover their tracks extremely well.

A friend of mine described perfectly how it feels to be the one left chronically, repeatedly standing out in the rain of another person’s making. It’s like walking through chest-high mud. And each mud-walk feels harder and harder, because you’re more fatigued each time than the last. The incessant rain just adds to the grossness and exponentially increases the difficulty of moving a muscle.

Now maybe you have encountered people who create these kinds of obstacles and turmoil from a different motive, but I’ve personally experienced a certain one. It’s that people weighed down in a muddy torrent are easier to control.

Exhausted people don’t make ready escapes to freedom. They eventually can’t easily flee the storms, because they’re so busy trying to survive the storms. It’s distracting and draining. It’s also very effective for the one who benefits from keeping someone else stuck still. The stuck one carries all the weight and can’t throw off the weight because they’re weak from carrying all the weight so they just have to keep carrying and sticking stuck. And this kind of weight lifting doesn’t create endurance but an eventual collapse.

The person conjuring up storms and filling mud pools often convincingly claims, I’m in a crisis, so I can’t do this…that…the other thing…my responsibility…the thing I wish to avoid…the challenge that feels uncomfortable…the problem or pain I don’t want to face, so there, you should take it, woe is me, look at all my storms, one after the other, I’m the victim here. And sadly, when you’re the type who can’t imagine anyone doing such a thing on purpose to avoid responsibilities (that probably would’ve been far easier to just handle than sidestep in such a fancypants way), it works well to fool you.

There are two problems with that there modus operandi. 1) The thing they made the storm to avoid was their responsibility, not yours. 2) They’ve left you handling their initial responsibility plus the storm used to avoid their initial responsibility while they walk off to greener, mud-less, cloudless pastures with your umbrella and mud boots.

This is how responsibility avoidant people use good-hearted, responsible people. And it’s an education we don’t get in school and most parents hesitate to teach, because we don’t want jaded kids. We want to believe the best and pretend the worst doesn’t exist sometimes.

We want to believe in good-hearted people and a world where it’s always safe and beneficial to help carry one another’s burdens, especially our intimates. We want to believe in a world full of responsible people who know they’re not entitled to anything, particularly avoiding work, discomfort, pain or their own problems. We want to think nobody would ever hoist these things relentlessly onto a kind-hearted, considerate person near them.

But reality requires that those good-hearted people best learn that there are predators for whom they make perfect prey, simply because they haven’t been taught that this type of predator even exists. There are simply some folks on whom boundaries have to be placed, because they won’t place those boundaries on themselves.

Probably the best way to differentiate how much rain and mud to endure on someone else’s behalf is to evaluate the causes of their slimy messes over time—look for patterns. Do they have common denominators? For example, most simply, did an action of theirs that they chose to do or not do directly bring on the problem? Does heavy rainfall always serve as a source of escape for the cloud-maker from handling another, distinct problem? Do you always end up under the cloud alone? Are you almost always the sole problem solver when they should be? Does the mud cause such exhaustion and confusion that you become the one at whom the finger is pointing–you become the problem instead of the mud dumper taking responsibility for filling pool after pool with mud for you to walk through? Do you eventually feel like you’re residing in quick-drying cement poured by another person to no good end, not as a foundation for anything at all but simply a stumbling block that keeps you from ever moving forward? Do you feel unable to escape chronic chaos and crises that never had to happen if everyone had taken primary responsibility for their own work, emotions or challenges?

Good people know that life happens and nobody escapes all storms. That’s why they jump in and help out. That’s why their hearts beat in sync with another person who’s suffering. That’s why good people yearn to bring relief to those they love or even those they don’t know, just because they’re hurting humans.

On the flip-side, tricky people manufacture and use storms to take charge, to keep others off-kilter, to deflect and defend against their own lack of character. They abuse empathy in good people without returning anything remotely resembling empathy in kind.

If you come to find yourself in one of those chronic deluges or quicksand pits, it’s time to take stock. You get one life, and it wasn’t created for anyone else to sabotage or suppress with your approval.

If you jumped into the foxhole of life with someone who had absolutely no control over the battle they’re fighting or isn’t in the habit of making waves to drown people around them, then hats off and kudos to you for your sacrificial service and love. I believe there are rewards for you here and on the other side.

But if you’re consistently finding yourself a drowned rat or nearly fossilized artifact in the pool of someone else’s self-made rain and sludge, carrying baggage that someone else should’ve unloaded long ago or at minimum not hoisted onto your back, then you may possess idiot compassion. It’s time to back away (slowly and safely if they’re the dangerous type who get worse when they’re stripped of control).

If you’re going to be under a cloud, let it be because life gave you no choice and you’re soaked, yes, but able to conquer, emerge and dry off eventually. If you’re in the rain, let it be because you’re enjoying a jump in a mud puddle by choice. If you’re going to swim in a pool, let it be a rejuvenating one. If you have to walk through the mud, let it be to the top of a mountain with a breathtaking view, not the drudgery of pulling the weight of a responsibility avoidant person around in endless circles, uphill both ways. (That’s not good for them either, by the way.)

We all create storms now and then. We’re human. We don’t reject our precious people for the occasional mess of their own making, or even a short series of them or unusual-but-intermittent ones over a long period of time. However, if there’s evidence that clouds are created by repetitive negligence, mud is poured on with manipulative purpose, no remorse ever emerges and nothing is learned or adjusted to protect you as a co-load bearer, read the signs. Heed the elements. You’ve got a non-reciprocal relationship going on with a person unconcerned for your ultimate welfare, taking as much as you’ll give without returning the favor. And as Steven Furtick puts it so aptly, “Withdrawing more money than you deposit into the bank is called stealing.” You don’t have to endorse theft from your finite well of energy and attention.

Break free from artificial storms whenever possible, tired and hindered souls. Life provides enough real ones for weathering all on its own.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Provided by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

Merry Christmas, Mary Mother of Jesus (That Little Tramp)

Mary Mother 5

How easily we believe stories told. It seems we want to believe people talking but disbelieve the innocence of those being talked about. We often condemn the object of a harsh story without a fair trial. And the testimony of a person offering evidence that appears irrefutable is even harder to dismiss.

Why is it so hard to reject or at least question some stories? Why are we so susceptible in the hidden recesses of our minds when we hear private tales of troublemakers? Are we too naïve to believe a storyteller would lie? Do we forget that even “proof” can be presented with smoke and mirrors but true truth will pass tests, critical questions and scrutiny? Do we feel better about ourselves to hear of others’ alleged wrongdoings since we wrong-do too? Are juicy morsels just appetizing, suppressing boredom? Do we feel important being in the know? Do we forget that those behaving badly offer all kinds of cover-up stories and finger-pointing diversions to escape being caught, and we best not believe them? Do we forget that narratives aren’t always rightly motivated?

I don’t know. But Mary who bore Jesus had one of those dicey situations going on. She surely had whispers traveling around town about her scandalous (at least in her day) belly. We know this, because for goodness sake, it took angels to set straight the key players who needed to believe her—to accept her story and celebrate the baby she found herself expecting. Angels. Those are the big guns God pulls out when having proper intel is make or break down here. And the irrefutable evidence of her wrongness that folks were bound to believe wasn’t so irrefutable after all. Sometimes, the harder-to-believe story is the true one.

So today, I write to you who are being rejected, pushed away, wrongly labeled or under the weighty gaze of those who’ve misjudged you or told twisted stories. Even if the gullible partakers think that they’re just believing hard evidence, don’t worry. If no one has sought out your harder-to-discover truth, don’t worry. You’re in great company. It’s a tale as old as Christmas.

If people easily believe slurs about you, don’t worry. They’re not your people. Let them go, and make space for your people.

If you want to shout your carefully plotted self-defense from the rooftops, because appearances or words have been misleading, don’t worry. All things hidden will eventually come to light. Those who don’t ask to hear your defense won’t accept it anyway. If they didn’t seek out your perspective, they’re not interested, and everyone gets to choose their own interests. Just shout it with confidence to heaven, where it will be valued and believed, your tears cared about and recorded.

If you want to return false testimony or ugly intentions in kind, don’t worry, you’re human. But don’t. The angels who always have the ear of the King have got you covered.

If your life’s work or purpose require traversing less-traveled terrain—both bizarre and painful—don’t worry. Ponder it like the Christmas baby’s selfless mother did. Let it all wash around inside until there’s a purity of heart and vision (after you have a good cry if need be, since that’s purifying, too).

If loneliness threatens to discourage you, because your well-wishers are dropping like flies but haters are proliferating out of shockingly thin air, don’t worry. Hosts from heaven sing over you when you’ve said, like Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38, ESV)

If you appear to fail massively—even over and over and over—in the eyes of others, and they dismiss your credibility, don’t worry. The most truly revolutionary and highly influential people all seemed to face major rejection on top of severe opposition that caused many losses before their wins. When you have a Mary heart beating inside of you, you will birth greatness. Just nurture and wait for it.

God frequently made potent promises of good things to come for you who willingly and humbly submit to embarrassment or loss of popularity out of a sacrificial love for others. Those others may never know what you’ve done for them in their days on this earth, but the God who judges accurately and rewards all does see. El Roi.

A reputation is a hard thing to release to the care of Providence. I’m not trying to say it’s easy, just simple. When you’ve voluntarily adopted servanthood, you’ve surrendered ultimate command and control to One greater. And it can be a relief to let go of what you or others think—or think your life should look like—knowing the Master is a master choreographer and vindicator.

In the meantime, you have Someone who stepped down off a cross to carry any shame someone might try to assign you. You need not walk with your head down if your heart has been given up.

A friend and I were talking recently about how the outcome just can’t matter as long as you play the game right. Just live right. Period. Live with love (that includes tough love, peeps) and rightness of purpose. Period. Make sound decisions on principle, not manipulative ones to try to force a result. Period. Sometimes you’ll get the right outcome from right effort in the short term, but sometimes you’ll get the wrong result for your efforts for a while…sometimes for a long while. Live right anyway. Nothing is wasted or worth worrying too much about when you’re living from a clean conscience.

The superficial things will all fall away some day—everybody fully known–and you’ll be left intact. Those living on the surface, for the surface and swearing truth by the surface of things will not be able to say the same. Any lack of integrity or falsely told or believed stories will be exposed.

So, I want to speak backward in time to that profoundly faithful young mother, and concurrently speak to you who are struggling in a similar way today. Brave Mary, the world may have perceived you as a little rebel, wrong in every way, a little liar, a little tramp almost certainly in your culture. But you had more reason than most to hold your head high. You were on the side of the angels, my dear. And I suspect that you could have written this Casting Crowns’ song verbatim to cheer on those who now aim to rid themselves of their own interests and carry Jesus, too:

And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy.

I don’t care if they remember me.

Only Jesus.

And I, I’ve only got one life to live.

I’ll let every second point to Him.

Only Jesus.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writers Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on December 29, 2019. 1 Comment

And the Award for Best Halloween Costume Goes to…The Gaslighter!


Gaslighting is creepy. Whether it’s the kind of gaslighter who knowingly tries to make you doubt your sanity by saying lies are truth or the kind who actually believes their own delusion and tries to force it on you…it’s all creepy, all the time. It’s dressed-up-for-Halloween, make-kids-and-adults-alike-drop-their-candy-and-run creepy. It’s downright ghoulish, eerie.

The problem is, gaslighters don’t come in gross masks and shredded clothes; they look just like you and me on any old day.

At Halloween, everyone seems to acknowledge something that at other times of the year we’re mostly hush-hush about—that darkness exists. Disgusting, disturbing, frightening, menacing, sinister or just plain weird things are real, whether we can see them or not. The best-case scenario for gaslighters from that list of attributes is that they’re weird, because who proudly and with complete confidence tries to make other people believe untrue things? At worst, gaslighting is terrifying, because it’s a total disregard for truth plus blatant manipulation with an intent to harm.

Either way, it’s destructive. And if we’re smart, we should have a healthy fear of being deceived—and deceiving others. A gaslighter has neither. With a relaxed smile they can say, Black is white, round is square and the sun rises in the evening. They can say, You’ve never made me dinner or loved me, while you’re setting the 10,000th dinner plate in front of them with a genuine kiss on the cheek.

The reason I think this is the creepiest kind of character is because embracing falsehoods and manipulating others for selfish gain both completely align better than anything else I can think of with the Father of Lies’ plan to steal, kill and destroy.

Because God is truth. Truth creates light. Light reveals reality. We can see clearly in the light of truth and be free.

God’s arch enemy mastered lying. He lies to create darkness. Darkness conceals reality. Then we can’t see that we’re free. He can rule us.

God has no equal and no rival, and Darkness hates that. Darkness has lost, so all it has left is to use trickery to grasp at whatever bit of control it can get for a while (sounds familiar to those who’ve been gaslighted). The tiniest flicker of light can be seen in immense darkness. And when we can see through the darkness, we can see through the lies. The enemy hates the truth that we aren’t lost, haven’t lost and are on the winning side—if we simply choose to be. All we have to do is invite God to light our light. But the Liar prefers blackouts.

If God made truth universally free and accessible so we don’t have to stumble around in the darkness of lies, wounding ourselves and others, why doesn’t everyone reverence and accept it? It seems like a no brainer…until we realize it requires giving up ego, not holding to our own smarts as lord and being willing to trade our best intelligence for His. Not everyone chooses to bend a knee. Humility eludes some of us, and submitting to concrete evidence seems unnecessary to some. Not everyone believes they need greater thoughts than they can conjure up all by themselves. That’s lie number one, and a slippery slope then ensues….

A way of life emerges of setting north on their compass to whatever particular way they happen to be facing at that moment, and a compass like that will never lead to the right path. A person believing that whatever they believe is infallible or that they need no objective feedback is in the greatest danger of delusion and deception. And the Liar is all too happy to dump darkness into a mind that’s willing to trust itself entirely and call all its own thoughts light and truth unquestioned.

For example, most of us wouldn’t say 3+3=8 and then proclaim, I’m so smart, so believe me!, despite the evidence of all history and the laws of math arguing against us. That’s called delusion or arrogance. Yet, that’s exactly what gaslighters do, with a completely straight face, saying reality be damned if the answer needs to be 8 to get what they want.

There’s a (hopefully obvious) danger in receiving these folks into close, unfettered fellowship. Gaslighters will tempt others to also set their compasses to them as true north. That’s scary, because I’ve heard religious leaders sending gaslighters to small group fellowship as a seemingly foolproof answer to stopping the madness. We have a seriously misguided type here? Let’s throw them into a small group, and that will re-train their compass. No. As important as people are, they aren’t the Source and they don’t always recognize when (complicated, covert, invisible to the untrained eye, serious) wrongs are staring them in the face. Gaslighters seek to influence, not be influenced. They wear masks that blend in. They have no interest in truth, offer no honest vulnerability that would invite accountability, no remorse that would lead to change and are in groups to align allies to help them fight their victims, usually by telling patently false stories. Small fellowship groups and churches, be on guard. You very likely will not recognize these gaslighter characters dressed up in regular clothes; you have to hear the evidence they leave behind in the stories of their victims. This is an epidemic today. You will run into it.

I don’t fault people if they can’t always spot a gaslighter, because gaslighters often believe their own lies and can tell stories that aren’t true like they’re solid facts, without remorse—without one hesitating flinch of an eyebrow. How would even the most godly person see through it to advise them correctly? Chances are small. More often than not, people who listen with empathy to a gaslighter as though they’re trying to speak truthfully or seek truth are empowering the gaslighting to continue, ever more emboldened. If someone has a claim against them of gaslighting or abuse, this enabling must be stopped until the claim is thoroughly investigated if their victims are to be as safe as possible.

Therefore, there’s grave danger of becoming flying monkeys of gaslighting manipulators for the sympathetic person thinking they can help just because they want to, the gullible who take every word spoken at face value and those who believe what they’re told without evidence (or who can’t recognize manufactured “evidence”). The wicked witch couldn’t have survived without her apes. We must believe gaslighters can lie looking straight into our eyes or we will not believe they exist or beware of them.

The answer I’ve heard in the church for this conundrum of trying to see through and manage gaslighting manipulators has been, We’ll rely on the Holy Spirit to show us all things. We’ll know if they’re lying or deceiving. I agree the Holy Spirit has gifted a small set of people in the body of Christ to easily discern spirits—lies from truth. But beyond that, the Holy Spirit doesn’t equip every one of us to handle any and every task with proficiency. I wouldn’t attempt brain surgery on faith in the Holy Spirit alone to guide me. Rocket science should be left to rocket scientists. Identifying gaslighters and aiding their victims should be left to abuse and trauma expert who’ve proven they can. If they’re really proficient, they can often spot the results of gaslighting in an instant when other people have diagnosed the situation exactly backwards–mixing up cause and effect, victim and perpetrator. Not everybody should be entrusted to give advice in every type of situation, Holy Spirit filled or not.

So, again, someone who simply has the desire to help and decides they can when they really have no business trying usually makes it worse for survivors of gaslighting. Those folks claiming to be guideposts and lighthouses need to carry healthy skepticism of their own all-knowingness, even with the Holy Spirit’s help. In serious cases of safety, abuse, addiction, etc, seeking testimony and researching claims is paramount, not just going by appearances or ones gut. Pursuing and nailing down reality isn’t an easy task with covert gaslighters, but it is the ultimate goal. Digging until you find out who the real victim is (because gaslighters will claim to be) takes determination and training (a clue is that the victim will exhibit more trauma symptoms than the perpetrator, which in fact, usually gets them accused instead of helped). So an untrained people helper should march the traumatized or suspected perpetrator straight to abuse experts (that doesn’t include most counselors, to be clear, who also make it worse for victims in this niche of abuse) or the police, not just any old mentor, pastor or group of peers.

I think modern psychology may also have done damage to our collective ability to pull the creepy masks off gaslighters, recognizing and calling out their twisted perspectives that run contrary to reality. It seems like we’ve been taught that perspective is truth—that each person’s perspective is valid and must be validated. There’s just enough truth in that mindset to be dangerous. It’s true that there are opinions, and everybody’s entitled to them. And it’s true that if someone believes something is true, then for them, it’s their truth.

But there’s truth and then there’s Truth. Things that are believed against evidence, are again, delusional or arrogant. It doesn’t have to become our truth. Don’t we want to follow folks in touch with reality? I’m just gonna go ahead and argue that if you say grass is purple, my truth that grass is green should carry more weight than yours, because my perspective aligns with concrete, provable reality. Call me crazy. And that’s exactly what a gaslighter does if for some reason they need grass to be purple for a minute (until they need it to be blue or orange or fuschia, because their claims are about convenience, avoiding responsibility or achieving a selfish ambition, not truth).

So, how does a healthy person with a healthy psyche get gaslighted effectively? It happens all the time. It’s sort of due to the fact that they’re a healthy person with a healthy psyche, ironically enough. When presented with information or a perspective not their own, a humble and healthy person engages the information with, Oh, maybe I misremembered. Maybe I need to consider this new perspective and adjust mine some. Maybe I could have this wrong. I’m fallible, and they’re a valuable human being to consider. A gaslighter has no such internal dialogue—at least not that they’re willing to admit to themself or you, because it takes them out of the power position. And because most of us can’t imagine walking around lying willy-nilly to achieve self-obsessed ends or entirely disregarding the needs, wants and thoughts of others, we assume others don’t either. We project our own goodwill or mental health onto them.

So, a healthy person in relation to a gaslighter must arrive at, I’ve listened to and tested this person enough. I can’t validate their perspective anymore. They can’t be trusted. (Beware people helpers, once again, that that’s exactly what the gaslighter will also say about their victim. You MUST look until you find reality or an expert who can find it.) As their victim, standing against a gaslighter’s uber-confident speech when you’re an empathetic person is no easy task. If you’re waiting for apologies or admissions of wrong to begin discrediting them, it’ll get you in trouble every time. They generally never authentically get there, even if their lips are saying sorry, so you’ll be led away from the light, lie and manipulation by lie and manipulation, your mind taken over slowly, getting twisted. Or, as a people helper, if you’re not extensively testing what someone is saying against victims’ stories, you’ve just gotten wings and marching orders from a puppet-master. You just turned ape.

Light has an agenda of love, and love is always in lockstep with truth, reality, freedom and goodwill.

Darkness has an agenda of control, domination and trickery. Its lies forever bring constriction, intimidation, insecurity, fear, rejection, trauma or chaos. Because when down can be called up and backward renamed forward by anyone when it serves them in the moment, what else but mayhem could follow?

Some minds are trained by lies to be desensitized to darkness, convinced to no longer even seek light (or maybe worse, to fake seeking it). This creates peril for them and all those around them. But some minds are trained by truth to only feel comfortable in the light, because they’ve been communing and abiding there for so long. For them, being around the darkness will cause them trauma and to be extraordinarily unnerved.

So, for those who know they’re the latter, I have a simple suggestion if you feel like the barrel end of a gaslighting gun is at your temple. If it feels all creepy and dark, threatening or crazymaking like Halloween at midnight, just duck and run. Don’t try to talk the gun down. You won’t find light coming out of it when it goes off, even though it’ll be shot full force at your head like it’s gospel truth. You’re not doing anyone a favor by submitting to gaslighting crimes. And that gun will go off if you speak one word to it.

You know what the rest of your sane relationships and interactions feel like. You never think you’re losing your mind in them. Trust that. The creep factor is real, and life is too short to entertain it.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

Wolves in the Temple

wolf graphic

I saw a sign in front of a church the other day that read, “Jesus didn’t reject anyone, and neither do we.” Really? Didn’t He? I don’t know.

I recently saw a theatre production called Jesus that portrayed a blatant rejection He carried out. And they got it really right, to my eye, that not everyone gets only warm-fuzzy hugs from God all the time (see Psalm 18 for starts if you take issue). My favorite scene in the show was when Jesus overturned tables and used a whip in the temple (in Matthew 21:12-13, He ejects the sales people from church). It was aesthetically cool, done partially in live slow motion, for one. But more importantly, they didn’t rush or minimize the entirety of the scene. It went on for a good, long while. They showed Jesus mad, unapologetically. And I loved it. Sometimes I get the impression that we Christians today only endorse indulgent love to the exclusion of tough love, fluffy feelings to the exclusion of intense ones. But who do we think originated righteous anger?

The play most definitively didn’t portray Jesus’ aggression as a mistake. It wasn’t an emotional vent with a quick self-correction, “Oops, I should calm down here. What am I doing?” There was no apologizing, thinking better of it or acting as if it’d been an accidental lull in appropriate self-control. They pushed the message front and center that Jesus was full of rightness, grace, mercy and love crashing those tables and chasing off those people. (In other words, it was true to the Bible as I read it.)

He needed to communicate a clear message and did: Those who usurp or control for selfish gain, especially trying to put themselves as self-appointed authorities over other people or necessary liaisons to God, will not be allowed to continue in that behavior in His house. Boom.

He clearly declared that if you steal from or actively stand in the way of people intimately knowing their Father, that’s bad. And his rejection of its badness was good. It’s not an ultimate rejection of the people, of course. He wishes for everyone to come to Him. But they weren’t, and they were seriously harming others, so they got kicked out of church that day. Like the prodigal son, they could return repentant and changed (truly, actually changed) and He’d embrace them. But at that moment, denying them entry was profound justice, passion and strength on the behalf of innocent people. Every future individual who would want to seek and find Him needed to know, No person should be in your way, folks. No thieves belong here. My house is for loving God and being freely loved.

So for those who were doing harm or putting an unnecessary hurdle between the Father loving His children, Jesus brought holy upheaval and a swift kick in the pants out the door. Jesus never turned back and never said sorry. In that moment of muscle, he was loving both those who were misusing His Father’s house and their targets. Everybody getting it wrong had to go, for their own benefit and others’. He simply wouldn’t pretend that a wrong thing was right. And he risked His life to clarify that wrong things going unchecked in church isn’t OK, since the debacle seems to have expedited the cross. (It seems to precipitate similar rejection for those who propose the same things today.)

Why did He risk reputation, credibility, life and limb over tables? Because this was life and death for everyone for all time. Jesus is spiritual bread, water, air. Gaining direct relationship to God is life itself. Jesus was about to submit to nails in his wrists and feet, thorns in his skull, a spear in his side and three days under the weight of all humanity’s past and future sins. Obviously, He’d go to any length to prevent spiritual death, unite us with God and protect us, including get mad and act on it. He’d go to any length to save seeking hearts from destruction by those who self-serve. Do we follow this example?

Jesus called such people whitewashed tombs and wolves in sheep’s clothing, etc. Jesus brought His game face to ministry; He wasn’t smiling all the time. Those three years were speckled with strong language against the proudly self-sufficient and the other-using types. Because Jesus was a lamb chaser. He went after the ones whose humble hearts knew and loved His voice—who acknowledged desperate need of rescue, aware they were truly helpless and ignorant and hopelessly wandering lost without a Shepherd. The self-satisfied and self-reliant could sorta fly a kite in Jesus’ world, but not because He didn’t care about them.

Jesus just had to chase off, or let walk away, the wolf sorts who weren’t ready to yield their appetite to destroy sheep. He didn’t chase after them to bring them in for another free meal of lamb. He chased them out and said, Not on my watch. Not my sheep. He gave everyone a chance, but with those who chose the route of threatening sheep safety—that wouldn’t get their hearts involved with or actions tempered by Him—what could He do? He’s a gentle leader who confers freedom to all above all. If some people hike a trail separate from Him, He grieves (to the point of heartbreak I’m sure), but He doesn’t drag them kicking and screaming onto the straight and narrow. He picks up the sheep baaa-ing for Him, that don’t resist and says, Rest safely now. I got ya back on my turf, kid.

Again, take the prodigal son’s father as an example. He waited for the rebellious son to return. Nothing could be done with that child before he broke down and turned himself around. God is the ultimate boundary respecter. He makes us responsible for ourselves and then lets us be just that. The law of sowing and reaping kicks in, and sometimes pig pens and starvation work their magic. But we can’t say He didn’t warn us. He woos, but some will say no to love—both receiving and giving it. And then He will forcefully oppose the harm they do to his beloveds, the ones who humbly rely on Him for protection.

It was no surprise to Jesus that his love wouldn’t be enough to win everyone over. He always knew full well He’d be an unrequited lover in many a heart. He always knew there would be hardened souls and wolves trying to take refuge in the temple, dressed as sheep, but in fact eating sheep. And it’s not an act of revenge when He turns up the dial on aggression to shelter his true bride—the authentic coats of wool in the flock–tossing out the predators. He simply won’t let the fact that some won’t respond to His voice stop Him from the mission of getting his arms around those who do and doing right by them.

Everybody has the same opportunity to humbly accept and receive His love, to repent, to show that they’re Christians by their love. And Jesus knew not everyone would. If you don’t believe you’re a sinner—I mean believe it with your actions, not just your words—you can’t believe in the need for a Savior dying for you, and then you’re not a sheep. Because that’s the exchange: repentance for intimate familial relationship. It’s a package deal offered to all but rejected by some carnivorous howlers of arrogance.

And because Jesus knew all of this, He showed over and over that soft-hearts paying for hard-hearts wasn’t kosher. He walked straight into the temple and ousted the whole lot of wrongness so the world would see that He’d fiercely pave the way for those who knew they needed to be near to God, who needed to not be robbed at the entrance to the house of prayer. And as for those doing the robbing, move aside or be moved out of the way.

Because one more thing that Jesus clearly knew was that if liars, deceivers, cheaters, thieves and self-promoters go unopposed, they will bring destruction and death to those around them. He stopped them at every opportunity. He pointed to wolves, took names and exposed them.

That day at the temple, He simply wouldn’t let the wolves bite the sheep in church. Jesus said, NO. Not here. Not in my house. Get out. In Luke 17:2, He says such biters are better off with a weight around their neck at the bottom of the ocean than if they trip up one of His innocents. Luke 17:3 does say to reconcile with a sinner who says sorry. Wolves don’t say sorry—not truly, not with actions, not with change, not with sincerity, not with integrity. So, He warns us about them, because His mission has always been to find and fight for lambs. Might we be mixing up the two, calling the chronically unrepentant “sheep?”

Jesus made it quite clear that even a wolf who claimed to know Him just plain old wasn’t in the Kingdom—in His Church. Even if it looked and acted squeaky clean, claimed to do things in His name, successfully played the game of external appearances but lacked love and wouldn’t bend the knee of submission to Him as Lord, the beast just plain didn’t belong to His family. Jesus could always tell a poser from the real thing. We might do well as a Family to get better at the same based on their fruit.

Jesus simply pronounced and announced megaphone-style–not hesitantly or protectively– inauthentic, duplicitous people full of double standards, especially if they set up hoops for people to jump through in the name of religion or they were cruel to his kids. He knew some people would always, in Enemy-style, paint their rock-hard hearts up in superficial, pretty colors even though they contained no genuine beauty, trying to claim greatness and attain the worship and authority due only to God. With the breath of one sentence Jesus would clear the smoke-and-mirrors used by these seducers to deceive lambs into believing their professions of faith, declaring the easy-prey mealtime over. Jesus threw over those tables that day to declare, Just because you’re within the walls of my church claiming to be offering a service doesn’t mean I ever knew you, or you me. I am not fooled.

Jesus with 100% consistency opposed money-changing, oppressor-wolves: people taking advantage of others, controllers and manipulators, the unrepentant rebellious, those elevating themselves to god-likeness or gatekeeper-to-God status, liars and connivers appeasing their own consciences with false confessions, those leading others out of truth. He said no to these. He said it loudly. He acted on it. And He said we should do the same, having nothing to do with them if they’re claiming to be Christians.

I know it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between sheep and wolves dressed up as them. It’s not an easy game, so it can be scary to play. But I’m not even sure we’re trying to play the game anymore. Could doing anything other than following Jesus’ expulsion example be a simple act of cowardice? Are we sleeping on our flock-watch shift? Do we not believe games are afoot at all? Have we lost our collective taste for appropriate intolerance? Do the wolves succeed in tricking us into coddling them and kicking out sheep who point to them instead? Are we offended at the thought of calling a wolf bad?

I argue that only the maker of something gets to label it. If the Creator called a wolf a wolf and a money-changer a robber, who are we to re-label them something else? And if He says only repentance covers those problems, who are we to overrule that? And if he protected the flock, who are we to sacrifice our sheep instead of the wolves? Do we do this sometimes thinking we can turn the wolves into sheep eventually by mere, prolonged proximity to sheep, all while in actuality enabling their blood-lust instead? I don’t think an addict is best served surrounded by their drug of choice. It seems to me that Jesus just pushed them out of the way for the sheep but also to save them from themselves and their own viciousness. If they returned repentant—truly rehabilitated flock destroyers—I know He’d have open arms. But until then, He said, Back up. Back off.

So, I do wonder at what I’ve seen in church, on church signs, in the Family of God at large. Have we forgotten there are wolves in the temple? Do we still know there are people to whom we must say no and oppose for the sake of the innocent? Have we lost the ability to be wise as serpents?

What I know is that if there’s a battle for a soul and spirit—a lamb’s search and rescue operation—Jesus is all over it. That’s where He’ll be every single time, shielding the sheep and rejecting the wolf. Again, He made the cross available to the wolves. But he knew that while they chose themselves over Him, he had guarding to do.

For us people pleasers and haters of conflict, it would be easier to ignore Jesus’ example about these things. Standing against wolves is harder than campfires and Kumbaya. Conferring mushy grace and blanket acceptance makes us far more popular, loved (and unchallenged, comfortable?) than drawing boundaries and speaking hard truths. We may feel bigger and more heroic always patting every back in endless blindness, but is it self-serving or loving, following the full breadth of Jesus’ example or just pursuing ease?

One more thing Jesus and Enemy alike fully know is that wolves allowed to live ravenously among sheep can so wound or consume little lambs that they’re rendered useless for a time. What better war tactic could be employed than to disguise wolves as sheep, lead them to the doorsteps of church and convince shepherds that wolves don’t even exist or that everyone bar none should be allowed entry into the sheep pen? Many sheep driven to share Jesus’ light would then be effectively muted or incapacitated. Has this happened?

Because Jesus called out imposters, turned them out, removed himself from them repeatedly and stopped the harm they cause…We, too, Church. We, too. Look for:

Wolves don’t learn how to genuinely love, but they can do a “loving” act when it’s self-serving.

Wolves don’t stop their dangerous behavior, but nor are they dangerous to everyone all the time.

Wolves do in private what they lie about in public so that they can keep the sheep mask.

Wolves don’t have anger management problems but can control it perfectly when in danger of exposure.

Wolves’ presence in a pew is disingenuous, because they’re parading as disciples but aren’t changing.

Wolves spew toxic shame with every snap of their jaws, misplacing blame with every word.

Wolves have a distinct lack of loving motives; peel back the veil by asking for stories from attacked sheep.

Wolves have no reverence for reality and truth; they go for the kill if you merely point and say, “wolf.”

Wolves don’t check themselves or regulate their voracious appetite for winning and destruction.

Wolves will try to re-enter again and again with the same money-changing tables and beliefs they got kicked out for.

Wolves take advantage of grace, acceptance & attention; these should be reserved for sheep in danger.

Wolves, with pleasure, take for fools those who don’t believe wolves exist or know what to do with them.

Wolves try to separate the flock from the Shepherd, incurring (often covert, invisible) chaos, death and destruction.

Wolves don’t believe acting like a wolf is bad. Destroyed sheep can educate you otherwise if asked and believed.

Wolves are in our temples, tables undisturbed, money-changing purses in hand. And the sheep are being forced to flee. Will we stand up or stand down?

With Hope & Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on October 21, 2019. 2 Comments

That Proverbs 31 Woman Did WHAT?!

prov 31 woman

“She goes out….” (Proverbs 31:16a)

“When she speaks, her words are wise…she gives instructions.” (Proverbs 31:26)

“Her husband praises her….” (Proverbs 31: 28b)

For some of you, I could stop and sign off right here, and you’d know exactly why I was here and what I just did. It depends, probably, on what you were taught by your particular religious organization, if you subscribe to one.

Today I simply want to say what I see in the Proverbs’ “Wife of Noble Character” passage with fair warning that I’m fired up about how narrowly some religious folks have defined what women should do and be. But to loosely quote Joshua, my household and I will follow the Word, and it couldn’t seem more clear to me.

In Proverbs 31:10–31, I see a woman who’s cherished and never looked upon as a burden. She’s categorized as an asset, inside and out—a very precious one. (She isn’t looked upon as a possession that needs to be controlled, fixed or condescended to, but rather she is elevated to the status of a rare jewel to be held out to the world in broad daylight, shown off and highlighted. The ones who get to benefit from her sparkle appear to see themselves as highly lucky.)

She is a businesswoman–a bold self-starter. And she effectively manages hired help to run the parts of her household she can’t while she’s out. (She makes business and management decisions both at work and at home.)

She has a job outside the home. (Please don’t hear me say this is mandatory. I’m trying to convey that there isn’t only one Biblically-sanctioned place women should work or job they’re limited to—namely, home, husband and kids. I’m not flipping the script to legalistically say all women must work outside the home. My dears, you have the God given freedom to be whoever He created you to be, is all.)

She’s a bit of a foodie, it seems, not necessarily buying the cheapest and most convenient food. (Is this a nod to caring about health or just having a hobby or interest in keeping life tasty?)

She is thrifty and frugal, always making sure to do her part in preparing for the future. (She can be trusted with money management and long-term planning. She isn’t wasteful. She understands delayed gratification.)

She is generous to people in need. (She’s a philanthropist and donor.)

And then she goes right ahead and dresses like royalty in expensive cloth. (She is going to enjoy all of God’s gifts and creation. She isn’t afraid, out of false humility or guilt, of some extravagance or looking beautiful. She doesn’t think that only others deserve dignity and self-worth.)

She manufactures products to sell. (So we see yet more entrepreneurship. It doesn’t say whether she does so at home or not.)

She is strong, dignified and brave as she looks ahead. (There’s not child-likeness or mental and emotional weakness to be talked down to or corrected by another.)

She is kind when instructing others. (But she does instruct others.)

She watches over all the important things in her life simultaneously and makes sure nothing goes downhill from laziness and passivity. (She doesn’t do it all herself either. With intelligent delegation, she effectively oversees all the many different types of projects and necessities of life. She bears responsibilities well, inside and outside the home.)

Her children and husband praise her, comparing her to others of lesser character and accomplishments, saying she comes out ahead. (They’re somewhat in awe of her capabilities and character and let her know it.)

She accomplishes this by having values and stability. She’s not superficial and doesn’t care overly much for temporal things while simultaneously not being afraid to enjoy the finer things when God grants blessings. She knows God intimately as Master, and in submitting to and learning His values, lives an admirable and capable and creative life. And she’s rewarded publicly for all of who she is and what she does by those who know her best at home. (She’s not viewed solely as a body, a servant for other-promotion, one to be hidden away or kept to self. She is lauded for all to see for her value as a separate, bright and unique individual, not a chameleon camouflaged to disappear behind the dreams of those around her.)

Believe me, I know a woman’s first impulse can be to hate this Bible super lady. But, if we can sneak around that initial insecurity—the feeling that we can’t or don’t measure up–to see the freedom and adoration we’re given in this passage, we can quickly get over the inferiority complex, I believe.

This Scripture expands our horizons as women–the sky’s the limit. It’s telling us of our intense, immense value and potential. It’s saying we can have a direct relationship with God just like the next person and that He applauds, validates and promotes our skills, passions, interests, capabilities and beauty, gladly helping us to be all of ourselves. It lifts any heavy burden of religiosity and legalism that wrong theology would try to place on us, instead telling us we’re created to be strong, brilliant and shiny, inside and out, unafraid and unashamed. And furthermore, it shows we can expect to be praised and treasured for our femininity by anyone with any sense, not criticized or stifled or put down or held back. This woman isn’t the brunt of jealously or domination from her family, as though there’s a conflict between her XX chromosomes and her achievement or reasonable independence. Instead they seem to say, Wow, you love and do for us so well, and we’re going to support and enthusiastically praise you for living out all of your strengths and dreams, just as you help us do the same.

Please don’t hear me say men and women aren’t different. I’m familiar enough with religious mindsets to hear some panic coming at me as I write today. I’m not saying women have no unique role for children and home. You can’t read Proverbs 31 without hearing plainly that she adores and works hard for her family, taking the responsibility very seriously when she gets married and brings little people into this world who need Mommy. Clearly, just by looking at biology and the brain, women have a role only they can fill in family life in many ways. But does this passage solely define this wife by her work at home or subservience to the goals of her family members? No. Nor does it assign all the responsibility of home to her or imply she should apply all of her individuality and strength only to her household.

However, it appears that large portions of the Christian church (other religions, too, but my wheelhouse is Protestantism) still haven’t given up teaching or implying that women are limited to 1) ministering to or managing other women and children, 2) staying at home, 3) serving their family’s goals without any of their own, 4) looking plain and/or 5) being directed, decided for or managed as one less valuable, less capable, less mentally or emotionally strong, less spiritual or less intelligent. Let’s just stop, now then, shall we? We can stop it.

If the Bible says we can look at women another way—the way God created us to live and breathe and be–then it’s possible to do so. As always, if it’s good enough for God, it’s more than good enough for me.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on May 20, 2019. 1 Comment

Endometriosis…There, I Said It

Endometriosis Fighter

I haven’t ever written about this part of my illness and chronic pain journey before, partly because I wasn’t sure it was socially acceptable to do so. I’m still not sure it is, but where the Spirit leads…. I’ve openly written here at my blog about many a debilitation and catastrophe: The Suicide Disease (Trigeminal Neuralgia), infertility, a neck injury forcing prolonged muteness, my home getting totaled four times by natural disasters. But, this one is different. Just tossing a term that references female reproductive organs out into the open air like this, well, it feels risky—out of the accepted ordinary, at least. But, you only live once, so…ENDOMETRIOSIS. There, I said it.

My emotional constitution was created to be (overly so for many a person not created this way I’m sure) naturally comfortable with extreme vulnerability. So, it’s not so much embarrassment that’s held me back. I suppose I’ve hesitated for two main reasons. First, when you write a blog you actually want people to read it. And second, if I’m honest, I’m not 100% sure I can effectively encourage women suffering with endometriosis despite having it myself. And per chance I can’t, then what’s the point here? I’ve felt many a day that I failed to conquer it myself (although my very gracious doctor argues with me over that point, expressing that facing it head on and achieving a high quality of life in the midst of it is a job well done). I don’t want to write a blog that leaves anyone saying, well that didn’t help me a cotton-pickin’ lick.

In other venues of writing I’ve done, I’ve championed alternative and holistic medicine. I haven’t written much about that type of thing in this blog yet (wait for it…I can’t have a conversation for five minutes without dovetailing into it, like I probably am right now…). Normally I come out of my bouts with “uncurable” chronic illnesses and injuries with rather absurd but thank-God true stories of healing using unconventional means and therapies. For example, to my surprise and delight, one session of cranio-sacral therapy freed me from a decade of migraines. And with a good, long focus on lifestyle tricks and food-as-medicine techniques, my holistic heroes won my also decade-long battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia (stemming from a chronic infection, adrenal exhaustion and a damaged gall bladder meridian, but I believe the possible causes are many and varied for that diagnosis).

I have no such story today. I had endometriosis for a significant chunk of time—fourteen to 29 years, depending how you label it (29 makes most sense to me in hindsight). In the end, I simply had to surrender and remove the offending organs and tissues. That didn’t feel like a victory to me.

I’m not exactly sure why I saw this as a failure. Someone who removes an appendix or gallbladder doesn’t tend to cry, “I failed!” I suppose after all the healing I’ve experienced when I purportedly shouldn’t have (according to mainstream medicine) I’m an all out, sold out believer in the body’s ability to fix itself given the right tools. And given my all out, sold out belief in a God who heals, I viewed a release from the debilitation of endometriosis without extreme measures as entirely possible.

I’m not going to describe the details of endo. I still see refraining as considerate in a mixed company audience. (There’s actually no person, man or woman, who’s heard every detail of my endo journey, and I guarantee that’s true for every endo sufferer. It’s the nature of the beast.) I do think we best leave some aspects of life to private and rare conversations. But if you have endometriosis, you don’t need the excruciation and utter desperation explained to you. It’s good enough to talk about the effects, not the cause. You know what this illness controls; you know intimately what it steals and how, the times you couldn’t show up or be fully present but couldn’t say, “It’s because I’m hurting SO badly.” You know that even when it lets up, it’s going to be back around again more days of the month than not and the dread that has to be fought every day. And my heart is broken wide open in compassion for you.

I also guarantee that if you don’t have it or even know what it is that you do know at least several ladies debilitated by it. But you likely don’t know that they are or that it absolutely runs their lives. These ladies manage the same life you do without being in control of what days their bodies allow them to live—the truth about most all chronic illnesses, which you know if you have one of the many shades and varieties of them.

It’s the anonymity of the endo struggle that adds to the uber pain already being suffered. I’ve had two utterly overwhelming situations in my life that I couldn’t appropriately speak about openly, because they just weren’t for public, or even semi-intimate, consumption. Only a person or two could rightly know (or handle it responsibly). A favor you can do for the ladies you care about who suffer this is just to understand that gagged suffering (because it’s not a socially acceptable or understood topic of conversation) is the worst type. It leaves the patient engaging the challenge without the support of those they love most—or at least to the degree they’d have it if they had cancer or diabetes or…or…or something readily discussed out loud, NOT that those are things to be wished for either.

So, what can I say directly to these ladies? Can I legitimately tell you to forward this to them, claiming I can provide some comfort or insight? Is there any balm I can apply when the only way out of endo is a painful road with possible side effects, as well? What kind of encouragement is it to say that even when you try to remove this insidious intruder you’re a patient for life, because it doesn’t always work, or work indefinitely, even when you try the most effective solution known?

I find I’m then left with two trains of thought for you or the loved ones you might be thinking of right now. I pray supernatural power into these words to compensate for that which doesn’t feel like enough:

  • I see you, dear women and girls. I see you. When you’re in a fight that must remain invisible to most, there’s such a natural longing to be seen, to have your cries heard, to be embraced and upheld when you’re so bone-weary tired. Of course, I’m not the omnipotent Upholder. I’m not the ultimate, omniscient Embracer. I’m not the omnipresent Hearer or Seer. I pray for each endometriosis sufferer out there that they know Him—intimately know—so He can get them through the lonely times and the times they don’t feel they’ll survive the physical pain one second longer. But, if it helps at all to hear a random blog from a random endometriosis survivor saying, Your pain is important, and you can make it, and you are enough as a woman no matter what body parts you get to keep or which you lose, then I’ll scream it from the mountaintops of Pennsylvania today. God formed you in your mother’s womb (although even that can be a painful phrase during this illness, apologies). He isn’t abandoning you today, like you might feel, and He hasn’t ever. Ever. Ask for His answers, because He has promised to give them. And take them, however he sends them, whenever He does. You are able to endure until His time comes, precious ladies. And though the world knows not fully of your strength today, they will someday.
  • Sometimes the white flag of surrender does work. I tossed it, at a relatively young age. I didn’t want to. Like I said, submitting to serious drugs for a time and, ultimately, permanent and unchangeable surgery felt horrid at first in many ways. I worried it would be all for naught if it resolved nothing (or God forbid, made everything worse). And I personally suffered severe complications for the better part of a year that nearly broke me and so thought I’d made a mistake. (I will say, find the right surgeon. Study, get referrals, ask around, pray. Right surgeon crucial!) But it wasn’t a mistake. It was respite, eventually—beautiful respite. I didn’t fail. I’m human, and I accepted the only help left at the time after trying everything else under the sun at unbelievable personal expense and endurance.

There isn’t failure in faintly whispering in exhaustion, I can’t do this this way anymore. I let go of what I thought could be (biological kids, a female body as it would have been in Eden, avoiding the side-effects of the solution…). I’m not letting anybody down. I’m letting myself down if I go on indefinitely sacrificing myself to this. There are no guarantees, but I have to gamble that a more severe procedure can bring peace, like the threshing floor of wheat is the only way to bring a harvest. It’s a final step in turning an inedible, useless kernel into sustenance for many. You, and only you, will intuitively know the right time to cry uncle.

I’ve never let you know when I’ve cried writing different parts of my story. But, I willingly say that I am right now per chance a dear, suffering heart may benefit. If no one else has known or is able to say to you with a tear in their eye, I know your pain, and I’m sorry, then please hear me now. I do. You are seen. You are heard. You are able. You are strong. Let’s be in this one together, quietly unsilent. Until your healing, I hear, and He hears. I see, and He sees.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on May 2, 2019. 1 Comment