Friday, January 13, 2012


To those of you following this journal, my apologies. My husband got very ill, is now on hospice. It may be awhile before I get back to this blog, but I will finish the story soon as I possibly can. I wish to thank those of you who have taken time to read it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The First Hug

When I was almost twelve (backtracking a little bit), I never knew what to expect when  I got home from school. Our home was not a happy place, but one filled too often with violence and darkness. On this particular day, I was confronted with  scenes that would haunt me for the rest of my life: fist against face, glass shattering, furniture being thrown, screaming, pleading, a lot of blood.
     I ran away. I could not
stand being there one more minute, could not be present, yet do nothing to help. I ran out of our house blinded by tears, overwhelmed with guilt for leaving, with fear consuming me, believing, at that moment, that I would one day burn in hell. For what? For being me. For leaving my mother to fend for herself. Betrayal. I was not quite twelve and was a coward.
     I walked a long ways from our house, part ways into the desert. It was the middle of summer and extremely hot. I began to tire from the heat, began to feel sicker, and more afraid, thinking about what was going on in our house. It was the first time in my young life that I wanted out of it, the first of many times, I'd feel that I didn't belong here, that it was because I didn't, that trouble would always find me.
    I don't know how far I walked, but remember starting to get dizzy and lightheaded from the heat. I saw a huge boulder. I sat down beside it, drew my knees up, rested my head upon my arms and cried- cried like I'd never cried before. As many years ago as that was, I can still remember what happened next, as if it were five minutes ago. I'd cried so hard, and walked in the heat so long that my head hurt. But the pain in my heart was worse. "Nobody cares about me. " I said aloud, feeling lost and lonely -completely alone. "Not one person cares."
   "I care."
     I heard the words clearly, but not the way you and I hear one another. It's hard to explain, but that's the way it was. I looked around. Nobody was there. And then I looked UP. As soon as I did, I just knew that God heard me cry, and
as bad a child as I believed myself to be, God made his love known to me. I like to say that He hugged me, because all of a sudden I felt quieted, at peace, almost untroubled, if such a thing were possible under those circumstances. I stood up, wiped my tears, brushed my jeans off and told myself  that I needed to go home because my mother would need me.

Friday, July 8, 2011


It's hard as an adult to accept things we don't understand. It was much harder for me as a child of eleven to not comprehend the words "What you don't know can hurt you."
As time passed and I grew older, I came to understand ( a little bit) how that works; told myself, for instance, that knowing not to touch a hot burner would keep me from burning my fingers. What I didn't quite manage to work out was what didn't I know about God that could hurt me?
I'd say the word god out loud sometimes while walking to school, would  think about him, when due to the horrific things happening in our home, sleep remained elusive. I'd try to imagine what this god looked like, what his voice would sound like, how it might feel to have his eyes looking into mine. The very thought terrified me.  My way of dealing with it was to tell myself that I would b
e good; would never make bad mistakes, would work hard to not lose my temper, would never speak unkindly or hurt anybody's feelings. The more I thought about what could put me in the fire for being bad- for being sinful, the longer my "Never Do" list grew.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trying To Digest It All

I don't' think I had ever been so fearful in my life, could not remember feeling so lost and confused. I didn't know what to do, who to talk to about what I'd seen, and worse, didn't know how I would live my life without being afraid of making mistakes, of doing something that would put me where those people on the banner were. I might have just been a kid but I knew even then how imperfect I was; knew people lose tempers, abuse others, lie, cheat, and do worse.
    In our house, I was the one always in trouble, always being yelled at or disciplined for something, usually things I had not done (not by my mother, but by the other adults who took care of us while she worked). My father had abandoned us.

  Writing that last sentence makes me realize why this spiritual experience hurt so horrible. I loved my father, horrible as he was. Whenever he was around, which was only about once every few years, if that, I was the happiest kid in the world. There were eight of us kids, but I think I was probably the only one who truly loved him, the only one who wasn't afraid of him, though I probably ought to have been. Had he been there, I could have talked with him about what I'd seen and heard at that church. He may not have had the answers but I would have felt comfortable asking questions.
As it was, I was unsure as to what to do or who to go too.

I didn't have to worry long because  when my Mother got home from work (usually around 2:00 a.m.), and had slept some, she always asked about what we'd done while she was gone. While eating breakfast the next morning she asked about church, how I liked it.

"There was a huge banner hanging in the front," I said. "It was a picture of a burning fire, Mom, and there were men and women and children burning in it."
    I remember her eyes widening, could almost see her thoughts tumbling about her mind like leaves in the wind. She patted my shoulder and said." Don't go back there, Barbara. I can't believe a church would show such things, especially when their are children present."
   "But what do you think about it, Mom?"  I asked,  needing, more than simply wanting an answer. "
    "It's utter nonsense." she said. "Nothing to worry about."

But I DID worry. I worried because I couldn't forget the words "what you DON"T know can hurt you.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

 When I arrived at the church, on that unforgettable Sunday, the church was already filling up with people. I found a seat next to a couple with two children, one appearing to be around my age, and as carefully as I could, without seeming to stare, looked around me. It was then, just as the Pastor asked everybody to stand up for prayer, that I saw the banner. Even as I share this with you I can see in my mind, that banner, and can remember how horrified I was. The banner was huge, tacked upon the wall behind the Pastor. It was a picture of a burning FIRE and in the middle of that fire were babies and grown men and women, their hands reaching upwards, as if begging for help, their eyes full of terror.

My hands gripped the back of the pew in front of me. My stomach was pitching and rolling like the ocean, my heart beating so fast I thought it would burst through my blouse. I don't remember the Pastor's prayer, don't remember when it ended. I just sat down automatically, when the couple next to me did, panic setting in. I wanted to leave, stood up to go, but the woman next to me patted my knee - said,"You'd best stay, honey.  I'm sure God would want you too."

I stayed mostly out of fear, unable to keep myself from staring at the banner. Tears filled my eyes as I stared at it, fear filled my heart as I listened to the Pastor preach about SIN, and how EVIL we all were. "Yes, even you CHILDREN," he said, his voice thunder in the room. "God knows all you do, sees all you do, can read your thoughts. There is no getting away from him.

Every once in awhile he'd shove his glasses off his sweaty face and say,"I'm not just talking to hear myself talk, and not just talking to you adults here. I'm talking to you children too. You can't fool God. If you don't start living right, doing right, you'll wind up in HELL, just like this" and he'd point to the ugly, terrifying banner behind him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Beginning


It is a picture of my Lord,  my Savior - my Best Friend,
  and I dream of the day I will meet him face-to-face.


It began when I was around eleven years old. We were living in a very small town, one you'd miss if you were passing through and blinked. We'd
only lived there a short while when I discovered a small church not too far from our house. While walking past it on Sunday, and sometimes on a Wednesday evening, I'd hear people singing. The music stirred something within my heart, made me want to find out more about God.
I went to church the next week, more excited than I'd ever been about anything. I was going to learn about God. I knew nothing about him except that He lived high up in the sky, far beyond my vision, beyond the stars and clouds.

I'd seen the banners around town, encouraging people to not miss the upcoming Sundays, for, as the banners said, "What you don't know DOES matter," but I was not prepared for what I would see that Sunday, nor hear;
was unaware that what I would see would haunt me for many years to come.