"Knowing what I know now, about God and His Sovereignty...
Somewhere there is a heart willing to listen to this story about this little girl, orange carpet, hollyhocks, a small town ...and violence. Somewhere there is surely someone who will read Your story and see the Grace and Mercy in your life...and God will use you to touch that person, for His Glory.

Your story touches my heart, Pat "

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Prisoner of Fear and What if

From the age of 19 until 44- yep this Spring, I didn't drive on the highway. One or two little jots from one exit to the other in town was all I could muster, Lamaze breathing came in handy there at least.
My mother never drove, we didn't own a car. Growing up in small town ND, not having a car didn't really pose a problem, we just walked anywhere we needed to go. She said she backed into a pole and never drove again, I don't think she ever had a license and her mental state kept her from getting one.

When I finally got my license at 18, I set to driving.  Not a careless driver but a complacent one perhaps, definitely naive,  I had an accident that first year. Mom and Harvey, her husband- or so they said, not legally married but having been together 3 years by now were moving and I was in the way as usual. Harvey never liked me and the feeling was mutual, he by his own admission didn't like his own kids and if "he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have any kids!" They would probably not have chosen him for a father either. I was not to go with in the move so the plan, unknown to me at the time was to pawn me off on a son of a co-worker. We met, went on a date and within a week I was told I had to move.
Stunned I asked him, David, what to do. He said, "you can move in with me." I don't think he was in on the plan I think he just reacted to a girl in trouble.
By the next week, all moved in I realized I was living with an alcoholic, soon after when he didn't come home one evening I walked to the end of the block where friends of his lived, seeing his car I peeked in the window. Through the blind I saw him, his buddy and buddy's wife, gathered around a glass table with a razor blade in hand cutting white lines of powder.
Stunned again. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I ached, sickened  and frightened with no where to run. We were now in Wyoming, oil transplants...I had graduated high school there but really didn't KNOW anyone, not well enough to ask for help. I knocked on the door, it took a while to answer....she smiled saying "come on in."
I think I made a bit of a scene, much to her disapproval, after all I awoke her small children, sigh, I guess that was worse than their parents doing cocaine in the living room.

Things went from bad to worse, I think we lived together maybe 5 or 6 months, I didn't even like him. I had made a couple trips to where mom now lived, about and hour away, that didn't work either.
On the ides of March I had headed back "home", he had asked me to return, what else was there to do? On the trip I looked down in the car, not sure what I was doing, I may have glanced at my 8 week old Cocker Spaniel puppy or looked at the radio, but when I looked up I had crossed the white line into the oncoming lane. No one else was there.....but I panicked, over-correcting, I sent myself hurling into an embankment . Flipping four times and ejected out the third roll through the front windshield.
I remember placing my hand in front of my face and thinking "oh shit, I have wrecked my car!" Funny what the mind thinks at a moment like that.
I awoke to an ambulance crew and the women who witnessed the whole thing, one went for help the other stayed with me.  They asked my name....I couldn't remember, they asked the day....I was a week behind, but slowly it came back.  I  could hear whining coming from my now teepee shaped Toyota. My pup inside with a scratch on his nose, I looked to see him and saw my car a good 100 feet away, that is what saved me....I was told by the responders usually the person is killed when the car hits them or lands on them in this situation. I was thrown late in the rollover and far.

I laid in the emergency room having a cavern sized tear in my arm stitched, everything ached. Concussion, broken pelvis, glass embedded everywhere and at the time they thought a broken back.
Four days, four nights and my mother, who lived 30 minutes away came...for one ten minute visit. My boyfriend....came once for about an hour then to pick me up when I was released.
Thank God for the old woman in the bed next to me who was my advocate for pain meds, my only company, she at least cared.
When David and I got home I quickly realized he was embarrassed to be out in public with a hobbling, black and blue stitched up mess. At some time during that first week or two we had another argument, he must have been on something because I witnessed an anger I had not yet seen. He grabbed the stair railing and shook it loose from the wall, the entire thing, his face distorted and eyes enraged, I  knew I had to leave for good. By God's design my grandparents were at mom's for a visit, and I asked to go home, back to ND with them. David drove me down that road one last time, and I never drove on the highway again.
  Though my body hurt for years,  I was captive to fear much longer, what if I do it again?   I didn't even drive in town for almost 3 years.
I prayed for strength, for bravery for trust...but fear always defeated me. My poor husband has driven many 15 hour days on trip, and put up with me squirming over ice, speed, what others are doing, I am sure my blood pressure has been off the hook more times on the road than I care to know.
I was a prisoner.
This Spring, I drove 100 miles on the interstate. A quiet stretch, no snow or ice....I did it.
I had struggled as a Christian with God's sovereignty, knowing nothing would happen to me that was not in his hands and knowing good or bad...it was in his plans. I knew that yet I still chose fear. paralyzing fear.

Isaiah 61

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,

God set me free from that paralyzing fear,still a work in progress, you won't find me volunteering for long road trips or driving with unsafe drivers, but the beginning of freedom.
God has set me free from many things. Some things I still hold on to.
We are easily captivated, to fear, to addiction, attitude, unforgiveness.  We are captive to what others do or don't do, what they say or don't say, what we need from them and do not receive. But we can be free.
If you find yourself captive, bend your knees.
If your fearful, grab ahold of He who is solid.
If your angry, release.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 this post is similar to a previous post called Staircase on Southern Belle

   I grew up in government housing, perhaps a small town white version of the hood. I had lots of friends there, many great memories and more than a few that aren't as good. It seemed like most of the trouble came from our house, the reality is, our troubles were were just the more visible kind. It wasn't uncommon to wake up to yelling there, sometimes it was the fighting kind like when  a young kid pulled a knife on Bob, and they danced through the yards like a poor version of West Side Story. Once we were awoke by our drunk but happy neighbor, he needed everyone to come out and see the fish he caught, we did. Mostly it was just run of the mill domestic "discussions", with an occasional sledge hammer to a truck window.

  Arranged in groups of four,  perhaps 44 total, the apartments were made of brick with small little yards,each with a clothesline. Holly hocks were everywhere, I think they were the only flowers that grew there.
Our place had three levels and the staircase between the main floor and upstairs bedrooms holds many memories for me. At the end of that staircase  was the large gold frame mirror where once a  little girl with an unwanted  pixie haircut peered in crying.
About half way down you could see into the living room and kitchen, if I sat there the wall still had me hidden from view but I could see everything going on in that  mirror, this is how I watched the troubling tv series Sybil. I wasn't allowed to watch it but something inside me really wanted to. I was hiding there in terror watching as Kunta Kinte had his foot chopped off on the series Roots, for years I couldn't sleep with my foot hanging off the edge of the bed. I spent hours there, playing, running and jumping, skipping steps making large leaps to the bottom, but a haunting memory of violence is most associated with the staircase.

She sat in a flannel nightgown on the kitchen chair, brown print wallpaper behind her and a small white porcelain stove to the left. He stood in front of her wearing blue jeans and a white t shirt like he always wore, he had just gotten home from the bar. His dead dark eyes squinting in anger, he was yelling, at only 5 foot 7 or 8, he was small in stature, but he was a scrapper. The little girl watched from the staircase, she saw his fist rear back, his other grabbed the flannel, the knuckles on both turning  white. The woman clasped her hands around his and pulled back, the flannel tore and she yelled, "Bob, NO!"
The little girl screamed, every bit of her body seized in fear yet....no sound came out.

To this day I don't remember the sound, I am not sure anything actually came out of my mouth. I don't remember his fist hitting her face, it probably did like so many other times, violence was normal those years, almost daily.
That incident is so vivid yet, so incomplete.

  A little girl on a staircase
with orange carpet
in a brick fourplex
with hollyhocks at the rear entrance,
across the street from a park
in a small town
in North Dakota.