Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reboot: Telling my story again

It has been such a long time since I posted on this blog….3 years to be exact.  It has been a busy three years while I obtained my Bachelors of Nursing degree.  I have taken a long break, but I feel like it is time to start telling stories again.  Looking back over the last few weeks, I can see that I have been being prepared to crack open the past and start sharing these stories again.  The final push for me was listening to a Brene Brown TED talk yesterday about vulnerability.  She said two things that really resonated with me.  1.  She defined courage as the ability to tell your story with your whole heart and having the courage to be imperfect.  2. She talked about authenticity as the ability to let go of who you think you should be to be who you are.  I know see that this talk was the final preparation to push me back to writing to share the stories who make me who I am.

This morning, sitting in the bath tub enjoying some time of quietness and solitude, I noticed the scars on my arms and really took a moment to look at them and see how extensive they are.  This moment of really being present to experience those scars led me to think about the circumstances the led me to put those scars on my arms.

I was 17 the night I did this two my arms.  The scars have faded over the last 26 years.  Some of them are covered with tattoos, but if you look closely you can still see them underneath the tattoos.  I got 90 stitches the next morning to close everything up.  When my mom picked me up to go to the hospital, I was covered head to toe in blood and the subcutaneous tissue (the fat below the skin) was hanging out of the gashes.  I had literally gone on a rampage up and down both sides of both arms with a razor blade.

I was so angry and so hopeless; I felt so worthless and full of hatred.  I just didn't know what to do, so I just took it out on my flesh.  It is just the grace of God that I didn't have the means or access to get drugs or pills because I honestly think I would have taken them and never woken up.

I was in a drug treatment program called Straight at the time.  To say this program was abusive is a huge understatement.  The premise of the program was to break you down by humiliating, degrading and verbally abusing you while reinforcing the idea that you were nothing and would be totally alone forever if you did not complete the program.  We would then, be build back up and be clean, sober, rehabilitated, useful members of society.  This was on top of being raised in an spiritually, emotionally mentally, sexually abusive home.  I had never been taught to have any type of dignity or safety.  I was not taught that my body belonged to me or that it was worth anything.  I was taught that my body belonged to others who could do with it as they chose.  I was taught that I had not value and would never amount to anything.

After months of being in the Straight program and being told that I was a worthless drug addict who would never amount to anything if I didn't graduate the program and that I would be disowned and have not family if I dropped out,  I made it to level 2 (where i would have more freedom) and ran away in the middle of the night.  I really had no idea where to go, but I knew I wanted out.  I went to the house of someone I thought was a friend.   When I was told I had to "pay for the stay", I didn't think I had any other options.  As spoke about earlier, I wasn't ever taught that I was worthy or had any right to say no when someone wanted to use my body for their purposes.  I had no idea what having a sense of dignity even meant.  I didn't have anywhere else to go.  After I had "payed the price" of staying, I was then told I had to leave and couldn't stay.

I remember feeling so used and dirty and worthless.  I remember feeling totally alone and totally hopeless that my life meant anything or that it would ever be anything more than pain and being used and rejected over and over again.  I remember it was chilly and I had on a pair of boxers, a sweat shirt and an old pair of keds.  I walked into a grocery store and stole a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of white out, and a package of straight razors.  My stomach ached and my heart ached.  I walked behind a 7-11 corner store and started smoking.  I opened the white out and tried huffing it.  It didn't do anything for the ache in my heart.  I then opened the razors, raised my sleeves and started to cut.  As I saw the blood and thought about how alone I was, rage started to bubble up in me.  I went into a self rage.  I felt overwhelmed with self-hatred, a sense that life was unfair and I was never going to feel anything but rejected and alone.  I just began to slash myself over and over.  I pressed the razor deeper and deeper into my flesh.  When I had reached exhaustion I pulled my sleeves down over my arms, lay down on the concreted and fell asleep.  I hoped that I just wouldn't wake up.

I did wake up the next morning.  I was freezing, covered in blood and my arms felt like a steam roller had rolled over them.  I ached physically at that point as bad as I ached emotionally.  I had one quarter on me.  I knew I couldn't go walking around in the light covered in blood like I was.  It was all over my clothes and all over my legs.  I used the quarter to call the treatment center b/c I knew I had no where else to go and that I wouldn't have anywhere else to go unless I went back and finished the program.  They picked me up and took me to wait for my mother to pick me up and take me to the ER to get stitched up.  When we got to the ER, my sleeves were glued to my arms by all the blood I had shed.  They cut the sweat shirt off of me and proceeded to scrub my arms with plastic brushes, so they could get all the sweat shirt fuzz out of the gashes.  It was excruciating.  The stitches took forever to be finished and I felt them all because the cuts were too extensive to allow novocaine for numbing.

As I looked back on this night, sitting in the bath this morning, I remembered what I felt like to be that girls.  She often just seems like a dream.  It is hard to imagine that I was ever her.  It is hard to imagine feeling so much self-hatred and unworthiness.  It is hard to imagine feeling so powerless and lost.  That girl is a part of who  I am today, but she would never have believed she could ever become who she is today.

I had no idea what the Lord was up to when He rescued that broken little girl.  I had no idea how far He had in mind to bring me.  He has given me a sense of dignity and worth.  He has given me strength like I never dreamed I would have: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  I know now that I am loved.  I am loved by Him most importantly, but I am also loved by many.  I am loved by my husband, my children, my mother and brother, my friends.  I am often overwhelmed with gratitude and feeling so loved.  I am loved and I am worth loving.  I am so worth loving that the Creator of the Universe sent His only Son, Jesus, to live perfectly, die perfectly and rise again, so I could be reconciled to Him and become who I am today.

As I looked at these scars that mark me, I remembered what it was like to be the girl who felt like she had no choice but to be used and to abuse her flesh to deal with her pain.  I am reminded that I was rescued and called out of the darkness that He might send me back into the darkness to tell others that they are loved and that they are worth loving.  I have been given a beautiful story to tell and I only pray that I have the courage to tell it with my whole heart, fully vulnerable when I am given the chance to tell.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Story

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST every Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FMFParty (short for Five Minute Friday party). In fact, starting at around 10pm EST on Thursday you’ll find a lot of writers hanging out and chatting on Twitter with this hashtag.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
- See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/2013/08/five-minute-friday-story/#comment-114442


Story is a funny thing; for me, everything has a story.  Every situation is a narrative.  I love to hear people's stories.  I love to hear where they have come from; what makes them tick.  I love to pick into peoples lives and put together the puzzles which explains why they are how they are.

I think often times that is what is missing in so much of todays society.  No body seems to want to stop and understand one another.  No one seems to want to investigate the mystery of who those we encounter are.

Sometimes it takes work.  Sometimes people don't want to let you in.  You have to creep about like a little spider outside the house of who they are and find a crack.  You ask questions, talk about safe things, push buttons until you find the one that lights up their eyes.  Once the light goes on in the house, then it takes just a little more effort to get them to open the door.

It's like a game to me.  I like to see how long it takes to get someone to open up and let me inside.  My husband says he loves to watch me go to work, picking and poking, joking and commenting until I get the door open.  Someone may not want to let me inside, but it is a gift the Lord has given me to be able to untangle the barbed wire that keeps everyone else out and get inside.

Everyone has a story to tell, and each of them are unique and beautiful and gives us another piece of the puzzle of who God is and what He is about on this earth and how He is bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.

Everyone has a story to tell.  Will you stop and listen?  Will you be intentional and genuine and interested to get to the story even if it takes some effort, or will you stay consumed with yourself and miss the story God wants to tell you through the people you encounter today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

I abandoned this blog (according to my farewell post) 1 year and 12 days ago.  I started a new blog, wrote on it for a while, then stopped blogging at all.  School got nuts and I stopped allocating time to write.  I went searching for some old posts on this blog last week and was struck by how much history I had here, so I am back.  I don't know how often I will post on it, but maybe I can at least try and do Five minute Friday every week.

So here is what it is..... on Fridays we set a timer and write for 5 minutes no thinking, editing, no censorship of self.  Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a prompt and we write and link back to her blog.



Broken is a word that describes where I have found myself again.  I have walked with the Lord for 21 years.  He has been so faithful and loving.  He has never left me and always pushes me further.  He has healed me and changed me.  I am so grateful for His love and grace.  I am so amazed when I look back and take note of who I was and who He has made me become.  I never would have dreamed that that broken, homeless, pregnant, angry drug addict would become who I have become, do the things I have done or have so much abundant blessing in my life.  He is good....

But lately, as I get quiet and still with Him and ask for Him to make me more like Himself and help me be willing and available for His use, I am struck by how broken I still am.  Or at least parts of me are.  I am still so insecure.   I am still so guarded.  I hold back so much.  I am still afraid to be rejected or fail.  I walk down the stairs to me interior basement and I find there are still small broken little girls inside of me.  I am still that little girl who is not good enough and is so afraid.  She is still down there shivering, alone, sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees and face buried.  Then I think, will I ever be whole.  Am I one of the ones that was so devastated by abuse, that I will never be totally put back together.   Then I am reminded of the hope I cling to.  There will be a day where the brokenness is no more.  Where there is no more pain and no more tears.  Even if the little girls stays broken in the basement for the rest of my life.  On the other side of heaven she will be whole.

The world is broken and we are broken, but we have this hope as an anchor to the soul.  He is our hope.  By His grace all the broken pieces of me are held together in His hands and in Him I am complete.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Blog: Jaggedgracecreations.wordpress.com

I have started a new blog.  You can find it here http://jaggedgracecreations.wordpress.com/.  The explanation for the move is on the new one.  I just wanted to make sure anyone looking for me could find the new blog which I hope to be more faithful to write in.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five Minute Friday: See

So, here’s the skinny: I’ve been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Just painting with words. Finger-painting even.
So now on Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. This shared feast.
A Five Minute Writing Challenge <—click to tweet this!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:




What do I see?

Well, I guess it depends on what spectacles I choose to put on today.

Does my vision depend on what my eyes see or what my heart sees?  Do I walk by faith or by sight?

Do I see through the lenses of what the world values and tells me how to interpret, or do I see through the lenses of eternity?  Do I see from God's perspective?  or at least try and see what He wants me to see?

I can look at the situations I encounter each day as road blocks, or opportunities to take a path I would not have otherwise chosen.

I can look at the people I encounter as annoyances or as people the Lord has sent me to love and serve. I can choose to make this moment about me or learn to forget about me.

I love the part of the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: 

Lord grant that I might seek to comfort rather than be comforted, to love than to be loved, to understand than to be understood.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Perspective

On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Your words. This shared feast.
If you have five minutes, we double dog dare you to spend it writing here <—click to tweet this!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? The Gypsy Mama Facebook late night crew is my new muse come 10pm Thursday night, so please give me your best five minutes on their choice:




I just had a discussion with my brother yesterday about perspective.  How funny.  We spent such a lovely day together enjoying one another's company and reveling in the glory of God's redemption.  Where there was once so much hatred, anger and angst, there begins now to grow beauty, forgiveness, restoration.  As we walk this complicated pathway of unraveling decades of confusion and tangled mess that began with years of abuse at the hands of our family, as we look to the future, there is hope.  It won't always be so tangled.  We won't always struggle with the past so much.  It won't always be awkward to try and be real and close.

We find freedom.  We find a new perspective.  We are not victims.  We are not just survivors.  We are thrivers.  We are heirs to God's beautiful grace and redemption.  What once seemed hopelessly broken is beginning to look different.  It is beginning to look beautiful.  As God puts the pieces together and combs out the ragged mess of tangles, the beauty of how big He is begins to be clear.... much clearer, I think than if we had not been so badly broken.

The most beautiful and powerful stories of redemption being with places of deep, dark, hopeless brokenness.

Deep in a well; In a forgotten land.  As my friend Ramsie would say about Joseph.  Deep in a well, where there seems to be no light, no hope, no way.  His hand reaches down and rescues.  And as we walk, the muck and the mire, the filth and shame, slowly washes away in the showers of His loving grace.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Together

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to run when we were kids.

On Fridays we write with gusto, unselfconscious and flat out.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



Together was not a word that I grew up feeling good connotations about. For the most part, I generally felt pretty alone. Even in a room full of people I felt alone. I felt like I was different. No no one liked me; I did not fit in. In my family together was not a good word. It was an opportunity for someone to abuse me.

The feeling of being alone and different followed me many years into my walk with the Lord. It was different, but still alone. I knew He was always with me. I knew He loved me no matter what.

But I did not feel like His people loved me that way. I did not feel like I had deep friendships. I pretty much kept everyone at a disposable connection level.

About 5 years ago, God began to unearth some really painful really dark secrets that kept me feeling alone. He showed me that I felt alone, not because people did not want to be with me; I felt alone b/c I was hiding. I was afraid people could not love me if they knew some of the struggles I carried and could not get free from.

When God took me to celebrate recovery to deal with my alcoholism, He began to dismantle the walls that I thought protected me. Those walls kept me alone and isolated. As I began to come clean about the things that I thought I could entrust to no one but God, an amazing thing happened. I wasn't alone anymore. I was truly together. As I dealt with the fact that years of sexual abuse and child pornography had distorted my sexuality and let others come into my pain and distortion and pray for me, walk with me through it all, I wasn't carrying it alone anymore. The secrets no longer had to power to keep me from experiencing together. I told and people loved me anyway.

Then an amazing thing happened; people began to have courage to tell their secrets and the chains that held them began to fall off.

Stop....... times up

But I can't leave this hanging. Today, I help women walk through the process of recovery. Today I get to help others come out of alone and shadows to walk in together and light. So many years I spent alone in a crowd trying to manage my sin and beg God to take it out of me. His way is together, not alone. He only set me free as I opened up the basement and allowed people to come and shine light and love on the little girl hiding in the darkness. He set me free as I allowed people to love me and hold me and remind me that I am not defined or limited by the past. I will always bear scars, but today the scars are beautiful; they are an opportunity to tell His story of redemption in my life. Today I am not hiding and ashamed. I can tell about my pain b/c my pain helps others find the way to open the door so we can go into the dark basement and hug the broken scared little people and bring them into the light to find freedom and grace, hope and peace, redemption and restoration.