Monday, December 29, 2014

My word picture of redemption

Bugs Bunny was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a little girl. And one cartoon in particular always fascinated me. It is the episode with Ralph E Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. The long and short of this cartoon is this: Wolf's job is to capture the sheep, Sam's job is to protect them. Over the course of 8-10 minutes these two creatively battle back and forth. But the part that always sticks with me is close to the end, where in a cave, each of them begin revealing that they are indeed in disguise. Back and forth they go, unzipping their cloaks from the tops of their heads to their toes, stepping out as the other character.

Beyond just being funny to the typical 8 year old, I have always found this scene to be both disturbing and inspiring; a comical albeit fantastical example of a wolf in sheep(dog)'s clothing. On one hand, the viewer is simply confused, not sure which is who and what is which. Eventually that decloaking becomes ridiculous as new characters appear, adding to the surprise felt by the viewer. And while the average 8 year old giggles at the thought of a wolf and dog trading costumes, I understood the deeper implication. I knew how it felt to be deceived by the sheepdog.

On the other hand, I was inspired by the same picture painted in a different arena. My parents didn't go to church when I was young. But when we moved to the country, a church became my next door neighbor. I was curious, I heard kids at school talk about church, I asked a lot of questions. Shortly after starting first grade my parents agreed to take me. That church became a refuge for me.

I have several favorite hymns. But there is one that takes me back to my 8 year-old self every time I hear it; Sweet Hour of Prayer. There are many lines that spoke to me: and oft escaped the tempter's snare, thy wings shall my petition bear, may I thy consolation share...But there is one line in the last verse, close to the end, sort of the climax of the entire poem, that says:

This robe of flesh I'll drop, and rise to seize the everlasting prize.        

Every time we sang that hymn, I'd picture it. Me, standing on Mt. Pisgah, which looked amazingly like the meadow in the cartoon, only to unzip my skin, leave it on the ground, and float in spirit upward to Heaven. And with that skin? I would leave far more than my own body. I would leave the pain of being abused. I would leave my parents' fighting. I would leave feelings of disappointment and failure. 

I am a long way from that 8 year old girl in the front pew of the Christian Church. I have made a lot of mistakes. I have hurt a lot of people, myself included. This leads me to Colossians 2:13-14.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

I can picture it. Jesus, on the cross, with my sins. At his feet are the bottles of booze and pills I emptied over the years. The lies I told. The money I stole. The friends I hurt.  The stench of my promiscuity wreaking from his body. He holds in each hand a soul I so selfishly took from this earth. All of it, all of the things I do not want to face about myself he willingly takes on Himself. He relieves me of these...these...sins; these acts I chose in an attempt to numb the pain. Acts that in the end only served to increase my self-loathing and increase the distance between me and God.

And then it hits me. This robe of flesh is not what I am to God. When I drop my robe of flesh, I become something beautiful, something indescribable. I become what God sees in me.

I told you I'm no theologian. I don't have it all figured out. But I heard once that even a beggar can tell another beggar where to get food. And I'm not going to tell you that giving Jesus your sin will mean that all your struggles go away. Far from it. But I will tell you this; if you will look at that cross and see yourself the way he sees you, with love and compassion, so willing to take your baggage from you, it will change you. You are more than the baggage you carry, than the robe of flesh you wear. Unzip yourself and step out of your flesh so you can see it too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, I have a present for you

As I've read the biblical account of the first Christmas over and over, I've often wondered; what the heck was Mary thinking when she was given the gifts by the Magi? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It's like showing up at a baby shower with a load of cash, a smelly candle, and LSD. As strange as those gifts were they had a purpose.

Strange gifts. They are inevitable. Every one of us has been the receiver of an "uh, what is this for?" gift. I don't have any ugly sweaters, a chia pet, or a clapper for you. And you may not be able to use these gifts today, but I pray that, in time, you will find their usefulness and value.

Gift one: I give you a baby's smile.

Why a baby's smile? Because it is unconditional. A baby smiles at you out of purity. She has no ulterior motives. His grin is not attempting to woo you into something that will hurt you. A baby's eyes are gentle, and kind, and sweet. When a baby sees you, and smiles at you, it is out of the purest of joy in her heart. It is because you, in all your brokenness, bring her happiness.

Gift two: I give you a closet.    

When I was a child, before I disclosed about being raped, I ran away from home. It was a well-planned escape, as well planned as any nine year old can be. After my parents went to sleep, I would sneak out the back door and walk the mile and half to my BFF's house. She would make sure the door was unlocked and I could come in the back.

I had ridden my bike but never walked to her house before. It took longer than I expected. It was dark. The sound of the crickets and frogs in the night was frightening to me. But I was also excited to start my new life. Twice as a car came down the country road I hid in the ravine, like a criminal on the run. By the time I got to her house my heart was pounding out of my chest.

When I arrived the door was indeed unlocked, but her parents were still awake, watching TV in the front room. Somehow, this clutz managed to tiptoe across the kitchen, up the stairs, and into my BFF's room. She had the closet ready for me; a blanket, a pillow, white bread, and chocolate chips. It was amazing. It was exciting. 

I lasted about 20 minutes in the closet before I got scared. I started crying, and soon my BFF and her little brother were crying too. We told her parents, who were not mad, and soon my dad was on his way to get me.

Thirty years later, after receiving some particularly frustrating news on the litigation of the rapist, I shared an update on Facebook, and it was quite obvious I was raw with emotion. The next morning, my BFF's mother posted this on my wall:
Trish, when it's all over, I have a closet for you.

Those words, simple but cryptic to the average listener, are still such a comfort to me. She knows. She understands. She isn't trying to fix it, or me. She is willing to be what I never had; a safe place to hide. We all need that. So accept my gift when you need it; a closet to hide in.


Gift three: I give you words.

When I was first abused, I lacked the words to be able to tell anyone what had happened. And as I grew my vocabulary became perverted as words of love and friendship became intertwined with words of pain and hurt. I want to give you a few words, some of my favorites. I offer them to you as a starting point, and ask you to continue building your own list as you heal.

Belief- I believe you. I believe what you tell me. I believe that you are in pain. I believe you deserve justice.

Empathy- I hurt with you. No, I don't know what you are going through. We share some common pains, but your pain is unique to you. I will sit quietly and listen to you. I'm sorry you are hurting. You did nothing to deserve the pain you feel.

Grieving- All of us had a dream, a wish, we hoped to come true. You and I, well, our dreams got taken from us. I give you permission to grieve that dream. As with any loss, you need the time and space to grieve your loss. It's ok to express your emotions. If you don't know how, we can explore together.

Hope- While it is incredibly hard to see right now, you have a future. All of the events that led you to this point, that beat you down and made you feel defeated, they belong to your past. Your future is yours. All of the pain you feel, the anger you hold, it can be made into something new, something beautiful, in your future. That is hope.

Going back to the manger and Mary's  reaction to the gifts of the Magi, well, we just really don't know. The bible doesn't tell us why Jesus was given gold and spices, but in the end we know he needed them. It is assumed by many scholars that the gold helped him escape, and the spices were prophetic in nature, to symbolize his death. If you look closely at the life of Jesus, you will find that these words I give you are important to Him too.

This Christmas, may you find what you need to continue healing. I wish I could say you just wake up one day and it's all better, but truthfully that's not how it happens. But if you need a smile, or a closet, or the right word; look me up. I'd like to try to help.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Response to Robin William's death

I copied this from my facebook post dated  August 13, 2014

Unless you have attempted suicide and survived, as I have twice, don't tell me you understand. Suicide is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem, it is a permanent solution to a permanent problem. I do not remember NOT fighting these demons. I will never know if the root cause is rape trauma or simply on my DNA (as I have a long family history of addiction and depression). It was an astute 17 year old who saved my life in 1987. I wish I could say the ideations go away, but they don't. I've just learned to fight harder.

(December 23, 2014)
It's true that I do not remember fighting these demons. I was talking to my dad about the Heath High School shooting, and admitted to him (I was then an adult) that I had had the same thoughts. I had thought, fantasized, about taking out all my anger first on those who hurt me, and then on myself. It was a final revenge. My dad got angry at me, yelling at me "no you didn't! You couldn't have," as if by having the thought alone I had wronged him.

It's also true that the ideations haven't really gone away. It hasn't been that many years ago, when I felt like my marriage was over, I saw my life as hopeless and considered driving my car into a tree as I sped down the interstate. I have battled the urge to take one or two more pills, one or two more drinks, just to end it.

I have learned to fight harder than the demons who tell me to harm myself. More, much more, on this topic later.

I worked as a critical care nurse for years. We all knew what patients would be admitted on Christmas eve, the suicide attempts. I urge you to reach out. I urge you to talk, to me, to anyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The ugly details that haunted me most

If you have never been a victim of sexual assault, you are likely to believe that there are degrees to rape; that one type of rape is worse than another. This is a fallacy. I have been raped on two different occasions  by two different men. While one rape could perhaps be classified as violent, forcible rape, and the second date-rape, the trauma I endured was the same. I am going to share with you a bit about both rapes. While the circumstances surrounding the rapes are not at all similar,  the details that haunt me are almost identical.

I was six years old. We moved from a subdivision in the city to a farm in the country. I had not yet started school. Unlike my subdivisionin the city, there were no kids around me on the farm. It was summer, and it was a lonely time.

My neighbors had a teenage boy, the same age as my sister, also between his sophomore and junior year. He was short for a teen boy, probably around 5ft, but like my sister who beat me up on a regular basis,  he was a lot bigger than me. He would come over to my house when his mom visited my mom. He played in the backyard with me. He made sound effects for my toys. He made me laugh with his silliness. He had new ideas for new house, where he took me to the barn loft and raped me on a camping trailer mattress.

There are details from the rape that I remember that may seem odd to you, but it is a common phenomenon. My brain was rushing endorphins through my body like mad, and I became astutely aware of all of my senses at once. I can remember the differing textures of the mattress and torn fabric on my back. I can remember the smell of rotting timber, the moldy styrofoam, the dusty fabric on the mattress. I remember the taste of his mouth, the feel of his hot breath on my neck. I remember how when he made me touch his genitals I was confused by the contrast of coarse hair and soft skin. I remember the shadows cast by the sun through the holes in  the barn walls and across the things stored in the loft. I remember his weight against my body, the feeling of being powerless as he held my head, and being unable to escape. I remember the pain between my legs, a fire burning, like being stung by hundreds of bees at once.

But what do I remember the most? His eyes. His green eyes were piercing. They glowed, they hungered, they preyed.

And I was crying.

Fast forward eight years and I go through these same sensations, only this time I knew what was happening.

I was 14 and a freshman in high school. I had a huge crush on a basketball player, and made no secret of that crush. I will cut to the chase here, but trust me, the events leading up to this rape are going to be addressed in a blog post all it's own.

He was 6'7". He was a smooth talker. He told me he was going to take me places. He slow danced with me in the living room. But when he took me to the floor I was in an all too familiar place.

I remember the feel of the carpet on my bare back. I can smell his cologne, the taste of Coca-Cola still in his mouth. I can feel his huge, strong hands on my skin. I remember turning my head and watching the dust particles dance through the single stripe of light shining through the drapes in the front window. I remember the weight of his body on mine and struggling to breathe. I remember not being strong enough to push him off or pull myself away. I remember the pain, the burning, tearing, ripping pain, between my legs.

I remember his eyes. And I was crying.

When I told people I had been raped, I left out those details. I frankly didn't expect anyone to understand how sitting on a foam mattress, or watching dust particles, or the taste of a soft drink could take me back to some of the darkest times in my life. This is the type of baggage a rape victim carries around. It is irrational, but it is very real.

This is what my husband, John, walked into when he married me. He had to deal with this baggage (and more). The ugly truth is that he said and did things at times that caused me to feel like a 6 year old all over again. He had no idea how the small details of the rapes had imprinted my brain and altered my senses. The good news is that we talked about it early on, and he loved me through it. I did not know that telling him these things  made him angry until I started prosecuting the first rape 20 years later. Only then did my husband admit that Mr. X affected his life. My husband admitted to me that he feels he has had to fix what Mr.X broke.

I am thankful for a loving husband who chose to fight with me. But it took being honest and open about the details. It took my willingness to be vulnerable and his willingness to be broken to allow healing to take place.

All of the pain you feel, all of the details that haunt you, they can be redeemed. But it is going to require that you stop hiding them and telling yourself they don't matter. You have to bring them up, and out. By giving them away, you will be given a gift of much higher value. Redemption.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Starting at the beginning

This is an excerpt of what will be the first chapter of my book. There is something you have to understand in my telling of the story. First, litigation is pending, so I must be careful with what I share. If this excerpt seems to lack detail, well, that's because I had to remove them.  Second, until this case is transferred to circuit court, Mr. X is protected by juvenile law. Mr X turns 54 this year.

My first encounter with the devil occurred shortly after we moved in. The X's were extremely friendly to my family. Mom X brought over food, complete with homemade chocolate chip cookies, on the day we moved in. Dad X and his son, Mr. X, helped us unload the truck. Before long my parents considered Dad X and Mom X good friends.
Mr. X was the youngest X son.  He was about the same age as my sister, also finishing his sophomore year of high school. 
One day, not long after we unpacked, Mom X and Mr. X came over. My mom and Mom X went into the house, and Mr. X started a conversation with me outside. Through the course of this conversation he asked for a tour of my property. I showed him the climbing maple and my swing-set. I showed him the barn and my playhouse. We walked to the far back of our place, over the third hill, and all the way to the pond.
 Even though I had been born in the city, I was familiar with ponds, and this wasn't much of a pond, but more like an over-flowing mud puddle. It was brown-green. Huge cat-tails grew around most of it. On some days you could smell the algae all the way to the barn. My parents rattled off the reasons why this water hole wouldn't last, something about it not having a proper base dug and failure of the previous owners to line it with gravel. I had no idea what they were talking about. I only knew that the pond was not a place I wanted to be.
Just the same, here we are. Mr. X asked me if I ever went swimming and I said “Sure, all the time, at the lake. But my parents make me wear a life jacket.” He asked me if I wanted to go swimming with him in the pond. The only thing I could think was how disgusting I thought the pond was. There was no way I was going to put any part of my body in that water, even at the age of 6.
“Eww, swim in a pond?”
“My brother and I swim in my pond all the time,” he said.
I giggled. “You do? But you have cows. How do you swim with the cows?”
“Oh they don’t mind. They don’t get in the pond while we are there anyway. But you don’t have any cows to worry about. So what do you think, wanna swim?”
      “I don’t have a swim suit.”
       “That’s ok. I don’t either.  My brother and I just take off our clothes. That’s what we can do.”
      I looked at him trying to figure this out. That just sounded weird to me. “No thanks, I don’t want to swim. I better get back to the house. I’m not supposed to be back here anyway,” and I turned back and started up the hill.
          Later that afternoon, I was eating a snack while mom was working on dinner. I told her what happened at the pond.
      “He said what?” my mom asked, putting a significant emphasis on the word ‘what’ while setting the knife down and looking at me. “What did you say?”                                                                Mom was visibly upset, but I could not understand why. “I said no. I don’t want to,” and continued to drink my Kool-Aid.
      “Well that’s good,” she replied as she went back to cutting the vegetables. And just like that the conversation ended.  But there was something in her voice that made me think I had just done something wrong.

It is obvious to me now that my mother had a gut feeling about this incident, and more incidents to follow. And yet, for years, she was blind to what was really going on; she blamed me for acting out instead.

Sadly, I never quite got over the feeling that I had done something wrong.Early on in my life I learned that something about what was happening to me unsettled the adults around me. My mother would get an uncomfortable look on her face and her voice would become tense when I tried to talk about something Mr. X had done with/to me. Even as an adult I struggle with that feeling, the feeling that I had just done something wrong. I notice that same look now, that same tone in many voices, as I share my experiences with adults around me.

Is speaking out really all that hard to do?

I have always been one to speak my mind.  I know that may come as a surprise to some of you, but it's true. I have cared little for how comfortable or uncomfortable my words make you; I have something to say. I have learned that those of us who speak our minds live longer. I'm guessing that is where the phrase "too mean to die" comes from. But I digress.

To date, upwards of two dozen women have come forward accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault and/or rape. At first, accusations were like an annoying drip of a faucet. You know it's there, but you only hear it when all else is quiet. This went on for years. Then, another accuser comes out. The drips get quicker, louder. Then another accuser, and another. Soon the drips become a trickle. Then the trickle becomes a steady flow.

Well, the sink runneth over at this point.

So why did it take so long and so many women to make this happen?

I was raped at 6 years old. My parents had just moved our family to a small country town to protect me from the forced busing occurring in our city. I would have been bused across town during first grade (I didn't attend kindergarten) and my mother was afraid something bad would happen to me if I went to school with people of another color. I have one sister who was 10 years my senior and wanted nothing to do with me. I idolized her.

Sometime between moving in late May and starting school in September I was raped by a teen the same age as my sister. It started out innocently enough- he offered to play with me in the backyard as our parents visited each other. One day he suggested we play house, and took me to the barn loft because it was a secret game, and no one could see us there. On two occasions he raped me in this loft. But as you will learn through future posts, although he didn't get to touch me again, he never really left me alone.

I was six. I had no male friends and my parents were exceedingly modest. I had no experience with animals. I had no words to describe his actions, or his anatomy. I had no experience with which to frame the rape. Mr. X, I'll call him, kept telling me he was like a daddy and I was like a mommy, but I didn't think so. I didn't know much, but I knew my mommy wouldn't let my daddy hurt her. And I knew (or thought I knew) that my daddy didn't look like that. I decided he was an alien.

How do you tell someone when you have no words to describe what happened?

When I was in about second grade I learned that my BFF had a little brother. Over the next couple of years I learned about male anatomy and amended my opinion of Mr. X. By the end of third grade I decided he was indeed human, just evil.

In sixth grade my parents separated. I knew divorce was pending and that I would be moving away at the end of the school year. I had watched the news with my mom one night and heard a word with which I was unfamiliar, rape. Sex I knew, so mom explained it as being forced to have sex against your will.

Rape. I now had a word for it.

The first person I told was my BFF.  I'll never forget the day. We were lying on the hill beside my house looking at clouds just talking about everything from soup to nuts, like friends do. I told her "Mr. X raped me." She didn't say anything. I understood, even then, that she was like I had been; she didn't have a frame of reference with which to process the news. She didn't have any words to offer me. Not long after that I announced it to my table of friends in the lunch room. One person accused me of making it up, saying it didn't really happen.

The next year I was in a huge middle school in the city. I had heard that there was a special room in the library for books about sex, and I asked the librarian for access it to research rape. She opened the door for me, but never said a word or asked a question.

Over the years I disclosed to the following people:
1- my parents
2- my sister
3- several teachers
4- several counselors (during two psychiatric hospitalizations)
5- a police officer (who frequented my mother's convenience store where I worked)
6- dozens, scores even, of friends

All I wanted was someone to get angry for me. I wanted to know that there was nothing wrong with me. I mean, don't you get angry about the rape of a 6 year old? Why didn't these people get angry? Why did they simply nod and say "I'm sorry?" No one, not one of them, told me to go to the police or to file charges. There are some on that list that actually discouraged me from speaking of it further.

So how did I end up making an allegation 36 years later in 2012? A chance question on a teacher's networking/social media site resulted in the response "Rape of a child is a felony. There is no statute of limitations on felonies." A stranger, protected by anonymity and by whom I know only by a username like DogLover, encouraged me and gave me the tools I needed to face down Mr. X; the monster who, at times, still hides under my bed.

I can only imagine the bad advice Cosby's accusers have been given over the years. How many of them have been chided, accused of lying, called attention seekers, or worse; told that they sent mixed signals and asked for it. Admit it, most of you reading this have only just started to think the allegations are valid because of their quantity.  Being vilified for being a victim is rape all over again, and again.

I speak out now because I am that annoying, dripping faucet. Nothing else, no one else, can hurt me. I have been raped. That was bad enough. But the ugly truth is that I have also been ignored, patronized, demeaned, and accused. Those wounds are still healing, but I must speak out. Behind this drip there may be another, and another, just waiting for the floodgates to open and release the bonds that hold them.

On February 13, 2012, Detective Johnson took my statement and immediately called Mr. X in to interview. Later that week I received an email from Det. Johnson telling me that Mr. X had admitted to touching me, but then lawyered up. The detective wanted to give a polygraph, but Mr. X refused.

I was asked by a dear friend how I felt hearing that news. The flood of emotion that followed could only be described one way and with one word: believed. It took 36 years, but I was finally believed. Truly I believe that's all victims hope for. Not attention, not sympathy, not lofty words of comfort, not 15 minutes of fame. Victims simply want to be believed.  We want others to get angry, just as we are angry. We want people to join us in the fight.

Back to the question, is speaking out really all that hard to do? Yes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Love is blind, until you are forced to see

I heard on the news this morning that Camille Cosby had released a statement regarding the allegations of sexual abuse against her husband. She likened the news accounts about her husband to the Rolling Stone snafu. One quote stood out to me:

“None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim,” she adds. “But the question should be asked — who is the victim?”

Well, Camille, since you asked, I'll tell you. You are.

In the middle of February 2012, a then 51 year old man, Mr X, was invited to the local state police post to answer questions regarding rape allegations; the rape of a then 6 year-old girl in 1976. I have often wondered what he said to his wife. How did he explain where he was going, what he was doing, and how he confessed to abusing that little girl. I can't imagine finding out that John is anything less than the knight in shining armor I have always accused him of being. My next thought? Why do I care? Why should I care? What does it matter to me?

The ugly truth is that I do care. I care because I know Mrs. X has to be confused. I care because there is nothing to prepare you for finding out that the man you married may be a monster. I care because I know how ugly the truth truly is.

Perhaps Camille and Mrs. X could learn something from my husband, John, who had to face the ugly truth early on. You see, even though 18 years had passed, I still came into this marriage with all the baggage a rape victim carries. John could have run away, and I know some in his life encouraged him to do so, but he chose instead to come along side me, and fight through things as a partner, not just an observer. He has become my solace and strength every time I face my monster in court. Still this has taken a toll on him. He does not have an outlet for the anger he feels. In many ways he is forced to suffer in silence, and his fight is for one who is innocent.

How much harder it must be on these wives. They are guilty of only one thing, love. Neither of these women knew what they signed up for on their wedding days. They love their husbands but are vilified for supporting them. I'm not going to lie, I'm guilty. I got very angry this morning at Camille Cosby's comments. But as I continued to think about this during the day I've come to understand how Camille is  like me, an innocent victim.

And then it hit me- Mrs. X is also an innocent victim.

The ugly truth- both of these men deserve to be served justice. Both of these wives are going to be drug through the darkest of dark before they get to the other side. But both Camille and Mrs. X deserve patience and understanding. Neither woman should be vilified for loving their husbands. Love is blind, but both of these women have been forced to see an ugly truth about their husbands. There is nothing to prepare any of us for that.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The ugly truth about redemption

Seems strange, doesn't it. You don't often think of redemption as ugly. It's one of those church words we throw around in conversation and in song, and it's always a good thing. Redeemed by the blood! Praise the Lord I've been redeemed! I'm guilty. More than once I've testified that I am a walking picture of redemption. 

It's one of those words I had to explain to my students in Bible class. I would show them a coupon and ask them to explain what redeem meant in context. At one time in my life I was the coupon queen. Have you ever looked at the value of a paper coupon? 1/20th of one cent. Simply put, I give you something with little or no value, and in return you give me something of much greater value. 

It's that simple with the redemption of sin, and it's not. Truly my sins have been redeemed. I give them to God and he returns to me eternal life. The ugly part comes in while giving the sins to God. In order to do this, sin must be brought to light. But you want to hear something really, really ugly? Not only does God redeem sins we have committed, but also sins committed by others that affect us. 

I'm not a biblical scholar. I'm not into theology. I love God. Jesus is my Savior and my favorite passage of scripture is Colossians 2:13-14...

13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive  Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

...not because of any deep philosophical or theological meaning behind these words. It is favorite because of the word picture it paints in my brain, my soul. 

This blog is part of my journey. I have never been one to write in a journal or a diary, but over the years I have experienced more than my fair share of the result of sin, both mine and the sins of others. I have stories to share that I hope will encourage and empower others. There are pictures in my head that have left imprints of hope and peace. If you choose to go with me on this journey, you will learn how important word pictures are to me. But I warn you, some of it will be ugly. I'm an honest, put it all out there kind of person. 

If you do decide to travel this with me know that I am not looking to garner sympathy. I am not looking for a cheering section in my corner. None of this is about my strengths or weaknesses, my talents or failures. It is all about the ugliness of bringing sin to light and the beauty of redemption.