Secrets in the Attic

I can still hear the distinctive scraping sound of the board sliding across the opening in the floor and see her creeping down the ladder. She only came down to empty the slop jar and replenish her food and water supply. How long had she lived up there, a week? A month? A year? I don’t remember. But I will never forget her dark, glaring eyes and wrinkled frown when she turned and saw me standing there. I’ll never forget the cold-steal blade of anger and hatred piercing my soul or the hurt and confusion I felt.

It was a makeshift bedroom daddy half-heartedly put together for the two of them when my grandmother came to live with us. Mom laid a carpet remnant across the plywood floor and somehow, daddy maneuvered a full-size bed through the narrow opening. Then came an old dresser, and a couple of makeshift night stands and TV. Mom added some personal touches with a few lamps, a pretty bedspread and setting pictures on the dresser. There were no windows or walls or ceiling covering the exposed, unsightly wiring. No heating or air. Just a temporary, cave-like room for my parent’s privacy.

Now, mom made it her permanent home; her escape from a disgruntled mother-in-law; an emotional strike against a family who didn’t seem to care or appreciate the sacrifices she made. Let them fend for themselves. Let them do their own cooking and cleaning, washing and ironing and dealing with the bill collectors banging on the door.

But that’s not what drove her to live in the attic. That’s not what pushed her to the brink of insanity.

For years I hated her foster-mother and the abuse my mother suffered at her hands. I hated my grandmother for putting her in an orphanage and my alcoholic grandfather for molesting her. I hated that my mother was too afraid to run away from her foster home and get help. I hated that she was never able to recover; that she never experienced freedom from her horror-filled childhood. And I hated that the aftermath of her abuse ricocheted through the family poking holes in our souls.

Even today I still wonder how it feels to a child to be held and kissed. To be praised and loved unconditionally. What does the world look like through their fearless eyes? What does it sound like without cruel and condemning voices shouting in their ears?

Looking back, the attic is as dismal today as it was decades ago. Secretly, it holds my mother’s tears, her broken soul and raging screams against an unfair world and a God who would allow bad things to happen; especially to a defenseless child. It holds the secrets of a little girl longing to be loved so that she could know how to love her own children; to be less critical and more patient and understanding. Only the attic knows how she longed for her husband’s physical and emotional support; to help lift and carry her heavy burden and to prove the words of love he spoke to her. And only the attic knows what led her to climb down that creaky ladder that day, put away the slop jar, and join her family again.

I wish I could say that things got better after that, that my youngest brother stopped getting into trouble, drinking and doing drugs. I wish I could say mom never had other breakdowns and that daddy got a job and mom didn’t have to work three jobs to keep our heads above water. I wish I could say that we learned to communicate without screaming and yelling and hurting one another.

But I can’t go back and change a thing. I can only keep pressing forward with a better understanding and perspective than I had as a child. I can appreciate the loving family God gave me through my husband and my son and his growing family. And I can accept that I live in a broken world and bad things are going to happen. It’s not my fault. It’s not God’s fault. It’s just the way of a fallen world. We all have a choice in how we play the cards we are dealt.

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Never Give Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord

I’m just going to be honest with you

I don’t like myself today

My leg feels like a gang of Ninja Turtles

Is stabbing it with knives

My house is draped with cobwebs

The laundry is piled to the ceiling

My flower beds are crawling with weeds

The dog needs a bath

The car needs washing

And I’m too tired and depressed to care!

Could I please have a new body

And a new brain

Because I’m not feeling the joy right now

Maybe I will tomorrow

Or the next day

Or next week . . .

What’s that you say?

Get off the pity pot?

Not what I wanted to hear

But you’ll have to help me up

Because of my leg and all

And you’ll have to help me to keep

Trusting you because you know

How easily distracted I get

Like when I walk into a room

And start doing something

And walk into another room

And start doing something else

Till the whole house is torn up

Driving my husband nuts

And keeping the dog confused

So help me to stay focused

And to remember the countless times

You have helped me in the past

Through harder times than these

And give me strength to endure the pain

Because mine is all used up

Give me a heart of thanksgiving

Because sometimes the darkness overshadows

The beautiful blessings that surround me

But most of all when clinging to the edge

Of the jagged treacherous cliff

And my fingers are cut and bleeding

And my hopes plunge to my toes

And help seems miles away

Help me to trust and believe in who you are

And the things you have done

And the promises you have kept

And help me above all else

To never ever give up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Our President

 

 

 

 

 

 

I kneel before you, Lord,

Appalled at the vicious attacks

Made against him every single day.

Put a wall of protection around him.

Give him peace. Give him grace.

Give him wisdom and strength and courage

As he continues to do what is right,

Cleaning up the sloppy messes others so

Greedily and carelessly left behind.

Our country has been invaded with so much evil,

So much hatred and slander and murder.

And our President needs your help

To get America back on her feet.

Bless him, Lord, and may all your people

Pray, and keep on praying for him

And his beautiful family. Most of all, help him

To see his dire need of you as he continues

On his rocky, twisted presidential path.

Help him to know that you are the One

Still in control, and that you are the One

Who will see him through.

Thank you, for President Trump.

Thank you for his courage and his bravery

And his undivided love for his country.

Shut the mouths who slander against him!

Grasp the hands who wish to harm him!

Close the ears who feed on filthy lies to disgrace him.

Let justice be served and let America be great again!

Let her be victorious in spite of those

Who are so doggedly working to destroy her.

Lord, Help us all to stand behind

And faithfully pray for our President!

And thank you, Lord,

For hearing and answering my earnest prayer.

 

 

 

Blessings from Above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord

What a pleasant surprise when our next door neighbor

Joined my husband and me on the back porch,

His face beaming, pen, and paper in hand.

Sitting in the rocker across from us, and as if

The words could hardly wait to jump out of his mouth

He pronounced, “Okay. This is what we’re going to do . . .”

And true to his word, the very next day

Two, happy-faced fellows from his church

Bravely crawled under our house with the bugs

And cobwebs and spiders and snake skins

And replaced our broken down leaky water heater

With a brand spanking new one. Paid in full!

We are still speechless, Lord.

Only you know how truly grateful we are

To you and our neighbor and his church

And the two young men who donated

Their valuable time to help us in our time of need.

It’s no surprise, coming from you,

But we’re accustomed to helping others

And not the other way around.

And you know how I despise being the one in need.

But this time, you tied my hands behind my back

opened my eyes and helped me to see the blessing

Your people received from you by obediently helping us.

The pond in our front yard is slowly drying up

And we now have the hottest water we’ve had in weeks.

Thank you, Lord, for always being faithful to your Word

And for putting people in our lives who are willing

To be your feet and hands to shower us

With blessings from above.

 

 

Real Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the worst argument ever!
My husband, sitting in his big black
Fake leather recliner, suddenly
Metamorphosed into the Incredible Hulk.
Not to be outdone, I parked my broom,
Plopped on the couch
And began shaking my long,
Crooked finger from across the den.
The battle of the wills was vicious.
Like being in a house of horrors,
Angry words went flying around and
Screeching like a bunch of demented bats.
Even the dog ran and hid.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I grabbed my broom and flew out the door.
I almost went back, afraid of driving
Without a license, but I didn’t.
Stupid wasn’t out of my system yet.
I needed to run away. Be by myself.
Just like I did as a kid when the screaming
And shouting began at home.
Run and keep running till I collapsed
Under a tree and cried a puddle of tears,
Wishing I never had to go back home again.
Since it was too hot and I’m too old to run,
I hesitantly took the car.
There was no place in mind I wanted to go,
just away. I wasn’t liking my husband
Very much right then, and I even wanted
To crawl out of my own skin.
I pulled into a vacant lot surrounded by trees,
Under the shade, far away from people
And cars and cops. And there I finished
Spilling my guts to the glaring windshield,
The dusty dashboard, the trees dancing in the wind,
And the birds flying by. I think God was there too,
Reminding me that life is too short
And we’ve been married so long
And the argument was completely fruitless
And that I push too hard, expect too much,
And my husband can’t take it anymore!
“But I need more help with the yard,” I bawled.
“Pulling weeds and trimming trees and bushes
Are too much for me now. And besides,
He’s the one who wanted that gigantic yard!”
Three hours and a million tears
And unanswered questions later,
I turned on the ignition and slowly
Drove back home. The long way.
Through the winding country roads
Where cops seldom tread.
I pulled into the long, tree-lined driveway,
Parked the car, and grabbing my broom,
I flew back into the house.
“Do you know what a chance you took?”
Mr. Hulk flared.
And jutting my long pointy chin toward
The popcorn ceiling I screeched,
“Jep! But right now I don’t care!”
Before the sun went down like we always do,
We talked things out, going through the I’m sorry
Scenarios and how much we hate arguing,
The shame and regret that we felt,
The hugs and kisses, reassuring one another
That we will get through these hard times of
Running short of money before the end of
Every month; that God is and will continue
Taking care of us; that the VA is going to help him
With his PTSD and the horrific nightmares,
And that I will try to be more understanding . . .
And talking and working things out
Is why we’ve been married forty-five years,
Why we haven’t left each other,
Why we haven’t killed each other,
Why we understand each other . . .
So life is short and it’s tough and unfair,
Married or single, rich or poor, young or old.
But real love always wins out in the end!

The Truth Will Set You Free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek to live in my love, which covers a multitude of sins:
both yours and others’ . . .

You always know, Lord
The words I need to hear when I need to hear them;
Especially this morning as I look back
And see how hard and foolishly I labored to cover up my ugly flaws.
As a child, I remember soaking cucumber peelings in cold water
And putting them on my face to bleach out my freckles.
I remember how it hurt pinching the end of my nose with a clothespin
In high hopes of making it smaller.
When I was finally allowed, I drew on some eyebrows,
Painted my eyelashes, and smeared makeup on my face.
Everything in my world had to be perfect:
My dolls. My shoes. My roller skates. My performance . . .
I wish someone had taken the time to lead me in the right direction
Before my twisted brain told me I had to be perfect to be loved;
That the world around me doesn’t accept rejects.
I wish Someone had spoken the truth about God and His unconditional love
Before I conjured up a false face, stuffed my sensitive feelings deep inside
And wore a neon sign around my neck that shouted to the world:
Cut me, I won’t bleed!
I was young, naïve, and a Christian.
And Christians have a whole different set of rules
From the rest of the world to follow.
Christians are slow to anger,
Quick to forgive and never ever question God.
Christians turn the other cheek,
Shake the dust off their feet and suffer in silence.
Christians love their enemies and bless those who curse them.
But what my delicate ears heard was:
Christians are not human.
They never mess up.
Never get angry, never tell anyone what they really think and mean.
Christians bury their hurts, anger, and disappointments deep inside,
Let it fester and blow up in their face one day, make them lose complete control,
And forget to be careful little tongue what they say.
Christians let shame and regret scream in their ears what a failure they are,
That God is terribly disappointed and sorry He ever created them.
Christians let their failure to be perfect cast them into the arms of depression
Self-loathing and hopelessness.
At least that’s the time bomb of belief’s that blew up and shattered my world . . .
Tired of living a lie and what it was doing to me,
I sent God a whirling smoke signal of distress.
He came to my rescue, and ever so slowly and gently,
He opened my eyes to His love, His truth,
His footprints across the blazing desert of life.
He released my heavy armor of perfectionism.
He covered my naked, trembling body with his cloak of righteousness.
He bathed my tarnished heart in His forgiveness.
He lifted the world of guilt and shame off my shoulders.
He told me that I don’t have to be perfect for Him to love me,
That it is fruitless to even try.
He told me that He created me in His image,
That I am the apple of His eye,
That all the wrong in my life He can fix and make it right . . .
He’s been my daily, faithful guide ever since.
We have coffee together on the back porch.
We have long intimate talks together.
We walk together, laugh together, cry together.
But what I love the most about this amazing relationship
Is that I can lean back, kick off my shoes, and just be me!

Worrywart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry mom
But when it comes to worrywarts
I inherited them all from you
How well I remember you wringing your hands
Pacing the floor
Picking your fingers till they bled
I remember you dumping your worries on total strangers
And me slumping my shoulders and hanging my head in shame
I remember the panic in your eyes
When the bill collectors came knocking
And there was no money to pay
I remember daddy sitting with his head in his hands
As you yelled at him for his everlasting failures
And I remember how helpless I felt
Going to school every day
Worrying about passing my Math test
Or learning my multiplication tables
Or what the kids thought about me
Or the teachers
Or the bus driver
Or the janitor
I worried about being embarrassed in class
I worried about being sent to the principal’s office
I worried about coming home with telltale signs of red lipstick
And your shaking finger and endless sermon
I worried that I could never do anything right
That everything was spinning out of control
And no one was there to stop it
To help me understand and to trust that things will be okay
That the sky isn’t falling
That it’s just a bad break in the weather
That the thunder and lightning and torrential rain would stop
And the sun will come out again
But that never happened in my house
Or in school
Or in church
Or anywhere
So
Here I am, Lord
Covered with warts of worry that have controlled my life
My thinking
My belief’s
My view of the world and the people in it
And as hard as I try
I can’t stop thinking that maybe if I worry long and hard enough
The horrific things I fear will not happen
They’ll just disappear
Poof!
And my world will forever be safe and secure
See how crazy I am Lord
I know you’ll take care of me
But I also know that you allow pain and difficulties in my life
And I’m afraid that you’ll take a loved one close to me
And that the grief will swallow me whole
And that I’ll be left totally alone
Consumed with these excessive
Stupid
Ugly
Worrywarts!
So
Help me, Lord
I don’t want to be like this
We’ve come so far together
And I know you’re not finished with me yet
Although I think you should be by now!
But as long as I have breath and a sound mind
And as long as I keep trusting you
I know you’ll keep wielding your big shiny knife
Cutting away my worrywarts
One ugly wart at a time

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Matthew 6:27

Twas Best for Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord
Remember when my husband and I first moved here
How I cried for weeks on end
For reasons only you could understand
Remember how trapped and isolated I felt
How uncertain and afraid
How utterly disappointed
Now
Decades later
Sitting here on my back porch
Embracing the cool morning breeze
Watching the birds
Joy skipping through my veins
I can’t imagine living anyplace else
Thank you for making me tough it out
For locking all the windows and doors
Making it impossible for me to run
Thank you
That in spite of my kicking and screaming against you
You continued loving me
Fixing me
Teaching me
Exposing the ghosts from the past
Unveiling the woman you created me to be before I lost my way
I know I’ve been a brat, Lord
Stomping my feet
Demanding my way
Pounding my fists when I didn’t get it
But thank you for not caving in
Thank you for not striking me dead!
Thank you for your tough love
Your sense of humor
Your strong arms
Your tender heart
And thank you
That in spite of everything I thought I wanted and demanded to have
You gave what was best for me

“My precious child, It’s not for you to understand what I am doing in your life.
I just want you to trust me.” 

And That’s Enough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord
I have nothing to give in return for your love
For your healing touch
For your saving grace
How can I ever repay you for reaching down
And snatching my falling soul from the flames of Hell
There is nothing good in me
I’m just broken clay in your potter’s hands
That keeps jumping out
And falling down
And messing up
My love is conditional
My trust is fragile
My pride is haughty
Like a stubborn sheep
I run away
And you come looking for me
You scoop me up in your loving arms
You wipe away my foolish tears
You bind my bleeding wounds
You whisper love songs in my ears
Why
I don’t deserve you
My heart is reckless
My emotions are dangerous
My mind is a wandering river of fear and doubt
Anxiety and worry
So
Tell me
Lord
How can I possibly ever repay the tremendous debt I owe

“Oh, my precious, silly child. You have your heart
your mind, body, and soul, and that’s enough.”

 

The Best Dad in the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey was long and tortuous

Like being stuck in quicksand

The harder I struggled to get out

The farther I was sucked down

Into a slimy pit of depression

Anger and rage

Visions of my dad were ever dancing before me

Like a blazing fire

Burning holes in my soul

Ravaging my spirit

Destroying every flicker of faith and trust

In God

In my dad

In the human race

Voices in my head condemned me

Punished me

Convinced me that I was worthless

Un-lovable

Unworthy

Feeling connected eluded me

Friendships lied to me

Love slipped through my fingers like burning sand

Night and day my heart cried out to God

But He seemed deaf

Cold and distant

Just like my dad

Hope flickered and died

My soul was a heap of ashes

The will to live was gone

Then

One dusky

Mystical morning

I was awakened from my slumber

And beside my bed

A shadowy figure stood

As if waiting for me to open my eyes

He whispered my name

He clasped my trembling hand

And through the smoldering fire of hurt and confusion

Anger and rage

He led me straight to God

Without hesitation

He opened His arms as wide as the ocean

Where I ran

And collapsed

And sobbed and sobbed

Love unimaginable ignited my soul

Cleansing my mind

Renewing my strength

My hope

My faith

And I knew

And I know

And I believe forever more

That God loves me

He really loves me!

Now my sighing soul is at rest

The scary ghosts are gone

And God

My Heavenly Father

Is forever by my side

Helping me

Teaching me

Encouraging me

Every minute of every day

I can’t tell you why He loves me so

I can’t tell you why He cares

But this one thing I can tell you

He is the best Dad in the world!