Beautifully Created

A present from my dad…
Dad's gift

Do you see the slight girl
with the hesitant smile?
The one in the middle
with the ancient hairstyle?

Oh the secrets she hides
in pale haunting green eyes.
Her stoic demeanor
lend a blissful disguise.

Little girl in my past,
I see your reflection.
Masking painful tears from
your Daddy’s rejection.

Beautiful creation,
though the world be unjust.
God’s love and affection
hold your refuge and trust.

~Me

Hurt people hurt people. The cycle continues. So long as there is sin in this world, there will be injustice. We will be hurt and rejected by people…because people are imperfect. Oh how hard it is to release others of our own unrealistic expectations! But to do so will allow us the freedom to love freely. When our identity is in the Lord, we can have faith that we are totally accepted, cherished, loved.

“Although my father and my mother have forsaken me,
yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child.” ~Psalm 27:10

It’s so hard for us humans to accept that no matter what we do 10% of the population will not like us…even some within our own family; even Jesus was rejected by his family! We buy into the lie that we have to be the best and accepted by the world’s standards to be of value. The book of Ecclesiastes (the most seemingly depressing book of the whole bible) teaches that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” God created us to be a reflection of himself. He made us beautiful. Even the “ugly” people by the world’s standards are beautifully created; fearfully and wonderfully made.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” ~Psalm 139:13-14

When we understand the depth of love God has for us, and we understand that He is our Abba God, our Daddy, we find His strength and joy. Our carnal nature continually pushes us to take control of our situations through revenge, bitterness, and broken relationships. Pull from the strength only the Lord can give. Let us worship with joy and let His love flow through our hearts as we wait patiently for his will in our lives.

“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!” ~Psalm 27:14

Forget about the negatives in the past, don’t worry about the stresses of tomorrow, just live in the beauty of today. You. Are. Beautiful.

Psalm 27.10

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:15-16

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

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Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Piano Man 5

Music is subjective, just like food. I absolutely hate peas. My husband feels the same about onions. I absolutely love onions. My husband loves peas. Different likes and dislikes…neither one of us is in the wrong. We were created diverse creatures by the same loving God.

But lyrics…

When the lyrics are seasoned with God’s word (and not taken out of context), the music is immortal, just as His word is immortal. “Redeemed” is one such song.

The definition of Redeemed is an exchange: to free, liberate, rescue, save, to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.

In the second verse he writes:

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret

This song relates more to my life than most. For years I struggled to be the perfect little Christian so God would actually want me. After spending most of my childhood feeling used up and worthless and spending most of my adult life relating to the rejection and outcast of the woman at the well, my name; my identity was bound in shame and regret. Even after accepting Christ, I was still haunted by those ugly ghosts that lived in my past. I was bound up in shackles of all my failures, as the song so eloquently writes. I knew God is love. I knew God loves everyone. But because of my shame and regret, I believed God’s love was for everyone else.

I then read the words of King David, my hero, the chief of sinners whom God loved most, in Psalm 27:10 which says, “Though even my father and mother reject me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.”

The antonym for redeemed is abandon. God in His mercy did not abandon me. No, not even me. Like the unloved woman at the well, he gave me a new life, a new name, and a hope that will carry me home. No. I’m not perfect. I’m not liked by everyone. But I’m not the same and I shook off those heavy chains of shame and regret ‘cause He’s not done with me yet!

If He gives hope and restoration even to someone like me (and I could tell you stories that would make your head spin), he will and is longing to set you free as well. We can stop fighting on our own, for at the cross he wiped away every stain and the fight’s already been won! I am redeemed and He set me free!

Click here: Official video of Big Daddy Weave – “Redeemed“. 
Writer(s): Michael Weaver, Benji Cowart
Copyright: Word Music Inc., Word Music Inc. O.B.O. Weave Country LLC

Piano Man 4

To the other side…

It’s funny how a glance in a photo, the scent of an old shoe, or the touch of a wool jacket will bring back a memory or two from a far distant world. To see faces from long ago, only to feel the joy, laughter, and the pain once again. In the recesses of the mind, dark cellars were left untouched.

Emptiness

My feet brush soft grass.
Stillness fills damp air.
Bones lie six feet under.
No hope for a prayer.

Existence disappears.
Waters rage in life’s sin.
Innocent dreams are dead.
Wrongs are silent within.

The passion for love
is lost in life’s yesterday.
The gravedigger rests
as dreams and hope decay.

Me

A child wistfully played. With innocence she laughed through each day. Her holidays were filled with anticipation and wonder. Each day began with sunshine breaking through her window. With her siblings she romped and played, growing with promises of happiness.

At daylight she realized Heaven was not on this Earth.

Her family moved as often as the military gave orders. But that didn’t bother her. She just took life as it came. With each move came a new room, new school, and new friends.

The day finally came when their military life ended and home became the region of their relatives. The first year or so was thrilling as she reconnected with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; relationships that she was not able to develop while abroad.

Her tenth birthday approached with great anticipation. Her aunt made a cake with a Cinderella carriage on top, complete with her name written in sweet icing. Her new-found friends from houses up and down the street, along with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents came to celebrate with her.

The details of the actual party faded as memories do with time. Nothing extraordinary occurred. The guests arrived, visited, played games, blew out candles, and ate cake…nothing noteworthy. Only it was her day.

As with every event, all things eventually come to an end. The guests leave full of sweets, and happy to have enjoyed her party. The gifts were opened and the wrapping paper found its way to the trash. A few family members lingered, the men lazily chatted in lawn chairs, and the women cleared and cleaned up the birthday residue in the warm July back yard. As she carried her treasured presents to her room, she noticed Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table sneaking one last piece of cake. He sheepishly grins and asked her if she wanted just one more bite. She supposed since her mom was in the back yard cleaning up, she won’t discover he spoiled her dinner with all the sweets. He pulled her on his lap with one arm while scraping a big spoon full of cake with the other. With her mouth full of sweetness, she felt him…pulsing under her lap. Instantly, she knew in her spirit something was not quite right. The cake in her mouth suddenly tasted like sponge. When she tried to climb down off his lap, he held her waist tighter, pulling her to him, sliding his hand – that seconds ago held her cake – between her panties and her…

The above is all I can stomach writing. Oh, the family secrets we keep. Oh, the lives destroyed by those who take innocence for their own pleasure. Her childhood is gone when the joy of being a treasured present is replaced with the worthlessness of discarded wrapping paper. The worst part of the offense is not just the offense itself, but in the reaction and rejection of those close by when the horrors are revealed. Most family members are more worried about their own reputation, especially amongst their religious church mates, so they set out to silence the drama. They hush when she enters the room, like she would not know where their conversation dwelt. Then there are those who cannot let anyone else have more focus than they, countering with their own exaggerated stories purposed to minimize all others. “Oh, that’s nothing, why when I…” Her pain was irrelevant. The path is set through rejection and bitterness, walls of self-protection go up, and thus the victim becomes the villain. Hurt people, hurt people.

I could state all the stats, all the end results, all the laws, but that would be a waste of time. Most intelligent people inherently know the consequences of molestation on its victim, on the families, and on their future relationships. Most perpetrators, rarely a stranger, are fully aware of the damage they cause innocent victims. Yet, it is like a cigarette, once addicted, they just do not have the capabilities of putting that smoke down. Their addiction rules their conscience, even when their exhale is damaging those around them. Their conscience is seared by their physical desires. And the victim is powerless, with no recourse, with no justice. A cancer of bitterness from a life lost burns deep inside.

Where is love?

Where is justice?

Where is freedom?

While the victim hides the hurt, masks the pain, the locked-up memory turns into bitterness. That bitterness evolves into anger, an anger that rages inside. The victim tries to escape the memories, the snide remarks from those closest to her, and the lie of worthlessness given to her by the negative voices in her head. Vengeance and revenge sets in the heart. Self-destruction becomes her way of life. The victim becomes the villain, striking first to avoid being struck. Alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. only leave an empty hole. All she wants is acceptance, to be innocent again, and to be loved…proper. Turning to people to fill her needs and heal her wounds inadvertently causes all the more heartache…so the walls are built, high, never to let anyone emotionally touch her…ever again.

Some stories need to be locked up…imprisoned in the deep recesses of the mind. Evil is a hard pill to stomach, unless one is evil. Once the door is opened, evil will slither its tentacles through your soul. Though we are warned to guard our hearts and minds, our curiosity temps us toward the dark pit.

Some stories need to be told. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 we are encouraged to give encouragement. God comforts us and in turn we comfort others. We read for one of two reasons…for self-help or to escape. God wants to use a tale to benefit others. Countless lives have been changed through the testimony of those who have been through the fire and back.

This…is one such story…

 

Oh, but the longing…the spirit that won’t rest…the Spirit that gently pulls at her heart…

“Let it go.” he says.

“Oh, but you don’t understand!” she says.

“Yes, I do. I know your hurting heart…for I created you. You are my child and you are beautiful.” he says.

“Then why did you create me to live through this very ugly life?” she cries.

“The world was born with beauty, but sin painted dark black paint over earth’s canvas. While you are in the world, I have provided a resting place in me. Because of my love for you, I sent my son to experience the same sin known to man. He was able to shed blood to break through the bondage of sin, of pain, of oppression, so that you, through him, will have access to Me.” he said.

Forgiveness? But why should God forgive someone so disgusting? Why would He in his perfection accept someone so imperfect? Oh, but the longing, the longing for beauty, the longing for wholeness.

“OK Lord, what do I need to do? I need you to take away this pain. I want you to fill the hole in my heart. Will you even accept me?” she asked.

“Yes, I accept and love you just as I created you. But…you need to forgive.” he said firmly.

“Oh, no. Not in a million years! Do you know what they did to me?” she screamed.

“Yes, I saw. And I saw what they did to my son. And to those who asked and believed in him, I forgave.” he quietly explained.

“But why? How could you?” she cried in exasperation.

His reply was strong, firm, yet compassionate; “Forgiveness is the only way to heal your heart. Let go of your longing for retribution. Leave your vengeance to me. All will one day be held accountable. But, as long as you hold on to your bitterness you prevent my spirit from filling your soul. Unforgiveness, bitterness, and hatred, are rooted in sin, and I am unable to dwell where sin abides. No matter how small the sin; sin is sin. How can I forgive you if you cannot forgive others? Do you want others to treat you with unforgiveness? If you believe I am truth, then trust. Release to me every painful memory, every guilt, and every wrong path you took. Let me wash through you with my pure Holy Spirit, giving you a new life, with a clean heart. I will be your peace, your source of love.” he proclaimed, he promised, he purposed.

Quietly, his light pierced through my dark heart, releasing me from my own oppression.

Joy…such a small and simple word…and yet, so full. Thank you Lord.

My Prayer

Forgive me my complacency
Release my life from apathy.
To you I come on bended knee
Lord consecrate my soul to thee.

Forgive the heart that aches for you
Your mercy left my soul brand new.
I lift the heart you cleansed from sin
Restore to me the Joy within.

I cry, My God I long for you!
Your spirit come as morning dew.
Lord cover me with endless grace
I find my strength in your embrace.

Forgive me my complacency
Your burning fire embrace in me.
In your pure love I will enjoy
Your promised hope and perfect Joy.

Me

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Was I really meant to be here?

Here’s that mood again. So tell me…what if a person was not meant to be born? How is their life justified? Does the life that was not meant to be actually have purpose?

Deep questions for a dreary rainy day.

I know a lot of babies these days born outside of the traditional home. I feel a sense of connection for those born out of wedlock. Do they use that word anymore? I don’t know. I guess it’s the new norm. Seems no one even knows what virginity is these days, maybe we never did. Every generation drifts farther and farther from that biblical “family unit” we were taught from our grandparents. I’ve read the generations after the Baby-Boomers are more likely to live together than risk getting married, to risk getting divorced. I don’t agree, but I thoroughly understand.

So mom gets pregnant. Sometimes dad stays, mostly he moves on. Sometimes we have two moms, and sometimes, two dads. Seems there is no “norm” these days.

In some ways I sure do wish the “anything goes” philosophy wasn’t accepted back in my day. Do the kids of today feel the awkwardness from being born as the result of a “non-biblical” situation? Has society evolved enough that no one cares?

I felt it…the rejection. In some ways, I still feel it. The lies Satan whisperers in my ear:

  • My parents had to get married because of me.”
  • Their hardships were my fault because I came too early.”
  • Six months after our wedding? Oh no, our baby was early.”
  • We’re so sorry we got pregnant, it was an accident.”
  • You’re nothing but an embarrassment.”
  • I see another zit…are you ever going to clear that thing up?”
  • You’re just a fat whore!”
  • So you survived those illnesses, surgeries, and accidents? Maybe the world would be better off if…”

Oh yes, I’ve heard it all. The excuses, the cover-ups, the lies. So, what it boils down to is, I wasn’t supposed to be here. Right? Maybe. But doesn’t God himself breathe life? If so, why did He breathe life in me if I was not to be? Would I not have survived those near death experiences if I were not to be here?

I wonder if my own experience is the basis for my deep pro-life stance. My empathy generates great passion for the unborn, unwanted, and unloved. What right do I have to life if another is aborted or abandoned? Why me and not another?

 

Sometimes…I really do wish I could take their place…

 

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

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Pregnant…Again??

“What? You already have three kids and you’re pregnant again? Don’t you know what causes that by now?”

ultrasound

And on and on the condemnations flew…

So here I am. One failed marriage, another on its way. This one was promised to be my “Knight in Shining Armor” soul-mate. Yes, one would think that I of all people would know better.

My first husband was my high school sweetheart…but, less than eight years later, I found myself disillusioned, emotionally broke down, and bitter. Deep in my soul, all I wanted was the typical Tom Sawyer family complete with the little white picket fence. In a sense, I was trying to create a perfect life in restitution for my so-called “wild” teenage years. After a few years of trying to please everyone, my world crumbled when I realized I wasn’t pleasing to anyone. I was belittled and devalued. My self-worth diminished to my lowest point. I believed the lie that God had turned his back on me and did not care that I was doing everything in my power to live perfectly. So I turned my back on God.

But this post is not about my first marriage, I’ll save that for a later date. But I say all the above for a bit of background information to show my state of mind. This post is about a baby…a precious little human.

When I started dating my second husband, I was exhausted. Divorced with three young children, I was working over-time and living with a spirit of failure all around me, trying desperately to find value in my life. I was always busy, yet very alone. Being ten years older, he gave the illusion of being omniscient. My family was ecstatic, mostly my dad, mostly since he was always looking for someone to take me off his shoulders. Ha! Plus, he was related to my brother-in-law and they gave me only good reports. I thought this was the relief I desperately needed. My “Knight” swooped in with romance, worldly achievements, and showers of silky words. I was bait.

Since my first husband claimed no one would want me, especially with all those kids, I was more than ready to prove everyone wrong. That’s the problem with some men, their arrogance leads them to believe if they do not want a girl, then no one else would want her either. Then, they are shocked when they find out, whether he is good or bad, someone is always waiting in the wings. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Boy was he shocked! On the other hand…some girls have been devalued to the point they settle for what they believe they deserve instead of understanding that God’s love really does have the best for us.

We dated less than six months. I was deceived into believing this “Knight” was going to provide for me, be a fun step-dad for my kids, and yes, it was he who continually talked of having more children, even writing letters of his longing for his own children. He was in his latter thirties and felt the biological clock tick. I knew there was no chance of having more children with my first husband, and even though by the world’s standards I did not need another child, I secretly longed for more babies. Caring for my children put me in my element. I don’t know if that longing is put in women by God at creation, or if I was rebellious against the American 2.5 kid family. Consequently, and at his urging, I found myself pregnant with my fourth child. I remember being extremely excited to give him the news…he was finally going to be a father!

“We’re not ready yet. You need to get an abortion. I’ll not have anything to do with it.”

Those words still reverberate in my mind. How could I be hearing this? Was not this the man whom was to be my Knight in Shining Armor? Was not this baby his idea too? Even if neither of us needed this pregnancy, this was a little human. This was a soul. This was life. I know more than anyone that most women who have abortions are not bad people, they are victims of their circumstances. They are women who have been sold a lie. But, I could never fathom ending the pregnancy…for any reason. And my Knight wanted me to murder our baby? My world spun around and stopped.

Where was God now? Why was I being rejected again? I felt I deserved nothing. Walking a path on the dark side of heaven, while longing to be in the light, I felt abandoned once again.

After four months of marriage, I realized he had issues unknown even to his family. Manic depressives can and do live completely normal lives when their condition is managed well. I won’t go into the struggles they face in this post, but if you, or one close to you, face manic depression or bi-polar depression, please research and be well informed in order to live a nonviolent and productive life. To deny the existence of the condition only creates chaos for everyone involved.

My last straw came when he lost control of his temper with my son. After throwing me across the room when I confronted him, I packed up my kids and my belongings, and left. How was I going to take care of three children, pregnant, with very little support, and no job?

Pride…It really is an ugly thing. I was not the kind of person to ask for help…from anyone. What would be the world’s answer to my situation? Yes, I heard it again. Abort. Welfare. Abort. Start over. Abort.

But how could I look into the faces of my children and live the rest of my life knowing I killed their sibling? Would I have been able to abort any of the children I had if the birth order were reversed? Scientifically, the unborn is a separate human life! In the end, I ignored the comments of destruction and clung to that which I knew to be right. With no place else to go, I humbled myself, faced an abundance of criticism, and asked for help.

In every circumstance, even those created by our own bullheaded mistakes, our sins, God always provides a way to find an open door. We live in a fallen world. We are fallen. We are subject to the corrupt things of the world, even those who are blameless. The bible book of Job is a good study on this subject. God always restores. Sometimes not the way we expect. We will always carry the consequences, but He will restore. The Lord gave me that open door when I humbled myself to His care, and His forgiveness. I cannot tell you it was easy or without tears. But, He provided for me, for my children, and my unborn baby. God promises over and over He will take care of His children. His promises are true. He created us. He loves us.

An adult now, that baby is the joy of our family. God provided people to step in and give us a roof over our head until I could get on my feet. He also provided money for me to pay for our own food, provisions, and utilities. He later provided a father who adopted my baby as his own; a perfect reflection of our heavenly Father adopting us, in all our ugliness, and accepts us as His own. Now, that beautiful life is a college graduate, happily married, and a vital asset to our society.

Did I make the right choice? In my mind, there was no choice to make.

Your situation may be quite different. It may not be an unplanned pregnancy you are facing, but the solution is still the same. Two wrongs do not make a right. Never listen to the lie that God has deserted you. I did, and God showed me He was always with me, waiting. When we find ourselves on a crocked path we need only to pray. There is no sin so deep that God’s grace cannot draw you back.

 

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
~Isaiah 43:18-19

BabyCakes

 “Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

The Home That Love Built

A little story about my ancestors…

Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me!

As a child, Bethany Children’s Home deep in the back hills of Kentucky left an indelible impression on me. Nestled in the bottom land by Holly Creek, the first sight looked like a brilliant painting by Thomas Kinkade. The Appalachian Mountains protected the home from modern civilization. Magnificent, aged trees hovered as angels spreading their wings. The only clearings were the fields on the farms, and the hillside where the old buildings seemed to harmonize with nature.

Living in the city, I rarely had the opportunity to breathe in the air God created our lungs to inhale. The aroma of huge oak, beech, cedar, and pine trees mixed with the tickling of the dust from the dirt road steadily lifted the soul. Pennyroyals and goldenrod lined the road creating a natural landscape along the curb of the forest. I often miss the simple beauty of a landscape created by God alone. A city offers neat little houses lined up in perfect rows. Shrubs, trees, plants, and flowers are precisely placed within utopian gardens. While the perfect houses and the precise gardens are charming, nothing compares with the picturesque beauty of nature.

With scarcely a motor vehicle traveling back and forth, we could hear only the sound of nature. Maple, hickory and walnut leaves played their stringed instruments in the wind. Cardinals sang harmony and mockingbirds sang backup. A woodpecker led the percussion. Only the fighting of my siblings interrupted the earthly orchestra.

Throughout time, Bethany Children’s Home, a place we call Bethany, seemed unchanged. The plain, wood buildings always needed paint. An old windowless, three-room, two-story log cabin was on the property when a local man donated the land in 1926. It stood silently still. The original wooden church burnt to the ground before I was born; therefore, they built the new church of cement blocks. No steeple stood on top of the church, just a small wooden cross on the front attic roof. Sounds from the “Liberty” bell in front of the church called all to worship. The two-story dorms were endlessly long. They reminded me of old government apartment buildings. Several smaller buildings just as dilapidated as the first, were scattered on the hillside. The home began with only three little orphaned girls. Known as “The Bethany Orphanage” in 1926, in just a few short years, by 1956 the home gained a Board of Trustees and became “Bethany Children’s Home, Inc.” The home was started by three women : Marjorie Burt and Laura Wendland, missionaries from the Free Methodist Mission in Oakdale, Kentucky, and Lina Miller (from the Chicago Evangelistic Institute class of 1924, Miss Burt’s Alma Mater, who resigned her position in the office of a business firm in Dixon, Illinois to join her two friends). Mildred Golden joined the three women the next year in 1927. With love for the children, their mission began in the bottom land of Holly Creek with nothing but a dream, a prayer, and a miracle.

I visited the home as a child and my Great-great-aunt Mildred was the first to greet us. Great-grandma Gladys was waiting anxiously in the background. I never fully appreciated the sisters. As any child would, I only saw them as old. Born in 1898 and 1900, they wore the dress of spinsters. Their gray hair projected a crown of righteousness. Thick glasses kept secret the direction of dissenting looks. When Aunt Mildred welcomed us, her voice was not a loud voice, yet she commanded attention. Great-grandma Gladys, being the elder, had a quieter nature about her, yet she never went unheard.

Aunt Mildred had an abundance of spirited energy. Always working, she expected an equivalent effort from others as well. She gave orders with an air of sternness, apparent even when she smiled. A well-deserved air of authority emanated from Aunt Mildred. The children knew, in her devoted manner, she loved them deeply. Somehow, through her gruff exterior, she obviously loved her stature in life. Called to the mission field by God, she originally set her sights on India. Aunt Mildred graduated from Asbury University in 1925, and subsequently began nurse’s training at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through a series of events, she left Ohio and arrived at Bethany on March 29, 1927, the year after its conception. There she stayed; a towering rock that helped build Bethany Children’s Home. Nearly sixty years later, her declining health forced her to move in with my grandparents in 1983, just before her death in 1986. Her primary position was a school teacher and nurse. She became the first clerk at the Bethany Post Office on July 28, 1928; Acting Postmaster in 1950; and Postmaster, April 19, 1951, maintaining that position until May 31, 1970. During her nearly sixty years at the orphanage, as a pioneer nurse she delivered 267 babies without a doctor being on the case at the time of delivery. Aunt Mildred never married. The orphanage became her mission…and her family.

Quite a bit shorter than her younger sister, Great-grandma Gladys walked with a limp, crippled from polio as a child. Deep down inside this quiet spirit lay a gentle sense of humor. During evening assembly, great-grandma acted out one of her many readings. They were always funny, and some were quite ornery for a conservative great-grandmother. I enjoyed her peaceful demeanor, but being an inquisitive child, I eventually ran off to find some adventure of my own.

In the dining hall, everyone ate on long tables with a staff member on the end of each. That was quite an experience. They always expected proper manners from the children. The food was home-grown, and the milk was fresh from the cow. I didn’t care for the vegetables, but I always begged for more fresh, raw milk. The flavor was sweet and strong, a very different flavor from the city, store-bought milk. Great-grandma packed a jug for our trip home, just for me. My most memorable time came on a walk across the road to the farm which supplied most of the food and milk for the orphanage. Being from the city, I was unaware of the shock I would receive when I unconsciously grasped the electric fence to aid my hike up the hill. While I was listening to the bellowing cows, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker in the Forrest, I suddenly found my backside in the middle of the dirt road! While the laughter flowed easily from the children, aside from my embarrassment, I sensed an air of contentment.

Great-grandma spent most of her days running the used clothing store. An old tin building, it was more of a shack that reeked with the aroma of moth balls. All the clothes at the home were donated by outsiders. The staff rationed the children out what they needed, and the children could buy extras with money they earned from chores. My mother gave us spending money to buy items in the store, not because we needed any clothes, but as a means to help support the children’s home. Great-grandma always smiled and patted our heads, as older people do, when we gave her the money for our purchase.

Through her peaceful spirit, given to her by God himself, it was apparent Great-grandma’s life had not been easy. She was young when she married. While pregnant with her second child, my great-grandfather left. No one ever saw him again, except in the features of the two children he left behind. After living at Bethany for the school year of 1927, she returned to her parents home in East Liverpool, Ohio, in March of 1928, to raise my grandmother and her brother. During that first winter in Bethany, it was not unusual for her and the two kids to find streaks of snow across the bed clothing in the morning, after a night of snow that had blown through the cracks in the walls of the side room that had been added to the store where they lived. During her years in Ohio, Great-grandma visited the orphanage often, and in 1939 she returned to Bethany to take care of the Home Girls and was in charge of the used clothing store until her death in 1977, thirty-eight years later. Great-Grandma never remarried, finding contentment in her position at Bethany and the many children she cared for. My Grandma had such fond memories of Bethany from her childhood, she actually sent my dad and his two siblings to live with Great-Grandma Gladys and Great-Aunt Mildred to attend school for three years in the late 40’s, giving three generations to have lived in the bottom land by Holly Creek.

Unwanted children…that’s what they called them. I never thought of my newfound friends in that regard. We played on the large iron swings, and ran through the fields just the same as my friends at home. The children were loved and well adjusted, a far cry from the horror stories about orphanages in the media today. I remember stories of the mountaineers leaving children to the door of the orphanage during the night, especially during the depression years. They had no means of feeding their families, yet loved their children and wanted for them a better life. At the orphanage, instead of a mountain shack, they were placed under a roof with heat on their feet. The children were fed, schooled, and definitely loved.

I have not returned to the tranquil valley in the Appalachians since the sisters passed away. Often, I consider taking my own children to the place which holds a few very dear memories for me. They need to experience the natural tranquility of the bottom land near Holly Creek, to experience the joy of giving love to those who have so much to give back. I cannot give this priceless heritage to my children for the Bethany Children’s Home we knew no longer exists. Government red tape forced the orphanage to close in the 1980’s. The home then became a private Christian school in 1986, leaving the mountaineers to fend for themselves or depend on government handouts. My children will see the orphanage only through my eyes when I reminisce on my own experience.

I often wonder, since Great-grandma is gone, since Aunt Mildred is gone, and since the home where so much love abounded is gone, who will take care of the orphans?

 

My Daddy, Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me! Visiting @ Bethany Children’s Home.

 

My Mom, siblings, and Great-Grandma Golden-Frantz…and of course, Babette our Poodle!

 

Mom with my siblings visiting Bethany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Journey… (short version)

My prayer life opened up a few years back when I was able to grasp the end of “The Lord’s Prayer” which most do not quote: “For if you cannot forgive, how can you be forgiven?”  (my shortened version). I lived a lot of years in a very dark place, very bitter and angry, with no hope. I experienced the hypocrisy of so-called Christians and naturally ended up turning away. I had been hurt more by Christians than non-Christians. I was lied to, lied about, and victimized. In my self-protection, I became the villain. As a teenager I lived on the wild side. I was always the life of the party…but full of bitterness and very self-destructive.

After spiraling down so far my very existence was nearly wiped out, God arranged a meeting for me with Jesus during Senior Church Camp. My presence in that camp alone was nothing but a miracle. But, deep down in that vacuum hole, I wanted freedom from the torment in my soul. I couldn’t comprehend God’s love at the time, but I sensed there was a God somewhere out there that was unlike the picture man had modeled before me.

After having my first baby, I spent the next several years trying to “work” my way to forgiveness… and acceptance. Eventually, I hated myself for being religious too. Then, in the late 90′s, while keeping up appearances on the outside, my soul fell into a deep dark hole. There was no way I was going to live. Of course, there was not going to be a suicide (for I could not have my kids live with that picture), but death is what I felt I deserved. I was self-destructive…again. Life was not worth living. I felt like a failure to everyone…especially my father. Through a series of events, the Lord broke through my bondage, and allowed me to see myself the way He sees me…not the ugly way I saw me…or the critical way the world saw me. The morning I was at the end, I scribbled these words…

My feet brush soft grass, stillness fills damp air.
Bones lie six feet under, no hope for a prayer.
 
The passion for love is lost in life’s yesterday.
The gravedigger rests as dreams and hope decay.
 
Existence disappears, waters rage in life’s sin.
Innocent dreams are dead. Wrongs are silent within.

That very afternoon, I literally saw the Lord’s hands reach out to me with his nail scarred piercings (this was before the movie, Passion of the Christ!). I realized He really did want to forgive me, and accepted me just as he did the woman at the well. But I had to forgive those who destroyed me. And, more important, I had to forgive me, and to accept His forgiveness for all my failings. The Lord was able to calm my heart and let me know we really are “fearfully and wonderfully made” . When no one else knew me, knew my dark secrets, the Lord saw me when I was yet unformed…and loved me. I don’t understand how, but when I released my hurt, bitterness, and anger, the Holy Spirit filled my empty soul with love and endless joy!

Isaiah 54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote down my journey after God rescued me from that dark pit…

My Journey

A tiny infant cries, for comfort from the womb.
     Through pain and agony, innocence fills the room.
A child peacefully plays, her tender smile displayed.
     Ignorance surrounds her, a carefree life portrayed.

She tastes the sin of those, who take for their own will.
     Her chastity obscured; her innocence to kill.
Rejected and alone, the pain she tries to hide.
     Embarrassment and shame, she buries deep inside.

Desperate to escape, destruction is her life.
     Hope and love are lost to bitterness and strife.
Weeping for lost passion; tormented in her soul.
     Severed from affection; still longing to be whole.

Two hands with nail-scarred stain wait gently for her call.
     Longing to bring healing, if she would give her all.
Lost deep in dark despair, with sorrow for her sin.
     She opens up her soul, and reaches out to him.

Quietly a small spark, burns deep inside her soul,
    reminding her dead heart, Christ’s love makes one whole.
Forgiveness she has found, from one whose life He gave,
     for those who least deserve, the grace He gives to save.

The life He gave for all, cleansed her pain and sin,
     washing her white as snow, giving new life within.
A smile is in her heart. Christ’s love has healed her scars.
     As joy delights her soul, new life shines bright as stars!!

Me~

Life after that day was not perfect nor without pain. I still ended up with a few shattered relationships, and live with the consequences of my past. But I know who I am in Christ. I finally have God’s perspective, purpose, and hope. Psalm 27:10 says though even my parents do not accept me, I have peace knowing that God accepts me, and makes me His own! He also said in Isaiah 54 that I was like a wife who married young, only to be rejected…and He brought me back with deep compassion! The Lord almighty is my redeemer and He is my husband. He really is a God of Restoration. In Isaiah 61, He bound up my broken heart, gave me freedom from captivity, released me from the darkness, gave me beauty for ashes, and restored my soul! There is NO pit too dark that His light cannot shine through!

 

Psalm 27.10 

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