Friday, April 10, 2015

My New Blog...

Though still fresh and under construction, I've moved my blog HERE at Wordpress. Can't get much easier to find me there if you'd like. Or if you might have someone in mind who maybe needs to read such words (and may like to share too), I'd love to interact with them. ... Yep. This is my new address. 

Will you join me? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Palm Fronds through Window Panes

I didn't make the connection...

until this week. I'm surprised, to be honest, because if you know me, I'm all about the symbolic. I love metaphorical words, hidden meanings, and allegory. I inhale veiled nuance deep. Penned or printed words on a page are a feast for the eyes, but the story beneath the words is the undercurrent of flavor and aroma, layers of texture, beckons me into cascades of emotion.

C. S. Lewis wrote to J.R.R. Tolkien on December 7, 1929:

“The two things that came out clearly were the sense of reality in the background and the mythical value: the essence of myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggest incipient allegories to the reader."

But first the story of palm fronds...

And hidden places.

My mom's bedroom was caddy corner from the room I shared with my little brother. A narrow wall separated the two, but it might as well have been a chasm deep with only faint echoes of the other side. 

He took me there when the house was empty...

"Sharen, I'll be gone with your Grammy today, but your grandpa wants to take you to the country club. I'm sure he'll buy you a soda..." A rare treat. 

I wanted to flee, with no where to go. 

"Can't I go with you and Grammy?" I pleaded. "l'll be good. I promise."

She assured me I'd be much happier at the country club with my grandpa. My unrelenting pleas to go with her finally led to a stern rebuke. 

"You're going with your grandpa." 

“You can sit in the front seat with me, Sweetie. Say goodbye to Mommy...” 

The glint in my grandfather's eye scared me. I didn't yet know what evil was, but felt every bit of this nameless thing as it crept up my spine, unfurling fear, landing with a thud in the pit of my stomach. 

As promised, we went to the country club where I followed my grandpa and his friends around the course. I busied myself by learning the names of different golf clubs and counting the number of strokes it took to reach each hole. My grandpa even let me put the numbers down on the scorecard. And his friends were so nice, happy to have their friend’s granddaughter tag along. One of them brought me a root beer (my favorite) from the clubhouse halfway through their game. I wondered what it would be like if he were my grandpa instead. Would he touch me too? Like that? 

And then it was time to go home…

The club wasn’t far from my grandparents’ house, and when we arrived no one was home.

“Can we go to my school to play on the playground?” I was scared to be at home with him by myself. I didn’t want to sit in that chair with him when no one was home, knowing Mom wouldn’t be calling for me to get ready for bed soon. The sun was bright in the sky and bedtime was hours away.

“Sure. But I need to run inside for a bit. We’ll go in for just a few minutes, okay?” Satisfied it wouldn’t be long, I took his hand and we walked into the house together. We didn’t go to the den, but to my mother’s bedroom.

“I’ll take you to the school to play in just a bit, but first, I want to show you how much I love you. I love you so much. So so much. You’re my favorite. Did you know that?” His voice was gravelly. Hushed. “All grandpas show love to their granddaughters like this. Here, let me show you.  And when he laid me on the floor, my eyes focused on the palm fronds just outside the large picture window. 


yet I focused with all my strength on those palm fronds. The light danced across the green as the breeze moved them in waves across the sky. My hiding place. A shelter for my spirit. I found a sense of solace there, just beyond the the paned glass window. 

Palm Sunday and the story beneath my story...

"On the first day, you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook" (Lev. 23:40), and "You shall live in booths send days; all the citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt." (Lev. 23:42-43)

Symbolically, these fragile booths, covered with plant material, such as palm leaves, represented temporary shelter meant to protect His people during their time as slaves and as they roamed the wilderness for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. 

The allegory isn't lost to me...

Though the pain and struggle were real. Though I was battered and broken, somehow the jade palm fronds called my spirit to a place of shelter. 

My hiding place.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Dream that Changed my Forever

The blanket Mom made for my baby

Nine years old and broken...

like Thumbelina, my favorite baby doll. I pulled her string and she barely moved. I held her close to calm her fears, but nothing I did could make her awaken to my love. I swaddled her in the baby blanket my mom had sewn for her, and pulled her close. And I sang...

Rock-a-bye, baby,
On the tree top.
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall.
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all. 

I thought about the falling cradle, and pulled her closer to my heart. Broken and raggedy, still I loved her. Gentle, I swept her unkept strawberry blonde hair to the side. 

I'll never let you fall. 

Fear-filled every night...

blankets pulled clear up to my chin. Eyes closed. Frozen. I thought if I didn't move when he touched me, he would leave me to sleep, and sweep strawberry blonde hair gentle off my face. Maybe he would swaddle me gentle and tender. Maybe he would sing over me.

But his touch was of a wholly different kind. And pain joined my fear many times over. 

I wanted to die...

and every night, I thought about how I could just stop breathing. Vague memories of Dad telling me that Grandma had died and gone to Heaven taunted me with the possibility of escape. I pulled Thumbelina closer, and tucked her baby blanket tight under her chin. 

One night...

as I slept sound, I woke, not with a start, not abrupt and fearful, but serene. My body, mind, and spirit wrapped in tranquil warmth. Familiar surroundings eluded me as I was in an altogether different place.

Even now, I'm asking for God's words to flow a near close description of this place. I can only say that my presence there was something other than life here. Certainly other from life I knew as a deeply wounded, frightened child.

Fervent Love, radiant Light, peace-FILLED Presence. No fear, no pain. I belonged. His Presence was pure white, brilliant Light all around Him, through Him, from Him. The details of His face were veiled in Holy resplendence. Yet, even that was right.

I was loved. Truly. Completely. Eternally. 


When He spoke, His words didn't come audibly to my ears. They came as a whisper to my heart. 

You have to go back. It is not time. 

I responded not with words, but as He had spoken to me. My heart was begging. 

Please let me stay. I don't want to go back. I want to stay here with You.

His encompassing Presence didn't waver, but His Heart came to me again. 

I'm not finished with you yet. You have work to do. 

Again, my heart beseeched Him. 

Please, I want to stay. 

I woke in my bed...

and still the peace of His Presence lingered. I met the One Who loves me Eternal. Though I didn't yet know His Name, I spoke to Him each night until sleep finally came. I didn't hear any whispers to my heart as before, yet I knew He was with me. Somehow. 

Please help me sleep. Please help me not be afraid. Please.

Over and over again, I uttered these words in my mind. And when my grandpa came to hurt me, I somehow (a miracle, I'll never understand) found solace in silent conversations with this One who made His glorious presence known. Somehow, there was a sliver of safety there. I can't explain it. The physical agony, the emotional suffering, the shattered spirit of me, a raggedy, abused little girl had the tiniest of seeds planted into her being by the One Who loved her true. Through six years of torment, this hidden seed was my life preserver. I clung tight when I thought I would break. I felt its grip tight around me when I was sure to perish. 

Sharing the sacred...

here in this place for anyone to see is hard. There are those, I'm sure, who will find my words difficult to believe. I don't know why He chose to make Himself known to me in this manner, and have only voiced this sacred encounter with a select few trusted friends and family members. My intention was to keep this experience sheltered inside, guarded from the reproach of anyone who might tell me I foolishly misinterpreted a childish dream. 

But now, I am compelled to tell. And I'm willing to risk the consequence of naysayers. This is my story, and I'm sharing the sacred with my truest voice. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Father, Daughter Dance

Daddy will be here...

I know he will be. 

"You look so pretty, Share." She finished the ponytail with a slight pull and turned me toward the mirror. "You're all ready now." 

I know he'll come. He has too! 

"This dress looks so pretty on you. You're grandpa is going to love it too. Wait until you see him. He's all dressed up for your special night." 

But Daddy's taking me to the dance. He'll be here. He'll knock at the door in a few minutes, just in time. 

"Wait here a minute now. I'll tell you when to come out." She said. I waited for the knock at the front door when she stepped out. I leaned close to the door so I wouldn't miss it. "Come on out, Sharen!" 

Just because I didn't hear the front door open, doesn't mean he's not here. 

Eyes to my feet, I walked slow into the living room. "You're going to be the most beautiful girl at the dance tonight," he said. 

It's not Daddy's voice. It's his. 

"Shall we?" He reached for my hand, and I did the only thing I knew I could do. I put my hand in his, and he walked me to the car. 

"Have fun tonight!" I heard my mom's voice behind me, though barely. Her words pushed  through the reverberation of my silent cry. 

And so it went every year...

I finally gave up on the dream of Daddy showing up for Father, Daughter Dances, and accepted my grandpa as his substitute. At least he couldn't hurt me while we were at school. We were simply a normal grandfather and his granddaughter. Only not.

(As an aside... I would share a picture of my grandpa and me, but during my healing years, as an act of setting healthy boundaries, I got rid of every single photo of him. I'll share this story soon)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Peek into the Nearer Present

As I tell this story...

a glimpse of spring appears, and touches of ruby-tipped cocoons emerge upon newly hatched ruddy leaves. Petals wrapped safe in blankets of green test the slightest glow of the sun and begin their dance of unfolding. Each fragile layer emerges, one after the other, until the rose opens radiant. 

And so it is as I reveal my story. The beginning... the only place to ever start any telling. 

Yet, I'm reminded, today is decades beyond, and I must interrupt the flow of telling to allow you a glimpse of the here and now. 

Because a few have expressed concern that I haven't healed, that only now the wounds of childhood abuse were opening, I must, for this post, defer to nearer present years, to tell a story of restoration. 


It's true. She didn't believe me the first time I told her about the touching. And it's true, she dismissed my experience as a figment of my imagination. She did nothing to protect me. Instead, she turned away from her little girl (from me), refusing to hear the ugly truth of her daughter's pain. 

Until many years later. 

I was 29 years old, married, with three children of my own. My oldest, a daughter, had turned eight. Her smile, her infectious giggles... her precious innocence. How could anyone be so cruel as to take that away? My little girl's age triggered the raggedy girl inside of me. 

This confrontation happened months into my healing journey...

"Mom, I have share something with you. You didn't believe me the first time, and you may choose to not believe me again. The choice is yours. But I need to tell you now because I'm doing the work of healing in my life. I've already confronted Grandpa, and he is aware that I am telling you." The words spilled out without pause. Stopping their flow, however brief, could have halted the momentum. She had to know. And I had to tell...

...again. Will she believe me this time? 

"I remember. I'm so sorry. I remember." Her voice raspy through tears. 

She remembers.

Her words, though far too late to change the damage already inflicted through six years of sexual abuse, ushered in an emotional balm of sorts. 

She believes me...

And our relationship healed in time, as I did. Our bond was unbreakable until cancer took her from Earth into Eternity. 

Mom... Do you promise you'll be there when it's my turn? 

I promise. 

She promised. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Safe to Cry Here

Moving between a fresh manuscript and this blog post...

I'm desperately trying to tell my story plain here, to speak in my truest voice. And I will. Yet even now, shame approaches, unwelcome, unbidden. It is expected. Embarrassment swells, slow and painful. Senses heighten, warning me to stop the telling. 

"Please stop!" I hear her innocent voice pleading within. "Don't tell them! Please!" 

I know why the telling is challenged. Her story allows other true voices to speak. And so once again, I sweep the little one, this broken, weeping, raggedy girl into my arms. I brush tears away as they fall, hers and mine. I hold her close. And together we tell. 

But first...

This is why her story, my story, was locked in a secret place for so long. Too long. Trembling with fear, my first attempt to tell left me crushed and hopeless. I remember the voice of disbelief. I remember the reprimand. 

"Mommy, how come Grandpa hurts me every night?" I searched for her response, waiting for ... something. I watched her wet a washcloth to wipe the cold cream off of her face. She paused for the briefest moment and then...


Did she hear me? 

So I added to my confession. "He touches me here." I pointed to my chest. "And here." I lowered my tiny hand to further portray my grandfather's offense. I gazed from my small hand into my mother's eyes. Tears welled, I felt them there, full and ready to flood. My posture moved slight to ready for her embrace sure to come. 

How I needed that embrace. I needed her to hold me and tell me everything would be okay. I won't let him touch you ever again, the words I heard in my young, innocent heart. Words sure to come. 

She'll protect me now. I'm safe.

Only she didn't. 

Fury shown in her blue eyes. And the tears in my own vanished as I faced an unfamiliar rage. I backed away, and turned to wipe any remnant of moisture away. Quickly now, before she sees.

"Look at me!" I turned to face a mother I did not expect, one I did not know. An introduction to one I trusted, yet no longer. No more. "You're imagining things! Never, NEVER say anything like that again!" 

I never mentioned it again.

Not for a very long time. 

If only I could have told her then...

yet I'm telling this innocent child within (as I've told her over the past years). You were all kinds of brave to speak true. The bravest little girl I've ever met. So, I hold her once again, comforting the secret pain of the revealing. I brush away tears that never fell. She is safe to cry here. 

You are safe here, little one. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Years Long Broken Goodbye

I remember goodbye...

Over and over again. But I especially remember the fracture that took a whole and made it half. Sundays. Mom said we could visit Dad on Sundays (or was it every other Sunday?). Where did Daddy go anyway? No one told me he was leaving. Why doesn't Daddy live here anymore? 

And so my little brother and I would climb into the backseat of our father's sedan once a week (or every other), and drive away from our mom's house - the home we previously shared with both of our parents. I remember driving away from our mother with a kiss and a hug. And a vague memory of our home slipping from view as we pulled away. 

Broken goodbyes, leaving Mommy. And then leaving Daddy.

And then came the violent shattering...

Two halves no longer, but lives broken into a million pieces. Slivers scattered invisible, like traces of glass left after an unexpected spill. Unnoticeable, until a tiny fragment embeds deep into the sole mid-stride. Acute, shocking, unexpected pain. 

I don't remember anyone telling me we were leaving. Not until that evening. Mom took us to say goodbye to our aunt and uncle. My mom and Aunt Pat were particularly close sisters-in-law. I don't remember much about the visit, but I remember leaving. Dad arrived to drive my brother and me home from there... So he could say goodbye to us too. 

I remember hot tears...

sliding down my face. I'd only seen my dad cry one time before - when he told me my grandma had gone to Heaven. He comforted me then with words of hope. She's with Jesus. You'll see her again one day. But this time, his tears fell hopeless.

My stomach reeled with each sway and bump of the car. I'm going to be sick. He pulled the car to the side of the road. He got out, opened my door, and helped me out. In the night, my dad picked me up and held me until waves of nausea abated. I clung tight to my dad's neck. I don't want to go! Will I ever see you again? But he eventually put me back in the car and took me home.

Palm trees loomed large...

above my grandparents' car as they drove us to their house, a new school, a new room with two twin beds  (my brother and I shared). A room void of toys, makeshift enough for two young children to sleep, but little else. Our mom slept in a room next to us, and we all shared the hallway bathroom. My grandparents occupied the master bed and bath in the front of the house. 

What happened in this home, stayed in this home for many years. In the darkest recesses of my little girl heart. I tried to speak in my truest voice. Once, and never again. Until many years later. 

And now I'm writing publicly for the first time...

and writing with my truest voice. I'll end here for today. But you need to know, I would not be here, telling my story if it weren't for God's intervention. And it is for that reason alone I share here, in this very humble place - a blog I deserted years ago. 

I thought I was finished writing. 

I did. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Storm of Another Kind

Following a late night storm...

we awoke to a new tomorrow. My memory of the next day only comes in small mindful glances. But I remember the debris and a gaping hole in a roof down the road. I heard whispered conversations of a twister. And though I was too young to understand what a tornado was, I knew it was scary thing. 

I knew it came with thunderstorms...

and we lived in The Midwest in Belleville, Illinois. Raucous thunderstorms rattled windows spring, summer and fall, and lit the skies with lightening displays that brightened the darkest nights. I remember hallways full of children, each one of us with one forearm over our eyes as we leaned into the walls. The other arm over the back of our heads as much as we were able, shielding ourselves from debris if a funnel decided drop its tail from the sky and crash through the school roof. And when the sirens screamed all clear, we lined up (each of us trembling) and walked obediently back to our classrooms, thankful the ceilings were still in tact. 

2:00 in the morning!

My eyes startled wide open, adjusting to the dark room. And I heard it again, "Do you know what time it is?" The yelling, screaming from the kitchen. "Where were you?" I crept from my bed into the hallway near to where my parents yelled loud and frightful. My heart beat faster at every word hurled furious between them. I peered around the doorjamb, the very moment hands met faces hard and jarring. I turned and ran back to my room, leaped into my bed, and pulled the covers over my head. Yelling, slamming doors, more yelling... Please stop...

When I was barely eight...

Mom moved my brother and me to Southern California, land of orange groves, strawberries, Disney, and long stretches of sandy beaches. And if thunder ever rumbled, it was vague and unobtrusive. My heart learned to rest at the sound of rain in this place.

Yet another storm was fast approaching. This one, far worse than I could have ever dreamed. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

A Breath and a Prayer

Before the telling...

Here's the thing. This is hard. Truest voice telling is daunting. Yet, I believe truth-speaking (and hearing) reaches into the furthest depths of souls who yearn to give of and live without hesitation their authentic selves.  I'm reticent to say I've always lived with full disclosure. Yet I would say I've longed unceasingly to do so. But what would others think? And for all intents and purposes, I wonder the same now. In this place. Here. With you. 

But this is a part of my journey. And I am not afraid. 

But once upon a time, I was...

Afraid. My first memory of being afraid crashed into my life with sudden ferocity. I was four (or five). And I was sleeping sweet until he rushed in, swept me up, and bound down the attic stairway. I clung to his neck as he swept through the main floor, and dashed down another set of stairs into the basement. He tucked me underneath a table in the corner of that damp room on top of a makeshift pallet, and beckoned me to sing with him. 

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me...

My mom must have been there too, but I can't remember seeing her. The only memory I "feel" is fear. The only sight I carry in my mind of that night is that of my dad's face. The fear written there. Songs and prayers filled with panic and doubt. 

Fear broke through...

And held fast for years to come. If I could only comfort the little one I was then. If I could hold her and sing to her, mother her. If I could open the door to her the night I woke to my first nightmare. "Go back to bed, Sharen. You're not coming in here." Tears fell silent outside my parents' door for what I remember to be hours (but who knows how long). Exhausted, no longer able to stand, I walked, quiet and reluctant, back to my own bed. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Truest Voice

Only now am I more consistently recognizing my real voice...

because I'm finally learning to speak with it again. So many years I've "tried on" the voices of others, seeing if they may possibly be a better fit than my own... and because I learned not trust mine. 

I tried to speak my truest voice...

in the most important of times, when it mattered. All of it matters always. I spoke my voice, but it was ignored or torn by other voices around me. Voices I should have been able to trust. Voices of those who could have and should have protected, nurtured. Voices that instead flippantly cast my words aside without regard. Voices that said, "don't talk and never ever tell."

A layer grew thick until it enveloped my heart... 

and the journey beyond the loss of my voice only served to wrap the layer tighter. Suffocating. Self-protecting. Until my truest voice hid in the deep, shackled by fear. The great intruder. 

My truest voice attempted to speak on occasion...

and a few stopped to hear. Truly, some listened. And some understood. Yet still others did not. And they tore. Again. And the shroud pulled tight over my heart, soul-shredded once again. 

Yet an holy intended fissure unnoticed among the chaotic shredding waited...

as a seed grows purposeful, emerging through the bramble, forging a path to the sun. 

My truest voice...

broke through the fissure at His Calling. 

My beloved spoke and said to me,
    “Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.”

Proverbs 2:10-13 (NIV)

Monday, February 9, 2015


after a two year sleep (longer if you count my time away from here)...

or so it seems. I'm a bit groggy and stretching as far as my body and mind will allow. Putting one foot in front of another, slow and a bit unsteady. Yet surprisingly, I move forward. 

This blog entry is a step. A tenuous one. One that creates a bit of anxiety in me. This was so easy to do before. Words flowing from deep within, spilling into this place. Sharing so vulnerably, no hesitation. But that was before. 

I lost my voice. The truest sense of my voice...

and I think I may be finding it again. As I speak (write), something is different. My voice has changed. The tone, clarity, volume. The sounds are peculiar, yet they beckon.

I think I'll linger in this place awhile...

and explore the newness of this. I think I like the distinct sound of this truer self, this new melody I'm just beginning to learn. 

I don't know if anyone else is listening...

but it's okay if I'm lingering alone. In the still quiet, my heart and my soul gently awaken. And I'm listening.

God is here. He is speaking. And I am leaning in to hear every Word.