Tag Archives: Family

Pondering the Why of Suffering

When Jesus and his disciples encountered the man born blind as recorded in John 9, the disciples wanted to know why he’d been born blind. Was it the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that had caused this tragedy?

Why me? Why her? It’s a question we all ask in the face of tragedy and suffering. I know I do. Why did my mom have cancer not once, but three times? Why did her dad die of cancer when she was only 14? Why did my sister die of cancer at only 61?

Why was I raped by someone I thought I could trust when I was only 14? Why was I faced with the impossible situation of a teen pregnancy because of being raped again when I was only 17? Was all this tragedy ordained by God to make me the person I am today? Would I have been less compassionate and more judgmental if I’d never experienced all the suffering I have?

I have a friend who is a Christian and yet she lacks empathy and compassion. Her words reveal the pride and judgment of others that flow from her heart. She hasn’t experienced the trauma I have or anything close to it as far as I can tell. I wonder if I would have been just like her—legalistic and critical—if I’d been spared the fertile soil of suffering that mercy needs to grow.

Or perhaps my suffering and my mother’s suffering are God’s punishment for the sins of her parents, my grandparents, or even earlier generations. There is certainly scripture to support the conclusion that God punishes the children for the sins of the parents even to multiple generations.

Then again, my own suffering may have been the result of my own sin. The first time I was raped happened in large part because I disobeyed my parents and hung out with the guy who did it. And after that it was one sin after another that led to more suffering.

I’ll probably never know why this side of Heaven. I can speculate until I’m blue in the face and never know for sure. So perhaps it’s most profitable to stop asking why and focus on the next part of the story of the man born blind.

Jesus answers His disciples, saying that the man was born blind that God might be glorified. Then He heals the man. He gives the man who had never seen so much as a blade of grass full sight. He took the man’s utter darkness and gave him light.

He did the same for me and that’s what matters. He healed my brokenness that He might be glorified. I’ll admit that there are days when even that answer can cause tears of anger to well up in my eyes. Couldn’t there have been an easier way for God to be glorified than for me to struggle under the weight of multiple traumas?

Then I remember the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into jail by Pharaoh for a betrayal he didn’t commit, and then ultimately raised to a position of power in Egypt. When his brothers came to him for food in time of famine, fearing he would punish them for the wrong they had committed against him, Joseph responded: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV).

I ponder that perhaps God intended the harm that has befallen me for good, to accomplish great things for Him. This helps me let go of the “why” questions and focus on where I can encourage others who have been through similar circumstances and haven’t yet found His healing light. Perhaps I can even be used by God to save many lives.

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You Cannot Grow Peace from Murder

I read a post by Anne Lamott on Facebook the other day regarding the Women’s March. I kept coming back to one line: “You cannot grow tulips from zucchini seeds, or peace from murder.” Today this thought continues to resonate in my heart and soul as I see so many friends posting in support of the march. It resonates because I am confused at the inconsistency of this statement and the position of the organizers and sponsors of the Women’s March that is decidedly in favor of murder, and yet believe that from it they can grow peace.

Or maybe it’s not really peace they want, but power. Power can be a very attractive temptation.

In case you hadn’t heard, several groups were originally listed as sponsors of the Women’s March, but were removed when the organizers found out that they were pro-life. The removal of New Wave Feminists and a pregnancy crisis center from Idaho were reported by Christianity Today. Had they remained on the sponsor list, showing that all women were welcome, I would support the March as well. But it was clear that the Women’s March was not meant to be inclusive of all women.

Remaining on the sponsor list are Planned Parenthood and NARAL (the National ABORTION Rights Action League). Neither of these organizations care about anything but maintaining the status quo in which unborn girls (and boys) are murdered in our country on a daily basis. My personal experience is that they do not care about the long-term affects of abortion on the women they serve. They only care about their profit margin.

In 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided by the nine male justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, medical technology did not allow us to see inside the womb. But now, 44 years later, there have been significant advances in medical technology that allow us to see the developing child. There can no longer be any doubt that abortion murders an unborn child.

In addition, after 44 years of legal abortion, during which time millions of women have murdered their own children, we have learned that there are significant adverse affects on the women themselves. Organizations like Silent No More Awareness and the Facebook group Shout Your Abortion Regret attest to the millions of women, like me, who believed the lie that abortion is only about our own bodies. We live with the pain and regret of a decision we cannot undo. But perhaps, if we speak up in spite of our shame and share our regret, we can save other women from the same fate. We were told that having an abortion would bring us peace. But you can’t grow peace from murder.

It saddens me that the best our society has to offer women facing the prospect of having a child they can’t afford is to have an abortion. Why don’t we offer assistance in raising the child or in finding an adoptive family? Are we so convinced that women are so weak that they can’t handle having and raising a child in spite of difficult circumstances? When we say we want women to have the equal right to have it all, do we mean only if they’re willing to sacrifice their child? Is abortion—is murder—the best we have to offer? Is the right to murder your child really worth marching for? I once thought it was, but I was wrong.

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Silent Whisper

I hear her whisper in the darkness
Sometimes in the light
I hear her giggle from beneath
the frilly dresses at Costco
Can I have one, Mommy?

She’s not really there
I silenced her voice
thirty-five years ago
But Jesus whispers, She’s with me

______________________________

For Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub the word of the day is whisper. Head on over and check out the many Quadrilles offered by the regulars and maybe some newcomers.

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It Curls and Swirls

Tendrils of cigarette smoke
swirl up to my bunk
curl in the air
it stunk

So I’d twirl the crank
open the tiny window
breathe fresh air
through the dusty
musty screen
it stunk

But not as bad
as Old Gold
bare butt smoke

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I missed the first Quadrille Monday of the year at dVerse Poets Pub because we were travelling and I didn’t have time. But I read the prompt and the idea of a short poem using the word “curl” has been swirling in my mind ever since. I decided I’d catch up with Open Link Night

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The Saving Grace of Jello

I don’t really know what cancer is, but mom’s in the hospital having surgery because she has it. I think that’s what Aunt Barb had and she died. I hope mom doesn’t die, too.

We’re visiting her today. She might be ready to come home, but I’m not sure. I hope so. She’s in a nice private hospital. Her room is almost homey with wood trim and soft lighting, not sterile like a typical hospital room. She’s sitting up in bed, propped up with pillows behind her. Her noon meal sits half eaten on the portable tray; she was always a slow eater, but this hospital food seems to have caused her to pick even more than usual. I climb up on the bed next to her and eye what’s left. “Can I have your Jello?” I ask. A half smile crosses her lips as she reckons I can help her clean her plate. “I have to eat it all before I can go home,” she says.

I wasn’t there the last time she went into the hospital. That time it was colon cancer. No one called to tell me she’d been admitted again or how bad it was, so I wasn’t there to eat her Jello. Maybe if I had been she could have come home again.

Rays of summer sun
Overshadowed by dark pall
Cancer beckons death

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It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and guest host Lady Nyo is calling for haibuns involving a childhood memory. If it was May or August, I might have conjured up a happy memory to share. But it’s January and I’m missing my mom so this is what I’ve got for today.

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Her Hideous Scar

Once I saw her without her shirt or bra
revealing the scar where her surgeon
first took her diseased breast then
sloppily gathered excess skin in a
quick running stitch of sutures
leaving her hideously deformed

It’s no wonder I seldom saw her smile

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De is running the show at dVerse Poets Pub today for Quadrille Monday where the word of the day is scar. The pub opens at noon PST so head on over and check out some of the great 44-word poems offered by patrons today.

My poem today is a rewrite of part of a description of my mom that I wrote this past week in my writing group.

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Missing You

It never leaves
the pain, the heartache
of losing one so dear

Or one who should have been dear
but for youth and shame
that kept me
from truly knowing
and being known by you

I hid so much from you
I didn’t let you be there for me
as a mom should be

It’s not your fault
I know that now
but then I was afraid
I would disappoint you

Even at 23 your love
seemed scarce
but was only hidden
behind my own doubts and fears

If you were here today
I would tell you how much I love you
I’d share the love of Jesus with you
tell you how He opened my eyes
to your love that I could never see

I would celebrate with you
I’d make you your favorite pecan pie
with fresh whipped cream for your birthday
just as you always made my favorite
lemon meringue for my birthday
We’d marvel that you made it 90 years

But you didn’t, so we won’t
I’ll just miss you like I always do

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Shared for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Head on over and see what others have to share.

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Endless Roller Coaster

It occurred to me the other day
that I’m on a roller coaster ride
The Cyclone on Coney Island perhaps
or Goliath at Six Flags

I chug up the hill on encouragements
Your story needs to be told
You are such a good writer
I love your perspective
You are so brave

I reach the top, elated and determined
Ready to conquer all my doubts and fears
Ready to write my memoir
and tell my story to the world

Then comes the drop, racing downhill
at breakneck speed to the bottom
to unconquered doubt and fears
No one cares about your story
You’re no Mary Karr or Maya Angelou
You can’t let people know everything about you
What will your family think?
You must be crazy, just give up now

Then just this morning I realized
if I was on a roller coaster ride
it would be over by now
because they only last about two minutes

Guess I’ll get back in line for another ride

_____________________

Sharing for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

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Meanwhile

This is a little vignette I wrote in response to a prompt during my memoir class with Sarah Thebarge. (I learned so much from her.) The prompt was to think about the resolution of our story arc and write about what other things were happening “meanwhile.”
———

Meanwhile, Benton laughed, his infectious smile and unmistakeable dimple brightening every room. He did need me. And I needed him.

He’s my only child, my only living child, and he’s growing every day. We watch Looney Toons together and giggle. He notices, even at two years old, when the animator makes a slight mistake. For two or three frames Elmer Fudd’s hat is the wrong direction; for a fraction of a second Bugs Bunny stands beside a sign with the words lined up differently than the frame before. He sees so much that I do not and opens my eyes to possibilities I never dreamed of.

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I decided to share this for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today. It’s not really a poem, but some of what I’ve learned at dVerse about concrete language in poetry is incorporated in this little vignette that will likely appear somewhere in my memoir when I finish it.

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A Dog’s Summer Vacation

I love vacation because I get to spend more time with my mom and dad. Even if a lot of that time is riding in the back seat of the car. Eventually we get out and I get to hang out while they eat their picnic lunch and share pieces of pastrami and chicken with me. Yum! Then we head off on a trail. I’ve never been on such a long hike before, at least not that I can remember. And it’s hot out! I keep trying to sneak into a cool ravine, but they pull on my leash and say, “Stay on the trail, silly dog.” I see a chipmunk run across the trail ahead and I want to chase it, but that darn leash stops me. I do hope we get to the end of this trail soon. This is a long hike for an old dog like me. I need a drink and a nap. Oh, but first a dip in the cool lake.

Summer vacation
Hiking near lava rock flows
Fun, tiring outing

Roman after a long hike

Roman after a long hike

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I’m finally getting around to posting for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, where Toni is calling for us to write about the dog days of summer.

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