Feminism and Submission: Kinky Coexistence #BOAW2018

In the last couple of years there has been a huge resurgence of attention and activism placed on feminism and women’s rights. We’ve had coordinated women’s rights marches, much more discussion around equality in pay, education, and career opportunities.

Yes, as a group we’ve become loud and proud, creating campaigns like #metoo and “Fight Like a Girl” designed to encourage our fellow woman to speak out and share in solidarity to the female sisterhood.

Even in movies we’ve been a force to be reckoned with….bringing out badasses and heroes like Arya, Khaleesi, Rey and Wonder Woman… and other movies like Black Panther and Hidden Figures where the women were strong, smart, and powerful. And this is all amazing. Really!

But I wonder sometimes if, in our battle for equality and power, we’ve lost some sensitivity and somehow managed to push others in our sisterhood into a deeper closet…made them doubt themselves and their acceptance in our new, fierce world.

Submission in a time where we’re calling on the badass women must be so difficult. I mean, living in the often highly misunderstood BDSM world is already tough. They already get the whole…blah, blah, blah…”abuse”,….blah, blah, blah…”Stockholm syndrome” crap from people with no understanding of the “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” lifestyle.

But now, when we’re talking about powerful women, I’m sure that there are many women fighting against their nature because somehow submission in this new world (not that it wasn’t already there a little bit) might make them seem weak or the ‘unfeminist.’ Or maybe their sisters will think maybe they’re not living up to their gender/power roles and are somehow encouraging female oppression, either silently make them feel like an insult or embarrassment to the cause, or outright say it…because they don’t understand.

And they’d be WRONG!

“A submissive is free to do whatever they desire, whenever they desire. Yet even with all their freedom, they choose to kneel. That is why submission is so beautiful.” ~ Unknown

My first contribution to Beauty of a Woman GirlBoner edition was Sacred Sexuality. At that time, I discussed my thoughts about being both a Christian and kinky. Why do I bring it up? Because I believe there’s something pretty sacred about the power exchange, too. Heck, people like to throw around the “wives submit unto your husbands” verses as a reason NOT to embrace Christianity, but I believe they don’t fully understand (or choose not to) the difference between submission and subjugation. Plus, the scriptures also say submit to each other, so it also doesn’t limit itself as a one way path down a gender specific street. Pronouns CAN be exchanged, in my opinion.

“The idea of submission is never meant to allow someone to overstep another’s boundaries. Submission only has meaning in the context of boundaries, for boundaries promote self-control and freedom. If a woman is not free and in control of herself, she is not submitting anyway. She is a slave subject to a slave driver, and she is out of the will of God.” ~ Henry Cloud

Submission is a physical, emotional, and mental act of consciously and deliberately giving oneself over into the loving care of another. Far from weak, it’s one of the hardest things to do, and only the strongest of soul and purpose is capable of giving up so much trust and placing it into a worthy Dominant’s hands.

“Fight for freedom when someone suppresses you.. Be submissive when someone gives freedom for you.” Shivaranjani Murugesan

I think that probably speaks to the strength, beauty , and power of submission pretty well. It takes a strong, self aware woman to willingly and knowingly walk this path. Isn’t that also what being a feminist is about? Knowing and understanding your needs and fearlessly reaching out and grabbing it? Being a trailblazer on a road less travelled? Knowing your true self and knowing what it takes to make yourself happy, then fearlessly reaching out for it, screw the voice of public opinion?

I mean, there’s something exquisitely beautiful about BDSM… It works because there’s an honesty to the relationship that you won’t find in many places. They realize that no one gets through life without a few wounds and scars, fears and insecurity. And it’s about building such a strong foundation in honesty and communication that you don’t hide the realest, ugliest parts of you. Because somehow, in the give and take that happens in such a surrender, they want those parts of you, too…and help you learn to accept and love even those darker parts of your soul that make you uniquely you. And it’s true on both sides of the relationship.

“I want the parts you’ve tried to throw away. The parts you were convinced no one could love.” ~ unknown

To me, the fearless strength a submissive has…to take their power and willingly, knowingly hand it over to someone worthy…well, if that’s not both powerful woman and feminist, I don’t know what is. It’s scary, sure. Misunderstood by many, absolutely. But true to your inner self? A beacon of strength that leaves many a Dominant in awe and grateful for the amazing gift? How could they not be?

Submissive, please don’t let yourself be stifled, squashed, or afraid because of the feminist message. YOU are the embodiment of EVERYTHING that makes a woman both powerful and a survivor.

Be fearlessly you!

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, click HERE. on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

Sending you all Love and Empowerment!

Lost, Broken, or Hope? Which Are You?

My heart hurts today. I just can’t sit here and say nothing. Am I the only one who feels it lately? All this hate, rage, toxicity oozing out of social media?

Can you not feel its destructiveness to your bones? I can.

There’s already so much pain and desolation and fear in the world. Must we really rabidly spew more hate into it? For the first time in a long time I hid someone’s posts from my Facebook posts from my feed because I couldn’t stand the hate messages wrapped up as “activism” anymore. Every message was filled with vitriol, spewed hate, and fanned the flames of extremist behavior while denigrating anyone who might value something other than what she believed.

I felt sad. Sorry for her. That she was so unhappy and filled with poison and looking for someone to blame. But I couldn’t be in her universe anymore. For me. I couldn’t condone her messages of verbal violence against others. That’s not a solution. That’s not helping make this world better. That’s just more of the horrible cycle of fear and hate and violence.

Listen…

I live in Florida. My heart broke for all the lost young lives. I ache for their families. It hit very close to home. The violence is not ok. I think we all agree on that. Gun control? Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. I don’t pretend to know. Do I think mental health issues play a big part in the violence of today? Absolutely. Do I think teachers should have to carry guns? No.

Billy Graham, who has been a religious leader to many, also died this this week. He lived to a ripe old age. Good for him.

Death isn’t death. Everyone finds their strength to move on from different sources, faith in God being a big one. So when I see the same people shouting hate comments at political leaders due to gun control laws, then spewing filth, nastiness, and wishing violence on a religious leader, I get sick to my stomach. I begin to wonder just how broken you are to fan more fuels of hate after such a painful week, and I walk away.

I feel sorry for the person, but I forgive them and I leave. Because I can’t be around that. I refuse to believe that the world is so broken and disgusting that it now only filled with rage and hate and finger pointing.

I don’t like people who extol hate and vicious rage. Who fan flames of doubt and violence. I may love you as a person, but it doesn’t mean I like you. Or that I’m blind to a person’s effect.

I guess what I’m asking is this… Have you considered the message you’re sending out into the world? Is it truly representative of the person you are? Are you helping to make the world a better place? What things have been hurting your heart lately? What things have given you hope or joy?

Righteous Indignation

Darkened soul;

You speak the language of hate,

Intolerance and throw away lives.

You coat your fear

In God,

Claim faith, love,

While spewing venom.

Evil,

Hidden in rosy words,

Claiming encouragement.

The snake living in Eden.

Do you see it?

YOU are the hand

The devil is using to write

His darkness.

You say you are Christian,

Believe in God

Then spread bigotry?

Do you not recall?

“Even the demons believe in God and shudder.”

Think long.

Think hard.

Ours is not to be

Judge, jury, and executioner.

He gave his only begotten son

For ALL of us.

Not just those you deem

Acceptable

In your flawed, human eyes.

The blood of the lamb

Flowed for everyone.

The imperfect,

To be made pure through HIM.

My God is LOVE.

Not sure who yours is….

I was out. Driving to get breakfast when I saw this sign at one of the busier cross streets in my neighborhood. It sickened me as much as it saddened me. I wanted to rush out and remove the sign, but my small car couldn’t accommodate, and I didn’t want to do anything that could get me in trouble, so I did the next best thing. I reported it to the police.

As a Christian it angered me and tore at my heart. Hiding behind supporting the police and God to spew hate? Despicable. So I did what I always do when emotions get the better of me. I wrote.

Because I had to make it clear that the God I worship doesn’t seem to have much in common with theirs. And more, he’s the only judge that matters.

E- Easter Meant Everything

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Easter is a very important holiday to me. The first stories ever told to me weren’t fairy tales, but rather stories of friendship like Jonathan and David, or stories of Esther, the girl queen who saved her entire nation, or David and Goliath and how a little guy with insurmountable odds stacked against him could win if he trusted that God was on his side. Those are just a few of the stories I was raised on.

I hear it all the time. “Hey Kitt, don’t you find writing erotica and talking about sex all the time to be contrary to your personal religious beliefs?” No, I don’t. The God I know believed that LOVE was at the core of everything. Loving Him and Loving Everybody. As for the sexuality thing, well, I’ve already answered that question before, but you’re welcome to listen to me chat with the incomparable August McLaughlin on her Girl Boner show entitled: Kinky Christian: Not an Oxymoron?

Most of my life I’ve had a favorite Bible verse. In fact, throughout my life, it has stayed as my hope and focus whenever I felt weak or alone or even like a failure….and it helped me remember my end goal.

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

Can you feel the hope God’s trying to send to us in that message?

Here’s the thing… whether you believe in God or not, it’s not my place to judge. Most, though, will agree that there’s a higher power. Why? Because despite all the hate and bigotry and anger, hope lives on and love remains.

Think about the incredibly powerful story of Jesus for a moment. For those who don’t believe in Christianity, imagine for a moment… What if it were all true. A higher power, God, sent his only son, to come down, live among us to better understand the daily temptations we face. Through it all, he had to find a way not to give in, despite direct taunts, hatred, bitterness, disbelief… And then, he did the unthinkable. He sacrificed himself on our behalf. And his father let him. Because they felt we were worthy of that sacrifice.

Worthy for a chance to go to heaven. Worthy to be adopted into His family. Worthy to be called his children. Worthy enough for Jesus to speak up on our behalf about the sins we’ve committed and the fact that it’s not easy, but he’d already paid our price.

Seriously? How could you NOT be moved by such a loving, benevolent Savior? Does that sound like the same guy who dooms people to hell based on who they love? Does he sound like someone who would turn his back at the first sign that someone might be a little bit different? Or because our bodies, the temple he gave us, designed in His image is flawed? Or maybe because we’ve learned to appreciate the anatomical gifts he’s given us? I think not….

Personally, I’m grateful every day for the sacrifice He made on my behalf. It’s going to give me a chance to see people I’ve loved and lost, like my brothers…. He gave me a way to be reunited with them someday. That, too, is a priceless gift.

Yup! Easter, and Jesus rising up from his tomb, means everything to a sinner like me.

The Final Goodbye (A #MemorialDay Story)

Hey guys! In honor of Memorial Day, I decided to write a little story. As many of you know, I have very strong feelings about our armed services and those who serve. With the story, I included songs that I felt conveyed the sentiments of each moment. I hope you guys appreciate this small tribute to those we’ve lost who have guarded our freedom with vigilance.

He stood alone. As he gazed out at the white crosses that covered the beautifully manicured lawn he felt the weight of his 48 years drag his shoulders down in a way he never had before. It had been a long time since he’d been back to this place, and he’d hoped to never return.

“A parent should never outlive his child.” Grief scratching at his throat.

He blinked back tears that stubbornly refused to fall. Part of him clung to the image he had in his mind’s eye. Full of laughter and vitality, that precious dark head bent over to kiss his young wife’s distended belly, before he turned around to say goodbye. David promised to come home soon.

He shook his head as the pain threatened to suffocate him. Not like this. This had to be a bad dream. He just needed to wake up and everything would be okay again.

Unfortunately, the folded triangle of fabric pressed tightly to his chest told him everything was all too real. His bowed his head, fingers digging into the precious flag. Alone with his grief he dropped to his knees and cried out to the only person who could hear him.

“God, if you’re listening…this is too much. Almost more pain than I can bear! My boy was a good son, a great husband. He was going to be a great father. He loved you. Loved this country. He wanted so badly to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps. Did you really have to take him?”

The hand on his shoulder felt familiar. It had been decades since he’d experienced that touch. He looked up to find his father standing beside him. He wore the same dress blues he’d been buried in 40 years ago and he hadn’t aged a day.

“Dad…” he choked out, blinking, sure this was some sort of hallucination.

There was a wealth of understanding and regret in his father’s eyes.

“Hello, son.”

“I’m finally losing it, right? Hallucinating? A psychotic break caused by grief and stress?”

“No, son. You’re not. God heard you…. So did I. We’ve never been far away. When you called out, I asked him to let me go to you.”

Although none of this seemed real, he decided to go with it. Maybe he was dreaming. What harm could it do?

“It’s all so damned unfair, Dad!” he railed. “First you, then my son? Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of him. Proud of you… But did the price have to be so high?”

His father wrapped strong arms around him, something he’d missed most of his life. He soaked in the comfort, gaining some strength before he let go. With a bolstering breath, he straightened his spine, threw his shoulders back and raised his head.

“I’m proud of you, you know.” His father looked at him with the same piercing blue eyes as his son. “I’ve watched you grow into a strong, honorable man. I know it wasn’t easy for you to let David join the service. After the way you lost me, it would have been all too easy to encourage him to go a different direction.”

“It wouldn’t have been right. Being a soldier was all he ever wanted.” He shrugged, his smile, bittersweet. “To be a hero, just like his Grandpa.”

“It may have served you better not to paint me with such a heroic brush,” his father laughed. “I appreciate that, by the way. The way you kept me alive in your heart. The way you shared me with your family. It meant everything to me.”

The man shook his head. “I didn’t do anything all that special.”

“Yes, you did,” his father smiled. “It may seem like nothing to you, but it’s what gave your son the courage to chase his dream. He knew the danger, but he also saw your gift. When his number was called, he didn’t worry. His son and wife are in good hands with you. He knows you’ll keep his memory alive, just like you did for me.”

“You’ve seen my David?”

Tears finally flowed, unchecked.

His father nodded. “Of course. You didn’t think I’d let your son get to heaven without a welcome party, did you?”

“He’s okay? My boy. You’ll look out for him, Dad?”

“Of course,” his father nodded his head. “He’ll be loved. Surrounded by family, both military and kin.”

With one more shuddering breath, he clasped his father’s hand and squeezed.

“Tell him, Dad.” He bit his lip as his voice broke. “Tell him I’ll watch over his family down here. I know he’ll be watching out for them with you. And please, tell him I’m so proud of him.”

“I will.” His father smiled one last time before fading away.

As he stood gazing out at all the soldiers that came before, he could have sworn he heard David whisper on the gentle breeze.

“I love you, Dad.”

Squeezing the flag to his chest, he nodded.

“I love you, too, son. I’m proud of you.”

What Does Good Friday Mean To You?

I’m going to warn you in advance. This is not my usual post. This is more reflective of the holiday we are entering into, so I’m well aware that it won’t be for everyone.

I suspect, even if you aren’t a very “religious” person, that if you ever did the “going to church” thing in your life this particular season brings out the reflectiveness in you. Yes, there’s the secular world of Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts and more candy than any dentist is comfortable seeing, but for those of us who’ve either been raised in the church or spent some time going, we know the deeper meanings in this holiday.

Last night I performed for the first time in a Maundy Thursday service. Some know this service better by Holy Thursday or Covenant Thursday. Basically, it’s the day of The Last Supper of Christ, spent with his disciples. Although we did a few songs, it was the Negro Spiritual “Were You There” performed with a friend, Acapella in the dark that was the most personally moving. The darkness was symbolic of His death and burial. For those of you who haven’t heard the song before, here’s a lovely version. In fact, if you close your eyes and just listen, it will touch you.

Anyway, as I listened to the scripture readings last night, I found myself reflecting on the disciples, Peter in particular. I found it ironic that Peter was the one who came to Jesus asking about how often he should have to forgive. Peter thought forgiving someone 7 times was a lot back then, and Hebrew law would’ve agreed with him. That was generous! Jesus, however, told him 70 x 7…which back then translated to infinite.

As I thought about his conversation with Jesus that Thursday night when he said (and I believe he meant it) that he would never deny Him, I imagined how devastated he was on that Friday when the rooster crowed. There was no question Peter loved Jesus, but in that moment his fear overwhelmed him. On that day, when his faith was put to the test, he denied Jesus and their relationship.

I wonder if he had nightmares after that, of having denied Jesus for the third time only to hear the rooster crow, remember Jesus’ words and meeting Jesus’ eyes. I imagine the look in Jesus’ eyes was a blend of compassion, forgiveness and hurt. Then I started thinking about my own life.

There was a young girl who I considered to be one of my closest friends back in 5th grade. One day in Science class, while sitting at my lab table with my 3 other partners, she walked by my table. Just as she was passing, her arm shot out and punched me hard in the stomach. My three lab partners were outraged. They wanted to report her to the teacher. I stopped them.

“Why?” one of the boys asked. “She hit you. That’s not right.”

I shrugged. “Don’t. She’s hurting. She just found out her parents are getting divorced.”

“So that makes it okay to hurt you?” the other one asked.

“No,” I answered. “It’s not. But it was easier for her to hurt me than to hurt her parents the way that she feels they’re hurting her.”

Before you think I’m telling you this story to make myself out to be some sort of saint, don’t worry. I’m not egomaniacal. The truth is she hurt my feelings. She betrayed my trust and we were never friends again. I was also fairly young and innocent back then.

As I got older I learned to be less forgiving. More quick to react in kind. More likely to live out the “eye for an eye” concepts. In fact, my inability to forgive nearly cost me a valued friendship just recently. Sadly, the only crime my friend committed was being related to someone who’d hurt me. I should have been able to let it go, but I didn’t. And I talked about it. And talked about it. And talked about it. To her!

She was beyond patient with me, but the time came where she had finally had it. She snapped and said something. Someone innocent paying for the actions of another. Not at all cool. It stopped me in my tracks and made me think. It took months before she was finally ready to talk to me again. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she never did. I was insensitive, thoughtless and hurtful.

Two very different stories, aren’t they? It’s no wonder Jesus said we need to have hearts like children. Time and experience have a way of coloring our perspectives. So I think back to Peter with a better understanding of how humbling it must have been to realize just how much he now needed the forgiveness from his Master. Forgiving the unforgiveable. I bet he thought back to that day when he asked Jesus about it, grateful now, about his answer, realizing just how undeserving he was of that gift in that moment.

More importantly, it made me realize just how hurt Jesus probably was in the moment that Peter denied him, though he knew it was coming. His best friend, denying he even knew him at the biggest trial of his life. Personally, I’m grateful for his forgiving heart and for his sacrifice. Without it, this world would be a hopeless place.

So my question to you guys… What does this holiday mean to you? Do you celebrate Good Friday? There is no judging here. Please don’t misunderstand. These are simply my personal beliefs and not meant to reflect anyone else’s.

Here’s a song that I feel reflects exactly why God is so good.

A Foundation Of Tears And Trust

Patrick Thomas from the first episode of The Voice does an amazing cover of Rodney Atkins’ song, “Invisibly Shaken”. The song resonates with me, and I really love Patrick’s pared down version.

What do you do when the your foundation gets shaken? Sometimes it may be a relationship, like in the song. Sometimes it can be a crisis of faith. Maybe it’s not your faith being tested, but your sense of belonging. Maybe it’s a loss or upheaval in your family. Regardless of the circumstances, we all have those times where our internal strength gets tested.

“God will not test you beyond what you can bear.” That’s the promise God gives us on 1 Corinthians 10:13. But there are moments, aren’t there? Moments when you wonder if that’s really true? For some people it can be an untimely or unexplainable loss that brings on the crisis. Cancer, accidents, violence…things that happen way too often. Or maybe it’s just an incongruity.

Have you ever walked into a church, heard a message…maybe through the preacher or through the songs and hymns being sung…but the message sent by the behavior of the members, or even the minister didn’t match? Were you that person who felt unwelcome? Unaccepted? Unloved? Unimportant…even in God’s house?

It’s a challenge, isn’t it? To hold on to what you know is right and good and faithful when everything around you is shaking and crumbling? I often wonder if this is how my sister-in-law felt when she was told that her only son, my nephew, had committed suicide. I knew it destroyed my husband, though he wasn’t my husband yet. It was also his first close, personal experience with loss. I know so many of us asked the questions that Blaine Larsen asks in this next song.

Sadly, often when we ask those questions, all we come up with are more questions. Many either question God as to “why?” or even “where were you?” or “How could you let this happen?” Everyone’s ability to cope is different. The pressure point can vary from person to person. No matter how strong a person is, there IS a breaking point. What I’ve learned through life is that we were NOT meant to live it alone. God sent us each other to push through till times get better. Things that may not seem like much to you can be the thing someone uses to hold on and pull through. Oddly enough, it was my experiences with my brother that prepared me to help him and his family during their time of grief.

I was 15 when my brother died. I’ve talked about him before, so some of you even know the circumstances surrounding his death. I was a freshman in high school. Moved to a private church school, I didn’t feel very welcome. Most of these kids had been together since kindergarten, and I was the new girl in.

No one made it easy for me. In fact, girls being what they are at that age, all but two of them had decided they hated me on site. The one had grown up with me, and had been one of my closest church friends in our younger years. The other found out I grew up like a sister to the boy she had a crush on and hoped that being nice to me might get her a date with him. The guys? At first they were very welcoming, excited to have “fresh meat” in the classroom. It all changed when they realized I wasn’t really interested in dating. My brother had just died, we’d moved neighborhoods, moved schools….been taken away from everything that was familiar to us. Dating was the last thing on my mind! Coping was the best I could hope for.

Something happened about a month into my stay at this school that changed everything. School had just gotten out and an impromptu softball game had broken out at the baseball field across from the school. Fingers wrapped in the fencing, head tipped up to enjoy the sunshine, I stood, enjoying the last of our Indian summer day when I heard footsteps approach.

Turning, I saw an underclassman friend from church. I smiled, “Hey! How are you?”

Hoisting his foot up to rest it in a fence rung, he nodded. “Doing ok. I hear you’re really popular, though.”

Confused, I turned to face him completely. “Popular? Me? I hardly do anything.”

“That’s not what I’ve heard,” he said, tone sympathetic. “I’ve heard you’ve had a new boyfriend practically every week. I just thought you should know.”

Suddenly, I wanted to throw up. “It’s not true.”

“I know that.” He shuffled his feet. “The damage has been done though.”

Nodding, I headed for the bleachers and grabbed my books. “Thanks for the heads up.”

Without any effort on my part, I’d become the school slut. While I’m grateful to my friend for warning me, any sense of welcome I might have felt from the few people who faked their friendship to me was gone. Dried up with a few pointed words.

I didn’t want to go back. Part of me wanted to lash out. It was all so unfair, but what could I really do? I couldn’t tell my mom. She was going through enough! This was her second son she’d lost. No parent should have to go through that. I didn’t want to burden my little sister, though I was pretty sure she had been hearing the rumors about me too, by then.

If there’s one thing I have in spades, it’s pride. I would not ever give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. So the next day I walked in to school, determined not to show any sign of weakness.

God has funny ways of giving us gifts in the midst of these painful times, though…if we just look for them. Mine came in the form of a boy, two years younger than me. I’d met him on registration day, but he was shy, so I spent more time talking to his older brother. This day was different. He walked right up to me.

With a bashful dip of his head, hazel eyes looked up at me through a fringe of thick, dark lashes, “Hey.”

Surprised, I smiled. “Hey, you!”

He reached out for my hand, sliding something small in it. “I just wanted you to have this. It’s nothing much.”

Looking down, I realized he’d given me a class picture of himself. By the time I brought my eyes up to say something, he was gone. I lifted the picture to look more closely. Flipping it over I found this message: “If you’re missing your little brother, and you need one, I’m here.”

Even at that age I was floored. What a kind and generous offer to make someone you barely knew. Still determined not to let anyone see my tears for fear it would be interpreted as a sign of weakness, I calmly walked into the girls washroom, entered a stall, locked the door and sat on the toilet. In that safe place I let tears of gratitude flow at his compassion.

In two days I felt like I cried a million tears…some filled with pain and anguish, while others were of gratitude, healing and catharsis. Looking back, I think it was these days that cemented the importance of tears for me. It’s always found a way into my poetry. For me, I realized that without the bitter tears, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the sweet ones.

Since those days I’ve realized something about God’s promise and me. When those hit come and drop me to my knees, there’s a reason. First, he wants to remind me to call on him, to lean on him. Second, he rarely answers with the loud roar we seem to expect. Instead, he answers with a soft whisper, sometimes carried on a gentle breeze, other times through a simple gesture from a friend.

Our problem is that we’re so busy looking for the roar, we completely miss the whisper. Then we turn to him and blame. How much easier would it be if we just asked for his help instead of demanding it? More than that, how often have we been the mean, catty person? How often do our words have barbs, designed to cut and hurt someone while we excuse our own behavior because of some slight (real or imagined) that they’ve committed against you? How do we know that these people haven’t been sent there to teach us lessons in kindness or patience or tolerance? Those kinds of responses are easy. Taking the high road when you have no reason to? That’s hard, but you never know when your simple kindness may change someone’s life.

I Bled For You

First and foremost, I want to say Happy Veteran’s Day. If you are a Vet and have served for your country…regardless of which country it is, know that I appreciate you and the job you did. I am sure it was not easy.

My blog posts the last couple of days have been fun and sexy, so I felt I needed to give notice…this next post is in honor of Veterans Day and is a little bit different. I was compelled to write a short story this morning. Most of you are well aware that the military is near and dear to my heart. Having grown up a child of the military has opened my eyes to all sorts of experiences and opportunities to really appreciate people and different cultures.

If you were ever made to feel that your contributions to our freedoms were not appreciated or respected, please know I appreciate you and the freedoms that you’ve enabled me to enjoy. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. We’ve had so many wars lately that many have not always agreed with. You were doing your duty and your obligation…regardless of whether you agreed with the reasons or the politics. You didn’t deserve to get caught in the crossfire. I’m sorry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He was tired. Mentally, emotionally. The weight of guilt and grief and anger were a heavy mantle around his shoulders. Today when his little girl came home in tears because of him had been more than he could take. Feeling like a failure, he’d gotten into his car and drove.

Pete knew he should have probably let his wife know he was leaving. She would worry. She was a good wife and didn’t deserve all the hardships and sacrifices she’d been forced to face, mostly alone. He just couldn’t help himself. After looking into his 6 year old girl’s tear stained face and coaxing the story out of her he’d needed an escape. He didn’t want her to see the rage that was floating close to the surface.

Looking around, he found himself in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead, to the right, there looked to be an old abandoned church. The tiny building with it’s dark wooden doors flung open seemed to beckon him from the road. As he pulled up and put his car into park he noticed the decay. Tall weeds surrounded the building everywhere except along the rubble path and the steps made of carved gray stone. The white paint curled and chipped with heat and age.

Stepping out of his vehicle he looked up at the little cross at the steeple. He walked carefully up the steps noting the cobwebs in the corners of the door jams. Although the doors were open with welcome, it was obvious to him that no one had been here in a long time.

He contemplated the dark, scarred wood that made up the cross in the front of the sanctuary. His feet led him forward, down the aisle. Stopping at the second pew, he glanced down. They were in good condition.

“What the heck,” he thought to himself as he sat down, “I’ve got nowhere to go anyway.”

Gazing up at that cross he started talking.

“I didn’t ask for this war. I believe in this country and what it stands for. I enlisted hoping to better myself. I wanted to provide a better life for my wife and my daughter.”

He laughed bitterly. “Little good that had done,” he thought. That same little girl that he’d wanted to give the world to, whose birth he’d missed because he’d been deployed, was the same adorable face that had looked up at him, eyes swimming in tears.

“You look like you’re in a crisis of faith, son,” a voice came from beside him.

Looking over, he saw a gentleman sitting beside him. He must have been so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear the man join him. In coveralls, little chips of wood and sawdust in his dark brown hair and clothing, the man was fairly nondescript. Pete figured he was probably a carpenter.

He tried for a friendly smile, but only succeeded with a grimace, “It’s been a rough day.” He snorted softly as he rolled his eyes, “Who am I kidding? It’s been a rough few years.”

“Care to talk about it?” The man asked warmly. “Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger.”

Pete didn’t trust easily, especially after the welcome he’d received when he’d gotten home from overseas. This war was doing some crazy things to this country he loved so much. Something about this man called to him.

He found himself speaking, “My six year old came home from school today, crying.”

He swallowed hard, blinking back tears of his own as her precious face swam into his memory, “She was playing with the neighbor kids in their yard when she overheard a couple of the parents talking. One of the parents said that they thought it was ridiculous that we were even in this war. That our soldiers were out there murdering innocent people for a selfish cause that nobody agreed with. As other parents nodded agreement someone else added that they couldn’t believe that soldiers just went along with it. According to these people I should have voiced my disagreement and insisted on coming home.”

Pete ran his fingers through his razor short hair and looked into the sympathetic brown eyes. “They never considered the damage their hurtful words would do to those innocent six year old ears.”

He huffed out a breath, “Who am I kidding? I doubt they even cared. I came home from the war to be greeted by picketers, hate and angry words. Why should they care about how their words affect my wife and daughter?”

“Only your wife and daughter?” The man beside him asked, eyebrow raised in a very astute question.

“No,” Pete answered. “Not just them. I left today because I was so filled with hurt and rage. I didn’t even tell my wife I was leaving. She’s probably worried sick. I didn’t want them to see me that way! I feel betrayed! I serve for love of those same people who hurt my daughter. Who mocked my trip home. I’ve done it so they can enjoy their lives. Enjoy their freedoms. They don’t know. They have no idea what I’ve seen. What I’ve heard so that they can taunt me and make my daughter cry. I still hear the explosions in my head. The screams and chaos that follows never quite go away. I carry it all with me. In my heart. Scarred on my soul.”

He looked at the kindly stranger whose face was filled with such understanding, “Part of me wants to scream at them. I bled for you. I died a bit for you. Don’t you see I do this for you? How can you turn away from me so completely? How can you make my wife and child so sad for love of me?”

The man gently put his arm around Pete’s shoulder. “I know how you feel. It’s not easy to be turned away by the people you love so much. When all the things you’ve given up or missed seem unnoticed and unappreciated. Hang in there. Give them time. One day someone will realize what you’ve done and how deeply you loved them. Go home to your wife. Your daughter. Give them a hug. They love you.”

With that little bit of wisdom, the carpenter stood up and walked away.

Pete thought for a moment about what the man said and turned around to thank him for his kindness. The man was gone. As he looked back toward the cross, prepared to head back home, he looked up again. For the first time he noticed Jesus. He shook his head. He didn’t remember him being there when he first walked in.

Shrugging he walked to the car. As he pulled the car back onto the road he realized three things. First, the guy on the cross had a very familiar face. He looked an awful lot like the guy he’d been chatting with. Second, as he thought back to that man, he remembered the scars he’d seen on his new friend’s wrists. Third, those voices in his head had stopped screaming for the first time in years the moment he’d entered that church.

He bowed his head for a moment to say thanks. Someone understood his sacrifices all too well. It was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~

The life of a soldier isn’t easy…not on them, not on their family. Here’s a song for those still in service and overseas.

And for this country that I love…

Tears

Wet crystal

glistens

a liquid trail

on creamy skin.

Tight fist

surrounds

aching, pulsing,

beating

heart.

Bleeding

love and grief

in tangible form.

One more drop

and another

and more.

Maybe

one day

to heal.

Tonight I’m grieving…just a little bit.  I hate cancer.  I really do.  Especially when it comes flying out of nowhere like some mysterious stranger come to take the people I love away with barely a warning.  I know.  I’m not telling anyone anything new.  I’m not alone in feeling the way I do.

But tonight I write with an overwhelming sense of helplessness.  Unable to help my friends and family who are suffering.  Only able to offer trite words of comfort.  And prayer.  And to me, prayer is important.  That belief in a higher power is what gets me through most of the shit that life throws at us.

A couple years ago two of my girl friends were diagnosed with breast cancer.  They are both survivors.  One was fortunate enough not to lose a breast, but due to other complications, had to have a complete hysterectomy.  She hadn’t any children yet.  Now she never will.  The other one had to have a mastectomy.  Then they found something in her other breast.  She lost that one, too.  And now she has other issues and recently went through one of six surgeries she’s going to need.  But they’re tough women.  Fighters!

Then last week, a girlfriend of mine who’d just put her husband in assisted living after he didn’t fully recover from open heart surgery and was onset with dementia made a post on facebook.  She’d been having some issues.  Long story short, she posted on Facebook to please say some prayers because they’d found a tumor in her lung.  They suspected lung cancer.  When they went in to remove the tumor, they found it was resting on her aorta…not so easy now.  They were able to remove part of it, but during the procedure they noticed something on her hip.  I was in her room visiting with her when they told her that it appeared the source had been bone cancer in her hip and that it had spread across her body to her lung.  She’s a fighter, though her chances aren’t very good.  She’s going through chemo and radiation therapy simultaenously.

Forward to the last couple of days.  We got a call.  Our favorite uncle on my husband’s side had been having back pain.  Back in May he’d had a CT done and been given a clean bill of health.  This week, it’s cancer.  And it’s all over his body.  It’s been so aggressive that it doesn’t look like there is a way to fight it.  Hospice has already been mentioned and they haven’t even got the results of the biopsy to tell us what kind of cancer it is.  Scary.

So…my heart hurts.  And today I need to give reign to my feelings of heartache and sorrow and anger.  That way tomorrow I can be the loving, supportive friend and family member I need to be.

God promises he’ll never test us beyond what we can bear.  And I believe him.  But there are days that it feels awful close.