Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Six Months Free

Today is an important day. Six months ago today, I made a very difficult and frightening choice, packed a few essentials, and left my abusive husband. I remember the night very well, and it is a feeling of terror I hope to never experience again. I felt as though I were literally fleeing for my life, and for the life of my unborn child. I knew I could not stay, but leaving was more difficult than I imagined it would be.

It wasn't difficult because I felt a pull to stay. It was difficult because I did not know what I could expect from him. Would he try to find me? If he found me, what would he do? Would he call me that night? Should I answer? I was having some cramping...was my baby okay? I couldn't breathe. My heart did not return to a normal rate until five hours after I left the house. It was terrible. If it were not for the women at the shelter I went to, I do not know how I would have maintained any perspective on things at all. Those women are both vulnerable, and tough as nails, and I am thankful to have met them.

It did not take long for it to become very, very clear to me that there was no going back. He found every way he could to justify the abuse, blaming me for everything. He reminded me over and over again that he never "knocked me around", but I knew from his actions the night before I left that it was only a matter of time before he would. I knew that if I wanted to be safe, and wanted my baby to be safe, there was no returning.

As I prepared for single life once more, this time with a child in tow, I had no idea what to expect. I was met with threats from the soon-to-be-ex, telling me he would tell the court things about me that would let him take away the baby. I see now that those threats were nothing more than empty, and designed to frighten me into submission. Still, when someone tells you they are going to take your child from you, it is terrifying, particularly when you know that person is very dangerous.

God is faithful, though. I can truly say that He has moved legal, spiritual, personal, and financial mountains in the last six months, and has given my son and me everything we need to thrive in our new life together. My son is being born into circumstances that are safe, healthy, and peaceful. My now estranged husband has done things that people have said he would never do, and left us to live in peace. I pray this will continue, and that my son and I will never have to deal with him again. I have seen God's faithfulness in this so far, and I do not think He is about to abandon us now.

I have been tremendously blessed to have the love and support of friends and family in all of this. Not many women in my situation are so fortunate. Many women return to their abusers because they lack the support they need to remain on their own, and keep themselves and their children safe, fed, and sheltered. I am so blessed that this has not been my experience. I am also blessed that it has helped me become more aware of the issues related to domestic abuse, and why the cycle can be so difficult to break.

Thank you all for your support. You have helped me create an environment for my son's growth and develpment that is healthy and peaceful, because I have not had to live in fear for my safety. Your love and encouragement has helped me build a home for my son that is one of serenity, because I know without a doubt that we are safe. Your strength, even when I have felt so very afraid at times, has helped me make legal, financial, and personal decisions that have worked greatly to ensure that my son and I are well taken care of. Finally, your love has helped create a community into which my son will be welcomed and nurtured, and that is something that warms this mother's heart in big ways.

God is so good...I have seen miracles in the last six months, and I know I will see more!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Stuff of Legends

I recently received a "forward"which featured the legendary story of the USC professor who was a dedicated atheist and used his position as a professor to subject his students to his teachings. This professor taught a class that was a requirement for nearly every student, and allegedly took advantage of that fact in order to systematically pick apart belief about God, and attempt to prove to his students that God could not possibly exist. At the end of the semester, the professor would ask if there was anyone in the room who still believed in God. If they did, they were supposed to stand up, at which point, the professor would shout, "You FOOL!!", and proceed to explain that if God existed, He could prove His existence by stopping a piece of chalk from hitting the ground and shattering to pieces. The professor would then drop a piece of chalk, it would be shattered, and he would say that he had just disproven God's existence, because God would not do something so simple as stop the chalk from falling and shattering.

This went on for twenty years, until one day, and no one ever stood and professed a belief in God at the end of the semester, for fear of what the professor would do to humiliate them...until one fateful day, when a student did finally stand up. As one would expect, the professor called him a fool, did the chalk routine, the chalk did not break, and the faith of the young student was strongly validated.

The person who sent this to me was clearly pleased with the results of the student's bravery, and believed it validated our Christian faith. There was only one problem. It never happened. A quick check of Snopes revealed the history of this legend, and that there has never been any evidence that this incident, or many other legends like it, ever occurred. (

Why am I writing about this? Well, it's simple. It has been very bothersome to me for quite some time that many Christians will cling to the legend and fantasy presented by fables such as this as a means to validate our faith. Not only do we collectively choose to believe them, despite all logic to the contrary, but we pass them around the internet and present them as fact. How foolish we must look to people who are able to read such a legend, see it has all the earmarks of being fictional, and yet here we are, saying that these fictional stories are perhaps the greatest validation of our faith that we can find.

Not long ago, I also received another forward about the "new" dollar coin that our government was issuing, which would not feature "In God We Trust" anywhere on the coin. This particular forward intimated that this was our government's way of finally getting God out of our country, and we should not stand for it! Not only were we not to accept the coins, but if we did receive one, we were not to spend it.

Once again, this was not true. Not only did the coin feature, "In God We Trust", written on the edge of the coin rather than its face, but this "new" coin had been in circulation for quite some time by the time I received the email Snopes cleared up this rumor, as well.

What is interesting to me is that the rumor itself will spread like wildfire across the internet. Yet, on the many occasions in which I have emailed the originator of the "FW:", and shared with him or her that the story they are sending is not true, even providing links to the information that disproves it, it never gets beyond their inbox. This amazes me, particularly for a group of people who believe that knowing the truth sets you free.

What I am getting at is this...As Christians, we need to be a whole lot smarter about how we are presenting ourselves. I am sometimes amazed at the collective Christian chagrin over being so marginalized in the public eye, being perceived as lemmings who are uneducated and cannot think for themselves. Yet, we collectively circulate bogus stories to bolster our faith and our political points of view, without bothering to check the facts or even remotely consider that maybe....just maybe....the fantastical story that some well-meaning person sent to us is not true, and we should look into its source.

I suppose the belief in urban legends is not exclusive to Christians. In fact, I know its not. However, when we are relying on legend rather than fact and experience to validate our faith to the world, I believe it makes us look foolish. Faith is very much an experiential thing, and it is going to be different for everyone. But is our faith really so shaky, or our shame in that faith really so great, that we need to cling to the ubiquitous "FW:(insert grandiose story about God here)" in order to validate it?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

This Mother-to-Be's Heart

On Friday morning, I got to see amazingly vivid pictures of my son, who I will get to meet in only a few weeks. I got to see 4-D pictures of his sweet little face, and it was breathtaking to realize that this little boy is growing inside of me. Life is a miracle. I was looking in the face of a miracle.
I remember when I first learned I was pregnant. Or, I should say, I first learned of the possibility. My oncologist had ordered a ct scan, which I have about every six months (when I'm not pregnant...). My surgeon also wanted to see the ct scan, as we were wondering about the extent of an umbilical hernia that had developed and would need repair. The nurse from my surgeon's office called me and said that the hernia was not acute, but there did appear to be something in my uterus.

Having had cancer, I was scared. I realized it was possible that the "mass in my uterus" was, in fact, a pregnancy. But, I wanted to know for sure. My (soon to be ex) husband told me we didn't have money for a pregnancy test, as he headed out he door for whisky. It would be three days before I would be able to buy a test. It was three days of wondering, worry, and tension.

I took the test. It was positive. I immediately scheduled an ob-gyn appointment. At my appointment, I was given a few magazines, pamphlets, etc. I eagerly opened them to see exactly what was going on in my uterus, wanting to see this miracle of life and what it looked like. What did it look like at that time? Well....a mass, in my uterus. Tiny. Round. No arms or legs yet. A mass of cells and potential.

I remember seeing my very first ultrasound, which I had at 7 weeks. The doctor wanted to be sure my growing baby was healthy, in light of my health problems in the last year, and the fact that I had been taking pain management medication early on in my pregnancy. By this time, this mass of cells and potential had grown arms and legs, and had a heartbeat that I could see on the ultrasound. This baby was healthy. Miraculously, this baby was healthy.

As the pregnancy progressed, I eagerly awaited the 20th week, when I would get to see another ultrasound. Once again, I was amazed. I was told I was having a boy. For the briefest of moments, I felt somewhat disappointed. I had been hoping for a girl. My disappointment lasted about five seconds, and then I beheld the miracle growing inside of me. The picture I was looking at...this was my son! He had grown so much, and I could begin to imagine what he might look like when I was finally able to meet him. His nose was upturned like mine, and that made me smile. He already had a chubby little belly, and round little cheeks. I watched in amazement as he turned and squirmed and kicked during the ultrasound. Hearing his heartbeat was the most amazing experience I'd had up to that time.

Throughout all of this, I began to make adjustments in my life to prepare for single motherhood. I realized very quickly that, while I did not have a partner for my pregnancy, I was by no means alone. My friends and my family expressed nothing but the most sincere blessings for both me and my son. I knew he was not being born into the greatest of circumstances, but it became very clear, very quickly, that he was being born into a community in which he would be deeply loved and cared for. His arrival is greatly anticipated, and I am confident that he will never know a day without the loving guidance and acceptance of this community that is already so supportive and welcoming.

In 6-8 weeks (depending on who you ask), I will get to meet him, finally. I have been writing him letters for the last few months, telling him a bit about things that have happened along the way as I've waited for his arrival. Tough choices had to be made in order to keep him safe. I have experienced blessings beyond measure in all areas of my life as I've done all I can to prepare a peaceful and safe life for my son. I have had the prayer, encouragement, support, and financial blessings from friends and strangers alike. God has paved the way for my son and me to be protected and provided for, and this has come to us in ways that nearly everyone had told me would most likely never happen...yet, here we are.

I can't wait to meet my son, to hold him, to finally be able to kiss that face, those fingers, those toes, and to tell him the story of how God has truly done exceedingly and abundantly far above all I could ever ask or think, and our life together is a testimony to His goodness.

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