My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Sunday, June 26, 2011


     I remember how that word sliced through me like a knife. I couldn't say it myself out loud. I wanted to pretend that isn't what happened. TC persisted, "Why don't you get mad? He RAPED you..." I cringed--not so much at the anger in his voice as at the word itself. His anger was at the man, not me. The violence was denied vehemently yet I had lived the silent shame of it for years. I knew it but I couldn't say it out loud--as if not speaking it made it less true...
     Fast forward to about a year ago...another counselor insists, "He RAPED you." Another time, another place--yet still a victim. I tried making excuses but they fell lame. PI knew me well. "No, he RAPED you." The word still cut through me as it did years before, shredding my insides. I had come too far to go back to the way it used to be. His frustration was obvious, but I knew it too. My soul was shredded by it. It was easier to excuse the violence--to blame myself somehow. But it was time. I had to face the truth--I had to speak it. I wanted to run or hide but finally, the words barely came out as a whisper, "He raped me..." and it felt like a dam exploded inside my heart... My life began again that day I said it out loud--this time no longer a victim but a survivor...
    Fast forward to now...I was confronted this week about the way I teach. That in HOPE--a support and recovery group for women who are surviving difficult circumstances--I talk too much about struggles women face...If I say the words--MOLESTATION or RAPE or ADDICTION or ABUSE--someone in the room may take it "personally." Those words are personal--because it happened to them too. Many women live with the horror of domestic violence, abuse, childhood molestation, and rape yet they keep their secrets and refuse to speak out because of their shame. Because of their silence, that crippling shame take its toll as these broken and shattered women sink even deeper into hopelessness, depression and other mental disorders, alcoholism, addictions, self-injury, and sometimes even promiscuity.  Our silence becomes the deafening roar that shatters any remaining shard of confidence and hope. It destroys us one day at a time, soundlessly chipping away at the core of who we are. I know because I have seen it up close and I've lived it firsthand. I understand the silence all too well...
     But as long as we remain silent, we remain victims. That's a hard lesson to learn--I too was a stubborn student. Chad--pastor of Mission Abilene--is an even more stubborn teacher. I've often heard (or read) him quote William Wilberforce,
And he isn't silent--not at all. When I met Chad, I was a different person than I am today. I was hopeless, so deeply ashamed, and incapable of helping myself. I didn't have much to live for and had just about given up the fight. But Chad is one of those everday heroes who doesn't EVER back down from the TRUTH. TIme and again, he told me I had to stand up for myself...I had to speak up and tell the truth. Over the years, his influence finally brought me to the day I could finally say the words out loud...This time, I wouldn't remain a victim. This time, violence had to take it's icy grip off of me. 
     Over the last 8 years or so, I've personally seen him do the same thing with others who were chained by the silence of their shame. Violence knocked them to the ground, but with Chad's persistence and patient but firm prodding, violence didn't consume. Victims began to speak out. In the last four years, Chad has taken an even greater stand and made his passion public: STOP THE VIOLENCE. We will host our 4th annual rally and event August 27. From the very beginning, his main purpose was to get people to take a stand and speak up...For victims to let go of the shameful secrets... For witnesses to have the courage to speak up and testify... For friends, loved ones, and citizens to take a stand and speak out against violence. To do whatever they can, wherever they can... ALL that they can to cease violence. It has to begin right where we are. 
     "Stop the Violence" is a movement that began with one man's hope that by speaking out, he could change the world. By speaking up and exposing violence, the statistics will turn upside down and violence won't be the number on top. Silence is evil's greatest weapon. It enables evil men and women to commit their atrocities time and time again as they go unchecked. If I could put it in one simple phrase, Chad STANDS FOR TRUTH. He doesn't back down or back away. He doesn't try to pretty it up with nicer, less impactful words and he doesn't try to hide it just because it's sometimes hard to take. I am only one who has been impacted by his persistence, his wisdom, and his love for the least of us. There are so many others...  TRUTH WINS and violence is defeated for those who have been recipients and witnesses to Chad's mission. Because he was willing to speak truth to me, I was slowly but inevitably changed as are others. Gang members have found the courage to give up their rags and turn their lives around.  Geana--a survivor of brutal, unthinkable violence--is now one of the bravest women I know because she can tell her story. Even a member of the mafia left a lifestyle of money, women, and power to become something greater--even if that means imperfect and poorer. I've seen lives totally changed and turned around as the family of Albert Cadena keeps his hope and memory alive as they strive to live out his legacy of life-changing faith. 
     Story after story, lives are undeniably changed. Violence loses; Love wins. Evil loses its hold as people begin to speak up and make some noise...All because one man said, "I have to do something." All because Chad said, "I won't be silent any more." He has held to his promise and he didn't stop there--he implores all of us to silence the silence.  Chad has held firm to his purpose. His spirit hasn't waned with time or energy spent. He is more passionate today than he was even four years ago. 
    Yes, I am only one that was changed. But because Chad had the courage to speak truth when I didn't want to hear, I want other women like me to hear it. He and others made me face the truth. I got my life back and I have no regrets. I'm still alive today because of that hard-hitting truth...because they made me say my worst shame out loud. So in HOPE, I won't back down and I won't give in. I will still speak about truths that may make some uncomfortable or cringe. I will not pretty up those ugly words because I want the women to take control rather than let a violent past control them. As long as we remain silent, we cannot heal because our violent offenders have accomplished their purpose to humiliate and intimidate. If we are no longer silent, they no longer have power over us. If I raise my voice and make some noise, maybe others will find the HOPE that I have found because one man had the courage to stand up for the truth...Because he was not silent when I needed him the most. As for me, "Let it never be said that I was silent..."
     Thanks Chad for being my everyday hero...

Friday, June 3, 2011


Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”  But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
Genesis 28:16-17 NLT

    I woke in the morning and looked out the patio door of my room...My first thought was, "Oh my God!"....And I meant every word of it, as if experiencing God's very own hand-built cathedral--surrounded by lake and mountains all intertwined with each other. And the beauty of it all brings me to worship...To worship this glorious Architect who created all with loving hands to share His glory with such as me.

    I prayed only a few days ago that I would be awed by God and nature and see the magnificence of life and be touched by it. And the "wow" has begun. At this moment in this time away from my norm, I inhale--breathing in life and being glad for this, not just lake and mountains but to be alive. And I suddenly realize that my desire is not just for a moment of awe but for every day to be touched by His grace and beauty. 
     My prayer now--to be touched by His magnificence in my every day--not just out of my element, but right in the middle of see that which God has made beautiful with new eyes that see beyond the mortally visual to His throne of holiness. In mountains and lakes and pines that stretch tall to the sky but also in marigolds, black-eyed susans, children, paint, colors, and Texas sky, I want to "see" with His eyes and behold what is real and present in this every day.

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
   “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
Luke 18:38-41