Hope and Encouragement from Hot Apple Cider

From N. J. Lindquist:

Excerpt from A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider (free book through Dec 2013 as a special gift for our site visitors or anyone who could use a little hope and encouragement. All 50 stories. Download Now.)

The story below is from the book A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, with N.J. Lindquist.

The story below is from the book A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, with N.J. Lindquist.

Be Still and Know by Glynis M. Belec:

Throughout my cancer journey, “God signs” proved that He was orchestrating my days. In one instance, we arrived home after a particularly grueling appointment in London. Dr. Lanvin, my new oncologist, had checked all the reports, confirmed my diagnosis through examination, and then briefed me about the upcoming surgery. So when we arrived home that day, my emotions were fragile. Although I had never played the “Why Me?” game, blaming God for allowing this to happen to me, I was starting to wonder about God’s plan for my life.

As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed my phone flashing red, indicating messages were waiting. A voice I barely recognized said, “Hello, Glynis. It’s Sue.”

I hadn’t heard from Sue for three years or more. We’d been acquaintances through drama ministry and school functions, and when we got together we always had a lovely time, but somehow we’d lost touch.

The recording continued. “So why did God wake me up at three a.m. and tell me that I should be praying for you? How are you doing? We haven’t talked for ages. Give me a call when you get a minute.”

I was floored. I quickly punched in her number. We chatted for a couple of minutes, chastising each other for not calling sooner.

“Are you okay?” she inquired.

“I have cancer.”

Silence.

“I had cancer, too,” she replied quietly.

I burst into tears. Sue and I spent the next hour talking and sharing. She encouraged me, promised to pray for me, and assured me I could call her any time. She also reminded me that as a 12-year cancer survivor, she was living proof that cancer can be overcome.

I got off the phone and cried again. This time my tears were not out of self-pity. They were tears of joy and gratitude for God. He had known my needs and was putting people and circumstances in place so that I could see His mighty hand.

I remembered God’s nudging to write it all down, so my bedside journal became a therapeutic outlet. Words oozed through ink as I penned my thoughts and my day-to-day struggles with everything from fear, to spiritual questions, to relationships, and more. I started to realize what God had meant by the term “fodder.”

If there was any doubt about Who was in control in my life, it was completely obliterated the night before my surgery, May 27, 2008. My journal entry reads:

This is it. My final sleep before surgery. I am ready. I am Yours. I am prepared to be still and truly know that You are God! I am in awe at the confirmation that You have placed before me (and Gilles) this very night. What was the day’s scripture verse in the Our Daily Bread devotional for Tuesday, May 27? “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God—You rock! You know this is my favourite scripture verse. I love the soft, subtle ways You find to communicate with me, Lord—especially tonight. How blessed am I to know You in this heavenly way. How can anyone deny Your existence? You are real. You are living. You are in control…

Note: Please do not copy and reuse this story without permission.

 

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The Choice: Become an Overcomer

The Choice
by N.J. Lindquist

Sometimes we feel small.

Sometimes we feel small.

I’ve often wondered why two people can experience similar circumstances and emerge totally different.

No one ever goes through exactly the same experience as another person. No one knows, for sure, how another person feels or thinks. Two people with very similar stories and vastly different outcomes. One person becomes an overcomer and an inspiration. Another person may continue to live focused on the past or tune out through suicide, drugs, or another method.

A past blog post video shares about a mother’s inability to handle life after divorce, which eventually led to her suicide. As a teenager, her daughter realized she could follow in her mother’s footsteps or find a new and better life. She chose the life, but many people would have chosen the former. Why?

Recently, I blogged about baseball pitcher R. A. Dickey, who was abused as a child, but eventually dealt with the abuse and shame. Now he helps others. Many people in similar situations have lost their lives, whether literally or figuratively, because they were unable to handle the pain of dealing with the past.

Where I’m going with this?

I read a book by Sue Grafton, New York Times bestselling author of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries (A is for Alibi, etc.).

I knew very little about Sue, other than she divides her time between California and Kentucky, and she once wrote screenplays for movies. I’ve seen her in person at mystery cons and even shared a bathroom once. (No, I didn’t slide a manuscript under the door of her stall or accost her with a barrage of questions while washing our hands at the sink. Yes, she seemed nice.)

The book I’d found in our local library was called Kinsey and Me: stories. The introduction said the first two-third of the book contained mystery stories with Kinsey in them. The stories in the last third of the book, however, were about Sue Grafton. They were written in the 10 years after her mother’s death, long before she began writing her mysteries.

I enjoyed reading Kinsey’s mystery stories. Then I came to page 205.

The stories were very different, rather literary, dealing with the memories of a young Sue who grew up in a sadly dysfunctional home. Nothing like the mysteries. But compelling.

I discovered why Sue’s protagonist, Kinsey Millhone’s parents die when she was five. In real life, Sue grew up with alcoholic parents after her dad’s two-year stint in the army — when Sue was five. Her dad was a functioning alcoholic, and her mother non-functioning and occasionally suicidal. Sue and her older sister basically raised themselves. They also looked out for their mother, who was only occasionally a “normal” parent.

Sue married at 18, had a baby, then divorced. When Sue was 20, her mother committed suicide.

The short stories were written in the decade after her mother’s death. Sue says she wrote them as “my way of coming to terms with my grief for her.” (p. 209) Sue remarried twice before she found her present husband.

A couple of thoughts that stood out to me.

“I wish life could be edited as deftly as prose.” (p. xvii.)

So true. Is there anyone who wouldn’t like to go back and rewrite the story of his or her life, erasing all the pain, making everyone kind and everything positive? But we can’t go back. We have to learn from the past instead. Forgive, and ask forgiveness. Forge on, trying to write a better storyline into our future.

“Wisdom comes at a price, and I have paid dearly for mine.” (p. xvii.) So many have paid dearly for their wisdom, and yet not all make use of that wisdom.

As I closed the book, I still don’t know why some people are able to overcome the past and others aren’t. I just know Sue Grafton is an overcomer. It wasn’t easy. She spent years dealing with the pain of her childhood and wrong choices made as a result of the confusing messages she’d received. But she made it through, and carved out a new life. She established a solid marriage, raised three daughters, and became a world-renowned mystery writer at age 37.

The past is always going to be the past. The future is not yet written.

I felt sadness for the young girl who didn’t know what it was like to have a “normal” life with caring, responsible parents. I identified with the sorrow of the adult who would love to somehow make everything better for everyone. But I also felt great respect for the girl/woman who dreamed of a better life, and made it happen for herself and her children.

Seasons change. Even when we feel small, there are ways to overcome the feeling.

Seasons change. Even when we feel small, there are ways to overcome the feeling.


It’s never too late to become an overcomer.

Speaking of which, you might want to listen to this song by Mandisa. It’s called “Overcomer.”

Mandisa – Overcomer (Official Lyric Video) from mandisa on GodTube.

Painful Pasts Leading to Extreme Risk: Dickey (Review)

There’s more than one way to commit suicide.

For some, a painful past leads to extreme risk and can result in death. If you struggle with your past, seek hope and healing instead of putting yourself in harm’s way.

 

Wherever I Wind Up

Extreme Risk Suicide Attempts: Don’t let something in your past lead you to commit suicide through extreme risk.

I remember “Extreme Risk,” an episode of Star Trek: Voyageur, where  B’Elanna Torres is suffering from various injuries because she is going on dangerous holodeck programs with the safety mechanism turned off. She eventually tells Chakotay that since she learned of the death of most of their Maquis friends, she has been numb. The risks she’s been taking have been to try to find out if she’s still alive inside.

In reality, this is clinical depression. And B’Elanna might very easily have died.

An accident? In some ways. But it’s also a form of suicide. People who play with fire usually get burned.

I was reminded of that episode recently while reading the book Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball, by R. A. Dickey, with Wayne Coffey.

R. A. Dickey is a baseball player, a knuckleball pitcher, and last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner.

But while his book certainly chronicles his journey to become a major league baseball player, it’s about a lot more than that. Like B’Elanna, R. A. did some crazy things because he felt numb inside.

Dickey’s parents got married because his mother was pregnant, and according to him “the marriage didn’t last five years.” They divorced when R. A. was 8 and his mom turned to alcohol for solace. His dad, who had been a good father, gradually eased out of his life. R. A. felt alone and confused.

Then, when he was 8, a 13-year-old babysitter abused him sexually. Afterwards, in his words, “I feel discarded, like a piece of trash. She acts like she’s mad at me, like I didn’t follow her orders properly. I lie on my bed by myself, wondering if what just happened is real. I am trembling, still sweating. I feel paralyzed, my limbs leaden.”

It happens four or five more times that summer.

But something even worse happens that fall.

While visiting with family in a farming area, a boy of 16 or 17 finds him alone and grabs him, then overpowers him and abuses him.

R. A. boxes all these memories up and hides them in his mind as far away as possible. And he becomes numb. Until he’s 31 years old, he never tells anyone, doesn’t even let himself think about them. On the outside, he appears to be normal, but without his even realizing it, the memories are impacting him, telling him he’s “filthy and bad, like the scum of the earth, only worse.”

This goes on until he’s 31 and his own marriage is in serious trouble.

He finally breaks down and tells a counselor about the babysitter. He feels a measure of freedom, but he can’t go all the way; not to the brutal experience with the teenage boy.

A year later, on June 9, 2007, he does something absolutely crazy. While in Council Bluff Iowa with his triple A baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, he jumps in the Missouri River to swim across it. The water is brown and sludgy and there are strong currents and undertows. He’s wearing boxer briefs and taped-on flip-flops. He is basing this swim on the fact that he’s in good shape, and once upon a time, years ago, he swam the 200-meter freestyle for a local team. He believes he can do it.

And that’s where I was reminded about the Star Trek episode.

Because this isn’t the first time he’s done something crazy. In his words, “You could say—and some have—that I have a death wish. Not sure. I think it’s more accurate to say I have a risk wish, somehow clinging to the notion that achieving these audacious feats will someone make me worthy, make me special, as if I’d taken some magical, esteem-enhancing drug.”

He doesn’t make it across the river; instead, he almost drowns. But as he realizes he’s going to die in the muddy water of the Missouri, he finds a new desire to live. And afterwards, he’s finally able to talk about the worst experience of his life, and face the darkness and the anger that has burned inside him for all those years. Anger at the boy, anger at himself, anger at his life, anger at the God he believes in but up until now couldn’t fully embrace . . .

And he begins the journey to freedom, to feeling truly alive, and to helping others break their shackles of self-condemnation and shame.

Terrible things happen to most of us.

They don’t even have to be huge things, like sexual abuse or violence. Sometimes it’s just a person who constantly puts us down or tells us we aren’t good enough that stays within us and makes us numb inside.

No matter how much we try to pretend they never happened, they don’t go anywhere. They stay inside and tear us down.

We have to find the strength to bring them out and examine them, talk to people we can trust about them, and let God heal us and cause good to happen.

R. A. is now passionate about helping kids who have suffered from abuse.

Check out what he had to say recently.

More about the book, Wherever I Wind Up.

Suicide as a Way Out of Domestic Abuse

When you’re in a relationship that involves domestic abuse — physical or emotional — suicide may seem your only way of escape.

 

 But there is hope and help.

 

Off the Map domestic violence

Jacquie Brown, author of the book, Off the Map: Follow me out of Domestic Abuse, certainly felt that way the day she ran to her bathroom after a violent confrontation with her husband. Her “crime”? Urging her husband not to drive his truck after drinking seven glasses of whiskey and cola in a few hours.

In Jacquie’s words:

He shoved me into the wall, yelled and called me disgusting names, criticized everything about me, searched for the words that would hurt me the most.

Fear gripped my being. My stomach tensed, and I huddled into myself, trying to disappear as tears flowed and I thought, Am I really those foul degrading words I hear him calling me? He’s right about my stupidity; I never learn. I’m always the catalyst for these explosions of torment. How do I solve it? How do I stop it? The agony and desolation is relentless. How do I escape?

Time seemed to stand still as a thought seeped into my mind. I knew a way to escape. I turned and race up the stairs to the washroom, locking the door behind me. I shouldn’t have run. Now he knows something is unusual. I hurried and swallowed several pills before he reached the door.

He yelled, “Open the door or I’ll kick it in!”

Jacquie came out of the bathroom and her husband got their two young children out of bed, and told the children “This I what happens if you try and kill yourself.” He then beat her.

After he left, Jacquie made her way to each of the children’s rooms and assured them she was okay. Afterwards, she wondered how she could ever have been so selfish as to think of leaving her children alone with their father. But of course, she wasn’t thinking clearly. She was just trying to find a way out of the constant fear and abuse. (p. 42-43)

Suicide lets the abuser win

While there may be times when suicide seems like the only way out of abuse, fortunately, Jacquie eventually found a much better way. And then she wrote a book in order to help others find their way out, and also to help friends, family, and others who want to help domestic abuse victims understand what’s going on in the mind of a person who is being abused.

Off the Map is written with alternating chapters, first giving us a glimpse into Jacquie’s life, then immediately following that with an explanation of what she calls the “underlying dynamics or aspects of domestic violence.”

In her introduction, Jacquie says: “Off the Map demystifies domestic violence. It brings to light how we are ensnared and why we stay trapped. It also reveals our self-destructive coping mechanisms and ultimately the way out of the dungeon to discover the treasure of life.” (p.xiii)
Jacquie also explains that all violence isn’t physical beatings. There are many other ways an abuser can hold someone captive.

The book has a number of helpful lists, including:

  • signs that you are in an abusive relationship
  • how abusers isolate their victims
  • different types of abusers
  • types of abuse
  • wrong beliefs of both the abusers and the abused
  • reasons why victims stay in the relationship
  • common coping mechanisms that lead to more difficulty
  • people and groups who will help abuse victims
  • practical steps to take to ensure safety when leaving

The book clearly explains how pretty well anyone could wind up being abused without necessarily realizing what is happening. Jacquie shows how abusers can mix kindness in with the abuse in a way that creates dependency and keeps the victim ambivalent about the abuser and unable to break free.

She also links long-term abuse to C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). On page 93, Jacquie says, “A woman suffering in a relationship of domestic violence is similar to a soldier’s experience as a prisoner of war. Both undergo prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences and both can develop C-PTSD.” She then goes on to explain how chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline), are impacted, and how this can lead to a variety of negative things, including forgetfulness, depression, detachment, self-condemnation, loss of identity, hopelessness, etc.

Everyone needs to read this book

This book is specifically about domestic violence, and is invaluable for anyone wanting to understand that type of abuse. However, the implications of abuse go far beyond that to any long-term relationship where one person has power over another and could use it in abusive ways: either situations where one has direct power over another (e.g. a parent, teacher, coach, boss, pastor, doctor, counselor) or situations where a peer can exert power over another person (e.g. a co-worker, teammate, a sibling, close friend, roommate, classmate). Please check it out, especially if you:

  • suspect you might be in an abusive relationship
  • suspect someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, whether domestic or otherwise
  • suspect you might be an abuser
  • are in any way involved with people; pastors, teachers, psychologists, counselors, doctors, nurses, politicians, managers, parents, etc.

Click to visit Jacquie Brown’s website and for information about her book Off the Map: Follow Me Out of Domestic Violence 

Yes, There is an Anti-Bullying Day

by N. J. Lindquist:

Today is Anti-bullying Day in Canada. It’s also known as Pink Shirt Day.

 

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pink Shirt Day started with an anti-bullying stand taken by two Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia about six years ago. They witnessed a Grade 9 student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school and rallied other students to wear pink as a message against bullying.

Two of my sons were bullied for very different reasons when they were roughly 12-13. As a parent, I felt angry and determined to stop it, while also a bit helpless – no one can live in another person’s shoes. Nor can you be with your child all the time.

Our sons survived and weren’t injured by their experiences, but I wonder if there were other kids who ran into the same bullies, and the bullies themselves – are they still bullies as adults?

Far too many of the people who commit suicide or attempt to do so have been bullied. The death of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old from B.C. who committed suicide in October after posting a video detailing how she was bullied both in person and over the internet, brought attention to the newest for of bullying, cyber-bullying. But bullying has been around for a long time.

For more information on Pink Shirt Day and what you can do about bullying, read this article.

You can also read here on our site:

Bullying Prevention Tips for Parents and Kids

Stop Bullies with Self-Confidence and God’s Help!

How to Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullied: Handling Mean Texts and Online Posts

Copycat Suicide

By N.J. Lindquist:

Please don’t allow the suicide of someone you admire or care about to lead you to choose a copycat suicide.

 

Image from Wikipedia of Mindy McCready

Image from Wikipedia

When I read last week about the death of country singer, Mindy McCready, I can’t say I was surprised. I knew that her current boyfriend (the father of her 10-month-old son) had died only a few weeks earlier, and that his death was being looked on as a probable suicide. I have to admit that when I first heard of his death, I had a feeling in my gut that hers would be next.

As a fan of country music, I’ve long been aware of Mindy, and really enjoyed some of her songs, especially “Guys Do It All the Time.” But I was also aware of the roller-coaster life she’s led, including her upbringing and connection to a Pentecostal church; her graduation from high school at age 16; her move to Nashville to pursue her dream; and her relationship with married baseball pitcher, Roger Clemons (when she was 18 and possibly younger).

I was also aware of her parents’ divorces and remarriages; her various relationships with men; her two children, her battle with addictions and her earlier attempts at suicide. It almost seemed as if an early death would be the inevitable conclusion.

I feel so sorry for Mindy and her family, and in particular for her two young sons. But my greatest concern is that no one else will copy what she did.

I remember years ago meeting with a teenager I’ll call Debbie who had been cutting herself regularly for a long time, but had recently made several attempts to commit suicide. As we talked about Debbie’s life and her frustrations, she began to cry and whispered the name of a male singer who had recently died from what was being called suicide. Apparently Debbie was a huge fan, to that point that she idolized him, and she was feeling the need to follow him, even in this.

The fact that Debbie’s attempts at suicide hadn’t been successful told me that she probably didn’t really want to kill herself. But that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have succeeded. She was fortunate that her mother had been in the house each time and found her before it was too late.

As I believe was the case with Mindy, there were things in Debbie’s past that made her hate herself and her life—things that were at the root of the cutting and the spiral her life was in—things she couldn’t just push into a dark corner of her mind and ignore. But at this point, the impetus for her suicide attempts wasn’t as much about her personal issues as it was about the very real fact that her idol had done it.

The idea of killing yourself may not come from a celebrity; it might be because a partner or friend does it, as in Mindy’s case; or a family member.

If you’re thinking about committing suicide because someone else has done it, consider this: Your life is too important to become a footnote to someone else’s life.

What you can do:

  • Don’t keep your dark thoughts to yourself. Find someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling and why you feel a strong connection to the person who has died.
  • Look for positive things you could do to help the person’s family and friends deal with the pain suicide leaves behind.
  • Make a list of things you could do to help preserve the memory of the person who has committed suicide so that others will remember the good times and not just focus on the circumstances of the death.
  • If you continue having suicidal thoughts, see a doctor or a counselor and tell them exactly what is troubling you.

 

Will I Ever Be Happy?

By N. J. Lindquist:

How can I ever be happy?

[Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Would you say you’re happy? If not, what would it take to make you happy?

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen drinking tea when she suddenly set down her cup and said, “You know, I thought when we bought this house, my life would be perfect. I have a family I love, a good job, more possessions than I ever dreamed of having, this wonderful house—so why am I still not happy?”

Like my friend, many of us think happiness means getting whatever we want—someone’s love, enough money, a new car, more friends, children, a career…. We believe that when our goal is fulfilled, we’ll be happy.

So we strive for the object of our desire.

If we don’t achieve it, we often become angry, feeling that the world and everyone in it is against us. Or we might just give up and develop a poverty mentality. Why try since we’ll never be good enough? We might even consider suicide because we feel there’s no hope for happiness.

But the ironic thing is that when we get what we thought we wanted, we frequently discover it’s not enough—we still aren’t happy! Look at my friend, who had everything she’d desired, but felt empty inside.

When my friend realized that having everything she wanted didn’t lead to happiness, she decided to try something different—she gave her heart, and the responsibility for her happiness, to God.

That happened over 20 years ago. Since that time, my friend has gone through many unexpected struggles—even losing some of the things she had—and has dealt with a lot of emotional pain. But despite that, she’s been at peace—even happy—because no matter what happens, God gives her the strength she needs to get through it.

Here’s a link to one of my favorite songs.  If you’re wondering, “Will I ever be happy?”  this may help reveal how you can find happiness, even in the midst of problems.

“Through it All” by Andrae Crouch

Want to know how to find God?  Visit GodTest.com.