#enditmovement

enditmovement

#enditmovement

Relief.  Voices are being heard and stands are being made.  Join us. Stand up for the voiceless; take a stand against sexual trafficking, slavery, and abuse.

The following are links for more information about The END IT Movement:

#enditmovement on twitter,   and their main site: located HERE 

Below are links to our personal story of survival and redemption, ABUSE and UNVEILED are the two most explicit links…reader beware.  LILACS is the gentlest retelling:

Uncovered and Exposed

Finding Hope’s Sunshine – Gracie

Who I was, who I am, and who I will become

Abuse

Lilacs and Shackles – Sneak Peek

Unflinching and Unveiled

Remember, raise your voice.

End it now!

#enditmovement

Advertisements

Envelope-pushing and a Shepherd

Religious rules and traditions make me claustrophobic. My off-beat sense of humor and lilting sarcasm are here to “shake things up and keep things honest”; at least that’s what I have repeatedly told myself.  Have you ever had a moment of truth so startling that you found it hard to catch your breath?

My last post chronicled my ever-present struggle with my language.  What it didn’t mention or divulge is how fast my words leap out of my mouth ahead of my mind sometimes. I cringe to think about the slew of recklessness that I have unleashed at different moments in my life.

The weekend after my post, Pastor’s message rang true with me. I was convicted of my sinful lack of self-control; but wanted to get to the heart of the problem.  I prayed, “Father, give me your eyes.  What is the issue here?”

The answer was like a kick in the gut.

“You are terrified of the image that I carry a rod and a staff.”

I began to cry.

It’s true.

Psalm 23: 4b says, “…thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (KJV)

I see a rod and a staff as weapons to inflict beatings and undeserved punishments.

My ex-husband’s abuse warped my view of God.

In life, psychologists describe the “flight or fight” response.  Simply put, when in danger, people either respond by fleeing or by fighting.  I fight.  In my former self-defense training, I was taught to unleash cuss words when fighting…especially if fighting in a conservative society where the language would draw more attention and therefore bring more help.

Gold star for applying my lessons in self-defense to my relationship with Christ! (Told you I have the gift of sarcasm). Seriously , though, I have felt threatened by the image of God holding a rod and a staff.  I have spent years pushing the “envelope” of Christianity with my language, my rebellion, my attitude, my life; all while waiting expectantly to go too far, to have the rod &/or the staff whack me back into submission.

envelope-pushing.jpg

I sobbed like a little girl who’s been hurt.

I sat down with my mentor after church and we talked through this…all of it.

She lovingly pointed out that any area of sin is really a spiritual strength that is being allowed to run uncontrollably, without being submitted to the Holy Spirit.  She reminded me that my “dragon-lady speech and cutting remarks” are really witty, truthful words that are not being spoken in love or kindness.

When I told her about my terror at the thought of God holding a rod and a staff, my eyes became floodgates.  I explained that I don’t want to be hurt like that again.   We began to pray, and she asked that I see God’s love as a guardrail, not as a fence of confinement.

Simultaneously, I had the image of my cheek up against a red wall of rock.  I could feel the heat and smell the fresh air of high altitude mixed with flowers.  I looked over to see a guardrail on the edge of the mountain pass, and just over the railing; there was a steep drop down thousands of feet to a certain death.

I looked up, and crumpled like a rag doll.

All these years, I have been flinching every time I pray; just waiting for the recoil and the certain blow of a rod, a stick, or a fist.

I have reacted like a penned animal who is cornered instead of embracing the beautiful truth that I am loved and protected.

It’s not an instantaneous turn-around in my mind.

I am studying the true use of a shepherd’s staff and a shepherd’s rod so that I may have a fresh understanding of how God shows love to me by protecting me.

Like all wounds, I know that this will take time to heal.

For now, though; I am content to lean up against that rock wall in my mind and look out over the panorama that is laid out before me, careful to stay far away from the guardrail that warns of certain danger.

I am choosing to trust that Isaiah 42:3 is true when it says, “He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick…”(HCSB).  It seems to me that if he carries a rod and a staff, but doesn’t break a bruised reed that is weak already; then I am safe as I learn WHO he is and what he uses his tools to do.

 

 

Forthright Friday – Birthdays

blue cake. I authorize this for PUBLIC DOMAIN. photo by: Gracie K Harold 2014

blue cake. I authorize this for PUBLIC DOMAIN. photo by: Gracie K Harold 2014

I was asked recently about my birthday.

Facebook(R) had announced my birthday as being on August 8.

Using a pen name is tricky.

Originally when I opened my Gracie K. Harold Facebook(R) page,

it wouldn’t allow me to make a public figure page.

I’ve tried repeatedly, and been blocked by Facebook(R) for

potential hacking, until I

contacted them

and explained my situation,

including the PPO (Personal Protection Order) number as

a reference.

Then I was allowed to have a “personal” page, but not a public figure or author page.

Most of my posts still receive the “blue line” on the edge, which, according to what I’ve read,

means that my posts can be hidden or edited at their discretion.

Seeking a public platform after surviving abuse is far from simple.

I believe that using my true birthday would allow people to connect my present book 

with my past relatives and that would endanger my family now.

I can’t afford that luxury.

The date that I picked is the day that I miscarried

our son.

When the birthday wishes arrive,

they serve as a reminder.

Samuel may not be here.

I may not have ever held him in my arms, 

but my heart will hold him forever.

I think it’s fitting that on his

birthing day,

He was welcomed and held by the Creator of the Universe.

Who knows?

Maybe he was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday”.

welcomed by light

welcomed by light

Thankful Thursday – Who I was, Who I am, and Who I will become.

Images speak to me in metaphors that cannot always be conveyed with words.

This is my story.

This is my journey, depicted through images and words.

I was a manipulator. It’s true. I was devious and controlling and very very mean.

I lived in constant fear of rejection.

I feared failure so much that my perfectionism became a defense mechanism.

Prison cell window

Prison cell window

I found myself shutting others out of my life, even though I desperately longed for closeness and intimacy.

I could not understand or accept it when people said that I was “chosen” by God.

Instead, that single phrase made me dry-heave…and sometimes vomit.

Literally, I vomited at the thought of being chosen.  I physically ran out of rooms if I thought someone was approaching me for friendship.

I carried the weight of my own failures well, but I was far greater skilled in holding onto the lies that had been pounded into my mind.

The first time that I was sexually assaulted, I carried the shame of that night…until I was able to find the grace to forgive my perpetrator.  Then, when my close “friend” raped me in college, when I started to piece things together after I miscarried the daughter that I hadn’t known I was pregnant with; my shame and guilt threatened to bury me alive.  My sorrow was overwhelming.  My grief became my god.  My identity was interwoven and entangled in what I had survived.  I remember my mentor taking me to a cottage in Michigan for a day, so we could simply sit on the lake shore and soak up the beauty.  I started to paint a picture, and effortlessly slipped into the artist’s “zone”.  I was surprised that I had painted a prisoner on the floor of their cell, with open shackles at their feet.  A light shone down the steps, and the prison gate was opened.  I entitled it, “a step of faith”.  This photograph is very reminiscent of that painting.

Open Prison cell

Open Prison cell

See how the door swings out?  See how the light shines in? This is the invitation that I am talking about.

The abuse that I endured and the sorrow that I carried was not my fault.  The horrors done to me were not God punishing me!  If you have received abuse and horrible things in your life, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!  

GOD DOES NOT ALLOW ABUSE BECAUSE YOU OR I ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE.

ABUSE HAPPENS BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL.

HE CREATED THIS WORLD TO BE PERFECT, AND DEVOID OF DYSFUNCTION.

He loved us enough to allow us to choose.  God, in his loving understanding and kindness allowed Adam and Eve to make the choice.  God knows that “a mind changed by force was never changed at all”.  Adam and Eve wanted knowledge of good and evil more than they wanted to know and be known by our loving God. Genesis 3:6, Mechanical Translation by Jeff Benner follows:

Genesis 3:6
and the woman saw that the function of the tree is for nourishment and that he is a yearning to the eyes, and the tree is a craving for making calculations, and she took from his produce and she ate, and she gave also to her man with her, and he ate,

http://www.mechanical-translation.org/mt/translation3.html

“The tree is a craving for making calculations…”  that is who I was.  I was constantly craving how to make calculations.  I thought that if I controlled things, then I was safe from being hurt again. 

I was wrong.

I was so desperately lonely and afraid, I felt so isolated.  Then, a light broke through my self-inflicted walls of separation.

Darkness Pierced

Darkness Pierced

New Living Translation John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

http://biblehub.com/john/1-5.htm

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.

What is that light?  I wondered if it was my effort, my attitude, my happiness.

But my best efforts were not enough.  Nothing I did was enough.

New Living Translation John 8:12
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

http://biblehub.com/john/8-12.htm

Light. Pure

Light. Pure

Was I still sad?  Sometimes.

Was I still grieving? Absolutely.

Was I still alone?

NO, I was no longer alone and isolated.  Jesus Christ reached into my darkness and isolation and drew me into HIS light, love and acceptance.

Why? How?


Holman Christian Standard Bible Zephaniah 3:17
Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

http://biblehub.com/zephaniah/3-17.htm

He will rejoice over me?

Me?!?!?!?

But, I was abused. I was rejected. I have manipulated and deviously controlled…

His answer?

New International Version  Isaiah 43:4
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.

http://biblehub.com/isaiah/43-4.htm

Precious and honored?

You, the Creator of the universe; you love me?

Me?!

His answer overwhelmed me.

Brilliance 4

Brilliance 4

“Child, just sit here.”

New American Standard Bible Psalm 46:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

http://biblehub.com/psalms/46-10.htm

I am learning that as I fix my gaze on Him, as I admit that I have nothing, no hope, no best effort; nothing without Him…He is slowly transforming me to reflect His love and beauty.  I am growing kinder, gentler, more patient as I gaze on Him. When I make Him the Boss of every area of my life, my religion fades away…and His love takes over.

Beloved, I had to be loved so I could be love.

Beloved, you also be loved.

Then be love.

Uncovered & Exposed

Almost a decade.

I have been stalked and harassed and intimidated for almost a decade.

I have cowered in fear, been cornered, and failed to live my life.

I have had moments of triumph, moments of courage when having a voice was more important to me than attempting to keep the insidious waters of his family’s power and abuse calm.

I have settled, at times, for less than I wanted; because it meant momentary peace for my family.

I have advocated and debated and been cross-examined, I have had knees knocking and voice wavering and hands trembling, yet with an officer at my side, I have unflinchingly told the truth, and been awarded with yet another PPO.

I have tried to live in a shadow, under a social rock so that I wouldn’t draw attention to myself or the kids.

Eventually, my passion for others; the voiceless community around me, won out.

My desire for them to find equality in the public arena was greater than my desire to stay “safe”.

He had five years of my life during the hell-marriage.  He controlled me with fear, intimidation and stalking for too many years after I left.  He skirted the justice system for too many years, got away with attempt to plan a murder, if you will; for long enough.

I spoke.

I stood.

I dared to be the victor instead of the victim.

I stopped cowering in fear and bowing my life to its control over me.

I stopped allowing my fear to be a defense mechanism.

Despite my greatest fears that he would act out his threats to kill me and/or anyone that I grew close to, I took faltering steps of faith.

I fell in love, and married the man who truly knows me…all of me.

There are still days when divulging more of my past causes me to dry heave, but James isn’t shaken by it.  He simply holds my hair out of my face…and reassures me that he is still here.

I am learning that when I get overwhelmed and the momentary panic hits, I can say, “I need to walk; I will be back…I just need a bit of space” as I run out the door.  As I power walk, I speak truth. I say, “God’s love never quits!”.  I repeat, “God is good, and His Love endures forever.”  I remind myself that when all Hell seems to break loose, I serve an All-powerful One, who even Death cannot conquer, whose love for me and you cannot be severed, squelched, or silenced.

You know, there was a time long ago when I did a puppet show for some kids.

Puppet

Puppet

 The people who set up the stage told me that if the stage fell, your first instinct would be to cover up like you were naked.

I teased them for being a bit ridiculous.  During our show, the stage fell forward, and sure enough, I covered up like I was naked, uncovered and exposed.

Puppet Exposed

Puppet Exposed

But I wasn’t naked, uncovered and exposed.

I was fully clothed.

Today, after yet another security breach; after yet another night of interrupted sleep, and an overwhelming desire for target practice at a range so that I can feel more powerful than the fear that rises up like bile in my throat; today

I choose to believe the truth.

He may have gained access to records that are none of his legal business,

his family may have again attempted to silence my voice and steal my happiness.

I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a CHILD of God.  My God, the one who is called El Roi; My God is the One who sees me.  I claim the blood of Jesus Christ, I am loved by HIM, and

NOTHING CAN SEPARATE ME FROM HIS LOVE.

Romans 8:1-2, 15, 35-38 (NIV) excerpted from Biblegateway.com

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death.

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.”

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am not naked, uncovered or exposed.  I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness.  Eventually, I trust that the truth will come out.  Their schemes will be brought to light, and justice will be served.  Meanwhile, I am loved.  They can’t change that.  Today, this moment, this is my chance to raise my voice and declare, “Nothing will separate me from the Love of Christ!”.

May you also be blessed with the revelation and acceptance of that same love, may you be strengthened by His love to stand in courage and raise your voice.  Beloved, be loved…then be love!

Established in His love,

Gracie K.

Bride of Christ

Bride of Christ

Friday Flashback

What a year!  In honor of our anniversary together, dear readers, I am providing links for the favorite posts…yours and mine!

Feel free to read for the first time if you missed any, or to re-read as many as you want.

Thank you!

It is such an honor to know how many of you take time out of your busy lives to simply read my heart.

Here’s to many more years to come!!!

Love, Gracie

An Open Letter (to my uterus)

Unflinching and Unveiled (my story of surviving abuse)

Bilingual Foot in Mouth Disease (self-explanatory)

Edge of the Frame (my response to the Daily Prompt)

“Lilacs and Shackles” excerpt from Across the Street from Normal (Preview chapter)

The Heart of a Mother – 3 (Part three of my series on my heart as a mother)

Blue Cake – (my post-hysterectomy reality check)

Five Minute Friday – Notice (my link-up with Kate Motaung)

survivor story – Heather Von St. James (a Cancer survivor’s story)

Harold’s Story (my tribute to my grandpapa)

To be – (a timely reminder)

Soldering and Fragments (no longer broken)

‘Roids and an Ex (a.k.a getting over myself)

Happy Reading!

Live in the NOW.  Be here. (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Live in the NOW. Be here. (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Thankful Thursday – “Liberating Lexus”

     We have had some things happen in recent weeks which have threatened our safety, and rattled our security.  It’s no secret here on my blog that despite a decade of harassment and stalking, my ex-husband has never been charged or prosecuted for his abuse.  The county that he resides in refuses to acknowledge the Personal Protection Order which my county has issued and upheld.
    Recently, despite the personal protection order, and possibly as an attempt at intimidation due to my stepping out in leadership roles, our personal information was obtained by him.
    So, James and I prayed for wisdom in how to best secure our family. I can shoot ambidextrously, and hit the bullseye or in close proximity most shots, but with so many kids in and out of our house, we just didn’t have peace about purchasing a gun at this stage in our lives.  (Even though I honestly miss the shooting range! 🙂 )
   So, we sought out information from a local animal shelter. We attended an adoption event and fell hard for a beautiful full size terrier.
   After our required three day weekend of fostering her, we were delighted to adopt her. As I was signing adoption papers, I discovered her sad story.
   A deputy with an Irish last name was called to condemn a house. Upon arrival, he found Lexus and a bunch of cats, she was covered in fleas and in poor nutrition. He immediately took her to the emergency shelter, where she was treated for fleas, given antibiotics, and started to improve. A few months later we entered her life, and on St. Patrick’s Day, I signed her papers.
  That’s the second time an Irish person has “liberated” her 😉
    She’s a quick learner, a loyal protector, and a loving pet. A few times already, she has successfully intimidated some strangers who were making us uncomfortable.
    We’re patiently teaching her gentleness, and helping her learn how to overcome her rough past. After the papers were signed, we came home, and she was skittish after being back to visit her former shelter.
   I sat on the floor, and this bulky thirty plus pounds of dog
curled up on my lap and slept for an hour. It reminded me that we all need a safe place to rest when we are afraid.
  Today, I am thankful that my family and I can rest in God’s lap, no matter if we ever see justice on earth, or the injustice continues on.
    God has provided us with abundant provision, extra hours of work for James, and protection in the form of an intimidating dog.
    The kids and I are healing even as we reassure this sweet survivor of a creature that “it’s okay, you’re safe now in a new home, and you are loved”.
    Maybe, just maybe, our liberating Lexus was another step in His liberation of us.
   #ThankfulThursday
What are you thankful for?

image

Safe puppy. © Gracie K Harold 2015

Beautiful yet Awkward

Beautiful moments are more prevalent than tough ones lately…and it’s awkward.

Awkward because I don’t know how to simply be completely at ease in the beautiful moments.

I spent so many years being on “high alert” while hiding from my ex-husband (after fleeing from his abuse) and trying to fight the injustices that he and his family propagated, that I forgot what it felt like to simply just relax and enjoy the good things in life.

After the auto accident, as I wrestled migraines, I would hoard good moments, desperately trying to gather up a stockpile of them until a migraine hit again.

James and I have had a really good week.

We are learning to communicate lovingly and gently.

We are intentionally taking time for ourselves individually, and then for ourselves as a couple.

It’s good.

We’ve been intentional about having time with the kids as designated family time.

It’s good…and awkward.

I am awkward around easy goodness because I do well under pressure.

I spent years thriving through difficulty.

I am not currently grieving hard core, or persevering through health issues,

or struggling with relationships.

I haven’t had a migraine for well over a year.

It’s okay.

I have permission to simply enjoy this beautiful moment and the next; in an unhurried way.

I can lollygag in the beauty as long as I desire.

It may feel awkward, but I am no longer restless or afraid.

I no longer feel it’s necessary to run from the good, or earn the beautiful.

I can soak up beauty like a sponge.

Today, I am content to enjoy the beauty of life, as the awkwardness fades and I stand mesmerized.

Join me?

Beauty. Just beauty. (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

Beauty. Just beauty. (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

An honor

Meghan, over at “Finding Hope’s Sunshine”, gifted me with the honor of featuring my story on her blog.

The link is below, and is my story of Domestic Violence that I endured in my first marriage.

http://findinghopessunshine.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/abused-women-gracie/

I spent many years cowering in fear, almost a decade of silence.

My kind, patient James has walked beside me in my journey to find my voice and my courage.

He recently summed it up perfectly by saying, “Gracie, you’ve moved from being a victim of Domestic Violence to being a Victor over what you survived.”

May we all find our voice.

May every victim become a victor!

Love ,

Gracie

Wildflower Tenacity (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Wildflower Tenacity (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Abuse

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 (NLT)  Photo (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT) Photo (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

The following was posted in my comments recently, after I shared a brilliant post that I had read about Domestic Violence and Abuse.  I feel compelled to share the comments and the links again; as I feel so strongly today that our story needs to be told for others on their journey.

If you or someone you know is suffering Domestic Violence and/or abuse, You are NOT alone!  Please get help!  Please find hope.  You deserve help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 800 799 7233

“Dear Dani,

This post that I re blogged was originally shared by my “sister-in-courage” on her blog “begin to believe”.

I also survived 5 years of Domestic Violence. The most comprehensive chronicle of what I survived is found in my post, “Unflinching and Unveiled”, (It’s very candid, reader beware) it’s found here: https://adjustmentstonormal.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/unflinching-and-unveiled/

A gentler explanation of our journey is found in my sneak peak of my book chapter, used by permission. “Lilacs & Shackles, sneak preview” here:

https://adjustmentstonormal.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/lilacs-shackles/

I was scarred for many years. During that time, Jesus so tenderly loved me and gently walked alongside of us on our journey. I wish I could say that “I gave it to God and now I’m fine.” I HAVE given the years of abuse over to God, sometimes multiple times an hour. I’m not always fine. I have learned that that is okay. Instead of desiring “Christian denial” and pretending that nothing ever happened, I have learned the immense amount of courage and freedom that is found when I speak the truth in love. I, Gracie K. Harold, survived abuse.

I did not deserve it; no one EVER deserves abuse! Being abused does not diminish the facts that God is a good and loving Father who loves me, and even though I still sometimes see the scars that the horrific abuse left behind; I am learning to see that they are truly lines left behind when the Artist took my broken pieces and made me into a new creation; His beloved daughter. I have also finally had my heart enlarged enough to stop being consumed by the hurt, pain and abuse; and instead, to fix my eyes on the Everlasting Father who loves me so much that His son was with me every step of the way. The hardest wrestling match for me spiritually came when I finally accepted that I was NOT abandoned during the abuse. Instead, I believe that He held me as the abuse went on, and whispered, “I am so sorry that this is happening! This is NOT my will, and I will never treat you this way! I love you, and I am here!”

I came to see it as a caregiver who is outside with a child that gets unexpectedly hit by a soccer ball which a neighbor kicked at the child. The caregiver has no desire for the child to get hurt, and yet sometimes other people’s choices result in our pain. The caregiver rushes to the side of the child, reassuring them and seeking medical attention if necessary. The point is, the child is not alone as they heal.

Neither was I. It is one of the hardest paradoxes in God’s love to understand; yet His fingerprints are seen everywhere in our journey. I can’t always see Him, and I don’t always like the way things go, but I know that He is here and He loves me. I have learned to focus on that as I unflinchingly face my scars, knowing that I am dearly beloved.

Thank you for your encouragement and sharing your heart, Dani. The way that you have journeyed alongside me in the world of blogging has spurred me onward in my courage to speak and no longer be silenced.

Love, Gracie K.”