Category Archives: An Attitude of Gratitude

Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 2

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Welcome to the promised continuation of Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 1.

As I said at the end of Part 1, I want to talk to Catherine Belinda about the lying we were forced to do throughout our childhood because of Harry’s threats.

Everyone knows it’s a sin to lie. The Ninth Commandment is about lying,

You must not lie. ~ Exodus 20:16, TLB (The Living Bible).

The New King James Version puts it this way,

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ~ Exodus 20:16, NKJV.

So when Harry started telling us we had to lie about what he was doing to us or he’d kill us, he put us between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. And he showed us he meant what he said by playing Russian roulette with one of his revolvers between our legs. At age two there was no way we could have known that the gun had blanks instead of real bullets in it, so we lied because we were terrified of that gun and we were horrified at Harry and his threats, so we became compulsive liars as a result. But we hated having to do it, and we hated Harry for forcing us into it.

I know God hates lying. He always, ALWAYS tells the truth,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So in our minds, when we told lies, that meant God hated us. So Harry must have been telling the truth when he said that. It certainly made sense at the time.

But I have to tell you, Catherine Belinda, God does not hate you. He doesn’t hate you for lying, or for anything else for that matter. God doesn’t blame you for lying. He blames Harry, because Harry forced you to do it. You didn’t have a choice, and God knows that.

And the cool thing is, God, in His great mercy, engineered a situation when we were in the fifth grade, after Harry and my mother had separated, that made it so we were able to stop lying. And this situation is a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

What happened was this. I was walking home from school one day, and I was carrying a heavy load of books, because I had a lot of homework to do. As I was walking, I heard footsteps behind me, and then suddenly, someone grabbed me from behind, and as he gripped my arm, he hissed, “Ah, I’ve got you!” in a weird, creepy voice.

I gasped and jerked away, and as I pulled away, I half-turned so I could see what the person looked like and what they were wearing. It was an older man with light brown hair, and tan clothes, and he was wearing a vest. Then I ran away, and as I was escaping, I heard him laugh with this maniacal laugh.

With his sinister laugh ringing in my ears, I ran from him as fast as I could, given all the books I was carrying.

My mother had given me strict instructions on the route I was to take on my way to and from school but it was boring, so I hated using it. However, on the day the guy grabbed me, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than finding the fastest route to get away from him. That turned out to be the direction my mother didn’t want me go.

When I looked back I could see he wasn’t following me, so I slowed down and heaved a sigh of relief. By that time I had reached an intersection where there were stores and businesses on all four corners, and up and down both sides of the street. As I was standing there trying to figure out what I should do next, a friend from school approached me. Her name was Amy* (name changed to protect her privacy), and she asked me what I was doing. So I told her what had happened ~ that someone tried to kidnap me as I was about to walk home from school.

At first she didn’t believe me ~ I was making a pretty shocking claim after all ~ but as I continued to tell her what happened, and I described what the guy looked like, she began to accept my story. Then she suggested I go home with her so I could tell her mother what had happened. Looking back, I don’t remember why it was important to do this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we went to Amy’s house. The problem with doing this is that getting there required going through an alley that my mother had specifically and expressly forbad me from using because she said it was dangerous. But I didn’t know any other way to get there, so we went through the forbidden alley, and nothing happened, so I decided my mother must have been wrong.

Then we arrived at Amy’s house, and I told her mother about the guy grabbing me, and she asked me if I had told the police about it. I hadn’t thought about doing that, so I told her, no, I hadn’t. Then I asked her what time it was, and she told me it was about five o’clock. That scared me because all of a sudden I realized I would be two hours late getting home, which meant my mother would be really mad at me. So I left and headed for home as fast as I could go.

When I arrived home it was about 5:15, and as expected my mother was steaming mad.

“Where have you been? Why are you so late,” she berated me, because there was absolutely no reason on earth why I should be getting home so late.

“Mom, a guy tried to kidnap me on the way home from school,” I told her.

“Are you kidding me? That’s the biggest lie you’ve come up with yet,” she scoffed at me.

“Mom, it’s not a lie! It really happened! I was leaving school and this guy grabbed me! I was able to pull away from him, but it really did happen. He tried to kidnap me,” I tried to convince her, but it felt like a losing battle, given the amount of lying I’d done over the years. But Harry was gone now, so the need for me to continue lying was no longer there. The problem was, I couldn’t seem to stop.

“Then I should call the police so they can try and catch him. What if he does this to someone else,” she said.

“Call the police? I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right. He should be arrested so he doesn’t hurt anyone else. Plus, I want him to be caught for what he did to me. It was really scary!” I answered.

“All right, I’ll call them. In the meantime, I want to know what happened,” she replied.

Relieved that maybe she was finally beginning to believe me, I began telling her what had happened. I told her about the guy grabbing me by the arm, and what he said to me, and how scared I was, and what he looked like. And I told her about his weird laugh as I escaped from his grasp and ran down the street. Then I told her about running into Amy, but I didn’t tell her about going through the alley or going to her house. I knew that would make her really mad.

“And that’s what happened, Mom,” I stopped, hoping that finally she would believe me.

Then a policeman arrived to take a report of my story. I described what had happened to me, starting with where I was when the guy grabbed me ~ across the street from my school, and what he looked like ~ light brown hair combed straight back with no part, and what he was wearing ~ tan clothes and a sweater vest with buttons down the front.

Then I told him about running into my friend Amy, only I left out the part about going through the alley, and going to her house, because I was afraid of my mother’s rage if she knew I had done those things. It didn’t occur to me that if I had just told the truth about everything it might have made my story about being grabbed more believable, but I was too frightened of my mother’s anger to be able to think about anything else.

Then the policeman REALLY scared me when he said he was going to Amy’s house to see if her story matched mine. Since I knew it wouldn’t because she would tell him that I had gone home with her, I knew I was in real trouble now. It was bad enough to be caught in one of my lies by people in my family, but to be caught by a policeman? The thought of that absolutely horrified me. Even thinking about it filled me with shame and self-hatred. It didn’t matter that the whole reason I lied in the first place was because Harry had forced me into it. To be caught in a lie by a policeman was so unspeakably awful that I couldn’t describe how bad it made me feel, plus I couldn’t tell him why I lied, because that would expose Harry ~ and those threats still loomed large in my mind, even though he was gone.

So the policeman left for Amy’s house, and returned about half an hour later. He talked to my mother for about fifteen minutes, while I sat curled up in a ball in a chair, waiting for the axe to fall.

Surprisingly, my mother wasn’t boiling over in anger. Maybe that would come after the policeman left. Instead of yelling at me she sat down next to me and waited for the policeman to talk to me.

“Amy’s story of what happened was different than yours. You knew it would be, didn’t you,” he asked me.

“Yes, sir,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry I lied,” I added softly.

“Why did you do it?” he asked gently.

“Because I was afraid Mom would be mad at me if she knew I’d gone through the alley, and gone to Amy’s house,” I responded.

“So did someone really try to kidnap you?” the officer asked.

“Yes!” I told him emphatically, “and he really looked the way I said he did, too! Everything about that part of my story is the truth!”

“Okay, then.” he said. “I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. Can you tell me what that lesson might be?”

“That lying is a bad thing to do,” I replied, “and I promise I’ll never tell another one!” I asserted vehemently.

“That’s great,” he responded. “I hope you’ll be able to keep that promise.” Then he said goodbye to my mother and left.

I was feeling a certain amount of dread, because I was afraid that my mother had been nice because he was there. Maybe he had been a mediating influence, and now that he was gone, the axe would fall, and she’d let loose on me with her rage because I’d lied and made her look bad in front of a police officer.

But none of that happened. She was unaccountably nice to me, and she didn’t get angry at me at all. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, but it never did. I wanted to ask her why, but I figured I should probably keep my mouth shut and just accept it rather than pressing my luck. Even so, I walked on eggshells the whole rest of the evening, just in case.

After I went to bed, I made a vow to God that I would never tell another lie. I slept very poorly that night, and I ended up in my mother’s bed, because I had nightmares all night long. I kept having this dream that someone was coming to get me, and I could hear chains clanking down the hall, dragged by kidnappers coming to chain me up. It was terrifying! In reality it was the dog’s collar clinking on the floor as she moved around in her sleep, but in my magnified imagination I didn’t know that. All I could think of was that kidnappers were coming to get me with their chains, and they were going to chain me up and torture me because I’d lied to a policeman.

As I look back on my childhood, and on this incident in particular, I can see God’s hand working quite clearly. At the time, if someone had suggested that God engineered that kidnapping attempt, I would have been shocked. I would have decided that God must be a mean ogre who does bad things to kids like me. But my thought process would have been the thinking of a child based on the fact that I couldn’t see the whole picture as God can. God can see the end from the beginning, as it says in the Book of Isaiah,

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’ ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NKJV.

I especially like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT.

What that says is that God could see the end result if I continued to lie (I would continue down that negative path, and could end up in some very dire circumstances if I didn’t stop). But He could also see the end result if He arranged a situation that would help me to stop lying, because He knew that I hated doing it, but that I couldn’t stop on my own. As I said above, it’s a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

So, Catherine Belinda, even though it felt really scary and bad when that guy tried to kidnap you on the street, it was actually a good thing that God allowed to happen. God was protecting you and wouldn’t have allowed the guy to do anything more than what he did, because the purpose of it was to get you to stop lying, and grabbing you was scary enough. God wouldn’t have allowed anything worse. The important part was when you lied to the policeman. God knew the shock and embarrassment of that would be enough to traumatize you into stopping. I wish you didn’t have to go through that, because I know how hard it was for you, but it worked, didn’t it? We haven’t lied since then, have we.

That’s the thing about the sovereignty of God, Catherine Belinda. He can see everything that will happen to us over our entire life, while we can only see what’s going on for a day or two. We don’t have the same perspective that God does. Because He can see what will occur over our entire life span from the beginning, He knows what needs to happen at certain points that, to us, might seem really negative because we can’t see the whole picture, even though they’re actually necessary for our life to follow the positive path that God has ordained for it.

And for some people like you and me, Catherine Belinda, because of the abuse we endured when we were little, God had to make some fairly significant course corrections so that we would end up where He wanted us to be. That meant He had to perform a number of miracles to protect us and help us stay alive when we were little, and then once we had grown up, He had perform more miracles so we could be healed from the multiplicity caused by the abuse, and become integrated into one. And the healing process is still ongoing, thank God.

I love you, Catherine Belinda! You were who we all were before we became multiple. You are a survivor! Without you none of the rest of us would ever have existed, and none of us would have survived, because Harry or my mother would have succeeded in killing us. Without you there would be no one to integrate with. I’m so grateful to you, Catherine Belinda, and I’m grateful to God for you! You are brave and courageous and beautiful and wonderful!

Most of all, I’m grateful to God for everything He’s done in me and for me. I can never thank Him enough for all that He’s done in my life ~ for the cross and the resurrection first and foremost, because that saved my soul, and then for protecting and watching over me throughout my childhood, and then for so richly supplying my needs now. And what I’ve said here only barely covers everything He’s done, and is doing for me!

God is SOOO GOOD!!!

Every. Single. Day. of My Sixty-Nine Years

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For my whole life I’ve felt younger than my chronological age, much younger, in fact. For much of that time I’ve felt about sixteen years old, regardless of what age I actually was. I think part of the reason for that was because I was multiple, and the managing alter, me, was sixteen when I was created after the gang rape when we were three years old (for an expanded explanation of that read Adulting Is a Four Letter Word, a post I wrote back in September of 2019). And I remained sixteen years old until we were all integrated into one around my birthday in March of 2003, when the body turned fifty. But ever since then, even though my life consisted of just me, Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, with no more alters, I still didn’t feel my chronological age. I still felt like I was sixteen years old.

Then, in the middle of August, I ended up in the hospital for five days because my heart started racing, and it wouldn’t stop, plus I was having a hard time breathing. Being a hospital patient was a very interesting experience in many ways, but the Lord used it. The main thing I got out of it was that I could sense that the Lord had me in the palm of His hand the entire time I was there, every second, even when my heart started racing on Saturday night, and six nurses and doctors showed up in my room with all their machines to get my heart back to normal sinus rhythm.

I was never really afraid or worried because I could sense that God had me right where He wanted me. My housekeeper was taking care of my kittens, and I had lots of people praying for me. So I just kept working at trusting that God had everything under control.

They finally diagnosed me with something called SVT, or Supraventricular Tachycardia, which is a really fancy way of saying that sometimes my heart beats too fast, but the problem arises specially from the atria, or upper chambers of the heart.

Once I got home I thought I’d start feeling better, but that hasn’t happened. People have told me that there’s a recovery period after you come home from the hospital. I don’t quite understand that. How can sitting in bed doing nothing all day, every day be such hard work? Because it’s September now, and I still feel AWFUL. I’ve never felt this bad in my whole life! I’m still having a hard time breathing, and I’m SOOO EXHAUSTED all the time that blinking and breathing are hard!

What it amounts to is, I no longer feel sixteen years old. For the first time in my life, I feel my chronological age. I feel EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of my sixty-nine years. My joints ache so badly that I can hardly move, in addition to the fatigue. It takes me three times longer to do anything now than it did before because of my aching joints and the unremitting and debilitating weariness.

I don’t want to sound like I’m doing nothing but complaining ~ even if that’s exactly what I’m doing. I just want to get it all down on paper, so to speak, so there’s a record someplace of what I’m experiencing.

And if everything I’ve already mentioned weren’t enough, I have cataracts. My right eye is worse than my left. All I can see out of my right eye is a blur, My left eye is much better, but because my right eye is so bad I have almost no stereoscopic vision.

I feel a bit like Paul when he talked about his thorn in the flesh, which he called a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him,

2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—4how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter…. 7And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, 7-9, NKJV.

I’ve tried to understand why it seems like my body is falling apart all of a sudden, but I haven’t really questioned God about it, because of the clear impression I’ve had that I’m right where He wants me to be. So I think I’m just going to go with Paul, when God told him,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV.

I know I need God. I’ve always known that. But now, when I’m so weak physically, I need Him even more, but that doesn’t bother me. I like knowing that I need God! In fact, I love knowing that I need Him, because He’s always been faithful, and He’s never let me down and I can trust Him completely. He’s my soft place to fall. So when I’m weak, then He is strong. I’ve never had anyone in my life like that before. So knowing that I can trust God that much is huge for me.

Well, I think I’m done. It’s been a really long time since I posted anything, but a good part of that is because I haven’t had the energy because I’ve been so sick, plus it’s taken me this long to sort out my thoughts.

God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. ~ 2 Samuel 22:33, NKJV.

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. ~ Ephesians 6:10, NKJV, Personalized.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13, NKJV.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13, NLT.

I use these verses while I’m climbing the stairs to my apartment from my garage, especially when I’m lugging bags of groceries. If I couldn’t recite them to myself, I don’t think I could make it up the stairs. It’s a kind of prayer to God to help me while I’m struggling so hard. And it always works! Thank you Jesus!!

My Blocked Brain

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It’s been about two weeks since I tried to write anything, mostly because I made a muddle of the post I was working on, and I just couldn’t finish it. So I decided I would try writing a train-of-thought post, just so I could get myself putting words to paper, so to speak, thereby, hopefully, unblocking my brain. We’ll see how it goes…

I got myself on a reading program ~ finally, though it remains to be seen if I’ll be able to maintain it over the long haul. As much as I love God’s Word, I struggle to read it consistently every day. As the Bible says, “…The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” ~ Matthew 26:41, and Mark 14:38, NIV. Sometimes I’ll go for months without reading it at all, even though I use it all the time. I quote it here in just about every blog post I write, and I use it when I’m praying for myself, and for other people. But I know I need to keep reading and studying regularly to keep my spiritual tank full, plus I always have fun when I’m doing my reading.

I suppose that sounds strange. How can you have fun when you’re reading the Bible? Well, I do. I don’t find the Bible at all boring. The Bible is full of fascinating stories, and beautiful poetry, and gorgeous imagery. Now, to be sure, you have to believe that God exists, and that the stories contained in the Bible are true, but that’s not a problem for me, because I do believe in God, and I love Him passionately, and I believe that the stories in the Bible are true, because God is a god of miracles, and He can’t lie. So if He says something in the Bible happened, then it really happened, because God can’t tell a lie.

God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

God means everything to me, as does Jesus Christ, His Son, and so does the Holy Spirit. Jesus saved me gloriously by dying on the cross, and coming back from the dead, and the Holy Spirit lives in me, and guides and teaches me everyday as the guarantor of my hope of eternal life, and of God fulfilling His promises to me.

And you too trusted him, when you heard the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. And after you gave your confidence to him you were, so to speak, stamped with the promised Holy Spirit as a guarantee of purchase, until the day when God completes the redemption of what he has paid for as his own; and that will again be to the praise of his glory. ~ Ephesians 1:13-14, J.B. Phillips New Testament.

When I’m reading my Bible, I get to spend time with God, and learn more about Him. Reading the Bible means I get to dive deeper into His Word, and come to a deeper understanding of who He is. God is an endless well of beauty and mystery and holiness and truth, and He wants us to search Him out so we can know and understand Him, even though we’ll never reach the bottom of that well. His mysteriousness is one of my favorite things about God, because there’s always something new to learn about Him, and the Bible is the place to look for the answers to your questions about Him.

When I say that Jesus saved me gloriously by dying on the cross for me, I mean just that. Not only did He save me because I’m a sinner ~ because I am a sinner. We’re all sinners, and if you think you aren’t, then you’re deceiving yourself. Just ask yourself about the last time you lied.

“You must not tell lies about other people.” ~ Exodus 20:16, Easy-to-Read Version (ERV, Commandment Number Nine.

Or how ‘bout the last time you coveted your neighbor’s car because yours is in the shop and his never breaks down.

“Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.” ~ Exodus 20:17, Contemporary English Version (CEV), Commandment Number Ten.

Jesus also saved me from my childhood. If it wasn’t for God protecting me from the worst of my parents’ abuse, I wouldn’t be here to write this blog and tell you my story. God gave me the gift of multiplicity, which helped to keep me alive, and protect me when the abuse was too much for me to bear. I used to hate being multiple, but now I’m very grateful to God for the multiplicity, because I know how instrumental my alters were in keeping me alive. Multiplicity is a gift from God to help a child survive what is otherwise unsurvivable. Anyone who thinks multiplicity is demon possession doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Well, I think my blocked brain is blocked no longer, thank God, and I think I’m pretty much done with this post. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge, but I said what I wanted to say.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

In the Greek, the word masterpiece is poiēma, from which we get the English word poem, which is a thing of beauty, and that’s how I want to finish this post, because while that’s how God sees me, that’s also how I see God’s Word, because the Bible is a masterpiece.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-11, NLT.

One of the main reasons I love the Bible is because it’s a record of who God is, and what He’s like. And if the Bible says God can or can’t do something, then that’s what God can or can’t do. You can take the Bible at face value. What it says is the Truth. Jesus is the Word of God, and He’s also the embodiment of the Truth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.~ John 1:1,14, NKJV.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.~ John 14:6, NIV.

I’ve been lied to many times in my life, so truth and integrity and honesty are important to me, and if I find someone whom I can trust to tell me the truth all the time, then I will give myself fully to that person. I’ve found that trustworthiness and integrity in God and in Jesus Christ, and in His Word. He’s healed me and saved me, and given me His Word to teach me and show me that He keeps His promises. I’m very grateful for everything God has done for me. He has my undying gratitude and love. I can never thank Him enough for saving me from Hell, and for saving me from the hell of my childhood.

Thank you, Jesus, thank you God, and thank you, Holy Spirit!!

Discombobulated and Disorganized. But Jesus.

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During the holidays I fall into chaotic and muddled places very easily. It takes almost nothing to throw me into a distracted (and distractible) state, and once I’m there it’s very difficult for me to get myself back on an even keel.

There are times while I’m like this that I wish I could just go Home and be with Jesus, but I know I can’t do that. However, even though I know it’s not the right time for that yet, there are times I still feel desperate enough to cry out to God to let me die and take me Home when I’m in the midst of the worst of the chaos.

I’m SOOO very thankful that God understands my heart at these times!! And I’m also extremely grateful that Christ came to earth and died on the Cross so that He could then sit at the right of the Father and make intercession for me.

Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25, NIV.

I love this verse, and I love the way the King James Version words it,

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25, KJV.

The New Living Translation is also wonderful,

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. ~ Hebrews 7:25, NLT.

And there’s a footnote attached to the word, to save, that says, “Or is able to save completely.”

I included three translations of Hebrews 7:25 because, for one thing, I love the verse, and also, it’s a verse that’s full of rich and deep meaning for Christians, and specifically me as a Christian.

As a result of reading this verse, I’ve always pictured Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, and as He’s interceding for me ~ or anyone, for that matter ~ He’s saying to God, “I understand what she’s going through. I experienced that Myself when I was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (for example).

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. ~ Matthew 4:1, NKJV.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. ~ Luke 4:1-2, NLT.

Or when I feel discouraged, Jesus might say to the Father as He’s praying for me, “I know what that feels like! Remember the time when many of My disciples deserted Me?

53 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” … 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this,said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” … 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” ~ John 6:53-56, 59-60, 66-67, NKJV.

I know I’m using a really long passage of Scripture, but I kind of need this much in order to prove my point. In John 6, beginning in verse 53, Jesus was telling His disciples that in order for them to have eternal life, they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Now, you and I know that’s symbolic for Communion, but the Sacrament of Communion hadn’t been instituted yet, so when Jesus said that, no one had a clue as to what He was talking about, and as a consequence they took Him literally, and thought He was crazy and weird, when what they should have done was asked Him what He meant. I mean, maybe it was supposed to be taken metaphorically.

So many of His disciples stopped following Him because they couldn’t stomach (pun intended) the thought of having to cannibalize Him ~ because that’s what they thought He meant. (My interpretation. I could be wrong; I’m wrong about a lot of things.) So Jesus asked His inner circle if they planned on leaving too, and I love their response.

Peter spoke up and said, “But Lord, where would we go? No one but you gives us the revelation of eternal life.” ~ John 6:68, The Passion Translation.

That’s exactly what I would have said if Jesus had asked me that question! No one but Jesus has the Words of eternal life! It’s through Christ alone that we must be saved! There is no other.

So no matter how disorganized, or discombobulated, or distracted, or… or… or… I feel during this, or any, Christmas season, none of that really matters, because Christmas isn’t about my feelings or my circumstances. It’s about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.

Christmas is about JESUS, and nothing but JESUS!!

Having Flashbacks In the Dentist’s Chair

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I broke a tooth yesterday, so I had to go to the dentist today. I didn’t have a dentist before yesterday, because I’m terrified of going to see them. Everytime you go to the dentist, they have to numb your gums, and everytime they do that, I can not only feel, but hear the POP of the needle going into my gums. It’s the creepiest thing, and it just terrifies me.

Until today when I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, I thought hearing the pop of the needle going into my gums was the only problem I had with the dentist.

Turns out I was wrong, very wrong.

So I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, and she told me to close my eyes as she was working on my teeth. I did that, but then I started seeing all these flashbacks. You know, Harry doing bad things to me. Only this time, the flashbacks were specifically about oral sex ~ I’m sure because the dentist was messing around in my mouth, forcing it wide open as she was drilling, etc.

Hence, the next time the dentist told me to close my eyes ~ once I could get a word in ~ I said I couldn’t because it made me have flashbacks, so she stopped suggesting it, thankfully. And as long as I kept my eyes open the flashbacks were held down to a dull roar ~ because once they’d begun, I couldn’t make them stop. I almost started crying, they got so bad.

I’ve known for years that Harry forced me to have oral sex with him. The very first memory I had back in 1980 was of him forcing me to have oral sex in the shower when I was about two years old. Then years later, I found a report from my pediatrician saying I had a rash around my mouth when I was about four, and I was fairly certain what had caused the rash.

And when I say oral sex, that’s exactly what I mean. Harry was forcing me to put his penis in my mouth, and my mouth was too small for it, so it made me gag and choke, which made him mad, so he started hitting me, after which I got confused and terrified, so I lost control of my bowels and pooped on the shower floor. That made Harry REALLY mad, so he picked up my feces and threw it at me, and then he forced me to eat it.

How can people be so beastly towards other people, especially towards innocent children? What did I ever do to him to make him hate me so?

I forgive him! I purpose in my heart to forgive him!

This was horribly difficult to write. It was a new memory, and it came up in public, and in a strange place, with people that I didn’t know, so I had no one with whom I could process it. I had to keep it all inside until I got home.

So I took myself to McDonald’s and got a Mocha Frappé to reward myself for adulting so well! Yay me! And more importantly, yay God, because I couldn’t have done it without Him. Throughout the appointment I was repeating a verse from Isaiah to myself,

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

And then I personalized it,

You will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on You, because I trust in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, personalized.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this verse to get me through a difficult situation like today, and especially once I started having those flashbacks. Being able to draw on the Holy Spirit, and the Father, and my Sweet Jesus by meditating on Scripture, as I did today, made all the difference.

As Jesus told the Apostle Paul when Paul asked Him to remove the thorn in his flesh,

“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, Good News Translation.

I was weak today, and I’m glad I was, because God is faithful and trustworthy. He always keeps His promises. He always shows up if we will only put our trust in Him.

I’m so glad I did!

Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Holy Spirit! Praise God! God is so good!

No Average Joes

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God created each one of us in His own image and after His likeness, and I believe He made each person unique and individual, like no other human being ever created before or after. God broke the mold, as the saying goes, after He was finished creating each person. So no one is average, no matter how boring you think you are. If you think you have nothing special to offer, then you need to ask God, and He will show you. EVERYONE has gifts and talents, regardless of how you see yourself.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. ~ 1 Peter 4:10, NLT.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

The word, “masterpiece” in this verse comes from the Greek word, poiēma from which we get the word poem. I understand that to mean that God made me uniquely in His image, a masterpiece of His choosing, unlike any other person that He ever created before or after me, and all the other people who He created are also masterpieces.

Just as an aside, I think that’s why murder is such a terrible crime. When you kill someone, you are murdering a unique person who was created in the image of God, so you’re destroying the very image of God by killing that person, and you’re acting like God when you take that individual’s life. Look what happened to Satan when he tried to act like God. He got tossed out of Heaven, and demoted from Lucifer, one of the archangels, to Satan, lord over Hell. Only God should be able to decide someone’s time of death. God is the author of life, so He should be the author of death.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ~ Psalm 139:13-16, TLB, The Living Bible.

When I was little, every time Harry abused me, he told me he had to do it because God hated me. He also told me that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. Those two statements were like a litany repeated over and over into my mind until they became part of the wiring of my nervous system. It took an act of God to break them down so I no longer believed them, terrible lies that they were.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Harry probably felt those things about himself so he projected them onto me. It took many years as an adult for me to be able to believe that God loved me, and many, many more before I could believe that I wasn’t ugly.. What did the trick was changing my name back in 1980.

I decided I wanted to change my name so I could rid myself of the legacy of child abuse. So I went to the Bible to find Bible names with good meanings. I knew I wanted my first name to be Sarah, because it meant Princess. Then I found Abigail, which means “a joy to the Father.”

Then all I was lacking was a last name, so I started flipping through Strong’s Concordance. I happened to open it to a page in the Greek section where the work “kuriakos” appeared at the very bottom of the last column on the left-hand page ~ the very last entry at the bottom of that column. I think God put it there so it would be easy for me to find. And it turned out that “kuriakos” meant “belonging to God”.

How cool is that! I had my whole name! Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. God’s Princess, a Joy to the Father, Belonging to God. I thought I had never heard such a beautiful name in all my life.

Then I decided I wanted to do it legally, because it felt like a legal name change would be the only way for it to feel real to me. So I went to court and changed my name legally from the name I was born with to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos.

Changing my name has made a tremendous difference in my life. Every time I hear the names, I hear their meanings. Hearing the meanings has been like feeding a new litany into my nervous system to break the wiring created by the old one and replacing it with this new, healing one. I could almost feel the healing process as it was happening over the years.

So that’s that! I’m beautiful! I may not look like Raquel Welch or Marilyn Monroe, but I wouldn’t want to. I have a hard enough time being me, much less trying to be someone else. Besides, God didn’t make me to be Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welch. He made me to be me, and for the first time in my life, I’m fine with that.

I love knowing that because God thinks I’m beautiful, I can accept and believe it about myself, and feel beautiful because God thinks I am. It’s marvelously freeing, though it took me several more years before I could get to that point, even with that wonderful and amazing name.

Finally I realized that God Himself had given me that name. And if He gave me that beautiful name, He must think I’m beautiful. And if God thinks I’m beautiful, then I must be beautiful, because God NEVER makes a mistake.

Think about that. God NEVER makes a mistake, so I must beautiful.

Hallelujah!! Thank you Jesus!!

An Attitude of Gratitude ~ Part II

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Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been more helpful than anything else I’ve tried as I’ve recovered from my childhood. It was easy to focus on how awful I’d had it as a kid, but that didn’t help me to grow and heal. In fact, it only made me feel worse.

I spent years being angry at God for what had happened to me. In fact, that’s all I could see or think about. I devoted a great deal of time to informing Him about how badly He’d messed up my life by allowing Harry and my mother to abuse me as they had, by even placing me in that family in the first place.

What I didn’t understand was that God, because He’s GOD, and therefore Creator and Ruler over everything, including me, had the absolute right to do whatever He wished with my life, just because He’s God. What that means is that He didn’t have to ask my permission before He did something in my life. Specifically, He didn’t have to ask me, or explain to me, why He was placing me in the particular family that He put me in. He’s God and therefore sovereign, and doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.

Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” or the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!”? ~ Isaiah 45:9, TLB (The Living Bible).

I love the way this translation words it, because that’s exactly what I was trying to do. I was trying to tell God that He had done it wrong by giving me those specific parents. As far as I was concerned, He should have given me much better parents. Parents who were nicer and more loving, as if God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, had made a mistake. And I felt very angry, even enraged, about it too.

Looking back, I can see how incredibly arrogant and presumptuous I was in thinking that. I was displaying the same kind of arrogance Satan did when he decided he would assume God’s throne and overthrow Him, which of course, was impossible. The result of his presumption was that he got tossed out of Heaven forever, and thrown down to Earth.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ~ Isaiah 14:12-14, NKJV.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ~ Luke 10:17-18, NKJV.

What I didn’t realize was that if He had given me different parents, then I wouldn’t be me. I’d be someone else with different DNA, a completely different genetic makeup, and completely different reactions to everything. Even more, I would also have a different relationship, or perhaps no relationship at all, with God, and the thought of that horrified and terrified me. I can’t imagine a life where God isn’t a part of it, nor do I want to.

So it seemed I had a decision to make, whether or not I was consciously aware of it. I could hold onto my anger at God, and reject Him and the salvation He offered through Jesus Christ. Or I could be smart and let go of my anger, and accept the grace, and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I knew that letting go of my anger meant accepting my past and the terrible suffering that went with it, but there was suffering either way, whether I stayed angry or let go of it. I’d already begun to feel like I was losing my mind because the anger had such a tight grip on me. I was breaking things (the windshield of my car, and one of my tires had fallen victim to my rage), and it felt like there was band around my head that grew tighter every day because I was so angry all the time. In addition, I’d begun to fear that I would lose my salvation if I didn’t let the anger go, because I was yelling and cursing at God almost constantly, and while God is extremely patient and long-suffering, I couldn’t imagine that He’d put up with my childish temper tantrums forever, all the Scriptures to the contrary notwithstanding.

And then I heard James Dobson say something on a Focus On the Family broadcast that brought me up short, and made me think that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree. I don’t remember what the subject of the broadcast was, but what Dr. Dobson said was, “We don’t have the right to hold God accountable.”

What that meant to me was that I didn’t have the right to question God’s sovereignty, which is exactly what I was doing. Human beings don’t have the right to question their Creator’s plan for their lives. God loves us, and because He’s Perfect He really does know what’s best for us. Being Perfect means He doesn’t make mistakes with regard to our lives, and in my case, with regard to my life.

There are times when I have a hard time with that concept. When I consider the absolute Hell I went through as a child, and the love I’ve gone without, because neither parent was willing to meet my emotional needs in any substantive way, which left me feeling like I was starving to death emotionally most of the time.

But I’ve come to realize that God didn’t make a mistake by giving me these parents, as difficult as my life with them was. He had a plan. I think that plan was that I would be able to form a relationship with Him that would be so far above and beyond anything I could ever imagine, one that would never have happened had I been born into any other family.

I’ve come to value my relationship with God far more than any other affiliation in my life, and I wouldn’t be willing to give it up for anything. Thankfully I don’t think He expects me to.

Even though I feel like there’s a gaping hole in me emotionally, I know there’s only One Person who can meet that need, and that Person is Jesus Christ. So I will eagerly await His appearing, and long for the time when I can see His beautiful face, and know Him as He knows me now.

E‘en so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!

I Am That Wretched Man (or Woman).

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O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

Paul was writing this about himself, but in reality it could be said about anyone who is willing to admit that they are sinful and desperately in need of God’s saving grace. I am one of those wretched people, which is why this post is entitled as it is. I am the wretched person spoken of in Romans 7:24, as is every human being, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

Thankfully, however, Paul didn’t stop at verse 24. Verse 25 follows immediately thereafter,

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:24-25, NLT.

This tells me a couple of things. Most obviously, it reminds me that I am a sinner, and then it emphasizes to me just how much I need Jesus and His saving grace. I thank God for His grace! I’d be dead without it! One of those nine suicide attempts would have succeeded had it not been for God’s efforts on my behalf.

7 But I must not be too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem was given to me—an angel from Satan, sent to make me suffer, so that I would not think that I am better than anyone else. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, ERV (Easy-to-Read Version).

I like this translation best because it emphasizes the fact that God’s power works best when man’s weakness is fully acknowledged. And something that God showed me is that I don’t have to have a physical infirmity like Paul’s thorn in order for this to be true for me. All that’s needed is for me to recognize my total dependency on Him. I don’t find that hard to do, because I’m confronted many times everyday with how much I need Him.

As I stated above, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for His working in my life from the beginning on. Either one of my mother’s attempts to kill me would have succeeded, or one of my own suicide attempts would have. And I like knowing that I need God that much. God has never failed me. He’s always kept His promises to me, He’s never lied to me, and He’s never betrayed me, unlike the humans in my life. God is completely dependable. He always has been, and He always will be.

There’s never been anyone like God in my life. Everyone I’ve ever known has betrayed me and let me down to one degree or another. So when I discovered that God was with me from the beginning of my life, protecting me from the worst of the abuse (the worst meaning Harry would kill me, which he threatened to do any number of times, or my mother would kill me, or the cult would), and keeping me alive until I could grow up and make my own decision to serve Him or not.

Of course I chose to serve Him after all He’s done for me!

So I may be that wretched woman, but I don’t mind, because Jesus is redeeming me every second of everyday. And God’s Word is true for me all the time, and is the foundation of my life.

I LOVE knowing that!! I LOVE being able to believe that and stand on it!!

No Shame Allowed

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Every once in awhile something happens for which, unaccountably, I feel so much shame that I can’t talk about it with anyone. I was able to talk with McT and one friend about it, but it’s taken me several days to convince myself that I need to blog about it.

In a previous post (A Cross Stitch, New Kitties, and Two Smoking Needles), I talked about becoming the proud parent of two new kittens. Well, on Wednesday, the 28th, five days after bringing them home, Margaret died.

She died! What am I to do? She died!

I felt such devastation that I was overwhelmed and at a loss for words, for action, for anything and everything. All I could do was cry out to God, “My God! Why? What happened?”

About twenty minutes before it happened, she had allowed me to pick her up and pet her. This was surprising to me, as she hadn’t let me come close to her at all before that. Then all of a sudden she let me hold her and pet her. I cuddled her for about fifteen minutes, then she got down and disappeared, and I continued to watch TV. Then I got up and tried to find her.

I didn’t have to look very far, because she was on the floor around the corner from the couch where I was sitting, and when I looked at her I could see that she wasn’t breathing, plus her mouth was wide open. When I touched her she was cold and stiff.

Shock coursed through my body. What did I do wrong? I left fresh food and water out for her ~ for both of them ~ at all times, and I made sure that the litter box was clean. Plus I changed the water every day. Surely I couldn’t have done something wrong, but maybe I did.

Did I kill her? I was terrified that I had done something to cause her death, but I couldn’t think of anything that I might have done. I had decided earlier in the day that I was going to take her to the vet the next day, because she needed to be seen, and because she had been acting like she wasn’t feeling well. But then she died before I got the chance.

I emailed the woman from whom I had adopted them, and told her that Margaret had died. She replied that she didn’t think I was responsible, that Margaret must have had some kind of undiagnosed heart condition. She said she would pay for a necropsy to find out the cause of death, but after doing some online research, we both decided that was way too expensive. I felt like I could accept her idea of an undiagnosed heart problem, so we both let it go at that.

So now I’m left with the confusion and desolation I feel because of her death, and the hole in my heart that’s there, even though I only had her for five days. And as I said at the beginning, unaccountably, I feel a huge amount of shame. I don’t know why, but I do. Somehow, even if her demise wasn’t caused by me, it must have been my fault. There must have been some way in which I was responsible. It’s not logical, I know, but there it is.

I wonder if at least part of it doesn’t go back to Harry blaming me for stuff that I couldn’t have been responsible for when I was little, and for the cult rituals doing the same thing. There was one particular ritual that they did when I was about two where I had to answer questions, and if I got the wrong answer, a man was slowly lowered into a bonfire and burned alive.

The problem was, the questions were unanswerable. There were no right answers, though there was no way I could know that, especially at age two. So I had to answer these unanswerable questions, get the wrong answers because there weren’t any right ones, and listen to the screams of agony of the guy as he was lowered into the bonfire. And the whole thing was all my fault ~ or so they told me.

Talk about the essence of torture, both for the guy being burned alive, and for little two-year-old me!

But I’m no longer living in that reality. I’ve been set free from that life, thank God. And interestingly, I named the other kitten Charlotte, and she, thankfully, is alive and well, even though she still won’t let me near her. I discovered in the process of deciding on Charlotte’s name, that “Charlotte” means “freedom”. Maybe that’s why God motivated me to name her that, I don’t know. All I know is that before I brought them home, the name Charlotte was the only name I could think of.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32, NLT.

And this is the truth that will set you free,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10, NLT.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” ~ [Isaiah 28:16, Greek Version], Romans 10:11, NLT.

So, regardless of how I feel, I must go on what Scripture says. If God’s Word says I am FREE, then I AM FREE. That means NO SHAME ALLOWED!! I did not cause Margaret’s death, and I did not cause that man to be burned alive!!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1, NIV.

To Publish Or Not to Publish, That Is the Question.

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I haven’t been able to write much in awhile. I’ve been working on a post, but it’s too long, and I can’t figure out how to shorten it. I’m trying to decide if I should publish it as is and let you all read it, and hope you won’t be bored. The problem is, it contains details that I feel are important in telling the story that I’m trying to tell. I know I’ve published long posts before, but this one is longer than most.

So this post is going to be about whether I should publish the other post. Silly, I know, but that’s where I’m at. And in the process of making my decision, I may meander around a bit here, because sometimes that’s how I think. So if some of what I write here sounds irrelevant, it will only sound that way.

The battery on my laptop died, so I had to purchase a new computer. I got a really fancy new iPad. It has a separate keyboard, and a huge hard drive, At first I didn’t think I’d be able to retrieve anything from my laptop, but God has been resurrecting the battery at different times, so when that happens, I get the things I want and send them to myself in assorted emails. It’s been working quite well. There were a number of Long Dog Sampler charts that I had saved on my hard drive, that I needed, so I was able to send those to myself, plus some of the things I need so I can finish the sampler I’m working on (it’s called Pandemic, and it’s also a Long Dog Sampler design).

There were a whole lot of photos I’d saved that I really wanted, so I’ve been able to get a lot of them as well. I’m still not done, but I’m making progress. In addition, there were a number of papers I had written for various classes that I didn’t want to lose, and I was also able to retrieve them.

Another thing I’ve discovered I can do is that while my laptop is functional I can go through and justify the margins of all the posts that I wrote since I started using the iPad. This is because I haven’t figured out how to justify the margins in WordPress for the iPad ~ at least not yet. Hopefully I will before too long, because I hate unjustified margins. They look so sloppy to me.

It’s been a lot of fun getting all the stuff transferred from the old to the new, and I’m grateful to God for making my laptop available so I can do it. It’s a time-consuming task, but an enjoyable one.

At some point in the near future I’ll post a pic of my cross stitch that I’m working on. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. It’s a huge project, probably the biggest piece I’ve ever made, but I think it will be beautiful once it’s finished.

I think I’m going to publish that post as is with only a little more editing.

See? Meandering around in my thoughts while I’m writing about seemingly irrelevant stuff helped me decide! Thank you, Jesus! And thank you, everyone for being patient with me as I figure it out. I love you all!