"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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Not in Kansas Anymore


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Two things can be said about why I haven't written in awhile.

Okay, maybe three.

First, I didn't want to.  Quite simple really.

Second, I had found myself looking at life and people through a new filter.  This would be the  "opposite of rose coloured glasses" kind of filter.  It was a filter which highlighted and magnified the glaring fact that people are hardly ever what they seem.  And that sometimes, they are downright evil.  It took some getting used to.

Third, knowing that I was now looking at people through this filter, you wouldn't have wanted to read what I had to write.  Trust me on that one.

And then one Sunday night, as I sat at my piano and played for the first time since August, I felt a change.  A lifting.  A lightness.

Filter still there?  Check.

Circumstances all the same?  Check.

But something new.  Something different.

It was a lifting, a lightening.  A knowing that despite everything I had seen, all the ugly, all the pain (and not all of it my own), there was still good.  There was still light.  I believe it can all be summed up in a little word.  A little word called hope. 

And the thing I have to say about it, about all of it, is that when you are faced with change and you're scared and you're anxious to make the decisions that need making, this.  Just this:

Embrace the change.

Let the change wrap itself around you, pick you up off your feet and take you for a spin while you cling for dear life.  Because it will feel that way, like you're clinging for dear life.  But when you land again and you take a peak to see what it is you're left with, you'll be saying these words:

"I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."  

All that stifling black and white and all those devious shades of grey will be gone and before you will be a road full of adventure, excitement and yes, even danger.  But a road full of colour.

Why on earth would we hang on to grey when we can have colour?

Because if grey is all we've known in awhile, then anything else is too frightening to consider.  Grey is at least safe.

Isn't it?

But then you could be like me and resist the obvious, the necessary change, for so long that you discover the hard way, grey is not safe.  Grey most definitely is not safe at all.

Take my word for it; don't wait too long.  Don't wait.

Embrace the change. 

We left a church.  That was good.

We left a school.  That also was good.

We are moving from the house we built and have loved every single day for over five years.  

We are leaving this town.  This town I have loved and in which I have lived longer than any other.  The only town my babies have known.  The town in which I thought we had laid roots for our family.

And we know that what lies ahead will be good.  Because it is full of hope and it is full of colour.  And beauty and life and friendship and music and poetry.  And fun and new things and exciting things and adventure.  And love and laughter.  

Lots of love and laughter.

So I have embraced change and gone for a spin.  We haven't quite landed yet, but I know that when we do, the filter will still be there.  We will still look at events and people with new seeing eyes, knowing there is potential for danger even in this new and colourful world.

But I know it's right.  I know it's right to move on and I'll be honest with you, dear readers...

I'm fairly bursting with the excitement of it.

Nothing New Under the Sun


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Believe it or not, I've been at a loss for words.  

It's been two months since I last wrote about 9/11 and good versus evil because nothing has changed and I have simply been at a loss for words ever since. 

When it was my own story of betrayal, grief, injustice, lies, hurt and healing, I could write about it.  I even summed it up with an analogy to having taken the red pill in the Matrix.  I saw and experienced such things which would change me forever but I could write about it because it all began to make sense.  There were things we needed to see and so the changes which followed were necessary and ultimately were for good.  And I was glad for seeing.

We needed to see that there was evil in the world and learn how to protect ourselves and our family from it.  I needed to have my year of the Wolf, putting into practise what I'd learnt about loyalty and family.  Paul and I have put a protective hedge around our four little cubs and woe to anyone who has tried to hurt them.  Our family is the better and stronger for it and on that level alone I am grateful for everything that led to this point.

But then it became someone else's story and that's when I became really angry and that's when I began to wonder if it really did make sense after all.  Because when it wasn't me but someone else that I dearly loved who was betrayed and hurting, there was no amount of reasoning or justification for it.  It was completely and utterly unfair.

It was wrong.

I was at a loss for words to explain it.  I still am.  And I'm still angry.

Except to say that nowhere in the Bible are we ever promised an easy life, a sugar-coated life.  Jesus does not say, "Follow me and you'll have it easy!"  Rather, he promises quite the opposite.  And not just once but time and time again we are told to get our armour on, get ready, the onslaught is coming. 

It is already here.

A friend of mine recently wrote in her blog about the rain outside her window and how it matched the rain she felt inside.  I get that.  But as I read her words late last night, I had to admit that I don't see the sun peaking through the clouds anytime soon.  Or at least, when it does, it certainly won't be shining in it's full glory for me like it used to.  It's not that I am depressed or sad or forever melancholic. It's that I am honest.  It's that I'm more knowledgeable, more discerning.  It's that I'm armed.

And then my 9-year old daughter who is wiser than her years gave me a verse this morning. She was actually showing me Ecclesiastes 12:1 and said it meant something for her but my eye was instantly drawn to the words "rain clouds" in verse 2:  "Remember him [your Creator] before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky."  (Ecclesiastes 12:2, NLT).  

There's a word there.  It's an important word.  And probably one we'd rather weren't written on the page.

Continually.

The writer is referring to the relentless physical ageing of the body but I believe the metaphor is much bigger than that.  For me, the rain clouds refer to the spiritual darkness hanging over us.  I have joked that I didn't grow up until I turned 40 but I'm only half-laughing when I say it.  Because actually, that's when I started to see firsthand the potential for evil which lies in the heart of humankind and that's when my eyes started to open and that is certainly when the rain clouds started to darken my sky.  And I hate to have to tell you this, whatever the rain clouds represent, they are guaranteed to darken your sky too.

Continually.

Our response to the inexplicable and relentless evil we see in this world can only be this: remember Jesus. Remember Jesus who was shamed and betrayed and lied to.  Remember Jesus who was whipped and tried and hung on a cross to die.  
Remember Jesus "before the rain clouds continually darken your sky" because you will need Him when they do.  And my faith tells me that is enough.  It is enough just to remember Him and to need Him.

Because He gets it too.

9/11, Sam's Speech and Good versus Evil


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It's a slow start for me today.  One of those rare and luxurious, tea and toast in bed days, after the kids have gone to school.  I needed a rest morning and I'm taking it.  Plenty of days ahead for activity.  And I'm sitting here with my computer, facebook open and I'm struck with the beauty and solemnity of the tributes for 9/11, that day no one will ever forget.  I remember that it was a slow start for me thirteen years ago as well, heavily pregnant and covered in PUPPP rash.  It was a hot day in September and I was trying to keep myself cool when a friend rang and told me to turn on the T.V.  

Those images.


Thirteen years later it occurs to me that I should write something too on such a subject so close to my heart, and then I realise I don't have to.  Our Sam has already said what needs to be said.  

Tuesday night we had the privilege of watching three of our children perform their speeches in the school speech finals.  8 year old Abby's speech was about her favourite hobby:  the rainbow loom.  9 year old Madeline spoke about the wives of King Henry the 8th, a subject that she is passionate about.  She's already started her speech for next year which will be about Lady Jane Grey.  You'd be right if you assumed she was my mini-me.

And Sam's speech is also about his passionate interests:  Star Wars, Harry Potter, LoTR and The Hobbit, but with a twist.  He speaks to convince us why these movies and books are so important.  Dressed in his Jedi cloak, he stands confidently in front of his audience and he speaks about good versus evil, like he knows.  Because he does know.  My boy of not-quite-thirteen already knows about the evil in this world.  And it breaks my heart.  

Below is a transcript of Sam's speech, meant to be spoken with conviction (and it was--he won the senior trophy and I was not the only one with shivers running down my spine), rather than read quietly to oneself.  

Good versus evil.  The greatest battle of them all.  Which side will you choose my Padewan and Younglings?  I am a Jedi Master.  I have faced both good and evil.  I am going to tell you about this battle and its importance to us today in 2014.

Have you noticed that all the best movies have this battle of good versus evil in them?  In both the Star Wars trilogies the battle is between light and dark.  Sith take control.  Think Darth Maul, Count Duku, Darth Sidius and the most notorious of them all, Darth Vader.  All dark.  All evil which the Rebel Alliance and Jedi have to fight against on behalf of the good.

Then there is Harry Potter.  The name Tom Marvelo Riddle might not mean much to you, but when he chose evil, he became the nasty, horrible Voldemort.  Through the seven books the battle rages between good and evil, Harry Potter versus Voldemort.

And who could forget Lord of the Rings?  A fellowship of hobbits, elves, dwarfs and men against the power of Sauron and his orcs and ringwraiths.  And now with the Hobbit trilogy we meet Azog the defiler and Smaug the dragon.  Again, evil, which the Dwarfs and Bilbo Baggins must try to defeat.

But why is this?  Why can’t we just enjoy the stories and movies for what they are … fiction.  Aren’t they just made up stories and characters to keep us entertained?  Is there really a Dark side? Is there really an evil Darth Vader out to conquer the universe?  And is there really a Lord Voldermort out there trying to destroy our good heroes?  Surely there are no Orcs hiding in the forests at night fighting battles for Sauron, the evil eye, watching our every move.

Well consider this.  The bombing of Malaysian Air flight MH 17 killing 298 people was not fiction.  The Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by rebels in that country—not just a fairytale.   Massacres in Iraq and Syria —not fiction.  If you’re not convinced, let’s go back a bit further.  9/11 in 2001.  The Twin Towers came down during terrorist attacks and thousands of people were killed including police and firemen.  No, this was not fiction either.  Let’s go back even further.  World War 2.  Adolf Hitler and the concentration camps:   millions of people murdered.  Definitely, not fiction

The movies we watch and the books we read about good versus evil are so important because they warn us.  Evil is very real and it is something we all have to face in our lives.  The stories help us to be prepared and help us make good choices so we are always on the right side.  The good side.

But that doesn’t mean it will always be easy.  The temptation Luke Skywalker and others face to turn to the dark side is very real.  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be able to do this to their little sister from time to time…..


But I have made my choice.  I am choosing good.  I am choosing the way of the Jedi.  But what about you?  Which side are you choosing?

Sam Dominikovich, September, 2014

This is our tribute to the thousands who lost their lives thirteen years ago.  This is our pledge that they did not lose their lives for nothing...that if a thirteen year old boy chooses light, the side of the good instead of the evil that rages all around us, then there is hope.

There is hope.

From Gothic to Science Fiction: Doctor Who and the B.C. Teacher's Dispute


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“The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life.  He showed all of us!  That you don’t just give up.  You don’t just let things happen.  You make a stand, you say no, you have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away!”       Rose Tyler from Doctor Who




After sitting on a plane for twelve hours and watching back to back episodes of the X Men, returning home to find myself searching for ways to stream the episodes I had missed, I finally had to admit something:   I love the X Men.  Not only do I love superheroes (yes, I have always been rather fond of our Hugh, even with metal claws), but I love all things weird and wonderful like superhero powers and time travel and gene mutations.  So it wasn’t a stretch at all to realise, actually, I have a fascination with sci fi.  I have carefully hidden it under the guise of “English Literature” geek, talking at length (to anyone who will listen) about all things William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.  And if you are listening, I mean really listening, and if you care to probe a little deeper, you will learn that I wrote my Honours thesis not on Jane Austen and female friendship as planned, but on Gender and Landscape in…wait for it…The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs Radcliffe and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Gothic and science fiction, all beautifully wrapped together in two amazing novels.  I relished every moment of reading those books and writing that thesis.  Oh how I unpacked and unravelled and cried and cheered and cried some more.  And when I probed these two works for clues and hints about gender roles as reflected in the landscape, I had “a ha” moments that will last a lifetime and will ensure that I honour these two women and their genius for all of my days.  Amazing.  Truly amazing. 

So in recognising that I love science fiction, gothic, fantasy, dystopian tales, super heroes, the works, one day not long ago I decided to do the right thing and hang up my chick-flick-I-can’t-stay-awake-any-longer-hat in exchange for Doctor Who.

After all, there isn’t such a thing as a Whovian for no reason.  And it came highly recommended by my friend Sarah Bessey who doesn’t even really like sci fi (we’ll have to have a chat about that).

Thus began my love affair with the Doctor.  I started with season one of the new Doctor Who which aired in 2005.  I adored Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, having never seen another Doctor Who in my life and I put up with some very bad graphics and cheesiness in favour of the characters and the stories.  Rose and her mother and Mickey and the Doctor.  Real people.  I loved it and continue to love it, four seasons, several companions and two doctors later.  But I don’t just love Doctor Who because I love sci-fi.  I love it because it’s real. 

Settle down; I’m not about to confess that I think aliens are about to invade London this Christmas. 

I don’t need to believe in aliens; there is enough evil and selfish agenda in this world as it is.  Everywhere.  Not just in those notoriously corrupt countries we hear about in the news, but right here in our own little towns.  There are battles going on around us all the time.  And unfortunately, once you open your eyes to the evil around us, you enter the battle and you cannot stop fighting.  You might try to stop and you might have little breaks but as long as there are battles (and there are always battles), you will always be fighting.

My favourite scene in Doctor Who occurs in the last episode of Season One.  The Doctor and Rose are engaged in an epic battle with the Daleks some time in the future and the Doctor tricks Rose into going home in the Tardis.  She cannot control the Tardis and she is stuck in her former reality.  She cannot return to the battle.  In a spine-chilling moment, a seemingly resigned Rose sits in a café with her mum and friend Mickey.  They are eating chips and talking about coleslaw and pizza.  It’s normal life on the East End—the life that Rose’s mother desperately wants for her daughter.  Just be normal.  In other words, stay safe.  But Rose cannot accept normal life.  She complains that “he’s fighting for us, for the whole planet and I’m just sitting here eating chips!”  Rose tries to explain to Mickey and her mum that it’s not about the aliens and the space travel, but that “it was a better life.”  She goes on:

“The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life.  He showed all of us!  That you don’t just give up.  You don’t just let things happen.  You make a stand, you say no, you have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away!”

And right then and there, watching Doctor Who on my laptop and drinking hot tea with my McVities, I knew what it was about.  I described that scene as spine-chilling because it shows us that once we have seen the evil, the destruction and the battles, we can’t go back.  We can’t run away.  We can’t go back to coleslaw and chips.  How can any of us go back to coleslaw and chips when we have seen what we have seen?  When we know there is a better way of living our life?

We can’t.

And that’s the way it should be.  Because like Rose, we were not made just to sit on our comfortable seats eating chips.  Oh yes, we have those moments and lots of them and they are a blessing and a gift.  I am grateful every day for times of quiet and rest and coleslaw and chips. 

Blossom and tui and lakeside and lambs.

Laughter and games and music and faith. 

These are the things that give us strength and courage when the battles start.  And I’m not saying that we should be looking for battles around every corner.  Believe me, I have not gone seeking the battles that our family has faced.  That would be a bitter and destructive existence.  But I am saying that as we go, if our eyes are open, we will see the battles.  Because as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are supposed to see the injustice, the untruth, the unfair and the downright evil and we are supposed to stand up and play our part in the battle when the time comes.  And the time will always come and we have to be ready.  Because there are those who cannot fight and we are supposed to fight for them.  And there are others who do not see the battle or do not want to acknowledge it and yes, we are supposed to fight, even for them.  Even for those who just run away.

Most importantly, we are supposed to fight for our children.  Yes, they need to learn that life isn’t fair sometimes and they need to learn how to protect themselves.  But they also need to know that Mum and Dad and other significant adults will go to the ends of the earth to protect them and fight for them.  They can’t always fight their own battles.  Sometimes we are supposed to do it for them so that they can just keep on being kids.  They’ll have their own battles soon enough and they can fight them when they are strong and have the skills they need with which to fight.

My friends in B.C. are doing exactly that.  They are fighting an incredible battle on behalf of all children in that province, not just their own.  Major injustices have occurred and I can only speculate at the selfish agenda which is driving the government to behave and act in the way that they are.  But my friends, the teachers in B.C., have stood up and said no because they have the guts to “do what’s right when everyone else just runs away.”



I know my friends are tired of fighting.  I know they are in fact exhausted and potentially financially crippled.  I wish more parents and tax-payers who aren’t even teachers would pick up the fight and let my friends rest for a bit.  Let them eat chips and talk about coleslaw and pizza, even just for a few days while the government gets a clear message that the entire province of B.C is disgusted with them.  But in true Rose fashion, my friends continue to stand.  Rose finds her way back to the Doctor, back to the battle, and my friends will keep standing and keep fighting too.  They are fighting for the good of an entire province, yet they still have to put up with accusations of selfishness and greed.  This fight isn’t about money.  It’s about integrity.  It’s about truth.  It’s about the future. 

And as I picture Premier Christy Clark and the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender speaking to the cameras, I instantly get an image in my mind of the Slitheen, hungry aliens set on devouring the human race masquerading as powerful but corrupt politicians. 



And in case you didn’t know, they also let off a lot of hot air.

Doctor Who is not so far from the truth.


And that’s why I love it.

Celebrating my cow man and a love letter (the third)


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Late afternoon, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping.  I wrapped my skirted legs around yours on our garden swing, gently swaying as we sat.  We watched.  And waited.

And we breathed.  

We inhaled spring and exhaled winter.  Every breath a relief and a solace.

You pointed out the tui on top of the tallest pine.  It was perched there at the very tip, immobile, and like a heavy star on the Christmas tree, we expected the branch to bend under its weight.  It didn't.  Motionless.  Still.  

You squeezed my hand and said, "it's a sign..."

"Of what?"  I asked.

And you laughed because you really had no idea.  I said, "it's not a sign; this is a sign.  All of this."

The stillness.  The peace.  The beauty.

The rest.

And I squeezed your hand harder, knowing you had to go back to work, back to town to be master of ceremony at an event.  You were a little nervous even though you were born for the role.  Born to command, to dictate and to entertain.  Born to keep a crowd at ease while carrying on a whole programme of events.  But at that moment you were still by my side and still mine, all mine.  You didn't belong to hundreds of maths enthusiasts then.  Just to me.

I remember writing about the Cow Man in our lives, celebrating our heroes, not for one moment thinking that I would come to this place of absolutely depending upon and needing several heroes in my life.  I needed them; they stood up.  And I celebrate them again.

More than anyone, you stood up.  As you always have and always will.  You stood up for me, made the phone calls that needed to be made, said the things that I needed to hear and held my hand.  Because that's what you were born to do.  You were born to be my hero, my Cow Man and I am grateful.

You slipped away from me into the dusk and I sat a little while longer on our swing.  Alone with the tui and a gentle breeze.  Alone, but not afraid.  For a moment at least, not afraid.

Alone, I inhaled spring and exhaled winter.

And I rested.

On seeing what we'd rather not have to see


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Last night, or should I say, in the early hours of this morning as I went from groggy unsettled sleep to groggy unsettled sleep, I kept having the same dream.  

Now first of all, I don't put much stock in dreams.  Yes I know about Joseph in the Bible and I know that God is capable of speaking to us in our dreams and visions but I have seen this potential abused far too much by men and I admit it would take an awful lot to convince me that a dream is a word from God.  It is more likely to be an accumulation and interpretation of the thousands of images that have crossed in front of our eyes, during the day, both in real life and in what we glean from our technological world.  Some of these things we don't actually see but our brains acknowledge them and they get into our self-conscious without us even knowing.  

So my dreams last night were not from God but directly from my brain.  Still, it's my brain saying something to me.  And I've been listening.

You've all probably had that dream where someone or something is after you and you can't move?  You experience the panic and frustration of wanting to run but you can't move.  Your legs are glued to the spot.  And then you wake up in a cold "oh it was just a dream!" sweat.

Well last night or this morning, I dreamt that I could not see.  I could not open my eyes except for brief moments but when I did, I was blinded by glaring awful light that hurt my eyes and made them cry.  The dream went on for ages, in and out of days, all with that frustration and panic of not being able to see.  I would stumble around the house, go to the grocery store grasping at the aisles and whatever I could touch, ride my bike and drive my car--all blind. And afraid of what could be lurking right in front of me that might hurt me.

Think about it:  if someone were to put a blindfold over your eyes and make you take steps in a clear room, even knowing that there were no obstacles in front of you, your steps would still be tiny and awkward and your arms would be flailing in front of you because of what could be there.  The unknown is the most frightening thing we face.

So naturally I've thought a lot about seeing and blindness and the world we live in right now.  There is a lot we would rather not see. So much we'd rather not know.  The Nigerian school girls kidnapped by rebels, the bombing of the Malaysian plane, the massacres in Syria and Iraq, the racism and turmoil in Ferguson--all horrible stuff in our world that most of us, if we're honest, would rather not see.

And if we did see, if we did open our eyes, we would see plenty in our own cities and towns.  Poverty.  Domestic abuse.  Rape.  Drug and alcohol abuse.  Suicide.

Hey, if we're really honest, we'd have to admit we have our eyes shut to a lot of what we'd rather not see even in our own churches. Abuse. Exploitation.  Manipulation.  Judgment.  Gossip. Assumption.  Perversions of truth.  Lies and corruption.  

I read a lot of blogs by some amazing people who refuse to keep their eyes shut.  People like Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans and Jen Hatmaker.  All women who, no matter how much it hurts to see, they welcome the seeing and they use their voices to give us all the opportunity to see as well.  They make a stand for social injustice, for the abused, for the marginalised and they hope that others too will see what needs to be seen.  That others too might stand up and that one small seeing step at a time, we might make a difference.

I've seen a fair bit too.  I've seen things I'd rather not have seen and I've seen a lot of hurt and pain and fear.  This week, especially, I'd have liked to close my eyes and not see anything.  How tempting it would be to simply shut my eyes and run away.  But instead I've chosen to keep my eyes wide open, to stand up to what I fear.  Because as in my dream, although it hurt to open my eyes and see the glaring awfulness outside, it also hurt to be blind.  I was stumbling, fearful of what I could not see, afraid of what might happen.  At least with my eyes open, I am fully prepared.  

No matter how tempting it is to shut our eyes to the hurt and the awfulness, we can't.  We need to keep our eyes open and we need to acknowledge what we see, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake as well.

And God knows this. He knows that for our own protection, we need to keep our eyes open and we need to see: "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them." (John 16:1-4)

Jesus warned the disciples and us that we will face trouble and heartache. I believe that time is now. We need to accept it and be aware. We need to keep our eyes open and be ready to protect ourselves and to offer protection to others.

Most important, we need to stand in the assurance that we are not alone in facing what we fear because we have the Holy Spirit as our advocate, the spirit of Truth who will guide us in all things and speak for us.


The hope that I have in the Holy Spirit, the promises and assurances made to me by God in His word, help me to keep my eyes open. Wide open.  

I would never wish to be blind again.

On saying ENOUGH! and a community saying it with me


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In my most unimaginable week, when I knew I had an enemy who intended to harm me, when I found myself in my very own episode of Doctor Who facing the ugliest of the Slitheens too big for his stolen skin, my son gave me a hug.

My 12-going-on-13-year-old-anti-touch-since-being-in-the-cot-son gave me a hug.

Twice.

Because he knew.  He just knew:  mama needed a hug.

In fact, God knew.  God knew I needed a hug.  I've had lots of them this week, both physical and virtual from so many people but what better miracle--what better way for God to say "I know what you need," than for my anti-touch son to spontaneously wrap his gangly arms around me, awkwardly bend his head toward my cradling shoulder without exactly leaning in, and say something so simple and so beautiful as "thanks for all the wonderful dinners you cook for us Mum."  

Thanks.

Because this is the week where I have seen evil and stood up to it and said, "no more! This stops now!"  But I did not do it alone.  Oh no.  As strong as I am, I could never have done it alone: "who will believe me?"  The words of a every victim of abuse, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Who will believe me?

Everyone.  

This is the week where I have been embraced by my community...my actual God-given community who or may not acknowledge Him for themselves, who have stood and said with me in a great big Jesus-over-turning-tables-in-the-temple voice: "ENOUGH!"  They have combined their strong and protective arms with my son's around me, some in uniform, and I have exhaled a long sigh of relief. They have stood with me, and they have surrounded me.  They have loved and they have protected.  Together in full volume they have said, enough.

This is the community I love and value no matter what they believe. This, the community which understands love and loyalty and authenticity even if they don't understand Jesus Christ.

They may not understand Him; but He understands them.  And they are fantastic.

Fantastic.

I love them.  And I am so grateful for them.

Thank you.