#WhyWeShouldAllBeFeedingTheHungry

It literally haunts me at night, to think of anyone sleeping out in the street, cold, lonely, and hungry. It has bothered me since I was a child. I really don’t know why – I don’t remember any situation that connected me to that world. I have come to believe I feel this way because I am supposed to. It is my heavenly nudge to keep me speaking up about those who are as forgotten as they feel.

Were you ever really hungry? Think about it. Did you ever miss a meal? Too late for supper and it was gone? (that actually happened to me before.) I remember being first of all shocked that ALL the food was gone that I had prepared – haha – and then slightly annoyed, but I shook my head, laughed, and made a sandwich. Oh THIS does NOT happen out in the streets. If you are hungry, you will probably stay hungry. Period. And at this time of year when food seems at its height of abundance and at its peak of mouthwatering delight, there are people who will NOT have a Christmas dinner. Or dinner the day before Christmas, or dinner the day after Christmas.

Why should we feed the hungry? Well, if you believe in Jesus He told us to. He also said if we really wanted to know Him, we would find Him as we feed the hungry. If we offer a cup of cold water (or hot coffee) in HIS name, it is just as if you did it for HIM. It clearly matters SO much to Him, that we do this. We tend to think He would rather us be all religious and do something that seems …well, MORE important, or something that others need to see us do. No. Just no. We have it all backwards.

To represent love, God, humanity – we need to feed the hungry. We need to care for the widow and the orphan. We need to shield the bullied. We need to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. We need to take care of our Veterans of War. We need to be HUMAN. And  it starts with, feeding the hungry.

That is all I want to say. I could go on, sure. I’m a woman – of course I could go on. BUT please – just hear this simple plea – there is still a good solid week till Christmas. Go find someone who is  hungry and feed them. And then, stop a moment and feel the warm smile from heaven – if you want to be great, you must serve.

Please and thank you. And “God bless us, everyone.”hunger

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#BeYourOwnHero ~ When the cry of Rape is Silenced.

Having read about all the women coming forward about the certain famous man who they say molested them or raped them years ago, I am disturbed by the way these women are treated. THIS is why women do NOT come forward to begin with – they are always treated like it is their own fault.  Any women or girl who ever hears the words “Don’t tell anyone” , has sadly found it is almost far worse TO speak up than to have actually followed those instructions. When you tell, you become like Dorothy when she pulled back the curtain and the Wizard of OZ was exposed as just a little man. Someone who is raped becomes a black spot on someone’s nice clean white page, and  it is easier to hope that spot just goes away then to actually acknowledge HOW the spot got there to begin with. This is a long blog – it is an actual published short story. I hope it helps someone to know they are NOT alone.

 Abuse is the most neglected and uncomfortable topic there is. If someone has been abused and it is finally coming out into the open, the chances are really high it has been happening for a long time. It was NOT banished at first sight. You need to know that at the very FIRST sign of abuse, it is very likely more will follow – TELL SOMEONE IF IT HAPPENS ONE TIME! The word “abuse” by definition (dictionary.com) is: “maltreatment: the physical, psychological, or sexual maltreatment of a person…mistreatment, cruelty, violence, ill-treatment, exploitation, neglect, abuse one’s authority, corrupt, improper use to unfairly gain benefit.”

 The ones who have suffered at the hands of an abuser keep silent for many reasons. Most of the reasons are the same in any abuse story – you think the abuse will stop. You think somehow it is your fault. You fear judgment and shame. You don’t have anyone you trust enough to even tell. Maybe you even tell and are called a liar. You think you deserve it. These are ALL legitimate REAL reasons people have for staying in abusive situations, and worse than any of those is if they fear for their own life or the life of someone else that they love!

Why do people feel shamed? Forgotten. Lost. Hopeless. Maybe even suicidal. Because they don’t feel free to tell the truth! Because they fear judgment! You are not going to tell someone your deepest, darkest ugly secret if you think they will reject you. You are not going to tell your family. Or your relatives. Or your church. Or a boss. Or anybody that you are pretty sure will cast you aside. Whether intentionally or not, you can be made to feel that it is NOT okay to tell the truth. Strangely, you can be the victim but be made to feel like the abuse done TO you was somehow YOUR fault.

 So you carry your secret. And no one knows. But the secret will eat you alive from the inside out. It never goes away. Ever. This then carries into every crook and cranny of your life, and into the small things that you never share.  We teach by example that the truth is too painful, and too much to bear. It may not be intentional, and certainly not done out of malice or cruel intent. It is just learned behavior, all born from abuse. And on and on it goes from generation to generation. BUT somewhere down through the ages there WILL arise heroes to rescue those locked away in their own private dark dungeons, and to protect generations to come. (The hero in this story is NOT the fire-breathing dragon!)

For our brave Dragon Slayer, the abuse started early in their life – and their long unanswered question from way back then till now, has been – WHY didn’t they tell? Why did they carry that secret so long? Why did they allow that dragon to keep standing there, mocking them? First of all, it was clear to them that no one really wanted to know the whole story, nor waited around to get details and truth. No one EVER wanted to hear all of it. It was not referred to, talked about, or fixed – and then as time went on it was decided that it was the fault of a child. Keep it a secret and maybe it will go away. It is easier to just pretend the secret wasn’t there, or that it was somehow the fault of the carrier of the secret; the secret of sexual abuse.

There is nothing worse than to trust someone who betrays that trust sexually. It destroys you as a person and it changes who you will become. In order to ever find your way back to some place of innocence (before it was stolen), you must see the sexual abuse as the powerful dragon that it is – that has breathed its fire down on you for so long – and you must slaughter it.

A fire-breathing dragon could come in any shape or form or vibe. They could show up just once, or they could take up residency. They are after what they want, and how they get it is irrelevant to them. BUT if someone IS coming at you more than once, they are going to most likely be smoother. It is kind of the terrorist mentality of laying in wait for the right time for the attack, no matter how long it takes. The dragon will always start out by being nice. Of course – you catch flies with honey. Or candy. Or a few bucks. Or new toys. Or sadly, just that little bit of attention every human craves. Who would think a hug is any more than just a hug? It so should NOT be any more than what it is. Dragons generally don’t walk in the room and announce their presence. Oh eventually they will show off their firepower, but first they want you to trust them.

Let me start by saying that no one should be allowed to touch you inappropriately and unnecessarily, and certainly NOT without your consent. (Private parts of our bodies are to be just that – private!) And if IT happens, you need to tell – the very FIRST time. There is no hoping it was a figment of your imagination, a bad dream, or a fluke event – if it happened once, once is TOO much. TELL SOMEONE. The problem in this taboo subject is, mostly this happens to children who simply do not know how to even tell someone, or how to protect themselves, or how to help themselves. You have to wonder why the abused /molested/ raped don’t tell on their abuser/ molester/rapist. Fleeting moments of the years before the abuse actually starts, can go often goes unnoticed and with no warning of there being impending doom.   It is someone stronger than you taking what they want, when they want it, and then not paying any attention to you until they wanted more. 

First of all you need to understand that dragons may not stand there in front of you looking all mean and nasty. They have a good handle on holding in their bad breath, till needed. They may be smiling and appear happy, and the victim may confuse the dragon’s sexual desire towards them, as approval of them.

If you have been abused, or molested, or raped, you remember the places it happened. It is like if you were bullied at school, the mere sight of any schoolyard will bring you into distress. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not just for battle weary soldiers – it happens to anyone who has faced an enemy of any size or caliber. Whether bullying, war, or sexual abuse – you can be triggered right back to that moment by a familiar setting. THE kicker is that somehow it can all get twisted to where you think it is YOUR fault! You have to excuse yourself for having been naïve, or for being afraid for your life, or covering for someone else, or for simply being a child who didn’t understand what was going on! Maybe you were just too young to have a clue of what is right, and what is oh so wrong! But if you never talk about it and you never expose it, it gets buried deeper and deeper into the threads of who you are. This need NOT be so. There IS hope, and it comes from breaking the silence. Fire-breathing dragons need banished from our kingdoms!

 Many more than you realize, are carriers of dark secrets. They are convinced if they scream, no one will hear them anyways. We all want to look like all is well, and sadly think that is the way to survive and the peacekeeping thing to do. Maybe we think the ugly truth would rock too many boats and destroy that picture-perfect-front. Somewhere there has to be a hero to come in and save the day, and more times than not it will have to be the actual one who needs saving!

Picture what you think it would look like for a knight in shining armor to come in on a white horse to save you. Would he make a lot of noise, pushing all enemies out of his way? Charging in to save the day, wielding his sword in defiance? IF we would break the silence the dragon wants to keep us in, yes – we could be our own knights in shining armor! At the end of the day, who wants to save you more than YOU?  If someone is abusing you now, or has abused you years ago   – it is time to SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. Go tell someone!

Make a lot of noise! Silence gives the dragon power to grow – like blowing up a balloon. Your silence inflates it to grow to unspeakable heights. Ok so what if the person you tell doesn’t believe you. Tell someone else. Keep going – keep talking – keep screaming, until someone hears you! Our Dragon Slayer grew up thinking these subjects were not discussable, that no one wanted to know truth, that no one really cared anyways, and that truth destroys. Sadly when they finally tried to tell, they were made to believe it was their fault, so to this day they still hide things. It is a hidden fear that if someone knows the truth and that literally can mean ANY truth, they will be rejected or judged. Gee, wonder where that thought process came from. All secrets do is to breed more secrets! Truth is meant to set you free, not make you a meal for a dragon. Because they never understood that concept, they would still leaf through a sort of soul-scrapbook, long after the actual abuse was over! The scrapbook was inside of them – it was all the shame, the fears, the unanswered questions, the insecurities, the confusion, the unfulfilled longings of heart and body, the cry for real love, the rejection, the degrading of self worth, and the never ending self loathing. Battle wounds. Scars. Burn marks from the fire. It still was ruining their life from the inside out!

 The ugly dragon of sexual abuse rules and governs one’s opinion of their own self. It destroys relationships. It spits its poisonous venom all over things you hold dear. It huffs and puffs – until one day there comes that moment – maybe it is brief BUT it is long enough for you to lift up your head that hangs down, look the dragon square in the eye – and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It is when the victim inside of you, long beaten down, stands up on the inside. You know, the moment you acknowledge it and face it, it begins to immediately start to lose its power over you. The guilt and the shame was NEVER yours to carry but the more you carried around and kept the abuse a secret, it was like it fueled the fire in the dragon. It inflated his ego. There finally comes that day when you are just DONE. Maybe you have tried for years to just get a frail whisper up from your soul. Maybe you tried to scream and nothing came out. There may be no rhyme or reason why all of a sudden a rush of reckless COURAGE comes reeling out of your broken soul, and you take that first step to coming back to life.

Dragons want you to believe you are less, that you are weak, that you don’t have a voice, that you don’t deserve pure love, that you are the wad of gum on the bottom of a shoe. Dragons are bullies.  It may take years but there WILL come a day when the voice of that  one who was abused WILL scream! Finally! NO MORE! They will finally have the strength and the courage to stand up for themselves.

The first step to becoming a dragon slayer is to admit there WAS a dragon! Stop trying to hide it. This just feeds it and makes it stronger, and then it will NEVER go away. You need to literally say things like this out loud: Yes I was molested! Yes I was bullied! Yes I was abused! Yes I was raped! Yes I wanted to kill myself!   Yes. Yes. Yes. This should immediately light a fire in your heart to begin to stand your ground. Hold your head up, even just a little and scream out: IT WASN’T MY FAULT!

Stand up for yourself! Someone abused you? How was that ever your fault? Someone bullied you? How was that ever your fault? Someone raped you? How was that ever your fault? Someone molested you? How was that ever your fault? Time to take back your life. Even if it is in bits and pieces and shattered, it’s YOUR LIFE! Take a deep breath and reclaim what is rightfully yours.

If you don’t feel like you have any other person in the world that cares, then YOU care! YOU be your own hero! You can SO do this! I am telling you, you CAN! Be your own fan club! Be your own cheerleader! NO DRAGON DESERVES TO HAVE THAT KIND OF POWER OVER YOU! Doesn’t it make you mad to think of someone overpowering you? Aren’t you tired of carrying the secret? Aren’t you tired of being made to feel you could have/should have done something? Aren’t you tired of that abuse being what defined WHO you have become?

 So, repeat after me: NO MORE. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am not living in EXILE anymore. I have no shame. I am throwing off my tattered, dirty clothes and putting on some royal robes. Oh yah, and maybe a tiara. Then I shall fearlessly go stand out on my balcony! I am a dungeon dweller NO MORE! OFF WITH YOUR HEAD DRAGON! You shall rule me no more. I fear you no more. I don’t give you any more of my time, my heart, my self-esteem, and my memories. I banish you to outer darkness! No more dragons hiding in the corners of MY Kingdom!

You slay the dragon first by acknowledging it is there hidden in the shadows. Then you scream at it. It is actually more scared of you than you realize because YOU hold all the keys to its existence. If you cease to let it have power over you, it dies. Plain and simple. If you pull out your sword of self-worth and you approach it, it will quiver in fear. The dragon is now exposed for the evil that is! Darkness cannot survive in the presence of light! Light banishes it. There is a reason why abuse is shrouded in secrets and lies. Once it is exposed, it can be done away with! No.More.Secrets.

Oh thou brave dragon slayer, if this is YOU– whether you are 17 or 29 or 52, this is YOUR moment to shine! This is your moment to take back what was stolen from you! This is your moment to end the torment! This is your moment to be the king or queen of your own kingdom! Many of us are dragon slayers, and there are MANY more waiting in the wings to get their swords polished! For the sake of yourself AND generations to come, there are kingdoms to save, dragons to be banished, lives to be reclaimed, and futures to be lived in peace.

Remember ~ You are your own hero, and at the end of the day, no one wants to save YOU more than YOU!

 

Im not afraidIf you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org.

 

#OperationStarfish

As I consider the holiday season at hand and all the homeless  people I would like to take a Christmas tree, a bag of food, and a new sleeping bag to, I feel the weight of this thought process… Seriously THIS keeps me up at night – sure I can make a difference for one; I get that. But I want to help them all, and can’t.

What I CAN do (beyond the few that I can go help…) is to use my WORDS. I totally believe if every person reaches out to one other person, we could make a HUGE dent and THIS holiday season could be EPIC out in the streets!!! WHY NOT?

So, here is a list of possible ideas for those of you (like me) who don’t have a lot to work with this holiday season –  *Fill up a bag with personal items for a man or woman ~ easy. Dollar store. Soap. Toothbrush/toothbrush. Socks. Hairbrush. Bandaids. Candy. Paper. Pen. (yes Dollar Stores have just about every item anyone would like to have in a bag….be creative and fun too. Spend a mere 10.00 or more if you can. Don’t let an ‘amount’ be a reason NOT to. ) *Do you bake at the holidays? Bake an extra plate of cookies for someone; an extra pie; an extra few containers of food. *Depending on where you live, depends on IF you see homeless people – Baltimore, Atlanta, New York City, LA are all big cities where there are for sure LOTS of homeless people that are hungry and cold, and you straight up go right into the streets! In smaller towns there are soup kitchens, missions where you could donate some bags of food they could cook with – or homemade treats to distribute. *If in doubt, fill a bag with socks, neck scarfs, mittens…(again, at the Dollar Store). *Buy some hot cups of coffee or hot chocolate, and a box of donuts. *Make a pot of chili and take some bowls – serve out of your car.  *Get your church involved with you – (power of multiplication!) – youth group – your kids – your local stores – take advantage of the fact that we as humans ARE basically NICE. Sometimes we don’t do something, only because we don’t know WHAT to do. *Don’t forget those in need who are NOT homeless and just need a helping hand. Take a name off an angel tree. *If you LOVE to sing/ perform – well, here’s your sign! Go sing to people who will be your BEST and most appreciative audience. *Go Christmas caroling. (free.) – and X a million other ideas you probably will think of yourself.

Yes you will feel overwhelmed to see SO many needy people. YES you will feel like WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YES you will realize you can’t save the world.starfish story  We just need to do our small part.

So, this holiday season of 2014 – reach out to one person in need; one ‘starfish’ on the great shoreline of life. I think I shall christen this ~ OPERATION STARFISH. 🙂

#50BlocksInSkidRowLA

I watched a documentary today about Skid Row, in LA – which is literally miles from me. Hour or more in traffic, but 20 miles in actual miles. I literally cried through the whole film. More like sobbed… some of the statements from people that struck me like arrows thru the heart were as follows – ” I am addicted to the downtown life, where no one judges no one.” ( A transgender.) “I take care of her because she is a human and she deserves that.” ( a man who follows around a little hunchbacked old woman who feeds the cats from a garbage filled grocery cart.) “I just live to love on other people, even though I am in constant pain.” (A woman with tumors on every inch of her body.) “I woke up one day and asked myself how did I get here? and that day I decided to take responsibility for my life.” ( a man who used to be an Olympics winner, who fell into drugs.) “These people are my family.” ( a young woman who lives on the street.) And on and on the stories – 50 blocks worth of stories. 50 blocks in Skid Row.

A place of danger, and yet a place where people will share their only sandwich with you. I will never ever get over feeling heartbroken for the people wandering the streets (mentally ill, veterans of war, broken sons and daughters), the lost young person who can’t or won’t go home – every person who lives in those 50 blocks has a story. There is NO call for us to judge whether any these people deserve to be there – does anyone deserve to be broken? They are part of our family; the family of humanity. Most of them don’t know any other life than the streets, and would not leave if they could. Sadly this is true. The street is their home. The sidewalk is their bed. The other homeless people are their family. This is Skid Row in LA; one block over from wealth! There are just a few tall buildings separating the poor from the rich. Ironically, a broken heart looks the same whether in a rich person or a poor person…and ANYONE can become broken.

I don’t have any way to help them all. I don’t have a great elaborate plan to save them or to rescue them. Some don’t even want saved or rescued. Some absolutely DO. All I know is Jesus DID say to go into the highways and the byways. He just said to GO. I guess He hoped we would figure out what to do when we got there…..

I am thinking it would look a lot like what He said – (Matthew 25:35) “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.…” Jesus basically identified Himself with the homeless population in this verse. He thought THIS mattered most.

What can one person do? Reach out to one person. Gee, there are millions of people around – so you do the math. A million people each helping ONE person, means a million people would – get a cup of coffee, get a fresh clean blanket or sleeping bag, get a bag full of useful items such as soap/toothbrush/nail file etc.), get a wrapped Christmas gift, get a warm meal, get a case of water, and on and on and on….donate to their Mission down there by dropping off some bags of chicken or bake a few dozen cookies (or have your whole church bake cookies)…..the possibilities are endless.

What IF the people of Skid Row REALLY believed that they mattered and that someone cared enough to SHOW them that they matter? EVERY HUMAN BEING IS VALUABLE. Get involved with the homeless of YOUR city – find a church group that has an outreach or start your own – serve chili and rolls from the back of your car –  Drag a christmas tree and set it up by someone sleeping on a curb – cover a few people in new sleeping bags….we can’t change the whole world in the blink of an eye, but we CAN change one life at a time. I say, let’s aim for a cool million! A million to reach a million….why NOT????!!!!!!

#SomewhereOutThereIsSomeonesChildMotherFatherSisteBrotherFriendChildOfGod

#TheHolidaysAreComing

This is a section of Skid Row....50 blocks is the whole perimeter...:(

This is a section of Skid Row….50 blocks is the whole perimeter…:(

#BookendsBeginningsAndEndings

hashtagsoflife

I am pretty sure that at least once in my life I have owned a set of bookends. Bookends by definition are: “A support for the end of a row of books to keep them upright, often one of a pair, and are positioned at the end or on either side of (something).” If the bookends are NOT sturdy, the more books you place between them, they all will eventually all tip over and fall to the floor. (Having a flashback to that actually happening!)

The older I get, and am able to have a bird’s eye view of my many past years of time, I have come to recognize the bookends in my life. Beginnings and endings. They will NEVER look like anyone else’s, and we can NOT compare. They are parts/moments/memories/seasons/people that are mine and mine alone.

~Maybe it is a friend you had as a child, who is still…

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#365ReasonsNOTToGiveUp

I don’t know about you, but when I do something – I generally have to stand back AFTER and ask myself why I did it. It is not a bad idea ever, to examine our motives. We can deceive ourselves. After I hit the word PUBLISH for my first full-length book, I had to ask myself why I did it. It is my sharing of my heart – my real and raw and flawed moments and seasons of many years gone by. I just wrote a book and shared my grief of losing my husband to cancer. I just told you I got mad at God. I just exposed I have been tempted. I let you know I have failed X a million. Why? Because NO matter what circumstances I found myself in, I always chose NOT to give up. And if THAT helps anyone, I would do it again.

I didn’t keep at it because I had all the answers – I STILL don’t. I didn’t see my husband get healed from cancer. I couldn’t keep my house from burning down. What I learned I COULD do, was to keep moving forward. Sometimes that was crawling, or being dragged by a friend….SO why did I write this book? For a book club? To be on a talk show? No. Though that’d be awesome….of course. I wrote it for YOU. And YOU. And You…because we ALL walk this same journey called LIFE. It is filled with the unexpected and detours and pitfalls. We can’t stop that – But we CAN choose to embrace the bad with the good, and find a way for the sorrows and joys to co-exist. My book is about survival, choices, tears, grief, sorrow, failures, mistakes, detours and wrong turns – coupled with stories of friendship, family (lots of personal stories about the people who have made me who I am), love, laughter, giant moths, lost teeth, dandelion seeds, christmas fruit cakes, faith, purpose and above all else – HOPE. I’d love you to purchase it and upload it to your Kindle, and leave me a review so I can know if anyone was helped 🙂 I want you  to be encouraged on a daily basis NOT to give up. For any reason. And to know that there is ALWAYS a day AFTER the worst day of your life.

If you read it, and you are helped, pass it on to someone else…let’s all work together at bringing hope back into a very dark world.~

~Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the .free kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.  httpsCorine-Channell---BOOK-COVER