6.30.2016

Revisiting Mercy and Grace

I suppose I could/should start with something along the lines of how it's been more than 3 months since I last blogged and how life has been busy.

So, there you have it. I started there. :-)

And life has been busy - in so many different ways. So many times I've sat down to write and been either pulled away or the words just wouldn't come or I've felt stuck between whether or not to write here publicly or to start a private portion of this blog.

For now, I think I will continue the story here, with the ever constant reminder I think we all need that what goes on the internet is but a snapshot of life, a selecting of things to share and not share.

I need to revisit mercy and grace, perhaps I should just start titling every post as such, as that's what we all do daily, minute by minute even, isn't it? We lean hard into mercy and grace and trust in His promises as we stumble and trip and fall on this journey of life towards Home.

Many of the comments on my initial post of mercy and grace chastised me for speaking of the two when still in a state of mortal sin. A common thread was also that one who is in mortal sin is cut off from all grace. Along with them came pleas to stop sinning and return to Confession and Eucharist, without offer of friendship along the way.

I have stated many times (and will point you to the Disclaimer Post if you've not read it) that I do not in any way uphold any wrongs I have done/sins I have committed as the right way to do things. I made choices, and life changed as a result of those choices, and so now I walk this path, still seeking God and Truth.

One thing that I could not find the right words to respond to was the assertion that because there was sin of grave matter in my life, I was cut off from grace, all grace. I knew that to not be true, but beyond saying that I couldn't quite explain it. I was living it, though. Daily as I went to Mass, I felt His Grace, His ever trustworthy voice reminding me that He loves me, and yes, calling me Home and out of sin. As I stayed in my pew when it came time from Eucharist, I knew it was the right thing to do, as I was not in a state of grace to receive, and that knowledge is grace. It was a grace that I didn't walk away from the Church, that I knew She is a place for sinners and not saints. While yes, the sanctifying grace of the sacraments was withheld, by respecting what the Church upholds of them, I was actually staying closer to them by abstaining from them than I would have been if receiving them unworthily. Imperfect? Yes. Isolated and cut off? No. This video explains it better than I ever could.

So many people wanted to just say 'stop sinning, now' and have that be the end of it. Rarely wanting to really converse, to really dig in and walk this messy dirty path. It left me with simple, defensive replies to the clanging gong of the law being shouted at me in the name of love.

I knew in both my head and my heart there is no gradualness in the law, and I was not seeking any. I was not looking for an exception or loophole. I was desperately trying to align my heart and will to the law and it was not as easy as 'do this' or 'don't do that'. It took months of prayers, spiritual direction, reading Church documents over and over, and asking God "Can we please talk about something else? I'm so tired of this topic. I need a break." Only to hear His answer loud and clear "No, we will keep talking about this as long as is needed."

During these months, there were others who walked with me, let me process and be honest about my struggles, the very human 'whys' of explanation (or excuse, if you prefer) for my sin. I knew there was sin, but needed to work through the human messiness that is the path to holiness. We were able to acknowledge the law and my failings, and then dig deeper to the whys of my failings, to my fears, to my idols. Those conversations kept my heart from hardening and kept me returning to my conversations with God.

While I realize there is great beauty in blind obedience to Authority (authentic authority, such as the Catholic Church), for me, blind obedience feels like a sentence of bitterness and resentment. I need to understand and fully accept the sufferings that may come with obedience. It is how I'm wired. Just telling me the stove is hot isn't enough, I need to understand not only that I will burn myself, but how that burn will impact my daily life. I do not want to resent the Church, I love her and her teachings, and so I must do the hard work of digging in and understanding and integrating them into my life before I am able to act. My faith is deep and it is my faith that drives me to this. I trust the Church and it's not a situation of 'prove it', but rather one of 'help me to understand and live'.

And it was in an article about Lady Gaga, of all places, that what I had been trying to explain, and what I had been experiencing was the graduality of the spiritual life. Here is the specific paragraph that had me wanting to should "THIS THIS THIS":
I wrote about this to help illustrate the value of graduality in the spiritual life. Not graduality of the law, but graduality in the comprehension of the law. This is a reality in all of our lives. We do not come to an understanding of God’s law simply by reading the sounds of the black and white text. It takes a whole lifetime for us to comprehend spiritual things in a way that goes beyond intellectual comprehension and really sinks deep into our hearts.
Some of you may say "but Rebecca, you understand God's law", you worked in marriage and family life ministry, studied Theology of the Body, how could you not comprehend the law??? And the best response I have is from an email that I received from a dear friend (not exact quote, but close, I think): Just because we know and study things like Theology of the Body, it does not exempt us from failing to live up to it.

When the messiness of this life gets very messy, and the temptations rage (I do not minimize the role of Satan in any of this, He won a battle in my life, but He will not win the war for my soul), sometimes what we know in our heads isn't enough. Sometimes the wounds of our lives are ripped open anew, in ways we never could have expected, and we fail. And all we can do is learn from those failings, with the help of His grace, and move forward one step, one inch at a time. The graduality of the spiritual life.

And so for many months, more than a year, I struggled with this graduality of the spiritual life. Of knowing the law and of not being able to live up to it and of needing to understand why I was struggling to do so. And then, one afternoon, when I was engaging my head again, with 3 papal documents around me, everything changed. Light bulbs went off, tears streamed down my cheeks, and I heard clearly an answer to a question I had been wrestling with for over a year, struggling with, avoiding at times, and I knew it was time. (And what that question was, and the answer to it is for another post, but I will share, as it is important.) I now understood how the burn would impact my daily life, and I was willing to accept it. This willingness to accept it is so important. God will never force Himself upon His. He will call us to Him, He will court us, but we must say 'yes'. We must consent and we must freely choose Him, which means accepting the cross as well. We must give our fiat, again and again, to His will in our lives.

I shared my afternoon with R when he got home. He agreed. Time.

And within a couple of weeks, we'd both been to Confession and then, on Pentecost, with dear friends at our sides and tears streaming down both of our faces, we returned to the Altar of the Lord, returned to the Body of Christ.

And I want to be very clear. It was mercy and grace, presented to me when sin of grave matter was present in my life, that made it possible. God's continual seeking of me, His calling out, His insistence that we could not table the topic for even a month, His beckoning me Home. His mercy. his grace. (Again, I will link to this video, that a friend shared at a time that can only be described as His timing that explains this much better than I ever could.)

I realize many prayed from a distance, and I do not doubt those prayers were part of this, those who I thought were friends who only wanted to restate what I already knew and not actually engage nor be willing to say "I'm here, even in your messiness, I'm here," caused much damage. I never wanted anyone to give me permission for sin, never. But I did need to be loved despite my sin - and not just in word, but in action. In tangible, human action, because I am, as we all are, after all, human. Though, even a grace came from those who walked away, in that I am now a little less in need of human acceptance. It is one of the wounds I've had to come face to face with, and in His insistence that we would keep having the same conversation, God showed me, once again, that He is trustworthy and that His acceptance is the only true acceptance.

However, to those who have not only prayed for me, but who have stayed close and walked this messy walk with me. You in a very real way were God's hands and feet keeping me close to Christ and His Church. You were the human face (and arms, and shoulders to cry on, and ears to listen) of unconditional love and acceptance that comes from God and God alone. I thank you for that.

3.25.2016

Lent and Holy Week

It's mid afternoon on Good Friday. The weather is fitting, as it always seems to be - overcast with the threat of rain. The house is quiet. Sugarbeet is napping and R is at the Good Friday service at our parish.

I'm going to pray the Stations of the Cross when I'm finished here.

This Lent and Holy Week have not felt very "Lent-y" or "Holy Week-y". In reflecting on Lent earlier this week, I do think it was more fruitful than I initially thought. And Holy Week will be too, I think.

I had intended to return to reading The Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas for my Lenten practice. As much as I complained about it during my graduate classes, I miss it. While it stretches and challenges my brain, the way it nourished and deepened my faith - both the head and heart aspects of it - is something I missed. I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to have the 'ah-ha' moment of being able to read The Summa because I wanted to and not because I was in a class requiring it.

I have The Summa downloaded onto my Kindle, but due to a recent move, said Kindle was not located until last week. Add that in with sheer exhaustion -- mentally and physically -- from the schedule of moving and caring for my Nan and it just didn't happen.

What did happen though were weekly Wednesday nights and Thursdays spent with my Nan and twice a month weekends. Times when I was stretched outside of myself. When what *I* wanted to do was the last thing that could or should happen.

Instead, I learned (a little, I hope) what it means to see Christ in another when that other is being less than kind to you; what it means to be Christ to another with no expectation of anything in return. I learned to die to myself as I knew the only things she would truly remember and share with others were my failings. The things I did right would go most often unacknowledged and nearly always unremembered.

I spent hours in the car with tears streaming down my cheeks as I reflected on how I failed her, and daily praying for the strength and knowledge and self-control to think before I spoke or acted.

I do not think it is any coincidence that she moved to her new apartment on Tuesday of Holy Week.

And then, goodness, someday maybe I will learn to check my pride, she was moved in and I thought to myself "oh good, now I can really enter into the Triduum and reflect upon the Paschal mystery."

We made our schedule - Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper followed up with 4 stops at other parishes for prayer at Altars of Repose; Good Friday service in the afternoon and Tenebrae in the evening; Saturday Evening Vigil Mass; and Mass on Easter Sunday.

For a moment I considered Sugarbeet and thought to myself 'she is starting to be more active and vocal at Mass, is this a good idea?' But I thought, oh, she usually nurses and falls asleep, and the services around bedtime will be perfect for that.

And so last night, we headed off. She chattered during the songs, made friends with all the people around us, and settled in to nurse during the homily as is her routine. I thought 'oh good, she'll fall asleep and won't wake up until we put her in her PJs at home'. And then, her eyes popped open and she sat up, smiled at me from ear to ear and I knew there would be no sleeping. We stayed in our pew until just before Communion. Then, I knew with the transfer of the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose a sacred silence would be requested, and silence in leaving, and so we headed to the back where we could watch through the glass doors. We made it until the procession went past us and then headed outside to avoid any accidental squeals during the time of silence.

And that was when the tears started and I realized how selfish I had been. *I* wanted to make up for what I'd perceived as a failed Lent with a 'perfect' Triduum. And for 2 adults, it was a perfect schedule. Heck, for Sugarbeet's 'usual' it was a perfect schedule. But it did not take into consideration that she is no longer 3 months old and sleeps through anything; that she is becoming more and more social and alert and interested in everything around her. And I knew to my very bones that we should have stayed home.

Yes, children belong at church. Yes, for weekly Sunday Mass, the squeals and giggles that happen are part of what it means to belong to a Parish Community. But, in my opinion and for my family, the Sacred Silence that is part of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil should be respected by all present. And so, this afternoon, Sugarbeet and I are home.

If she took a bottle (that's another post), she would be home with a sitter.

(And just in case anyone is wondering, if you decide differently and have a crying or giggling baby at Mass this week, please know I support you in that decision as well. I think absolutes as it relates to children at Mass are dangerous and only serve to discourage families from coming and participating and I do not intend that. This is just what we decided is best for us.)

And so, Lent and Holy Week have looked and will look very different this year. Yet, one thing will be the same - the story doesn't change. We know the ending and that is where I find my peace and comfort this year. In allowing myself to rest in the knowledge that we know death has no victory and on Sunday morning, the tomb will be empty, the bells will ring, and Sugarbeet can squeal and giggle and jabber all she wants as we celebrate Christ's victory over death.

For now, the silence of my home. Stations of the Cross prayed in private. And the knowledge of the full story will be enough for me to enter into this most sacred of days.

A Blessed Triduum to you, friends.

3.04.2016

Nan and Sugarbeet

There have been many drastic changes in my life in the past 18 months. I have been stretched and pulled in ways I couldn't have imagined before in all ways - spiritually, relationally, physically, and emotionally. One of those ways is in caring for my Nan.

I have written about her in this space before, and many of you have prayed for her over the years. One of my greatest sorrows of infertility was perhaps never taking a photo of 4 generations of women again - growing up, that was one of my favorite things, as the great-granddaughter, to take 4 generation photos with me, my mom, my Nan, and my Big Grandma. I looked forward to doing so with a daughter of my own, even in the times when I didn't think I wanted children, I thought that would be nice. It was something not 2 years ago, I found myself mourning.

Then, Sugarbeet came along, and with her, many 4 generation photos.

Then, in December, just after Christmas, Nan fell. Again. That made 4 falls in less than 6 months. This, on top of memory issues that cannot be ignored combined with a text from my mom saying 'it's time' and I packed up and moved in with Nan until a better solution could be arranged. By some miracle, we visited a retirement community with an assisted living-type of wing and Nan loved it. She put her deposit down and is on the waiting list moving in at the end of the month.

In the meantime, every Wednesday night and every other weekend are spent with Nan. The other times, she has caregivers from an agency with her.

And I'm failing her. I'm failing my Nan each and every time I'm with her. Memory loss and aging (we are still awaiting a formal diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer's) are no joke. Nor is being the caregiver for one struggling. Kat recently wrote about caring for her mother-in-law and the similarities between care-giving and motherhood, and it was right at the start of my increased time with my Nan before her fall, and I've wanted to write this post ever since. If only to say, no to shout, YES YES YES!

In fact, for me, caregiving has given more experience with the challenges I thought would come with motherhood than actual motherhood has. Waking up in the middle of the night to feed Sugarbeet? Sure, and I'm actually happy to do it. (Which if you know me and my need for sleep is something miraculous.) Having to wait to shower or rework my meals to accommodate someone else's needs? No problem! Giving up "my" time to care for another? Sign me up! I worried so much about my ability to be a good mother, and don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect by any means, but the struggles I anticipated are not the ones I'm facing.

Except that I am, in caring for my Nan.

My head knows that dementia and memory loss are out of her control. That her outbursts are not something she wants to do, nor can control. That no matter how many times I say 'remember...', she will not. And that this is NOT a helpful caregiving strategy. My head knows that I need to hear the same story over and over. That I need to remind, give memory tools, and remind again.

And yet, I fail. I lose my patience. I yell (not so much anymore, but there was one awful night where I really yelled). I cry. I roll my eyes. I take over and do it myself. I forget to appreciate the little things that she does remember (like stocking her fridge with the yogurt I like, or putting tea bags and splenda on the table for dinner). I forget to just enjoy my time with her; to be her granddaughter and let her by my Nan.

I try to learn from each mistake. From each tear, from each rant of frustration. And yet, I find myself just making new mistakes. I give myself a pep talk each drive to her home, reminding myself to see Christ in her, and to be Christ to her. And I fail. And my heart hurts with each failing.

The saving grace is Sugarbeet. She forces me to remember that Nan is still Nan. Sugarbeet loves Nan so sweetly. I often reflect that they 'get' one another because they are both so close to God - Sugarbeet so fresh from Him, and Nan on her way back to Him. And I am gifted with watching them play - a gift I do not deserve because of my failings. A gift I know I will treasure long after Nan has gone Home to Him. And I see the beauty in that. I relish their playing. I relish their shared laughter. In fact for the longest time, Nan was the only one who could make Sugarbeet laugh.

I have faced the struggles of my relationship with my Nan that have occurred over the years. In caring for her, our disagreements have all come rushing back to my memory. We are too much alike, it is true. I see her stubborn and double it. I see her independence and raise it. And so we battle. All I can do is hope that through our battles, she knows I love her and that I want to protect her from harm the same way I want to protect Sugarbeet from harm. Not allowing her to stay alone for long periods of time is much the same as not allowing Sugarbeet to reach out and touch a hot stove - with the only difference being that someday, Sugarbeet will earn the stove is hot and stop reaching out to touch it. For Nan, she will not learn at this point. She may remember some things, some of the time, but she will no longer gain new knowledge and be able to be fully trusted with it.

-------------------

I started writing this when I had no end in sight; when the time I'd be responsible for her care was open-ended. But now I do have an end. I have 2 more Wednesdays and 2 more weekends with her at her house. At the house I played in growing up, spent a week at each summer. Where so many holiday memories are contained.

At the end of March, we will move Nan to her new home. It is 6 minutes door to door from my home. She will be cared for. She will have 3 meals a day prepared for her. She will have Bridge games, and crafts, and make new friends. Someone will look out for her. She will still have some independence - not being forced to get up for 8am breakfast (she loves to sleep in - another similarity) and being able to have a coffee pot, refrigerator, and microwave in her apartment.

And maybe, just maybe, I will once again be able to go visit my Nan and just fully be her granddaughter. I will not have to keep her on schedule; fix her checkbook; remind her of what's coming up tomorrow, and this afternoon, and 5 minutes from now. I will be able to visit and enjoy her, just as Sugarbeet does.

And in these remaining 2 weeks of caregiving, I will continue to try to be patient. To not yell. To see her as God sees her, and to be Christ to her. I am sure I will fail. But now, I see light at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps I will not fail quite so badly. Perhaps the knowledge that someday "Nan's house" won't be "Nan's house" anymore will remind me to enjoy these last visits, just as I enjoyed them so much growing up.

------------------

In all of my failings, there is one thing I think I might have done right. I had the idea to capture the time of Nan and Sugarbeet together with a special photo session. The photographer who took Sugarbeet's maternity and newborn photos agreed to come and spend a morning with us, photographing Nan and her great-granddaughter at play.

This morning, just 2 months ago. These photos. Perhaps they are proof that I am not failing as completely as it feels like at the end of long day.

(The link to the photos is a blog post written by the wonderful photographer who has become like family as she has documented my pregnancy with Sugarbeet and her first days of life on the outside.)

And so many candid shots that I've taken. To remind me that this woman, my Nan, loves deeply and bears the burden of her aging more than I could ever bear it for her. Photos taken, that someday will heal a sad heart that says goodbye and will remind me of good moments among these days when I am tempted to only remember the details of my failings.

Our most recent 4 Generations Picture - please ignore my cheesy smile, Sugarbeet's face, and Nan's lack of camera-looking. It's hard to get everyone to cooperate these days :). At least my mom looks good, as it was her birthday.
With Nan and Nan's sister, my (Rebecca's) godmother.
Helping Nan read the paper.
Out to lunch!
People watching at Starbucks.
Playing together at home.

2.24.2016

Let's Talk About Being Pro-Life

If you haven't already, please read: *Disclaimer Post*

I have been wanting to write this for a while now (and it's still not as polished as I'd like, but I need to hit publish and keep writing), and well, it's just time to talk about being pro-life and what that looks like to a non-Catholic or someone who does not 'fit in' with the circle of 'orthodox/faithful/traditional/whateverothertermyouwanttouse' Catholic.

From my own experience with this: (Reminding you of my own transformation from being pro-choice, of the 'I'd never do it, but who I am to tell someone else what to do' ilk, to being fully pro-life from conception to natural death including opposing the death penalty and euthanasia.) I remember the first person who said to me "Thank you for choosing life" upon learning I was pregnant with Sugarbeet. At first I was a little put out, thinking why would someone even say that to me? Not choosing life had never even crossed my mind, placing her for adoption had (that is a story for another day), but not carrying her to term and giving birth to her? Um, nope, never even occurred to me. And then, I thought about it.

Pregnant. By someone other than my husband. Facing having to quit my job. Facing having to tell my parents. Facing having to tell a community of faithful Catholics who I considered some of my dearest friends. Starting over, with no guarantee of support from anyone.

Oh. I got it. I was nearly the poster child for NARAL and a woman's right to choose.

And then I did share the news. And many of the things I feared would happen, did indeed happen. To list a few: people I considered friends quit speaking to me because I did not do things the way they saw to be the 'only way'. My Dad and my relationship is fractured to a point I'm not sure it can recover, he has only seen his granddaugther 3 times in 6 months. My stepmother has never seen Sugarbeet, nor has my littlest brother. I was removed from blog-rolls, deleted from being able to see private blogs I followed, unfriended on Facebook and in real life. And more.

I feared, and quite honestly knew, these things would happen. I dreaded them. And I'm so glad I didn't even consider some of the other things that would happen. I fought the urge to just quietly disappear and not tell anyone, so that I could at least pretend it was all my 'choice.' And then I thought, oh my. What would my 19-year-old self, or even my 25-year-old self, have done in the similar situation?

And y'all, I was shaken to my core. I knew, without a doubt what she would have done. She'd have 'taken care of it.' Her pride, wanting to preserve the way others saw her, and fear would have taken center stage, and she'd have done anything to preserve it.

Knowing that rejection and not being accepted are two of the things that I struggle with more than any other. Knowing that only in the last few years of gut-wrenching soul searching and spiritual direction have I even been able to admit that aspect of my own weaknesses. Knowing that without years of infertility, I did not have a full respect for life from the very beginning.

And, where this fits into the bigger pro-life picture, and our responsibility as pro-life Catholics/Christians is this: what about the girl or woman on the outside looking in? The lurker who read comments in this space refusing to congratulate me because my pregnancy was not in the perfect circumstances? Which I have said I intellectually understand, and accept. But, if we say all life is a gift and is to be cherished, why do we withhold the congratulations on this gift? And what of the girl who never hears the word 'congratulations' because those around her are too busy focusing on her sin and not on the life that is growing inside of her?

And about the girl who knows her father will quit speaking to her?
Who knows she will no longer be invited to participate in activities with the people with which she has found a home?
Who will be forced out of a group that she founded to support others?
Who will have friends (who she once called friends) of friends refuse to be in the same space with her?

How do we possibly preach pro-life and behave like this?

It is no wonder that girls and women walk into Planned Parenthood and 'take care of it'. They hear that they are loved and begged to choose life, but then they see the actions of those same people towards someone. And dare I say, they see it and it frightens them more because it is 'one of their own.'

We truly do say: Your baby's life and your life are valued, if and only if you adhere to our standards. Do things our way. These may not be our words, but these are the actions of so many.

You may be thinking: but you knew better. You were different. We treated you differently because you knew better. And to that, I say. Yes, I knew better. So what?! I was still a woman facing uncertainty, pregnant and in need of the support we claim to offer. Yes, a few (and you know who you are, and you will never know the lifeline you have been to me) offered this kind of support, but the majority abandoned me. My place of refuge, of love, became a place of rejection, all because I no longer fit on the pedestal upon which I had allowed myself to be placed.

I shudder to think of the number of women who have been my 19 or 25 year old self and walked through those doors. I shudder to think at how my own actions in the past have contributed to any woman walking through those doors - directly or indirectly.

If we truly want to change our culture of death, we must change the way we respond to unplanned life among us. There is a way to walk with someone and to love them, without condoning their sins. Some of you, have done a beautiful job of this, and I don't want you to feel forgotten in this. From those of you who offered congratulations, to the one of you who offered me sanctuary, to those who offered tangible resources if needed, to those who have shared in my joy of Sugarbeet (which reminds me, I do have a secret FB group with more frequent updates and pictures if you are interested, just send me a PM or email and I'll add you), to the small gifts and notes offered along the way. These are the things that are the actions of truly pro-life people. Sadly though, these are what have caught me most off-guard; what have surprised me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be the other actions that surprise? The other actions that are the exception? And, I suspect, those of you who have remained connected to me have received some push back as well. In fact, I know it to be true in more than a few instances. My head, my intellect, understands it is a consequence of my sin and our fallen world. Fortunately, I am not 19 or 25 year old me, and I can bear it, and I can reach out to those who are willing to walk with me when needed.

The very human side of me, who found a community and a 'home' here during some of the darkest days of my life, well, she still doesn't get it. There is a hole in my heart. You may say I deserve it. I deserve the isolation. That my sins demand it. Fortunately I am learning (finally, perhaps) to fill that hole with Jesus and no one else.

But, I ask you then, what does that say to the young woman standing at the door of Planned Parenthood? How does that give her any hope that she and her child will be welcomed and loved? That her acceptance as a human person, and that her baby's worth to be congratulated depends on her manner of conception?

We preach and march and vote and pray 'pro-life'. We must find a way to truly act it.

The Disclaimer Post

There has been so much to process and live through these past few months and I've felt such a strong pull to do it in this place. The title of this space feels more right than ever these days as I stumble, crawl, and trip along my road Home.

To help eliminate the need to qualify everything in every post, I'm going to put this here to hopefully have one place where the following needs to be said and can be referred to when needed:

1 - Any sin I have committed I name as such and I do not encourage or uphold it as a choice to be followed. Ever. In any circumstance.

2 - I realize that my sin and bad choices led me to face a lot of the struggles I am currently facing. I do not deny this. I do however still have to deal with the struggles before me. Much like I wrote about the Marathon Analogy for pregnancy after infertility, long before I was pregnant myself, so to is this situation. I 'signed up for' these struggles, if you will, but that doesn't make them any less real or less difficult to experience.

3 - I am still a human being and while I'm trying daily to correct the errors I've made, I'm still bound to make mistakes and am most definitely, just as I was before, a work in progress.

4 - Some feel that I shouldn't write about all that has transpired in my life, that because there are still unknowns and ongoing struggles with sin that I should just quiet myself until all is worked out. I disagree. I do not write to cause scandal. I do not uphold my sins (see #1). However, if we all waited until it was 'all worked out' to share our struggles and our stories, well, we'd all feel as alone and unwelcome as I have these past few months and I don't think that helps anyone.

5 - I will use generalizations at times. I will strive to not use words like "always" and "never", but please know there are exceptions to both the good and the bad I've experienced from others and if you find yourself wondering "is she talking about me?", please look at the facts of our interactions and hopefully that will give you your answer. If you aren't sure, please just ask me.

6 - So much happened so quickly in regards to post comments, emails, private messages, texts, etc., I know for sure that I missed things. I know there were phone calls or emails or messages that didn't get returned. I am sorry. If you are still waiting to hear back from me, and you are willing, a gentle reminder would be welcome.

I think that is it for now. If something else comes up, I will add it here.

(Comments are off for this post.)